37e législature, 3e session



Wednesday 15 May 2002 Mercredi 15 mai 2002
















































Wednesday 15 May 2002 Mercredi 15 mai 2002

The House met at 1330.




Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise today to express my concern about a report from Hamilton in regard to the dispatch services for ambulances in the Hamilton-greater Niagara-Grimsby-Brant area. This report, which was tabled and given to the government in October of last year, is an indictment of this government's failure to properly fund ambulance dispatchers across Ontario. What is more disturbing, Speaker, is that this government had this report in its hands at the end of October. It was only released in the last few days.

This report talks about delays in ambulances being sent out; this report talks about the fact that ambulances were sent to wrong addresses; this report talks about the fact that the dispatch service was badly understaffed; this report talks about the fact that computer systems were badly outdated.

What does this government do? They hide it. They sit on this report. There are at least two deaths in the area attributed right now to delays in ambulance response. This government, instead of coming clean with the public of Ontario, sat on this report, failed to act and now is giving us some feeble excuse as to why they let down the people in the Hamilton-Niagara area.

We demand answers, and we demand them today. We want to know what action this government has taken, what steps they have taken to fix this problem. Can they guarantee to Ontarians and people in the Hamilton-Niagara area that these problems have been fixed and that, when they call for an ambulance, one will be there on time and their lives will not be put in jeopardy by the irresponsibility and gross neglect of this government, as we have seen in this report here today?


Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): I'd like to recognize a young First Nations woman from my riding. She lives at Six Nations and she steps into her new role as Miss Indian World 2002.

Tia Smith, who earlier this year earned the title of Miss Six Nations, became the first Six Nations woman to be crowned Miss Indian World. This is no small feat, as she took the honours at the largest powwow in North America: a gathering of nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, in a field of 24 that included some of the brightest and most talented native women from across North America, Tia Smith impressed the judges with her talent, her charm and her knowledge of native tradition.

The Miss Indian World title is considered to be the highest and most prestigious cultural pageant title. In addition to being a role model, the titleholder represents all native people and serves as a goodwill ambassador to all cultures throughout the world. Tia Smith will be asked to help bridge cultural gaps between native people and non-native people worldwide.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Tia Smith for her achievement, to wish her well as she strives to represent not only friends and relatives at home on Six Nations, but also as she represents native people right across North America.


Mr Dave Levac (Brant): I'm honoured today to speak on behalf of Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal caucus to recognize this week as Police Week. From Monday, May 13, until Sunday, May 19, citizens in communities across the province are invited to become more aware of the services provided by Ontario police.

With the events of the recent past still fresh in our minds, it's important to remind ourselves of the tremendous job our police services do. These brave men and women go out every day and put their lives on the line to provide hard-working families with safe communities in which their loved ones can grow up.

Sometimes we take these services for granted. In our hectic lives it is often not easy to reflect on those who work to make our lives better. So let us take the time now to reflect, but more importantly to express our appreciation. To the men and women of our police services we say thank you. Thank you for the job you do day in and day out. You are appreciated and respected.

To the families, loved ones and friends of our police officers we say thank you for sharing these noble men and women with us. Thank you for your patience and understanding about the career path they've followed. To the community partners that help our police services and make their job a little easier we say thank you too.

I ask the citizens of Ontario to visit the displays in malls, in the open houses at police stations and at career days at our schools, and wherever you find a police officer, take the time to say thank you for a job well done. Let us not take our public servants for granted.

In the provincial Legislature, Police Week is a time to reflect to make sure that we as elected officials are providing support for our front-line workers. We need to ensure that they have the tools to do their job.

On a personal note, this marks the 125th anniversary of the Brantford police. The Brantford gala drew 900 people to celebrate our police. We congratulate our retiring Chief Peeling, and we also say good luck to Police Chief Ray Fitzpatrick in his new role. Thank you to our police officers across the province of Ontario.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): I rise today to recognize the passing of Lorne Henderson on February 7. Lorne was a member in this House for the riding of Lambton between the years 1963 and 1985. Some of the senior members in this House would certainly remember him.

Lorne was the ultimate politician. He was first elected in 1946 as a councillor in Enniskillen township. He then represented his community as deputy reeve, reeve and warden of the county. He was elected to the House in 1963 and re-elected in 1967, 1971, 1975, 1977 and 1981. He served in many capacities as a member, but his most cherished appointment was his role as Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Lorne was born and raised near the community of Oil Springs. He was truly a farm boy. Lorne's formal education was at the elementary level, but when it came to politics, he certainly had the equivalent of a PhD. I can only dream about what his thesis would have been, but how to manage a constituency would probably have been appropriate.

Lorne was physically an imposing individual. He was a large man, a man who cared greatly about his constituency. He was once described by a journalist as a politician who had his ear so close to the ground he could hear the grass grow. He served his constituency well as a member.

After retiring from the provincial scene, he remained very active in the community as a volunteer with many organizations. He was described as Mr Lambton.

On behalf of all my colleagues, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to Reta and the Henderson family.


Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington): In my riding, the beautiful Land of Lakes is known throughout Ontario as one of the premier locations for outdoor activities. It is the home of the beautiful Bon Echo Provincial Park, famous for its majestic rock, wilderness trails and excellent swimming and fishing. Consequently, people in my riding are indignant that this government has announced it will not open Bon Echo Provincial Park for the Victoria Day weekend.

I was surprised to learn that the minister had not even established contingency plans during the OPSEU strike to ensure that all parks would be able to open on time. This government has saved millions of dollars during the strike, and I believe some of those dollars should be directed to a no-holds-barred effort to get the parks open safely.


Businesses in my riding have told me that the Victoria Day weekend is their busiest weekend of the season. Unlike the ministry, these businesses have planned ahead and have ordered thousands of dollars in supplies to be ready for park customers. Now, at the 11th hour, the Minister of Natural Resources has said that Bon Echo park will not open.

This is a major blow to local businesses and one caused by the Eves government. If Premier Eves wants to show he cares about businesses other than those on Bay Street, he needs to direct the Minister of Natural Resources to show some leadership and get Ontario's parks open safely and swiftly so everyone can enjoy the Victoria Day weekend.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Toronto-Danforth): On April 23, 2002, Corporal Ainsworth Dyer, 25 years old, was laid to rest. Ainsworth was killed by so-called "friendly fire" while on active duty in Afghanistan, along with three other young heroes from across Canada. I never knew Ainsworth Dyer, but I attended his high school graduation from Eastdale Collegiate in the spring of 1997. As he crossed the stage, I handed him a certificate.

I had heard such wonderful things about him from teachers at the school and many others who knew him. He was a big, handsome man who loved to weight-lift and helped start the weightlifting club at his school.

It was one of the most difficult moments of my life to see this young, vibrant, handsome man lying in his coffin in full uniform. My heart goes out to his mother, his father, his sister, his fiancée and other relatives and friends whom I met that night at the funeral home. There are no words any of us can say, hero as he was, that can bring him back and that can help the family as they go through the pain and suffering of this terrible loss.

As Dyer's sister, Carolyn, said, "My brother was a beautiful person on the inside as much as on the outside. I can never be more honoured that he's my brother. I could never feel more proud, for he's my hero."

On behalf of the NDP caucus, and I'm sure all of us, I want to extend our sympathy to the family and friends of this brave man.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener Centre): I want to acknowledge National Missing Children's Day, which falls 10 days from now, on May 25.

Throughout the month of May, Child Find Ontario is holding their 11th annual Green Ribbon of Hope Campaign.

For the last 17 years, Child Find Ontario has been helping to bring missing children home. Meanwhile children, the future of our society, are still missing, have run away, have been lost or have been abducted. Some 60,000 missing children are reported each year.

The positive news is that the hard work of the over 1,000 volunteers throughout Ontario, with help from civic and corporate partners, has aided in the location of over 90% of missing children. Their 24-hour hotline, help from law enforcement agencies, customs and immigration, and the community have all contributed enormously to this cause.

I congratulate Child Find Ontario on its successes and commend the organization for its tireless efforts in this cause. My hopes are that communities will continue to work together and fight for lost children and their families that they are separated from.

I, along with other MPPs, will wear the green ribbon to show our acknowledgement of National Missing Children's Day on May 25.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): You can understand the absolute chagrin of the opposition benches when we found out this morning that the dinner between Ernie Eves and Jim Flaherty got cancelled. The linens were set, the silverware was out, the Cohibas were ready, the single-malt scotches were ready to be passed around, Mike Harris had been brought in to try to bring our two bosom buddies closer together to help them bond as we enter the Ernie Eves era, but what happened?

I can understand Ernie wanting to talk to Jim. Jim had said that Ernie was a pale pink imitation of Dalton McGuinty, that Ernie Eves was a serial waffler. Jim said that Ernie doesn't have any plans, that he lacked conviction, that he'd make the Tories lose the next election. He said all of that in the leadership campaign.

So the linens were out, the table was set and somebody cancelled. Did Ernie cancel on Jim, or did Jim cancel on Ernie? What could have come between them yet again? Is there a division in the ranks over Hydro? Could it be that what Mr Flaherty said outside of cabinet, that they ought to privatize Hydro, is the policy? Or is it what Mr Stockwell said, that in fact public ownership should remain on the table? What a shame the dinner was cancelled. Those two need to do some bonding. But if they don't, Dalton McGuinty is ready to lead this province and cancel the sale of Hydro One.


Mr Ted Arnott (Waterloo-Wellington): In my first member's statement in this new session of the Legislature, I want to offer my appreciation to our farm families, who do so much to enhance our standard of living, quality of life and way of life in the province of Ontario. The dairy farmers of Waterloo-Wellington are an excellent example of this.

According to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, there are about 709 dairy farms in Waterloo region and Wellington county, which ship about 254 million litres of milk to processors, worth almost $142 million. Close to 1,000 families work on our dairy farms, which provide a total of nearly 2,800 jobs. To illustrate the positive local economic impact of our dairy farms, we would need about 4,700 jobs paying $30,000 a year to replace Waterloo's and Wellington's milk income.

In February this year, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington dairy day in Drayton, where producers talked about a quality assurance program that detects and solves quality control problems literally before they happen. I thank all the organizers and presenters for their contributions to the dairy day.

I also want to thank the Wellington county dairy farmers for organizing a tour for me in April of Arnold Vervoort's farm near Fergus and Keith Burns's Burnside Farms in the township of West Garafraxa to provide me with an on-site look at the work they do.

Based on these consultations, it's easy to conclude that dairy farmers in Waterloo-Wellington are seeing that best practices are shared, are implemented and that they get better all the time, supported by the supply management marketing system that I know is very strongly supported by our new Minister of Agriculture and Food, who is present in the House today.

All members should be very grateful for the efforts of our farm families, who labour to feed us all.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: As today is being named National Medicare Day, I seek unanimous consent of the House to have a brief discussion by all parties on National Medicare Day.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Is there unanimous consent? I'm afraid I heard some noes.


Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You and this assembly might be interested in knowing that visiting from England are Phil and Sheila Coren. They're accompanied by their son Michael.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): We're very pleased to have the Corens here from England.

I'd like to inform the members that we have with us today in the Speaker's gallery Mr Tom Watson, Member of Parliament from Westminster, accompanied by Mrs Watson.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke North): I request unanimous consent to make some remarks about a distinguished former member of the Legislature of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mr Hastings: I rise today with considerable sadness, because it's just a number of months ago that we lost one of the most distinguished members of the Ontario Legislature by the name of Lorne Henderson, who served his family, his community, his party, his people and this province with outstanding elegance, with outstanding dedication to the public service cause.

Lorne Henderson served for some 22 years in the Ontario Legislature as the member for Lambton. He was first elected in 1963. He served in a number of ministerial capacities, primarily as Minister of Agriculture of Ontario and Minister without Portfolio responsible for housing.

Prior to his election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Lorne Henderson served his community in a variety of capacities, including the very distinguished wardenship of Lambton county.


From those modest beginnings, from those experiences in his life as a farmer, I can tell you personally that Lorne Henderson was one of the hardest working public servants in the province of Ontario. How do I know this? During the 1970s -- although it is somewhat ironic to speak in this context today -- I served as his executive assistant from 1975 when he was Minister without Portfolio responsible for housing.

Lorne was a grassroots politician, as most of us are. He was a results-oriented type of guy, and during my tenure of about a year and a half as his executive assistant, you could find out the personal nature: what kind of character, what kind of gentleman Lorne Henderson was. I can tell you, Speaker and all the people who are here today and all his friends and neighbours, that he was a large man in a physical sense, but that was matched much more by his largeness in spirit, his awesomeness in soul.

He was really a happy trooper underneath his gruff exterior. I can often remember being at the end of his very persistent demands: "Where are you on that, John?" "Why hasn't that been done?" "When will that be concluded?" He wanted things done, and he wanted things done quickly. And those things referred to his constituents. He was fully cognizant, always present -- prescient, I would say -- in terms of looking after the needs of the constituents of Lambton whom he served with so much distinction and dedication for all those years.

When he was Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of Premier William Davis, you certainly knew that agriculture was at the forefront in government policy of the last Davis administration. He was persistent. He was always requiring that the government of the day look after the needs of agriculture. When he was minister, agriculture across this province had an outstanding voice, one in which the needs and requirements of the farmers of this province were well served. When I did work for him as executive assistant, as minister without portfolio I think he transferred in an unconscious sense the natural connection between rural Ontario and urban Ontario, which is much missing today. In my first term here I had the opportunity to merge those two interests, and I would attribute that natural connection over time to the persistence and the outstanding accomplishments of Lorne Henderson when he served as the Minister of Agriculture of this province.

So I say in reflection that it was a real privilege to have served him as executive assistant and to have learned so much from him in the way he went about looking after his constituents, in dealing with the demands of public life in those days. My condolences to his family and friends, for he will be missed for the distinguished service he provided to this province for 22 years in this Legislature and beyond.

Up above, I'm sure he is demanding of Peter that there be an accountability of the needs of the public up there in terms of agriculture. That's what he really stood for in the province of Ontario.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's an honour for me to pay tribute to Lorne Henderson in the House today. It's with a good deal of sadness that we learned of his passing in February of this year, when the House was not in session at the time to pay tribute to him. He was an individual whom you will never forget if you served with him; perhaps, a person more representative of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s than you would find in the composition of a present Legislature across this country, particularly in a place like Ontario.

What you recall of him and what you learn of a person often is found in the pages of newspapers. The other day, I was going through several clippings about Lorne and how he was quite a character in this House. Yes, he was an individual who would be the first to admit he had a grade 8 education and spoke with less than perfect grammar. But he had an awful lot of what you would call common sense; not the kind of common sense I see contained in something called the Common Sense Revolution, but the genuine common sense of a person who was close to the land and close to people and who brought a lot of wisdom to the Davis cabinet. Some of the people who dominate these cabinets from time to time know what it's like in downtown Toronto but not necessarily in downtown Petrolia. Certainly, he knew very well what it was like in the rural parts of Ontario, and he could relate very well to folks in those rural communities.

Marcel Beaubien gave a tribute to him earlier today in the time allocated for members' statements, and one of the comments he made I would repeat. I remember my friend Conway saying this of Lorne at one time, and I want to repeat it, Marcel, because it is so true of him. Lorne's ear was so close to the grass that he could hear it grow. That's what kind of grassroots politician he was.

I was looking at a column -- interestingly enough, it appeared in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix in 1980. It starts off this way: "In this age of slick politics, Ontario Agriculture Minister Lorne Henderson belongs to a vanishing breed of back-concession politicians.

"The 59-year-old hog farmer does not rely on consultants and experts -- he checks the public pulse by talking to constituents over fences and at kitchen tables."

Don MacDonald, a former leader of the NDP and a person who was in this House for a long period of time, recalled that Henderson was "a very tough, adept Tory backbencher who built his credits within the party, and presumably with the Premier, by serving the backbenches, battling for their interests and not neglecting his own along the way."

They go on to say in this article, "He may not be smooth but he knows politics: he once turned a local hospital closing into an expansion in the midst of government restraint.

"And when Premier William Davis came to town to help present the cheque to local hospital officials" -- and this is vintage Lorne Henderson -- he said, "`Me and the Premier brung you this here cheque.'" Everybody understood what he said.

He was very much beloved in this House, particularly by those who were part of his committee, which was the tile drainage committee. We don't travel very much any more in Legislative committees. They are watched assiduously by members of the media, who often don't know when the House is sitting and isn't sitting, but they certainly know if members are travelling somewhere. Lorne Henderson was the chair of the tile drainage committee. He felt that they had to travel to very exotic places such as Florida, perhaps Europe, Quebec and other provinces to determine what the situation was with tile drainage in those areas. When people complained about it, he simply looked at the results and said this would have a revolutionary effect on farming methods here in Ontario.

Lorne, as has been said, was a huge, imposing man. It said he was six foot one, 270 pounds. He always seemed to be taller to me, but of course a lot of people seem to be taller to me. He seemed to be a giant of about six foot five, with one of the hugest hands you'd ever see. But that hand was always outstretched, not only to those who followed him, who were his fellow Conservatives, but to those of us who were in the opposition and, I'm sure, to people across the province. While Lorne valued loyalty from those in his constituency, he also recognized that he was elected to help people of all political stripes and to be of assistance.


Constituents found they could communicate with him. Before there were constituency offices, it was a real challenge for members to deal with the problems of their constituents. Lorne would simply have them down to the farmhouse, around the kitchen table, in the living room, chatting about their problems on a weekend, perhaps 35 or 40 people at a time.

So a giant of Ontario politics has been lost to us. A giant of Lambton county and southwestern Ontario will not be there although, as members from that area would know, almost to the day before he died he was holding court at Tim Hortons doughnut shop at that time, expressing his views. So he was not going to cotton up to the likes of Dr Bette Stephenson, who winced more than once when Lorne spoke in the House. I think it was at the grammar. But everybody knew exactly what Lorne wanted to say. As a person from an era when constituency politicians were valued, when we didn't have television in this House, when we relied upon the print media and perhaps a little radio coverage, Lorne Henderson was a hero in his own part of Ontario and certainly throughout rural Ontario.

I want to quote something else he had to say to demonstrate that. At the time of the controversy over increasing health insurance premiums, deterrent fees were being considered. This is what Lorne Henderson had to say: "That may be all right for city folks, Mr Premier," Mr Henderson argued at one cabinet meeting, "but back home in Lambton, detergent fees won't wash." So Lorne knew exactly what he was talking about in terms of the people in his own area. If once in a while the letters were mixed up in the word, nobody really cared. He was so beloved, he was so well-known, he was so strong in his views and in his desire to express them in this House and elsewhere that he was an effective MPP.

All of us, I know, join in paying tribute to him. Sean Conway, a member here, served as a member at the time that he was here, and there are a few others on the government side of the House who served when Lorne was here. We will all remember him fondly. He has left his mark in Ontario politics and certainly in the county of Lambton.

Mr Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): It is my privilege to speak about Mr Henderson today. Of course, as you know, I've only been here for six months and I could not possibly have worked with him, but I do remember as a much younger man watching the debates of this House and reading the paper every day about what took place, and his name, Lorne Henderson, was constantly in the newspaper, constantly there, speaking on behalf of the people of Lambton county and his riding.

He had a 40-year career -- that's a long time for a politician -- that spanned this Legislature, spanned being the reeve, spanned being a councillor in his local community, and he made his mark. He was an MPP for 22 years, and seven of those years he served in the cabinet, until 1985, when he chose to retire.

Many will remember him, and people have remembered him, as a warm and compassionate man who came from a rural community and gave back much to that same rural community. But people perhaps do not remember or did now know what happened after he left in 1985, which I think bears well on the man and bears well on what he has attempted to do for the people of his community and of the province. When he retired from politics in 1985, he went on to become a director of Union Gas; he served as a director of the Lambton housing authority; he served as a director of the Lambton Economic Development Commission; he was a proud member of the Royal Canadian Legion, having fought in the Second World War, and he continued to be a legionnaire throughout his life. He was on a host of service clubs in his community, delivering for the people who lived there.

It has been said, and it is true, that he held court in his farmhouse each and every week and that people would come from all over Lambton county to talk to him about their needs. He had someone who would write down what was necessary, and he would then come back to this Legislature on Monday and do his utmost for each and every person who had approached him.

Bill Davis said something, which I read in an obituary in the Globe and Mail, and I'd just like to quote it: "He held agriculture, government services and other cabinet portfolios under former Premier Bill Davis, who sometimes sent him as an emissary to northern and rural communities to do what he did best: listen to the people."

In researching this, I had an opportunity to find out from Elie Martel, who was in the House in those days, a little story that I think says a lot about the man and a lot about the gentleness of the politics of those days. Elie Martel likes to tell the story of how he and Floyd Laughren and Bud Germa were all together in Sudbury. There was to be an opening of a hospital. Who was sent up to open the hospital but Lorne Henderson. They were there, and they were wondering what the government was going to do in opening the hospital and what was going to be said. Lorne made a little speech about the opening of the hospital, but then he pointedly invited the three opposition NDP MPPs from the area to come for the photograph, because he said, and he explained, that they were the people representing the riding and that they had done just as much as he had in making sure that hospital came to that community.

Oh that things were the same today. In eulogizing this man and talking about him, we should all remember that politics can be far more gentle than it often is in this House. He was one of those practitioners who saw good on both sides.

I have a couple of quotes, again found in researching, which I think say much about the man, his humour and his compassion. I found these in the Sarnia Observer. I think they say very much about him and his personality.

One is from Andy Brandt, who, when asked about Lorne Henderson, said, "That was his true calling. Nobody knew more about agriculture or was more sensitive to the issues. He was very down-home. I went to see him as minister. He was in his office in his blue serge suit and white socks. He was wandering around the office in his socks."

Carol Neathway, chairperson of the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital, of which he was appointed a lifetime member, remembers him this way: "I remember Lorne Henderson as Santa Claus at children's Christmas parties. He would tell them their father's name and their grandfather's name. Even if they didn't believe in Santa Claus, they were just blown away by it."

Mr Henderson leaves his wife, Reta, and his children and all the people who knew him. They knew him and they loved him, and the town's people have lost a true champion. I would like to thank Lorne Henderson for a lifetime of service, not only to his community, but to the province of Ontario. Let us all hope we are able to do as good a job as he did in his 22 years in this House.

The Speaker: I thank the members for their kind words, and I will ensure that copies go to the family.


Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe we have unanimous consent for each party to speak for approximately five minutes on the issue of mental health.

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

Hon Mr Clement: This, of course, is in the wake of national Mental Health Week, which was last week. I thank honourable members for allowing us to speak about this this week.

Directly or indirectly, mental illness affects many people in Ontario. It can affect our personal lives, our extended families, our workplaces. It also affects Ontario's health care system and the provincial economy as a whole.

I want you to know that my ministry is committed to ensuring that people with serious mental illness can get the help they need.


Le ministère de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée s'efforce de faire en sorte que les personnes aux prises avec de graves problèmes de santé mentale reçoivent de l'aide au moment et là où elles en ont besoin. L'engagement du ministère est indispensable à la réalisation d'un système de santé mentale intégré qui profite tant aux clients, aux familles et aux prestateurs des services qu'aux collectivités.

This commitment is crucial to the realization of an integrated mental health system, a system that will benefit the client, the families, the provider and the community.

In this new system, we see a clear need to keep moving toward community-based care. Since the 1960s and the introduction of alternative service options, there has been a decreased need for prolonged institutional care. But until very recently, the service advances that allowed for earlier discharge and less institutional care were not matched by development of appropriate community services outside the hospital. So we found ourselves in a revolving-door syndrome: hospital discharges went up, but so did hospital readmissions. That's why we need to move toward an integrated mental health system that is capable of delivering the highest quality of care in an institutional setting only when necessary, and capable of meeting and supporting clients on the other side of that door.

I'm proud to report today that our government is making this change. In 1994-95, 75% of government funding was hospital-based and only 25% supported community-based services. In 2000-01, that ratio was 56% hospital to 44% community.

I'm proud to say that our government is spending more, not just on community-based services, but also more overall. In 2001-02, provincial spending on mental health services was more than $2.6 billion. That supports community-based services, homes for special care, psychiatric hospitals, general hospital psychiatric units, Ontario health insurance plan payments, drug programs and institutional long-term-care services.

This $2.6 billion includes $377 million that has been invested over the last six years to add critical services, including assertive community treatment teams, client-driven initiatives, as well as increased support for case management and crisis response services across the province. That reinvestment also provided housing support for people with serious mental illness. In fact, last year alone over 2,000 new housing units were created, and we are on target for 3,600 units by 2003.

One of the Ontario government's most significant legislative achievements and initiatives during this period was proclaimed on December 1, 2000. Brian's Law, or mental health legislative reform, 2000, is part of our plan to create a comprehensive, balanced and effective system of mental health services. Brian's Law responds to the voices of families, clients, inquest juries, health care providers and police.

I would be remiss if I did not say that I am indeed standing on the shoulders of giants in this regard. My predecessor as the Minister of Health, the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, and my seatmate to my immediate left, the Honourable Brad Clark, had a great deal to do with the success of that legislation.

Mental health remains a priority for the Ernie Eves government, and the people of Ontario who live with mental illness can count on our continued support.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): I am pleased, on behalf of my caucus and our leader, Dalton McGuinty, to join in this rather belated recognition of Mental Health Week.

I want to express my appreciation to the many groups, service providers and individuals who are on the ground in our communities, working to enhance mental health and working to provide service for those with mental illness or advocating for the services that are so desperately needed. I want to recognize, for example, the work of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the association of community mental health centres, the Friends of Schizophrenics, Children's Mental Health Ontario, patient councils and community councils and patient advocacy groups. These are the people who know only too well the challenges of providing support and care for those with mental illness in our communities; who know the stresses that mental health workers are experiencing trying to respond to the needs; who know the desperation of families who see loved ones suffering and can't get help; who know the despair of being ill and having no place to go.

Mental illness never seems to make it to the top of the government agenda when health care needs are being addressed. There are reasons for this: those who are ill are too often unable to advocate for themselves; families of people suffering from mental illness often fear that going public will just make things more difficult for their loved ones; mental health professionals are too stretched just in providing care to have time for political action; all too often mental illness only attracts public attention when something tragic happens, and then the attention is usually negative and brings further stigmatizing of those who are suffering. But the people who do understand what is happening and where the gaps are in care and community support are speaking out more and more. They are recognizing more and more that the advocacy for those with mental illness is essential. Their voices are getting louder and more insistent, and that is exactly what is needed. I want to congratulate and encourage all those who are determined to put the needs of the mentally ill at the top of the government agenda.

I will not join the government in its self-congratulation on its record when it comes to mental health. Let me make public some of what has happened in mental health just in the five months that this House has been in recess. First of all, as an example, St Michael's Hospital terminated the employment of all its clinical psychologists because there is no funding for this vital service. Second, the Minister of Health came to Nipissing during the by-election with an announcement -- more money for drug addiction treatment -- only the announcement just replaced half of the more than $4 million that was cut from addiction services last year. It didn't replace any of the $4.8 million that was cut from community mental health agencies last year.

Then we had just last month the announcement in the Lakehead Regional Family Centre in my own riding, the only treatment centre for children in northwestern Ontario. They announced they will have to stop taking new cases, new children's and family cases, if there's not some relief of their financial deficit. That centre has been managing a caseload that has increased by 150% since 1995, with an 8% reduction in its core funding. Children's mental health centres across the province are desperately in need of $60 million so that treatment can be provided to very troubled at-risk children and their families. These centres have struggled for a long time to deal with long waiting lists of children and families who need service. Today they are being absolutely overwhelmed with referrals from boards of education who no longer are able to provide psychological services.

Then we had the OPSEU strike, a strike that was allowed to drag on for over eight weeks while this government ignored the deteriorating conditions of those in psychiatric hospitals. Maybe they forgot they were still responsible for these hospitals, because they were intending to close most of them as part of the hospital restructuring exercise. The closure of those psych hospitals has been put on hold, mercifully, thankfully, until the community supports can be put in place, but the whole mental health reform process is stalled. Deteriorating conditions in our psychiatric hospitals were occurring well before this strike began, and they'll continue until the government remembers that mental health reform is supposed to be part of its agenda. That is just a little of the record of the last five months.

We also know during that period implementation teams that were set up to look at the need for community mental health services have been working toward final recommendations. Those implementation teams have already finalized recommendations for the new homes for persons with special needs program, but the Minister of Health has essentially told the Ontario Homes for Special Needs Association that the implementation of this program is not even on the radar screen. In the meantime, there's increasing fear that this government will end up doing to mental health what it has already done to community care: get rid of those noisy community advocates and run community mental health with one large, central organization.

This government did take one major initiative in the area of mental health: it passed Brian's Law. They claim the goal of the legislation is intended to provide care earlier to those with mental illness. They claim it was the beginnings of more community-based care. So far, it is a way to force people into hospital earlier even though, ironically, the hospital beds aren't there. Community care certainly is not there yet. If the homes for persons with special needs program is not on the radar screen even though they've been working on it for two years, when are the recommendations of the implementation teams on the need for community services going to get looked at?

I conclude by suggesting that mental health was important to this government when a tragic incident made headlines, but it has slipped right off the agenda again. Those with mental illness continue to be doubly victimized by their illness and by a government more concerned with tax cuts than with care.


Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): The week of May 6 to 13 was the Canadian Mental Health Association's Mental Health Week. I want to acknowledge in particular here today Patricia Bregman, who is the director of programs for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario. This year is special because the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario division, is also celebrating its 50th year of making sure mental health matters.

I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the association for their leadership in community mental health innovation. We should also note that May 12 to 18 is Suicide Prevention Week, an occasion to raise awareness of suicide and related issues. The theme of the week is, "You can help," focusing on the various roles we can all play in suicide prevention.

We all need to acknowledge that mental health problems can occur in any family in any community. These problems can be devastating to families, costly to communities and costly to the health care system. Fortunately, most mental health problems can be treated and even prevented, but prevention requires an investment in community mental health services.

Studies show that treatment at any age results in a 62% to 76% reduction in mental health problems, an incredible success rate. Why, then, did this government, in the midst of Mental Health Week, choose to disregard mental health services in their speech from the throne? Is this just another example of the indifference that this government has shown to mental health issues and to people and families who have to address mental health issues?

Our health critic, the member from Nickel Belt, wrote to the Minister of Health on April 25 asking what specific action he intended to take to increase base funding for community mental health agencies. Regretfully, so far we've not received a reply.

The former Minister of Health announced nearly three years ago that the Conservative government would be providing a 2% increase in funding for both addiction treatment and community mental health services. At the time, everyone was given to understand that the funding was to be ongoing funding, multi-year funding, not a one-time-only grant, but then the Minister of Health was forced to admit that it was only one-year funding. That was acknowledged again this past October at the Canadian Mental Health Association's annual conference by the current Minister of Health.

The minister also promised he would work with the Canadian Mental Health Association to obtain other ongoing funding resources, but regretfully, any meeting to follow up on that has yet to take place.

We all need to recognize that community mental health services need an increase in base funding. It's time this government recognized that people with mental illness are involved in ongoing treatment and this need for ongoing treatment doesn't end with the fiscal year.

I want to note that in the recent Nipissing by-election the government did announce $1.8 million in new annualized funding for addiction treatment, but that addiction treatment aspect does not relate to community mental health. In fact, it all comes out of the problem gambling pot. Those people who are focused on the issues of community mental health are still waiting for this government to live up to the expectations that were created and the commitment that was made.

I also want to make special mention of this government's failure to support children's mental health services. There are 8,000 children waiting an average of five months to get community mental health services in Ontario. Moreover, because those people who work in children's mental health have not received any sort of recognition in terms of payer benefits for some time, there is now a huge wage gap, which results in a high turnover of children's mental health workers, which means that most children will see two or three different workers during their treatment. This lack of consistency means children are stressed, and obviously it impedes treatment.

We need $50 million to stabilize and revitalize treatment programs in Ontario for children. At least 60% of that money should be used to increase salaries so that they remain competitive and that people who work in the area of children's mental health aren't forced to leave. This revitalization plan could reduce waiting times and serve 10% more children and their families.

Investing in these children now means families can stay together, and it also reduces the social, health and economic costs in the medium term and the longer term. In other words, it makes good sense.

Finally, Speaker, as this is National Medicare Day, I think it's important to acknowledge the future of mental health services. Where is the commitment from this government to ensure the provision of mental health services is part of the so-called Ontario Family Health Network? We believe real, meaningful primary care reform has a central role to play in the provision of mental health services in our communities. We want to ensure that mental health professionals and trained nurse practitioners, not just physicians, are part of primary care reform so that community mental health gets on to the radar screen.

This year more Ontarians are without mental health services because of this government's past decisions. Children at Covenant House no longer have access to the psychology clinic at St Michael's Hospital, because it was cut; 20 high-risk children in Sarnia-Lambton no longer have access to programs provided by the family solutions program, because this government terminated their funding. Children's mental health advocates from Thunder Bay and from across my constituency of Kenora-Rainy River have called or written over the past few weeks to say that children's mental health services in the northwestern part of the province are in critical condition.

What does this mean? Well, we hope that on this day, when the government chooses to recognize Mental Health Week, the government will commit to real and meaningful investment in mental health services. Our families, our communities, deserve nothing less.

The Speaker: Reports by committees? Introduction of bills?

Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Today is National Medicare Day, and people across this country are sending a message that they want medicare protected and expanded, not destroyed. I seek unanimous consent that the Legislature proclaim every May 15 to be Public Medicare Day in Ontario and that all members follow NDP members and lead by wrapping their desks with the medicare ribbon.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? No, and I would kindly ask the members to collect the ribbons. There was not unanimous consent.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seek unanimous consent for members to drape their desks with the national public medicare ribbon, as is being done in communities across this province where people are binding these ribbons to their fence --


The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? I'm afraid I heard some noes. Just so we know, so we don't have to have the Sergeant-at-Arms remove them, I would ask the members to please withdraw. As you know, we're not allowed to have protests in here.



Mr Arnott moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr5, An Act respecting Groves Memorial Community Hospital.

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

Pursuant to standing order 86(a), this bill stands referred to the Commissioners of Estate Bills.



Mr Bartolucci moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 20, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to require the appointment of a workplace carcinoma committee / Loi modifiant la Loi sur la santé et la sécurité au travail en vue d'exiger la constitution d'un comité du carcinome d'origine professionnelle.

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

The member for a short statement?

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Cancer Care Ontario states that 9% of all cancer deaths are attributable to workplace cancers. Canadian cancer statistics indicate that 455 people die from cancer every week, which means that 40 workers a week die from workplace cancers.

This bill, if passed, amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act to require the minister to appoint a workplace carcinoma committee responsible for advising, investigating and reporting on matters concerning workplace cancers.


Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm referring to this assembly's Hansard of May 13, 2002. During question period on that date, in response to a question put to him by a government backbencher, the Chair of Management Board of Cabinet, when speaking of the OPSEU strike, stated that the government had alternatives, "rather than simply giving in to a $1.3-billion demand, which represented around a 43% increase."

In fact, at the strike deadline, the demand of OPSEU was a 5% increase over each of three years --

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Would the member take his seat. Would you get to the point of order. I'm not going to allow you to make statements in here and get around it by making points of order. I gave you some latitude. If you could please suggest what the point of order is, rather than making a statement first. This time I gave you a lot of latitude. I don't like to get up very quickly, but you know I'm going to have to. We're starting a new session. I try to be easy. As you know, I'm a reasonable person, but you can't start off with statements like that. Is there a point of order in there, please?

Mr Kormos: I know that the Chair of Management Board had no intention and did not mislead this assembly. I'm asking you to give him an opportunity to correct the record and correct the inaccuracy of his response on that date.

The Speaker: The member will know -- the Chair of Management Board is signalling me.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Culture): Mr Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to correct the record. In fact, our statistics came from our ministry, and I did say that it was a $1.3-billion demand and a 43% increase. In fact, I was wrong. It was a $1.3-billion demand, but it wasn't a 43% increase. That represented a 63.81% increase.

The Speaker: Thank you for the clarification.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Premier. Yesterday your energy minister confirmed that one of the options you are considering -- one of your never-ending and growing list of options -- is something called a strategic sale; that is, a sale of Hydro One to a single company. He tells us that you are actively considering selling our one and only electricity highway to one company, probably a foreign company.

Premier, I believe it is the height of irresponsibility for the Ontario Premier to be considering the sell-off of our only electricity highway -- that's the one that brings electricity into our homes, our businesses, our schools and our hospitals -- to a foreign company. Will you now take the opportunity, Premier, to rule this option out, tell us it is no longer on the table?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): First of all, I don't believe the Minister of Energy said that we were considering selling it to a foreign company and, second of all, we are listening to the people of Ontario with respect to what options they would prefer to see their government go in the future direction of Hydro One.

Mr McGuinty: Premier, you will be interested to learn, then, that one of the foreign companies that is very interested in purchasing Hydro One is National Grid USA. That is a global electricity transmission company with assets in the US, the UK and South America. National Grid is represented by a Mr Hugh MacKenzie, a friend and adviser of yours who has been hired to lobby you and your government with respect to the sale of Hydro One to one National Grid USA.

Maybe you will take the opportunity, Premier, to assure us that Hydro One will in fact not be available for sale to National Grid USA or to any other foreign company, because that would be tremendous news to Bay Street and wonderful reassurance, at least on one score, to the people of Ontario.

Hon Mr Eves: I've already said that so I'll repeat it again. We are not considering selling Hydro One in a specific sale to any foreign entity, period. I don't believe the Minister of Energy said that yesterday either. You must be really hard up for stuff for question period today.

Mr McGuinty: Premier, you can understand that to the objective observer it is exceptionally difficult to figure out where you people are from one day to the next with respect to the future of Hydro One. This never-ending hand-wringing and inability to come to a landing with respect to the future of Hydro One is at minimum embarrassing and in the worst case it sends a terrible signal to the international markets.

So just to be perfectly clear, Premier, you are now assuring us that Hydro One is not available for sale to a foreign company. Would you also confirm for us that it is not available for sale to any single company of any kind?

Hon Mr Eves: Today he's on the side of international bankers; on Monday he was on the side of the people. Today you want us to make a quick decision and not get all the facts; before, you wanted us to consult with the people.

We are going to consult with the people of the province of Ontario and, after we consider what they have to say to us and the different options, we will let you know what direction the government is going in and then you can feel free to criticize that decision if you so choose.

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

Mr McGuinty: To the Premier as well. Premier, the Minister of Energy also said yesterday that the main sequence of events leading up to your decision about what to do with Hydro One is as follows: first, you intend it get enabling legislation from this House before it rises for the summer break, and then sometime during the summer you intend to make a final decision with respect to Hydro One. What you are in effect intending to do, Premier, is to ask us to give you a blank cheque with respect to the future of Ontarians' Hydro One transmission grid.


If you honestly think that we are going to roll over and allow you to obtain a blank cheque so that at some time during the course of the summer, under cover of darkness, you can make your final decision with respect to Hydro One, you have another thing coming. So would you please, Premier, here and now guarantee to us that when it comes to the future of Hydro One, we will have an opportunity in this Legislature to debate the very specific plan you have for it and an opportunity to vote on that very specific plan?

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, Mr Justice Gans's decision raises several important items which I think and the province of Ontario thinks the people of Ontario should have clarified. Are there inherent rights of ownership in Ontario or not? Does the province have the ability to dispose of assets it owns or not, or of any government agency, for that matter? There are several other important issues that Mr Justice Gans's decision raises which should be clarified. I suggest, with respect to legislation, that you wait until you see that legislation before you criticize it.

Mr McGuinty: What I want to know, Premier, is whether or not we are going to have an opportunity in this Legislature to debate and vote on your very specific plan with respect to the future of Hydro One. That's what I want to know, and I'll put the question to you again: will we have that opportunity in this Legislature? Yesterday your minister was telling us, "You're going to get enabling legislation; you're going to get the blank cheque," and then, away from the people of Ontario, who would like the opportunity to vote on this, and away from us, their duly elected representatives, who should have the opportunity to vote on this, you intend to make your final decision. Will we or will we not have the opportunity to debate and vote on your very specific plan for the future of Hydro One?

Hon Mr Eves: You will have an opportunity to debate the legislation that is presented to this Legislature. You and the people of Ontario will have an opportunity to have as much input as is needed to thoroughly debate this issue about the future of Hydro One.

Mr McGuinty: You know, Premier, you just recently had your throne speech delivered. It marked the threshold, you told us, of a new era. This was a government that was going to have the courage to listen. This was a government that was going to be both responsive and responsible. Do you honestly think that ramming this bill through in short order, in connection with a very important matter of public policy, and then making the final decision under cover of darkness, away from this House, speaks to that wonderful notion of responsive and responsible government?

You told us you were going to be different from the last guy. Well, I can tell you that your plan with respect to this bill and this policy speaks loudly about the last guy. It doesn't make you different from the last guy; it makes you the same as the last guy. Premier, if you really want to be different from the last guy, then have this courage that you refer to to say no to Mike Harris, no to Bay Street and yes to the people of Ontario, who want to keep their Hydro One in their public hands.

Hon Mr Eves: Three minutes ago the leader of the official opposition was arguing in favour of an immediate decision to satisfy the international banking community. Now he's saying he's against the public consultation process that the minister has already been through and he's against the consultation process with respect to the legislation that will be introduced. There will be a public consultation process, there will be debate by legislative committee and consideration by a legislative committee and it will be voted on on the floor of this Legislature.


Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is to the Premier. I have to say you're now changing your hydro policy almost as quickly and as often as the Liberals.


Mr Hampton: I know it hurts.

Premier, yesterday we learned that for 18 months your government and the Independent Market Operator covered up a Hydro report which indicated how much electricity prices could go up after deregulation and privatization. Today we learned that your cover-up extends even further. Your government, through the Independent Market Operator, refuses to disclose the specific reasons for electricity price increases. So people see a spike in the price of electricity, and the IMO says, "We're not going to let you know what happened. We're not going to give the public that information."

Premier, why is your government so intent on covering up all the information that the consumers and people of Ontario need to know about hydro prices and when and if they are getting ripped off?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): In fact, the IMO is there with its rules in place to protect the consumer of Ontario, to do exactly the opposite of what the leader of the third party suggested.

Mr Hampton: Premier, why did they cover up a study which predicts exactly how prices can ricochet up after privatization and deregulation, and why, over the past two weeks, has the Independent Market Operator refused to disclose why we're seeing price spikes? In other jurisdictions, when there's a price spike, people can find out which company has withdrawn their generation or which company is not producing electricity at the rate they said they would.

In California, this kind of price manipulation happened under Enron. You must have heard of their market manipulation strategies -- Death Star, Get Shorty, Fat Boy -- all of them now under criminal investigation in the United States.

If you want this so-called open market, then you've got to allow people to have access to the information. Why is your government so intent on covering up the kind of information people need so they can make informed decisions?

Hon Mr Eves: The reason the government has chosen the route it has with respect to the IMO is to protect the Ontario consumer from events like the ones that happened in Alberta, like the ones that happened in California. Because they had a full disclosure system of their independent market operator in those two jurisdictions, you got companies like Enron playing with the market. We want to prevent that from happening here, and that's exactly why these rules are in place, to protect the consumers of Ontario.

Mr Hampton: This is a new philosophic direction: people will be protected by secrecy. The only people you're trying to protect are your friends on Bay Street. That's why you've kept secret the studies which indicate how prices will go up, that's why you've kept secret the studies which indicate the true value of the Bruce nuclear station and that's why you're keeping this information secret. Because when people can understand which companies are withdrawing generation, when people can understand how much generation is being withdrawn, they would be able to point out exactly when and where market manipulation is occurring.

No one except the generators and profit-driven corporations is going to be served by that kind of secrecy. No one, especially consumers, is going to be served by your government and your government's agencies keeping these studies and reports on electricity pricing secret. You should know that. Why won't you make all of these studies public, make all of this information public? If you're not prepared to do that, then do the right thing and cancel this whole misguided project.

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, the rules were established after consultation with many people in the marketplace and others. The rules were established to protect the consumers of Ontario. Even Tom Adams, the executive director of Energy Probe, agrees. Initially, he thought the rules that Alberta had in place for full disclosure were appropriate, and now he realizes that was a mistake and he fully confirms the approach that Ontario is taking to protect the consumers of the province.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): New question, the leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: To the Premier, I gather now this is your official policy: secrecy is good for consumers and secrecy is good for the ordinary person.

Premier, it goes even further than this. Your former Minister of Energy boasted about three months ago that he had a study which said that prices under deregulation and privatization will be lower. We wanted to follow up on that study, because if you're going to make this boast, then we should be able to read it. We called and asked for that study, one that was put out by a Professor Lazar. We were told that in fact he didn't have the real study. It's put out by an organization in the States called PIRA. So we contacted PIRA. PIRA wants $5,000 to access the study, but then you have to sign a whole bunch of confidentiality agreements that say you can't make the study available to ordinary people.


Once again, Premier, these are not your friends on Bay Street. It's not their electricity system. This Hydro system belongs to the people of Ontario. What justification do you have for keeping study after study, information after information source, secret and covered up from the people of Ontario?

Hon Mr Eves: I refer this question to the Minister of Energy.

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Environment and Energy, Government House Leader): The study is available and it's been done privately by the company and Mr Fred Lazar. He provides the advice, recommendations, the consultations he went through to get the study. He provided us the information for the study. We have digested that information and it has provided the information that, in the long run, the people of the province of Ontario will save between $3 billion to $6 billion through privatization.

Mr Hampton: Here we have the Minister of Energy standing up and making bald statements again. If anyone wants to get the study, to test any of the assumptions or to test any of their projections, you're told, "We could maybe give you the study for $5,000, but you're not allowed to disseminate any of that information to the public." That's what's wrong. You give this information to your corporate friends on Bay Street, you tell them, you give them access to information, but to the people whose hydro rates are going to go up you say, "Oh no, you can't have any of the information." And hydro rates are going up. The Toronto Transit Commission estimates their electricity costs are going up by 20%.

If you are truly the Minister of Energy, and you're supposed to be looking out for the people of Ontario, make all of these studies, all of this information, public so that people can be informed and they can tell this government honestly what they believe. Why are you covering up all of this information?

Hon Mr Stockwell: The leader of the third party says hydro rates are going up, but that's not the case. According to the hourly energy prices since market opening on May 1, yesterday the average price for hydro was 3.2 cents. When the market opened it was 4.3 cents. So why do you say that market rates are going up when you know for a fact that market rates are not going up, they're in fact down?

As far as the TTC is concerned, the TTC made a business decision that they based on information they received. If that's the decision the TTC took, then that's the decision the TTC took and they're going to stand by their decision and rise and fall based on that decision. In my opinion, sitting here today, you're making the charge that hydro rates are up. The fact of the matter is, hydro rates since market opening, May 1 to May 14 -- not one single day on average have the rates been higher than the pegged rate of 4.3 on May 1. So your assumption is fundamentally flawed, just like everything else you've been saying about this for the last five months. Nothing you say is accurate.


Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): My question is for the Premier. Mr Premier, is your government open to keeping Hydro One as a crown corporation?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): Yes.

Mr Bryant: On Monday, we're told by the minister that the status quo is off the table. The status quo equals Hydro One as a crown corporation. On Tuesday we're told by the minister that in fact the status quo is off the table, so somehow you're going to keep it public but keep the status quo off the table. My question is, is the status quo on the table or is it off the table? Because this government has polluted the Hydro One debate with the smog of inconsistency, confusion and incompetence. Our question is, is the status quo on the table or is the status quo off the table if in fact Hydro One may be kept as a crown corporation?

Hon Mr Eves: I think I've already answered the honourable member's question. His flair for the dramatic is somewhat entertaining, but I don't think it really resolves this.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford): My question is for the Minister of Health. The Ministry of Health has made significant investments in improving the quality of cancer care at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie through the women's imaging centre and the expansion of chemotherapy services. However, as you are aware from your visit to the riding in February, a regional cancer care centre is needed along with the expansion of RVH due to population growth and its regional role as a health care provider.

Minister, what is the status of the RVH regional health care cancer centre and the RVH expansion?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): I thank the honourable member for his question. Indeed, he is working hard to bring the best possible health care services to the people of Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford. I want to commend him for all of the work he is doing, including sponsoring promotional breakfasts and supportive breakfasts for women's cancer research and treatment and prevention at Royal Vic, and other things.

As the honourable member knows, because he represents this area, the Barrie area is experiencing significant growth in population, and of course Royal Vic, after its opening, has been a site for expansion of health care needs.

I did visit his riding in February. I did indicate a desire to push on ahead with the regional cancer centre. This is in the wake of a district health council report that said the need was there on a five-years-out basis. I am sponsoring a meeting of the ministry, of Royal Vic, and of the local Cancer Care Ontario in order to move this project along.

Mr Tascona: Thank you, Minister. Also in February, you attended Sandycove Acres to discuss health care issues and the medical clinic that closed there last year. You were provided with a proposal to reopen the clinic. What is the status of reopening the medical clinic at Sandycove Acres?

Hon Mr Clement: As the honourable member knows, we have been in quite extensive discussions with the Sandycove residents and some of the sponsors. We thought we had a deal back in September. The deal fell apart. The organizers of that clinic did not feel the increase in funding that we had proposed was going to be successful or viable. I met with the residents, as the honourable member knows; he had representatives there as well. I obtained first-hand information about the need to retain the outreach program and how it would have a positive impact on community health in the community. That proposal is with me and I await the finalization of my budget in order to proceed.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): New question?

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): My question is for the Premier. In January, the Minister of Health, Tony Clement, said that you were clearly promoting a parallel two-tier system which violates the sanctity of the Canada Health Act. He said, "Ontarians are quite supportive of paying for these kinds of medically necessary services with their OHIP cards, not with their Amex cards."

You, Premier, on the other hand, said, "It sure doesn't make any sense to me," of the Canada Health Act that prevents people from paying for services if they want to.

Premier, today is National Medicare Day. Now that you've said whatever it takes to take your seat in this House as leader, where exactly do you stand on two-tier health? Where do you stand on people being able to pay for services and therefore being able to jump the queue for medical services?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I don't believe that people should be able to jump the queue. That's the whole point. But there are some instances in the system today where people do pay to jump the queue. Our objective is to eliminate those circumstances and make a single-tier public health care system accessible to everybody in the province of Ontario where they need it and when they need it.

Mrs Pupatello: OK, maybe it depends who you're speaking to and what the purpose of the speech is, and then you change your mind. But here's what you said exactly: "It doesn't make sense that people can pay for MRIs for their pets in the middle of the night but can't pay for themselves." You said, "If I have $10, $20 of disposable income, or whatever the number is, and I want to do something for my mother for her health, I can't." You were bothered by that, Premier. You said, "Is your cat more important than your mother? How about your daughter? Is she more important than your cat?" That's what you said one night.

Very quickly, though, based on your leadership campaign, you beat a hasty retreat and then you said, "No, no, no. That's not what I meant." But in fact that's exactly what you meant.

Now as Premier, in charge of health care for Ontarians, we want to know exactly where you stand. Do you believe that people should be paying for those services and therefore be breaking the Canada Health Act? Your throne speech made innuendo at best, but nothing clear. Just like this first month in this House, Premier, you are clear about nothing. Where exactly do you stand on --


The Speaker: The member's time is up. Premier?

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, the House hasn't been sitting for a month. This is the second week it's been sitting. Second of all, the honourable member is referring to a comment that was not made in an evening at all; it was made on an afternoon in Barrie. Number two --


Hon Mr Eves: Well, her facts are totally wrong.


Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, I think we need some fish to feed them over there. They're getting a little grumpy today. I didn't know there were that many Ottawa Senators fans on the other side of the House. I understood they'd be disgruntled today.

What I said was --

Interjection: You're going to upset Norm.

Hon Mr Eves: There's the odd disgruntled one down here, too. I understand. I've heard Norm all morning.

To the honourable member: what I was talking about on that occasion was a woman on the leadership campaign trail who had indicated to me that she did not see the point of being able to pay for an MRI or a diagnostic procedure for her pet, but she couldn't help her mother. That is the case in some cases in the province of Ontario, where people are able to pay for their pets for services they can't get for their relatives, including their mothers.

We are trying to eliminate jumping the queue and paying for services for all Ontarians so they have access to the health care they need, where they need it, when they need it, as we did in Thunder Bay yesterday with the announcement of the regional hospital and a new northern medical school.


Mr Raminder Gill (Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale): My question is for the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. After years of accusations and fearmongering from the opposition benches that fewer students will be going to universities and colleges, the message seems to have changed across the floor. They now see the problem as not too few students but too many students. More young people going to colleges or universities is good news. It is proof that our policies to ensure access are working.

There are still some people across the floor who see political advantage in frightening students and parents by telling them that the doors to post-secondary education are now closed. Minister, what can you tell the students in my riding about our government's actions to ensure that Ontario's colleges and universities are prepared for increased enrolment?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, minister responsible for women's issues): Thank you to my colleague for the question. In response to the statements that are being made throughout this province, it is a fact that we have a plan and that there will be a space for every qualified, motivated or willing student who wants a place in our Ontario colleges and universities.

The worst thing that could possibly happen during the next few months is happening in this Legislative Assembly, where in fact there are people who are fearmongering and telling students there won't be spaces. I'm reading from the Council of Ontario Universities' response to the throne speech. "Toronto, May 9, 2002: Ontario universities were encouraged by today's throne speech which noted that the government will build on previous commitments and provide further resources to post-secondary institutions to meet higher-than-expected student demand." That may disappoint the opposition, but the colleges and universities are very pleased, and we will continue to work with them.

Mr Gill: These are indeed historic times, when investments are being made. Not since Premier Bill Davis created the college system more than 30 years ago have we seen a capital investment like SuperBuild, and it's been some time since Ontarians last saw a government commit to building a brand new public university.

Participation rates have increased under our government. More young people are going to universities and colleges than in the past. Beyond the double cohort, Ontario's colleges and universities are looking at strong demand and growth over the next several years.

Despite what has already been done and accomplished, will you assure this House that you will continue to work to address increased enrolment in Ontario's colleges and universities?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: We obviously do have a five-point plan that's in the making with the students, colleges, universities, parents and our school systems. We have built $1.8 billion in new buildings: 25 for the colleges, 25 for the universities and nine which they're sharing. We have, in fact, increased operating funding. In the throne speech, we reassured that there would be money for every qualified and willing student. We've promised them that place.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): It's funny, the university presidents don't share your view.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: As a matter of fact -- I will repeat for my colleague across the House, because he was shouting last time -- "Ontario universities were encouraged by today's throne speech." Money "to meet higher-than-expected student demand."

The colleges did the same thing. They stated, "The throne speech commitment is welcome and reassuring."

If they're satisfied -- and they are working with us on behalf of all these students -- then we should be satisfied and letting students know that there will be a place for them --


Hon Mrs Cunningham: -- because people who are saying that right now are discouraging the most vulnerable who are working on their marks and looking for financial support.

We are prepared. I'm tremendously optimistic, along with the young people of this province and their parents.


Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question, of course, is for the Premier. He will know that today is National Medicare Day. He will know that people across Canada are demanding that patients come before profits. In Ontario alone, the Ontario Health Coalition has received more than 77,000 signatures on petitions, and more are pouring in. Even the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has said that universal, publicly funded, owned and operated health care is critical to the health of our economy. But when your government spoke at the Romanow commission, you said that the Sunnybrook private cancer clinic and the Ottawa and Brampton private hospitals symbolized the new direction of your government.

Premier, if you are interested in protecting medicare, will you commit today to cancelling the private cancer clinic at Sunnybrook and cancelling your scheme for private hospitals in Brampton and Ottawa?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I refer the question to the Minister of Health.

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): The honourable member ought to know that the Sunnybrook clinic is of course open and available to all citizens of Ontario without payment required. It is publicly funded. It is for publicly insured, medically necessary cancer services. It allows us to serve Ontarians here in Ontario rather than being required to fly to Buffalo or Cleveland or some other part of the continent to get the right kind of cancer care on a timely basis.

The honourable member should know that we are not speaking of hospitals privately funded by the person. These are hospitals that will have clinical operations available for publicly funded, medically necessary services. That is our goal: more accessibility to health care for Ontario. I hope he will join me in that goal as well.

Mr Hampton: The minister ought to know that more accessibility is not the result. The Provincial Auditor has studied the private cancer clinic at Sunnybrook and has been very clear: it costs more to deliver than would the expansion of existing publicly funded, publicly administered cancer care clinics.

Equally, you should know that in Britain, privately financed hospitals have been found to cost 72% more, and because of the additional costs, clinical services have been cut. What's happening here is you're choosing the most expensive private option, which in fact limits people's access to health care down the road. Then you turn around and say, "The only solution is more private delivery."

Minister, if you really care about medicare, if you're really committed to medicare, cancel these backdoor privatization schemes.

Hon Mr Clement: When is the honourable member going to take off his ideological blinders and look to whatever works, whatever provides greater accessibility for greater numbers of Ontarians? Our family doctors are private sector providers of publicly funded services. Half of our nursing home operators are privately funded, publicly delivered health care services. This is not new to the Ontario health care system. The issue is, can we find a better way to do it? Can we partner with the private sector to find better accessibility, better quality health care, safer health care? In some cases the answer might be yes; in some cases the answer might be no. We have the vision to ask the right questions because we do not want to be mired in the status quo that does not provide better health care services not only now but in the future. I encourage you, cast your ideological blinders aside and help us come up with practical solutions.



Ms Caroline Di Cocco (Sarnia-Lambton): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, yesterday you attempted to justify why your office violated your own guidelines on expenses. I have numerous receipts here: October 30, 11:34 pm at Rivoli; November 14, 9:56 pm; November 14, 12:28 am; November 15, 9:59 pm; November 16 at Rivoli, 12:53 am; December 12, 1:27 am.

There are higher standards of conduct that we in public office should be held to. I'm asking you again today to justify to the people of Ontario why they're paying these bar tabs. Do you not consider that these bar expenses are a misuse of public dollars by your office?

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Before the member begins, yesterday I missed the question to the Minister of Labour. As you know, you have to ask a question pertaining to the minister's present portfolio. I knew the question dealt with some people who are with his present ministry, but it is properly referred to the Minister of Labour, so I'm going to ask the Minister of Labour. I apologize for missing that yesterday. I will now ask the Minister of Labour.

Hon Brad Clark (Minister of Labour): With respect, Mr Speaker --

Mrs Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain): He doesn't even drink. I know it.

Hon Mr Clark: She does.

With respect, those employees are not working in my office. On this side of the House, we take accountability very seriously. The minister who was responsible for those employees at the time dealt with those employees in a very strong way. They were admonished accordingly and we've moved on.

Ms Di Cocco: A question to the Chair of Management Board as a supplementary. In my view, you have guidelines, and this is about guidelines. There should be some consequence for breaking these rules. They are your own rules. I was told that the reason for breaking these guidelines was "hard work." That's the reason for breaking the guidelines.

Are you saying, then, that these inappropriate expenses are justifiable? There are many of the same dates and times that are also on the minister's corporate card, the same statements.

I believe the people of Ontario expect us to raise the bar of accountability for those entrusted with public office, not to sit --

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

Hon Mr Clark: With complete respect to the member opposite, the minister has dealt with the matter with his employees. They were employees who were under contract to his office. He dealt with it in an appropriate way. The matter has been put to rest and we're confident that the matter will not happen again.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I took great interest in the debate on Monday evening, particularly Bill 81 on nutrient management. Mr Barrett and I did extensive consultation on this --


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. Sorry to interrupt the member. You can start over in a minute. It was a little loud. I couldn't even hear you that well. You can start over. Your time will start over.

Mr Galt: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for getting them under control. My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As I was mentioning, I was very interested in the debate the other evening on Bill 81, the nutrient management bill, particularly when Mr Barrett and I did so much consultation on this very area.

As I was following it through, the member from Prince Edward-Hastings drifted away from the topic. I can understand him drifting away; he probably didn't have too much to say about it. But he got into talking about the dry season for Ontario farmers and what they had experienced last year. I want to quote for you from Hansard. He said, "We called upon the minister at that time to recognize that this was indeed a catastrophe ... for the farmers," and that the Minister of Agriculture provided no support.

I know this man very well. He's an honourable man. I thought I knew what had happened. But just to check it out with the new minister, is it true that we didn't provide any support for Ontario farmers last year?

Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Agriculture and Food): I'd like to thank the member for his question.


Hon Mrs Johns: You guys make me embarrassed.

I guess this is a question about determining fact and fiction. Let me say that I can assure the members of the House that our government is committed to promoting long-term sustainability for the agricultural community in the province. We want our farmers to be around for the long term.

Last year, I have to say that Minister Coburn entered into a Canada-Ontario framework agreement that he signed in July 2000. Our government exceeded -- exceeded -- the $70-million commitment that was asked for to match the federal government. They exceeded that commitment by $20 million. This $20 million went to address the needs of the agricultural community and the needs of our farmers. I can tell the members opposite that this is the case, you know this is the case and we should stick to the facts.

Mr Galt: That's exactly how I remember it. I would suggest that maybe the member from Prince Edward-Hastings, rather than this idle rhetoric, might want to talk to his federal Liberal cousins in Ottawa because of the international problem we were having with the devastating US farm bill back in 1995, and what they are now going to do with this new farm bill that's going through. When will those Liberals down in Ottawa level that international playing field for our grain and oilseed producers?

I should also point out, from a little later in the evening, another quote from the member from Prince Edward-Hastings: "Ontario does the matching with Ottawa exactly what they're required to do -- the minimum, no more." Minister, it still seems that once again the member opposite is being misinformed. Didn't you just tell me that we gave an extra $20 million to the Ontario farmers, over and above what was required for matching funds?

Hon Mrs Johns: Let me say that I want to get the facts straight in the House here and I want to keep the facts on agriculture straight because this is the second-largest industry in the province of Ontario. We did provide $20 million more --


Hon Mrs Johns: We provided $20 million to tobacco, but we also provided $20 million more in farm subsidies. With that, we've put our share of it -- we're supposed to give 40% and the federal government is supposed to give 60%. We never saw the $30 million from the federal government. The $20 million from the provincial government was not matched that year. The members opposite know it. They should keep the facts straight --


The Speaker: Order. The member for Elgin-Middlesex and the member for Prince Edward-Hastings, please come to order. Sorry, Minister.

Hon Mrs Johns: That's OK. In addition to that, we have a current mix of safety net programs. We delivered more than $750 million to tens of thousands of Ontario farmers, providing a measure of income stability in the face of poor weather, depressed prices and unfair subsidies.

I call again for the federal government to come through to give us trade --

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



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Premier, for the last six months your government has been hiding from the people of Niagara, Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, Six Nations -- in other words, a large group of people -- a report which is condemning of this government in terms of ambulance dispatches. The report says that 67% of the staff at the dispatch office have less than three years' experience because of a rapid rate of staff turnover; that the dispatch centre has the highest workload, averaging 6,400 calls per worker per year; that the dispatchers at the Hamilton centre are paid far less than those in other centres; that the dispatch equipment is antiquated. In other words, we have a terrible situation with ambulance dispatch in the area surrounding Hamilton, including the Niagara Peninsula, alleged to have caused deaths in the Niagara region, alleged to have caused the worsening of health conditions.

How can your government justify hiding from the people of Ontario a report affecting the life and death of people, which it has had in its hands for a full six months?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I'd like to refer this question to the Minister of Health.

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): I can report to this House that we did make a judgment call in the midst of OPSEU negotiations, because we were dealing with issues of training and employment, that it was not appropriate to release the report. Having said that, we acted on the report, which is what the honourable member should be mostly concerned about.

All the positions have been filled. A communications training officer and a technical officer have been added to the dispatch centre. There is more effective training and a quality assurance program that is in progress. I can tell you that all personal equipment of the dispatchers has been reviewed, replaced or upgraded where required, and we are engaged in rigorous testing of replacement systems as well.

I can tell the honourable member and assure this House that we have been acting on the report, and now that the report is public, we can certainly defend our actions in the meantime.

Mr Bradley: I think it speaks volumes of this government when a report which affects the health of people in our part of the province, which is a matter of life or death, is withheld because you are in some negotiations to do with labour in this province. Surely the lives of the people in Hamilton, Niagara, Brant and surrounding areas are far more important than some negotiations you're involved in. If that is not true, then there's something wrong with your priorities.

Here is what one of the workers had to say about this situation. The person said that ambulances on emergency calls are being sent to wrong addresses and getting lost, or an ambulance call is not classified as such, or an ambulance is sent from one depot while another sits unused at another garage.

One dispatcher said, "When I answer the phone, I don't know if I'm getting a call from the Hamilton Mountain, Thorold, Wellandport or Bismarck, or even Norwich, up by Brantford." This dispatcher contacted the Standard after the Standard released this report Saturday. "I have no idea where some of these places are, but I have to send an ambulance."

You knew what the problems were even before that report was out, because they were brought to your attention. How can you possibly justify the inaction on the part of your government when the life, safety and good health of people are at risk?

Hon Mr Clement: I deny the allegation. Quite the opposite of inaction has occurred. We have acted expeditiously; we have acted quickly and firmly to increase training availability, to increase the staff. In fact, the OPSEU agreement that this government endorsed, as well as OPSEU itself, has meant a substantial pay increase for the dispatchers.

I would tell the honourable member that we have acted. We have taken as a priority the health and safety of the citizens in the Hamilton CACC catchment area. That has been our priority, and we have acted as expeditiously and, I think, as effectively as humanly possible.


Mrs Julia Munro (York North): My question is for the Minister of Public Safety and Security. In the throne speech, this government committed to working with fire service stakeholders to establish a memorial to honour Ontario firefighters who fall in the line of duty. I anticipate tremendous public interest in this memorial, as we've all come to appreciate more the risks firefighters take, especially in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. Minister, could you update the House on your plans for this memorial?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Minister of Public Safety and Security): I want to thank the honourable member for the question. It is certainly an important and timely one.

The Eves government recognizes, supports and values the hard work of Ontario's firefighters. The men and women who work for our fire services risk their lives to protect the public, and when we're confronted with a tragedy -- a house fire, a car accident, a disaster or a medical emergency -- it is often a firefighter who responds first.

The honourable member will know that municipalities across Ontario have erected their own memorials to honour fallen firefighters. However, there is interest in establishing a provincial memorial to recognize the contribution of all of Ontario's firefighters, the contribution they make to public safety. It's an idea that has been endorsed by the fire community, including the professional firefighters' association, the fire chiefs' association and volunteer firefighters. Hopefully, the memorial will provide a permanent reminder for generations to come of the sacrifices made by Ontario's firefighters.

Mrs Munro: Could you tell the House how the partnership with stakeholders will work and when the memorial could become a reality?

Hon Mr Runciman: I've had some preliminary conversations with the professional firefighters' association, as has the fire marshal; I had a brief chat with the chiefs' association. There's a real interest in seeing this happen.

The firefighters' association is looking at a poster campaign to raise funds for this. We're looking at the formation of a working group with all of the stakeholders to hopefully make this wonderful tribute to fallen firefighters a reality by the spring of next year.


Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): A question to the Premier, please. Premier, your government consolidated ambulance dispatch services creating this mega dispatch centre in Hamilton. The consequences were disastrous. There were deaths in regional Niagara that prompted regional Niagara to call for a review of the Hamilton dispatch centre. That, in and of itself, was a lengthy process. You commissioned a review. The results of that review were available in a final report in October of last year.

Lives have been at risk since the creation of this mega centre. Lives remained at risk while your government sat on, concealed, swept under the carpet, covered up a report that was, quite frankly, damning in terms of the ineffectiveness, the dangerous ineffectiveness, of that mega dispatch centre in Hamilton.

I put to you that the report has not been responded to fully and I submit to you that your government is displaying behaviour beyond negligence in not responding fully to that report. Why would you conceal that report? Why would you not respond promptly in co-operation and in a public way and in participation with the municipalities, like Niagara, affected?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I refer the question to the Minister of Health.

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): I have to contest the honourable member's allegations, and certainly I want to assure this House that upon the acceptance of the report by this government we acted. We acted quickly. We did not wait in terms of the initiation of our action. Our action included staffing up; our action included better training; our action included better equipment; our action included better pay.

We have responded to the report and it did not take six months. The honourable member is incorrect when he says that. We started acting immediately for the health and safety of the citizens.

I already gave the answer to that question. The honourable member knows full well why the release was not forthcoming. We did not take that to mean that we should not act. We took it to mean that we should act immediately upon receipt of the report and I want to assure the honourable member that's exactly what we did.

Mr Kormos: I say to you, Minister, the fact that people died in Niagara is no mere allegation. It is a reality and a fact. The fact that your incompetent structuring of a mega dispatch centre not only put people at risk but continued to put people at risk and indeed to this day continues to put people at risk remains a fact.

Minister, one of the problems, as you well know, is that this dispatch centre dispatches through a number of municipalities spreading from the city of Hamilton through to Norfolk county, Haldimand, Brant county and Niagara region. In Niagara region alone, with a number of municipalities, there are numerous street names which are either identical or similar which start to create some of the problems for any dispatcher out of a centralized service.


The regional municipality of Niagara, you know full well, has been pleading with you for an opportunity to present their case for the need for a Niagara-dedicated dispatch service to avoid any more deaths. When will you sit down with Debbie Zimmerman and other regional Niagara leaders to consider their argument, their proposal for a Niagara-dedicated dispatch centre which will ensure effective ambulance dispatching?

Hon Mr Clement: The fact of the matter is I already have had that conversation. It was a fruitful conversation to get that point of view. We are open to other points of view. We are open to change. The change should be in the right direction. As I said to the honourable member, once we received the particulars of the report we acted immediately, we acted forthrightly for the health and safety of the residents who were aaffected and we will continue to do so.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier. It has to do with Hydro One and Hydro One's management activities over the last little while. You'll be aware that they have participated in advertising urging the sale of Hydro One. They released some financial statements yesterday indicating -- and I think pushing -- the government in the direction of selling it.

The challenge we have is that if we look at the compensation package for, let's say, the president of the company, the fear is that she has a vested interest in selling the company. I think the way we understand the contract and the prospectus is that if the company is sold she's entitled to an annual pension of almost $1 million a year and she would receive a cash payment of $6 million to $7 million in payment for the sale of it, in addition to some pensions around the deputy minister area.

My question is this, Premier: you're responsible, on behalf of the taxpayers who own 100% of this, for ensuring that Hydro One's management operates the company leaving Ontario with the option to not proceed with the IPO. Have you talked to the president of Hydro about this and can you assure the people of Ontario that she will not let what I think is a huge vested interest in selling this get in the way of the management of this company in a way that will allow us to maintain the public ownership of this?

Hon Ernie Eves (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I refer this question to the Minister of Energy.

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Environment and Energy, Government House Leader): Let me say this: obviously there are issues that you deal with on a fairly daily basis with Hydro One, OPG and others that may have need for conversation. The decision with respect to the disposition of Hydro One will be made by the very people who sit in front of you today. These are the people who have been duly elected to represent the constituents in the province of Ontario. These are the people who, in caucus and cabinet, will make the decisions based on the best interests for the future of Hydro One, for secure energy and for good prices for the ratepayers and consumers. The fact of the matter is we may ask for information and they may provide advice, but ultimately the buck stops with this caucus and this cabinet. So basing the decision on how we proceed with that will be made by the very people you're looking at today.

Mr Phillips: That wasn't the question, with all due respect. The question is this: we have Hydro One management with a vested interest in selling Hydro One and therefore operating the company in that way. This is Ontario's biggest asset. We look at the president's contract and that person has an enormous vested interest: $1 million a year, it appears, in pensions, if they're able to do this, a $6-million to $7-million payout and we see them spending hard-earned ratepayers' money advertising, saying to Ontario, "You go push the government to sell Ontario Hydro."

The question isn't about who's going to make the decision to sell Hydro One, it's a different question. Who, on behalf of the government, has spoken to Ontario Hydro One management, told them what is on the table and what we hope will be the case -- it won't be sold -- and instructed them to operate in that fashion?

Hon Mr Stockwell: Mr Speaker, the member is saying, "Who has talked to Hydro One to tell them it won't be sold and to operate in that fashion?" We've told you all along that the decision hasn't been made. The point you're making is, are there financial benefits to them should Hydro One go through an IPO? Well, your answer is yes. You've seen the talk.

That, my friend opposite, will have absolutely no impact on the decision we make for the benefit of the ratepayers and taxpayers in this province. I appreciate the fact that they are structured in such a way that if an IPO proceeds, they will be benefited by that, but that will not enter into our decision-making. We will make the decision based exclusively on the price of power, that the debt doesn't continue to spiral, and those applications that the Premier had spoken about earlier.

Your concern is that there are benefits to those who work at Hydro One, should it go through an IPO, and whether we have any intention of speaking to them. That will not even enter the equation as to what decision we take. The decision we take will benefit the taxpayers and the ratepayers, and that's all this caucus truly worries about.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Yesterday in a lively exchange with the Minister of Energy I said, and I quote from page 70 of the May 14, 2002, Hansard, "I say to you, Minister, there are tens of thousands of Ontario citizens, many of them senior citizens, who are weeks away from finding out that they were not only misled by their government and their government's company but they were ripped off in a serious way."

The minister has drawn this to my attention. It is his view that that is out of order, and I would just simply ask you to reflect upon it and give me some direction.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I have had a chance to look at it and, yes, had I caught it at the time, I would have asked you to withdraw the words "misled by their government." I did not. There was some confusion. I think the minister heard it. The table I think heard it. I did not. As usual, they were right and I was wrong. But, yes, it is out of order.

Mr Conway: Let me withdraw it absolutely and say, particularly to the table, I find the advice and the decision very difficult to accept. Accept it I will, but I say again to the table, I am increasingly troubled by what I see as Thomistic distinctions and impossibilities. But I do withdraw it.

The Speaker: I thank the member. It's a very difficult task. As you know, the words that are out of order -- and it's been an acceptable practice. Some Speakers have different words that they find not acceptable. There is no dictionary. In fact, the former Speaker told me that if you find in an everyday occurrence that a word is -- if you've met somebody in the street and said that word to them and they found it offensive, then it probably would be offensive in here. But there is no definition. Saying that a government misled, in my estimation, would be out of order.

I thank the member and, as you know, I appreciate him for doing that.



Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming-Cochrane): "To the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas the Conservative government plans to sell off Hydro One and Ontario's electricity transmission grid -- the central nervous system of Ontario's economy;

"Whereas the government never campaigned on selling off this vital $5-billion public asset and never consulted the people of Ontario on this plan;

"Whereas Ontario families want affordable, reliable electricity -- they know that the sale of the grid that carries electricity to their homes is a disaster for consumers;

"Whereas selling the grid will not benefit consumers -- the only Ontarians who will benefit are Bay Street brokers and Hydro One executives;

"Whereas selling Hydro One and the grid is like selling every 400 series highway in the province to private interests -- selling the grid means the public sector will no longer be responsible for its security and protection;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature as follows:

"To demand the Conservative government halt the sale of Hydro One until the government has a clear mandate from the owners of Hydro One -- the people of Ontario."

I will affix my signature to this.


Mr Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): I have a petition I would like to present today and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the annual rent increase guideline for multi-unit residential dwellings in Ontario increases every year more than the rate of inflation and more than the cost-of-living increase for most tenants;

"Whereas no new affordable rental housing is being built by the private sector, despite the promise that the implementation of vacancy decontrol in June 1998 would encourage new construction;

"Whereas one in four tenants pays over 50% of their income on rent, over 100,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing, and homelessness has increased as a result of unaffordable rents;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to implement an immediate province-wide freeze on rents which will stop all guideline increases, above-guideline increases and increases to maximum rent for all sitting tenants in Ontario for a period of at least two years."



Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it's been signed by thousands of people. It says:

"Whereas Sarnia-Point Edward and area is experiencing a crisis in a shortage of health care professionals, specifically doctors; and

"Whereas community health care centres are a proven primary health care system that can attract professionals and deliver primary health care in a cost-effective, efficient manner;

"Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario approve a community health care centre for Sarnia-Point Edward and area as soon as possible."

I will affix my signature.


Mr Dave Levac (Brant): My petition contains thousands of signatures that we will be continuing to gather up.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ernie Eves is planning to ram through the sale of Hydro One without a mandate from the people of Ontario; and

"Whereas an Ontario Court judge has ruled that the sale of Hydro One is illegal; and

"Whereas Ernie Eves's Bay Street friends will benefit from the sale of Hydro One at the expense of Ontario's hard-working families;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to encourage" -- and demand -- "Ernie Eves to take Dalton McGuinty's advice to put" Ontario "working families ahead of his Bay Street friends by immediately stopping the sale of Hydro One."

I sign my petition and give it to Daniel, our page.


Mr Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): I have a slightly different petition on the same topic. It reads as follows:

"Petition to the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas tenants in Toronto and Ottawa are paying their landlord an average of almost $2,000 more per year than they did when the Conservatives' so-called Tenant Protection Act was enacted in the spring of 1998; and

"Whereas tenants in cities like Hamilton and Kitchener have also been hit by substantial increases; and

"Whereas 22% of Ontario tenants were paying more than 50% of their income in rent even before the new act was brought in, with 43% of tenants paying more than 30% of income in rent; and

"Whereas the Conservative policy, enshrined in the Tenant Protect Act, of allowing landlords to charge whatever rent they'd like when a unit becomes vacant has been the main reason for the skyrocketing rents; and

"Whereas the Conservative legislation is also unfair to tenants in the way it allows landlords to treat capital and operating costs, for example, by failing to decrease the rent when a landlord's costs decrease while allowing landlords to pass on increases; and

"Whereas on July 24, 2001, the council of the city of Toronto voted 30-8 to call for a rent rollback;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the government of Ontario be asked to implement a rent rollback as proposed by the council of the city of Toronto and NDP MPPs Rosario Marchese and Michael Prue. This would roll back rents to their 1998 level with an allowance for inflation; and

"Be it further resolved that the Tenant Protection Act be replaced with a system of real rent control similar to the Rent Control Act of 1992, which, among other things, regulated rents on vacant apartments and decreased rents when a landlord's cost decreased."

I would sign my name to it as well.


Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the residents of Centre Hastings are facing an immediate and critical situation in accessing physician services; and

"Whereas a retiring family physician has been unsuccessful in procuring a replacement physician, potentially leaving 5,000 patients without a doctor; and

"Whereas accessibility to already overcrowded hospital emergency departments and walk-in clinics is limited because of distance and availability to transportation; and

"Whereas Centre Hastings has been designated as an underserviced area in need of five physicians;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to act immediately to establish a community health centre in Centre Hastings."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I bring forward a petition to the Legislature on behalf of long-term-care facilities across this province that find themselves short-changed when it comes to providing the kind of service that their tenants need in their facilities. They're saying that the over 60,000 Ontarians living in long-term-care facilities are older, frailer and sicker and require more care than ever before: 95% of them require assistance to get dressed, 94% require some assistance to eat, 63% suffer from dementia, 39% are aggressive, 56% have circulatory disease, and 49% have a musculoskeletal disability.

They're saying that government funding has not kept pace with this increasing resident need. Current funding levels allow for only four minutes to assist with getting up, washed, dressed and to the dining room, 10 minutes for assistance with eating, 15 minutes of programming per day, and one bath per week.

I'm here today with this petition on their behalf, encouraging the government to increase the funding to those facilities so that those residents, those constituents, those citizens of our province get the care they need. I sign my name to it as well.


Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas the Conservative government plans to sell off Hydro One and Ontario's electricity transmission grid -- the central nervous system of Ontario's economy;

"Whereas the government never campaigned on selling off this vital $5-billion public asset and never consulted the people of Ontario on this plan;

"Whereas Ontario families want affordable, reliable electricity -- they know that the sale of the grid that carries electricity to their homes is a disaster for consumers;

"Whereas selling the grid will not benefit consumers -- the only Ontarians who will benefit are Bay Street brokers and Hydro One executives;

"Whereas selling Hydro One and the grid is like selling every 400 series highway in the province to private interests -- selling the grid means the public sector will no longer be responsible for its security and protection;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature as follows:

"To demand the Conservative government halt the sale of Hydro One until the government has a clear mandate from the owners of Hydro One -- the people of Ontario."

It's signed by a number of residents from Ridgetown and Morpeth, and I too have signed this petition.

Mr David Caplan (Don Valley East): I have a petition and it's entitled as follows: "Stop the Sale of Hydro One."

"To the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas the Conservative government plans to sell off Hydro One and Ontario's electricity transmission grid -- the central nervous system of Ontario's economy;

"Whereas the government never campaigned on selling off this vital $5-billion public asset and never consulted the people of Ontario on this plan;

"Whereas Ontario families want affordable, reliable electricity -- they know that the sale of the grid that carries electricity to their homes is a disaster for consumers;

"Whereas selling the grid will not benefit consumers -- the only Ontarians who will benefit are Bay Street brokers and Hydro One executives;

"Whereas selling Hydro One and the grid is like selling every 400 series highway in the province to private interests -- selling the grid means the public sector will no longer be responsible for its security and protection;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature as follows:

"To demand" Ernie Eves and "the Conservative government to halt the sale of Hydro One until the government has a clear mandate from the owners of Hydro One -- the people of Ontario."

I want to thank Eleanor Kaarsberg, a constituent in Don Valley East, for her help in getting this petition signed. I have affixed my signature to it.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ernie Eves is planning to ram through the sale of Hydro One without a mandate from the people of Ontario; and

"Whereas an Ontario court judge has ruled that the sale of Hydro One is illegal; and

"Whereas Ernie Eves' Bay Street friends will benefit from the sale of Hydro One at the expense of Ontario's working families;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to encourage Ernie Eves to take Dalton McGuinty's advice to put working families ahead of his Bay Street friends by immediately stopping the sale of Hydro One."

I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): The provision of mental health services for children in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario is truly under great threat because of the lack of funding from the province. I have a petition I'd like to read pleading with the government to provide the needed funds.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the children and families with the Lakehead Regional Family Centre deserve to have quality and timely children's mental health services; and

"Whereas for the first time Lakehead Regional Family Centre has a deficit budget of $200,000 due to the lack of adequate funding from the provincial government and the sharp increase in the demands for children's mental health services in the city of Thunder Bay; and

"Whereas referrals to Lakehead Regional Family Centre have increased 150% since 1995, and no additional permanent funding has been received to help meet the needs of our community; and

"Whereas since 1993, the government's investment in core funding for children's mental health services has declined by 8%, and salaries for staff are up to 30% lower than in hospitals and other government services; and

"Whereas according to the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 18% of children and youth in Ontario have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and yet Ontario only treats one in six of these children; and

"Whereas without immediate additional permanent funding, children's mental health services could be severely restricted to those children and families who need it the most,

"Therefore we, the undersigned citizens of Ontario and residents of the city of Thunder Bay, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"For the provincial government to provide an immediate infusion of additional permanent funding to the Lakehead Regional Family Centre to help fight the crisis situation facing children's mental health services in the city of Thunder Bay" and area.

It's a very important issue, and I'm very pleased to sign my name to this petition.


Mr David Caplan (Don Valley East): I have a petition from several families in my community who attend francophone child care.

"Child care funding is an investment!

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Conservative government is considering cutting the regulated child care budget by a minimum of 40%;

"Whereas the Ontario Conservative government has already made cuts totalling 15% to child care funding since 1995;

"Whereas the Ontario Conservative government is not investing any of the over $800 million from the federal government in regulated child care and family resource programs;

"Whereas child care and family resource programs are key factors in successful early childhood development;

"Whereas child care funding is an investment for a successful future in Ontario;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature to demand the Ontario Conservative government abandon any plan to make further cuts to regulated child care and family resource programs in Ontario and that a portion of the federal future years funding be committed to affordable regulated child care and family resource programs."

I've affixed my signature to this very worthwhile petition.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): It's very important that we stop the sale of Hydro One. I have a petition that's circulating throughout the province.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ernie Eves is planning to ram through the sale of Hydro One without a mandate from the people of Ontario; and

"Whereas an Ontario court judge has ruled that the sale of Hydro One is illegal; and

"Whereas Ernie Eves' Bay Street friends will benefit from the sale of Hydro One at the expense of Ontario's working families,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to encourage Ernie Eves to take Dalton McGuinty's advice to put working families ahead of his Bay Street friends by immediately stopping the sale of Hydro One."

I'm very pleased to add my name to this petition.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The time for petitions has ended.

There are two things I wanted to do. The first thing was to introduce you to the guests in the west public gallery. These are students from Holy Name of Mary school in the town of St Marys. I understand that they came down on a couple of buses with Murphy Bus Lines. I welcome the students, I welcome the teachers, I welcome the parents and I welcome the chaperones. I'm very much out of order in doing this, and I will chastise myself for it.

I also just wanted to point out that in the east public gallery are two very special people from Salt Lake City, Utah, home of the Olympics and so on. We welcome them as well.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The second thing I wanted to do was just to point out that we all know that petitions have to be approved by the table before they're presented. The only reason I mention it is that if it became a habit, I would feel it was necessary to take some action on it. I just wanted to remind the members of that.



Resuming the debate adjourned on May 14, 2002, on the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.

Hon John R. Baird (Associate Minister of Francophone Affairs): Because I want to hear Howard Hampton give a barnburner of a speech, I move government order number 1.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes Howard Hampton, the member for Kenora-Rainy River and leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I want to begin my comments by putting forward an amendment. It reads as follows:

"The amendment to the government motion to the throne speech be amended by adding the following:

"`This House condemns the privatization and deregulation of Hydro, private sector involvement in health care and the government's unrelenting attacks on workers' rights.'"

Last week, Mr Eves delivered his much-anticipated first throne speech. It was the new Premier's attempt to set his course for Ontario. I might add it was his effort to paint over seven years of miserable, mean-spirited, mismanaged Conservative rule with a happy face.

It didn't work; it didn't even come close. This was a throne speech written by the Ottawa Senators. It floated out at centre ice. It stayed away from the corners. It didn't complete a pass, finish a play or score a goal. Instead of showing thoughtful leadership on the issues people care about, it hid behind reviews, studies and vague verbiage. It attempts to heal with warm, fuzzy phrases seven years of gouging and tearing at our health care system, our schools and our public services. It didn't work.

Yes, it was an admission that between 1995 and 2002 the Conservative government has underfunded our schools. Yes, it was an admission that the Conservative government has underfunded our health care system. Yes, it was an admission that this government has gone out of its way to attack nurses, to attack teachers, to attack trade unionists and to attack the poor. But it didn't make up for any of that wrong-headedness, for any of the wrong directions we've seen over the last seven years.

The truth is that people have turned their backs on tax cuts that benefit the well-off and corporations while starving our health care system and our schools. In a post-Walkerton world, people don't consider environmental regulation to be a bad thing. People embrace the need for a strong public service protecting our communities, enhancing our abilities and ensuring that our economy is shared with all, not just those at the top. People see the need to regulate and protect our water supply, to regulate and protect for clean air and to ensure that our workplaces are safe.

When it comes to Hydro, the key publicly owned service that underpins our whole economy, the throne speech was very disappointing. At a time when Ontario needs bold leadership on this issue, the Conservatives spun a web of deceptive phrases. The throne speech makes it clear that this government still intends to ignore the wishes of the majority of Ontarians.


Hon Mr Baird: Speaker, on a point of order: I think the word "deceptive" is out of order.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. I'm not ruling that the word can never be used, but I would ask the member for Kenora-Rainy River to be very careful in the use of that kind of terminology.

Mr Hampton: For the further edification of the member, Speaker, the words that were used in the throne speech were capable of many different interpretations. In that case, they can be considered deceptive.

The throne speech makes it clear that the government will ignore the wishes of a majority of Ontarians and will privatize and deregulate our public Hydro system. They may say that this piece over here will stay in public ownership or quasi-public ownership, but it makes very clear that the direction, the strategy, is to privatize and deregulate what has been a very successful underpinning of Ontario's economy.

This is an incredible slap in the face to the 70% of people who oppose Hydro privatization and the 80% who say very clearly that the only way this decision can be made is not by the Premier and a few of his friends from Bay Street; the only way this decision can be made is by the people of Ontario through an election where they will make the decision themselves.

I know how people feel about our Hydro, because for the past three months I have travelled all over Ontario, visiting over 90 communities. I have had the chance to listen to what people are saying. Everywhere I went I heard the same response: "We do not want our hydroelectric system privatized. We want it stopped."

People recognize we need a reliable supply of electricity at cost to keep Ontario's economy growing. We need to ensure that our hospitals, schools, farms and factories can afford to operate. The best way to do that, the most reliable way to do that, the most cost-effective way to do that is through a public Hydro system accountable to the people of Ontario, not to shareholders in New York or Chicago. By keeping the profiteers out of Hydro, our future will be better. Our future, in terms of the underpinning of the economy, in terms of providing this essential service, will be much better.

But I regret this government doesn't yet understand it, and Liberals don't seem to understand it. Liberals talk a bit about Hydro One, but are quite prepared to sell off the generating stations and quite prepared to engage in the kind of market deregulation that was so awful, so destructive in California, Pennsylvania, Montana. New Democrats are very clear: this is an essential public resource; it is the underpinning of our economy. We need to maintain a dedicated, publicly accountable hydroelectric system. We need to have a dedicated hydroelectric system that looks after the consumers and the industries of Ontario, not the consumers of New York, Pennsylvania or Illinois, but the consumers and the industries of Ontario.

This is such an important issue that it calls for a full and open debate, not by invitation-only audiences, not reports that are kept secret, not studies that the government deems to be confidential. This calls for a full and open debate, and it calls for an election, so that the people of Ontario can make this fundamental decision. But what we get instead is a government that, as we've seen day after day, is intent upon hiding the reports and the studies, covering up those analyses which show that the least expensive electricity systems in North America are all public. The cheapest hydro rates: Manitoba Hydro; the second-highest hydro rates: Hydro-Québec; the third-cheapest electricity rates: BC Hydro. And studies also show that the highest electricity prices are those you find in privatized and deregulated systems. The government doesn't want the people to have that information.

We learned today, for example, that the Toronto Transit Commission, a system that runs on electricity -- whether you're talking streetcars or subway trains -- is facing a whopping 20% increase in their electricity costs. We know what this means. It means that fares have to go up substantially or property taxes have to go up to the tune of $9 million just to cover off the increased cost of deregulated electricity. Higher fares, declining ridership or more money from city taxpayers, to pay for what? To pay for an electricity system that has now opened up to profiteers.

But the government still doesn't get it, and Liberals still don't get it. The people are speaking. The court has spoken. The disasters in other jurisdictions have spoken. Hydro privatization and deregulation is a losing proposition for the people and the industries of our province. The only winners are the power profiteers who, as we have seen, are all too willing to manipulate the market in order to force up the price and increase their profits.

The throne speech was disappointing for other reasons too. In a week when a baby boy was born on the street in Third World conditions within sight of Toronto's financial district, there was no investment whatsoever in affordable housing mentioned in the throne speech. There was no mention of an increase in the minimum wage, and no hope for the thousands of families living in poverty. Disgraceful.

This is a government that, over the last seven years, has made a career out of trampling on the rights and the lives of the poorest and the least powerful people in the province, cutting social assistance benefits by 21%, crippling rent controls and demonizing the most vulnerable of our citizens as drug addicts, drunks and too lazy to work.

However, people are fighting back and justice is regaining its currency in Ontario. This week, Ontario's highest court, the Court of Appeal, ruled that the government's repressive spouse-in-the-house rule discriminates against single parents. They struck that regulation down. They said it contravenes the Charter of Rights, the Constitution of Canada. But what was the response of this government? Does the government listen to the highest court in Ontario? Does the government have any appreciation of the Charter of Rights or our Constitution? No. The government says that it wants to continue attacking single parents, most of them women; that it wants to continue to vilify them and undermine them; that it wants to continue to interfere in their lives; that it wants to continue to portray them as somehow fraudulent. We have a suggestion: this Conservative government should obey the law. Most of all, it should obey the Constitution of Canada.

But what's worse in this context is that the government wants to continue to attack and vilify the poorest, but at the same time, as we found out on the day of the throne speech, the government is, through taxpayers' money -- public funds -- going to pay for a private office for one Mike Harris. Mike Harris indicated that he was leaving, that he had resigned his position as an MPP, that he no longer wanted to be in public life. Mr Harris was paid well while he was here. He will receive close to $900,000 in severance pay and pension benefits. How does a government that wants to attack and vilify single parents find the money to provide a private office for someone who isn't even elected here?


Let's see. I think it comes down to this: the government wants to deny single parents the benefits they need to feed their children and pay the rent while it provides one Michael Harris with a private office. It doesn't make any sense at all. It doesn't make any sense for anybody out there in Ontario's public life.

That's why I want to talk about a different throne speech. I want to talk about a throne speech that New Democrats would put forward for this province, about the kinds of alternative ideas that don't see another tax cut for the well-off and corporations as a solution for everything, a throne speech that recognizes that an accountable, publicly owned, regulated hydro system is what we need to meet Ontario's needs for the 21st century, a throne speech that would put an end to hydro privatization.

Our vision of a hydro system includes power at cost, not power at cost plus fees for the fee-takers and the commission-takers and profits for the profit-takers. It includes a strategy for renewable energy sources and it includes a strategy for the conservation of electricity. It includes a strategy for public decision-making, not private decision-making according to the shareholders in New York or Chicago. I believe in responsible, accountable public power, in a system that stresses conservation, in a system that stresses green electricity and, I say again, in an electricity system controlled right here in Ontario, not in New York or Chicago or Detroit.

There is no room in my throne speech for private health care. Medicare is good for our economy, it is good for our citizens and it is the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide health care for those who need it. But the sad reality is that our federal government, beginning with the Mulroney Conservatives and continuing now with the Liberals in Ottawa, has steadily shrunk the federal financing of medicare. Today, in the year 2002, we still fall short of the 1992 level of federal financing for health care. It is impossible for the Liberals in Ottawa to enforce the Canada Health Act now that they simply don't contribute enough to support medicare financially. The repercussion of that is that it holds the door wide open for this Conservative government in Ontario to then privatize more of our health care services.

This government claims that they are investing more in health care than ever before. Well, if you count setting up private cancer care clinics that cost more, if you count setting up the private financing of hospitals, if you count the private delivery of home care, all of which are more expensive, if you count all of those things into the equation, it's no wonder that in fact the cost of health care may have gone up. That's the problem with privatization: it costs more. Everywhere along the line, the profit-takers want their money, and money to them means less money for patient care.

The government says that this current level of investment in health care is not sustainable. Then with the same breath that they say they can find billions of dollars more for corporate tax cuts or billions more for tax cuts for the well-off, they say that medicare is not sustainable.

There is money for medicare. The real problem is tax cuts for the well-off and tax cuts for the corporations; it's not health care. That's the problem. The reality is that tax cuts too often have been the priority for this Conservative government and too often the priority for the Liberals in Ottawa, and medicare suffers as a result.

There is a solution. I would establish a chain of new community health centres across the province to ensure equal health care for everyone: not-for-profit community health centres. Doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and other health care providers, working together on a not-fee-for-service basis, would be there to ensure that people are cared for.

We need real primary health care reform. At present, 36 communities in northern Ontario need 114 physicians. But what used to be strictly a northern Ontario problem has spread like a virus across the province under this government. In 1995, 60 communities needed 77 physicians. Now 113 Ontario communities need 514 physicians to provide health care. That's just an idea, an example, of how much this has deteriorated under a government that cares more for private health care delivery than they care about positively and progressively reforming the public system we have.

As municipalities compete fiercely with each other for physicians, it's clear another approach to primary health care is required. We look to the Sault Ste Marie Group Health Centre, built by the community and by steelworkers many years ago, and we state categorically that Ontario needs more community health centres as a positive alternative to the fee-for-service model of primary care. Community health centres have proven to be effective in recruiting and retaining not only doctors but a broad range of health care providers -- nurses, nurse practitioners, dieticians, social workers -- who as a team deliver health promotion, prevention and treatment. Paid on salary, there is no incentive for providers to practise revolving-door medicine.

And there are great success stories in working with other community institutions to respond to specific needs. In Sault Ste Marie, for example, the centre, working with the district health council and the hospital, has reduced median times between mammogram and surgery from 107 days down to 18 days for those suffering from breast cancer. That dramatically changes survival rates, not to mention peace of mind for those who are suffering.

There are now over 100 groups and communities in Ontario that want to expand or create new community health centres, and most of those are in underserviced areas. The current freeze on the community health centre budget in Ontario must end and community health centres must be used as the vehicle for real primary care reform, here and elsewhere. But that's just part of the puzzle. Next we need to fully maximize the skills and expertise of nurses and nurse practitioners in the health care system. This goes to the heart of fee-for-service.

I'll just share with you an experience of mine. A few years ago, I was playing hockey and a friend of mine lost his balance and his stick came up under my shield and he cut me just above the lip. I was very lucky; a friend of mine who's a physician was on the ice. He said, "Come on, we're going to go to the hospital, to the emergency room, and we're going to stitch that up for you." We got to the hospital, though, and he said, "I'm also going to give you a lesson in health care economics. They'll take about four stitches to close that cut. You need to have it stitched; otherwise it's going to be quite awful. No one will want to vote for you again." I took that to heart and I said, "Go ahead."



Mr Hampton: I knew that would get their attention.

Now comes the lesson, and I hope all the government members are listening. At the same time, he pointed to the emergency room nurse, who'd be about across the aisle here, and he said, "The emergency room nurse here does very good stitches. I've watched her. She's worked in the far north, where a nurse does virtually all of the primary care. That nurse does better stitches than I do." But then he said, "Under a fee-for-service system, nurses don't do the stitching. Under a fee-for-service system, I will get paid about $80 for putting four stitches in your lip and when you come back six days from now and have the stitches taken out, I'll be able to charge the health care system another fee." Overall, he pointed out, about $100 to put four stitches in above my lip.

Then he pointed to the nurse again and said, "That nurse gets paid about $22 an hour," as the rate then was. "It would take her about five minutes to stitch up your lip. Taking into account her time, materials and everything, it would cost the health care system less than $10 for her to do it, and she does better stitches." But as he pointed out, as long as we're all on the fee-for-service system, the doctors will do the stitching and doctors will charge $100 or more in terms of fees for that kind of procedure. And he said, "What we need to do, if we're truly interested in having a more efficient medicare system, is recognize the work of nurse practitioners, expand the area of practice of nurse practitioners and nurses and get off fee-for-service."

So that's why, as a government, between 1990 and 1995, New Democrats put in place the first process for the training of nurse practitioners and in fact put in place the process so that nurse practitioners could take their rightful place in Ontario.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, minister responsible for women's issues): And you reduced the number of nurses. Shame on you. You're on the wrong subject.

The Acting Speaker: Order. We've been away for a while and maybe we've forgotten that it's my responsibility to recognize who speaks; it's up to the rest to listen. If you have some confusion with it, let me know. But other than that, I would ask you if you're not content with that, let me know and we'll change things. But other than that, I'll try to get along without you in here.

Mr Hampton: I've again indicated that we must move away from fee-for-service and we must increase the area of practice of nurse practitioners and nurses. For example, research recently done by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences showed that fewer patients die within a 30-day period after discharge when their hospital nurses are more experienced and have higher levels of education. A recent University of Toronto study found that patients needing home care needed fewer visits if the home care provider was a university-trained nurse. In Ontario, where nurse practitioners could make a huge difference working with family doctors in underserviced areas, some 70% of them remain underemployed or unemployed. Why? Because the Conservative government has not yet found a way to remunerate the work of nurse practitioners. Imagine that. We have over 260 nurse practitioners out there who are unemployed. Why are they unemployed? Because despite all the work that was done between 1990 and 1995, this government in seven years has not developed a strategy, a program, a plan whereby nurse practitioners can be paid through the health care system.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): Hard to believe.

Mr Hampton: Yes, very hard to believe, but it's a practical, progressive step that needs to be taken now.

We need full-time nurses in our hospitals and we need a compensation strategy for nurse practitioners and a closing of the gap between hospital and community nurses in terms of their pay and their working conditions if we're going to recruit and retain nurses in Ontario and improve health care outcomes.

But all levels of government must focus on keeping people healthy. I want to just spend a few minutes on that: focus upon keeping people healthy, focus upon investing in the determinants of health. Affordable housing is key, is critical, to ensuring that people remain healthy, that people can sustain their own health -- protecting the environment, investing in child care and education and all those social determinants of our health.

I would invest in home care systems that treat the sick and elderly with respect. Right now, people who need help to continue living at home or who are recovering from surgery and illness are being shortchanged. They deserve better. New Democrats believe in investing in nurses and service providers to make sure people receive proper home care.

In our throne speech there's a real commitment, not just to treating the sick but to ensuring that we invest more, that we develop the thoughtful strategies to allow people to sustain their own health and to allow people to make more thoughtful decisions about their own health. But that can't be done without affordable housing; that can't be done without dealing with the issues of poverty; that can't be done without providing the thoughtful strategies for education and the thoughtful strategies so that people can make those decisions.

I want to focus just for a minute on education. In our throne speech there is a real commitment to our children's education: from investing in safe, regulated child care to rolling back university tuition fees. Special-needs kids would get the special supports they need. Students would have the textbooks and music teachers and cleaning staff in their schools to ensure that they can succeed. Schools would be safer because they'd be staffed by real people, not cameras.

The government has been trying to redeem itself and repair the damage it has done to our schools by announcing money for school boards and textbooks. But these are baby steps when compared with the giant steps that are needed, because the reality is that over the last seven years this Conservative government has underfunded our school system by over a billion dollars on an annual basis.

So we need to start making those investments, and what does that mean? It means having the courage to say, "No more corporate tax cuts," and it means having the courage to say that those people who benefited most from the personal income cuts, those with very high incomes, once again have to make a greater contribution to the things that matter to all of us: safe schools; a good health care system; protecting our environment; affordable housing.

We need to invest in affordable housing and we need to freeze rents to give every family, every child, the safety and security they need to do well in school, to do well in our communities and to have the opportunity to get a job. In many ways this is one of the first essentials. No one can organize their life for education, for training, for work, for anything, unless they have the security of a roof over their heads. If you don't have a roof over your head, you don't have a phone number. If you don't have a roof over your head, you don't have a mail address. If you don't have a roof over your head, you simply don't have the wherewithal to organize your life to do anything else.

Yet the sad reality is that affordable housing in this province is more and more a critical issue, and not just in Toronto, not just in Ottawa or Hamilton; even smaller cities like Guelph or Peterborough now have an affordable-housing problem on their hands. Why? Because this is the government that totally cancelled, did away with, any strategies for investing in affordable housing and this is the government that has crippled rent controls. Even their developer friends will tell them that private developers are not interested in building affordable housing. Private developers are in the development industry to make a profit, and they make the greatest profit by building at the high end, housing for those who have higher incomes.

So modestly priced housing, affordable housing, is not being built. This government needs to recognize that. They won't. That's why we need a New Democratic government to once again start putting some priority to affordable housing.


We must raise the minimum wage. At the same time that this government has given tax cut after tax cut to the well-off and to its corporate friends, it's frozen the minimum wage in this province now for seven years. Just the inflation factor alone, if you look at the StatsCan index, has eaten away 15% of people's incomes. It means that effectively they've cut the incomes of the lowest-paid workers in this province by 15% over the last seven years.

Jurisdiction after jurisdiction is raising their minimum wage. It's embarrassing. The minimum wage now in the United States, when you factor in the exchange rate, is much higher than the minimum wage in Ontario. British Columbia has a higher minimum wage than Ontario. Quebec has a higher minimum wage than Ontario. Manitoba has increased their minimum wage. Even Alberta has increased their minimum wage.

Mr Bisson: Not Alberta?

Mr Hampton: Even Alberta. But Ontario has frozen the minimum wage. What does that mean? It means that those people who've been working for minimum wage -- and this government would say, "Oh, it's only students." Not so. The majority of people who work for the minimum wage are women who are trying to not only support themselves but in many cases trying to support their kids too.

This government has frozen the wages of the lowest paid. With wages frozen and the inflation factor eating away 15%, it takes away a person's capacity to participate in the economy and to contribute to the economy. It takes away their purchasing power. There's no doubt that people who would benefit most from raising the minimum wage would be minimum wage workers, but the people who would benefit second most would be all those small business owners who would suddenly have someone coming in their store, their shop, their restaurant, with enough money to participate once again in the economy.

That's what studies have shown in jurisdiction after jurisdiction. Raising the minimum wage would do a lot to raise the incomes of the poorest people in the province, and it would do a lot for small business too because we would have more participation in the economy, more people being able to participate and pay for the necessities of life. Raise the minimum wage. Do the right thing.

There is nothing more important than safe water and clean air. Taking care of the environment is good for health and it's good for our economy. That's why our safe drinking water act needs to be implemented, and we are committed to implementing it. We must put in place the statutory guarantees of safe, clean drinking water. It cannot be left up to private corporations. It cannot be left up to someone who maybe understands the regulations, maybe doesn't understand them, maybe observes them and maybe not. We need to have clearly, legislatively put in place, a safe drinking water act and then we must start to reinvest in restoring our water and sewer systems.

When the government downloaded the responsibility for providing drinking water within municipalities and the responsibility for the operation of sewage systems within municipalities, when the government completely downloaded that on to municipalities, it created the potential for the most serious of public health situations. The province must recognize it has a responsibility here. Many municipalities are simply too small: they simply do not have the property tax revenue to be able to handle this on their own. The province has to get involved in this. The province can't continue to download and to walk away from this responsibility.

I also want to say a few words about our cities. New Democrats understand that in a knowledge economy, in a knowledge society, our cities are more important to economic productivity than ever before. Why? Because cities are the places where people come together to learn, to share ideas, to work together in the pursuit of ideas and then to turn those ideas into productive pursuits.

We recognize that our cities are having serious problems. Earlier this year we released a number of suggestions, a number of proposals in A Brighter Idea for Ontario's Cities: An NDP Urban Vision for the 21st Century. I invite people to get a copy of this and look at it because it sets out and offers 67 bright ideas to help our cities remain the economic and cultural dynamos of our society. We believe that cities need more powers and more revenue if they are to grow and prosper. Our vision includes funding for affordable housing, transit and community policing.

I invite people to go to the Web site at www.abrighteridea.ca. I offer these ideas to the government -- not that I think they will take us up on any of them -- because once again what we saw from the throne speech is a government that continues to be committed to tax cuts, a government that doesn't recognize that more tax cuts will not provide you with good schools, with a better health care system, with safe, clean drinking water and with the financial and other arrangements that we need for our cities.

Unlike the Conservatives, we don't believe in forcing cities to take on unreasonable responsibilities and then suggesting to them that they go into debt to pay for them. That's really what the government's proposal in terms of unibonds is all about. The government is saying to municipalities, "Now that we've downloaded all of these new responsibilities on to you and you find that you don't have the tax base to deal with them, well, take on unibonds. Go into debt to finance this." It's simply not sustainable. It's not sustainable in any way, shape or form, and suggesting to municipalities that taking on more debt is a way to provide for financial sustainability is just absurd.

New Democrats know that tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations will not hire teachers and nurses, will not build housing and will not ensure that our water systems are safe and secure. We know that strong public services pay huge dividends for our communities, for our people and for our economy.

These are just some of the ideas that we would include in a throne speech designed to address the needs of Ontario's people today. They are practical, sensible, workable solutions for the challenges that we face.

We've now had seven years of Conservative throne speeches, seven years of throne speeches that say that tax cuts are the answer to everything. I say to the Conservative government, tax cuts will not deal with the challenges we face. Tax cuts will not build affordable housing across Ontario. Tax cuts will not do anything for the lowest-paid. What we need to do is build that affordable housing. We must raise the minimum wage. We must end the clawback of the national child benefit. We must invest to eliminate the waiting list for safe, regulated child care. We must invest in community health centres to ensure equal access to health care for everyone. We must change the funding formula and invest in schools, not just look at the funding formula. We must freeze and reduce tuition fees. And we must halt Hydro privatization.

These are a few of the suggestions I would offer this government. I actually look forward in the weeks and months ahead, to have an opportunity to point out exactly how these ideas would really respond to what we're hearing out there from people across the province and would address the urgency that people see in their own communities, in the health care system and in the schools their children must attend.

I say to the government, you want to have a different image? You want to have a different direction? Then take some of these ideas. If you don't, it's a huge mistake by you, and people across Ontario are trying to say that to you.


Thank you for the time, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate. I look forward to further debate in the days ahead.

Hon Mr Baird: I want to speak to the motion in reply to the speech from the throne. I did enjoy particularly a good number of parts in the speech from the throne. The part where it recognized the contribution and the service of the Honourable Michael Harris at the outset I thought was one of the best. He served this province as Premier and was the member for Nipissing. I would, with his departure, want to wish him the very best for all of his contribution.

Perhaps his best contribution was to restore a bit of integrity into the political process, that politicians and a team running behind a leader could make promises and run and keep those promises. I am very proud of that. I think that set a new benchmark for politicians right across Ontario.

Interjection: He should pay for his own office.

Hon Mr Baird: The member opposite talks about the Premier's new responsibilities with Ontario's Promise. It says a lot that the first thing that he wanted to do when he left public service was to begin as a volunteer and to volunteer his time to a charity in Ontario that he helped found with the support of a good number of other leaders across the province of Ontario. Of course Ontario's Promise is a program helping children and youth, and I commend him for his involvement in that.

I did notice as well the throne speech had a few other memorable parts for me: "Responsible government knows its place. It understands where it does not belong and is prepared to get out of the way." I think that's been one of the cornerstones of the government over the past seven years: to focus on those priorities that really matter to families, whether it be setting an environment for job creation and economic growth to pay for the important priorities, like health care, from the family who is looking for cancer treatment for a loved one -- that's a priority -- to the parents who look to a good education in our publicly funded education system to provide a good start for their children. That's important.

The throne speech went on to say, "But responsive government also recognizes where it has a role to play to provide leadership and to take action in the best interests of all Ontarians." Sometimes in a market economy and a competitive economy there are people who can't compete. That's why one of the things the government has been working on in recent years has been providing supports to people and families with loved ones with a developmental disability, whether it's with respect to housing and group homes or day programs.

One 78-year-old woman came in to see me in my constituency office and had quite an effect on me a number of years ago. When her child was born some 55 or 58 years ago, the doctor said she should put her son away in an institution because he was born with a developmental disability. She said no and she provided the love, care and support for that child for many years. She didn't ask for anything from government. She didn't ask for any support. But now, at a time when her husband is going into a nursing home and her health is becoming frail, she's not able to provide the care in the future. She didn't even want a group home bed for her son. All she wants to know is that the care will be there.

One of the things the government is doing is making a substantial investment in helping people with developmental disabilities, not just with respect to day programs and special services at home and group home accommodation, but in addition to another range of supports. That is good news, because government does have a role to help those people who are most vulnerable and who need support. That is certainly emphasized in the government's strong commitment and action to help people with developmental disabilities in recent years. This is not a group that is a loud one. It's not a large one. It'll never be on the radar screen like the economy and jobs, like health care and education. But in many ways it is every bit as important to those people who depend on support from their community.

The throne speech talked a lot about public education. That's something which is incredibly important in my constituency, in Nepean-Carleton. I was pleased the other day to attend the opening of Adrienne Clarkson Elementary School, which was opened by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. That's a school in the Davidson Heights part of Nepean-Carleton, in south Nepean. The school opened in January, but they had the official opening just the other day. That was able to be built because of a change in regulations to the Education Act that allowed development charges to be billed, something that I worked hard on, as I know did the school trustee in that area, Norm MacDonald. His efforts and those of the entire school board and their staff made that a reality. That's good news for families. It does remind me, though, that there's an important need in the area of Stittsville, in my community, for a new elementary school. That's why I spoke recently to the Minister of Education and my cabinet colleagues about the importance of that: that children are being bused out of their school and out of their community to another community. That community desperately needs a new school, as does Greely, Ontario. It's something that I continue to work hard on.

On a vu dans mon comté il y a plus d'un an une nouvelle école, l'école Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau, qui a été ouverte pour servir la communauté franco-ontarienne de Nepean-Carleton. Je suis très fier de voir leur succès dans les premières quelques années dans mon comté. Quand j'ai été nommé ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones -- je regarde mon cher collègue le député de Prescott-Russell, qui était ici -- il n'y avait aucune école francophone dans mon comté. Maintenant nous avons une nouvelle école élémentaire et une nouvelle école secondaire parce que le conseil scolaire francophone a pris des décisions difficiles pour trouver du nouvel argent pour la construction des nouvelles écoles. Je félicite le conseil scolaire dans ce cas.

I was also pleased in the throne speech to see that it said, "Your government remains committed to choice and fairness in Ontario's education system," with respect to the equity in education tax credit. This is something that is important to a good number of constituents in my riding of Nepean-Carleton. I am privileged to represent a large number of Ottawa's Jewish community, and a lot of parents and families make decisions to send their child to a parochial school because it's something that's important to them culturally. Rambam Maimonides in Nepean is one and they do a terrific job in educating young Jewish children. There are a lot of middle-class families who have had to forgo the second car and a lot of luxuries because this is something that is important to them for cultural reasons. It's something I've long held as an important priority, as it is in the community of Metcalfe in my constituency, where there is a Christian reform school. There, a lot of parents really struggle. They volunteer at the school regularly to try to help make ends meet and provide a good education for their children. This will provide a small measure to those families.

Neither of these schools fit the definition that some of the opposition like to talk about, being private schools for the rich or the wealthy. If you visited either of those schools, you'd see that the overwhelming number of families who send their children there are of modest means. That would be reflective of the immediate income in our community. It's something that is important to them. I was pleased that the then-Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, was able to visit one of the high schools, Redeemer Christian, which was one of the best in the standardized tests and did terrifically well. He was able to visit the principal and talk to some of the parents there about that, so I was very pleased about that.

I was also pleased, in Premier Ernie Eves's first throne speech, with this, obviously talking about the fiscal situation: "...will require continued sound fiscal management and difficult decisions. Your government is prepared to make those decisions and take the necessary action to keep Ontario strong and growing." That is something which, certainly as the Minister of Finance for six years, the now-Premier Ernie Eves made as a hallmark, that economic growth and job creation are absolutely essential for our health care policy. If we're going to fund a first-class health care system, we've got to have a growing economy. If we're going to be able to meet the demands, whether it's on textbooks or an early math program that had been announced recently by the Premier, we've got to have a growing economy. When people are working and paying taxes and not receiving public assistance, there are more resources to help important public priorities.

In my community there have been some layoffs at both Nortel and JDS Uniphase, but the economy is responding and is rebounding quite well, though there are a lot of people out of work and looking for employment. We've got to be mindful that while the economy is beginning to do well, there are some people who still look for work. That's why job creation, economic growth and the government setting an environment for job creation are of great importance.

It's not just the large enterprises in Nepean-Carleton; we have a lot of businesses in the former township of Osgoode, in Metcalfe, in Greely, in Osgoode village, and in the rural areas surrounding those which are really struggling, as they are in Manotick, North Gower, Richmond or Munster Hamlet because of the property tax rates. There is not a recognition that there should be a rural subclass that would allow those stores to compete on a level playing field. In fact in the Richmond mall, if you visited my community, you'd see that some of the stores are empty; they've been empty for quite some time. They can't even get the rent to pay the property taxes on these places, and this is something about which I've certainly talked to the former Minister of Finance. He came down to Nepean-Carleton last year and met with folks.


I had a good discussion the other day with the current Minister of Finance to tell her about how important that issue is. My colleague Marcel Beaubien has done a lot of work with respect to property taxation issues, and we hope we can work to try to address that concern, because the economic health of rural communities, even within the city of Ottawa, is incredibly important. In Ottawa for many years we made a mistake. We put all our eggs in the economic basket of the federal public service, and that went through a big downsizing between 1994 and 1996. We don't want to make the same mistake by putting it just in the high-tech basket and the federal government basket. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Nepean and in the rural part of the region play an important role in the economy.

I also was pleased to see in the throne speech recognition of the plague that is domestic violence. The speech said, "Your government has zero tolerance for violence against women. It is encouraged by the progress that has been made and it will continue to build on relationships" with those who work in this sector. This is something again that I think is incredibly important. Two years ago in the now-Premier's last budget as Minister of Finance, there were two programs that I worked very hard to have put in: a program for $5 million to help the child witnesses of domestic violence was put into place -- the real tragedy of domestic violence is if you don't start to deal with it more comprehensively with children, young girls might think this is acceptable and young boys might think this is somehow normal or accepted or condoned behaviour. If you want to break that cycle, you've got to start with young children.

There was also a $5-million commitment that was implemented to allow some of the shelters in Ontario to hire transitional workers to help women get on with their lives, to help them get into housing and other supports.

In the budget last year the finance minister, Jim Flaherty, funded a project that I pushed for quite hard: $9 million of operating money and $27 million of capital funding to help build more than 300 new shelter beds across the province. For a woman fleeing domestic violence to finally have the courage to make that decision to seek support only to find there is no room at the inn is a tragedy. That's why we want to expand that. I was pleased to see the renewed commitment in the budget to that area and look forward to the budget by the Minister of Finance for the second and third years of that initiative.

Already, though, my community has had two important announcements. We were able to open a francophone shelter for battered women in the east end of Ottawa, 15 or 25 beds, which will help meet the needs of francophone women, which hasn't, obviously, been dealt with as strongly as it needs to be. Also, in the west end of the region we'll open a new 15- to 25-bed shelter run by the Kanata, West Carleton and Goulbourn Community Resource Centre. That's an excellent group with a long-standing tradition in our community of providing good supports.

These are three or four issues that I worked quite hard on in the last two or three years as a member of the Legislature, and I'm pleased to see them go on to fruition. Although they often don't get enough public attention, they are incredibly important. The tragedy with opening up these new shelters is that the real goal is to shut them down. We work toward the day when those will not be required and all people, women and children particularly, can live without fear of violence.

The throne speech talked a lot about health care. This continues to be a big priority for people in my community. The Queensway-Carleton Hospital, with which I worked quite closely, is still having some not insignificant challenges. They underwent an operational review, and the government was able to respond with a $12.9-million increase in their baseline funding. We continue to work with them on, like I said, some not insignificant challenges, but we've taken some big steps forward. Too often those funding adjustments are made on a one-time basis, and that was an important change for the hospital.

A big change, though, that happened with respect to health care in my community was with the Ottawa Hospital. There were real problems at this hospital 12 months ago. The hospital had the largest deficit of any public sector organization, save Ontario Hydro or one of its successor companies. The Ottawa Hospital faced some real challenges, and I think it's started to deal with some of the challenges with respect to health care. This was not an issue that I felt the government could ignore any longer, and the Minister of Health stepped in and gave notice that he would appoint a supervisor to the Ottawa Hospital and took the bull by the horns. I worked quite hard on that initiative and pushed quite hard for that as the member for Nepean-Carleton and a representative of people in my community.

When we gave notice of the appointment of a supervisor, Dennis Timbrell, a former Minister of Health in the province and the former president of the Ontario Hospital Association, took on the position and did a tremendously good job. He's been very well received by all parts of the community.


Hon Mr Baird: I think members opposite, and the member for Toronto who is speaking, would find there has been widespread support for his actions as supervisor of the hospital, and he's been very well received. He's conducted himself with great care over the past year and has done a good job. He looked at the management structure of the hospital and recommended the appointment of a new president and CEO, Dr Jack Kitts, someone who is incredibly well respected in the Ottawa community. He lives in Nepean and is very well regarded. He's from eastern Ontario. I think Dr Jack Kitts is from Barry's Bay, is he not?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): His cousin.

Hon Mr Baird: His cousin? I didn't even know that. He's the cousin of one of my colleagues opposite.

I never realized just how popular this gentleman was around the hospital until two things happened. One was when his nomination was announced. The group of employees at the hospital -- nurses, workers and the medical staff -- gave him a standing ovation for about five minutes, which said a lot. After three or four months at the helm -- I was at the Loblaws a few weeks back, and a nurse came up and told me about the huge difference in the morale at the hospital since Dr Kitts's appointment. That has been very, very well received. He will provide good leadership. He was just confirmed by Mr Timbrell as permanent president and CEO of the hospital.

What that has proved to me is that good people matter, and you've got to have good, competent people at the helm. Dr Jack Kitts is someone who will do an outstanding job and really has full support in the community, which is good, as does the new senior vice-president, Gino Picciano, who has done a lot of work at the hospital in terms of some of the plans for the future of the hospital and on the corporate side. He has a background with the Queensway-Carleton hospital. He also comes from Nepean, south Nepean. He's got a lot of community supports and management skills and attributes and real knowledge of the broader health care system in the Ottawa area. He'll be a very competent administrator. So we've got a great management team.

The government was able to come forward this past year with somewhere around $50 million of base adjustment in funding for the hospital, money that was there but there wasn't the confidence that it wasn't just putting money down an empty hole. The government was able to come forward with that financial commitment last fall. Through the management efforts Mr Timbrell and his entire team at the hospital -- whether it's advice from the staff, the nurses, the medical teams -- they were able to find an additional $25 million in operational efficiencies and adjustments and whatnot to bring in a balanced budget for the hospital. It does have its challenges, like every other hospital in Canada, but as one of the biggest hospitals in Canada, it's much better poised to deal with those challenges. That'll be good news.

The Minister of Health was in town not long ago and was able to announce the second part of what amounts to about $108 million of $160 million in the first phase of the capital construction, which will see a new tower at the general campus and expansions at the Riverside and Civic campuses, which are important. The future of the Civic campus is important to a lot of folks in my community, that it be maintained as a tertiary care site and not be downgraded to a community hospital, which I think is good. That's definitely the direction the management of the hospital is going, which I think is good news.

Finally, I was pleased to see in the throne speech -- and then I'll conclude my remarks here -- the reference to agriculture. One of the Premier's biggest priorities has been to reach out to the agricultural community. People in my community and I were very pleased with the former Minister of Agriculture, Mr Coburn. But there's a lot of excitement in my community about the new Minister of Agriculture, Helen Johns. She's very well regarded. She is already building a big cheering section around the cabinet table for her efforts. I've spoken to her already. I think she hadn't even been sworn in when I was already talking to her about the importance that corn producers as well as soybean producers place on an agricultural safety net. That's something that's important.

Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): Ask the corn producers how happy they are about market revenue right now.

Hon Mr Baird: I'll tell you that corn producers have a good advocate in the Minister of Agriculture. I have a lot of confidence that with the support of all members of our cabinet, caucus and this House, she'll do a phenomenal job to represent the interests of agriculture.


The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Elgin-Middlesex-London come to order.

Hon Mr Baird: There are a lot of dairy producers in my community as well who have concerns. The Minister of Agriculture has already generously accepted my offer to come and visit agricultural producers in Nepean-Carleton and in the eastern part of Ontario. She was already in Lanark county in her first week and a half on the job, so she's a minister who knows where Ottawa and eastern Ontario are, and that has pleased.


I am pleased with so much of what's in the throne speech. It provides a lot of hope and opportunity that some of the many challenges the province is dealing with will be addressed. We're going in the right direction and need to continue to recommit ourselves to the solutions at hand.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions.

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): Je voudrais d'abord féliciter le ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones, le député de Nepean-Carleton, d'avoir adressé l'Assemblée en français. Cela démontre le respect que cette Assemblée doit toujours avoir pour la communauté francophone, qui compte plus de 535 000 francophones en Ontario. Merci, monsieur le Ministre.

Selon les paroles de mon collègue le ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones en référence avec le discours du trône, je m'aperçois que l'on dit toujours qu'on doit réinstaurer l'intégrité et la confiance en son gouvernement. Lorsque nous regardons, le gouvernement a toujours une responsabilité de s'assurer d'un leadership. Lorsqu'on on parle de leadership, on doit regarder pour l'avenir de notre jeunesse, l'avenir de l'Ontario.

Si nous regardons l'intérieur de ce discours du trône, le contenu du discours du trône, je m'aperçois qu'à bien des endroits nous regardons à balancer notre budget -- je dis « balancer » le budget, mais non au détriment de l'avenir. Je regarde le gouvernement. Qu'est-ce qu'il a fait jusqu'aujourd'hui ? Tout d'abord nous avons procédé à la vente de la 407 pour balancer notre budget. Nous avons procédé au délestage aux municipalités afin de balancer notre budget. Nous avons procédé en disant aux municipalités : « Vendez votre hydro local municipal afin de balancer vos budgets. » Et aujourd'hui, parce qu'on veut balancer le budget de la province, on veut maintenant vendre l'Hydro One, et peut-être aussi procéder à la vente de casinos afin de balancer nos budgets. Est-ce que c'est de la justice pour l'avenir de notre jeunesse et de l'Ontario ?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): It indeed gives me great pleasure this afternoon to be here to respond to the comments from the member for Nepean-Carleton, someone who when he was minister did more to diminish the integrity of government by way of his attack on the poor than I think any minister I've experienced in my almost 12 years here, and to note that in this speech from the throne that we all received last Thursday, there doesn't seem to be any real appetite for change by this government where that is concerned.

There is nothing more fundamental to government and its role than that which it does on behalf of citizens in its jurisdiction who are at risk and marginalized, who are poor. This government, from the very day it took office, indicated it was going to attack the poor, and continues to do that to this day.

It had an opportunity last week to show a kinder, gentler and more compassionate face, it really did, and we were all of us waiting expectantly to see whether in fact they would put anything behind some of the words we were hearing.

For example, they could have increased the amount of money people on welfare receive or they could have increased the pension for those who are disabled in the province. They didn't do that. They could have stopped the clawback of the child tax benefit supplement that goes to families of the most at risk and vulnerable children in our communities. They didn't do that either. They could have announced a program of affordable housing. They could have increased the minimum wage. The list goes on and on but obviously it's this government's intention to continue to --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Comments and questions.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): It was interesting to hear the leader of the third party talk about a different throne speech, mentioning that our future would be better. He would like to take the people a few years back when we had high taxes, high unemployment, high welfare. What about the debt? A billion dollars a month. I think you were in power for some 50-odd months: $52 billion, $53 billion dollars that you increased the provincial debt. I would not call that a better future.

He also talked about affordable housing. I heard the member from Beaches-East York talk about affordable housing an awful lot of times. Yet for some reason we see fit to have a multi-residential rate that is four to five times higher than the single-family dwelling rate. Affordable housing means an awful lot to an awful lot of people, and whether you're paying $500 a month or $1,000 a month, it may be affordable to some people. But I would strongly suggest that when you're paying four to five times the tax rate that single-family dwellings are paying on their residential dwelling, it no longer becomes affordable housing. If we are really going to be serious about talking about providing affordable housing to the people of the province of Ontario, I would strongly suggest to the people across the way that maybe we should be looking at what we're doing with the multi-residential rate in the province of Ontario. If we address that particular difficulty, maybe we will be able to provide real affordable housing to the people who really need it in this province.

Mr David Caplan (Don Valley East): I want to comment on the chief government whip's remarks. He quoted a few passages from the throne speech, and I wonder why he missed a few of these excerpts: "Ontarians have said they do not want classrooms and hospitals to be battlegrounds. Your government has heard that message." I would have expected the whole Tory bench to stand up and applaud that because that's what we've been saying on this side of the House for seven long years. That's a complete repudiation, in my opinion, of the approach that you've taken as a member of the cabinet of the previous government. I wonder why you didn't comment on that section, and I say to the chief government whip, maybe you will in your reply to my remarks.

Another one: "Your government remains committed to choice and fairness in Ontario's education system ... as it implements the equity in education tax credit." During his leadership run, Ernie Eves called this measure ludicrous. He called it ludicrous. Now he's committed to implementing it. Private schools are now going to be the recipients of public dollars. I wonder why --

Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Agriculture and Food): No, parents of kids in private schools.

Mr Caplan: Absolutely, my friend. This is a huge boon to the Upper Canada Colleges, the Ridley Colleges and others.

A couple of others: "Your government recognizes the private sector's contribution in our publicly funded [health] system.... Your government is committed to finding new ways to foster innovation, based on partnerships with the private sector." That's code for two-tier health care, not surprising from two-tier Ernie Eves and his health care minister, two-tier Tony Clement.

I wonder why the minister didn't comment on some of these parts of the throne speech. I can tell you that the people of Don Valley East have repudiated and rejected these kinds of measures, and if this is what you have to offer us, they will repudiate your government when you call an election a year from now.

The Acting Speaker: The associate minister and chief government whip has two minutes to respond.

Hon Mr Baird: I want to thank the members for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Don Valley East for their contributions. But to the member for Don Valley East, I recall meeting him on a residential street not two weeks ago in the riding of Nipissing in North Bay, where he was very clear on how he thought the voters would repudiate the Eves administration in that by-election. I was very quiet and did not want to offer him any predictions outside of Orangeville's results, but he was very strong in his forecast. He said, "I can't wait till we have George Maroosis in the House," and so forth. I won't go on any further and I won't tell you anything more. I have on some occasions been perhaps equally optimistic in my forecasts and as equally free in sharing my forecasts as the member, so I will say I probably have done many of the same things at other times.

Je voudrais remercier mon collègue le député de Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, le porte-parole pour les Affaires francophones pour l'opposition officielle. Je veux dire que, parmi tous les porte-parole de l'opposition avec qui je travaille, il est le plus constructif, et on a travaillé très bien ensemble pour trouver des résultats pour les francophones, juste comme le député de Timmins-Baie James et comme une autre collègue, la députée d'Ottawa-Vanier, et aussi mon collègue le député de Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

I want to acknowledge him and thank him for his remarks and his knowledge, for his efforts and his leadership on the whole issue of property taxation. He's worked incredibly hard and I know his efforts will make a big difference in dealing with some of the challenges there.

I would be remiss if I didn't say to Will Stewart that I did lose the bet with the Sens, and I do apologize and I will pay up.


Mr Conway: I want to say at the outset that I will be sharing my time with my colleague the member from Elgin-Middlesex.

There are two parts of the throne speech that I want to deal with today. The first has to do with the electricity policy, which is spoken about on pages 16 and 17 of the address read by His Honour on May 9; and a second part of my remarks this afternoon will concern a very specific concern I have about an education issue in my part of eastern Ontario.

Let me say at the outset that this session is going to be, and is already I think, largely focused on electricity. The Hydro question is one of the most important questions that this or any Legislature gets to discuss. We are at a critical point in that debate as we stand here today and in this session. I want to say, as someone who's been around this debate both in government and in the opposition for too many years, it is a matter of urgent and pressing necessity. I will say quite categorically that there are some major issues that must be addressed, and fair-minded members of this Legislature on both sides of the aisle and in all three political parties must acknowledge that there are some very real concerns that cry out for redress and attention.

I am completely upset, however, at the manner in which the current government is proceeding on this matter. I accept entirely that there is a range of positions on matters like the future of the transmission company or how you proceed with the generation sector or what you intend to do with consumer protection in the retail part of the business. But let me say the obvious. Few things are more important to the economic and social well-being of Ontario than electricity. It's a $10-billion business. Electricity is a commodity without which we cannot operate our homes, our businesses, our schools, our hospitals. We are for five months of most years a subarctic climate, and those of us who live in southeastern Ontario remember four years and some months ago what it was like for a million or so of us to experience 10 or 12 days of January weather without electricity: the famous ice storm.

When I hear free-marketers talking about electricity as a commodity comme les autres, I think, "What fool's paradise are you occupying?" Electricity is absolutely critical and, unlike just about every other commodity I can think of, you cannot store electricity. When you need it, you must have it instantly. In the digital economy, it's even more important.

We have spent decades in this province putting this system together, the transmission system. The transmission system was put together over many decades and through at least five or six provincial general elections in between about 1920 and 1950. I accept the argument that there may be a range of opinions as to what you might want to do with the electricity highway. I happen to strongly believe that it should remain in public hands. I know there's another position.

I am insulted, and the people of Ontario and every member of this Legislature should be insulted, by the manner in which this debate is proceeding. Can you imagine standing up one day, as Mike Harris did in December after the Legislature adjourned for Christmas and what turned out to be a four-and-a-half-month break, and saying, "We are going to sell Highway 401 from Cornwall to Windsor; Highway 400 from Toronto to Barrie; Highway 404 from Burlington to Woodstock; Highway 417 from Hawkesbury to Ottawa. We're going to sell it to private interests. It's all going to be done before you come back in the spring. And don't worry; we'll let a regulatory framework protect your interests"? You would not imagine it because it would never happen. The trucking industry, the chambers of commerce, to say nothing of millions of travelling motorists, would rise up as one and say, "Nuts." That's what we propose to do, apparently, with the electricity highway, an even more valuable highway than the one I just mentioned on the ground.

I say to my friend Ernie Eves, if that's what you want to do, you've got to come to this Legislature with a clear plan, explain why in the public interest you want to do this and subject that plan to a rigorous cross-examination, not just by members of the Legislature but by knowledgeable and thoughtful specialists in the area. And if you win the case after that process, good for you.

But what are we getting? We're getting a debate that's largely confined to the business pages of the Globe and Mail and the National Post. Should we be surprised? It's a $10-billion annual business. There are fortunes to be made by investment bankers and brokers and special interests everywhere. You heard my friend Phillips, late in question period, comment that the current CEO of Hydro One has a contract which looks like there is a very substantial pecuniary interest to her if Hydro One is privatized. Good for Eleanor.

She wrote me a shirty letter today about something I said yesterday. Too damn bad, Eleanor, because I am upset about what you've done through your agents to those 200,000 Ontarians who signed up with those retailers who are acting as agents for Ontario Hydro Energy. Many of you will have heard this story of people showing up at senior citizens' doors with the full regalia, making it very clear that they were Ontario Hydro. My dad was one of them. He wouldn't have let those people in the door if he had not thought they were, as they advertised themselves to be, Ontario Hydro. What does he find out, months after he signed the contract? On the eve of market opening, they sold the entire portfolio of 200,000 electricity contracts they had gathered, on the basis that they were the crown company, to Union Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of EPCOR of Alberta -- 200,000 people, many of them senior citizens. That's just outrageous.

That's just one example of what's going to come back to haunt us. Special interests everywhere. I can't really complain about that other than to maybe highlight it. I know who's out there. I know that the bankers and the brokers and the plutocrats are lined up to get their hands on this gravy train. Government, qua government, has real corporate interests -- and I don't even mean this as a partisan criticism of the current government. The Ontario government has a substantial corporate interest in this. Who's looking out for the ratepayer -- the farmer in Renfrew, the suburban homeowner in Orleans, the small business person in Arthur, the senior citizen in Scarborough -- four million-plus of those people? Who's looking out for them?

Now I am told, "Oh, don't worry, we've got a regulator." Well, what have I seen about the regulator's function on the early part of the business, the easy part of the business, regulating these unscrupulous retailers who have, in some cases, behaved absolutely outrageously? The worst complaints in my area have come from Hydro One's agents going into senior citizens' homes after dinner, before dark, grabbing bills, misrepresenting themselves, taking scissors out of their pockets in front of 75-year-old women, cutting bills in half and walking out the door. Those are our agents. Wait till those 75-year-olds find out in a couple of months' time what the hell they signed up for. Eleanor, be shirty, because you're going to have a lot to answer for.

"Oh yes," she says to me in the letter, "Not to worry. We told everybody April 25, four days before market opening, that we had sold the portfolio." Yes, you did. Neither you nor Deb Hutton said months before, "This was our plan." You know why you didn't? Because had you come clean with that plan, you wouldn't have had 200,000 contracts. You probably would have had one tenth of that, if you were lucky.

Who's looking out for the public interest? Who's looking out for the consumer's interest? This is not easy. In some ways, Hydro is our domestic Palestine. It is a terribly intractable problem. Let me remind people that the problem we set out to fix five years ago is over in generation. It's not in transmission; it's in generation. Fifty per cent of our cost, 80% of our trouble and 90% of our debt is over in generation. We are going about the business of fixing things that were not a big problem. We are about to sell enormously important public assets that, once sold, we'll never get back.


I will say, as I take my seat, I've known Ernie Eves a long time. He's a neighbour. I remember the day that he got elected 21 years ago by six votes. We haven't always agreed on public issues, but I know him to be, in my experience, a good and honourable man. I'm telling you, I will go ballistic, and I hope a lot of other members will too, if the plan is going to be to bring to this Legislature enabling legislation that is just a framework to allow any number of possibilities about the future of Hydro One, expect that to be passed and then give cabinet and the executive branch of government a free hand to do whatever the hell they want in July and August. I believe that won't happen. It better not happen, because if it does, this Legislature, as a self-respecting body with clear responsibilities, many of which are fiduciary, will not be treated like that.

I accept that there is a range of opinions. That would be an outrage on this Legislature and on the people of Ontario, and I fully expect it will not happen. But let me say that if it does happen, I will personally do everything I possibly can, within and outside of the rules, to ensure that that kind of outrage is not allowed to pass.

The public interest demands that notwithstanding the gravity of the issues in the electricity sector -- and there are serious and significant problems, largely in generation, that none of us are going to like around here -- I will not stand by and see the old government Hydro policy given yet another lease on life. And what's that? Act quickly, act precipitously, all kinds of promises and worry about the performance later. Treat the Legislature like a collection of mushrooms in the dark. That's, in part, why we're in the problem we are in today. Procedurally as well as substantively, I hope and pray we have learned from some of those mistakes. Over to you, Mr Peters.

Mr Peters: It's nice to see the government finally acknowledge agriculture. After two throne speeches and a third throne speech in three years, they finally use the word "agriculture." I want to congratulate the new Minister of Agriculture, but I want to remind Mrs Johns to watch and don't get caught in that revolving door, because you're the third Minister of Agriculture we've seen in this province in 14 months. We need to see a commitment to agriculture.

We saw some lip service paid to agriculture in this throne speech. We saw the commitment to once again consult with the farmers on June 6. How long are you going to continue to consult for? Why don't you stop consulting and start taking some action and start doing some things for the good of agriculture in this province? The farmers have had enough talk; they want to see some action, and we haven't seen action.

We've heard more talk about Bill 81 in this throne speech. But you know what's lacking in this? No mention of the regulations, no mention of the dollars that are going to be needed to implement this legislation. There's no doubt we need province-wide standards. This patchwork of individual municipal bylaws is not the way to go. We need Bill 81, but it's missing some components; silence, though, on that from the throne speech.

I think what's worst of all is the silence on safety nets in this throne speech. We've heard much talk over the past year about a made-in-Ontario safety net program for the farmers of this province. But you know what? Those words were not contained in this throne speech. Why not? I ask the Minister of Agriculture, why not? Where's your commitment to safety nets? Even the Ontario Federation of Agriculture: "Throne speech lacks key ingredient for farmers" -- key ingredient -- "A failed deal without this key ingredient." What's missing were the details of plans to implement the made-in-Ontario safety net program. We didn't hear it. Farmers need to hear it.

I know we can hear this rhetoric from the other side, "Well, the federal government has to do its part." I'll repeat the words that I said yesterday. I will say it again and put this government on notice, to the Minister of Agriculture, that waiting for the feds to act is like waiting for hell to freeze over. I'm putting the commitment and the challenge out to you now, because we put this challenge. Dalton McGuinty is on the record of challenging the federal government to come to the table, and the federal government with the lack of action -- you can act; you can unilaterally act. We know that the safety net programs in this country are cost-shared on a 60-40 basis, but you can go beyond; you can do more. Alberta does more; Quebec does more. But you know what the minister's own constituency assistant, Ken Kelly, says? He says in the Valley Farmers Forum, talking about Ontario and coming to Quebec, "You're mixing apples with oranges." We're not mixing apples with oranges. We need to see a commitment from this government to agriculture, and we haven't seen it. I think it's wrong. We see the Americans come forward with $190 billion in subsidies for their farmers. We need to see Ontario stand up, and we haven't seen that. We saw lip service paid to agriculture in this throne speech, but we haven't seen action.

The minister is coming to continue to consult. She's coming into my own riding. It would be nice to be invited to a meeting taking place in my own riding, but I'm not invited to a secret, invitation-only, closed-door meeting. Invite the agriculture critic to come out so you can see first-hand what's going on in Elgin county and the disastrous policies that you're putting in place and how you're hurting the farmers of this province. Come on, invite me. I'd be happy to be there, Mrs Johns.

It's obvious they are finally recognizing that they are vulnerable in rural Ontario. We've been through three ag ministers. We've seen rural Ontario abandoned by this government, and all of a sudden now, with a new Premier and an election looming, they know they've got a problem in rural Ontario. So now they're starting to talk. You've talked but you haven't acted, and that's what we're waiting for. The farmers of Ontario are waiting for action.

You know something else that would have been lovely to see in this throne speech? We saw with this new cabinet appointed the splitting off of rural affairs. We now are back to the old day of OMAF; RA is off on its own. But the citizens of Ontario, the farmers of Ontario, are still waiting for the details of what this new ministry looks like. What financial commitment is going to be there, Minister, and when will we know? I hope you take the opportunity with one of your two-minute sessions to stand up and tell the farmers of Ontario today what the goals and the mission of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food are all about. What is RA? And where is OSTAR-RED going? Is it staying with you or is it staying with Minister Coburn? Where is Healthy Futures going? Is it staying with you or is it going with Minister Coburn? These things need to be publicly stated.

Tell us, is there a fight going on? Are you each trying to decide who's going to be the one who goes and hands out the cheque and smiles real nice and says, "Look what we did"? Who's going to do it? We want to know. The farmers of Ontario want to know. When are you going to come clean and tell us what OMAF looks like? Please, please, do that, because we don't see those details.

Let's talk about some other things that aren't in this throne speech.

Where's the pledge to stop the sale of Hydro One? We heard my respected and learned colleague come forward with a great many details. The message changes on a daily basis on the other side. Why don't you just stand up, do the right thing, do what the people of Ontario are saying, and stop the sale of Hydro One? But no, you didn't have the guts to do that and you still don't know what you're doing. It's obvious, when you listen to the Premier and you listen to the Minister of Environment and Energy, that there's so much disarray over there, you don't know what you're doing. Why don't you do the honourable thing and put a halt to it?

Now let's talk about something else. Those of you who are former municipal politicians on the other side had better be very, very wary of these tax incentive zones, because one of the great things that we've enjoyed in this province as municipal politicians is a level playing field, so St Thomas doesn't compete with Aylmer, doesn't compete with Woodstock, doesn't compete with Stratford. The days of bonusing are gone. Bonusing industries and bonusing businesses to come to your community are long gone, and we don't want to bring those days back. But with these tax incentive zones that you're putting forward, you're bringing those days back again.

Like everything else, you want to take us down the road of the Americans. You want to take us down the road of Alabama and Mississippi. This is Ontario. We don't want bonusing in this province. We want people playing on a level playing field, and you don't seem to be doing that. I think we need to be extremely concerned about that.


I want to take this opportunity to talk about a couple of other issues. The chief government whip talked about health care. He'd better be worried about what's going on at CHEO because I'm worried about what's going on at Children's Hospital of Western Ontario as we wait and wait and wait for a province-wide pediatric review. The Minister of Health hasn't come forward with that report because he was out campaigning.

What I'm concerned about is that there's going to be a message in that report to centralize services at Sick Kids' Hospital, and that's wrong. We need to have a regional network of children's services in this province.

I also want to talk about St Thomas Elgin General Hospital and the funding cuts that you've made to that hospital, forcing them to cut rehab programs. Do you know what the hospital is saying? "Go to the private sector. The private sector can deliver those services." Well, it's wrong. Two-tier health is here. This government is bringing in two-tier health.

Mr Martin: I am pleased to respond to the speeches by the member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke and the member for Elgin-Middlesex-London, and to say that they've touched on two very important elements of society today in Ontario, two elements of the economy that support civil and intelligent development of community in this province, and that's the issue of hydro. No matter how you cut it, there is nothing more important to the maintenance of an economy that's stable and creates confidence in the investment community than the guarantee that you will have affordable and reliable energy when you need it to produce whatever it is that you're making so that we can sell it then in the global market, as we're into at the moment, at a competitive rate.

In my view, probably only one other thing compares in terms of creating competitiveness for this province to electricity and the contribution it has made to different parts of this province, in particular northern Ontario, and that is health care. Any studies that are done that look at the competitiveness of our province point to two things that we have going for us: intelligent decisions made by government years ago to keep hydroelectricity in public hands and to develop a medicare system, a health care system, that is owned and delivered and run by government. It provides for us a huge competitive advantage, and to think that this government is -- if you look at the speech from the throne of last Thursday, there really has been no change -- continuing down a road to privatize both those very important institutions.

Hon Mrs Johns: I'm going to keep the bluster down. I think we've had enough of that for 20 minutes. So let me just say right off the top that we were very thrilled that the member from Elgin-Middlesex recognizes that the agriculture portion of the throne speech was very substantial this time. In fact, we talked about the farm unit needing to be a viable economic unit and, without talking about a budget, that talks to the viability of the agricultural community in the province.

We also talked about Bill 81, which was of course the nutrient management bill, which all of rural Ontario is waiting for. He just forgot to mention that. In the three days we've been here we have already got through second reading. I have asked the members opposite to give us unanimous consent because they offered that in December, but that hasn't happened, so out we go yet again to committee and then we come back in for third reading of the bill, when we all know that this bill has received the most consultation of any bill in the last two or three years. So from that standpoint I'm disappointed, but we've come to expect the co-operation we get in this House, so we will continue to move forward with it.

He then raised the issue about the made-in-Ontario safety nets. We talked about a course of consultation that the Premier is having with the agricultural community because it's very important for us to hear from the agricultural community. That actually was a request by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture made directly to the Premier during the leadership campaign, so I'm surprised that he's not in favour of that. The agricultural community speaks and asks for and receives, and you would think that the opposition critic would be saying what a good job that was, but that's not to be today. When we finally get to the spirit of co-operation in agriculture I know that we will go further as a nation and as a province of Ontario.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): I thank the two MPPs on our side of the House, Sean Conway and Steve Peters, for their remarks regarding the throne speech today. What they tell us is what we on this side of the House agree: the throne speech gives us no indication of where this government intends to go in this next year. Everything that we heard via the speaker the other day in this House is more rhetoric of days past, more policy statements that mean absolutely nothing. It's no wonder the government is losing credibility every day with every group out there that is wildly affected by the workings of the government of Ontario.

In the area of health care, not one new initiative came forward in this throne speech -- not one new initiative. You talked about primary care reform, that now you are going to have 80% of doctors signing on to these new networks. That's what you said last year and, in fact, you're still down to less than 2%. You have 15 pilot sites operating, and not operating very well. Your own policies will be your own undoing. You talked again about cancer treatment. You don't have the centres you announced earlier up and running.

All of the things that we heard made this speech an absolute snoozer the other day. There was not one new invigorating idea of what we are going to do in the government of Ontario to actually help people; just more of the same, and more of that same being nothing but rhetoric.

What we see in home care today existed last year and the year before, and the problems get worse. The government's own policies are creating tremendous angst in the home care centres and this government has yet to respond. None of that was addressed in the throne speech. We see none of those pressing issues actually being addressed, but just lip service being paid to it.

I look forward to my own opportunity to discuss at length the throne speech, but in the meantime we caution you to pay attention keenly to the words of our two colleagues today in the House, both on hydro issues and on agriculture issues, where they have enough experience to say that this government is showing absolutely no vision.

Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): I don't know where the people on the other side of the table have been. Obviously, they didn't listen to the throne speech last Thursday.

It's interesting, because I heard the member for Windsor West say that there was not one initiative announced with respect to health care. I heard the member for Elgin-Middlesex-London talking about former municipal councillors. When I was a member of a former municipal council in Scarborough for 12 years, I also happened to sit on the local general hospital for nine years, and it seems to me that for nine years, we were begging members of the Peterson government for an MRI unit and for renal dialysis. Within six months of our government being formed in 1995, we had an MRI machine and a renal dialysis centre, and we now have a satellite renal dialysis centre that serves an additional 400 patients in the city of Scarborough.

If you look at the number of MRI machines that have been completed or installed in hospitals, it has increased by almost 400%, from eight to 41. So to suggest that somehow there have been no initiatives to improve health care I think is completely erroneous on behalf of my honourable colleagues on the other side of the floor, and I would suggest that they withdraw those comments.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Elgin-Middlesex-London has two minutes to respond.

Mr Peters: I'd like to thank the members for the Soo, Huron, Windsor and Scarborough for their comments. I want to address in particular the Minister of Agriculture's comments. Read the OFA's press release: "Throne speech lacks key ingredient for farmers"; a failed deal on safety nets; "what was missing were details of plans to implement the made-in-Ontario safety net program." Listen to that, Minister.

But perhaps you should be grateful that it's gone back to committee because, as we discussed last week -- we talked last week about Bill 81 -- you expressed in that meeting to me that you had a number of grave concerns about things that were contained in Bill 81 and that you wanted to have some changes made to Bill 81 but you didn't have the opportunity to do it. Well, Minister, you've got that opportunity because Bill 81 now is back at committee. Why don't you come forward and tell the agricultural community of Ontario the concerns that you have with Bill 81? If you've got a problem with Bill 81, this is your opportunity to fix it.


Please, Minister, tell us. Go into the detail of some of those issues your cabinet colleagues wouldn't listen to you about that you wanted to bring forward that we discussed. Why don't you bring forward some amendments to Bill 81 to make it a better bill, a bill that you want, things that we discussed? Come on, Minister, come forward. This is your opportunity. Now that it's had second reading it's gone to the committee on general government. You can bring forward those amendments. If you think it's a flawed bill we're dealing with, Minister of Agriculture, this is your opportunity to deal with a flawed bill. If you want to make this bill better, Minister of Agriculture, make it better. This is your opportunity. Maybe you should be a little grateful that it has gone back to committee.

You talk about a spirit of co-operation. We offered to come back in January. We offered to come back in February. We were prepared to sit and deal with issues facing this province. But no, this government cowered and hid and stayed away from the Legislature. I think that is totally disrespectful to the citizens of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Hon Tina R. Molinari (Associate Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'm going to share my time today with the member for London-North Centre. It's a pleasure today to rise in the House and speak on the throne speech. I'd like to first begin by thanking the Lieutenant Governor for addressing us last week and to congratulate him on his recent appointment as representative in Ontario of Her Honour, Her Majesty the Queen.

The Lieutenant Governor said a lot, despite some of the opposition's comments today. As we heard, the theme was very clear: our government is listening and our government is prepared to face Ontario's challenges head-on.

It probably won't surprise anyone in this House that I found the throne speech to be full of good news for my riding of Thornhill. Like many communities, my neighbours and friends are concerned about the state of education. For decades, education in Ontario was a plodding bureaucracy; well-intended, surely, but change was slow, parent needs weren't being met and students were not adequately prepared for future education or for the workplace.

I spent 11 years as a trustee on the York Catholic school board, four of those years as chair of the board. The York public board and the York Catholic board had a very good relationship. Those two boards worked efficiently and effectively with the taxpayers' money. We started a joint board consortium which is a consortium that worked on sharing services. We had a joint transportation initiative and joined services for purchasing. These two boards are an example of how efficiency within education works. I know today that the chair of the York Catholic board, Elizabeth Crowe, and the chair of the York public board, Bill Crothers, still carry on that excellent relationship.

During the time when I was a trustee on that board, one of the most frequent complaints I heard from parents was that the system did not respond to their needs or the needs of the students. A new, more rigorous curriculum was essential. It will prepare students for challenges that they will face in life and will make them better citizens. Students I have spoken with feel confident in our reforms and know that they were necessary. Parents and students see the value in a standard curriculum across the province, ensuring continuity when students move from one school to another and that every graduate in the publicly funded Ontario school system will have the same excellent education. Employers know this, colleges and universities know this, and it was a long time coming. Combining this standard curriculum with standardized tests of students and qualification tests of new teachers ensures that the educators have the tools to educate and that students are learning effectively.

Despite the progress we made, some have criticized our past reforms as being too rigid. While there is value in a per-student funding formula that treats every Ontario student the same and gives them the same access to high-quality education, the student-focused funding formula has been criticized. So we struck a task force to review the formula.

Over the last few years, I've seen a nice display of theatrics by the opposition. By this point, it can almost be plugged into the formula: the government brings forth an initiative; the opposition complains about the initiative. The government goes out and consults; they say the government doesn't consult. When the government does consult, the opposition complains it's too broad, it's too narrow, it's too long, it's too short, or that too much time is spent in Toronto or not enough time is spent in Toronto. At some point, the opposition is just seen for what it is doing: opposing for the sake of opposing.

Ms Mushinski: That's because they don't stand for anything.

Hon Mrs Molinari: They don't stand for anything; you're absolutely right. They're just obstructive. That's all they do: they obstruct the process. It's one thing to propose a legislative program; it's another to complain and complain, with little basis for complaint.

Let me provide another example. For some parents and students, our reforms in the publicly funded system were not enough. No matter how much change we bring, some needs will not be met by our public or separate school systems. For these parents, it is a responsibility to educate their children in their faith and culture. Many parents from Thornhill have told me they are pleased that the throne speech confirmed our commitment to parental choice in education. Our government brought in the equity-in-education tax credit in order to support the rights of parents to educate their children outside the publicly funded system, most in a faith-based system.

First the opposition ignored the fact that many parents accessing the system are not rich but are often firmly in the middle class. Then they played on post-September fears by unfairly criticizing these schools as racist and houses of bigotry. Instead of legitimate debate about the role of the province in education or how best to accommodate faith-based education, the opposition just opposes. They say there were not enough restrictions on the tax credit and independent schools would not be held to the same standard as publicly funded schools.

This government will work with parents and design a way to ensure the progress of students in core subjects as we implement the tax credit. The more I hear and read opposition criticism, I wonder if they are indeed opposed to the tax credit or just opposed to the fact that the Progressive Conservative Party has a majority of seats in the Legislature and we've passed legislation.

Let's now consider the post-secondary education review. This is an issue near and dear to the hearts of many Ontario families, certainly near and dear to the families in Thornhill. Our government has made a long-standing commitment to ensuring a place for every willing and qualified Ontario student. This commitment is firm and unwavering. We also know that participation in our colleges and universities is increasing. More people are taking advantage of the opportunities that Ontario schools have to offer. More Ontarians are returning to school after a time away because of the value of a degree or a diploma. As a result, our government has initiated an unprecedented expansion of colleges and universities. An extra 73,000 student spaces have been committed across the province.

So many Ontarians recognize our commitment that there will be a space for them, and that enrolment projections are higher than they used to be. Some members of the opposition see that as a problem. In fact, it's a wonderful opportunity for Ontarians. More students will be able to access Ontario's second-to-none post-secondary education system and will be giving themselves an extra advantage in tomorrow's knowledge-based economy.

We've already committed an extra $293 million for investments in teaching and supplies, and we will provide more resources to these institutions to meet student demand. Somehow I remain confident that someone will find fault with our increasing opportunities for students because despite our success in reforming other areas, such as health care, they continue to throw as many criticisms as possible hoping that some will stick.

Health care spending has gone up literally billions and billions of dollars since 1995, yet the opposition claims that the spending has been cut. Perhaps they are in need of a more rigorous curriculum with a special focus on math as part of it. Wonderful new initiatives, such as Telehealth, which save the lives of Ontarians and give them more confidence in our health care system, are ignored.

The throne speech outlined a few areas in which our government is showing great responsiveness to the needs of Ontarians. MRI machines use the latest technology to provide better diagnosis and allow patients to receive better treatment. They are generations ahead of X-ray machines. They are also more expensive and cost more to operate. Some things, however, are worth paying for. The health of Ontarians is one example. In York region we have the York Central Hospital. It's an excellent hospital that provides health care services for the needs of everyone in the region and also for the constituents in Thornhill.

Since 1995, 31 new MRI machines have been added. The total now is 43. We've nearly quadrupled the number of MRIs in Ontario, quadrupling the opportunity for Ontarians to get prompt diagnosis and a more reliable diagnosis and for their doctors to make more appropriate recommendations. But there remains more to be done. We'll continue to invest in new MRI machines. This is saving lives and the quality of life of Ontarians.

We are also moving forward aggressively in the fight against cancer, a horrible disease that has affected every Ontarian in some way. Everyone I know has either a family member or a friend who has had to battle with cancer. Some have won the battle and some have lost, unfortunately. In my community we continue to mourn the death earlier this year of Vaughan's mayor, Lorna Jackson, one of the best mayors we have had in the province of Ontario. Our fight against cancer must mirror the strength we've shown in turning Ontario around. Members of my community recognize that the changes we have made since 1995 were essential for Ontario and regions like York to get back on track. These changes have led to the creation of over 800,000 new jobs, allowed over 600,000 to escape the welfare trap, and have ushered in more responsible and responsive government.

Now we're at the dawn of a new era of prosperity and opportunity. The choices we make today will influence tomorrow. I would encourage members of this House present today to support the vision presented by the Lieutenant Governor last week and vote in favour of continued growth and success in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock eastern daylight saving time on Thursday, May 16, in the year 2002.

The House adjourned at 1754.