37e législature, 1re session

L038 - Thu 6 Apr 2000 / Jeu 6 avr 2000









































The House met at 1000.




Mr Marchese moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 30, An Act to amend the Municipal Act to authorize certain municipalities to restrict the demolition of rental residential buildings / Projet de loi 30, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalités en vue d'autoriser certaines municipalités à restreindre la démolition d'immeubles d'habitation locatifs.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): Mr Speaker, this is a very important bill for the New Democratic Party. It continues to be a worry for us as a party. When we were in government we realized that we needed to build decent and affordable housing for people, because we know that not everybody in this society is wealthy enough to afford the kind of rental accommodation at the high end, and they certainly cannot afford the kind of condominiums that have been built under this government.

This doesn't solve the problem of affordable housing across the province, because it doesn't deal with the construction of housing, as you understand, Speaker. You know that the federal government has abandoned us. You may also know that in 1990 your colleagues at the federal level, through Mr Paul Martin, the Minister of Finance, co-authored a report saying we needed a national strategy on housing, because he understood there needs to be a role for the federal government in the construction of housing. He knew that in 1990, when he was in opposition. But when he formed the government, along with M. Chrétien, they abandoned a national policy on housing. In fact, they continue to devolve all their responsibilities to the provinces and say, like the provincial government, that they are not in the housing business. Although they have committed some dollars to support housing initiatives generally across the country, there is not a single cent for the construction of housing.

I know my Liberal friends beside me will decry the policy of the federal Liberal government-I am convinced. And I know that when the three speakers here will speak to this, they will admit that the federal government has abandoned its national responsibility for the construction of housing, and that if they should be in government they would not do the same. I know they will say that, and I want to hear that.

In my view, what the federal government has done is negligible, negligent and wilful. In knowing they should play a role and not doing it, in my view, they have been a part of the destructive problem in this country, a part of the national disaster we are decrying here in Ontario in terms of homelessness, and a housing disaster that most people of modest means simply cannot afford to have decent, affordable and accessible housing.

At the provincial level, we know that Mike Harris says, "We're not in the housing business." He says that what we as New Democrats did was bad. We argue that we constructed housing because it was healthy competition in the private market, that when you have non-profit housing, co-operative housing and similar types of housing, it makes housing competitive. We know that the buddies of the Conservative government said: "This is bad. We don't like this kind of competition. We don't like governments getting into the housing business, because it cuts into our business." We say that, as part of this free-market system, offering affordable, accessible housing is a good thing, as a way of not only making housing accessible but keeping rents down and affordable.

They have different interests, and they listened to those who are very wealthy, the big property owners, who told them, "Leave the job of construction to us." But we know that the private sector has not been building any affordable units except, of course, condominiums that are inaccessible to those of modest means. That's not what we need. What we need are units that people who make $20,000 to $30,000 can get into. These days we need units that most people who make $40,000 to $50,000 can afford, because it's becoming a more difficult problem for people.

You know that wages have gone down in the last 10 years. Wages have gone down, and rents have gone up. Rents have gone up approximately $1,200 for a two-bedroom unit, and you know that wages have been frozen for most people since the 1990s. So we have a serious problem on our hands.

While we know the federal government doesn't want to spend money to build, and we know the provincial government doesn't want to spend money to build, we propose a modest bill that says: "Let the municipalities control the demolition of their buildings. Let's keep affordable stock." That is a modest power that you are giving to municipalities. When you downloaded services to the municipalities you said, "Don't you trust municipal governments to do the job?" When you downloaded housing as a responsibility on the cities, did you not say: "The cities are best suited to provide housing, because they know what they're doing. Don't you trust them to do that job?" In the same way that you fine Tories made that argument, I hope you'll permit this modest bill to go forward, because this says, "We trust municipalities, local governments, to do what is best for their citizens."

This bill cuts across the entire province. This bill empowers municipalities to protect the housing stock in the context of a housing crisis. I hope that the Tories will support this bill.


Mr Brian Coburn (Carleton-Gloucester): I appreciate the opportunity to rise today to speak against Bill 30. As parliamentary assistant to municipal affairs and housing, I have more than a passing interest in this debate. Bill 30 represents the grief and the frustration felt by landlords and tenants with the NDP rental policy, which certainly wrecked havoc in this province during their mandate. Through the NDP policies of restriction and limitation, they effectively brought this province into the depths of economic despair. In stark contrast, our government has worked hard to raise Ontario to new heights. Over 670,000 new jobs have been created since 1995, and Ontario once again leads all of Canada in economic growth.

One of the reasons why this government has been able to make such dramatic economic recovery is because of our focus to create growth and investment. With growth and investment, everyone benefits, through greater choice and greater opportunity. Therefore, I wasn't surprised to learn that the member for Trinity-Spadina has put forward a bill that would effectively mute future investment in affordable housing. Nor was I surprised to find so many others who are opposed to NDP rental policies.

"Landlords Vow to Outlast NDP Regime" was a headline that ran on January 2, 1992, in the Toronto Star. The opening line is a quote from Harry Taylor, who happened to be a landlord in the former municipality of East York, who stated that in four years' time he had hoped a new government will "recognize the cost of doing business as a landlord." In fact, Mr Taylor had grown so frustrated with the NDP rental policy that he was quoted as saying that he'd sooner stuff his money into a mattress than sink more into his East York apartment block.

Is this the rental policy that we wish to create? As parliamentary assistant, I can assure my colleagues that that is not the case. Bill 30 would only manage to reintroduce the frustration and angst expressed by Mr Taylor. Luckily for Mr Taylor and the people of this province, his wish for a new government came true. The need for change was acknowledged and came about in the form of Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act.

Bill 96 was designed to restore the balance and the fairness to the rental system. Our focus was clear: to establish an environment to encourage investment in the construction of new rental housing and to secure the rights of tenants. To secure the rights of tenants; that's worth repeating. We created a balanced system by empowering landlords and investors with the flexibility to properly manage the growth of their investments. This ultimately serves to the benefit of the investor, the tenant and the province. Bill 96 allows municipalities to use their official plan policies to manage conversions and demolitions in the best interests of their constituents. Through that planning exercise, they have the ability to forecast and protect their communities and design for future growth.

As you can clearly see, Bill 30 would destroy that flexibility and balance that have contributed to the success of the current system. As a result of our policies, investment strategies such as the mattress stuffing are no longer publicly threatened as stories of hope and prosperity begin to appear.

For example, in a story that ran in the Ottawa Citizen on August 18, 1997, Mr Greenberg of Minto Developments, one of the premier builders certainly in our province, stated, "In the next two weeks, Minto will be announcing a three-year, $25-million capital improvement program for our Ottawa portfolio." That is a substantial investment, and "Bill 96 is one of the main reasons we've got the confidence to make such a massive investment." Mr Greenberg goes on to say, "Bill 96 represents an important, symbolic first step to providing tenants with truly their best form of protection," which is choice.

Mr Greenberg wasn't the only one praising our policies. Prominent Liberals have also praised the Tenant Protection Act. Just ask the Liberal chief of staff about his comments that appeared only last year in the Toronto Star. In reference to the OMB decision preventing the city of Toronto from removing an investor's right under the Tenant Protection Act to convert apartments to condos, current Liberal chief of staff Philip Dewan said: "Current tenants need not fear for their apartments. The Tenant Protection Act provides that any tenant in a building being converted to a condo would have the right to remain for life. It's far more reasonable to have constant rules than to have a city council going on a deal-by-deal basis." Not only does the Liberal chief of staff support our legislation, but through this quote he clearly disagrees with the intent of Bill 30. Bill 30 does not serve the best interest of Ontarians; it only serves to undermine the progress that this government has made.

Mr David Caplan (Don Valley East): It's certainly a pleasure to join the debate on Bill 30. At the very outset, I just want to make it very clear that I and the Liberals support measures of protection for tenants from the demolition, from the reduction of the affordable housing supply. Of course, the member didn't acknowledge in his remarks, but I know he would, that it was the former Liberal government which did introduce the Rental Housing Protection Act in Ontario which, of course, was repealed by the introduction of Bill 96.

The previous speaker, the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, was extolling the virtues of that piece of legislation. It's interesting that when the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was at the Urban Development Institute, a scant 10 days to two weeks ago, he was whining to the developers saying, "Why aren't you building affordable rental housing?" It was an absolute whine, a repudiation of just about everything the member just said, that his own minister, the member he serves, has acknowledged to the developers, to the landlords, that in fact there is virtually no construction of rental housing going on in the province.

As I said, we support these measures and as such I'll be supporting the bill, of course, in principle, even though I do have major concerns about the approach in this bill. I think that we really need to pass it, get it into committee, introduce some amendments, so that we can make sure it is an appropriate, sensible and workable bill.

Let me tell you about some of my concerns about Bill 30. I have a concern about the role of municipalities. The member read into the record the four conditions that he's attaching to the prohibition of demolition, and the first one is really very strange: "The council is satisfied that the rents that were charged for each rental unit in the rental property one year before the proposed demolition were at or above a level specified by the council." Frankly, councils don't have the power and the authority to specify what the level of rent should be, nor should they.

Is the member seriously proposing that a municipal council now take on the power to assess each rental property within its borders? That's a ridiculous provision. I think it's probably misworded by this member. One of the reasons why we need to get it into committee is to clean up that kind of wording.

I really have no doubt that municipalities are very interested in protecting the rental stock. The city of Toronto in fact had moved a similar bylaw to protect their rental properties, the character and nature of their neighbourhoods here in the city. It was Progressive Conservative Tory activist Jane Pepino shilling on behalf of landlords to be able to get the demolition, to challenge that bylaw, and it was the Ontario Municipal Board appointed by this Conservative government, Harris appointees, which struck down the Toronto bylaw. I again differ with my colleague opposite about the council's ability to protect their neighbourhoods through the Planning Act when you have an activist Ontario Municipal Board in contradiction to what assurances were given, not only by this member, but by the minister and his predecessor on the introduction of Bill 96.

We've seen in Toronto, we've seen in Ottawa, we've seen in Hamilton an interest in the preservation and protection of rental property. I've had meetings with many municipalities, with tenants, with activists, with people who are interested in protecting rental housing in all of its forms, and they have some very real concerns about what the Harris government has done.

I have concerns, of course, about the aspects of this bill. As I said, I don't think that the power that's being proposed for municipalities is necessarily appropriate, and this wording really does need to be reworked. There are other approaches to the conversion and demolition of rental properties.


I believe one of my colleagues, Michael Bryant, the member from St Paul's, will be talking about this at great length, He will be sponsoring the bill from the city of Toronto, which has the endorsement of the council. In fact, every member of the Ontario Legislature has received a letter from the mayor of the city of Toronto, encouraging them and requesting them to support the private legislation giving the city of Toronto the authority to halt and delay conversion and demolition of very-much-needed rental accommodation.

By the way, this is in line with what Anne Golden said in her report. She was very specific. She said that cities ought to be able to have this kind of authority. What she said was, "There should be no loss of rental buildings." In fact, we've seen that consistently over the last couple of years because of measures like Bill 96. This is Bill 30, a measure to correct that.

I have concerns, by the way, that this legislation does absolutely nothing to redress concerns around the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, which is just imposing a horrible burden on tenants, causing evictions at untold and unprecedented rates. I have of course proposed Bill 36, the Tenant Protection Amendment Act (Towards Fairness for Tenants), which contains six solid proposals to redress the imbalance in Bill 96 under the current tenant and landlord laws. The proposals have been very well-received. I encourage the member and the government to call the bill quickly for debate.

As I said, I will be supporting this bill. I hope to get it into committee so that we can make the appropriate amendments and make it a workable bill for the protection of rental housing.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): I stand to speak in support of this private member's bill and to commend Rosario Marchese, the member of Trinity-Spadina, for his lifelong passion and commitment to the issue of, among other things, affordable housing.

The Tories had better understand that there's a crisis here in the city of Toronto. In the two-year period between October 1997 through to October 1999, the average rent in the city increased by over $1,000 a year-in fact, by $1,128. The average rent on a downtown two-bedroom apartment is approximately $1,200 a month.

If you use the standard of 30% of income to pay for housing-and when you're spending 30% of your income to pay for housing you've got precious little left for all those other sorts of things that you need to raise and maintain your family-you're talking about a yearly income of over $46,000 being required to rent that two-bedroom downtown Toronto apartment at the average rent of around $1,200 a month.

Mr Caplan is quite right. Ms Golden made it very clear that the city needs more affordable housing. That can't be disputed. There isn't a fair-minded, reasonable- thinking person who would dare suggest that that's not the case. This city, the city of Toronto, needs more affordable housing. It's a given. Anybody who suggests otherwise is either very naive or has motives that are suspect.

Ms Golden also warned that it's not only a matter of needing more affordable housing, but it's a matter of needing to preserve the existing stock of affordable housing, a stock that is rapidly being deteriorated and attacked by big-price developers, big-money people. We're not talking about small landlords who rent the upstairs of their two-storey home to students or to another senior. Please. We're talking about money here. With this government, money talks. With this government, money motivates legislation, because the fact is municipalities had the power, the city of Toronto had the power to protect its affordable housing stock, didn't it, until this government abandoned low- and middle-income tenants, betrayed them, threw them at the mercy of the big-money developers with this legislation back in 1998.

I encourage members of this assembly to support this bill at second reading. I hear the concerns about some of the language used in the bill. Let's understand, this is not legislation that's being imposed upon municipalities; it's permissive. Municipalities "may" utilize this legislation. So for municipalities, if there are any, that don't suffer the crisis that the Tories have imposed upon affordable housing or within the area of affordable housing here in Toronto, if there are municipalities that don't have that crisis, the municipal council doesn't have to utilize these modest standards.

Clearly, condition number one is designed to have some mode of establishing what is affordable housing. It's a difficult thing to do without a complex formula. That's why it's important that this bill go to second reading-it's at second reading-and that it go to committee so that members of all three caucuses and the people they represent can come here to Queen's Park. And if committees ever travel again-it seems the only time committees travel under this government is when they think it's in their interest to try to get some local press, where there's been a paucity of positive news coverage of the Tory agenda. But if committees were ever to travel again so that people in communities across this province could make proposals-

Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): The pre-budget committee was in Niagara.

Mr Kormos: That's right. The pre-budget committee was down in Niagara and they got trashed. It may be a long time before they're back in Niagara-it was remarkable-where angels fear to tread.

But it remains that this should go to committee. Let's hear the criticism of it but let's also hear, as I'm sure we will, from those thousands upon thousands of hard-working, good families, families with kids, families who deserve decent, affordable housing, who have choices, as the Tory spokesperson says: the choice to either buy a high-priced, poorly constructed condo or live on the street. That's the choice this Conservative government gives those families. Mr Marchese wants to give them one other choice: affordable, decent housing for them and their families.

Ms Mushinski: I rise in the House today to speak, obviously, against Bill 30 introduced by the member for Trinity-Spadina. We all know that the intentions of the member for Trinity-Spadina are noble, as always. It's his actions, however, that are misguided, as usual.

As a member from an urban riding, I'm quite aware of the difficulties that many people face in finding affordable rental housing. In fact, approximately 40% of the constituents in my riding rent one form of housing or another. Over my 17 years as an elected official, I've heard my share of horror stories about the rental housing market.

My concern with this bill stems from the third party's and the opposition's refusal to address the root problems of affordable housing. For years there was a lack of new rental housing developments in the city of Toronto. It was not profitable for developers and landlords to invest in new, high-density housing. Few units were being built and little was reinvested to repair and maintain existing units. Our stock of rental housing was crumbling; many units lacked proper utilities or were home to more insects and rodents than humans. In fact, under the old Liberal regime, rental housing starts fell 21.4%. With Mr Marchese's NDP government behind the wheel-in fact, some would say they were drunk behind the wheel-it was even worse. Rental housing starts plummeted by an outrageous 74.4%.


We had to take steps to encourage the creation of new housing stock.

The first step was to create incentives for landlords to create new housing and better maintain the existing stock while still protecting tenants. That is why our government created the Tenant Protection Act. We recognized that the course previous governments had taken would only lead to a greater crisis in the housing market, and indeed it did.

In my riding of Scarborough Centre alone, over 8,000 new housing units have been constructed since 1995. Many of these units are privately owned condominium units, over 50% of which are sublet by their owners as rental apartment housing. In fact, plans for a development of several hundred units just a mere block away from my small suburban townhouse have been dusted off after a decade. Under the Mike Harris government, rental housing starts have increased by 100% and total housing starts have increased by 50%.

The second step we took was to help create an economic environment that would make investment in housing more attractive and that would make it possible for more people to afford better housing.

This was aided by our government's recognition that another factor in the housing market is take-home pay. A key component of the Common Sense Revolution was the recognition that hard-working taxpayers deserved to keep more of the money they earn. By cutting provincial taxes, we put more money into the pockets of Ontarians. This has helped lead to the creation of 610,000 net new jobs. Compare that to a loss of 10,000 jobs over the disastrous five-year period of Mr Marchese's government.

It was clear that we could not continue to travel down the path of previous governments. With the economy, health care, education, welfare and justice, we refused to follow the impotence of the Liberal and NDP governments and their experiments with public housing.

As an interesting aside, I read an article in NOW magazine a few months ago-and for those of you who don't know, NOW is renowned as a socialist bible-that the publicly owned Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority is the landlord that is most likely to evict a tenant in Toronto. As a government, we have built an atmosphere that has created more new housing than either of those two governments and one that has resulted in a great reinvestment in our housing stock.

We must continue to make bold and innovative decisions when dealing with our housing stock and refuse to go back to the old, worn-out concepts of the NDP government. Their housing plan has proven to be a failure, much like their justice plan and their deficit plan. I could go on, but I'll spare you the gruesome details.

This bill would only serve to reinforce the NDP's reputation as the Titanic of Ontario politics.

Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): I support this bill because I support anything that will improve the disastrous black hole, legislatively, that is the Tenant Protection Act.

When this government came in and brought that act in, it undid 15 years of legislative efforts by the Bill Davis government, the Peterson government and the Rae government to build up tenant rights. We all understood in this province that housing isn't a commodity that-we're not talking within the free market that you can give and take and trade as if it is a level playing field. When the vacancy rate is very low, as it is in the city of Toronto right now, it's a monopoly for the landlords, and in the midst of that monopoly it's the government's responsibility to provide some legislative redress to help tenants. Sixty-eight per cent of the people who live in my riding are tenants. It's an urban riding. It's a midtown riding. For them, housing is not a commodity, it's part of living in the city. Not everybody can afford a house. Of course, there's simply no way that all 68% of St Paul's residents who now rent could own property. This is part of the urban reality.

So what do you do? You try to come up with legislative solutions for the problem. I have a solution and it's a private bill. It's a private bill that has been supported by city council. They are drafting it as we speak. It's supported by the mayor of Toronto. A letter of support has gone out to every MPP in this House. I would hope it's supported by the New Democratic Party as well. It will be introduced. I have to tell you it's not a partisan bill. It's a very constructive solution to try to correct this monopoly that exists. It basically gives back to cities powers to control their own housing stock. Let cities, in this case the city of Toronto, decide the criteria by which demolition takes place.

The Ontario Municipal Board found that in fact rental stock is going down in this province and that the vacancy rate in Toronto is less than 1%. They found that in a decision in which their hands were tied by legislation. I don't know if I agree with the decision, but they said their hands were tied by legislation and they permitted the demolition of affordable housing in my riding on Tweedsmuir: Two buildings full of seniors, elderly people, many of whom have lived there for 25 years are now being thrown out into the streets. Into what market? A market where the vacancy rate is less than 1%. We need to stop demolitions and condo conversions in Toronto, and in Ontario we need to give to cities the power to make that decision.

The housing critic, Mr Caplan, and I announced outside of Tweedsmuir last fall, long before this private member's bill was introduced, that we ought to bring this private bill in. It received the support of city council in November, before this private member's bill was introduced. I look forward to introducing this private bill that I'm speaking of in this session, provided that the city gets the bill drafted and passed in time.

Again, it's a constructive solution. I support this bill and I hope that I can count on NDP support for my private bill, because we have to fix this disaster, this absolute disaster that has been created in Ontario through the Tenant Protection Act. We have to take this I guess neo-conservative experiment that was the Tenant Protection Act and correct it, and the way to do it is to support this bill, yes, but also we need to support the non-partisan bill that has the support of the mayor of the city of Toronto to make sure that in fact we correct the housing disaster in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Further debate?

Mr Marchese: Just a couple of things-and there's so much to say. The member for Scarborough Centre said so much and I'll do my best to respond to it in the time that I've got.

I hate to remind some of my Liberal friends who were not here that when we introduced the Rent Control Act the Liberals opposed it. Now, of course, in opposition they're saying, "We need rent control." While in opposition they said, "We need real rent control, meaningful rent control." They try to weasel with words about our rent control not being right, but they would find the right one and meaningful rent control. God bless. We tried to do the right thing in 1990 because we saw skyrocketing rent increases that people could not afford. The recession came and we tried to protect those who could least defend themselves in a recession. God knows what would have happened if the Tories had been in then. That's what we tried to do. You came into power with your own mandate and you got rid of rent control and introduced the tenant protection package. Poor tenants, if only they knew. They're getting to understand that that Tenant Protection Act, previously the tenant protection package, had nothing to do with them. It was a way of lulling tenants to sleep. If they only knew what was contained in the bill, they would have woke up with rage. But if you title a bill the Tenant Protection Act, you can simply say to tenants, "Don't worry your little heads, this bill is for you," until you face the situation where you are in court trying to deal with above-guideline increases to the rent. All of a sudden you say, "My God, when did this happen?" My only hope is that tenants will wake up.


This bill is not just for Toronto. The Liberal member says, "I hope the NDP will support our non-partisan motion, which is for Toronto." Why wouldn't I support that bill? But when the two of you speak as if this bill doesn't quite do it but yours does, I have to tell you it makes me a little ill. My bill is intended to solve it for cities across our beloved Ontario, including the city I have lived in most of my life-in fact, this very riding that I live in and represent. Why wouldn't I support such a bill?

I say to my Liberal colleagues that this bill gives power to all cities, to all municipalities of 25,000 and up, to determine for themselves, if certain conditions are met, that some rental buildings will not be torn down. What is wrong with such a power, I ask, member for Scarborough Centre?

Interjection: They're not torn down unless there's replacement stock.

Mr Marchese: I read the conditions. I'd hate to read them again. I think they are quite clear. You have it in front of you. Please read it. It is an enabling power to municipalities to keep affordable housing stock. There are conditions attached to it where cities could say: "That's fine, you can probably take it down. It's crumbling." Of course no one is going to say, "Keep it up." That is one of the conditions we stipulate.

What is wrong, member for Scarborough Centre-you as a former city councillor-with giving municipalities that power? Haven't you and others before advocated that cities are quite properly situated to defend the interests of the population, particularly as it relates to issues of this sort? It's a minor issue. I'm not asking you to change your bill, because I know you are hell-bent on keeping it. I know that. Why would I ask you to make changes that you will not make? This is something you can do and live with.

The member for Scarborough Centre mentions many things that are wild. I'm not sure who read those supposed statistical facts for you, but you're quite wrong. I'm going to try to read them into the record for you so that you know. In 1995-this is Professor Hulchanski, who has done a great deal of work in this area.

Ms Mushinski: I know who he is.

Mr Marchese: I'm sure you do.

In 1995, the Ontario government told us that the private sector would build the rental housing we need. Private sector rental housing starts in Ontario averaged 857 units per year for the four years 1995 to 1998, a small amount to address the high need. In the previous four years, 1991 to 1994, the period New Democrats were in, the average number built per year was 2,768. These are the facts. But you said our starts were much lower. I don't understand who wrote that paper for you, but you've got to get that research person out, and quickly, because they are wrong.

I'm not sure how you can challenge these figures of Professor Hulchanski. Maybe you have a another professor emeritus for everything in your caucus who compiles them on the fly. It's quite possible, Speaker.

Mr Kormos: The Tories don't read non-fiction.

Mr Marchese: The Tories don't read non-fiction? The number of private sector rental starts was even higher in the years prior to 1991, meaning that under the Liberals we had a lot of rental housing starts. I wouldn't want to criticize the Liberals all the time. To give them credit where credit is due, they built too. We built them to give people choices. The choice is not between homelessness and a nice, lovely condo by the waterfront. That's not the choice we want. The choice we want is affordable housing for people who only earn $20,000 or $30,000.

Just a few more facts, Member for Scarborough Centre: In the 1991 census, owners' average income was $73,000 and renters' average income was $38,000. In the 1996 census, owners' average income was $74,000 and renters' average income was $36,000. Do you have a sense of the problem and the scale of the problem we're speaking to?

The housing starts you speak of are the type of houses in the Woodbridge area and the ones you wanted to build in the Rouge area and the Oak Ridges moraine area. These are the housing starts you are building for people who have the money to afford houses, but for rental accommodation-


Mr Marchese: I hope you will have an opportunity to speak again, Member Mushinski. It would be so nice to hear you.

The people who have the bucks can afford houses. Rental accommodation, the ones we're not building, the ones your buddies are not building-they've got nowhere to go.

Another study, Madame Mushinski from Scarborough Centre, since you spoke to this: Over 300,000 tenant households in Ontario are paying more than 50% of their income on rent. Many tenants are at immediate risk of becoming homeless. In most parts of Ontario, tenant incomes are falling even as rents rise faster than inflation.

We have a crisis. How can you deny we have a serious problem on our hands? How can you? Study after study shows we have a disaster. We've got the disaster relief fund people in Toronto saying: "We've got a problem. We need a 1% solution, where all governments commit themselves to 1% more to deal with the homelessness and the housing disaster we've got."

We've got people like Paul York from the Greater Toronto Tenants' Association and Mr MacIntyre from the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, who are here, working diligently to help tenants with the disaster you have caused. We've got people like Councillor Joe Mihevc, who says:

"In my ward, Ward 28, the residents of 310 and 320 Tweedsmuir Avenue are facing relocation because the Ontario Municipal Board has allowed Goldlist Properties to demolish these buildings to build condominiums. While the Ontario Municipal Board has ordered Goldlist to give the right of first refusal to the existing tenants, the replacement is only 60% of the units that are being lost."

The reality is that we're losing the very little we can control. What this bill attempts to do is give municipalities the trust you normally want to give them and the enabling power to control the little they can. Madame Mushinski, that's all I ask for. You were a municipal councillor. It's a short little bill and it does so very little, nothing that you can oppose.

Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford): I'm certainly pleased to join the debate with respect to Bill 30, brought forth by Mr Marchese.

I'm not in favour of this piece of legislation, being a member from outside Toronto. Certainly, the Toronto MPPs want to impose their own solution on the rest of the province. It's sort of typical, and perhaps a little arrogant. What we're dealing with here is Toronto MPPs who want to wrest powers from their municipalities. It's a municipal situation that they have to deal with. We're talking about branding the situation and saying, "Any municipality over 25,000 has to do this."

I can tell you that I haven't heard any concerns. My area is the fastest growing in the province. When I was on council, we mandated that affordable housing would be put forth. That's why we have tremendous growth and people moving from Toronto. They're moving from Toronto not because of rents; they're moving from Toronto because Toronto has a very expensive real estate market. They're coming to areas where housing is affordable. One reason why I left Toronto was because I couldn't afford a house in Toronto, so I moved to an area where there was affordable housing.


What we have here is typical: a Toronto MPP saying, "I've got a solution for the rest of the province, because I don't trust my municipality to handle our own planning powers." A Toronto MPP problem, real or imagined, isn't something that should be imposed on the rest of the province.

We understand the direct connection between new housing starts and the Ontario rental housing market. In 1999, there were 67,235 new housing starts in Ontario, whereas the construction of rental housing in Ontario has languished for years. Everybody knows that. In part, this was due to the previous legislation that contained numerous obstacles to investing in the rental housing market.

I really question whether this legislation would even survive a charter challenge. What are you trying to do, tell people who own buildings, "You can't do anything with your building"? There are property rights that are enshrined under the charter, but the member from Toronto says: "Who cares? Let's put our solution on the rest of the province. We don't care whether people who own property have rights. We're going to interfere with their property rights." He knows well, with respect to condo conversions and the demolition of apartment units, that there are protections in place, many protections for tenants that deal with issue already.

I would say this to the member: A landlord must be allowed to decide whether or not the cost of maintaining an older building is so high that it no longer makes financial sense to do so. This member says, "I don't want them to be able to make that decision," because he's so anti-people who own property, and he's anti the rest of the province because he thinks he knows the solution for the rest of the province-and you don't.

Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale): It's a great pleasure to follow the member from north of Toronto and his Toronto-bashing antics. I stand proudly before you as an MPP for the riding with the highest percentage of tenants and I stand before you as a homeowner.

I must say that this issue is one for which I am very pleased to lend support to the member for Trinity Spadina.

We hear from this government statistic after statistic about economic performance, but we hear nothing with respect to the housing needs of those people who are not getting the full benefit of economic expansion in Ontario, and that's what this is about. We hear nothing about trying to find and help to house and maintain housing for those who are the working poor. We hear nothing from this government about solutions to deal with the pressing problem of the homeless on our city streets. We hear nothing from this government about the extraordinary doubling of the child poverty rate since they have taken power. That is because they are awfully prepared as a government to create ghettos of poor people, to allow people to languish in poverty without any solution from this government. This government is ignorant, and they choose to bury their heads in the sand and to ignore the crisis.

In my riding, in the last little while, we've brought heritage buildings that had been boarded up, that had been bricked in, back to life. We did that, not through the support of this government, but through the support of the federal government and their residential rehabilitation assistance program. Now 88 Carlton Street, which was once home to squatters, is finding new life as decent, affordable housing for people. Similarly, a building on Jarvis Street, just south of Maitland, is now undergoing the final stages of renovation, and that heritage property is being brought back to life and providing homes for people.

We hear this government constantly on the case of co-ops, hammering co-ops as bad investments by the public. My riding is home to more co-ops than any other in the country. I'll take members on walking tours and demonstrate to them not only that this is good housing but that this is housing that contributes to good communities.

Similarly, my riding is also going through an evolution of new condominiums, more condominium development than you can imagine: 15 condominium developments in Yorkville alone. I'm particularly proud of the new life of condominiums that we see down at the corner of King and Parliament, where the enlightened policies of Barbara Hall, the former mayor, led to zoning certainty which has led to the development of new housing.

With respect to the demolition of presently occupied tenant housing, this is not just an issue that takes place in the big-scale developments like Tweedsmuir that my colleague from St Paul's spoke about. This is happening, regrettably, in too many other places as well. In Rosedale, on Maple Avenue, we've got a situation where a large house that had been subdivided into 12 is presently undergoing a renovation and will be sold as three condominium units, yet again evidence of the failed policies on the part of this government to protect the housing stock that we have.

Why would we ask that they protect the housing stock that we have? It is simple: Because we have a housing crisis in the city of Toronto. It is not a crisis that will be solved by the creation of more condominiums, which I embrace. It is that this government fails to recognize the extent to which there are people at the bottom end, more marginal people, poorer people, the working poor, those living on welfare, those living on disability, who require some assistance from government. In this case, we're asking this government to recognize that it has a choice, that it has a policy tool at its disposal, and that is to say, as we said as a government in the 1980s, "We will not allow rental housing to be torn down and to exacerbate the crisis in Ontario."

The Acting Speaker: The member for Trinity-Spadina has two minutes to conclude.

Mr Marchese: Just a reminder to the member for Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford: I think he needs to read the bill. It's not terribly complicated; it's quite simple. It says: "The council of a local municipality having a population of 25,000 or more may, by bylaw, prohibit the demolition of rental properties ... unless one of the following conditions is fulfilled," and there are four conditions. Quickly, "unless ... All or part of the rental property is, in the opinion of the municipality's chief building official, structurally unsound," is one example, and there are three others. These are not terribly complicated, and it gives municipalities a great deal of flexibility to deal with some of these problems. It's only a small part of what municipalities can do to control their housing stock, that's all. Give municipalities the power to do that.

This problem is province-wide. It isn't Toronto alone that's suffering this. We're suffering this problem across Ontario, and studies have shown this. You cannot be blind to them. You cannot deny them.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp said we will have needed 80,000 units to be built by 2001. We're in the year 2000 and we've only built 6,000 units. We have a problem, and it's a crisis. Unless we do something, the crisis will deepen. This motion attempts in a small way to deal with that. It doesn't deal with all of the problems. It doesn't even contradict your bill. It does not go against your Tenant Protection Act, I would argue. It's something you can encompass, unlike so many other things that I could bring forward that I know you will object to and not support. This is something that I urge you to support, because it is in your interests as well.


Mr Wettlaufer moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 28, An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day / Projet de loi 28, Loi proclamant le Jour des pionniers allemands.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener Centre): On July 24, 1788, King George III, by royal proclamation, formed several districts within the then province of Quebec, west of the Ottawa River, now known as Ontario. Those districts are Luneberg, bounded on the east by the Lancaster tract and on the west by the Gananoque River, including such towns as Charlottenburg, Cornwall, Osnabruk, Williamsburg, Matilda, Edwardsburg, Augusta and Elizabeth-Town; the second district was Mecklenburg, from the western boundary of Luneberg to the Trent River, comprehending such towns as Pittsburg, Kingston, Ernest-Town, Fredericksburg, Adolphus-Town, Marysburg, Sophiasburg, Ameliasburg, Sydney, Thurlow, Richmond and Camden; the third district was Nassau, bounded by Mecklenburg on the east and aligned north from Long Point; and the fourth district was Hesse, which encompassed the remainder of the province. These districts recognized the then large population of German settlers in Ontario.

There have been various waves of German immigration to Ontario-seven, to be factual. Some accounts indicate three major waves of immigration, but in total there were seven. The first, of course, was immediately after the American Revolutionary War. Over 24,000 German troops fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War because the British didn't have enough troops. After the war some of those troops came to Canada to stay, most of whom came to Ontario as part of the United Empire Loyalist mass settlement.


The United Empire Loyalist definition includes three classes of settlers: a nobler class, those forced from the United States by persecution during and after the revolutionary war and, lastly, disbanded troops. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 of those troops came to Ontario to stay. Unfortunately the figure is unverifiable, because in 1799 then Lieutenant Governor General Peter Hunter struck their names from the list of United Empire Loyalists because they did not reflect a British connection. After the war some of those troops continued to serve the British government as spies.

During and after the war many settlers loyal to the crown, from Pennsylvania, New York and as far south as Georgia, immigrated to Ontario searching for peace and arable land, and by 1821 the population had grown to 125,000 citizens, of which 70% were German. As many as 25% were German in the eastern parts of this province. By 1821 they were coming not only from the United States-Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York-but they were also coming from Prussia, they were coming from Hesse, they were coming from Saxony. My own ancestors, the Wettlaufers, at that time came from Alsfeld, Hesse.

We have a page here by the name of Alison Brohman from my riding of Kitchener Centre. Alison's family also came from Hesse. Frank Klees, the government whip, is a German Canadian. We also have other descendants of German Canadians in this caucus and in this House.

The very first church in Ontario was built by a German Canadian. The first Lutheran minister was Johann Samuel Schwerdtfeger, who has been described as the saint of the St Lawrence Seaway and served the congregations of Williamsburg, Matilda and Osnabruck. Minister Schwerdtfeger had been a pastor of congregations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York but was persecuted because of his allegiance to the crown during the American Revolution. He moved to Canada in 1791. After his death in 1798, his son requested that his name be added to the list of United Empire Loyalists, but the reviewing committee did not recommend it because he had never joined the Royal Standard, ie, he was not a member of the nobility. However, his name was put on the list and beside it is the note "much persecuted." Both Julia Munro of our caucus and Norm Sterling, our House leader, are descendants of the Reverend Schwerdtfeger.

A few years later German Lutheran churches were established in Ernestown, Fredericksburg and Camden East, but there were laws passed some time later and prior to the Family Compact to discourage group settlement of Germans because it was felt at that time that they could no longer be easily assimilated if they were in groups. John Graves Simcoe, who had initially attracted German settlement, discouraged group settlement and he then also changed the names of the districts which had been proclaimed by King George III to reflect a British connection. German place names abound in this province. We have all kinds in Waterloo region, but they abound elsewhere, not just in Waterloo region.

The German settlers and their descendants have given us much in this province, not only the Amish and the Mennonite but also other German artisans and German farmers.

What have the Germans given us? Well, they gave us the Christmas tree. They gave us the Easter bunny and Easter eggs; that came from the German settlers. They gave us kindergarten. They gave us J.M. Schneider meats. Their descendants gave us a Canadian furniture industry that had no equal elsewhere in the world, noted for its fine craftsmanship, names such as Krug Furniture, Kaufman Furniture, Baetz Furniture, Knechtel Furniture and the old Hespeler Furniture. They gave us Zehrs, a very successful food chain, which is now owned by Galen Weston. They gave us the famous Kraut line of the Boston Bruins in the 1940s and 1950s. One of them was Milt Schmidt, who grew up across the street from my own father. They gave us Bauer skates, Greb shoes, Dare biscuits-Dare was then spelled Doerr. They gave us Economical Mutual Insurance Co, one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies in Canada. They gave us Clarica, which was then Mutual Life Assurance Co. Sir Adam Beck, the father of Ontario Hydro, was a German Canadian. John Diefenbaker was descended from German stock. Ed Schreyer, former Governor General of Canada, was of German stock. Louis Breithaupt, a former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, was also of German stock.

It has touched all three political parties. Theodore Heintzman gave us the best pianos ever made in Canada. Daniel Deitweiller was the driving force behind the Queenston-Chippewa canal. He founded the Algoma Power Co, whose idea it was to improve the St Lawrence Seaway. He also founded the great Waterway Association of Canada, the Welland canal locks; it was his idea that gave us the Welland canal, Mr Kormos. Elias W.B. Schneider improved the flour-milling process. Reinhold Lang gave us one of the finest leather-tanning processes ever known. Augustus Stephen Vogt was a gifted musician who founded the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. William Moll-Berczy, born Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll-Berczy, is best known for his portrait of Joseph Brant, but he was the artist who built Yonge Street and Markham Road. Karl Ahrens is an artist whose work hangs in the National Art Gallery. The riding of Waterloo North, which preceded mine, was represented by German Canadians both provincially and federally. Isaac Erb Bowman, Hugo Kranz, W.G. (Mike) Weichel, W.D. Euler, L.O. Breithaupt, Albert Smith-the list goes on and on, famous German descendants who have given Ontario much.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm pleased to join in the debate today on this particular matter, which is brought by Mr Wettlaufer, the member for Kitchener Centre, An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day, 1999. It is listed as officially in the order papers of this assembly.

One of the features of this country and indeed of this province is the fact that we have people of so many different ethnic backgrounds who have made a contribution. We think of the early days. We had the First Nations people in this country and then we had explorers coming over from Europe, and one might have anticipated that perhaps the country would be a French or English country entirely because of the early settlements that took place. But we in Canada made a decision many years ago to welcome people of all backgrounds, and our country is obviously richer as a result.

When you think of it in perhaps crass economic terms, for instance, we have people who can communicate in their own native language with places all over this world, who have connections with countries all over this world, who understand people from various ethnic backgrounds all over this world. That mosaic we have in Canada is a genuine advantage to this country. Make no mistake about it. Certainly among those individuals have been people who have come from Germany to North America as Germans and then came to Canada-I think of the United States and then coming to Canada-and have made a very significant contribution to our country.

The member for Kitchener Centre may know that in the Niagara Peninsula we have many people of German descent. You mentioned Mennonite people, who make a wonderful contribution to our communities in terms of the churches we have in our area, in terms of the charitable work which is done, not only in our part of the province but people who have gone around the world to offer their services to others.


In St Catharines we have-and we're very proud of it-Club Heidelberg. There's Club Rheingold in Port Colborne. Both of these are areas where people of German descent gather and have membership in, but I can tell you that they welcome people from across the Niagara Peninsula and beyond our borders to their various events and to share in that culture, and this is a distinct advantage.

Club Heidelberg in St Catharines, if I may be parochial, has provided recreational facilities, a wonderful hall for people. We have what's called the Folk Arts Festival, this year from May 20 to June 4, where people of various ethnic backgrounds get together. You know, when you see people fighting around the world, you ask them to come to our communities, which have these kinds of festivals. Among the organizations and groups which are welcoming people to their facilities and being an important part are the people of Club Heidelberg in our area and Club Rheingold in Port Colborne. I've enjoyed many an anniversary at Club Heidelberg over the years, enjoyed the dancing. I can't do it, I can tell you that, but the dancing is just outstanding. The musical talent is outstanding. The crafts, the art, the food, the warm hospitality which is extended to people of our community by people of German background is simply wonderful, and our community is richer in a cultural sense because of that.

The member wouldn't mind me mentioning, I know, while we're on this subject, the assessment that might be changed for various halls. I'm worried that Club Heidelberg, for instance, as a result of new provincial rules in assessment, may have an assessment two and a half times what it is today. I know the member for Kitchener Centre and I will be advocating-and I see another member in the House today, Mr Kormos, who has been on this issue as well. We discussed it together at a meeting the other day at the region. We want to see these clubs maintained.

One of the challenges is that the flow of immigration from countries such as Germany has slowed to a certain extent. We'd like to see more people coming from all over the world to our communities. This slowed down, so we see an organization which has many seniors who are still very active and are looking for the younger people within their community to continue to make that contribution. In order to do so, the halls must be treated fairly in terms of assessment. I hope we revert back to the residential assessment which has been applied to them instead of the commercial assessment, which would raise their assessment two and a half times.

I don't want to divert too far into that, but it's important. I think the member would understand that and know how important it is to maintain the halls, the home where people can come as an organization and again share with those of us in the communities.

We have many people of German descent at Tabor Manor in St Catharines, which is a wonderful nursing home and seniors' home in St Catharines. There is Heidehof, which is a right across the street from Club Heidelberg. Again, there are many people of German background there. Right next to Club Heidelberg, we have some new apartments now where many people of German descent have moved in. I can relate to what the member is talking about. I know the Kitchener-Waterloo area and the wonderful contribution that people of German descent have made to that area. I know the great history and the fun that is associated with Oktoberfest. I've had people from the Niagara Peninsula and I have relatives who have gone to Oktoberfest. They enjoy it immensely and again enjoy the warm hospitality of people of German background.

We see a lot of our history as well. Mennonite people have preserved it, but you have the Amish, particularly in the area of Kitchener-Waterloo, who, if we look at the way of life, have continued that way of life which started a number of years ago and give us some insight into our early history, particularly as it relates to farming in that particular area.

I'm pleased to join with the member in indicating my support for this bill.

I want to say as well that I had the pleasure of meeting Milt Schmidt, one of the Kraut line. He used to play for the Boston Bruins, and what a gentleman. I met him at a recent event. I have to be careful of what I say, but today, professional athletes, with all of the money they have and the star-studded cast they hang around with, don't often relate to average people as well as people of years ago. What a gentlemen Mr Milt Schmidt was. I approached him at a table he was sitting at, and he thanked me at the end for coming to over to speak to him. I recalled that I had him in hockey cards when I was a little kid, and he was quite intrigued with that.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): -pretty young in those days.

Mr Bradley: Yes. I accept the interjection beside me.

So I want to say that I understand the member is bringing forward this resolution particularly looking at his area. I'm glad that he brought forward this bill which emphasizes the contribution of people of German background to the province of Ontario, to the country of Canada, and in particular to his community. Thank you for doing it, member for Kitchener Centre, and I suspect that we're going to have unanimous support for your bill.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): I'll support any effort-any effort, any legislation, any cause-that helps us to celebrate the incredibly rich cultural and ethnic diversity of this great country. I say to the author of this bill, you went through a list of historical events and personalities. By the time you got to the Easter egg, you had me sold. You need only have mentioned rouladen, though, and I would have bought into this legislation in a minute. My people, perhaps far more modestly, my Slovak Canadian parents, brought perogies and holubsti, competitors perhaps with rouladen.

I appreciate your narration of the history of their role in the colonial territories prior to the formation of Canada. In the area I come from, Niagara region, again, there is a great tradition of the United Empire Loyalists, among them Pennsylvania Dutch, the very same people you were speaking of, those Germans who were participants in the American Revolution, who either returned immediately or came immediately to what is now Canada, Upper and Lower Canada, or who stayed in the United States for some period of time and then came here.

But I have to tell you, the German Canadians that I'm most familiar with, of course, are not the personalities you spoke of, the wealthy or the famous, are not the heroes of revolutionary wars, if there are ever any real heroes in wartime, as compared to people who merely do what they've got to do. My greatest familiarity, because of my age, because of when I was born and when I grew up and where I grew up, is with that wave of Germans that came here in that tragic period, of course, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I know these people. While among them I'm sure there are some who have made the Canadian Who's Who, the vast majority of them, like the vast majority of my family and myself and people from my cultural background and most cultural backgrounds, aren't in Who's Who. But they're decent, hard-working people.

I tell you, those German Canadians who came here after the horrible experience of the war are as much Canadian pioneers as were those Germans or Prussians of the 18th or 19th centuries, because they worked hard. They worked at incredibly low wages. They sacrificed. They had but one passion, and that was to make life better for their children than it was for them. To achieve that goal, they sacrificed and they made commitments that they stuck to, and they built things. They built their homes. They didn't hire contractors; they built their homes. I know these people. I witnessed this as a kid. They didn't hire excavators to dig basements; they dug basements with shovels. Women worked alongside their husbands, working as hard and, importantly, probably working longer because they not only worked alongside their husbands but raised their children and maintained their households as well.


So I understand your interest in reciting the names of famous or celebrated German Canadians, but let my modest contribution to this debate be a celebration of the German Canadians, like so many other new Canadians, who may never have made headlines, who may never have become mega-wealthy but, by God, who contributed as much to this country as any big entrepreneur, as any inventor, as any scientist, as any celebrity, as any revolutionary war survivor or hero.

These are the kinds of folks that I meet. Jim Bradley spoke of Club Heidelberg and Club Rheingold, and I suspect these are some of your constituents here from the German Canadian community. You know the communities we're talking about when Jim Bradley and I talk about Niagara region and Heidelberg and Club Rheingold. I know these people. I grew up with them and I grew up with their kids. I knew them when they first came to this country in that huge wave of post-war immigration, and I watched them build. They not only built homes, but they built neighbourhoods, they built communities, they built schools and they built hospitals. They, with great sacrifice, built things like public health care systems so that their kids wouldn't have to suffer in a user-pay, private sector health care system, so that their kids and grandkids could get medical treatment regardless of how much money they had in their hip pocket. So many of them were denied opportunities, because they came not just from big cities but from small towns, peasant towns, in Germany. They didn't have the opportunity of even high school education, never mind, my goodness, college or university. But they made sure their kids and their grandkids had college and university educations. They did it by giving more than they ever took back.

So I join you in this bill. Today we talk about German Canadians and their great contribution to Canada historically, but I'll put this to you, even more importantly, currently. I want to join with anybody who wants to reinforce and assist these cultural communities, as Canadian as any community could be. Let's confront that right now. I have no hesitation-and I challenge anybody who suggests that any person who maintains regard and respect for their cultural heritage is somehow a lesser Canadian. On the contrary, Canada, as a country of immigrants, is stronger by virtue of our insistence that we reinforce our history of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity.

I meet on a monthly basis, if not more frequently, with new Canadian families who come to the Niagara region, who get involved with the Welland Heritage Council and the multicultural centre, where English as a second language is taught, amongst other things. I encourage those families and tell them: "Please, make sure your kids learn their mother tongue, because, don't worry, they're going to learn English. Trust me. They're going to learn English, not because of you but in spite of you. They're going to learn it from the television, from the radio, from pop music, from the schoolyard, from any other number of sources." Don't worry, new Canadians, about your kids learning English. They're going to learn English. Please, make sure they learn their mother tongue. Don't worry about them not becoming Canadianized. Your children will become Canadianized, I assure you of that.

You as new Canadians have a responsibility to make sure that your children understand their mother culture and those traditions that their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so many generations before them celebrated throughout the course of not just decades but centuries and in the case of so many cultures, millennia.

I applaud our ethnic and cultural communities that join together to struggle-because it is a struggle. As generations succeed each other and children marry and move away, it becomes more and more difficult, doesn't it, my friends? The membership in your associations, your German Canadian clubs, becomes a little smaller, and from time to time a little greyer. The number of people who are there to run the clubs and the organizations becomes fewer and fewer and older and older. We worry about the survival of those ethnic cultural clubs. We worry about them because they are incredibly important to our communities. They add an incredible richness to our communities. So I will speak, as Mr Bradley did, about the crisis among our ethnic and cultural communities across Ontario right now.

I know that in Niagara region there are scores of ethnic cultural halls, non-profit organizations, which have been reclassified, for the purpose of tax assessment, into commercial properties. I understand and commercial hall operators, commercial caterers, understand that they always have been classified commercial. But please understand-and I've written to Ernie Eves, treasurer. I spoke with him just two days ago, Tuesday, about this. Jim Bradley and I met with our Tory counterparts, who weren't particularly helpful on the issue, in Niagara region. They weren't very helpful at all. We met with regional chair Debbie Zimmerman and her tax assessment advisory committee, and Jim and I made a plea for these cultural halls, these cultural communities.

You see, what's happening, whether it's the Slovak hall in Welland or the Casa Dante hall or Club Rheingold or the Ukrainian Cultural Centre or the Ukrainian Labour Temple-see, now I've started and I should finish them, shouldn't I? I'm going to offend somebody by omitting them, but they know who I'm talking about. These halls aren't going to survive this latest onslaught of double and triple property taxes. They are bona fide non-profit organizations. People had better understand that if our cultural halls, 99% of them non-profit, don't survive, when we go to these halls to arrange for wedding receptions for our children or for celebrations for our sports teams or for any number of events like that-if we didn't have these non-profit halls, we would be paying twice and three times what we pay now for our dinners and our celebrations, wouldn't we? You folks know it, because you and your memberships subsidize our family celebrations with your volunteer work. So communities better be very careful about forcing these cultural communities out of the hall business, and I say "business" in the loosest sense of the word.

It appears that the basis for the reclassification is a ministerial advisory, an interpretive bulletin to the now private, arms-length Ontario Property Assessment Corp, which specifically states that although non-profit halls are to be exempt from the commercial classification, "non-profit halls" does not include cultural and ethnic halls. That's nuts and it's stupid and I'm hoping that at this point it's a simple matter of having Mr Eves review the issue, because it's as simple as his ministry preparing yet another advisory memo, an interpretive memo to the Ontario Property Assessment Corp, to keep these non-profit-they are non-profit. They not only provide their services non-profit, but each and every one of them contributes incredible amounts of money on an annual basis to their community, not just their own ethnic community but the broader community, the community at large. The German Canadians, through their halls and their centres, do it, along with every other single ethnic group: the Italian Canadians, the Slovak Canadians, the Ukrainian Canadians, the Franco-Canadians, the whole nine yards.


If we're really serious about celebrating our cultural diversity and about paying homage to pioneers both historical and present-as I say, those great pioneers of this century, or the last one, as it is now, but those great pioneers of the last 50 years, those hard-working, decent people who worked and struggled in a new land, confronted by a new language, but who at the same time had the courage and the wisdom to maintain the presence of their culture in their families and in their new communities so that they could share it with their children and, more importantly, share it with the rest of us. That's what multiculturalism is all about. It's not about tolerating different cultures; it's about celebrating different cultures.

Club Rheingold is probably more important to me than it is to German Canadians because it lets me share and celebrate part of that tremendous and rich German culture. So it's far more important for me-I speak very selfishly now, I suppose-to ensure that Club Rheingold survives and its membership survives, because one way or another those families will maintain some essence of Germanic culture, but it will be harder for me to share it.

So I'll support this bill. Please, let's support these German Canadians and their other ethnic colleagues and contemporaries across this province.

Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): I'm pleased to rise today to support the member for Kitchener Centre in bringing forward this bill to recognize the contributions of German people to our history in Ontario. As the member has said, German immigrants began coming to Ontario in large numbers in the 18th century, and they helped settle this land and have made great contributions to the values and ideals of our communities.

I would also like to go down the road of history and just reinforce some of the things that have been said about German people in the past. Early German settlers to North America were often Mennonites with roots back to the radical wing of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Many of these German Mennonites had to flee Europe because of persecution in the 17th and 18th centuries, and a great number settled in Pennsylvania, as they were attracted to the area by the tolerant policies of William Penn's government. These settlers became known as Pennsylvania Deutsche or, after many years of mispronunciation, Pennsylvania Dutch. Their skills and those of German immigrants who followed them made for a very rich agricultural community.

By the time of the American Revolution, the Pennsylvania Deutsche population was about 100,000, more than a third of the state's population at that time. But many German settlers left Pennsylvania because of their opposition to the fervour of American nationalism. The American Revolution triggered great migration of United Empire Loyalists to Upper Canada, and of these immigrants Germans made up the largest group of non-British descent, perhaps 10% to 20% of the refugees fleeing into Canada in the decade following 1776. Many of these immigrants settled in Upper Canada by acquiring land from private landowners in the Niagara Peninsula, as we've heard, York and Waterloo counties, Haldimand county, and throughout my riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant.

I'm of United Empire Loyalist ancestry, primarily British but also Pennsylvania Deutsche through my great-great-grandmother Lang from Round Plains in Norfolk county. I would also like to remind the members of the House of United Empire Loyalist Day, which is coming up June 19.

The American Revolution also caused King George III of England to enlist the help of his German allies in attempting to defeat rebel forces. These men-as Mr Wettlaufer described earlier this morning, 24,000 or so Hessian soldiers were also brought in to fight the Americans-have also had a significant cultural and demographic effect on Canadian society. In fact, they represented 3% to 4% or 5% of Canada's entire male population in 1783. Many came from the United States to take advantage of the offer of land grants from Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe to former soldiers of the King.

Late last year, the Delhi District German Home, located in my riding, celebrated its 50th anniversary. The German Home was founded by German people who came to Canada in the early to mid-1900s, mostly in the period following the First World War. Founders of this home were determined to keep German culture, traditions and language alive. They were involved in farming in our area and helped build our very strong agricultural and primarily tobacco-based economy. At the 50th anniversary of the German Home, I related to those present that this legislation was coming up and explained I would be supporting the legislation. I'm very pleased to be able to speak today in support of recognizing the immense contributions that German pioneers have made in strengthening our province.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Davenport): I wish to congratulate the member for Kitchener Centre, Mr Wettlaufer, on this resolution, German Pioneer Day. I want to make my remarks based on a book called Toronto's Many Faces. The first recorded German settler in Canada was a man called Hans Bernard, who purchased land in 1664. Then, in the midst of the 18th century, 2,000 German newcomers landed at Halifax. From there, some of them went over to New Brunswick, which of course is really called Neu Braunschweig, and the Duke of Neu Braunschweig, or New Brunswick, was then related, of course, to the English crown. These early German-speaking immigrants to Canada came not only from the various estates of Germany, but they also came from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and other European countries. After the American Revolution, German settlers from New York state, disbanded German auxiliary troops of the British crown and Mennonites, as was mentioned earlier, the Pennsylvania Deutch, came in search of this land to Upper Canada.

Let's now look at what happened in Toronto specifically. Many of us probably don't know that the co-founder of the city of Toronto, a man called William Moll-Berczy, came to Toronto with 64 German families to co-found Toronto with Graves Simcoe, the governor at the time. In response to his request to get land, Graves Simcoe said, "Why don't you co-found Toronto with me and build Yonge Street from the foot of Lake Ontario all the way over to Lake Simcoe?" That, he and the 64 families proceeded to do, many of whom died in the process because York, the city of Toronto, that is, was known at that time as "Muddy York," meaning swampland and trees. That was the foundation of Toronto, basically, and that all had to be cleared. That's why many of them died in doing that job of building Yonge Street. Today there is a monument in front of the Hummingbird Centre commemorating that family's contribution and those German settlers, those 64 families, many of whom died in constructing Yonge Street.

By 1850, the Toronto community began to organize as a group. German Lutherans formed the congregation of the first Lutheran church of Toronto. German builders, architects, manufacturers and craftsmen started their own businesses, including Theodore Heintzman, who would turn his kitchen trade into Heintzman Co, a world-renowned manufacturer of pianos; Sir Adam Beck was knighted for establishing Toronto Hydro in 1903; and German musicians gave Toronto's early arts community a boost when Augustus Stephen Vogt formed the Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto in 1894; and Luigi Maria von Kunits revived the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1922.

Now, when we look at Toronto specifically, we see that the sleek black façade of the Toronto-Dominion Centre bears the famous markings of van der Rohe's international Bauhaus style, while architect Eberhart Zeidler's designs of top tourist attractions such as the Eaton Centre, Ontario Place and the Queen's Quay Terminal stand as silhouettes of Toronto's skyline. Their contribution, indeed, as we know, has been great, and we are very grateful for their contributions to not only Toronto but all of Canada. One would have to write another book to detail all these contributions.


If there are visitors to Toronto, and I know there are many from Germany, and they say, "Where do I go to find German cultural attributes, or where do I find some places that still have a German connection?" I would point them first to Berczy Park, which is near the Hummingbird Centre. In fact, Berczy's son was the first president of Consumers' Gas of Toronto and was also a very famous artist and sculptor.

Then I would point them to the statue of Adam Beck, as I mentioned earlier. It's made of granite and it's pretty massive. Then I would say, "Go to Black Creek Pioneer Village." Many of us have been there. These buildings at Jane and Steeles are like an open-air museum and have been arranged around the early 19th-century farm of the Pennsylvania German immigrant Daniel Stong. Then I would tell them, "Go see the Theodore Heintzman plaque." Finally, I would say to them, "Have you seen the German-Canadian Heritage Museum at 6650 Hurontario Street in Mississauga?" It's a half-hour drive from downtown Toronto on Highway 10 and it's situated in an historic farmhouse, the Hansa House, and it contains a wealth of information on German settlement and contributions to Ontario. Of course, there's also the German library, which is housed at the Goethe Institute on King Street West.

Finally, let me simply say this. I know that the member from Kitchener Centre has-

Mr Bradley: What book are you quoting from?

Mr Ruprecht: Thank you for mentioning this to me. But I am looking at the book which all members have a copy of. It may not be on your desks right now, but it's called Toronto's Many Faces. I'm happy to tell you now that we're doing the third edition this year. It's the bible of multiculturalism in Toronto. Everything is in it.

Mr Bradley: Who's the author?

Mr Ruprecht: The author is Tony Ruprecht, the member from Davenport. Anyway, I wish to congratulate the member, simply to say that the honourable James Breithaupt, whom he is very close to, had made a previous request, actually, to do a German Pioneers Day. I am very happy not only to support this particular resolution but also to say to the member that he has done fine work in continuing to maintain the culture and keeping it alive.

Mr Ted Arnott (Waterloo-Wellington): I wish I had a book to flog too, but I don't. However, I am very pleased to stand in my place today and support Bill 28, An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day. I want to begin by commending my friend the member for Kitchener Centre for bringing this private member's bill forward and for the fine speech he gave us this morning.

I also want to add a word of welcome to the people from the Kitchener-Waterloo area who are here in the gallery in support of Mr Wettlaufer's private member's bill. I say welcome to you and I thank you for coming.

Members here know that I represent a large, diverse, rural riding called Waterloo-Wellington, which also includes a fairly substantial city component in the city of Kitchener. I also have Wellesley township, Woolwich township and Wilmot township in Waterloo region. I'm very privileged to represent a southwestern portion of the city of Kitchener.

I can credibly claim that, in terms of geography, I have the biggest part of the city of Kitchener, although not the biggest population. I'm privileged to share that honour with the member for Kitchener Centre who probably, in terms of the population of the city of Kitchener, has the biggest area. This member is hard-working and determined to provide a strong voice for his constituents, which he does with great tenacity. He has earned the respect of the members of the House and the respect and support of various German business and volunteer organizations. He's without a doubt a the most appropriate member to bring this bill forward.

I was honoured last year to join for the first time the member for Kitchener Centre at the Oktoberfest in Kitchener as one of the MPPs representing part of the city of Kitchener at that festival. I'm proud to support the hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers who organize this largest celebration of its kind outside of Germany each year. I'm also proud to say that I have some German ancestry, some German blood. My great-great-grandfather's last name was Kramp. My wife's grandmother's maiden name was Hampel. We are very proud of our German ancestry and our German heritage.

I also share with Wayne a deep grasp of the importance of private members' time as a vehicle for members who are not part of the executive council to support efforts that are near and dear to their hearts. Sometimes it's important to note that it's the only venue for initiatives that MPPs have to bring ideas forward. Knowing that the member for Kitchener Centre realizes and appreciates this, I am very pleased to offer my brief remarks today in support of Bill 28.

I reiterate, this can be a forum for success. People often say that private members' bills don't always become law, but that's not always the case. I've been fortunate to have a number of my initiatives that have been brought forward as private member's bills adopted as perhaps government legislation or adopted in the form in which I've brought them forward. I've used this to support volunteer firefighters. I've used this vehicle to call upon the government to bring in a debt retirement plan. I've also brought forward an idea which helped ensure that volunteer firefighters would have adequate workers' compensation coverage, which was adopted by the government in the last Parliament, in 1998. Recently, my resolution for a full restoration of the Canada health and social transfer was acknowledged by the Premier and incorporated in part by the government in its recent resolution this week, and I look forward to seeking unanimous support for my own resolution next week in this House.

I believe that this bill, Bill 28, also warrants full support by the Legislature, and I'm sure the member so ably sponsoring it will carry it forward to its full implementation and intended effect.

By proclaiming a German Pioneers Day, we will keep alive values by celebrating the living history and present-day contributions of German people in the Waterloo-Wellington area and indeed across Ontario. We will honour the high value they placed upon freedom and opportunity by venturing forth to begin a new life in Canada. We will help maintain the spirit that helped build the society we have, and are so fortunate to have, and in so doing, further enhance the future for all Ontario residents.

Again I thank the member for Kitchener Centre for sponsoring this bill and bringing it forward, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to speak in favour of it. I hope all members will support this important initiative today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Further debate? The member for Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey): Well said, Mr Speaker.

I would like to join in the debate to support my friend from Kitchener Centre, Wayne Wettlaufer, on his private member's bill, Bill 28, An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day.

I have known this member since he was first elected in 1995. Certainly in this House and in caucus meetings he is most proud of his German heritage. I'm pleased that he has brought this legislation forward, which is legislation to celebrate, with the people of German descent and German heritage, the great Canadian-German history in this province.

I think we're all proud of our heritage. Every member of this House, every member of our society is proud of where we came from and we try to celebrate it in our own way. The member from Durham brought some legislation forward I think last year to celebrate Irish heritage. In fact, I think as we speak, today is Tartan Day. The member from Grey-Bruce brought some legislation one or two years ago to bring forward Tartan Day-I believe it was the member from Grey-Bruce-and, as has already been mentioned, United Empire Loyalists' Day.

Certainly An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day should be part of this wonderful mosaic, the many different cultures and the many different languages we have in this province. I believe the member has chosen the day after Thanksgiving as that specific day; I think that's the date that is spelled out in this legislation, that the day following Thanksgiving Day in each year is proclaimed as German Pioneers Day. I understand the rationale for that is that a lot of the culture in the Kitchener-Waterloo area goes around the wonderful Oktoberfest that takes place in that great city at that time of year. It takes place for six or seven days, I believe, and Thanksgiving is in the middle.

I looked at the Web site of Kitchener-Waterloo tourism, and I would recommend that members look at that. It talks all about the German history in this province. It talks about the history of how the German immigrants really founded and settled that whole area around Kitchener-Waterloo. That started, it seems, around the early 1800s, when Germans from Europe were attracted to Waterloo county because of the opportunity to use their trades: tailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers and industrialists. From that point in time, the area grew tremendously and a government was later formed. Interestingly enough, as we all know, Kitchener was known as Berlin, subsequently changed to Kitchener, which was named after a famous British general. But that area certainly is rife with German heritage.

You go to the Oktoberfest, which has been mentioned-I recommend that all members read about it on the Web site and, better yet, go there. I support this legislation.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford): I'm certainly pleased to join the debate with respect to An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day, 1999, brought forth by the member for Kitchener Centre.

In my area of Simcoe county, there are a number of citizens of German heritage who have made tremendous contributions not only to the community at large but tremendous business acumen in bringing jobs. I can name two right off the bat, Ingrid and Wolfgang Schroeter, who run a business, Wolf Steel, manufacturing wood-burning stoves and barbecues.

Simcoe county has great significance because of the United Empire Loyalists. As we know, the United Empire Loyalists came to Canada after the Revolutionary War. On my mother's side, with name Chrysler, they came to Canada in the early 1800s. But John Graves Simcoe, for whom Simcoe county is named-I've taken this from a historical text. In 1791, John Graves Simcoe, who had been stationed near Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War and had become impressed with these and others such as the Quakers and Tunkers, determined that he would attract as many of these farmers as possible to Upper Canada. They came from virtually all states. Certainly my riding, with the exception of Orillia and the city of Barrie, is mostly rural and very strong agriculturally. I know that citizens of German heritage have farmed there for many years, and I think that is in large part due to the efforts of John Graves Simcoe.

I want to applaud the member for Kitchener Centre for remembering his ethnic roots and the contribution of German citizens to this country. I join in supporting this act.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kitchener Centre has two minutes to conclude.

Mr Wettlaufer: I want to thank the members who participated in the debate: the members for St Catharines, Niagara Centre, Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant, Davenport, Waterloo-Wellington, Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey, and Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford. They have all touched on some things I want to note here.

German Canadians today constitute the third-largest ethnic group in Ontario. Between two million and 2.5 million citizens of Ontario trace their ethnic roots to Germany.

I have a letter from the president of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, Edward Scott. He says, in part: "I am writing to affirm my full and complete support for your private member's bill as it will help promote greater public awareness and celebrate the achievements of our Loyalists and our Loyalist heritage. Those Loyalists, known as `Pennsylvania Dutch' were so called, as you will be aware, because of a mistranslation of the term `Deutsche,' referring to their German ancestry."

I also have a letter from David Young of our caucus. David is one of the Jewish members of this House. He says:

"German Canadians have a proud history of distinction and accomplishment. Since the mid-19th century, many German men, women and children have come to Canada in search of a new life and new opportunities. They have worked hard with people from other backgrounds to establish vibrant communities all across this province and to build a strong and united Canada. The contributions of German Canadians have helped make this country the best place in the world to live and raise a family."

Hundreds of Germans lost their lives in the American Revolutionary War, hundreds more lost their lives defending Canada in the War of 1812, and thousands upon thousands of German Canadians lost their lives in the First World War and the Second World War.

The member for Niagara Centre talked about the immigrants and the spoken language-

The Acting Speaker: The time for this ballot item has expired. I will now put the questions, first dealing with ballot item number 13.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Mr Marchese has moved second reading of Bill 30, An Act to amend the Municipal Act to authorize certain municipalities to restrict the demolition of rental residential buildings.

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

All those in favour will say "aye."

All those opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

We will deal with this division following the next ballot item.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Mr Wettlaufer has moved second reading of Bill 28, An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day.

Shall the motion carry? Carried.

According to the standing orders, this bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener Centre): Speaker, I would like the bill referred to the standing committee on general government, please.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a majority in favour? Agreed.

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

The division bells rang from 11:58 to 12:03.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Would members please take their seats. Mr Marchese has moved second reading of Bill 30. All those in favour will please rise and remain standing.


Agostino, Dominic

Bartolucci, Rick

Boyer, Claudette

Bradley, James J.

Bryant, Michael

Caplan, David

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Colle, Mike

Crozier, Bruce

Di Cocco, Caroline

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duncan, Dwight

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Levac, David

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Parsons, Ernie

Peters, Steve

Pupatello, Sandra

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Smitherman, George

The Acting Speaker: Those opposed will please stand and remaining standing until their name is called.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Beaubien, Marcel

Coburn, Brian

Cunningham, Dianne

Elliott, Brenda

Flaherty, Jim

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Gill, Raminder

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Johns, Helen

Klees, Frank

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Mazzilli, Frank

Molinari, Tina R.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Palladini, Al

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Stockwell, Chris

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 25; the nays are 41.

The Acting Speaker: I declare this motion lost.

All matters relating to private members' public business now having been completed, I do now leave the chair and return at 1:30.

The House recessed from 1206 to 1330.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On April 28 we celebrate the national day of mourning, a time when we pay our respects to those workers who have lost their lives as a result of workplace injuries and occupational diseases. I will proudly be standing with Ron Laforest, the president of the Northeastern Ontario Building Trades Council, the United Steelworkers of America, CAW Mine Mill and other unions in paying special tribute to the masses of workers who have died needlessly.

The memory of these workers must instil in all of us a greater level of commitment to create laws which will maximize the highest level of health and safety in the workplace.

I would like to recognize today Liz Van Rooyen, who is sitting in the members' gallery. She can speak first hand to the devastation of not having a loved one return home. Her husband, Dick, was killed while at work placing pylons along Highway 401. I commend Liz for her continued efforts to raise health and safety awareness and her fight for better legislation.

Let us remember as well Bert Bottrell, killed at Falconbridge's Lockerby mine, and Jim Plummer, who was killed in a blasting accident at Inco's South mine. These deaths must not be in vain.

Later I will be asking a page to bring a roll of X-ray tape over to the Minister of Labour, and I ask him to display this prominently in his office and look at the shattered bones of those who have been injured or killed in Ontario's workplaces. Minister, remember these people and their families as you draft your legislation, and help me convince your government of the need for a workplace carcinoma committee.

Lastly, 231 people have died in Ontario's workplaces this year. That is 231 deaths too many.


Mrs Julia Munro (York North): I rise today to speak on an issue that is of great importance to the residents of York North and to all Ontarians: safe streets. During the 1999 election, the Harris government, my government, promised to put 1,000 new police officers on the streets. I can assure the people of York North that this is another example of our government's commitment to keeping its promises.

I was given the honour on Wednesday, March 22, to present a cheque to the newly appointed chief of police for York region, Robert Middaugh, for almost $350,000. This cheque represents 41 new police officers already on the streets of York region, with 36 more approved for the region. These newly hired police officers are a direct result of this government's community policing partnerships program. Through this program, our government is keeping its promise of making Ontario a safer place to live, work and raise a family. We are providing matching funds for up to 50% of salary-related costs for newly hired police officers, who represent a net addition to the strength of our police services.

I am extremely proud of this government's record on keeping Ontario's streets safe. Since this program was introduced, over half of the new police officers have been hired and are working to keep our communities safe.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): This morning I listened with great interest to the minister without portfolio on children's services' reannouncement of funding for children's mental health services. I wanted to take this opportunity to remind the minister of the conditions in my community. In Windsor, approximately 16,000 children require some form of psychiatric help, and there are about 700 children on the waiting list today. Results from a study conducted by an independent researcher between 1992 and 1999 have prompted 15 children's services groups to ask for an urgent meeting with regional representatives of the ministries of Community and Social Services and Health-meetings which didn't happen.

Beginning with the New Democrats, funding for children's mental health services in Windsor-Essex county has been reduced 10.6%; that's $1.6 million per year. Residential spaces: Again, cuts began under the NDP and continued under the Tories, from 102 spaces to 25. Residential receiving beds at the children's aid society went from 12 to zero. In addition, a number of other government initiatives have put pressure on children's services agencies. I have presented petitions to this Legislature on the issue. I have done much work, as my colleague from Windsor West has, before the last election and at this time to highlight this need in our community. The minister's announcement falls far short. This government has done nothing but harm children's services in Windsor-Essex county and indeed right across Ontario.


Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph-Wellington): Today I wish to inform members of the House about the success of the Guelph dialysis clinic. This clinic, which welcomed its first patient, Carmen Norris, last May, now treats 22 people and is planning to treat at least a dozen more. It's a satellite of the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener and is designed to look more like a home than an institution.

Before this centre opened, Guelph-Wellington residents had to travel to the Kitchener clinic for three-times-a-week treatment, only to return to Guelph exhausted. They are very relieved that they no longer have to go through this ordeal of travel.

I would like to thank Joan Fenlon, Newt and Marguerite Clayton, and Marty Fairbairn, who is here in the gallery today, for their leadership in helping this facility become a reality. The Guelph Rotary Club; Patrick Gaskin, vice-president at the Grand River Hospital; Kim Hendrix, the unit's nurse in charge; and Dr Peter Somerville are key in keeping this unit running well.

This clinic is another example of the Mike Harris government's commitment to health care in Ontario in the face of chronic and worsening underfunding from the federal Liberal government. Since 1995, our government has invested $81 million in dialysis services all across the province. Hundreds of new patient places have been created. Just imagine how many more we would have if Allan Rock would do his job and restore the money that the federal Liberals have cut from health care. Perhaps then all satellite clinics could offer full service to every dialysis patient in need.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) : Ma déclaration est pour la ministre de la Santé.

Madame la ministre, je vous adresse la parole aujourd'hui au nom de plusieurs personnes âgées de ma circonscription. Ces personnes ont appelé mon bureau en pleurant, ne sachant quoi faire. On venait tout juste de leur annoncer que leur service de soins à domicile serait coupé. Plusieurs de ces personnes sont âgées d'au-delà de 90 ans. Oui, plus de 90 ans, madame la ministre, et pourtant le gouvernement Harris avait bien promis d'augmenter les services de soins à domicile afin de maintenir les personnes âgées dans leur foyer aussi longtemps que possible.

Mais voilà que les centres d'accès aux soins communautaires doivent couper ces services car ils desservent un nombre de plus en plus élevé de personnes âgées et un nombre accru de patients sortant des hôpitaux plus tôt, et ce avec la même enveloppe budgétaire.

Madame la ministre, je demande donc aujourd'hui votre engagement à verser des fonds additionnels à ces centres d'accès aux soins communautaires afin de répondre aux besoins immédiats de nos personnes âgées. Ces personnes nous sont toutes très chères et ne méritent pas ça. Nous nous devons de faire tout notre possible pour les garder dans leur foyer le plus longtemps que possible. Ai-je votre engagement, madame la ministre?


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): The Hamilton labour movement will hold a day of mourning on April 28 for the many workers who have died on the job in Ontario. The tragedy of workplace accidents is particularly heightened this year by the 40th anniversary of the Hog's Hollow disaster, where five Italian immigrant construction workers lost their lives. We honour their memory.

Following that tragic disaster at Hog's Hollow, Ontario labour laws and safety regulations were rewritten, beginning in the Robarts era and then under Premier Bill Davis, and strengthened yet again under the NDP. One of Bill Davis's ministers was Frank Drea, who was a Toronto Telegram reporter covering the Hog's Hollow disaster. His graphic descriptions informed Canadians of the horrible tragedy. Mr Drea continued to report on the public outcry over the deaths and on the efforts of workers to organize trade unions to protect themselves from similar disasters.

On March 17 of this year, Frank Drea attended the public remembrance for the workers killed at Hog's Hollow and reminded us that the labour laws and safety changes which came from that event constitute the foundation of today's vastly improved construction safety record. However, construction workers today and their families are worried that the protection gained in those days will soon be rolled back because of lobbying by some of Ontario's biggest contractors.


April 28 is the annual day of mourning for workers killed on the job in Ontario. I urge all members of this House to mark a minute of silence at 11 am on that day and to join the ceremonies in their respective communities.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Bruce-Grey): Today, April 6, is Tartan Day in Ontario. Back in 1991, I introduced a private member's bill marking this day in our great province, and it wasn't just to make sure I had an opportunity to wear a kilt, either.

Did you know that the word "kilt" is a play on the word "Celt"? While it looks like a type of skirt, it is actually a descendant of the early battle garb that was worn by Roman soldiers. The tartan can be worn in the form of a dress, a sash, a scarf or a tie-the tie being, at one time, simply a large bandage crusaders wore around their necks to be prepared in case of being wounded-a pretty useful tool around here if you ask me after listening to some of the debate in the past week.

Scotland has had a direct impact on the history of Ontario. One would be hard pressed to find even one aspect of our history, culture, laws or government that was not positively impacted by the Scots. This is our heritage. The tartan is justifiably a representative symbol for all Ontarians, even in a multicultural society. That is why, later this session, I will be bringing in a bill for second reading that, if passed, will finally see the province with its own official tartan. I know all members of this House will give easy passage to this bill. After all, a province that has adopted a Tartan Day surely will adopt an official tartan.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): Yesterday's decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal to uphold the provincial government order to merge Beardmore, Geraldton, Longlac and Nakina into a single community of Greenstone has understandably created a great deal of confusion and concern in all the affected communities. What still remains unclear is whether the ruling is immediate or will go into affect after this year's municipal elections. Another possibility is that this legal decision could be subject to further appeal to a higher court. But surely the real issue that the government should be dealing with on an urgent basis is whether or not this forced amalgamation makes any sense at all any more.

When the government first gave the order to amalgamate over three years ago, it was on the basis of potential savings to taxpayers. While I disagreed at that time that any substantial savings would result from this merger, it should be clear, especially to Minister Clement, that as of today, circumstances have changed so considerably that taxpayers will quite possibly see no benefit from this amalgamation moving forward now. That being said, I am calling on the Minister of Municipal Affairs today to consider setting aside this ruling on the basis that the reasons for the forced amalgamation no longer apply. Furthermore, I think it is crucial that the minister become involved in this personally by meeting with the municipal leaders of all the affected communities. This decision will have a dramatic impact on everyone living in the vast area and the minister must respect that. This needs to be resolved quickly, but it must also be resolved fairly. My constituents deserve nothing less.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham): The member from Hamilton West and all of us share the interest of the importance of workplace safety, and every April 28 the Legislature joins with all Canadians in a national day of mourning, paying tribute to those workers who have suffered an injury or death on the job. It is a solemn and sad occasion. It lets us all reflect on our responsibility to ensure that workers return home safely to their families each evening. No job is worth dying for.

The day of mourning is an opportunity for us as legislators to affirm our shared commitment to preventing workplace injury. We are making progress. Our province will meet our target of a 30% reduction in lost-time injuries over the five-year period. However, the job is clearly not done. Our government is committed to preventing further workplace tragedies. Our new provincial strategy involves key safety partners, such as the Industrial Accident Prevention Association, working together towards eliminating on-the-job injuries. We are lowering occupational exposure limits. We are strictly enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On Thursday, April 27, in accordance with tradition, there will be a statement from our Minister of Labour and a minute of silence in this Legislature. On April 28, the flag at Queen's Park will be lowered to half mast. I urge all members to honour those who have lost their lives on the job and to remember with compassion their families and their loved ones.


Hon Tim Hudak (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to let the members of the Assembly know that we are joined in the members' gallery today by two outstanding youths from Port Colborne and Wainfleet in my riding, Joey Crawford and Matt Lambert, winners of the Canada Youth Award. Welcome to Queen's Park.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): It's not a point of order, but we recognize our guests who have come.


The government House leader has a motion. Unanimous consent to go to motions, if we could. All in favour of going to motions? Agreed.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): I'm sorry, Mr Speaker, I was taken aback by the Palladini tartan, and I did refuse to look at Bill Murdoch's legs.

I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding the mandate of the general government committee.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Mr Sterling seeks unanimous consent. Agreed? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that for the purposes of standing order 124, the standing committee on general government be authorized to consider the matter of the creation of an association of former parliamentarians.

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



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Chair of Management Board. Minister, you know that this week we have raised with you the matter of three property sales that have cost Ontario taxpayers $10 million.

I want to raise with you today the subject of a fourth property, located on Bloomington Road in Aurora. There is a sale there that has not been finalized. It is conditional on some rezoning. That sale, we understand from the Ontario Realty Corp, is also under investigation. Notwithstanding the fact that this property sale is under investigation by the police and the auditors, we understand that the Ontario Realty Corp is taking this matter before the Ontario Municipal Board to help expedite and finalize the sale of this property.

Can you tell us, Minister, if this deal is under investigation, as we believe it to be, why all matters connected with it have not been frozen?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I'm not aware of the specifics. I can assure this House that we are taking the proper steps, acting on the advice of the assistant Attorney General of criminal law. That is the advice we are following. The transaction you are talking about hasn't happened. I'll talk to the chair of the board to find out the specifics on it, but it is not my understanding that anything has happened on this outside of the advice we received from the auditor and the Attorney General. I'm not aware of what is under investigation or if there is an investigation. I have been asked not to comment on specifics. If you are aware of that, I'd like to know how you were made aware of that.


Mr McGuinty: Minister, you are not taking all the right steps in the circumstances. First of all, we've been advised by the vice-president of the ORC, Christopher Barry, who tells us that this transaction is the subject of an investigation. It is under investigation. Here's another aspect to this deal: It turns out that the Aurora deal has the same buyer as the Mississauga deal, and the Mississauga deal is also under investigation. That's the one where the buyer purchased the land for $1.9 million and flipped it for $4.4 million. What we've got here are two deals that are under investigation. Both involve the same developer.

Minister, why have you not instructed the ORC to freeze all activity at least in connection with all matters that are under investigation?

Hon Mr Hodgson: First of all, we are following the advice of the Attorney General and the auditor. The senior management team of Christopher Barry, the person you referred to, and others in the ORC are reviewing all the current transactions to make sure the proper processes are followed. They are taking the proper steps in terms of asking the auditor to look at all past transactions. All transactions going forward are following the new criteria adopted by the board, and the senior management team review those. We're doing the right thing. We're as concerned as you are about these issues and we're doing everything we can to find out the truth about them.

Mr McGuinty: It seems to me that if you were genuinely concerned about the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars in connection with these land deals, what you would be doing today, at minimum, is insisting that all activities connected with land sales that fall under the auspices of the ORC in Ontario be frozen.

To make matters worse, when we talk about this particular piece of land in Aurora, we're talking about land on the Oak Ridges moraine, a highly sensitive bioregion. The lawyers for the ORC are helping to push this matter through the OMB in order to help the developer develop on lands on the Oak Ridges moraine.

Again I ask you, Minister: If you are so genuinely and sincerely concerned about the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars, why have you not ordered, at minimum, a complete freeze on all activities affecting those lands and those transactions that are at present under investigation?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I have tried to make clear to the Leader of the Opposition that we are acting on the recommendations of the proper authorities, not on speculation of what is or isn't under review.

As the Leader of the Opposition is aware from earlier answers this week, the board of the Ontario Realty Corp has adopted stringent new policies and procedures that govern all realty transactions. All pending transactions are being reviewed by the senior management team to ensure that the transactions adhere to the newly enhanced policies, and only those transactions that meet the new criteria will be approved.

You already mentioned in your first question that this transaction has not been approved. I think the proper steps are being taken. I will mention your concern, though, and pass it on to the chair of the Ontario Realty Corp.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): New question, leader of the official opposition.

Mr McGuinty: This question is for the Minister of Transportation. Yesterday the Chair of Management Board said that he was not responsible for the sale of one of these properties, the property in Mississauga. He said that was your responsibility.

I want to ask you, Minister, if you might shed some light on the sale of the property in Mississauga. That's the one that cost Ontario taxpayers $2.4 million. I wonder again if you might shed some light on that sale transaction and I ask, since this minister won't take responsibility, if you will take responsibility for that $2.4-million loss.

Hon David Turnbull (Minister of Transportation): I refer it to the Chair of Management Board.

Hon Mr Hodgson: The Leader of the Opposition asked these questions yesterday. I told the truth, that some properties do not require an order in council, and Ministry of Transportation properties that are held in their title do not.

The act hasn't changed since 1980, but in 1980 it was required that an order in council must be produced for every sale of property. That was changed in 1989 by your party when you were in power. You delegated the authority so you didn't need to have an order in council. It went to a regional director inside the bureaucracy. Your government is the one that made the standards looser.

Mr McGuinty: I have in my copies a deed, a transfer of land. This is for the Mississauga property. It's signed by an individual on behalf of, it says, "Her Majesty the Queen, in the right of the province of Ontario" as represented by the Minister of Transportation for the province of Ontario. So I can't understand why the Minister of Transportation, who signed off on this deal, has now referred this question back to you.

Back to the Minister of Transportation. This deal cost Ontario taxpayers $2.4 million. It was authorized by your ministry. It was signed on your behalf by some officials. We're just trying to figure out over here, on behalf of Ontario taxpayers, where the buck stops when it comes to the taxpayers' losses. So back to you again, Minister: Will you or will you not accept responsibility for the sale of land that cost Ontario taxpayers $2.4 million, a deal which was signed in the name of your ministry?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I think the Leader of the Opposition knows full well that everyone in this House is concerned about taxpayers receiving fair value and appropriate value from the Ontario Realty Corp or from the MTO or from any dispersal of assets.


The Speaker: Order. We can't continue as long as the members are shouting at the minister when he's trying to answer.

Hon Mr Hodgson: The problem that he is aware of full well is that we can't talk about the specifics of transactions that are under review, going through the proper process of having an auditor and having the police called in. You know that. You know we can't talk about the specifics. I can tell you about general policy, though. The general policy that your government implemented was that OICs were delegated down to the Ministry of Transportation by Ed Fulton. That is what took place and that's the answer to your question. It's not a question of partisan politics.


The Speaker: Member for Windsor West, come to order, please.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): Oliver Mowat set up the ministry. Blame him.

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

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): Nobody's in charge over there. Nobody will take responsibility. What a bunch.

The Speaker: Member for Essex. Members will know that question period is an opportunity to hold the government accountable with questions, and we won't be able to do that.


The Speaker: That's fine. We'll just stand here all day, then. We'll stand here and let the clock run down if you're going to continue to shout, and there won't be any questions allowed to be asked.

Chair of Management Board.

Hon Mr Hodgson: This isn't a question of partisan politics. We're as concerned about these issues as every member in this House. That's why we've taken the proper steps to get to the bottom and find out the truth. That's why we've had the auditors come in. That's why the police have been called in to review these files.

In regard to the chain of authority, hypothetically, what you did in 1989 was make an order in council unnecessary to sell MTO property. That's the answer to your question.


Mr McGuinty: Ontario taxpayers do not want your weak expressions of concern. They don't care about protocol and bureaucratic managerial procedures. They want to know if anybody over there has the guts to take responsibility for the loss of over 10 million taxpayer dollars. That's what they want to know. You're saying, "No, it was his fault," and he's saying it wasn't really his fault, it's back to you. What Ontario taxpayers want to know is: Does anybody over there have the guts to take responsibility for the loss of over 10 million taxpayer dollars?

There is an old-fashioned principle called ministerial responsibility. Ultimately, the buck must stop with one of you ministers. All we want to know is, which one is going to take responsibility for the loss of over $10 million?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I don't have the luxury the Leader of the Opposition has to make speculations on whether money is lost or whether the taxpayers got their true value. We are concerned about those stories and those important questions. They need to be asked and to be answered in the proper process. We on this side of the House don't have the luxury of being casual in our comments.

What we are doing is following the proper process in accordance with the Attorney General-


The Speaker: Would the member take his seat. Order. Chair of Management Board.

Hon Mr Hodgson: In conclusion, we are following the proper process. We are trying to get to the bottom of this. We got the auditor involved. The auditor found some irregularities, and the police were called. That is the appropriate action to take in these situations to get to the truth.


Ms Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Attorney General. On April Fool's Day, your government introduced new user fees at the Family Responsibility Office, contrary to the statement you made in this Legislature on November 24, when you said: "It's being suggested that the government would charge a recipient to find out how much is owed. That's wrong." In fact, that's exactly what you are doing with your new fees.

You plan to raise $1 million annually on the backs of women and children and responsible payers who are actually making their support payments. Worse still, this $1 million doesn't even go back to the FRO to hire more staff or to do more enforcement. It goes directly into general revenue, no doubt to support your tax break for your wealthy friends.

Minister, how can you possibly justify these cash grabs on the backs of women and children and responsible payers?

Hon Jim Flaherty (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): As the member knows from previous answers to her questions relating to this issue, most of the fees are paid by payers, with the exception of third parties seeking statements with respect to payers for real estate transactions and that kind of thing. I think the honourable member is familiar with that, or at least I hope she is.

The fees serve as an incentive to payers to fulfill their responsibilities to their spouses and to their children. Avoidance of the penalty fee is certainly available to payers if they simply honour their obligations on a timely basis.

Ms Martel: Minister, just to prove how wrong you are, we have the breakdown of the revenue you hope to grab from each new user fee. It was provided to us by your deputy.

You will make $600,000 of the $1 million by charging recipients and responsible payers $25 when they request a statement of their accounts. You'll make another $180,000 by penalizing responsible payers who give their families some extra money at Christmas or at the start of the school year by charging them $100 when they have to have their adjustment made after that payment. You're going to make another $35,000 off the backs of responsible payers by charging those who use postdated cheques to make their support payments $10 per cheque. These are people who are making their support payments. In fact, with four of your five new users fees, you will make $900,000 of the $1 million, and none of those four fees has anything to do with getting at deadbeat dads.

I ask you again, Minister: How can you possibly justify this tax grab off the backs of women and children and responsible payers?

Hon Mr Flaherty: As the member knows, the operations of the Family Responsibility Office are paid for by all the taxpayers of Ontario at a cost of approximately $28 million, as I recall. Those expenses are borne by all the taxpayers of Ontario, not just spouses who have had dissolution of their marriages or common-law relationships.

This is some recovery of fees for third parties, for requesting formal statements and that type of thing. There's been notice given to the payers over the months leading up to the commencement of these fees in the month of April, so there's been good notice.

With respect to post-dated cheques-and that's an interesting point-the FRO is encouraging payers to use electronic methods to make the payments. It reduces overhead. It's good business practice. It's commonly used, as the member probably knows, by most financial institutions in Ontario. It's the best practice.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Final supplementary.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): The Attorney General is trying to create the impression that this is about punishing or going after deadbeat dads. Ninety cents of every dollar that you're going to collect, 90% of that $1 million, is going to come from responsible payers and from women and kids. Only 10% is scheduled to come from deadbeat dads. An enforcement fee of $400 a payer amounts to a grand sum of but 250 deadbeat dads. That's all you expect to find over the course of the next fiscal year, but 250 deadbeats. You're going to attach 400 bucks on to each of their accounts, but you can't even find them, nor can you collect money from them. You haven't been able to in the past. You haven't demonstrated any capacity to do that now. You're punishing women and kids. You're imposing user fees on responsible payers.

This isn't about deadbeat dads. It isn't about the FRO. It's about you raising new general revenues on the backs of kids, their mothers and responsible fathers. How is this going to make the FRO work better in view of the fact that it continues to operate at a pathetic, abysmal level, subject to your irresponsible leadership?

Hon Mr Flaherty: With respect to the comments made by the member, FRO is effectively collecting substantial sums of money, over $500 million last year for spouses and children. It is a record amount being collected by the Family Responsibility Office.

The member opposite feels that they are not doing their job, I gather. They are operating at a record level. They are collecting more money for spouses and children than any similar operation in this country. Improvements need to be made at the Family Responsibility Office, and certainly we continue to work to improve that office for the benefit of women and children and others entitled to be paid in Ontario.


Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I have a question for the Chair of Management Board. The question concerns your government's interference at the Ontario Realty Corp.

We have been told that John Bell, former president of the Ontario Realty Corp, appeared at a Conservative caucus meeting in December 1998 and that a number of Conservative caucus members were upset that certain key Conservative Party supporters were not getting enough realty corporation business. Following that, we're told that you attended an ORC board meeting and you asked that the board remove John Bell as president. You then fired Mr Bell yourself and, as that happened, three members of the board-Jay Huckle, Michael McClew and Graeme Eadie-resigned in protest.

Minister, do you deny you attended a board meeting of the Ontario Realty Corp and asked that John Bell be removed as president?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): The preamble of this question is just filled with innuendo. To my knowledge, that's absolutely not true or correct, and you ought to know that.

The Ontario Realty Corp board of directors is approved through this House. All these board members have been unanimously approved by this process, by all three parties. This board takes its responsibility very seriously. The new board of the ORC accepted Mr Bell's resignation and they've proceeded to hire a new president and a new executive team.


Mr Hampton: Speaker, here we have again a minister who claims that he wants to get to the bottom of it refusing to answer the question. Simple question: Did you go to the board and ask that John Bell be fired? Yes or no?

Minister, you also claim that Tony Miele was not in charge at the Ontario Realty Corp until April 1999, and therefore had nothing to do with the two deals the Ontario Realty Corp signed in March of that year in which the taxpayers of Ontario got shafted. But we understand that Mr Miele was effectively in charge from the time of Mr Bell's departure and personally reviewed all large ORC sales. This would make him very much responsible for the two sales in March, All-City Storage and Gabriele, where the taxpayers were shafted.

Do you deny that Tony Miele sent out a memo in January 1999 detailing that he was reviewing all ORC transactions over $1 million in value?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I do know that your board, the Ontario Realty Corp, hired Mr Miele in April to be their new CEO. In the time that Mr Bell resigned until Mr Miele was chosen and hired, Joe Mavrinac was both chair and president. Mr Mavrinac has a reputation that is outstanding.

The former Attorney General of this province knows full well that I can't talk about the specifics of transactions. He knows what I'm allowed to talk about and what I'm not. He knows that if I do answer that, he'll be the first one on his feet saying that I'm just interfering.


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Minister, take a seat. Order. I can't hear the reply when people are shouting at the minister, the Chair of Management Board, and I don't know if he's finished. New question.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thousands of patients in Ontario are waiting for cardiac surgery, hip and knee replacements, cataract operations and other essential medical procedures. While cancer patients are being sent out of the country to receive urgent radiation treatment, while hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded and hospitals are forced to close their doors to patients, the Harris government has spent millions of dollars on self-serving, blatantly partisan advertising on television and radio, in newspapers and propaganda pamphlets mailed to households across the province.

The Provincial Auditor, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a former Speaker of this House and thousands of people in Ontario have called for an end to the use of taxpayers' dollars for this kind of propaganda war that you're engaging in. Will you now order an immediate end to the most recent blitz of partisan ads and have the Conservative Party reimburse Ontario taxpayers for this abuse of their hard-earned tax dollars? It's your responsibility. Don't try to pawn it off on her.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I think the member opposite is aware that this government has had a large change in agenda in the last number of years. We are trying to get this province back on the right track. I would put our advertising spending up against your government's record of advertising spending any day of the week. We have tried to spend in the most cost-effective manner to explain to the public the changes that are needed and the changes that we're going through as a province.

Mr Bradley: I know the whiz kids in the Premier's office have told you that you can get away with this, with squandering millions of dollars on self-serving, blatantly partisan advertising at taxpayers' expense, because media sources receive the money from this advertising. I happen to believe that you're wrong. They recognize this as an abuse of public office, an abuse of tax dollars and an abuse of our democratic system. As watchdogs for the residents of Ontario, they, and we, will not let you get away with it.

Here's what the Ontario Hospital Association says could be done with $3 million in the health care field: 240 cardiac surgeries; the removal of 3,000 cataracts; it would treat 15,000 emergency room patients and run three MRIs for a year. Will you finally do what is right and abandon this clear and arrogant abuse of public office by ending this propaganda blitz and investing the money instead in the field of health care?

Hon Mr Hodgson: If the member is not aware, our health ads cost less than $3 million. That's a pretty good investment if we can get the federal Liberals to live up to their end of the bargain in providing better health care for Ontarians. That's an investment the taxpayers of Ontario would appreciate and the people of Ontario need.


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for children. Minister, we know there's nothing more precious to a parent than the love of a happy, healthy child. I myself have a young grandson who brightens every day of my life just with his smile. Unfortunately, some parents face great challenges with their children.

I understand that earlier today you made an important announcement concerning children's mental health across the province. I wonder if you could please provide us with the details of this announcement.

Hon Margaret Marland (Minister without Portfolio [Children]): In 1998, the Premier asked me to review the delivery of children's mental health services in this province. I'm happy to say that the announcement I have made today is the support of our government taking action on my recommendations. We have clearly demonstrated that commitment in the Ontario budget by allocating an initial $10 million, growing to $20 million, in new annual spending for children's mental health. So today it's my pleasure to share the results of the work we did. We now have a four-point plan for $20 million, which responds to what I heard during my meetings and my review and consultations around this province. It fulfills the commitment; we have kept our promise of the commitments in the budget.

Ms Mushinski: Thank you, Minister, for that informative response. It clearly demonstrates your commitment to the health needs of our children in Ontario. I understand that this-

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Point of order, the member for Windsor-St Clair.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): If the government was really proud of this announcement, I would think they would have done a ministerial statement today in the House-

The Speaker: That is not a point of order. Would the member take his seat.

Ms Mushinski: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that, having been so rudely interrupted. I wonder if I may start my question again: I understand that this additional funding is going to be disbursed based on a four-point plan, and I wonder if you could describe what the four components of this plan are.

Hon Mrs Marland: I'm happy to enlarge on our four-point plan. First of all, it's $11.9 million of new funding. It provides for more intensive child and family services: $5.5 million for new mobile crisis response teams; $400,000 to establish tele-psychiatry in 10 rural and remote communities across Ontario, beginning in May; $2.2 million to introduce standardized intake and assessment outcome measures; and a new province-wide children's mental health information system. Our four-point plan will lead to the innovative and accessible children's mental health services that we promised in the last budget. The best news about this announcement is that our government has kept our commitment. We must continue to work together to improve innovation and more effective ways to serve these children and their families. Finally, I really appreciate-

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


Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): My question is for the Attorney General. From Family Responsibility Office fumbling to Parental Responsibility Act bungling, the families of Ontario are not being well served by this government. This government is engaging in social hot-button politics. You are pushing the hot button of parental responsibility and hoping, at the end of the debate, that you are going to look like you invented the concept. Well, just like Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, you didn't invent parental responsibility. In fact, it's been on the books for 10 years. For 10 years, the people of Ontario could go to Small Claims Court, could go to Superior Court, and sue a parent for something a kid did. It's been on the books for 10 years, and for 10 years it has stated under the Family Law Act that the onus of responsibility for proof lies on the parent-not on the victim, on the parent. Instead there's been some suggestion that the onus has been reversed, that somehow the onus has been moved. In fact, it has made no difference at all.


Minister, this was a very cynical act, in cutting and pasting an old piece of legislation and pretending you invented the concept, importing this cynical legislation from the Tory government in Manitoba, that has not made a whit of difference. Minister, are you going to take family responsibility seriously or are you just going to continue to play politics?

Hon Jim Flaherty (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The member should know that the legal responsibility of parents for the conduct of their children is much more than 10 years old. In fact, it's in the common law, and it has been a responsibility for generations. I invite my friend opposite to study the question.

The difficulty is the Manitoba legislation and the Family Law Reform Act provision in Ontario have not been effective in addressing the problem. That's the reason for reform. That's the reason for the bill.

Mr Bryant: Minister, in fact the common law position never established that a parent could come to court and say, as an excuse, that they took some counselling courses and therefore that means they reasonably were supervising their child. Counselling courses are good, but this is a new defence; this is a new excuse for parents to make. It's not established in the common law. In fact, your government has been helping defence lawyers in their arsenal to stand up for parents instead of helping victims.

Minister, I think it's time for us to work together, to come forward and make amendments to this bill so that we can make a positive contribution-


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Would the member take his seat. Order. Member, continue please.

Mr Bryant: Minister, the Ontario Liberals will be tabling amendments. We want to make a positive contribution to parental responsibility. I understand that this government wants to play politics and I call on the minister: Let's take a non-partisan basis and try to do something for the victims of crime and do something for parental responsibility in this province. Will you agree in principle to make some amendments to make a positive contribution in this area?

Hon Mr Flaherty: I gather, from what the member opposite is saying, that his party is going to support the bill, and I appreciate that. The bill certainly deals with important issues like the responsibility of parents in our society to supervise their children and the effort that parents ought to make, and many parents do make, to instill respect for the law in their children.

The bill does a number of significant things: It creates a presumption with respect to intentional conduct; it makes it possible to use an order of disposition under the Young Offenders Act in the Small Claims Court; it provides for payments over time; and it provides for-

The Speaker: Order. Member, take your seat.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is directed to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.As you know, the mining industry is a significant contributor to Ontario's wealth. The strength of the mining business is particularly important to the economic viability of the north, where so many communities have been built on the prosperity of this industry. As we all witnessed with the Bre-X scandal-something like a Liberal scandal-decisions that have been based on incomplete and inaccurate mining data can harm the individual investor and bring the integrity of the Canadian markets into question.

Can you please explain to the Legislature what actions the ministry is taking to protect the many good people across Ontario who invest in the mineral sector and help prevent scandal of this kind from being repeated?

Hon Tim Hudak (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): I want to thank the member for Northumberland for a very intelligent question.

As the members in the House may be aware, about 40% of the world's mineral capital is raised in Canada. In Toronto, the TSE is the single largest source of mineral investment worldwide. As a member of this government, I am committed to ensuring that Ontario maintains its reputation as one of the most attractive and safest places for mineral investment.

That's why last month at Mining Millennium we unveiled proposed draft legislation that, if passed by the assembly down the road, would create a self-regulating body of geoscientists to establish professional standards that help safeguard the public and boost investor confidence. By proposing the creation of the self-regulating professional body of geoscientists, we are reinforcing Ontario's position as one of the safest, most attractive places-


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): Try and do it without reading, Tim.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. Would the member take his seat.

Just before we begin, if the members could try and keep the comments that may be inflammatory to a minimum, it would be helpful. Sometimes, I know, we go back and forth, but if we keep it to a minimum, it will be helpful.

The member for Northumberland.

Mr Galt: I very much appreciate your comments, Mr Speaker.

Minister, I've been absolutely intrigued with some of the stories about prospectors for gold and some of the stories we hear about evaluations of where to dig for mines and some of the penny stocks as they move around. But you say that this initiative will protect the public from fraudulent claims and will provide for the accountability that geoscientists themselves want. In what way has the mining community offered input on this draft legislation, and how do other affected bodies like the Toronto Stock Exchange, for example, feel about this proposed regulating body?

Hon Mr Hudak: In fact, the member is correct: This responds directly to the joint task force of the TSE and the Ontario Securities Commission in the wake of the Bre-X scandal. I want to make sure through this process as well that all interested parties have the opportunity to comment on the geoscientist legislation. I want to make sure that all affected groups have their voices heard and that their concerns are considered. That's why I've appointed my parliamentary assistant, Jerry Ouellette, to lead province-wide consultations on this process in the next few weeks, to bring back the best piece of legislation to reinforce Ontario's reputation as the best and safest jurisdiction for mining investment and to help stimulate growth in northern Ontario and across the province.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Minister, on February 4 this year, 10 electricians were fired by the Drycore Electric Co because they tried to join a trade union. Now two months have passed and there's not even a date set to hear their complaint.

Since your government passed Bill 31, at least four other construction firms have fired workers for trying to organize. You scrapped expedited hearings and you took away the one remedy that employers actually paid attention to: automatic certification. These employers are breaking the law, and it's your job to protect construction workers from employers that break the law. We had laws that employers respected and that protected workers' rights, and you eliminated them. Your law is not working. What are you going to do for those construction workers, Minister?

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Labour): I'd like to thank the member for the question. Obviously, it's up to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to determine whether or not any law has been broken. Certainly you wouldn't suggest that a member of this House could pre-judge a decision by an arm's-length body that adjudicates these particular situations. Therefore, they've got an application in to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, they will have their hearing, and if in fact the employer is doing anything that's illegal or wrong, they will suffer the consequences of the decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

I will add that that decision should not be pre-judged by you or me. We should allow them to act in an autonomous fashion, free of political interference. That's what I thought all of us agreed with: that no political interference should be applied to any judicial body that works at arm's length from here. If you're suggesting to me that politicians should become involved in judicial decisions, then I sadly disagree with you.


Mr Christopherson: The fact of the matter is that in taking a complaint to the labour board prior to your law, workers had the right to an expedited hearing because of the nature of the firing, the fact that workers are democratically allowed to join unions. You took away that expedited hearing process. That's why there's no date set for those workers yet. And why there are more and more employers firing construction workers and other workers who are trying to organize is because you've watered down the penalties if they get caught. The only thing that really stopped that was automatic certification, which by the way was brought in by a Tory government decades ago.

Minister, your laws have failed to protect the rights of workers just as we told you they would. You have an obligation to stand in your place today and say that you'll put those laws back in place and protect workers who choose to democratically join a union.

Hon Mr Stockwell: We have a fundamental difference of opinion with respect to democratic process. Your argument is this: When a union goes in to organize a workplace and they go to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the remedy should be that at some point they be automatically certified. Where is the choice for the workers when an autonomous board decides that they should be organized? That's not choice at all; that's a unilateral decision taken by a quasi-judicial board appointed by political parties that is totally anti-democratic.

The question is, my friend, who should be allowed to make a decision-


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Would the member take his seat. Order. The member asked a very good question in a forceful manner, and I must say that's the type of debate-he asked a very forceful question. The entire House was quiet while he asked it. Now it's the Minister of Labour's turn to answer, and I'd appreciate it if you would let him answer.

Minister of Labour.

Hon Mr Stockwell: Finally, the simple fact is, I believe workers should have the right to make up their own minds to certify or not certify. I don't believe I have a place in determining that they should automatically or not automatically be certified.


The Speaker: Order. Last warning to the member. We can't have him shouting across. As I said earlier, he asked a very tough question, a very good question. This entire House was quiet while he asked it because of the manner in which he did it. It was excellent. But now it's the minister's time to reply, and if he interferes one more time I'm going to have to name him. It's as simple as that.

Minister of Labour.

Hon Mr Stockwell: Finally, the question is: Do you believe in the democratic process? On this side of the House we believe in secret ballots for certifications and the decision by the workers-

The Speaker: Order. New question.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough-Rouge River): I have a question for the Minister of Correctional Services. There are over five reports that were issued to your ministry that gave specific recommendations and directions to address the remedy of systemic discrimination and harassment within your ministry. What have you done to date to implement those recommendations?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister of Correctional Services): Our government is committed to a work environment that is free of discrimination and harassment, and that's why we take complaints of this nature quite seriously. Our response has been that we established and implemented a systematic change program in June 1995, just after we were elected, to safeguard human rights and the dignity of all staff in our ministry, to endorse fairness and equitable treatment and open communication, and to promote a harassment-free workplace. That's in fact what we did, and we did that just after we were elected.

Mr Curling: The minister read it from his book and his bureaucrats told him that. Let me tell him the reality.

What has happened, Minister, is that you have failed miserably in that direction. With us today we have three employees who continue to be victimized by this poisoned environment of discrimination and harassment. The only way we can effectively do what you're talking about is to have a public inquiry into all this, because with all those recommendations that you have shoved under, nothing has been done. People have continued to be harassed and to be discriminated against. Would you today reassure me that you will have a public inquiry into this matter?

Hon Mr Sampson: The honourable member is asking for a process to deal with issues of discrimination and complaints of discrimination, and there is indeed a process to deal with that. There is a series of processes to deal with that.

He knows full well that I cannot speak to the incidents and the issues he is raising in this House about particular matters relating to a particular case. He knows I can't speak about that. I would encourage him not to suggest anything other than that.

There is a process to deal with situations where employees feel they've been discriminated against or harassed, and that process is underway. It was established a number of years ago, and we are following that process. It's very well outlined in any ministry guideline, as you know, and we are following that process, as we should.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. We all know that strong communities are built through volunteering. From health care to social services, from charity work to minor sports, volunteers have a tremendous impact on our society. In Ontario, volunteers give 353 million hours of their time each year to more than 64,000 organizations. The number and scope of volunteers' activities that go on every day across Ontario continually impresses me.

Minister, can you inform the House about your ministry's celebration of National Volunteer Week.

Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, minister responsible for seniors and women): I'd like to say first of all to the member for Peterborough that I know every member in this House does a lot of volunteering in their communities and I know everyone is interested in enriching our communities by recognizing volunteers. So let me remind everyone here that next week, April 9 to 16, is volunteer week in Ontario.

I think this is a time when each of us should be thanking the volunteers in our community for the terrific work they do, not only in the political sphere, but of course in a number of charitable organizations that make our community a better place to live.

One of the events that the ministry is sponsoring next week is the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers. This is an important volunteer celebration. It's happening right here at Queen's Park on April 11. We're recognizing youth between the ages of 15 and 24-

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

Mr Stewart: Next week in my riding of Peterborough, several events have been planned to acknowledge the work of our volunteers at places such as the canoe museum and at Kinart Child and Family Services, where approximately 80 volunteers will be recognized with special awards.

The dedication of volunteers promotes community spirit and enhances our quality of life. Whether it is coaching little league, helping to renovate a local museum or building a playground in their neighbourhood, volunteers truly make a difference.

Minister, how would a volunteer become eligible for next year's awards?

Hon Mrs Johns: We have two sets of awards, both the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers and the Ontario volunteer service awards. For people between the ages of 15 and 24, they can apply if they've done a great deal of volunteer work. We take nominations starting right now for next year. In the week of National Volunteer Week, the Lieutenant Governor presents those awards and recognizes outstanding behaviour and outstanding contributions in our community.

Let's all of us stop next week and thank the volunteers in our communities, who do a terrific job to enrich our communities and the province of Ontario.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Davenport): I have a question to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. A few days before the Legislature opened, Minister, you made a clandestine announcement that you gave the contract for our academic credential assessment service to a New York company. You knew that the academic credentials are being assessed right now by U of T, York University and the Toronto Board of Education. You can download that information from the Internet. Why would you give this contract to a New York company and not give it to one of our own Canadian services? Are your New York cousins better than we are?


Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities): It is correct that the Ontario government has signed an agreement to set up an academic credential assessment service. This is long overdue. It has probably been 10 years in the waiting. We were very careful how we went about, over a long period of time, making this decision. The service will assess the foreign secondary and post-secondary education qualifications against Ontario standards. You should know that we went through a process. We did have people respond to a call for proposals. It was determined by an independent body that we should make the decision that we made. In fact, the decision that we made was the company that is being referred to today, a company that met the requirements through a fair and open process.

Mr Ruprecht: You have to make the decision and finally you're responsible for it, but you also know that we have literally thousands of newcomers who are doctors, technicians, scientists, who are told before they immigrate to Toronto or indeed to Canada that, "Yes, you will have no problem practising your profession in Ontario." That's what they're being told. Once they get here, they've found that the only way to make a living is either to drive a taxi, deliver pizza or clean a restaurant. What a waste, Minister. You know that.

You promised six years ago that foreign-trained professionals would get quick entry into professional life. Is this your response, to hire a New York company? Can you promise today that your program will bring at least one doctor to our community? Will you give this House assurances today that within three months you'll come in here and give us at least one name of a doctor who through this program is accepted into our community?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I think the member opposite knows that everyone benefits when skilled newcomers who come to this province can in fact quickly enter the labour force. This has not been happening, so we had to do something about it. In fact, the service that you're talking about today, getting information out around the world to people who are considering coming to Canada, is simply that we now do have an assessment service. The contract was awarded to World Education Services. The member opposite knows that this is a not-for-profit agency, that in fact it has a track record for providing quality services on a scale around the world. This is something we're looking forward to. The citizen he is talking about-

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


Mrs Julia Munro (York North): My question today is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. There are many concerns in my riding about the standard of our buildings. My constituents are concerned about the public safety and quality of construction. Could you please tell me and the House today any information about what standards exist for building?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member for York North for this question. I can inform her and the House that just recently our government established an advisory committee called the Building Regulatory Reform Advisory Group, or BRRAG for short, to prepare a report and recommendations with several objectives: to improve public safety, to streamline delivery of building-related inspection and review services, to improve the construction liability regime and to streamline code administration, appeal and dispute resolution mechanisms. It will be addressing several recommendations from the Red Tape Commission, which consulted with stakeholders in the spring of 1998 and reflected this in the commission's report of July 1998. In that approach we are going to have a new vision for building regulation. There will be representation from various sectors, and I hope to be receiving this report this summer.

Mrs Munro: It appears our government is taking a serious look at this issue and moving on finding a solution. Could you please tell me who will sit on this committee and what sectors will be represented?

Hon Mr Clement: I can tell the honourable member that the committee hasn't been fully established yet, but I am pleased to inform the House that I've appointed my parliamentary assistant, Brian Coburn, the member for Carleton-Gloucester, I should say, to be the BRRAG chair. He is the chair of BRRAG. A gentleman by the name of Richard Lyall, who is the general manager of the Metropolitan Toronto Apartment Builders Association, and Rocky Cerminara, who is the chief building official from London, have been appointed as vice-chairs. And there will be 18 other members of the committee who will represent various sectors, including the builders and contractors, the design professionals, the consumer associations, the building owners, the building officials, the municipalities and, of course, the affected ministries. The whole idea here is to get everybody together who wants to see improvements in regulatory reform and who wants to see a better regime for building in Ontario, because that is so important to the future of our-

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


Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): My question is to the Minister of Housing, and I'm going to keep my first question short to get to the second one.

Minister, today your government voted down my private member's bill that would have given municipalities the power to stop demolitions. Over 1,500 Toronto households are at risk because you believe in the right of landlords to make maximum profit instead of the right of tenants to a decent home. Why won't you at least give the municipalities the power to stop demolitions? Why don't you trust them with such power?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As the honourable member knows, when this government came to power it was clear that we had to do something to immediately fix the rental housing supply problem that we had inherited from the honourable member. The previous system, under the NDP and Liberal governments, was ineffective. There was red tape, there was no incentive to build new housing projects, and in fact by 1995 a study concluded that serious barriers had been put up by governments over the past decade: rigid rent controls, harmful tax policies and cumbersome land use planning processes. All of that meant new affordable housing was not being built. Instead of fixing the problem, the governments of the day always went to the taxpayer for more money, throwing more good money after bad. We have changed that, and it is improving the situation as we speak.

Mr Marchese: I can take my time with my supplementary, the allotted time, Speaker.

Hon Ernie Hardeman (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): Get it over with.


Mr Marchese: Please. You're taking my time.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Please take your seat.

Question period isn't over. There is one more supplementary. If you can bear with us, the member has an important question on behalf of his constituents. He would like to place it without the talking going on. Would the member continue.

Mr Marchese: Minister, on Tuesday, March 28, you spoke to a gathering of developers, your buddies, and you literally whined and pleaded with them about the need to build affordable housing. I guess you were the last one to know that your strategy doesn't work, because we told you in opposition, in the hearings, that the private sector wouldn't build affordable rental housing unless you greased the wheels with more incentives. The developers themselves told you they couldn't build anything for less than $1,400 a month. But you and Al Leach were in some kind of trance, chanting, "They will build, they will build," and you are pleading with them today to build, because otherwise you are going to look real bad.

The choice is clear. If you want affordable housing, you've got to put up the cash. Are you going to do it or are you going to ignore all the evidence and stick to your failed plan?

Hon Mr Clement: With the greatest of respect to the honourable member, we do not need tired old rhetoric with tired old solutions. We need new solutions. The old way of spend and tax, tax and spend, meant that we were building so-called affordable housing at up to $160,000 per unit cost. That was the legacy of the former government.

We are saying: "Help the tenants. Don't get into the housing business, don't get into the bricks and mortar business; get into the helping-the-tenant-who-needs-help business." That is why, with the recent federal-provincial housing agreement, we have said that $50 million extra money is going into rent geared to income, going to help the tenants. Up to 10,000 families are going to be helped by that one very decision, and there is more to come. I can assure the honourable member of that.




Mr Mario Sergio (York West): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which I would like to read. It says:

"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."

I concur with the intent of the petition and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke North): Many constituents in my riding and throughout the province of Ontario have signed this petition and it is addressed as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"We support Bill 27 as it emphasizes the primary importance of children's relationships with their grandparents."

I so sign this petition.


Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas the price of gasoline has soared over 30% in the past six months; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has done nothing to protect consumers and is afraid to take on the big oil companies; and

"Whereas the wholesale market for gasoline is controlled by an oil oligopoly which controls 85% of the wholesale market; and

"Whereas the big oil companies have used predatory pricing to eliminate small competitors; and

"Whereas, in 1975, former Ontario Premier Bill Davis froze the price of gasoline for 135 days and called an inquiry into the pricing practices of oil companies;

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

"That the province of Ontario call for a 90-day freeze on the price of gasoline while an inquiry is held into the pricing practices of large oil companies, and that the province pass into law the Gas Price Watchdog Act, which would protect consumers and independent oil companies from price gouging and predatory pricing."

I agree with these comments and I have affixed my signature to the petition.


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:

"Whereas Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo were responsible for terrorizing entire communities in southern Ontario; and

"Whereas the Ontario government of the day made a deal with the devil with Karla Homolka, resulting in a sentence that does not truly make her pay for her crimes; and

"Whereas our communities have not yet fully recovered from the trauma and sadness caused by Karla Homolka; and

"Whereas Karla Homolka believes that she should be entitled to passes to leave prison with an escort; and

"Whereas the people of Ontario believe that criminals should be forced to serve sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crimes;

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

"That the government of Ontario will:

"Do everything within its power to ensure that Karla Homolka serves her full sentence;

"Continue to reform parole and make it more difficult for serious offenders to return to our streets;

"Fight the federal government's plan to release up to 1,600 more convicted criminals on to Ontario streets; and

"Ensure that the Ontario government's sex offender registry is functioning as quickly as possible."

I am pleased to have affixed my signature to this petition.


Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I have a petition that's been approved by the table.

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas Mike Harris promised an Ontarians with Disabilities Act during the 1995 election and renewed that commitment in 1997 but has yet to make good on that promise; and

"Whereas the Harris government has not committed to holding open consultations with the various stakeholders and individuals on the ODA; and

"Whereas Helen Johns, the minister responsible for persons with disabilities, will not commit to the 11 principles outlined by the ODA committee; and

"Whereas the vast majority of Ontario citizens believe there should be an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to remove the barriers facing the 1.5 million persons with disabilities;

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

"To pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act that would remove the barriers facing the 1.5 million persons with disabilities in this province."

I agree with this petition and have affixed my signature hereto.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I'm pleased to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of the riding of Durham, specifically Maria Speziale, Denis Radcliffe and Father Randy Foster, to name but three.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas children are exposed to sexually explicit material in variety stores and video rental outlets;

"Whereas bylaws vary from city to city and have failed to protect minors from unwanted exposure to sexually explicit materials;

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

"To enact legislation which will:

"Create uniform standards in Ontario to prevent minors from being exposed to sexually explicit material in retail establishments;

"Make it illegal to sell, rent or loan sexually explicit materials to minors."

I'm pleased to support this and sign the petition.



Resuming the debate adjourned on April 4, 2000, on the amendment to the amendment to the motion by Mr Harris relating to health care funding.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to rise to continue debate. I had an opportunity in starting off, on behalf of our caucus, to outline some of the concerns I had with the tenor of the discussion that had been taking place thus far in the House.

I indicated our support for the Premier's resolution calling on the federal government to restore transfer payments to the provinces with respect to health care. I indicated that I thought the federal government needed to be there in order to regain both its moral authority and its fiscal clout to enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act.

I also indicated that I felt that doesn't go far enough, that it is time in this country that we bring to the table a debate about broadening the Canada Health Act. As we see the very nature of health care services in all the provinces change through reform and restructuring, as we see more services being delivered after patients are being discharged from hospital, more services being delivered outside doctors' offices, we see those services delivered in a manner and in locations that are not covered under the principles and guarantees of the Canada Health Act. It is time for us to challenge the federal government to truly bring about national standards and national principles that cover the entire gamut of what we view as our health services within the provincial jurisdictions.

I also indicated that I thought the gamesmanship of a provincial government saying, "We will perhaps delist more services unless we get this money," "We won't move forward in certain areas unless we get this money," or "We will continue to privatize our services and look for private investment unless we get this money from the federal government," contrasted with the federal government saying, "We won't give the money unless we get a guarantee that every cent of it is in addition to what has been budgeted for and projected in the future and that none of it goes to other resources within the government," is not serving the public of this province, and in fact of this country, well with respect to the reforms we need to see in order to preserve our public health care system.

I also indicated that a consensus had been arrived at in this country about the reforms that were needed to preserve medicare, that I believed the content of that consensus, which had been arrived at with governments of all political stripes in the early 1990s, stood in good stead today and still was an appropriate road map for us to follow. I want to spend some time talking about the elements of that and contrasting it with what I actually see happening in Ontario, and then hopefully set out a suggested road for the future.


I also want to indicate that we have placed on the floor an amendment, in addition to our support for the Premier's resolution, calling on the federal government to take action in terms of fair funding of health care, an amendment that addresses the provincial government role, and asking for the adoption of four specific principles at this point in time, those principles being a ban on the Ralph Klein style of private, for-profit hospitals, a freeze on further delisting of health services under OHIP, an end to the proliferation of private, for-profit long-term care and home care services and a tougher inspection system and stiffer penalties for independent health facilities.

I will have an opportunity, over the course of the remainder of my address today, to speak specifically to the amendment to the resolution and to why we believe those are important measures to be taken today in order to preserve enough of our health care system to maintain medicare while we work on the federal level to ensure that the Canada Health Act is amended to bring various aspects of the health system under the protection for the principles contained therein.

The ministers of health from the provincial and federal governments who met in the early 1990s saw ever-escalating health care budgets at a time when we knew the population was continuing to grow and to age, and that we would be facing a tremendous expenditure down the road as we dealt with that growing and aging population. Those ministers of health struggled to find a way to contain growth and health care spending at the time to preserve the essential qualities of public health care.

There was a multilateral, multiparty agreement that Canadians cherished medicare and public health care and that Canadians did not want to see us go the way of Americanized two-tier health care. I believe the Canadian sentiment remains today. What I fear is that the consensus among political parties has been lost. I see evidence of that in actions that have been taken, for example, in the province of Alberta, with the proposal for the new private, for-profit hospital that would have overnight stays and deal with surgical procedures. It would be similar to hospitals that exist in jurisdictions like the United States and Australia. I see evidence of that in the province of Ontario, where provisions that had been put in place in the past to limit the growth of private, for-profit services in the delivery of home care services, homemaking services, nursing home long-term care facilities, have been repealed by the current government. In fact, we have moved to a competitive bidding system, which has ensured that the vast majority of the expansion of those services has in fact gone to the private, for-profit sector.

I see a willingness on the part of the government, as evidenced by action already and by rumours of intended action through the OMA negotiations, to further delist medically necessary services under OHIP, meaning that people will be paying for more services out of their own pockets. All of that combined is evidence of a backdoor privatization of the health care system. There may not be a bill in the Legislature to focus the debate, as there is in Alberta, but rest assured that day after day, more of our health care in this province is being delivered by the private, for-profit sector, I believe, directly contrary to the wishes of most Ontarians and in fact most Canadians who want to see medicare and public health care preserved.

I recently sent a letter out to constituents on a mailing list within my riding who had indicated an interest in issues of health care in the past. I talked about the re-emerging debate about public versus private, about whether medicare is sustainable. I talked about the consensus that had been arrived at in the past by politicians of all stripes on the advice of many people like health economists, medical reformers and others who put a great deal of time, thought and energy into putting forward constructive suggestions to ministers of health and those suggestions which had been adopted.

I was absolutely amazed at the level of response I got to the letter I sent out. MPPs will know that when you send out materials in your riding, there will always be some people who will take the time to contact you by phone or by letter or by e-mail to let you know what they think, and we always appreciate that feedback. It is usually a relatively small number of people who take the opportunity to communicate back to you. Most people will receive the information, review it and make up their own mind about what you had to say about what you provided to them.

Within a few hours of the first of those letters hitting mailboxes within the riding, the phones started to ring at my constituency office. People who had read the letter started to call and express their desire for us to continue the fight to preserve public health care. By that evening and over the next day, the e-mails started to come, and they continued over the period of a week. Over the course of the first week I had some 45 e-mails, and then in the second week another 30 to 40 e-mails came in. The letters started to come after that, and the phone calls continued. I have never had a response quite like that and, as I stand today, we are still receiving communications from the public. All but one of those responses wholeheartedly endorsed the public medicare system and called on politicians of all stripes to stop the finger pointing, to stop the wrangling, to get in there and make the changes necessary to ensure that that system is there for us to pass on to our children.

I think it's worthwhile to review in a very abbreviated fashion some of the elements of the road map to reform of sustainable medicare that have been identified and agreed upon in the past. We often talk about the need to understand our system of insured services under medicare, currently best described as an illness treatment system.

Tommy Douglas, the founder of medicare, who fashioned the way in Saskatchewan when he was Premier of Saskatchewan and then went on as a representative to the Parliament of Canada on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan to bring and forge a consensus in the national Parliament to make what was then an insurance system in the province of Saskatchewan a national medicare program, often talked about the universality of insurance for doctors' services and hospital services being just the first step. The second step was for us to move out into the community, to bring services to people in the community and to focus on health promotion, on well-being, on illness prevention, to have a system of community clinics accessible to people where a range of health services would be there and available under the provisions of medicare, of public health care. That vision still stands unfulfilled today. But he was right then and his vision is right today.

The consensus that has been built is that we need to transform our system from an illness treatment system to an illness prevention system. We need to focus as much of our resources on health promotion, on preventing people from going down the road of becoming ill, as we do on treating them when they do become ill. We need to understand the role of the determinants of health. It's not simply what we pay for in our doctors' offices and our hospitals that builds a healthy community, healthy public, healthy people. We need to understand that investment in adequate housing for people, investment to ensure our kids are getting proper nutrition, investment to ensure that families are not living in abject poverty, investment to ensure that we have tough environmental regulations and tough enforcement of those regulations so that we have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, investments in an education system that give all kids the resources they need to have an equal chance at winning in this world-all of those things that we build the strong, healthy communities, the neighbourhoods, the networks on-are what make people healthy, and the absence of those things makes people sick.

I have to again comment on the fact that while the Minister of Health purports to support health care reform, purports to talk about having services available to people as close as possible to their home and to focus on health promotion, this is the government that immediately upon being elected slashed social assistance rates so that the poorest of our community are even poorer; slashed environmental regulations and environmental enforcement so that we have more toxins in our air, more pollutants in our water system; slashed, cut, abolished all affordable housing programs in this province so that there are more people living in shelters and more people living on the streets.


In so many areas of the determinants of health this government has gone in the direct opposite direction of what the national consensus had been that governments needed to do to invest in healthy populations. The short-sightedness of it is that we will in fact spend those resources, we will spend those dollars, but we will spend them in the health care system and many other aspects of our social welfare and justice systems. We will spend those dollars treating the problems that we in fact could have prevented.

Along with this notion of shifting from illness treatment to illness prevention, there is a consensus that we needed to shift from institutionalized-based services to broader-range community services; that we needed to take the budgets, which were in the early 1990s in all provinces under tremendous strain as this country and most particularly this province suffered the greatest recession since the Great Depression, that we needed to take that envelope of funding and within that we needed to see a change from ever-escalating drug benefit programs, OHIP billings, through the medical profession and services in hospitals and hospital budgets. We needed to contain the growth in that area and needed to see massive expansion in community services through primary care reform, community health clinics and various other models where people access their first service in terms of health care, community and social support services, home care and long-term-care facilities.

We needed to understand that as we, with technology and pharmacology, could do things differently in our hospitals, treat more people on an ambulatory care basis, for example, the resources that had gone into supporting hospital beds at that point in time needed to be shifted within the hospital budget to support these other areas and other methods of treating people. We needed to understand that primary care reform meant challenging the long-standing practice of medical doctors as the gatekeepers to our health care system and of their method of payment from the provinces, that being the fee-for-service system.

As most people will know, when they go to see their doctor, the visit and whatever procedures and tests are ordered and whatever other treatment flows from that is billed back to the province under billing codes for the particular service that was provided. They receive a fee for each service they provide. I'm talking very particularly about family medicine; I'm not talking about issues of specialists and surgical specialists and other fields of medicine. In the area of family medicine, the irony in the fee-for-service system is that those doctors who provide the very best quality care for their patients, who spend the time to do health education, who work on health promotion, who bring in other health professionals-because what the patient may need is not to see a medical doctor, it may be the patient needs chiropody services or social services or a nurse practitioner's services, a range of other health care professionals. Family practitioners who do perform or do operate their services in that way get paid the least under the fee-for-service system, because it takes time, it takes energy and commitment, it takes sharing the pool of money with other health care professionals. They get paid the least.

I am by no means suggesting that there aren't many very good family doctors out there, but we all do know there are also some bad ones. Those who practise the worst of family medicine, often referred to as "revolving-door medicine," where patients come in and are seen for five minutes and there are four other patients in other waiting rooms and it's boom, boom, boom, and over the course of the day 80 patients have been seen, and they're sent for tests and called back to get their test results when it could have been a simple phone call, on and on and on, those who practise the absolute worst medicine, get paid the most in this system, because it's on a fee-for-service basis.

Surely everyone in this Legislature, irrespective of political stripe, can see not only the irony but the folly in that system, that there needs to be a rethinking. That rethinking has been taking place for a long time. For over 15 years in this province, we have had experiments with alternate forms of delivery of family medicine and family health care. We have seen community health centres-the minister stood and said proudly that they had added three new community centres since they've been in government. I remember that when I was Minister of Health, I alone approved over 20 new community health centres. While my successor, Ruth Grier, approved a number more and made announcements for five more just prior to the election of the Harris government, only three of those five that had been budgeted for-although the sites had not been chosen yet, the process for selection was underway-have now been announced, six years later.

Community health centres are a way of organizing delivery of health services in an alternative to fee-for-service. They are funded under a global budget. They are funded for programs that they offer. They could be health babies-healthy mothers programs, chiropody programs, social supports to seniors-a range. The thing that's really wonderful about community health centres is that they work hard to meet the population health needs of the community they serve, and they put forward their request for program funding based on the needs of the population they serve.

Community health centres have a range of health care professionals working there. When a person comes in, they are triaged to see the appropriate health professional. It doesn't start with a visit to the doctor and go on from there. That's one model of primary care that's already out there.

Another model is health service organizations. Health service organizations are much like what people talk about in terms of primary care reform, in that they are compensated on a basis called capitation, where patients enrol and enlist and become members of a particular clinic, and then government transfers money on a capitated basis, per capita, per person who has enrolled. The thought there was that while it was slightly different from the way of funding community health centres, the goal would be the same: that the work within that clinic wouldn't depend on just treatments and billings for services, but that the money, being there, could be used to work on health promotion and preventing people from becoming ill. In fact, there was also a provision called the ambulatory care incentive program, ACIP, that was attached to health service organizations. This was a bonus if that practice was able to keep a percentage-the bonus would depend on however large the percentage what be-of their patient clientele out of hospitals, out of using emergency and other hospital services, if they were able to keep their patients healthy.

It was a very good idea. I have to say, though, as with all of these things, they need to be reviewed and fine-tuned. What I found when I was Minister of Health was that a problem arose under the HSO system. It wasn't mandated that it had to be a group practice, and so a number of HSOs were established that were sole-practitioner practices-individual doctors, not a group of doctors, and not with other health professionals. In fact, there was no limitation on where the HSO could be established, and we began to see a trend of a number of solo practices being established in very well-to-do, high socioeconomic communities. One of the factors we do know is that income, economic well-being of families, related very closely to their health well-being. Members of families that live in poverty have a lot more health problems, and families that have higher socioeconomic status tend to use the health services less.

So what happened, in a very bizarre way, under what was really a good intent, was that these sole-practitioner practices in very high socioeconomic neighbourhoods who spent none of the money on doing outreach programs, health education programs, health promotion programs, who just operated like any other doctor's office, were receiving huge bonuses because the general health status of the population they serve and not related necessarily to any actions of that clinic. The general health status tended to be high.


We put a freeze on expansion of HSOs at that time because we were worried that it wasn't quite getting it right and that we needed to fix that problem. At the same time we established the primary care reform working group. This is where I get so annoyed when I listen to the Minister of Health that no work had ever been done before on this. They point across: "You had five years in government. Why didn't you do it?" Well, let me tell you, during a period of time of tremendous fiscal restraint, we flatlined hospital funding, brought down doctors' fees through OHIP, and the Ontario drug plan increased only minimally. There were huge expansions in delivery of community services and a large number of new community health centres added. While the freeze went on HSOs, we continued to work on another model, CHOs, comprehensive health organizations-and there are a few of them in the north and worthy of evaluation-and continued to support organizations like the Sault Ste Marie Group Health Centre, which is renowned in terms of a model for group practice and multidisciplinary practice in serving the population needs of the community, and pre-existed any government's attempt to look at primary care reform.

We set up the primary care working group and brought all of the players to the table; not just the Ontario Medical Association, but the doctors, the nurses' organizations, the community health centres, the HSOs, and the other alternative payment plans that had been put in place in other parts of the province. We truly wanted to build that consensus, and at the same time we knew that we were going to have to drive that through the process of negotiations with the doctors as well as with other health professionals.

At the negotiating table, for a number of reasons, in order to free up money in an ever-growing OHIP pool to redirect into community services and primary care reform and long-term care and home care, which I'll talk about in a minute, we moved to put a cap on the overall billing. We knew with that cap there, we also would have the ability in negotiations with the doctors to talk about serious reform of the system.

Again I have to say that when Mike Harris first sent his health minister to the table to negotiate, they got wrestled to the ceiling, as the saying goes, when we talk about negotiations with the doctors. They did away with the cap and they also agreed that any money that would go into paying for alternative payment practices like primary care reform would come from outside that OHIP pool of money. Talk about giving away the store; not just giving away the store, but talk about making it nearly impossible for a government to proceed in a meaningful way on primary care reform.

That's what we see in this round of negotiations-much talk, much ballyhoo about primary care reform and the government's commitment to it-the bottom line being that both the Premier and the Minister of Health have said on a number of occasions: "It will be voluntary. We're doing what we've always done. We have five, now seven. Congratulate us. We've moved it to seven pilot projects." There are already some 50-odd community health centre pilot projects, three comprehensive health organization pilot projects, the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste Marie, umpteen numbers of HSOs, and they have seven to point to? This is the new revolutionary world of primary care reform? The minister in her statement to the House said that she told Mr Rock about their plan to expand primary care reform. She didn't say that they're planning to do it at a snail's pace, which appears to be the case.

In the consensus that had been arrived at, we also understood the need to use a multidisciplinary team of health professionals. The minister stood and said they were the first government to bring in nurse practitioners. Wrong again. Nurse practitioners have existed in this province in the past. In fact, at a certain point in time the health nurse practitioner training program disappeared in this province, so we weren't producing any more nurse practitioners. It was back in 1993 that the Rae government took the decision to budget for the next year to reinstate nurse practitioner training programs. So the nurse practitioners who are now, six years after Harris took government, beginning to be funded for their services through various community clinics and other locations are only there because of the training programs that were reinstated. This government committed at the beginning of its term to establish nurse practitioners. It took six years before the first funding actually went out to any organization to hire those nurse practitioners, six years from announcement to realization.

Again, referring to the consensus, we also understood the challenge of a rapidly aging population as the baby boomers start to hit their forties and begin to have more health problems. I hadn't been in a hospital all of my life-I think once when I was a baby with a problem and then never again-and you know what? In the last year and a half I've had about five minor and major operations. I don't know; you hit 45 and it's all downhill from there on, I guess.


Ms Lankin: Some of you who are younger are fearing that, I can tell. It's coming. You just wait.

But the fact of the matter is, and the minister referred to this herself, that about 40% to 50% of our budget in health is currently expended on about 12% of the population, those who are the most elderly. It does make sense, doesn't it, that as we age-as we get much older than me-our health does tend to fail and there are more interventions and more experiences with the health care system. Of course, there are many statistics about how much of the health care system is spent in the last six weeks of people's lives, but again that makes sense, because if at the end of it a person has in fact died and it happens to be through an illness or through a trauma or accident, there would be an extensive use of resources at that point in time. So that's not a surprising statistic.

But surely we should understand that with that baby boomer generation as it comes along and it reaches into the senior years, there will be tremendous demands on the system. I just can't understand why, from what I see happening, this government doesn't seem to acknowledge this. We know that if we put the right supports in the community for seniors in their homes, the vast majority of seniors can be helped to live at home with health and dignity and not have to take that step of institutionalization. But without those supports they can't remain independent and in their homes, and they end up needing to go into nursing homes, where it is much more difficult to provide the quality of life that we would want the senior members of our society to enjoy, and it is much more expensive to provide the accommodations and the services there. Why don't we wake up and get this right, what we need in place in our communities: the community supports, the social supports, the crisis intervention, the long-term-care supports for people?

We hear in the minister's statement that she told Minister Rock that they have a plan where they're expanding home care for Ontario citizens and that they've increased funding to this support program by 43%. I went back and took a look, and during the Rae government, again at a time when we were in the biggest recession since the Great Depression and with the fiscal challenges facing the government, something this government never had to contemplate at all, we increased spending in long-term care by an equal amount over a five-year period. We're talking six years for this government. Not only have the resources that have gone out there been organized in a different way, being delivered more and more by private, for-profit services, but because of the restructuring of hospitals and the way it has been done, because of the cuts to hospital budgets which have forced hospitals to discharge patients sicker and quicker, and because of the regulations and the directions that the government put in place with respect to home care, that those sub-acute patients being discharged from hospitals get priority for the services, they've now gone on to put a maximum cap on the number of hours of home support services that people can get. So the seniors population, where we were trying to have massive expansion of home support and community support services to the seniors, is now getting less than they ever got before and more and more of them are unable to be maintained and supported in their own homes.


Because there are no long-term-care bed facilities to go to-and that's another story in terms of how this government has delayed on that-they're ending up in unregulated retirement homes, and we hear horror stories all the time in terms of the inappropriate treatment of these citizens. These are citizens who have spent their lives contributing to build our communities, contributing tax dollars to these and predecessor governments, and we are failing them sorely.

But just think down the road, with the massive growth in the number of seniors that we know is coming. You know it's there. The demographics are clear. Just think what the problem is going to be. We would not need the new nursing home beds and long-term-care beds that this government is still announcing will be coming if they would put in place the appropriate home support services. I don't understand other than the short-sightedness of it. Think of the short-sightedness, because the other thing this minister said is that she supported reform of the system and she told Minister Rock all of what they've done in terms of hospital restructuring.

I remind you again, the consensus had been that we needed to expand community services, we needed to relocate services from hospitals to the community, and then we could restructure our hospitals and maintain budgets at a level to serve population needs in terms of what had to be done in the institutional sector.

What did this government do? They came to power, and they cut between $600 million and $800 million out of our hospital budgets before they restructured. They went in and created a restructuring commission and took away the work that was being done by local communities in arriving at local solutions to this. They forced the restructuring of the hospitals then after the money had been taken out and before they had invested in the communities.

They gave the restructuring commission a mandate to make orders with respect to hospital restructuring but did not give them a mandate to make orders with respect to community investments. So we see hospital budgets cut, hospitals restructured, lack of community investment, overcrowded emergency rooms, not enough beds for people, and now money being thrown back at the hospital sector because of crises of deficits, legitimate crises of deficits, but crises that this government started in the first place.

We see the OHIP pool of budget growing dramatically because of what they've done in negotiations with the doctors, and we see the lack of expansion of investment that is needed in the community sector and what is there being taken up by subacute patients being discharged earlier from hospital. Boy, did we get that wrong in this province. No wonder you've been able to re-engender the debate about "Is medicare sustainable?" We know what the road to sustaining medicare is. We have to question whether or not you in fact intend to do that.

The privatization of home care and long-term-care services came about as a direct result of your government. The minister says that it's the same as it was under the NDP or under the Liberals. I can tell you as a former Minister of Health, in the Long-Term Care Act that we brought forward, which was finally passed in 1994, there was a limit on the proportion of any community's budget that could be spent on for-profit services. We recognized that some were already out there, and we weren't taking a step to drive them out of business, but we said that only 20% could be spent on for-profit services; 80% had to go to the not-for-profit sector.

This government eliminated that position, so do not tell me that it is the same as it was under previous governments. What we see now is that virtually 70% to 85% of all contracts being awarded-depending on whether you're talking the long-term-care nursing home beds sector or the home support sector-are going to the private for-profit sector, some of them to the most odious American companies with some of the worst records in terms of delivery of quality of care.

Our amendment, which absolutely puts a ban on bringing the private hospital system of the US and Australia here, the Ralph Klein system, is a first step to say we really mean it when we say we want to preserve public medicare. Our amendment to put a freeze on the delisting of health care puts an end to the rumour that if you don't get the money from the federal government, you're going to delist more services. How could you even begin to justify that at a time when the economy is growing and government revenues are growing, and you're not facing a revenue crisis of any sort? I suspect because it's on the table, the negotiations with the OMA. We want a freeze on delisting of health services, an end to the proliferation of private for-profit long-term care and home care. Bring back the 80-20 rule. Bring back a cap that stops any further expansion in the growth of those services by the for-profit sector.

We want to take the independent help facilities that we do have, where we have seen a growing number of complaints and inspectors noting problems with quality of care, and have tougher inspections and stiffer penalties.These provisions are contained within an act that will be brought before this House by my leader, the Tommy Douglas Act to preserve Medicare. We invoke his name because he is the father of medicare, the founder of medicare. His daughter, Shirley Douglas, is now criss-crossing this country in defence of preserving medicare.

I hear this government talk that they want to preserve medicare. I don't see the actions that match it.

We will support the resolution. We hope you will support our amendments. We hope you will give some truth to the words of the Premier and the minister that they believe in public quality health care.

Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): I will be splitting my time with the member for York North this afternoon.

It's my pleasure today to rise in the House to speak in favour of the resolution introduced by the Premier in the House on Monday.

I don't believe that you will find one member in this Legislature who does not understand the importance of a strong health care system in Ontario. We all believe that our constituents expect and deserve nothing but the finest health care system in the world. When 18,000 Scarborough Centre residents cast their ballots for me in June 1999, they didn't just do so as a rebuke of Sid Ryan and organized labour; they cast their ballots for me with the expectation that I would fight on their behalf on issues of critical importance, such as quality health care. My constituents expect me to work with my caucus colleagues, with local hospitals and caregivers and representatives from all levels of government to ensure that we have a reliable health care system.

Like the rest of the members in this House, I take this responsibility very seriously. That is why I strongly support the Premier's courageous stance on the federal government's refusal to properly fund public health care.

We are all aware of the numbers: Over $4.7 billion slashed from health care transfers to the provinces; $1.7 billion annually stripped from Ontario's health care system alone by Allan Rock, Jean Chrétien and the federal Liberals; a traditional 50-50 funding arrangement unilaterally altered by a federal Liberal government that lacks vision and the political guts to make tough decisions; a provincial Liberal opposition party with even less willpower and a leader whose vision changes more often than most of us change our socks. If the story of his political career were turned into a television series, it might well be entitled As the Poll Turns.

Recent history has seen the erosion of the federal government's contribution to health care funding and their commitment to the health and well-being of all Canadians. From the traditional 50-50 cost sharing arrangement, we have watched the federal government continually reduce their share of the cost, to the point where Mike Harris's Ontario government is now footing the bill for a full 89% of the cost of health care in this province. That leaves the federal Liberals to pay for a paltry 11% of the services that Ontario's aging population relies upon.

We in the Mike Harris government could have easily sat by and watched Allan Rock and Jean Chrétien walk away from their obligations to Canadians. That's exactly what the Ontario caucus of 101 Liberal sheep have done. After all, if the polls didn't show the importance of health care, that's exactly what Dalton McGuinty would well be doing today.


We know that health care is too important to play that game. We have a duty to the people of Ontario. That is why we have made up for the failures of the federal Liberals. We have made up the $1.7 billion that they cut annually from health care in Ontario. We've even gone one step further by increasing Ontario's health care budget by an additional $3 billion a year. I have a sneaking suspicion also, Mr Speaker-some may call it a woman's intuition-that the Honourable Minister of Finance, Ernie Eves, will see fit to increase the health care budget even more in the very near future. This is permanent funding, not a one-time payment that vanishes in non-election years like other governments have done, of course.

Look at our efforts in home care. We spend $1.5 billion annually on home care and community care. Since 1994-95, funding for community services has increased by 49% and in-home services funding has increased by 56%. We are investing $550 million to expand and enhance community services such as in-home nursing, therapy and homemaking, supportive housing, attendant outreach, and services for individuals with physical disabilities. To date, the Ministry of Health has announced over $160 million for investment in community services. Now, Mr Speaker, that takes leadership. Sitting on the Hill in Ottawa and criticizing provincial governments who are forced to deal with their irrational health care cuts-that's irresponsible. Repackaging health care reform initiatives that provinces have been implementing for years and then trying to sell them to the public as their idea-that's Allan Rock/Dalton McGuinty style liberalism.

The best examples of our leadership can be seen in my own home riding of Scarborough. Our community care access centre has been one of the great success stories in recent years. The Scarborough Hospital, which is an amalgamation of the former Scarborough General Hospital and Scarborough Grace Hospital, has thrived with reinvestment after reinvestment.

I sat on the board of governors of the Scarborough General Hospital from 1985 to 1994. I saw ministers of health come and go. I remember the requests that we made to each successive minister. We asked, we begged, we pleaded for renal dialysis for nine years. We asked for magnetic resonance imaging. We asked for the capital to improve and upgrade the birthing centre, the emergency room and the critical care wing. We had the Liberals and Elinor Caplan in office for five years. We received nothing. We had the NDP and the honourable member for Beaches-East York and we received a very sympathetic, "I feel your pain" type of smile and, again, nothing.

Guess what? Since we came to office in 1995, the Scarborough General Hospital has received that long awaited renal dialysis unit. Just over a month ago, I was at the official opening, with my colleague the Honourable Dan Newman, of the MRI unit that the NDP told us not to hold our breath waiting for. Work on the birthing centre and emergency room improvements is underway. The funding for the critical care upgrade has been allocated and work should be underway shortly.

As an aside, I would like to recognize Ron Bodrug, Colonel Irene Strickland and the rest of the staff and administration at the Scarborough Hospital for all the hard work they have done and for all they have accomplished.

Our work in Ontario has made a difference as we build toward a health care system that will be able to accommodate the stresses and strains that will inevitably be placed upon our health care infrastructure as baby boomers, including myself, age. As I look toward the future, I know the quality of the health care I receive as I age will be built upon the structure that we lay down today.

We could not afford to wait for the Liberals in Ottawa to give us direction, and we haven't. But the time has come for the federal government to participate in this process. The time has come for Allan Rock and his cohorts to become a real partner in the delivery of health care. The time has come for the federal government to return the $4.2 billion they have taken from the provinces to allow us to put that money toward expanding primary care, community care, home care, long-term care, cardiac care, cancer treatment, improving emergency room services, the Trillium drug program, and the list goes on and on. In failing to restore the transfers even to the pre-1994/95 levels, the federal government is inhibiting our ability to provide the services that will enhance the lives of everyday Ontarians.

I am proud of the Premier and his courage to take a stand and fight Ottawa for the sake of quality health care. In fact, I will follow his lead right here, right now, and publicly demand that my federal counterpart, John Cannis, meet with me to discuss the future of health care for our Scarborough Centre constituents. When and if I have the opportunity to speak to Mr Cannis, I will let him know that I feel very passionately about our health care system and the role that each level of government must play. His government must once again become a significant and reliable player in the funding of health care.

The resolution put forth by the Premier and the recent media compaign are right on the mark. Ottawa has been getting a free ride on their embarrassing health care record. Unfortunately, the task of holding them accountable for their misdeeds has fallen to provincial governments across Canada.

I am proud to support this resolution and lend my voice to the chorus of provincial governments-of all political stripes, I might add--and everyday Canadians telling Ottawa that it's time they pay their fair share.

Mrs Julia Munro (York North): I rise in the House today in support of the motion put forward by Premier Harris, which calls on the government of Canada to immediately and permanently restore the health care funding of $4.2 billion annually that it has cut since 1994-95.

I understand that the federal Minister of Health, Allan Rock, claims he would like to see some health care reform before he is willing to discuss restoring the billions that the federal government has cut to the provinces. We are here in the House today to tell Mr Rock that Ontario is well underway in health care reform, as is every other province in Canada.

Let me explain: primary care, for example. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ontario Medical Association first introduced primary care networks in four Ontario communities-Hamilton, Paris, Chatham and the Kingston area-in May 1998. In September 1999, the primary care networks were introduced in three more communities: Ottawa, Parry Sound and Thunder Bay.

Primary care networks are made up of family doctors joining together in their communities to provide easier access to health services and better coordination of health information through computers. The networks will help reduce waste and duplication in the health system. About 200 family doctors will participate in the primary care network pilot projects across the seven communities, and nearly 400,000 Ontarians could eventually join or enrol with their family doctors as part of the new service model, which will provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to health care.


Some 100 family doctors in Hamilton and Paris, the first to inform their patients about the new way of providing medical care, are reporting that most of their patients have accepted their invitations to enrol by signing patient agreements. By signing the form, patients agree that their family doctor and their doctor's primary care network will look after their primary health care needs. Illness prevention, health education, diagnosis and treatment are all part of what family doctors do to provide their patients with health care. Primary care also includes family doctors making referrals to specialists. Referrals can also be made to another of the network's doctors who may have more expertise about the patient's condition.

Primary care networks are designed to offer convenient and quality service. Such services include that the patient's own doctor normally sees them during regular office hours; that the patient has access to a doctor in the network with extended office hours; after hours, on holidays and on weekends, patients can call a number provided by the network and speak to a registered nurse; the nurse may suggest ways for the patient to take care of that health concern, recommend that the patient make an appointment with his own doctor, or recommend that the patient go to an emergency room.

Health service is of a higher quality because there is better communication about the patient's health. The family doctor, nurse or other health care professional the patient deals with will keep his own family doctor informed about his own health problem.

If a patient speaks to the nurse staffing the after-hours phone service, his own family doctor will know about it the next day and may follow up to see how that patient is doing.

There is improved sharing of information about the patient's medical history or medications through computers, and this leads to better advice and treatment.

Patients do not give up their rights to second opinions and the power to decide when they are in an emergency situation requiring immediate hospital care. Patients can still choose other health care providers such as chiropractors, physiotherapists and dieticians, but may want to ask the family doctor to recommend someone with whom they regularly work to help ensure continuity of their care.

It is the patient's choice whether they join their doctor's primary care network. There is no cost to join and it is easy to cancel an enrolment agreement.

Mr Rock, this is health care reform. The Ontario government has made great strides in the area of health care reform since elected in 1995. If Mr Rock is not satisfied with the levels of reform that have been presented to him on numerous occasions by our Minister of Health, the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer-and, I might add, from many other provincial ministers of health across Canada-then we might ask the question, what is Mr Rock's vision? Where is Mr Rock's vision? It is one thing to claim to be in favour of health care reform; it is quite another to offer a vision. He needs to take a look and see the examples of health care reform that have been taking place all over this country.

I am also very interested in what Mr McGuinty thinks of health care funding and what are his suggestions for so-called federal-style health care reform. Recently, Mr McGuinty and his Liberal caucus were meeting in the beautiful riding of York North and I sent him a letter asking him to join us in our quest to have the federal government restore health care funding to the provinces. In part, this is what I suggested:

"I understand that you are in retreat with your caucus at the Briars for the next two days, and would like to take this opportunity to welcome you and your members to the beautiful riding of York North, which I am privileged to represent.

"Although most of my constituents have been fortunate to share in the prosperity that has returned to Ontario since 1995, they are concerned about health care, as are Ontarians everywhere. No doubt you and your caucus will be turning your attention to this issue.

"This, coupled with the fact that the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health will meet in Markham, has prompted me to ask your assistance in ensuring that the federal Minister of Health is made aware of the concerns of Ontarians. As you will know, the recent federal budget was a great disappointment to Ontario in that it again failed to restore the health care funding ... You yourself have said, `I was personally disappointed with the budget because it did not assign the priority to health care that ordinary Ontarians have been telling me that they assign to it.'" That appeared in the March 6th issue of the Toronto Star.

"I am asking you to speak out in a similar but more direct fashion by endorsing the attached letter to Minister Rock," which I believe outlines "the urgency of the funding issue....

"On behalf of my constituents, thank you for your attention to this matter."

I signed it.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am probably as pleased as anybody that this debate in health care is here, because now we'll have our chance to counteract some of the propaganda the taxpayers of this province are paying for in the form of advertising.

People out there who happen to be watching this afternoon or this evening should know that this government has already squandered $100 million on self-serving, obviously blatant partisan advertising, as the member for Scarborough Southwest well recognizes as he mouths the same words as I say them. He recognizes it. The people in the back rooms, the whiz kids, they think this is really smart. But when I go to the places where there is a predominance of Conservatives, some of the groups that I speak to where I know there is more than a small sprinkling of members of the Conservative Party or the Reform-a-Tories, as you are over there now, I ask them: "While it may be smart politically for the party which you support, is it really good for the democratic process? Is it not an abuse of public office?" The answer to me is obviously yes. Is it not an abuse of the taxpayers of this province to take at least $3 million, probably much more, to spend on advertising attacking another level of government?

If the Progressive Conservative Party, which has ample funds from all those fundraisers you hold where the developers fill the pockets of the party with funding-if you have ample money to advertise, I guess I can't quarrel with that. I may quarrel with the content; I cannot quarrel with that tactic. But when you take taxpayers' dollars-you, the so-called penny-pinchers, the so-called defenders of the taxpayers of this province, taking money out of the pockets of Ontarians, hard-earned money from people who are poor, even, in this province-to use for government propaganda, that is simply unacceptable. You will never hear any government backbencher ever concede that, except of course when they're on their way out.

I found the ministers' meeting interesting, when I saw the health ministers meet together in the north of Toronto, in Markham. Sometimes I would like to be a reporter, because I would like to have the questions that one could ask. I would have asked the question of all those provincial ministers: "How many of your governments are cutting taxes? How many of you who want more money for health care are in fact taking the money you're getting now and giving it away in tax cuts?" That's exactly what the Harris government has done. The Premier used to say: "There's plenty of money in the health care system; it's simply how it is distributed that is important. We need reform."

First of all, I should go back to the advertising. I found the advertising-in this case, paid for by the Conservative Party-the one about tax cuts, rather interesting. Before the federal budget, all we heard about was advertising saying, "Please give tax cuts." There was not a word in those ads-paid for, in that case, by the Conservative Party-about health care, just tax cuts, the old mantra: Keep taking money out of the system, keep de-funding every public sector institution that we have in Ontario, keep dismantling the levels of government which would intervene on behalf of poor people, not the rich and powerful, who this government represents, but average, middle-class and economically deprived people in this province. You're taking that money now and you're firing it away on advertising.

I watched over the last five years as this government took the funding it got from the federal government for health care and gave it away in tax cuts. The government didn't even spend the most recent amount of money that was given last year. Instead, it squandered it away, again, to finance its tax cuts, which benefit the wealthiest people in this province the most. So when people look at this Legislature and this government, they should know that if you have no social conscience at all and you've got lots of money and you're a powerful person, then you should be supporting the Harris administration.


Health care is at risk because members of this government, in the back rooms particularly, do not believe in the kind of health care system we have today. The real agenda is to find an excuse to have a two-tiered health care system, one where if you're rich enough you buy yourself to the front of the line, and if you're a poor person, well, it's just too bad; one where you start delisting drugs which are essential to combat disease and afflictions; one where you make people who are sick pay-in other words, the only thing they've done wrong, and of course that isn't wrong, is that they've become ill.

Compare the United States system, which these people idolize, to our system. One thing I think all Canadians of goodwill can be proud of, and I could say three political parties in this province in years gone by, is the kind of health care system we have built in the province of Ontario, universally accessible to people in this province regardless of where they might be in the economic strata of this province. That is now being removed. Now, item by item is being privatized in this province. We know there are people in the back rooms of the Conservative Party who seek to privatize as many of these services as possible so that the rich will get the best service and the rest will just wait until it's their turn.

I think we should build on the strengths of the system we have now. I advocated for the members of the government. The member for Mississauga West, Mississauga Centre now, who has a sense of humour, would recognize that I was being less than humorous on the occasion-a little bit of humour involved maybe. What I essentially said was that I had a plan for you, a plan that would allow you to bash the federal government and still fund health care adequately. That plan was to abandon yet another tax cut that you people have promised to implement, and what you could do is what most people in this province want you to do, that is, invest that money in health care. Then you could say, "Look, we're not going to proceed with the tax cut because we need the money for health care and we consider that more important." You can blame the feds. You can say, "It's the federal government's fault that you're not getting the tax cut." You can go ahead and say that. I'll let you say it. I'll support you. I'll say, "Sure, that's their good excuse."

But time and time again, when it has come to a decision between the public good in terms of those services which government had provided, which are needed for the people of Ontario, and tax cuts, you have opted for the extreme right-wing agenda of simply giving money away in tax cuts, and those tax cuts, of course, benefit the richest people in this province the very most in terms of the actual dollars they receive.

If you're a senior level of government, in this case-first of all, I get a laugh out of this. The member from Niagara Centre and I find this amusing, that you people talk about downloading or a senior level of government not accepting responsibility. In the Niagara region, you have had a transfer of services with them where $18 million of new money is now the responsibility of the local level of government. You've simply dumped it on the local government and then you blame them when the service isn't provided. Then you have the audacity to criticize another senior level of government when you do exactly the same thing. Of course, once again, it's because your choice is tax cuts and your choice is giving money away, very often to the very people in this province who don't need it, that is, the wealthiest people in this province, who can well afford the tax regime which is in place.

For a federal government, of any stripe, dealing with the Ontario government, what you would advise them, if you wanted to be wise, would be to spend directly on health care, because if you transfer it to Mike Harris he just gets it and gives it away in a tax cut again.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): And on advertising.

Mr Bradley: And on advertising, $100 million worth of government advertisement.

So if the federal government is going to spend money, the solution would be that they should spend it directly. Go into the hospitals and say, "OK, we have an infrastructure program and we're going to pay this portion of it now," or "We're going to pay half the cost of an MRI" or any other piece of equipment in the hospital, because the provincial government pays zero right now for that; they give the approval, but they pay zero in terms of the capital cost.

I have a good solution for them, that is, put the money directly in. Every time they have given you people money for services like post-secondary education or health care, you take the money and give it away in the tax cut, and then you whine.

My friends in the New Democratic Party will well remember some of the present members of this government who stood in the House and criticized Bob Rae. They said he was whining, he was complaining. Doesn't he understand that the provincial government can cope with the fiscal realities of the province? They tried to put him down for that, when in fact he was in difficult economic circumstances at the time. Unlike you, he was facing a huge provincial deficit. He was facing difficult circumstances-


Mr Bradley: Well, let's look at it. You can't blame the NDP-I know you people like to blame the NDP for deficit financing. They were in a situation where the American economy was in a downturn. You are in a situation where the American economy is in an upswing. What has caused the prosperity in this province has nothing to do with your silly tax cuts; it has everything to do, first of all, with low interest rates, which are the responsibility of the federal government, and has everything to do with the low Canadian dollar, which makes us extremely competitive, particularly in the automotive industry, and it has everything to do with the booming American economy. Because we export so much to the US, which is nice when the economy is booming-


The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): The member for Brampton Centre, you're not in your seat.

Mr Bradley: Our economy is booming. So this mythology from the whiz kids that they give you in the government backbenches is all baloney. It's phony baloney. That's exactly what it is. Yet you people get up and read that stuff. I don't know how you can read it. Just tear it up and admit the fact that it is low interest rates, which business loves; it's that low Canadian dollar, which really helps the exporting industry; and it's the booming economy in the United States. That's what the prosperity is coming from in this province. It has nothing to do with your silly tax cuts.

I well remember, and my other colleagues in the House who were here then will remember, when the federal government announced a number of years ago a fiscal plan for restricting its expenditures. Mike Harris said, "Don't worry, we can handle that." In fact, he often said to the federal government of the day, "You didn't cut enough." Today he's lining up to whine, because his real agenda is to try to elect the Reform-a-Tories. This is not the federal Progressive Conservative Party, who are relatively moderate people. We're talking about the Reform Party with its new name, whatever it is. I don't know what it is. I understand you're not supposed to say it in this House or any place where people can hear it-it's called C-R-A-P or something like that.


Mr Bradley: I'm trying to hear the member for Etobicoke to help me out with how you pronounce the name, but those are the initials. The real purpose of this government now is to take taxpayers' dollars to try to defeat another level of government. Well, they should manage their own affairs.

One thing you can say about the Harris administration and the whole bunch of them is that they're first in line to accept the credit and last in line to accept the responsibility. The member for Eglinton-Lawrence has a new name for them.

Mr Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence): Pass the buck.


Mr Bradley: The pass-the-puck government. Whenever there's something, they blame local government or the federal government or the NDP or the Liberals or something, but they never take responsibility themselves for things that go wrong in this province.

What I have watched this government do is simply close the doors of hospitals and have emergency wards backing way up. We have long lineups of people waiting for bypass operations, for instance, necessary cardiac surgery. We have many people-a large number of them elderly-who are waiting for hip replacements or knee replacements. We have people who need cataract surgery. And here you are, putting the cap on ophthalmologists in the Niagara region when we don't have enough ophthalmologists. Therefore people have to wait for many months before they're able to get the kind of eye care they need.

What you people do in the extreme right wing, aided and abetted by the Fraser Institute, the National Post and your friend Conrad Black-


Mr Bradley: I know you wanted me to mention Conrad Black. What you people are trying to do is cause a crisis in any public institution. You try to create a lack of confidence in public institutions so that people will accept a radical solution which they wouldn't normally accept. What you're trying to steer towards now is privatized health care. People will have such lack of confidence in the health care system that you're going to say: "We've got the solution. We're going to do what Ralph Klein does. We're going to start setting up private clinics, private facilities." That's what your agenda is on the other side.

You did the same thing in education. You created a crisis so that people would lose confidence in public education and accept radical solutions. They say, "Well, maybe we have to close our hospitals," as if that wasn't crazy. I call it crackpot realism when people fall for the kind of trap you people on the other side set.

I want to mention as well something you forget. I'm not here to look at what the federal government argument might be, but I remember Frank Miller asking for what was called "tax points." The government members laugh at this, because they know it's too hard to explain. "We have the simple message, and the simple message is the easy message. We'll just put that out in our ads and that's it." But what the provincial government asked for was room in taxation. The federal government said, "OK, we'll give you this room in taxation so you can have it and spend it as you see fit." I think the federal government shouldn't have done that. I think it was a mistake on their part to fall for a Conservative government asking for this kind of tax room.

The reason I say that is because there's no guarantee about how you're going to spend it. You bought an oil company-you were part of an oil company. You squandered it on Minaki Lodge. You were going to buy, for the comfort and convenience of the Premier and members of the cabinet of this province, a jet which was made in Houston, Texas, a Challenger jet worth $15 million. You had money for that in those days.

What I'm saying to you is that-

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke North): Don't try to reinvent history.

Mr Bradley: Before I go to that, I hope you people will vote for the amendments to your motion put forward by the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party. If you voted for the Liberal amendment, we'd probably vote for the motion. If you allowed it to be amended, we would vote for the motion. Everybody could agree. But I don't think you'll do so. Guy Giorno has said you're not going to do it, and that is exactly what's going to happen.

Some of us know also that the CCACs, the central agencies which look after home care, out-of-hospital care, are vastly underfunded at this time and not able to cope with the responsibilities that have been thrust upon them as you fire people out of hospitals much more quickly.

Far more people today have to hire private nurses in the hospitals in order to get the appropriate level of health care. Is it because the people working there are not doing their job? Of course not. It's because there are not enough of them. You fired 15,000 nurses out the door when you were downsizing. Now you have to pay for the severance packages for them and you say, "Look at all the money we're putting back in for severance packages." In essence, you always have money for tax cuts which benefit the richest people in the province the most, and you always have money for self-serving, blatantly partisan propaganda paid for by the taxpayers of this province.

What you should be doing is strengthening the health care system, taking the money you are going to put into a tax cut in the upcoming budget and applying it to health care. That isn't the only solution. I listened with a good deal of interest to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, as I still call it, and a former NDP Minister of Health, who I thought, by the way, was one of the least partisan people in the House on this issue. I think the reason is that she's had the responsibility of being the Minister of Health and recognizes there are changes that may come about and are required, and it really requires the building of a consensus and not simply a mudslinging contest that we see going on now, a phony mudslinging contest. What you've got going now by spending your money is you've got the federal government spending taxpayers' money to retort. A plague on both your houses for the money that you're spending on advertising.

I have to remind my friend Mr O'Toole, who started this, who threw the first snowball in this particular fight. It's time to put that aside. It's time to rally to medicare, as it was established by the federal Liberal government on a national basis and by the New Democratic Party in Saskatchewan under Mr Tommy Douglas. That is the kind of health care of which we can be justifiably proud, and I will be in this House and on the campaign trail any time to defend public health care as it is in the province of Ontario.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): This is an important debate. It's important not only because of the substance but because of why we've been drawn into it at this particular point in time.

Let's speak very directly to the whole matter of the Paul Martin budget and the two cents for health care for every dollar in tax cuts.

The Acting Speaker: To the member for Niagara Centre, I've made an error, and in the rotation apparently it is not your turn. So we'll turn to the government party. The member for-


The Acting Speaker: Let's hold up here just for a second while we get this straight.

My understanding is that the New Democrats skip every second rotation on a substantive motion. The member for Brampton-Gore-Springdale-Malton.

Mr Raminder Gill (Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale): It's pretty close, thank you. In fact, it's Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale.

Earlier this week, Premier Harris tabled a resolution in this assembly to have Ottawa restore $4.2 billion in transfer payments to Ontario. This resolution is about taking leadership in representing what is in the best interests of Ontarians. Premier Harris's resolution is also seeking to clarify federal and provincial responsibilities in health care.

Ontario wants clarity from our federal government about health care spending. Ontario's request for clarity should not surprise Mr Chrétien and his Liberal cousins across the aisle. As a matter of fact, one would suspect that they would want to follow in the spirit of the glasnost which recently swept through Ottawa. Our Liberal friends were insisting on clarity: clarity of question, clarity of who will be the next Liberal leader and clarity of what the future holds for Mr Martin and his gang of rebels.

We know that Liberals everywhere have only recently discovered clarity, except perhaps at HRDC and Shawinigan-or shenanigans, for that matter. Those are Liberals, after all, and Ontarians have come to expect double-talk and hypocrisy from them. First, our Prime Minister was clear about what he will do about the GST. He was clear about what he will do about the free trade agreement. The list of Liberal hypocrisies and double-talk goes on and on.

Ontarians like clear and honest leadership. That is why they endorsed Premier Harris's Common Sense Revolution in 1995 and reaffirmed that support in last year's election.


The resolution introduced by Premier Harris urges the federal government to come clean and fess up about health care spending in Canada.

For the audience at home, let me reiterate. Section (a) of the resolution reads: Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario "condemns the government of Canada for cutting, by $4.2 billion annually, base payments under the federal government program that supports health care, the CHST, while provincial governments have increased health care spending."

The resolution goes on to urge the federal government of Canada to permanently restore the health care funding that it has cut and to assume its fair share of increased, ongoing funding to meet the health needs of our country's aging and growing population.

For Ontarians everywhere, even Liberals, this resolution is clear. The federal government has massively reduced health care spending by cutting transfer payments to Ontario by $4.2 billion annually. This might shock our friends across the aisle, but cutting money from the Canadian health and social transfer program means cutting health care. I'm sure some of my Liberal friends across the aisle might doubt that their cousins in Ottawa would cut health care spending. I'm sure they're saying, "Liberals would never do a thing like that, not us," not even when they're caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Let me quote the 1997 red book for all the members of the House. It says on page 71, "It is a fact that during our first mandate, this government reduced transfer payments to the provinces." Jean Chrétien said, in an interview with the Toronto Star on October 27, 1996, "We needed to squeeze [medicare] in order to save it." Let me repeat our Prime Minister's words, "We needed to squeeze [medicare] in order to save it." Jean Chrétien needed to squeeze medicare in order to save it. I'm sure he says that about protestors too-but I digress.

I am sure the members of the opposition would condemn the Prime Minister for squeezing medicare.

Mr Bradley: What did Bart Maves tell you to say there? What note did he give you?

Mr Gill: Mr Maves told me not to listen to the rhetoric of the opposition and continue with the message.

I am sure Mr McGuinty will do something that he has failed to do so far: show some leadership when it comes to defending health care in Ontario.


Mr Gill: All four of the members opposite are listening, I'm sure.

Speaking about leadership, I am sure the members of this House are wondering: "Where is our Liberal Minister of Health, the Honourable Allan Rock? What does he have to say about the CHST and medicare?" Allow me to share with you the comments made by the honourable minister at the Canadian Medical Association meeting on August 20, 1997, in British Columbia. Mr Rock said to Canada's health professionals, and these are his words: "I am part of the problem, not the solution. It was my government that diminished the size of transfer payments." The honourable minister went on to add: "I will not stand here and tell you that the cuts in transfer payments we made were very insignificant,"-he said they were not insignificant-"and I won't tell you that they have had no impact. They have."

There we have it: Liberals telling the truth. I know that this is not a common occurrence, but let us accept the Prime Minister and the health minister at their word. They've acknowledged that their government, the federal government of Canada, cut transfers to the provinces and it had a major impact on provincial health care. It is the federal government cutting the $4.2 billion in Canadian health and social transfers, while it is our government which has increased spending to make up for the federal cuts. Today, Ontario is spending $3 billion more than we did in 1994-95 on health care. The federal government is spending $1.7 billion less in 2000-01 than it spent in 1994-95. That is a huge margin of difference. The facts are clear: Mike Harris is working to save health care, and Jean Chrétien is squeezing it by cutting $4.2 billion in order to, as he puts it, save it.

Ontarians are tired of the rhetoric from Mr Chrétien and Mr Rock. They do not believe the ads the federal Grits are running in the morning papers. These ads claim that Ottawa increased spending in transfer payments by 55% over the previous year. But when you're spending a small amount and you increase it by a few dollars, you could make the claim that you have increased transfer payments dramatically. That is the Liberal math. The facts speak for themselves. I'm sure my friends across the aisle realize the truth by now: The Chrétien government is spending $1.7 billion less in 2000-01 than it did in 1994-95, and the Mike Harris government is spending $3 billion more over the same period.

Only one party has cut health care spending in Canada and that is the federal Liberals. In urging the members of the House to support the resolution introduced by our Premier, I would like to remind everyone that now that the deficit has been eliminated the provinces have a duty to get back the dollars the federal government cut from health care; if we don't, we all know that those crafty Liberals in Ottawa will only find new ways of spending our money.

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister of Correctional Services): Jane Stewart will find a way.

Mr Gill: A boondoggle of $3 billion, that's what it is.

We all know that in Ottawa our federal government is already finding new ways to misplace billions of our taxpayer dollars. They are happily wasting taxpayer dollars on golf courses and water fountains in the Prime Minister's riding, but when it comes to restoring funding for health care, Mr Chrétien and Mr Rock are nowhere to be seen.

Hon Mr Sampson: Would that be the riding of shenanigans?

Mr Gill: Shenanigans, that's it-Shawinigan, I guess.

In asking all members to support the resolution before the House, I would like to remind you that when we entered into the medicare program with the federal government years ago we had an arrangement whereby they were going to pay 50% of the costs. That was a 50-50 agreement. Today, after years of cutbacks to the provinces, Ottawa is only paying 11 cents on every health care dollar. The provincial government is spending 89 cents, while Ottawa is only spending 11 cents. What happened to the partnership? Whatever happened to the 50-50 agreement? If they had any sense of honour or integrity, Mr Chrétien and Mr Rock would be restoring the $4.2 billion they have cut from Ontario immediately. Instead they are out on their high horse galloping around the country engaging in rhetoric and doublespeak on health care.


Ottawa has a responsibility to ensure that all citizens in Canada have the best health care possible. Members of this House also have their responsibility. This is why Premier Harris tabled this resolution. It is now up to the leader of the official opposition to recognize our joint responsibility and join with all the members of this House in supporting a strong health care system for Ontarians. To do otherwise, Mr Speaker, would be a dereliction of duty. I urge all the members to support the unanimous adoption of this resolution.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Unfortunately, I only have about five minutes, so I won't start off by telling everyone I'm going to be non-partisan in this debate. I'm sorry; I feel the need to be just a little bit partisan. Had I had a full 20 minutes, perhaps I'd do a whole spiel on the health care system and where we need to go, but after hearing some of the rhetoric I've heard the past few days about this debate, I feel I need to engage in a bit of discussion which, unfortunately, will be a little partisan.

One of the reasons I think it's absolutely essential for the federal Liberals to come back to the table and increase money in health care spending is because they have to find a cure to the disease that they're all afflicted with, federally and provincially. That would be foot-in-mouth disease, Speaker. If you look back at the record of some of the changes of policies, some of the flip-flops that the Liberal Party has made both provincially and federally, they are certainly afflicted with this disease and they certainly need some help.

In a recent press release that the provincial Liberals put out, and Mr McGuinty's office I believe would have put this out, he talks about how recently they wanted to call a motion calling on Queen's Park and Ottawa to spend more money on health care. The Liberals provincially condemned both the federal Liberals and the provincial Tories for not spending enough on health care.

Well, it's interesting if you read the record, Speaker, some of the comments made by provincial Liberals. Here's a quote from Ian Urquhart's column back on March 6, 2000, from Dalton McGuinty. "Just throwing more public money at medicare will not save it as a single-tier system," according to McGuinty. So McGuinty, on one hand, wants to bring forth a motion saying, "You guys need to spend more money on health care federally and provincially," then on March 6, 2000, says that's not going to save it.

He's done that before. Way back on September 22, 1996, he said, "I'm convinced that there is enough money in the system." That's back in 1996, Speaker. As everyone in this House knows, we've replaced a lot of the money the federal government has taken out, plus added our own money on top of that.

Here's another quote from Mr McGuinty. A caller on a CFRB radio show earlier this year says, "I'd like to know what Mr McGuinty specifically proposes, because I don't think putting more money is the solution." McGuinty's response? "I agree." So, Speaker, you can clearly see McGuinty takes one position publicly in the House earlier this week, his very recent comments, and even his comments back in 1996 are completely counter to that position.

But he's not alone. Here are some comments from some other folks in his party that show how deeply this foot-in-mouth disease and the flip-flop problem of the Liberals run through that party.

Here's Gerard Kennedy. Remember, he was the Liberal health critic for so many years. While running for leadership a few years ago he talks about de-listing. Now, in the House, any time the OMA and the Ontario Ministry of Health come up with de-listing some non-essential services, it's a hue and cry from Mr Kennedy, but here's what he said about de-listing: "We have to look at a combination of patient responsibility and doctor responsibility. We want to make sure that we take some of the non-essential stuff out of the health care system." So one thing then, Speaker; a totally other thing when he's here in the House.

Again, Dwight Duncan, another member opposite who ran for the leadership, talks about health care. Now he's ranting and raving every day in this Legislature at us to spend more; a little softer on his federal Liberal cousins. He says: "Specifically, in my view, we are spending enough in health care. I was part of a process that reduced in my community from four hospitals down to two hospitals and reinvested in a number of integrated delivery systems." That's Dwight Duncan, a member from the Liberal Party across the way.

It's interesting. I think it was called a win-win committee. I remember one day when Ms Pupatello from Windsor was in here ranting and raving about hospital closures in her riding. Then we found out that, lo and behold, she was part of this win-win committee in Windsor that had actually advised the closure of those hospitals. So one of the key reasons they need to put some money back is they have to find a cure for their own foot-in-mouth disease.

I find it very frustrating, after four years of very difficult change in the health care system in Ontario, where we have moved to more home care, an 87% increase in home care in the Niagara region alone and a lot more around the province, where we're committed to 20,000 new long-term-care beds-we are moving the health care system and reforming it in a direction that all the experts say we should go in. Allan Rock comes along and stands there and says: "Well, maybe we'll put in more money, but we need to reform the system. We need to change the system. We need to move to more home care, more long-term care."

I see that, and as a member from Ontario who has worked very hard to reform the system over the last four years I get very frustrated and I want to know, where is this fellow's riding? I thought he was a member from Ontario. Has he been completely oblivious to the change that has been happening in our health care system, to the difficult process that we and other provinces before us have gone through? I believe he has. He needs to quit playing political games and he needs to truly sit down at the table and talk turkey with the rest of the provinces.

Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale): I join this debate-well, actually, "debate" might be a little rich for what's going on here. I join this mud-slinging session with an extraordinary sense of despair and of shame. I have to say that the way this debate is taking shape simply seeks to assess blame for failure. That's the easy side to be on. I want to be on the side alongside those whose legacy will be that they made our system of health care better. Nothing-I repeat, nothing-means more to me. Nothing defines my country more than the principles behind our universally accessible system of health care. And nothing could be more important to the constituents in my riding, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, many of whom are poor, many of whom suffer through challenges that require them to have access to a very good, universally funded system of health care.

My riding is also home to a co-op named after Tommy Douglas, who has been referenced in this House many times and to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. I would say that the leaders of our country, the politicians, my colleagues in government, are spending every waking hour focused not on how we can improve our system. These same leaders spend every waking hour on the task of fixing responsibility for who has screwed it up. What will be left when all is said? Have no doubt, more will be said than done. But when will we get on with the task of improving the system? What will be left of the system? Which Canadians will still have confidence in it? Which health care professionals will still want to work in it? What foreign country will be attracted to locate here because of it?

I think as politicians we all fancy ourselves pretty savvy marketers. But if we had a product with pretty good fundamentals, would we focus on the need to improve it, or would we simply drive it into the ground? I think that's what we're doing. I'm embarrassed, as a new generation of politician, by our collective failure to seize our opportunities and our responsibilities. Not that long ago in this country, a different generation, acting in good faith, created a system that people all around the world have marvelled at. Now, 30 or 40 years later, we're playing hot potato with an essential, defining part of my country. I don't like it. I don't like that one little bit. Canada's system of universally accessible health care is not a suitable subject for a high-stakes game of chicken. I don't want to be partisan about this, because there is only one taxpayer and on this issue what I'm afraid of more than anything else is that there's only one politician. Do my constituents watching on TV today see me as an opposition member? No, they see me as part of their government. To that end, I think we all owe it our constituents and to ourselves to take a hard look at what we're contributing to.


This debate has become so heated and so polarized that it's probably heresy for me to say that Allan Rock is a friend of mine, that I have confidence in him and that I believe he has the best interests of Canadians in mind. And I certainly know that it's heresy for me to say that I believe our own Minister of Health thinks she's acting in the best interests of Ontarians. But can you imagine in the current environment that any progress is going to be made, any progress whatsoever? What with all of the briefing spent every day for communication strategy and spin sessions, do you really think the ministers in the provincial ministries of health or our leaders or the Minister of Health in Ottawa are spending their time working with their deputies to improve the system? I don't. I think they're spending way too much time working on who can get the advantage, who can have the best spin, who can hammer the other side. I think that's disgraceful, and we all collectively, as politicians, owe more to our constituents.

Who's responsible for creating this environment? I mean, who really cares? We've all contributed to it. I want to know what it's going to take for someone out there to decide that there's more at stake than this, that there's more than this pissing match, that it really matters that we get together and work-

Hon Dan Newman (Minister of the Environment): Oh, come on.

Mr Smitherman: They're awake. I withdraw any reference to that. The Tories have finally woken up to what they're involved in and find it distasteful, but every single day that's what their contribution to this is.

As Liberals, we wanted to introduce a motion that basically said both governments should be and are responsible for some of the problems and challenges in the system. I believe that if members were to talk to their constituents and not be partisan about this, most of their constituents would say that they're tired of governments, provincial and federal, hammering each other with salvo after salvo after salvo and not getting on with the real task of finding improvements in the system. There is plenty of blame to go around, isn't there? Does it just come down to which level of government is going to ask the taxpayer for how much money? Is that where we're at in Canada in the new millennium?

I was thinking the other day about the success of John McCain's campaign in the United States. His Straight Talk Express was seen as so remarkable because for a brief shining moment he let it all hang out. He dropped the spin and his guard, he cut the crap, he told the truth, he called them as he saw them, and that was considered to be such a big deal.

Mr Maves: That was straight talk.

Mr Smitherman: You know what? You can't travel for hours and hours and hours and be full-time spin. Perhaps the member can.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not pretending to be anything like John McCain. I've never had a chance to do anything the least bit heroic. But, at a bare minimum, what I decided to do last night was try to contribute to this debate by being straightforward and clear and by making some confessions.

The first confession I want to make is that I believe our health care system provides an extraordinary amount of terrific care every single day; that we need to build on the core values that we have as Canadians; that I embrace the opportunity to participate in a meaningful debate about reforming our health care system; that we recognize that with something this big, affected as it is by so many changes and growth and science and technology, reform is appropriate; and that in the riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale I'm ready to work with the government to reform health care in a way that will help my constituents.

We have a lot of work to do. We still haven't delivered in Toronto Centre-Rosedale, as an example, on the Health Services Restructuring Commission's call for an ambulatory care centre that was to come in place of the Wellesley Hospital, which will be closing shortly. The diverse needs of my inner-city riding and the neighbourhoods there need to be served by a street-level, easy-to-approach institution that can try to provide care in a cheaper forum than emergency rooms.

Earlier this week there was a story in the paper about frequent flyers, those people who are not rooted in the health care system, who do not feel that they have primary care as provided through a physician. The burden that those individuals are placing on our health care system because they seek care in emergency wards is just one example. My riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale can be a place where ambulatory care centres can be instituted, where care can be delivered on a more grassroots basis and in a much cheaper way than emergency wards, where people are receiving that care now.

We can stem the trend towards the flu-invoked wintertime chaos in our ERs by reaching out again at the grassroots level. We can begin to implement a plan now, rather than simply waiting for the flu season to strike again and for our ER wards to be full and for a full crisis to emerge.

I don't know if that was straight talk, but I believe that in attempting today to participate in this debate and make a contribution which seeks to focus on the need to reform the system, which highlights the extent to which I'm willing to play a role in that, that's a benefit, and that my constituents are better served by that than another 20-minute speech in this place seeking only to heap blame and responsibility on people of a different partisan stripe than me.

We have, as I said at the outset, an incredible system here. So much time has been spent in the last little while-the newly minted Minister of the Environment from Scarborough scoffed at the word when I said that most politicians think they're pretty savvy marketers. But I do believe that each of us, in our own way, is a marketing product. We work in our constituencies, we work hard to get elected, and we work hard in the years after that to try and make sure that our constituents know that we're working hard for them, that they know what we're doing and what we stand for.

But when we look at the health care system and how centrally important it is to Canadians, as politicians, of late and for longer, instead of focusing on the extent to which the system can provide and does provide on a daily basis good health care, we focus only on this battle, this mudslinging effort. I believe that at the end of the day, the real danger to all of us who celebrate the system and want to see it improved is that we will demean it to such an extent that we will devalue it, that we will run the product down, that there will be a feeling of crisis emerge that is far greater than the extent of the problem itself. I believe that if we're participating in that knowingly, as members of this Legislature and as politicians across the breadth of this country, then we're failing our constituents and we're failing the taxpayers and we're failing one of the greatest legacies of this great country of ours. I urge members, as they participate in this debate and this discussion with their local media and with their constituents, to be more mindful of that, because I do believe that this has gotten way, way out of hand.

I mentioned earlier that I want to be a participant in this debate, with respect to my riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale, to try and make sure that the system as reformed serves my constituents even better. I have a riding that has an extraordinarily large number of hospitals in it-many fewer than it had not that many years ago. In the move towards merged operations, there are challenges, and some of those challenges are not being met. I'll say again that we've got a challenge in Toronto Centre-Rosedale to open an ambulatory care centre, which was to be a more modest venue to provide services to some of the harder-to-service communities in my diverse inner-city riding, and yet we haven't seen any action on that. The Health Services Restructuring Commission recommendation goes without any body, without the Ministry of Health in Ontario, ensuring that the community which was promised such a facility actually gets it.

I'll be working in the next little while to try and make sure that the Minister of Health, taking some time away, I hope, from the kind of communications efforts that she's been involved in, can try and help make sure that my community gets the ambulatory care centre that it was promised, that it deserves and that it most certainly needs.

There are so many other priorities and challenges. The member from Niagara mentioned a few minutes ago that there have been increases in the extent to which the government funds home care. The numbers may speak to that, but any of us as members know of the extraordinary challenges in the community care access centres. My riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale is home to communities like Regent Park and St James Town. These communities are typically defined as hard to service. One of the problems that we're having is not just with the amount of money available to the community care access centres, but we're having a real problem finding adequate and properly trained individuals who would deliver that care. I am working to try and assist in finding a new crop of people who would be able to go and provide those services in those communities that are hard to service-again an example of what I want to do as a member.


What I want to be known for is not my ability to toss as much mud as possible but to participate on the most important issue facing us in this place. The most important thing that I will ever do in my time here as a member is contributing to an improvement in the health care of the constituents of my riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale.

In recent days, we've seen an effort on the part of the government around mental health care reform. These are some long-overdue efforts. My colleague the member for Ottawa Centre has been leading this and introduced, I believe, three private member's bills on this issue. This is a tough issue. It's a controversial issue. In my constituency people will come down on both sides of it.

I had a conversation recently with a woman who is the executive director of the Regent Park Community Health Centre, a fine, new facility and, I would say, the major achievement of my predecessor, Al Leach. This centre is struggling every single day in a much more modern facility with the burden of delivering service, again in a hard-to-service community, targeted at too many people who are without other primary care and who expect and need mental health services that frankly are not accommodated in the modest budget of that place.

We need to find additional resources to treat people who are making their home in the inner city, who are my constituents and who require assistance. This is the kind of thing we need to focus our energy on, not just on being briefed for the communications challenge of winning the battle of assessing blame for the challenges there are in our health care system at the moment.

We know as well that there are challenges in a number of other areas. I've had too many constituents write to me and talk to me with respect to their problems in accessing cancer care. I believe that all of us as Ontarians have sympathy for situations where people don't access care early enough and where too often the care they require is not available in any proximity to the place they call home.

To be blunt about it, this is something that has bedevilled our health care system. Do we have any energy as politicians and as leaders to focus on that problem, perhaps to make it right once and for all for the next people who will receive that frightening diagnosis, or will we spend all our time and energy on this resolution, day after day, tossing as much mud as we can at people who have a different partisan stripe than ours? I hope not. That's an easier speech to give. That's easier work to do. But I hope members will want to be on the side of trying to leave a legacy of a better publicly funded and accessible health care system.

I know we've had to talk, as an example, about some of the challenges for new and expectant moms. I know my colleague, our health critic, Lyn McLeod, cited the example of a mother who was flown from Brampton to Ottawa to deliver her twins. Less than a year ago, my executive assistant's sister-in-law was to fly to the US from downtown Toronto when she went into premature labour, only to be airlifted to Kingston at the last minute. She was stabilized and sent home. A week later she was almost flown to Ottawa, this time because no high-risk prenatal care was available in Toronto or anywhere in southern Ontario for that matter. She settled instead for medium-risk care in Toronto. I think we would all acknowledge that at the end of the day she got care, but did she get it in the most optimum way? Did she get it in a way that was most efficient and that delivered the best possible result for her, for our taxpayers and for our province?

We need to see from this government as well a recognition that while the greater Toronto area is growing at extraordinary leaps and bounds, as are other parts of our province, the city of Toronto is not in decline from the standpoint of population. I mentioned in an earlier debate today that my riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale is going through an extraordinary explosive growth with respect to new condominiums and infill housing that will add density and improve communities throughout my riding: in the Yorkville area, 15 new condominiums; in the King-Parliament area, almost an equal number. These are not just empty dwellings. These are homes to people who require care. At the same time, we see a diminishing quantity of care available in the downtown core at least as measured by the hospital access we have.

We see that the government has made significant commitments with respect to numbers of long-term-care beds but taken very little action on that. Many people have commented, in a partisan and in a non-partisan way, with respect to the planning that went into the government's decision to eliminate beds in hospitals before replacing them in a long-term-care setting. We still have a lot of work to do to live up to the communications effort that has been made to announce those beds, and certainly I have many constituents who are in very dramatic need of those.

My party has been working in the last little while to help, we think, to offer suggestions. The government will often stand and say that the opposition parties merely make criticisms. This week, we began to speak about the need to have access to primary care physicians, and my leader has talked about 24-7 care. We use terms in this place all of the time and in the health care system that mean very little to our constituents, that don't address them in a way that they understand.

It strikes me that we have to find a way to better gauge what our constituents' needs are. It strikes me that a patient's voice sometimes is best represented in the public opinion polls that show enormous concerns. Does the public feel well served by the debate that has been raging all around us, with their millions of dollars of taxpayers' money-and there is only one taxpayer, as you will often remind us-being spent on advertising? I doubt it.

The strategy of the provinces, and especially in Ontario, seems to be: Throw as much you-know-what as you can and see what will stick. Sometimes the opposition has a vantage point that allows a little perspective. This week my boss, Dalton McGuinty, made a good suggestion when he said, "I don't want to fight about health care; I want to fight for it." Me too.

Mr Kormos: The most interesting part of this debate isn't so much the motion by the Premier as the amendments being offered up by the respective opposition parties. The Premier's motion speaks for itself. I'm sure New Democrats agree with the sort of baseline sympathies expressed in the motion.

We all read the budget of Mr Martin some weeks ago now, and I'm sure there were even Liberals who were disappointed at the fact that there were but two cents new money given to health care for every dollar in tax cuts. I'm confident that many Liberal Party supporters don't agree with that proposition; I certainly don't. But I've been here long enough to get the sense that it's a proposition that the Conservative Party not only would agree with but has set the pattern for. Having said that, my colleagues in Ottawa, Alexa McDonough and New Democrats there, have been raising the health care issue, the issue of funding, on a daily basis. They don't get a whole lot of press exposure doing it. I understand that better than anybody here does. I understand what it means to be in a small caucus, to be the third party. The New Democrats have been confronting the government with that on a daily basis.

I would ask the public to consider this: Where have the Reform Party members been on the issue of the Martin budget and what I will tell you are inadequate levels of support for health care? Preston Manning, leader as he was then of the Reform Party, as it was then, has preferred to focus on any other number of things, virtually everything but the inadequacy of the level of funding for health care and the trade-off of tax breaks, inevitably for the richest people, at the expense of health care.

It's not a unique phenomenon. It's certainly not unique to Ottawa. Notwithstanding it's the Martin budget of the federal government, I'm very familiar with the exercise. We've seen it happen here through the course of five years now in a number of budgets, as we've seen health care in this province gutted by this government, health care being gutted so that this government can fund tax breaks for the very richest people in this province. So I make that observation first.

Also, there has been a little bit of talk about the years 1990-95. I'm fascinated by those years-I am-for a variety of reasons. I remember when the Conservative Party was here in third party position. I remember its leader. I remember him before his election as leader and after his election as leader. I remember it.


A Conservative earlier said: "Oh, we wanted CAT scans and MRIs in 1993. By God, it was hard to get them." Not that they didn't ask. I remember them asking. I remember when the government of the day would explain that there were some problems with the level of federal funding of health care and that there were serious problems with provincial revenues because we were in a recession. Revenues had dropped through the basement floor.

As in a recession, you had high levels of unemployment; then it was the recession, in the worst of times because it was a recession that followed promptly on the heels of Brian Mulroney's free trade agreement, which gutted industrial and other manufacturing jobs here in Ontario. We had high levels of new employment as a result of the free trade agreement. We saw those jobs hemorrhaging out of Canada into the southern United States. Of course, that process carried on with the North American free trade agreement.

I recall speaking with American legislators at the time who wanted to know how we organized opposition to free trade, because now the shoe was on the other foot, you see? There were Americans in the southern United States and other places who were seeing their jobs being transferred yet further south, into Mexico. You've read about some of those jobs recently, haven't you? Some of the Toronto papers-Linda Diebel, I think, from the Toronto Star did some major stories on the new manufacturing zones in Mexico.

I've seen the vehicles, the cars that are being manufactured there. It's interesting: The cars that are manufactured in Mexico cost no less. When you go to buy a small-sized Chevy Cavalier, the Chevy Cavalier that's manufactured in Mexico doesn't cost any less for us to buy here in Canada than the one that's manufactured in the United States or Canada, yet the Mexican worker is being paid, I recall, $2 or $3 an hour. The Mexican worker making that Cavalier in Mexico could never afford to own one. You see, that's what free trade did. Free trade gutted Canada, and most specifically Ontario, of value-added manufacturing jobs, let them into American jurisdictions that had anti-union legislation, again similar to what we're witnessing here, the models for Mike Harris and the Tories and the revolution.

We had Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives' free trade agreement accompanied by a very deep recession. We are reminded oh, so frequently, by the Conservatives, as they call themselves today-but I've got a feeling that not all of the Conservatives here are Conservatives. Heck, 27 of them were lined up to support a Reform Party, I mean a United Reform-the "CRAP" party. I liked that from day one; I really did. But 27 of these Conservatives were prepared to line up to support a Reform Party, United Alternative party, CCRAP party-I don't know what the heck it's called, but that western-it's the Social Credit Party. That's what it is.


Mr Kormos: It is; it's the Social Credit Party. I'm old enough to remember that. I remember Social Credit from out west-a pretty wacky party. Many things haven't changed. I'm not sure we are really dealing with Conservatives here.

In any event, I have a situation down in Niagara Centre. I hear and they hear what the government states by way of their propaganda. They see the newspaper ads. Mr Bradley has made reference to them already. The timing of those newspaper ads is spectacular because we're in a pre-election period federally. I don't mind attacking the federal Liberals on a policy basis, because I'll be engaging in a campaign and I'll be doing that, but I'll be doing it with money raised by supporters of the candidate for the New Democratic Party whom I'm going to be working with and supporting.


Mr Kormos: We can do many things well and we can do other things better.

I don't mind that criticism, but I resent as much as every other taxpayer that they should be drawn into what is effectively a pre-election political campaign with their tax dollars when in fact this government is as guilty, if not more guilty, of everything they accuse the federal government of. If anything, this government is but a co-conspirator, nothing more and nothing less. The government is engaged in a five-year process of slashing health care, shutting down hospitals, firing nurses, reducing public health services in each and every one of our communities and reducing other health programs that were available to kids. Mental health programs down in Niagara region and in the Windsor area are virtually non-existent, struggling on the most modest of budgets, although there are increasing and incredibly high levels of demand.

I know about the folks in Niagara Centre. I know they understand about health care. They know that not only is there not appropriate health care available but in many instances there is close to no health care available. Families where I come from are discovering that if they don't partake actively on a daily basis, if they don't attend at the hospital and actually participate in administration of medications and in the care and treatment of the family members that they love-the parents, the child, the grandparents-that treatment isn't going to take place.

Ophthalmologists in Niagara region: Niagara region is an aging community, one of the oldest communities in Canada, second only, I'm told, to Victoria, BC. So those infirmities that accompany old age or aging are very frequent in Niagara, and that includes things like cataract surgery. What is happening to our senior citizens down in Niagara suffering from a cataract condition, an affliction of aging? They are being told they have to go to Hamilton for treatment, because the handful of committed, enthusiastic and professional surgeons doing this type of eye surgery in Niagara has been capped. They've been told effectively by this government that they can't take on any more patients-that's what it amounts to-even though the government promised in 1998 and exempted them from the billing cap but then immediately restored it.

The problem is that the Hamilton doctors doing the same surgery say: "We're already full to capacity. We're right at the limit. We can't take on these Niagara patients." So this government's abandonment of health care means that seniors in Niagara Centre and across regional Niagara, in every community of Niagara, are being denied medical treatment that used to be their right as Canadians under a publicly funded and publicly operated, non-profit health care system.

I'm eager to hear the Conservatives on the issue, for instance, of Ralph Klein's private, for-profit hospitals. Clearly the pattern is being set. Clearly these Conservatives have far more in common with Ralph Klein and his enthusiasm for privatized, for-profit health care than they do with any semblance of a commitment to ongoing publicly funded, not-for-profit health care.


Mr Kormos: You have. You've been undermining publicly funded health care to the point where you've created these huge vacuums in service to justify and argue and explain away the coming in-talk about cross-border shopping. They're lined up over there at the Peace Bridge and at the Rainbow Bridge, a mile long and three across, the American corporate, for-profit sector, ready to provide the health care that you people have destroyed here in Ontario.


Mr Hastings: We don't have any lineups here in Ontario.

Mr Kormos: Well, they're there waiting, and once that American for-profit private sector is welcomed to Ontario by Mike Harris and his Conservatives, it won't be your OHIP card that you'll need to present when you attend for medical treatment; it'll be your gold card that you will need when you attend for medical treatment. Only the richest people will be able to access health care. It's only those people who will be able to afford the treatment, who will be able to take their kids, their parents, their spouses and other family members to the doctors, never mind to any sort of treatment regimen, surgery or hospitalization that's subsequently required.

I'm old enough to remember a time when we didn't have public health care. I'm old enough to remember the fight by Tommy Douglas and CCFers in Saskatchewan to build public health care. I remember what it was like for folks to have to sit around a kitchen table and debate whether you take a kid with a fever that's been there for three days to the doctor or keep that $10 in the drawer in the kitchen to pay your rent. I'm old enough to remember that, and a whole lot of Ontarians remember that too, because it wasn't that long ago. It's been in relatively short order that you Conservatives here in Ontario have been taking us back to that time. And, let me tell you, those weren't the good old days. Kids died, and people were crippled-

Mr Hastings: People don't die today.

Mr Kormos: My friend, a Conservative backbencher, talks about people not dying in Ontario today. Can I show you newspaper clippings to remind you of some in the recent past here in Ontario as ambulances are sent from one emergency room to another, to another? There weren't deaths? You're damned right there have been deaths. There certainly have been, because emergency room doors have been barred, bolted, locked, shut to the public, because those same hospitals have been defunded by this government, because this government is far more committed to tax breaks for its rich friends than to public, not-for-profit health care.

I agree with the Official Opposition observation that this government should be compelled to ensure that monies it receives from the federal government dedicated to health care remain spent in the area of health care. Just as this government demonstrated, or rather was exposed, earlier today-this government is prepared to reach into the pockets of women and kids under the family support plan and the Family Responsibility Office and gouge them, impose new taxes on them to the tune of $1 million a year, not to be applied to the Family Responsibility Office but to go into general revenues.

Families in Niagara understand what's happening to health care. They understand what your glitzy television ad campaign is all about. They're not at all happy with the Liberals for having cut transfer payments. The Liberal Party and its federal candidates will have to deal with that when the New Democrats confront them in the next federal election and challenge them on that issue. But you cannot fool them into thinking that somehow Mike Harris and his gang here have become champions of public health care, because they know what you've done to public health care. They know that you've pulled the rug out from under it, you've gutted the funding of it, you've shut down hospitals, you've fired nurses, you've left what nurses are left in our hospitals incredibly stressed and overworked and frustrated. You've put families in positions where, yes, they endure shorter and shorter hospital stays and then more and more incidences of post-operative infection and other diseases, which mean going back into the hospital. That's what has happened. That is happening to families in my communities, and that is happening to families in your communities if only you'd be candid about it, if only you'd be straightforward about it.

Ms Mushinski: They want to get out. Believe me-

Mr Kormos: Oh, believe me, I visit those people. I'm with those folks in the hospital, lying on gurneys in emergency rooms waiting to get into a room and then, in their hospital room, being told, "You're out." I'm with those people. If seniors don't have kids who are able to take care of them and take them into their home, they're in serious trouble, because your home care services are pathetically inadequate.

Every time there is a radio talk show about it or a television phone-in talk show and you people are on a panel, you are inundated with horror story after horror story of senior citizens or recuperating post-surgical patients who are put into a deteriorating condition because of your failure to provide adequate levels of home care, or indeed even more desperate positions where they are forced into institutionalization where they're denied the independence of living in their own home.

Audiologists: You continue to play games with audiologists in the province. You continue to force them to play a little bit of sleight of hand, where rather than treating people directly in a huge demand for their services with an aging population and among the youngest people in our communities, you remain thoroughly unresponsive to audiologists and their request to participate actively and in a far more efficient and cost-effective way in the health care system.

I'm not about to let the Liberals off the hook and neither are the folks of Niagara Centre. But, by God, I'm not about to let you guys off the hook either. Let me tell you, my friends, this is the pot calling the kettle black. You guys are but co-conspirators of the Chrétien Liberals and their slashes to health care. In fact you guys are the originators and the authors of the sorts of policies of lower taxes for the rich and less money for education and health care. Pay for lower taxes by gutting health care. That's what this government is all about. The people of Niagara Centre understand that fully. They understand it well, and they don't it like it a bit.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Further debate?

Mr John O'Toole (Durham): It's my privilege to move adjournment of the debate.

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


Mr O'Toole, on behalf of Mr Runciman, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 37, An Act to amend the Collection Agencies Act / Projet de loi 37, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les agences de recouvrement.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I will be sharing my time with the member for Erie-Lincoln, if it's the pleasure of the House.

I could read the explanatory note from the bill itself. It's a very simple bill. It has been out for public hearings.

"The bill amends the Collection Agencies Act to remove the non-resident restrictions for individuals or corporations that carry on business as a collection agency. The bill retains the requirement with respect to the place of incorporation of a corporation that carries on business as a collection agency."

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada with this kind of job-growth barrier. This change would reduce red tape, attract foreign investment, create jobs and improve Ontario's competitive position. I urge all members who have participated in this debate to support the bill. With that, I'll share the remaining time with the member for Erie-Lincoln.

Hon Tim Hudak (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): I'm very pleased to rise in the House today and support Bill 37, the Collection Agencies Amendment Act, speaking today as the proud member for the riding of Erie-Lincoln. I'm very pleased with this bill because it directly impacts people of Erie-Lincoln in a very positive way; in fact, 250 or more new jobs directly because of this bill.


Oftentimes we have the pleasure of rising in this House to address legislation that this government has brought forward to improve the lifestyle of working families across the province and help give them tax cuts and provide for better quality education to make Ontario a better place to live and raise a family. But not often enough have I had the chance to address a particular bill for the riding that affects Erie-Lincoln directly-many bills that have helped move the province forward, that helped build prosperity in Niagara, a remarkable turnaround in the peninsula. But this bill is particularly important for Niagara, for the riding of Erie-Lincoln and for my hometown, Fort Erie, Ontario.

I want to commend the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Bob Runciman, for bringing this bill forward to the House today. He introduced it in the last session and it went through some public hearings recently, and now back into the House for third reading. As my colleague said, I encourage all members of the House to vote in favour of this bill, because it does mean additional jobs, 250 or more, in the riding of Erie-Lincoln.

I was going through my clippings when this bill was first introduced in the House in late December 1999. The Tribune carried the good news with a headline, "Up to 250 may be Hired by Fort Erie Collection Agency."

"Changes to Collection Agencies Act would allow First Delaware to Expand," an article by Kevin Harding, a reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. A quote in there from Ian Sellors, the president of the company said he "has already added more than 50 employees and is still actively recruiting in anticipation of the amendments and the investments that could flow from them. In all, Sellors said his company will add up to 250 employees," in the riding. In fact, the first paragraph of this good news article says that the Fort Erie-based company "could increase its staff fivefold" as early as the upcoming year when this act is passed by the Legislature.

When this bill came down to Niagara for some public hearings, some positive quotes came forward that I was pleased to see in Hansard. Dan Patterson, the president of Niagara College, at the committee meeting in Niagara Falls had this to say, "Niagara College is ready and able to meet the training needs of all call centre companies, such as Great Lakes in Fort Erie, which is expected to create up to 300 jobs, if not 500, as a result of Bill 37," this bill.

Also appearing there, Fort Erie mayor, Wayne Redekop. As the member for Niagara Centre knows, he's not exactly a raving Tory supporter, but nonetheless Mayor Redekop had this to say: "I encourage you to approve Bill 37 so that we can foster future investment in the creation of good-paying service sector jobs for the residents and taxpayers of communities across Ontario." The mayor was speaking on behalf of council and the strong feeling in the community that they would like to see this bill move ahead for more jobs in the area. I'm very pleased the mayor took the opportunity to go before those hearings and make that known, in addition to Niagara College, and other groups as well who appeared at the public hearings.

Important to me as well is something that I've been working on as the representative for Erie-Lincoln for the past couple of years. I had business in the north, as my ministerial duties, but I had the opportunity to write to the Chair of this committee, Marilyn Mushinksi, when they were considering the bill. In the letter it said:

"By eliminating regulations that prohibit foreign ownership restrictions, credit collection firms such as First Delaware Creditors Alliance of Fort Erie will gain access to foreign investment and be able to proceed with expansion and job creation plans. In Erie-Lincoln, this will create immediate employment for up to 250 people." I guess the letter was well received. The committee moved the bill back into the House.

I have a letter from April 1999 to Minister Runciman and one from September of last year to his predecessor, Minister Tsubouchi, encouraging the government to look at necessary amendments to the pertinent legislation that will best encourage competition in the collection services marketplace to encourage the creation of up to 250 jobs in the Fort Erie area. I said to Minister Tsubouchi at the time that I believed these amendments would be perfectly consistent with our government's efforts to encourage investment and job growth in the province of Ontario.

So some work has been done locally. I'm pleased to have the council on side and I'm pleased to have Niagara College on side and seeing this bill moving through the House and here for third reading today.

In reviewing Hansard, I noticed two main arguments that had come from across the floor. There's the classic argument. We sometimes talk about the red scare. I would call it the red, white and blue scare, the scare that the Americans are going to come in and take over and head right across the Peace Bridge with all the wealth from Ontario. I guess maybe this fear could have been genuine under the previous governments when taxes were increasing and red tape was being rolled out instead of red carpet, when jobs were being tossed across the border. I remember many jobs lost in Erie-Lincoln to America or competing jurisdictions, in the early 1990s especially.

But I see a totally different Ontario today, an Ontario ready, able and willing to take on the Americans one on one in job creation, an Ontario ready to take on the world and an Ontario that's winning, with record job creation in this province and a remarkable turnaround in the Niagara Peninsula, from about 14% unemployment down to under 7% today.

I don't see that fear. I welcome the challenge to take on the Americans, because I know that the competitive spirit in this province is willing to take on the Americans. I think we're going to see jobs coming to Fort Erie and to Ontario from other jurisdictions, not the other way around-a reversing trend, with wealth and jobs coming across the Peace Bridge into Fort Erie.

The other argument I hear-and I'm disappointed when I hear this-is the notion that these are bad jobs, that somehow it's beneath the opposition parties, perhaps, to consider these jobs. Of course, in the previous government, the fastest-growing job sector was on the welfare rolls. Maybe if you knew somebody, you could get a job as an apparatchik in the government or someplace like that, but job creation in the Niagara Peninsula in the previous years was none; in fact, it was negative.

I reject that totally. These are jobs-some paying $10 an hour and more with incentives, with an opportunity to climb up that ladder.


Hon Mr Hudak: Of course the Liberals are jeering at that, which is easy for them. They're making about $80,000 as members of the opposition; it's easy for them to criticize these jobs. But there are going to be 250 people who have the ability now to call home to say that they got that job, to begin putting bread on the table, to begin making savings, making investments. I feel that these jobs that are being created in Fort Erie are very important for the economy. I know the opposition rejects this kind of job creation, but there are 250 new families that are going to have breadwinners again in the home, moving forward. That is why I encourage all members of the assembly to vote in favour of Bill 37 and see it pass into law.

Mr Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence): It's certainly our opinion on this side of the House that we thought the thrust of this bill was quite positive. I just couldn't believe how cheap the junior minister from Fort Erie got on this bill-an opportunity to show that there was an opportunity to work together, and he starts preaching to us from his limousine. He doesn't tell people he makes $120,000 a year and he's got a staff of dozens of people. It's easy for him to preach to us from the back seat of his limousine. I wonder how many people in his riding drive around in limousines.

I think it's not an opportunity here tonight to preach; I think it's very important to realize that sometimes governments have to try and accommodate things that are positive. We're not talking about building a university in Fort Erie or building some auto plant; we're talking about a collection agency expansion.

Hon Margaret Marland (Minister without Portfolio [Children]): You used to drive around in your limousine as a councillor, for heaven's sake.

Mr Colle: You're wrong. Maybe in Mississauga they had limousines but not in Toronto, sorry. We didn't have limousines. I was very proud to drive around on the TTC.


Mr Colle: Just to tell the member from Mississauga South, I love the streetcars of Toronto; I love the buses and the subway. They're very, very efficient. Your government is the only government in the western world that doesn't subsidize public transit. Your provincial Harris government should be ashamed of itself because it no longer funds public transit. It's your government that has downloaded the cost of public transit on to the property taxpayers. If you go to Europe, if you go anywhere in the world-the Far East-public transit is subsidized by the provincial/state government. In Ontario now, public transit is on the back of the property taxpayer. That is shameful.


So the member for Mississauga South, who's used to her limo in Mississauga, doesn't appreciate public transit here in Toronto. Let her stand up and say that it is wrong for her government to abandon public transit. If she really cared about clean air and the GTA and our traffic gridlock, she would stand up and condemn Mr Harris for cutting transfer payments to much-needed public transit. That's what she should stand up and say. But from their limousines they find it very difficult to have any kind of empathy with ordinary people, who are on the buses, who are on the streetcars, who are on the subways of our cities and towns. It's about time the member for Mississauga South stood up for public transit and stopped supporting her limousine supporters. It's about time she made a cut with those limousine-type supporters. The ministers who drive around in their limousines all over this province preaching to us-

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): I don't have a driver.

Mr Colle: If you don't have a limousine, what are you doing with one? Then get rid of it.

Hon Mr Wilson: I have a Honda.

Mr Colle: Get rid of your limousine. Get rid of your limo.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Take a seat. Order. We're at the end of a long week. We have about half an hour to go. Let's try to remain calm as we wind down the week and have a little bit of order in the House and not shout at each other across the floor. Member, please continue.

Mr Colle: If the member from Simcoe north, the Minister of Energy, Science and Technology, is so interested in making an example, let him move a motion that all ministers get rid of their limousines. If he is really trying to set an example, I'll certainly support his motion to have them drive their own cars and get rid of their limos. I'll support that. We're willing to do that. If he drives a Honda, I commend him for that. I know he has a very good Honda plant in Alliston, and I commend the people who work there. It's a great place. I have a lot of good friends in the area around the Honda plant, in Alliston and Tottenham and so forth. So if he drives a Honda, great, but I wish other ministers would drive Hondas and not be in the backseat of limos.

To get back to this bill, this bill is basically an attempt to get rid of an encumbrance to a legitimate activity by entrepreneurs here in Ontario to facilitate a growth of employment opportunities in the Fort Erie area. I'm certainly advising my colleagues to support this bill. We've had good hearings, and in fact I think everybody who spoke on this bill was supportive of the bill. There were no negative comments about it; generally very supportive of the fact that some of the courses are going to be offered to upgrade the skills of some of the employees working at the call centre, in conjunction with Niagara College, and I think that is very much a plus in terms of the initiative undertaken by the individuals who in essence brought this work to Fort Erie.

The junior minister from the north got into his buck-passing, as the Tories always do, and cheap political shots. As I said, we looked at it. We were skeptical at first. We were glad when they had public hearings, and we had a good airing of the bill. There were some very good questions and answers. In total, this bill does, as I said, create a call centre that will create-they're not the highest-paying jobs in the world, but they are good-paying jobs. In fact, our research shows that the jobs promised in Fort Erie are actually going to pay considerably more than the average wage, which is usually minimum wage in these call centres, and they have a lot of turnover as a result of that. So the assurance we have here is that the call centre jobs are going to be maybe 25% more than the usual wages paid, and I think that undertaking that has been given to us in this attempt to get these jobs into Fort Erie is a very positive, proactive initiative.

I don't think the junior minister from Fort Erie is saying that we don't have the right in opposition to ask questions. When a bill is presented, whether it's this bill, which is quite minor in terms of volume and so forth, it is our job as members of the opposition to ask questions. There were questions about the privacy aspect of this bill. There were questions about the impact it might have on maybe American firms displacing Canadian firms. Those questions were asked. I know members of the third party asked those questions, and that's their job. For the junior minister from Fort Erie to basically condemn us for raising questions and seeking answers is typical of this neo-conservative government, which has the mindset that they know everything. They don't want to ask questions, and they just do as they're told. Well, on this side of the House, we don't do as we're told. We are free to ask questions.

Within our caucus we ask questions about this and other bills, and there's give and take. We went through this bill. Our members, like the member from Brantford, asked very good questions of the deputants and got some good answers. I know the members on the other side laugh at that process. They don't believe in process. They believe in basically marching to the party line and marching to whatever orders they get. I think it makes for much better legislation, and makes for a much better province, when the people of Ontario and their representatives in this House ask legitimate questions.

That was done on this bill. At the outset we had some reservations. But getting some very good information from the participants, from the citizens of the Fort Erie area, we were able to come to the conclusion as members of the opposition that we would support this bill. In fact we would support its speedy passage, because most of the loose ends have been taken care of to our satisfaction.

I hope the junior minister for northern affairs from Fort Erie will get down to maybe listening, and maybe recalling that members of this Legislature, like the citizens of Ontario, have the right to question his government. He should never forget that is a right people have been fighting to get for hundreds of years, going back to the days of William Lyon Mackenzie here in Ontario and the members of the movement to reform government against the Family Compact. So it's a long-fought tradition that we have the right to question, a right to oppose and a right to come to our own conclusions.

In this case, as I said, we agree with the government's initiative. We hope we can proceed and get this bill passed so we get the jobs in the call centre in Fort Erie and this whole industry maybe improves itself and takes the lead from this company that says they're going to try to improve services in the very difficult business of collecting money from people who, for good or bad reasons, have been unable to pay their bills. I think it's a positive initiative and that we should proceed in that direction. Certainly that's how we feel on this side of the House.

The Speaker: Further debate? The member for Niagara Centre.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): As I understand, it's essential that we rotate; is that correct? Was I not here when the opposition members agreed to share their time?


The Speaker: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the member say he was going to share the time. If that's the agreement, then-


The Speaker: OK, it's an oversight. The member for St Catharines then.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm going to be very brief on this. I agreed to a five-minute limit on my speech which, as members of this House know, is very difficult for me.

I did want to say, though, that these jobs are coming to Niagara without a megacity. Dr Andrew Sancton's new book, Merger Mania which, for my friend Mr O'Toole's edification, is from Price-Patterson Ltd of Westmount, Quebec, talks about why all these maniacal-I know Hansard will get it right-mergers that are taking place are in fact unnecessary. Fort Erie, without being part of a megacity, was able to secure these jobs for people in our area. I know that many people, particularly those who are involved in the debate-and heaven knows why the debate is going on right now in Niagara. Somebody is prompting it. It might be the editorial board of the St Catharines Standard. I don't know. But they should read Merger Mania: The Assault on Local Government, by Dr Andrew Sancton.

I'm the glad the questions were asked. It's good to have it go to committee, because your assurances are sought and your assurances were given in this particular case that net-net it would be a good thing for the Niagara region.


My friend the member for Erie-Lincoln, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, mentioned Dan Patterson, the president of Niagara College, and he was quoting him. Well, I was thinking, Dan Patterson-Mr Speaker, you would know this-is probably saying, "Where's the money?" because many grants were made from the SuperBuild fund. Two different organizations, post-secondary institutions of education, in our area made application, Brock University and Niagara College. Both made a compelling case for funding from the SuperBuild fund. They did not receive it, for whatever reason. I guess the criteria were not what the government wanted in that specific case. We know there is some subsequent funding that will be coming, and we're very confident and hopeful that that justified funding will come. I know that's why he quoted Dan Patterson, because he probably knew Dan Patterson was concerned about it.

There is something else happening in Fort Erie we should know about, particularly the law-and-order crowd over there and the family values crowd. That is, you no longer call it Fort Erie Race Track; it's now Fort Erie slots. So you've got people in there instead of looking at the horses and knowing that it's a game where there are horses running and there are animals being looked after and groomed and so on. The old traditional area of Fort Erie Race Track is a very nice area. Now we have Fort Erie slots. So you go and sit there and play the slots, mindlessly, endlessly, hour after hour, playing the slots. This government gets the money from that. I know the family values crowd over there, people genuinely concerned about families, will know how detrimental this is to families, and they will also know that they're bleeding money from the most vulnerable people in our society. When I used to say they wanted them in every bar, in every restaurant, in every corner store and so on of every community in Ontario, I didn't know they meant in every race track too. But I have promised I would only be five minutes, and I'm going to adhere to that promise and say that our party will certainly be supporting this piece of legislation.

Mr Kormos: I'm a little embarrassed, because I had made a commitment, at the finalization of my comments on this bill, to put the question, and I intend to keep that commitment. However, the commitment I received was that I would have, although I'm entitled to an hour to address it, 30 minutes, not a minute more, and I didn't expect a minute more. So now we're getting into a little bit of trouble in terms of the time, I understand that, and I quite frankly was considering changing my position. But unfortunately the member for Erie-Lincoln chose to approach this bill, in his speaking to it today, in a manner that is in no way conducive to good parliamentary practice and in a manner that does not reflect well on his constituents or the people of Niagara.

I agree with the member for Erie-Lincoln. We need jobs in Niagara, now more than ever. E.G. Marsh just shut down, down in Port Colborne, 50 good jobs gone. It did. How long has it been there, Mr Bradley, E.G. Marsh, how many decades? Fifty good jobs, skilled trades people, and I know so many of these workers. Not only were they born and raised in Port Colborne and Niagara, their parents were born and raised in Port Colborne and Niagara. E.G. Marsh seemed solid as a rock. It had a long history in the region. It did ship engineering and outfitting down at the south end of the canal. Fifty jobs gone, and what's even worse, these workers are at the end of the lineup when it comes to collecting their vacation pay and, for most of them as I understand it, back pay still owed them, because the company is bankrupt. They can't even access the old employee wage protection plan. Do any of you remember that? You should, because you repealed it, you repealed the small fund that was available to workers like the workers at E.G. Marsh with families, mortgages, kids and expenses, who had the expectation of a job for a career. They don't even have that modest employee wage protection plan to access now. They have to line up behind the other creditors. Well, you know where a worker is when there are preferred creditors and lien holders? The worker is at the back of the line. You guys put him there. So we need those jobs in Niagara. We need those jobs.

Now, Mr Hudak-sorry, the member for Erie-Lincoln, who is Mr Hudak. I want the record to make that clear. I commend the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, who approached me about this in the fall of last year. Mr Weese from GE Canada approached me about it. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations-and I don't criticize him for it-did not have a lot details about it, but Mr Weese from GE Canada was helpful and contacted me several times. I quite frankly assured him that we would look at it, that we were very sympathetic because of the jobs issue. We had some concerns.

I remember one effort to telephone the member for Erie-Lincoln so that I could speak about those concerns. But he was a minister, and he didn't answer my phone call. I couldn't talk about these things with him. We have a common interest. He represents a riding adjacent to mine. I have as much concern about jobs in Erie-Lincoln as I do in Niagara Centre. I'd say that's uncharacteristic, because most of the members of this cabinet, the more mature members, although I disagree with them on so many issues and in so many areas, have been responsive in terms of telephone inquiries, not only to me but to my colleagues, and I know because I've talked to them.

Have I and other members of the opposition raised concern about $10-an-hour jobs replacing $25-an-hour jobs? Of course we have. We'd be irresponsible if we didn't. But to attack members of the opposition for raising those very legitimate concerns, I find very unfortunate. To attack members of the opposition for engaging in-what was the rhetoric?-some sort of blind, anti-Americanism, I find unfortunate. I find those attacks unfortunate because they didn't have to be a part of the debate.

But when a member of the cabinet, which the member for Erie-Lincoln is, attacks me in that way, I have to respond, don't I? I have to clear the air. I can't let a cloud hang over this issue. The government proposed hearings as part of the committee process during the break between Christmas and April 3. We had one day of hearings. It wasn't advertised very well, but it appeared that that was sufficient and I acknowledge that.

Niagara College-Dan Patterson, president of Niagara College-would run a program where they train people to work in call centres. Call centres have become a major employer in Niagara region just like they have in Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, certainly eastern Canada, New Brunswick. Remember New Brunswick scooping call centres? They subsidized them, getting into those bidding wars. They've become a major employer, primarily because of a couple of things: (1) the technology-Bell telephone or Nortel, whoever does that kind of work-these communities now are wired in; (2) because the phenomenon of the use of call centres has proliferated, has become that much more prevalent.


I will tell you, yes, I am concerned. The 50 jobs at E.G. Marsh just a couple of weeks ago down in the riding of the member for Erie-Lincoln are but the most recent of serious job losses in Niagara. There's Union Carbide, 300-plus workers in Welland, at value-added manufacturing. Do you understand why I mention these as value-added manufacturing jobs? This is how wealth is created. You don't create wealth in a casino; you don't create wealth at a slot machine. You create wealth by taking things-resources, materials and human skills-and making things out of them. You create value more so by manufacturing car components, because there are more value-added components there than there are in the mere assembly.

I'm very concerned when I see our economy in Niagara, during the period of Tory rule, descending from a value-added manufacturing, high-wage economy to a low-wage economy that is primarily service sector. Do I denigrate these jobs? Please. The suggestion of that.

Canadian Tire Acceptance in Welland is the city's second-largest employer, I'm told, with some 600 employees, second only to Atlas Steels. I've been in that place, I've met their workers and I know their families. I've been in these workers' homes. But I've also had those workers in my office after they've suffered carpal tunnel, as middle-aged women, more often than not. You see, they don't have any workers' compensation coverage because it's considered a financial institution. Is Canadian Tire Acceptance very good about ergonomics and creating a healthy workplace? Yes. I give them credit for that. I tell you, they are. But does that prevent the phenomenon of carpal tunnel? You're talking about people working at keyboards all day. You understand what I'm saying, don't you? We're talking about people working at keyboards all day. As you age and as you continue in that work, carpal tunnel becomes very difficult to avoid, even with the best of ergonomics.


Mr Kormos: Please. I know you've had carpal tunnel sufferers in your constituency office just like we have in ours. It's neither something to mock nor deride nor belittle. It's an incredibly painful and crippling condition.

The fact is that in most workplaces in Ontario, thank goodness, people who suffer from carpal tunnel or any other sort of industrial injury or disease have a right to access workers' compensation. But in the call centre industry they don't, by and large.

My concern is the way the member for Erie-Lincoln chose to attack the opposition members and accuse them, suggesting in a very clear way-if I'm wrong, somebody please, on a point of order, stand up and say I'm incorrect. I think the clear inference to be drawn was that it was Mr Bradley and me, because Mr Bradley and I, as the two regional members, spoke out on this in the first instance, and Mr Levac, who is the critic, with the member for Hamilton, was down at the committee hearings. I think the inference to be drawn was it was Mr Bradley as well, and if I'm wrong and there was a suggestion that we were belittling these jobs, somebody should stand up on a point of order and explain that I misheard that.

It's unfortunate. I suppose I could have addressed the concerns I continue to have, notwithstanding what I expect will be my caucus's support. This part of the Collection Agencies Act became law in 1974 when then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations for a Conservative government, one Mr John Clement-who of course has done well in terms of his family, and his family has done well. I know John Clement, a very bright man and a very responsible one. He, with all-party support back in 1974, introduced the prohibition of more than 20% foreign ownership of collection agencies. I appreciate that they did that without any anticipation of (1) free trade, (2) the phenomenon of call centres and (3) perhaps a different style of collection agency than the style of collection agency that GE Canada, if they acquire this new operation, proposes to be.

The member for Erie-Lincoln could have done this so quickly and so effectively and in such short order. The member for Erie-Lincoln could have had the thoroughest of co-operation. The sad thing was the sort of silliness that took place at the committee hearings as well. There was some red-baiting going on-totally outdated, the sort of stuff that I recall as a kid but I thought responsible people had long grown out of. Some people, myself included, expressed concern about the nature of the economy and the low-wage jobs, about the fact and the observation that this country doesn't have a brain drain, it has a profit drain. Yes, people should be concerned about foreign ownership.

I acknowledge readily that nobody else came forward. This is part of the problem: Originally the association, the lobby group, the organization of Ontario collection agencies had concern about deleting this part of the act, I suppose because they thought it would create elements of unfair competition or intrude. It's our job to protect Ontario companies, isn't it, Mr Murdoch? If we don't do that, we're being irresponsible.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Bruce-Grey): It sure is.

Hon Frank Klees (Minister without Portfolio): On a point of order, Speaker: I would request unanimous consent for the House to continue sitting until 6:15 to allow Mr Kormos to continue his debate, as we had agreed, to allow him the full 30 minutes of debate.

The Speaker: Is there agreement on that? Agreed.

Mr Kormos: Thank you kindly. I, of course, didn't have to agree to that. I would have preferred an apology from the member for Erie-Lincoln-not to me, but to his constituents-for darned near screwing up the passage of this bill. But Mr Klees, to his credit-and I suspect more so to his staff's credit, no disrespect to you-found a way to resolve what could have been a modest impasse. Mr Klees indicates it was his idea and his alone. That's why he would have been a good federal leader: that sort of good judgment, the ability to respond promptly. I know Mr Klees, and I know that beneath that right-wing exterior lives somebody who adheres to long-standing, perhaps even socialist, principles. He puts on a show, but inside he's a different man than what he purports or presents himself to be on the outside.

The issue of profit drain, not brain drain, should be of concern. Collection agencies in their own right are not one of the pillars of financial institutions. They rank with the car insurance industry as being the poor country cousins, or at least have historically. Mind you, we're talking about GE Canada here, part of big GE. GE is no longer primarily in the business-understand this-of making lightbulbs or television sets or transformers.

Mr Murdoch: Do they make anything?

Ms Kormos: Mr Murdoch astutely questions, "Do they make anything?" They make money. What do they make? They make money.

Mr Murdoch: That's part of being in free enterprise.

Ms Kormos: They're not in the job creation business, let's understand that. The board of directors of GE doesn't sit down and say, "OK, where are we going to create some jobs this week?" Again, I understand that.


Let's be very careful. I saw an announcement the other day; a major automobile manufacturer announced this job creation project. Please. A car manufacturer's job is to make profits. If to do that they have to employ people, well, they will, but let's not be naive. You don't have to be a socialist to understand that principle. You don't have to be. Indeed, it's one of the fundamentals. I understand that. If the shareholders of GE discovered that GE was out on some orgy of job creation without any consideration of maximizing profits, why, there'd be all Hades to pay at the next shareholders' meeting, wouldn't there? "Are you guys nuts? Creating jobs? You're supposed to make money." Let's understand that's the corporate world.

We need jobs in Niagara because our high-wage industrial jobs have been torn out of Niagara by Mulroney's free trade, then worsened, heightened, by the NAFTA agreement and by, granted, many shifts in simply the style of product that's being manufactured. We're witnessing and suffering this transition from high-wage economy to low- wage economy. I tell you, it is impacting on every facet of our community. It's impacting-

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke North): Where have you been? It's the Internet economy now.

Mr Kormos: The Internet economy, he says. Yes. The only profits being generated are on the stock market, where the speculators are pocketing huge profits. Have any of those companies made a single profit yet? See how they can distract me, Mr Klees?

We've got a problem with the types of jobs that are occurring in Niagara. People are desperate for the casino jobs, the racetrack, the slot machine jobs, because people have been losing good jobs over the course of the last five years. Yes, the operators of the de facto collection agency in Fort Erie, the one that's being purchased by GE when this bill passes, explained it was approximately $10 an hour. I suppose if you're fresh out of high school or college and you're single and maybe you're still living with your folks, 10 bucks an hour is all right. If you're working a 40-hour week, that's $400 a week. My God, that's $20,000 a year.

Where do you people come from? You don't raise families very well on $20,000-a-year incomes. Let's be clear. These are McJobs, jobettes. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking that these sorts of jobs at the slot machines or in the casino or in the call centres are going to replace value added manufacturing, high-wage industrial jobs that had been the mainstay of Niagara.

Now there's some hope. The trade union movement has been working with various call centres, most notably in northern Ontario, if I recall, in an effort to unionize them. I think that's an important thing. I'm not denying the profitability of the call centre phenomenon. But as these workers organize themselves into collective bargaining units, they may see their wages increase and working conditions improve-for the bad ones a lot, and for the very good ones maybe a little bit better-and they take home some of the wealth and some of the profits they create. Then again, I'm still waiting for the casino to be organized too, Speaker, because that's long overdue, a casino that's generating revenues of millions and millions of dollars a year and the workers receiving crap wages and even worse treatment in their workplace.

One of the pleasant things about our committee hearing-and I want to put this on the Hansard record. I asked Mr Weese to make the observation that indeed people in call centres tend not to be covered by workers' compensation. I raised that with Mr Sellors, who transferred it over to Bob, and Mr Weese said this: "If the law required us to have our employees at Fort Erie covered by workers' compensation, I don't frankly think that would be a huge problem for us." I asked him if he'd help me in campaigning for it. It's in the transcript of the committee hearing. He was a little equivocal at that point, but he said, "We certainly won't oppose it."

I want you folks to understand that when the legislation is brought by way of a bill in this House to amend workers' compensation to include workers in the financial sector, the advocates of that workers' comp coverage have an ally in GE Canada, that their own vice-president spoke on record as saying he won't oppose. He's the vice-president for GE Canada. He makes a whole lot of money and has a whole lot of control over GE Canada, and what he doesn't make in salary he makes in bonuses. I'm eager to have Mr Weese on side when it comes to extending workers' comp to financial service workers, to his workers in collection agencies.

We were assured that the organization of Ontario collection agencies had abandoned their position of concern about this bill. I remain concerned about the claims. That's why it was important to have the committee hearing, so that Mr Weese could go on record, because he talked about creating a couple of hundred jobs-well, please, about a couple of hundred jobs flowing as a result of his investment and the transfer of files, accounts, to the operation in Fort Erie.

I quite frankly think Mr Weese is an honourable person, but I wanted to hear him say it on the record, because I want people to understand why I will support this bill, with some concerns, as I say, about the profit drain. It's not that I mind these jobs. What I do mind is the leveraging that happens all the time: "Oh, if you don't take these jobs, you've got to be somehow anti-job." Of course not.

Mr Murdoch: That's only posturing.

Mr Kormos: Mr Murdoch says it's only posturing. Yes, it is. Well, then, can I say, "Cut the CCRAP," if that's the name of the political party? That's my first response, is to cut it. I resent that, because yes, there are people in this province who are concerned about maintaining a high-wage economy. I'm one of them, because high-wage economies support small businesses and provide a broader-based prosperity. Low-wage jobs in low-wage economies, the hallmark of this government, create poverty and despair and limit young people's futures rather than expand their futures.

So I am an unashamed advocate of high-wage economies and high-wage jobs, and I believe that workers should make their fair share of the wealth they create and the profits they create. I don't believe that by creating a small group of wealthier and wealthier people who spend their money in Monaco or in Paris at the Ritz-Carlton, people who can play the tables in the Grimaldi palace-that creating that kind of class of people at the expense of others creates a healthy society or a healthy economy.

I believe that workers have a right to organize, and I believe that many workers, especially with these types of employers, are far better off organized, because they are dealing with very powerful companies. GE Canada, a part of GE International, is one of the most powerful companies in the world, controlling wealth and assets greater than many countries in the world. GE is more powerful than many of the world's countries, and little workers have to fight with them and are expected to compete and be grateful for $10-an-hour jobs.

I am going to support this legislation. I hope it doesn't come back to haunt us. I hope it doesn't. I hope the member for Erie-Lincoln is prepared with an explanation should there be an announcement a year hence saying, "The operation is being moved by GE into its United States jurisdiction."

Mr Murdoch: That's good.

Mr Kormos: Aha, Mr Murdoch, yes. Because I've been assured that it won't. I'm not the one who has to explain to constituents in Erie-Lincoln why it is. I'm concerned about that, because that increasingly open border facilitates that. I'm concerned about the profit drain. I am concerned about American and other foreign ownership of our economy.

Having said that and expressed my concerns and my disappointment in how this whole matter was resolved, or addressed, I am prepared, Speaker, in approximately a minute and 20 seconds, to put a matter to you. I hope I don't regret having accommodated the suggestion of the government House leader. I don't think I will regret it. I may regret saying that, but I don't think I will.

I put to you, Speaker, that we now put the question.

The Speaker: Mr O'Toole has moved third reading of Bill 37, An Act to amend the Collection Agencies Act. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

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

It being after 6 of the clock, the House stands adjourned until 1:30 on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1813.