LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO
Wednesday 17 December 2003 Mercredi 17 décembre 2003
The House met at 1845.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
SUPPLY ACT, 2003 /
LOI DE CRÉDITS DE 2003
Mr Caplan, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 28, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004 / Projet de loi 28, Loi autorisant l'utilisation de certaines sommes pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 2004.
Hon David Caplan (Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal): Mr Speaker, congratulations on your assuming the chair.
It is a pleasure to speak to Bill 28, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004. Essentially what it does is give the government authority to spend the funds that are contained within the budget and the priorities that have been identified by the government.
Mr John R. Baird (Nepean-Carleton): You want to spend the Magna budget?
Hon Mr Caplan: I hear my friend opposite. He's a veteran of many of these kinds of mechanisms.
One of the most important things that members of this Legislature do is go to the people of Ontario and say, "We have certain programs," whether they are hospitals or schools, health care, education, whether it's to have meat inspectors, of which our government of course has hired 100 more.
Hon Mr Caplan: Or water inspectors. My colleague the Minister of the Environment hired 33 more water inspectors. Where the government spends the dollars shows you where its priorities are. But it must come for two things: (1) for approval of what are called "estimates," the budget projected for the coming year; and (2) for specific spending authority under what's called the supply bill, and that's what we're here to debate tonight.
As I did mention, my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food has reversed a trend where the previous government saw fit to fire meat inspectors. Of course, we saw the potential for some very serious repercussions for public health and for our communities in the consumption of meat that perhaps had not been properly inspected. I know there is a serious investigation going on, but the fact remains that we used to have in excess of 100 full-time meat inspectors in Ontario. The previous government, through measures like this, through the spending authority and through the budgeting in their day, saw fit to reduce the number of meat inspectors. That's not the priority of this government. We don't take a back seat to anyone, and we don't apologize for protecting public health. That's why I am so proud that my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food moved to rehire over 100 meat inspectors.
The previous government did not have environment as a very high priority. The previous government literally fired hundreds of environmental inspectors. Of course, this was the subject of a judicial review through Justice O'Connor as a result of the tragic circumstances in Walkerton. One of the recommendations from Justice O'Connor is that the province needed to hire more water inspectors to ensure that our water in fact was safe, clean and fit for human consumption and would not kill us. I'm very proud of my colleague the Minister of the Environment for taking such very strong action to hire the water inspectors we need to protect public health.
The authority is contained in Bill 28 to allow the mechanism of government, to allow the spending authority, whether it's to hire nurses to treat our sick, to hire teachers to teach our children, to hire those very important public servants or provide the important public services that we require for public safety, for excellent health, for a clean environment, for all the things that we rely on and the excellent public services we need. Bill 28 does precisely that.
I did want to get into one other thing. Of course, my time is very short and I know that several members will want to speak. We've seen spending authority used through something called a special warrant. This is where the previous government -- prior to introducing their budget at Magna, the auto parts manufacturer, behind closed doors, with one page outlining their spending plan -- went to the Lieutenant Governor and said, "This is what we'd like to spend money on. This is what we need to be able to do." So they got over $36 billion in authority to go and spend the people's money, without seeking any kind of approval, without any kind of transparent or accountable process.
I think it's because of that sort of disdain for this body, for this Legislature, where we come and debate in a very open and transparent manner what our priorities are as a government. That's the real contrast you're seeing here. This old, tired, secretive, unaccountable, opaque approach to public policy is very much different in a McGuinty government. Where we favour openness, the previous government favoured hiding under the secrecy of a method like a special warrant. I know my good friends opposite might want to talk about why they felt the need to engage in some of those different kinds of mechanisms.
It is my distinct pleasure to support this, and I hope all members of this Legislature will support Bill 28.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Ted Arnott): Further debate.
Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): I'm pleased to rise this evening to speak to this supply motion that's on the floor. It's a motion to approve spending by the Liberal government before the next budget. It is something I'm reluctant to consider supporting, considering some of the jiggery-pokery we witnessed today with the Liberal economic statement, for example.
With respect to this statement, on page 36, I raise the question, why are these people known as tax-and-spend Liberals? I look at this year's budget's total expense. We see spending of $68.5 billion. I go to the next column, the outlook for the 2003-04 year, and they are planning on spending $75 billion. That's an increase of well over 9% in one year. Hence the phoney deficit talk that we hear about so much and hence Bill 2, which would give them the tax hikes they seem to feel will bankroll this kind of spending.
I remind the House that Erik Peters, at the request of Dalton McGuinty, conducted a review of the 2003-04 Ontario fiscal picture. That review was as of October 24 of this year. He concluded a potential deficit of $5.6 billion -- we've heard that figure -- if the current Liberal government elects to sit on their hands and do nothing for the next five months. Mr Peters' review does not constitute an audit, nor does he speculate what the deficit might actually be at the end of 2003-04 -- in other words, March 31 of next year. In his report, Mr Peters -- again, the report was released October 29 -- concluded that if no action was taken to bridge the spending gap, the province risked recording a $5.6 billion deficit, again as of March 31 next year.
However, Mr Peters' assessment was made without the benefit of Ontario's public accounts for 2002-03. These didn't come out until November 29, one month later. These are the final financial statements. They itemize the government's annual spending and revenue numbers. The release of the 2002-03 public accounts on November 29 transformed Ontario's fiscal outlook. This improved picture, together with recent federal spending announcements around health and the provincial tax increases they would be budgeting for, I would assume, results in a revised projected deficit of $1.8 billion, again at the end of the coming year. In opposition, we all know that Mr McGuinty said he had a plan to deal with the deficit of up to $2 billion.
In addition to higher provincial revenues, the federal government has said it will deliver $771 million for enriched health care transfer. Regrettably, the McGuinty government decided to not record any of this money in the current fiscal year, preferring instead to pump up the deficit figure and, in my view, cynically make the fiscal situation appear worse than it is.
The new Ontario government has also tabled Bill 2, raising tobacco taxes, corporate income taxes, repealing the scheduled personal income tax relief, rescinding tax relief for parents with children attending independent schools, as well as any rent or property tax relief for seniors. The government estimates this would bring in an additional $800 million, again through Bill 2, the largest-single-tax-hike-in-the-history-of-the-province-of-Ontario bill.
At the time, my colleague and finance critic, the member for Nepean-Carleton, said, "The Liberals think that tax hikes will prevent them from having to make tough decisions. The reality is, they will only drive jobs out of Ontario and stunt the growth of the economy. We need only to look at the legacies of Bob Rae and David Peterson to prove that."
I would encourage all the tax-hikers, all the promise-breakers on the other side of the House, to take heed of Mr Baird's advice. Truly the tax-and-spend legacy of economic downturn speaks for itself. Now, with the new public accounts figures in front of us, projected broken-promise tax increase revenue and the new federal commitments, Ontario is projected to have a $1.8-billion deficit. Please remember: In opposition Mr McGuinty said he had a plan to deal with a deficit of up to $2 billion.
As we on the opposition side of the House address this Liberal supply motion tonight, we're calling on the Liberal government to do what they said they would do. This may appear far-fetched. It may seem that in the wake of a broken-promise trail that criss-crossed the province of Ontario, wends its way across our province, we are asking the Liberal government, regardless of commitments broken very recently, to please roll up their sleeves, get to work, balance the budget, act responsibly and please act in the best interest of all Ontarians. Clearly the people of Ontario want a balanced budget. It can be done. The government can meet its promised commitments. Very simply, let's do it.
Based on the balanced-budget plan of the previous Eves government and the $3.8 billion of in-year savings outlined in the Liberal financial plan, Ontarians should be able to expect as much as a $3.9-billion surplus when the books are closed -- again, this is March 31 of next year.
Hon John Gerretsen (Minister of Municipal Affairs, minister responsible for seniors): So what do you want us to do?
Mr Barrett: Roll up your sleeves, balance the books, get to work, and please cut back on the unnecessary spending.
What I'm hearing across the way is really not what we're hearing -- no word of a balanced budget in the fiscal year and certainly no word of a surplus. All we get are lukewarm assurances to get rid of the deficit as soon as possible; no deadline, no timeline. All the while, Liberals hide under their deficit blame game as they hike our taxes, spend their money, at a rate that would make a drunken sailor blush. I say that -- people know I'm from Port Dover. My father spent five years on the north Atlantic, and I mean to cast no aspersions on sailors or merchantmen or navy men or commercial fisherman or any other women or men of the sea or the Great Lakes.
I would like to point out that the Liberals will have to change Ontario's Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act if, heaven forbid, they do decide to opt for multi-year deficits, which sadly will be the case if they continue down the present road. While the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act allows a new government to run a deficit in what remains of an election year, it also says that cabinet ministers face fines if they fail to balance the books in subsequent years, and it requires a referendum on any tax increases that were not part of the government's election platform. As we saw Mr McGuinty make a great show of signing and endorsing the act during the election, fiddling with the act would only add to the woes of a government that has already broken major promises and walked away from their word.
There is a story that comes to mind. It's a very old, old story. I'm assuming many, many young boys and girls are glued to the television screen tonight just before bedtime. I would like to tell a story.
Once upon a time, there was a piece of wood. It was not an expensive piece of wood; far from it -- just a common block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm. Anyway, jumping forward, this piece of firewood was given to a local carpenter, Geppetto, to see what he could make of it. It turns out Geppetto had an idea for that old block of wood. Again, I wish to quote from this ancient story: "I thought of making myself a beautiful, wooden marionette," said Geppetto. "It must be wonderful, one that will be able to dance, fence and turn somersaults." Now we're getting somewhere.
As soon as he gets home, Geppetto fashions the marionette and calls it Pinocchio. After choosing the name for his marionette, Geppetto set to work to make the eyes, and then Geppetto made the nose, which began to stretch as soon as finished. It stretched and stretched and stretched till it became so long, it seemed endless.
After some other sordid adventures in the story that I won't go into, Pinocchio's true nature began to emerge. After telling his friend a story about some gold coins he had, Pinocchio began to lie, according to the story. Money and fibs -- the story's kind of starting to get interesting now.
I quote again: "Where are the gold pieces now?" the fairy asked. "I lost them," answered Pinocchio. But he told a lie, for he had them in his pocket. As he spoke, his nose, long though it was, became at least two inches longer. "Where did you lose them?" "In the wood nearby," he answered. At the second lie, his nose grew a few more inches. "If you lost them in the nearby woods," said the fairy, "we'll look for them and for them, for everything that is lost is always found." "Ah, now I remember," replied the marionette, becoming more and more confused. "I did not lose the gold pieces, but I swallowed them when I drank the medicine." At this third lie, his nose became longer than ever, so long that he could not even turn around. The fairy sat looking at him and laughing --
Mr Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence): He's supposed to speak to the bill.
Mr Barrett: I'm getting to the point. I'd like to use one more quote from this ancient story.
"Why do you laugh?" the marionette asked her, worried now at the sight of his growing nose. "I am laughing at your lies." "How do you know I am lying?" "Lies, my boy, are known in a moment. There are two kinds of lies, lies with short legs and lies with long noses. Yours, just now, happened to have long noses."
Over the last couple of months, I've been noticing some long noses in this place, and given the broken promises floating around, I'm really not surprised. Today, Premier Pinocchio made a special appearance at the east door of Queen's Park to reassure Ontarians that the Fiberal government is committed to the promises they made during the recent election campaign. During the wooden boy's remarks, it became clear that these promises are simply part of a much larger fairytale, as his nasal organ protruded further and further from his face. It is clear that Premier Pinocchio intends for all Ontario taxpayers to pay through the nose for his inaction. I think that's a quote from our finance critic. Again, instead of rolling up their sleeves --
Mr Colle: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't think that's parliamentary -- name-calling in the Legislature -- especially in the context. I think that is not acceptable in this Legislature.
The Acting Speaker: I want to caution the member that he wants obviously to use parliamentary language while he's engaging in this debate. He knows full well it's inappropriate to call any member of the Legislature -- to use unparliamentary language in describing him.
Mr Barrett: I withdraw, and again, I was making a direct quote from a very ancient story.
Interjection: Your nose is growing.
Mr Barrett: And that nose still is growing. Quite honestly, we do ask this government to keep its commitment to live by the balanced budget law. The response that we hear is, "We can't do that. We're going to have to change the law." How about asking the government to honour its commitment to hold the line on taxes? Again we hear, "We can't do that either." Seniors, working families, all job creators will pay more under this government, and I shudder to think of the long-term impact it will ultimately have on the automotive sector in our province, on the agricultural sector, the second-largest economic generator in Ontario.
Let's go down the list of promises. How about promise 71? We all remember that one, a promise to make sure the debt goes only in one direction: down. When my colleague the member for Waterloo-Wellington, who is presently sitting in the Speaker's chair, called for the adoption of a 25-year debt retirement plan to make the province debt-free by 2029, we were shown the depths of the commitment opposite: a whipped vote by the Liberals against the resolution.
We're not the only ones noticing these broken promises. We're not the only ones concerned at the spending trends the Liberals have shown and are asking to continue with the supply motion we are debating this evening. Many across my riding and here in Toronto have signed petitions I've tabled since this Legislature began to hold the government accountable. I have a petition that I've been reading in regularly asking the government to hold its commitment to a balanced budget.
Small business: I have a small-business petition. I've had a chance a number of times to introduce to this Legislature hundreds of signatures concerning the spending that's planned by this government before March 31. Recently I attended area meetings of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and had an opportunity to talk to many representatives of small business. We realize that small and medium business create 50% of the private sector jobs in the province. That's 1.1 million new jobs created in this province over the past eight years, the majority from small business. Small business tax breaks are currently written into legislation to take effect at the beginning of the new year. Regrettably that changed today with the vote on Bill 2.
I'll just move along. During the election, we all spent so much time going door to door. So many people who are home during the afternoon are retired people, certainly people approaching the age of 65. I think we all agree we owe so much to the seniors of Ontario. They have earned our gratitude and they've earned the right to a safe and secure retirement. For many, rising costs, such as property taxes, eat into their fixed incomes. We hear so much about fixed incomes when we're at the doors, speaking with seniors. The seniors' tax break process our government introduced was designed to be simple, to provide property tax relief and rent relief to all seniors regardless of their income or their economic status.
Senior citizens have contributed so much to all our lives, and that's why the Ernie Eves government passed the seniors' tax credit into law, very simply, to give something back, to allow them to remain in their homes, to retain more of the income they have saved over the years, and to continue to contribute toward their investments or to draw down or certainly to spend in their home community.
Just to review, we've talked about broken promises over the deficit and tax hikes, in a sense, by eliminating the schedule for seniors, all to cover up and to fund Liberal spending plans, plans they refuse to rein in while they cry foul about the previous government.
In conclusion, I will just mention briefly that tobacco farmers are also being hit to pay for this Liberal shopping list.
Hon Steve Peters (Minister of Agriculture and Food): Tell us about June 18, 2002: $5 a carton.
Mr Barrett: I hear the minister opposite making comments. He attended a meeting where 1,800 tobacco farmers came out to protest and, regrettably, 1,800 farmers booed the Minister of Agriculture. That's something you don't see every day.
With respect to taxes, federal tobacco tax hikes -- and maybe just for the record here, federal Liberal tobacco tax hikes have increased seven times: in 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, twice in 2001, and June 2002. As Ontario's tax on tobacco was linked directly to the federal tax rate in 1996 in the Ontario budget, the last six increases were automatically matched by the province of Ontario. That was the formula; that was the relationship.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate. The member for Kitchener Centre.
Mr John Milloy (Kitchener Centre): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm honoured to speak tonight on the supply bill. This is the first time other than questions and members' statements that I've had a chance to rise in the House. I want to begin first of all by congratulating you on your appointment as one of the Deputy Speakers, especially as a colleague from a riding next to mine. I also, though, want to begin by paying tribute to the people of Kitchener Centre who gave me the responsibility to represent them, one that I'm very humbled by and one that I hope I'll live up to.
The issue today is supply. In effect, what's being asked is for the Legislature to authorize the government to spend money. In a sense, we're going to be writing a cheque to the government to proceed with its spending plans. But what's at the heart of supply is the notion that the government is going to treat that money in a fiscally responsible way. It means that the government is going to deal with the finances of this province in a way which is transparent, in a way which is responsible.
I want to spend a few minutes tonight outlining how this has been one of the marks of this new Liberal government. I think in order to illustrate that, you almost have to go back to the election. When you think of the election, you can think of the very difficult messages that were delivered. I delivered some difficult messages at the door, and those messages concerned fiscal responsibility and tax cuts.
What it came down to is the simple fact that we couldn't afford tax cuts. I don't think there is any member in this House -- perhaps the group over there in the corner -- who is opposed to tax cuts. I would have loved to have gone door to door in my riding and told the constituents of Kitchener Centre that if elected the Liberals would bring forward massive tax cuts, just as the Tories were claiming they were going to do. But the simple fact is that we couldn't afford them. There was a reality in the province, and that reality was that our health care was suffering, our environment was not safe any more and our education system was crumbling. Several months before the election, we had Dr Mordechai Rozanski come forward with the unfortunate news that our schools had been underfunded to the tune of some $1.6 billion.
The province was in a crisis. We needed resources, we needed funding, and the people at the door were open to the idea that we simply could not afford tax cuts. The challenge we had was to go out and sell that message. We sold that message, and the voters came forward and obviously delivered us quite a majority.
I think the voters at the same time were also starting to get a little bit cynical about the former government in power, the Conservatives. I think we should just go through the litany of some of the things they had seen. First of all, we had the auto plant budget. I remember when the announcement came down from the Premier. I was a candidate at the time and I learned that the Premier was not going to call back Parliament, but was going to have a budget. I read that on the wire and I phoned some of my friends and said, "Boy, these journalists are bad. The journalists don't understand. The Legislature has to be sitting for a budget. They misunderstood it. You're reading it on the Internet." I'd like to apologize to the journalists, because I found out at 6 o'clock when I watched the news that I was not mistaken. This government was going to take the unprecedented step of having a budget outside the Legislature. I think that is when we started to see a degree of cynicism happening within the province. These fiscal managers, these self-proclaimed fiscal magicians or fiscal supermen and -women were no longer that.
When I went around in the campaign, I was able to tell people that it was the Conservative government that had added $21 billion to the provincial debt. They had used $1 billion in health care money to balance their budget, as opposed to giving it to the health care system. They had hired $662 million worth of high-priced consultants. They had failed to collect at least $400 million in corporate taxes. They had even broken their own Taxpayer Protection Act. I think on October 2 the people of Ontario said, "Hey, it's time for this province to get their fiscal house in order."
But that wasn't the end of it, because then we had the Peters report. It's funny how many people said to me after the election, "Don't go in and take a look at the books and have the Minister of Finance come out and say `Oh, they're awful,' and all that; get an independent person." So we went to a respected auditor, Mr Erik Peters, and I think anyone who saw his performance in the press conference, where he stuck very much to the mandate he was given -- he would not answer political questions. This was a man who came in to do a simple job, to say, "What is the state of the finances of Ontario? What is the objective conclusion that can be reached?" And we know what happened: He found a $5.6-billion deficit.
We started at the $5.6-billion deficit and then we had a closer look, and as we heard the Minister of Finance report today in his economic statement, what we also found there was a structural deficit. The simple fact is that this province is taking in revenues at a slower level than it is spending. If we freeze everything, we're still not going to get rid of this deficit. We're going to have to continue a deficit. We need further action.
That's not all. We found out there are other financial service liabilities. We have accumulated deficits in our hospitals and also in our children's aid societies. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with some representatives of my local children's aid society and they laid it out very clearly for me. They are mandated under the law to deliver services. They cannot turn away clients. They have to deal with any clients that come forward. But at the same time, the funding levels they are receiving are not allowing them to continue this service. They're between a rock and a hard place and they're running deficits.
We have the same thing with the hospitals. We had a ridiculous situation in the election where one of the hospitals in my riding opened up a new emergency wing. It was quite a tremendous opportunity to see that we were going to have a new facility in our community, but what the province didn't tell us is that although they gave the capital money for it, they failed to provide the operating funds to have the entire facility work. You actually had a brand-new emergency room facility that was operating with fewer beds than the old one. These were the ridiculous types of situations that were happening under the old government.
Of course, we had Ontario Power Generation. I want to take a few minutes tonight to talk about the recent, very disturbing findings we heard from the Minister of Energy. What we found is that under the previous government, a lack of transparency and accountability led to a serious waste of public funds which is actually threatening the sustainability of the company. The corporation faces a cash shortfall of $350 million this year and up to $750 million in the next fiscal year, for a total cash shortfall of over $1 billion. This year, OPG faces a $250-million after-tax loss rather than -- and I stress this -- the $600 million in expected profits. This was supposed to be a cash cow, and what we found when we came in, shone the light of transparency and took a look at it was that it isn't a cash cow; it is a drain upon the public purse.
What we found is that the emperor has no clothes. For eight and a half years, I had to listen to, "Oh, you're a Liberal, you're a provincial Liberal, and that's good. Education and health care is your thing, but you can't manage the money. I may not like what Mike Harris and Ernie Eves are doing to our hospitals, our school boards, but the simple fact is he knows how to manage a dollar. He's the guy who knows how to balance the books. He's the guy who knows how to keep taxes low." They used to say it. Then we look at the truth and we find out the emperor has no clothes. What has been the opposition's response? It's been to blame the government.
I'm reminded of a call I got in the campaign. It was the last day or two. I've got to admit that I was exhausted and my nerves were frayed. I got a call from a fellow -- I think it was a businessman -- a gentleman in my riding, and he said, "I've voted Conservative all my life, but I want to vote Liberal. My problem is that I've been reading about this Fraser report, which is saying there's a potential of a big deficit and I don't know if I should be voting Liberal."
I had had it. My fuse was just at the very end. I said, "OK, let me just try to understand what you're telling me. You're telling me that for eight years we've had to listen to this Conservative crowd tell us that they were masterminds when it came to finances. All the books were balanced. Everything was going to be fine. We find out from the Fraser Institute, with Mike Harris on the board, that they might be running a massive deficit -- and it's Dalton McGuinty's fault." Do you know what? The gentleman started laughing and he said, "You're absolutely right. I'm going to vote Liberal." I got one more vote because of it.
I've spent a few minutes telling the folks at home, the people in the Legislature, what the problem is, but a problem is only half the story. We need a solution. We have taken action. In the short period of time we've been down here we've taken action. The first bill, Bill 2, that we voted on a short while ago enshrined our promise not to proceed with tax cuts that we simply cannot afford. It doesn't talk about raising personal taxes -- we've held the line on it -- but it talks about cancelling some taxes we can't deal with: the equity in education tax, one that a number of people have raised here in the Legislature, and I've had constituents raise it.
I want to go on the record as saying I have absolutely no problem with an education system where people are allowed to make choices. I respect the fact that people in my riding want to send their children to private schools or religious schools. But the simple fact is, we need priorities, and our number one priority right now has to be public education. We cannot afford to put money into private education at this time. It doesn't mean there's something negative about what those individuals are doing, but they have to realize that there are thousands of pressures on any government, and we have taken public education as the centrepiece of it.
Second, we have the seniors' education property tax credit that we're not going forward with. I remember the days in the campaign when I would meet seniors. They would raise it with me and say, "We don't want that tax to go through because of a variety of reasons. First, because of our grandchildren. We have grandchildren in school and we're seeing the problems they're facing. We're helping them with their homework. We're seeing the shortage of textbooks. We're having to buy chocolate bars so they can have library books. We don't believe we should be taking more money out of the system."
The second thing they said to me was, "We went through the system and our children went through the system, and the fact of the matter is there were other people, seniors in generations previous to ours, who in fact contributed toward the system, and it's our responsibility to do it."
These are people who have faced the reality of the province. We don't have an endless supply of money. We are facing a deficit. We are facing concerns. We put forward the priorities that the people of Ontario wanted and we decided to go through with them.
What else have we done? What else have been our actions to try to deal with this fiscal mess? We've introduced legislation that, if passed, will ban partisan advertising. We've introduced legislation that, if passed, will give more power to the auditor to make sure that every cent spent that comes from the public purse will be spent in a responsible way and will be spent to provide the best services to the people of Ontario.
Finally, today in his economic statement the Minister of Finance outlined a four-point work plan, an aggressive work plan to deal with some of the problems. This spring we're going to have a wide-ranging consultation across the province, where we have the same sort of dialogue I was having on the doorstep about the choices we're facing. The Conservatives don't believe in choices. They tried to offer everything to everyone, and we ended up with the Peters report.
We're going to say to people, "What are the choices we should make? How can we address your priorities?" We're going to show restraint in our own house. We're going to get our finances in order and make sure that government funding is kept to a proper level. We're going to work with intergovernmental co-operation: How can we work with other levels of government to find efficiencies and savings? We're also going to try to redesign how government delivers services.
There's a real desire for some creativity and imagination within this province. I think this government, under the leadership of our Premier, under the leadership of its cabinet and caucus, working with the people of Ontario, is hopefully going to be able to find solutions. And the solutions aren't going to be traditional solutions. The mess is too big, both within the services we want to improve and in terms of the deficit we inherited. We're going to have to go forward, we're going to have to be imaginative, we're going to have to be creative, but most of all, we're all going to have to work together. We don't have any time left to exclude people, to create enemies of this government. No, we're going to have to reach out to everyone, from the poorest to the richest, to find ways to move forward. This is what this government is about.
That is why today I will be voting for this bill, voting for supply, because I think this government is going to behave responsibly when it comes to the fiscal management of this province.
Mr Bill Murdoch (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound): I certainly appreciate some time to speak on this bill and remind the House how disappointed I was today on Bill 2 being passed, taking away the rights of our Christian schools, our seniors being picked on and having the largest tax raise this House has ever seen. So I'm really disappointed in that bill being passed. I was pleased to be here to be able to vote against that bill.
When we're talking about money, I understand the Minister of Natural Resources today had an announcement for us. I had high hopes for the Minister of Natural Resources. I thought in his new post he would make some good decisions, but in the first decision the minister has had to make, he's erred; erred in his first decision. He's not going to reinstate the black bear hunt. I'm really disappointed in that. Being that he's from the north, I thought he would have understood that. I realize that the former Premier, Mike Harris, was the one who took it out. He was wrong then, and Mr Ramsay is wrong now. Two wrongs don't make a right, fellas. That's really unfortunate.
There are many more problems with today's announcement. It's hard to start on them. I receive lots of letters from municipalities and constituents in my riding regarding the spring bear hunt, especially in the Bruce Peninsula, and almost without fail they want to see the bear hunt reinstated. We're even getting bears now migrating down into Owen Sound and farther south than that. That's because there hasn't been a spring bear hunt and there are too many of them.
I want to talk about some main concerns in today's announcement. It said in their announcement that the MNR would take the lead in dealing with nuisance bears. Well, in my riding, this is already the case. The MNR in my riding is doing a reasonable job right now with the problem, but they're understaffed. They've been understaffed for a long time. They need more COs. Without hiring more conservation officers, which would go against McGuinty's promise to freeze public hiring -- I noticed he hired some people for the Ministry of the Environment, so I don't know what to believe over there. One day they say they'll freeze the public sector and the next day is the big announcement that they've hired a whole lot of people for the Ministry of the Environment. Now they make an announcement that they're going to solve our problem with nuisance bears, but they don't have enough staff to do it. So I guess tomorrow they'll break their promise and they'll have to hire a bunch more people for MNR.
The second problem is, the government is going to establish an around-the-clock 1-800 number. This is going to be really good. As I'm standing in my house and this bear is coming through my door, I run over and dial this 1-800 number and say, "Please come and help me." I can't shoot the bear, that would be against the law, so I'm going to dial the MNR. Most of the problems with bears are in remote areas. So first of all, it's the middle of winter, I'm up in Tobermory and this bear's coming through my house, and I have to phone this number. I've never heard anything crazier in all my life. Who are you going to phone? Are you going to phone somebody here in Toronto, one of these Toronto members over here? Are they going to come running up and make love to the bear? What are they going to do?
The ministry has made a mistake in the past. They are up there doing the inbreeding of the black bears. Now we're going to phone somebody, "Come and get this bear out of my house." I'd like to know how that one's going to work -- without costing us any money, mind you. There's no money out there.
The third problem is the economic problems in the north. A lot of outfitters depend on this bear hunt. They've been hanging on for a few years with a promise that this might happen. I think they have decided up there that if they had a change, maybe this Liberal government would change it and put it back in. What happened? The first chance they get to do that, they don't do that. I'm really disappointed in this government over there. They had a chance to make something right. The first chance the Minister of Natural Resources had, he let us down.
We've been let down by this government and we've only been here a month. How many promises have they broken already? I'm not saying that they promised to get rid of the bear hunt, but they promised to fix the problem. Well, I guess if you dial 1-800-BEAR, there's going to be somebody come running down the road to help you get the bear out of the house.
The last one -- now, this is really a ticker; this is really going to be good: They are going to help the municipalities introduce a bylaw. The new plan states that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs -- and I think the Minister of Municipal Affairs is here, if he'd listen -- will develop a generic bylaw that municipalities could use to help prevent nuisance bear incidents. This is really going to be a good bylaw. The bylaw's going to say, "You can't be a nuisance bear. If you're a nuisance bear, we'll call somebody 1-800 and he'll come and be bad to you." Isn't this just wonderful?
I thought the Minister of Municipal Affairs had a little bit on the ball. He sort of let us down already with the Oak Ridges moraine incident. What next? Now he and the Minister of Natural Resources are going to make this wonderful bylaw that says you can't be a nuisance bear. That'll be wonderful to see. We'll get a chance, hopefully, to vote on that in here.
I think I've used up most of the time. I'll be looking forward to these guys coming up with this new generic bylaw to fix the bears so they won't be nuisances. I'm sorry that the new minister has let us down. I hope that in the future he won't make these decisions. He'll make them on his own, because I know this minister wanted to have the spring bear hunt, but again, the Premier's office has taken over and we forgot about democracy in this place again -- representative democracy which they promised they were going to bring in better. They've broken those laws so many times, I don't think we'll ever get around to that. It's unfortunate this has happened. Again, another promise has been broken. No democracy here. They were going to fix that up and they didn't.
Thanks for the time. I appreciate being able to speak on it.
Mr Wayne Arthurs (Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge): I see we've missed the opportunity so far, but I'm sure it's coming a little bit later for the third party. As a result, I'll just do a time check for those out there in TV land. It's 7:32 by this clock and we're here live on TV, so don't turn it off, but turn the lights down and unplug the beer fridge because some energy savings are going to be necessary.
I'm particularly pleased to stand and speak to the supply bill, as it's known in its short form, or in its long form, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year -- that's not the physical year, not the traditional calendar. For those who aren't familiar, the fiscal year is from the end of March until April of the following year. This runs through to March 31, 2004.
The estimates are always a best analysis. They're never an exact science. It's what one can do as best they can at that point. It often requires supplementary estimates. We've had some of those before us as well. Unfortunately, we have to have supplementary estimates. If we got it right the first time, we wouldn't need those, certainly not in the magnitude that we're seeing them this year.
The bill itself deals with a number of matters. In particular, it deals with the expense of the public service. The public service across the province of Ontario obviously is critically important. As a matter of fact, it is the second-largest industry, in effect, in the country, second only to the government of Canada. So that's a clear indication of the role it plays in lives of people in this province and why we need to pay some close attention to their form and their function.
We have to look at the investments of the public service, not only the operating expenses that we deal with from all of the ministries and agencies and our transfer partners, but also the capital expenditures. It provides the assets necessary for them to do their job with.
So there are a lot of matters in the Supply Act that recognize expenditures that came through as part of a budget process. It articulates those in a form and fashion that adds definition for the various ministries, agencies and boards that have responsibility.
There was reference to the bear hunt just a few minutes ago, and we'll be dealing with that matter. Natural Resources has a budget of some $164 million-plus on the operating side. That's one of the reasons why we need to upload that responsibility, to make sure we take care of those nuisance bears so they're not breaking into someone's kitchen, particularly in northern Ontario, particularly not the nuisance raccoons in Scarborough that are breaking into someone's garbage can. That will probably have to come next, since we're not quite in a position to be able to do that.
One of the important functions of government in the context of mainly the Supply Act, the supply bills and the finances is the Management Board of Cabinet, and that's through the Management Board Secretariat. I'm pleased to be able to be working with Minister Phillips on Management Board, because their responsibilities extend to the controllership. On an ongoing basis, through members of cabinet -- and I'm pleased to be able to join the member for Sarnia, I believe; I still don't have everybody quite right -- Ms Di Cocco, on Management Board of Cabinet to provide some controllership over the expenditures of the province during the course of the year. It's an opportunity for a small group to provide some additional leadership to various ministries and agencies. As the ministers or their staff come forward, many matters are dealt with in the budget, but there is ongoing control in situations. We've heard tonight about the issues that have arisen with the children's aid societies and $24 million-plus that are off-book, that are accumulated debt. Those matters are the types that are before the Management Board committee to ensure that those are before this Legislature, to ensure there are strategies in place such that children's aid societies continue to function and won't run out of money before the end of their year.
Through the Management Board of Cabinet the objective is to ensure that the government achieves its agenda. That's part of what we're doing tonight. The passing of this bill will continue to ensure we have the resources necessary for the government to achieve its agenda. Matters that come out of this Legislature will travel through budget processes and Management Board to ensure that the finances are in place, and ultimately come back here for the necessary approvals.
Management Board sets, monitors, adjusts and sends matters back for further review to make sure the monies are spent wisely. It puts hold-backs on monies so that we're sure we do the best we can to keep things in some balance. But we all know we're finding some very unusual situations, during the course of this year in particular.
Mr Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot): Stranger and stranger.
Mr Arthurs: Curiouser and curiouser -- or stranger and stranger, I guess are pretty good descriptions.
Nonetheless, we'll get through the Supply Act, the economic review and financial statement. The Minister of Finance and his staff and cabinet turn their undivided attention, with the assistance of caucus and committees, to the opportunity to build a solid budget as we move forward in 2004-05 to provide the services the people of Ontario expect, particularly in the areas of health, education and environment, and to continue to build strong communities.
Mr Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): I'm very pleased to join in the debate this evening on Bill 28, which is a supply motion, which more or less enables the government to spend money. I would like to point out that this is probably the main problem this government has: It's spending too much money. They're going to have record revenues this year, revenues of over $70 billion, and yet they're still saying they're going to have a $5.6-billion deficit.
Let's look at what has happened since the government was elected. The government was elected October 2, and they started off by breaking a promise right away. They hired a consultant. They hired the past Provincial Auditor, Erik Peters, to prepare a report on the financial situation of the province. While Mr Peters used the most up-to-date figures he had, he based his estimates on what might be the situation on March 31, 2004, on the interim budget figures. With some fairly fancy accounting, he came up with a possible deficit of $5.6 billion.
Since October 29, when that report came out, we've had the release of the actual public accounts for 2002-03. From that, we can get a much more accurate picture of what's going to happen this year. What did these actual public account figures tell us? Well, last year, tax revenues totalled $68.6 billion, $2.2 billion more than the government's interim figures.
In addition to that, we've had tax increases, Bill 2 that just, regrettably, passed today, and also federal transfer payments; I believe $771 million, just the health transfer alone. With the new projected revenues for the year ending March 31, 2004, which are much more accurate now, we should have $70.29 billion in revenue. That is record revenue. Balancing the budget simply requires the government to control spending, to live within its means and to spend that amount of money so they have a balanced budget.
Look at what this government has done in two and a half months and compare it to the new Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Martin, who has been the Prime Minister for but a few days. Within hours of becoming Prime Minister, he cut the $40-million sponsorship program, a controversial program. He has frozen hiring. He is reviewing all spending in the federal government because he realizes they have a very slim surplus at this point and he's hoping to contribute $2 billion toward health care at the provincial level.
The Ontario government has a spending problem; that's the thing we have to deal with. We have record revenues this year. The Minister of Finance needs to act to control spending. He has to make sure spending doesn't exceed the $70.29 billion this year. Government needs to live within its means, just like families in this province live within their means.
I refer to a National Post article, "Ontario's Deficit Cut Down to Size," by John Williamson and Bruce Winchester. "When Ontarians elected Liberal Dalton McGuinty Premier in October, his government's first challenge was to determine the size of the province's deficit. This was easier said than done. Pumping up the deficit of a defeated government had become a tiresome trend in Canada, and one that taxpayers no longer accept. Premier McGuinty, however, handled the problem deftly by hiring former provincial auditor Erik Peters to review the budget....
"Mr Peters' assessment was made without the benefit of Ontario's public accounts for 2002-03. These are the financial statements itemizing the government's annual spending and revenue numbers. But since they were not available, Mr Peters instead used the best available data, the interim budget figures."
"The release of 2002-03 public accounts on November 29, transformed Ontario's fiscal outlook. The statements revealed that transfers and tax revenues totalled $68.609 billion last year, $2.2 billion more than the government's interim figures. This improved picture, together with recent federal spending announcements and provincial tax increases, means the province will collect $70.29 billion in revenues this year, a $3.09 billion improvement over Mr Peters' revenue forecast of $67.2 billion. The result is a revised projected budget of $1.8 billion this year.
"How can we be so sure revenues remain strong this year based on data from last year? Because in the last 10 years, Ontario's own source revenues never declined from one year to the next -- even when the government was reducing taxes.... There is no cause to believe revenues will suddenly drop wildly.
"In additional to higher provincial revenues, the federal government has said it will deliver $771 million to Ontario for an enriched health care transfer in the current fiscal year. Regrettably, the McGuinty government has decided it will not record any of this in the current fiscal year, preferring instead to pump up the deficit and make the fiscal situation appear worse than it is."
And it goes on and on. The gist of it is, the government could go a long way toward balancing the budget and yet does not seem to be making an attempt to, by any stretch of the imagination.
I'd like to talk briefly about today's Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, which I think they could have done a week after they were elected, based on what's in it. There's not a whole lot of substance. But surprisingly, this $5.6-billion figure comes out again. They report at the beginning of this statement that, given the history that Erik Peters reported, there could be a deficit of $5.6 billion in the current year. Then a month later, after they'd done their economic outlook, even with the benefit of the real numbers now, they still have a $5.6-billion deficit, even though there has been a $3-billion increase in revenues.
It's obvious when you look at this that they're trying to blame the past government. In the throne speech they mentioned "inherited deficit" 12 times. The word "deficit" was used 24 times. In the 1995 throne speech -- I wasn't around then -- when the Conservative government came upon the scene, when there was a real $11-billion deficit, guess how many times the word "deficit" was mentioned in the throne speech? One time. Don't tell me that they are not trying to shift the blame to the past government to get out of acting.
Today we saw Bill 2 pass, which was the tax hike bill. This is a bill that has me really worried. The thing that people don't realize is that for medium-sized businesses, those businesses that are so important to our economy, effective January 1, 2004, they are going to be paying 27% higher taxes than they would have under the past government. That's 27%. I've met with companies in my riding, I've met with mining companies in the north, and they're making business decisions all the time. They're deciding whether they go underground; they're deciding whether they add a new line to expand. When they're making that business decision, that 27% increase in taxes will play a big part in the go or no-go decision.
So the report today really did not say a lot. Miraculously, even though there's been a huge increase in revenues to the province, the deficit figure comes out the same, for some strange reason. If you look at page 36 in the more detailed economic outlook and fiscal review, what you see is that spending is increasing dramatically -- absolutely dramatically. The outlook for this year is $75.153 billion in spending. That's basically a 10% increase in spending. What I say is that this government has to control spending. It's obvious when you look at those figures. They have to get down to work and control spending. They really have to get serious about this.
My father was the finance minister in this province for five years. Back in those days, of course, it was the Treasurer of Ontario at that point. He was finance minister from, I think it was 1978 to 1983. The whole time that he was finance minister, they were working diligently toward getting a balanced budget and they were very close to doing that. They would have balanced the budget by 1986. Then the David Peterson Liberals formed the government. They had a great opportunity in boom economic times to balance the budget. What did they do? They went on an orgy of spending. They really established themselves as tax-and-spend Liberals. It totally blew away the opportunity to be responsible and to balance the budget. I say that that is what this government is doing now. They have record revenues projected for this year: over $70 billion. They need to control spending.
It is my belief that this government wants a $5.6-billion deficit no matter what. It doesn't matter how much spending goes up; come hell or high water, they're bound and determined that they're going to have a $5.6-billion deficit. If they repeat it enough, then they will have that. They're using it as an excuse, really, to get out of election promises.
Let's remember that Gerry Phillips sat on the estimates committee back in June -- on June 4, I think it was -- of this year as the opposition finance critic. He stated -- and it's on Hansard in the estimates committee -- that at that point he believed there was a risk of a $5-billion deficit. Then the Liberals went out in the election campaign and campaigned saying that they figured there was a $2-billion deficit and that they would be able to fulfill all of their election promises.
Interjection: How much did they promise?
Mr Miller: Some $11 billion in election promises. They were going to be able to fulfill all of these election promises. They had, in fact, had the whole campaign platform audited, and this was something that they were going to do. Now they're the government and what happens? Well, their promises are dropping like flies. The government is using the excuse of this $5.6-billion deficit and that's why, no matter how much revenue comes in, they're going to make sure they have this deficit.
But look at the promises that they've broken: hydro rates. They campaigned saying that they were going to keep the electricity cap. Now, whether you agree with it or disagree with it, the fact is, they campaigned saying that they were going to keep the 4.3-cent price. For most people in the north, the price is going up 28%, to 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour. You have to remember that in the north of course it's colder and we don't have natural gas lines running by our doorstop in many places. So we tend to use a lot more than the 750 kilowatt hours per month.
The Oak Ridges moraine: They were going to stop all construction of the 6,600 homes on the Oak Ridges moraine. We know that promise has fallen by the wayside.
The much-publicized signing of the taxpayer balanced budget declaration: We now know they're breaking their balanced budget pledge and in fact maybe not even balance the budget next year, which is the scary speculation I'm seeing in the press. No tax increases: Dalton said, "I won't raise your taxes, but I won't lower them either."
We haven't heard much about the 407 lately. I thought they were going to freeze and then drastically lower the cost of the 407. I haven't heard a darned thing about the 407 lately. Just today, they announce that no, they can't do the two cents off the gasoline tax for transit, which I believe was another election promise.
What about the P3 hospitals? I mean, they made such a minor change on that. I think you'd have to be an accountant to figure out what their change was. I don't think there's any substantive change in terms of P3 hospitals that they made such a big deal about.
What about ODSP, Ontario disability support program, and Ontario Works? I thought they were going to increase it as soon as they got elected. I haven't seen anything to do with that.
What about the full inquiry that they promised for the deadstock scandal at Aylmer? Somehow that disappeared.
So the government says one thing to get elected; they do another once they're elected. I'm afraid that makes people very cynical of politicians. That is a reason for people not to vote, when they see politicians saying basically anything they can to get elected and then, once they're the government, their promises fall by the wayside.
One thing: Whether you liked Mike Harris or not, he kept his promises. "Promises made, promises kept." The Liberals are very quickly establishing themselves as promise-breakers. "Promises made, promises broken."
Unfortunately, some of the promises they are keeping are not good ones. I'm reading from the National Post of November 26:
"Liberals' Kept Promises as Bad as Broken Ones: McGuinty Medicine of Taxes, Pricey Power Threatens Economy....
"The Toronto media are filled with laments that Mr McGuinty is not doing the impossible things he said he would do if elected. He said he would reverse two hospital public-private partnerships; now he says he won't. He promised to kill a major real estate development just north of Toronto; now he says he can't. He promised a balanced budget; now he won't. He said electricity prices would stay frozen; they're rising....
"The enthusiasm with which the province's finance minister, Greg Sorbara, has endorsed corporate tax increases casts doubt on his grasp of his material. Hints of his detachment from economic reality have been around for weeks. One was his comment that increasing corporate income tax rates from 12.5% to 14%, rather than cutting them to 8%, was essentially a meaningless sideshow." I'm sure that is not the case. "`My own sense is that Ontario businesses are fully aware of the impact which I don't think is going to be detrimental to the economy in any way.'
"That's what all politicians say when they set out to undermine growth by grabbing tax revenue from the corporate sector. In a statement this week introducing his so-called `fiscal responsibility act,' Mr Sorbara called his tax increase a `rollback ... of the tax giveaway to corporations.' Obviously Mr Sorbara hasn't been keeping up on tax policies, otherwise he'd know that the taxes he plans to raise are destined to kill jobs and lower growth in a province that is already suffering from destructive levels of taxation."
I could go on and on with that one, but --
Mr Miller: Continue? OK.
"The report, along with the research study by Jack Mintz and Dunajie Chen, suggests Mr Sorbara needs to catch up on facts behind Ontario's tax burden. Contrary to the dominant conventional wisdom, Ontario's tax burden is massively higher than five of its major competitors in the United States. Taxes on labour are higher, taxes on corporations and capital higher still....
"By raising taxes on corporations, the McGuinty government is setting the stage for lower private sector investment, fewer jobs and lower tax revenues in future. The decision to maintain personal income tax rates and punitive surtaxes also serves as a damper on investment and economic performance."
I think the government just doesn't get that. They think they can just raise taxes and it doesn't affect things, when it really, really does affect things.
Those companies that are making business decisions about expanding, about adding new lines, they look at paying 27% higher taxes, and it's a numbers decision. If there's no money left over at the end of the day because it's all going to pay taxes, they don't reinvest in the new machinery they need to become more productive and they don't expand the line. That's the unfortunate reality I don't think the government quite realizes.
Why do you think in the last eight years we had 1.1 million new jobs created at a time when there were tax reductions? That was a real success story, and the government just doesn't understand that. I worry about their tax increase. Things have been pretty good in Ontario the last few years. When the government increases taxes 27% on business, that will have a detrimental effect, and I don't think they fully understand that.
From The Ottawa Citizen, Friday, September 12, an article by Randall Denley:
"The problem with McGuinty's plan is it reflects a misunderstanding of how the economy works and how wealth is generated.
"When corporations pay tax, it reduces their ability to grow, or pay to their shareholders in the form of dividends. The Tories are fond of saying tax cuts create jobs, but their critics scoff at the idea. Think about it, though. Every dollar paid in taxes limits the money that's available for reinvestment in equipment, new technology and more workers. That growth and reinvestment creates an expanding economy, which enables government to meet the continually increasing costs of public services."
That's why we've had, in the last number of years, $17 billion in extra government revenue through taxes, even at a time when tax rates were being reduced.
"The Liberals argue that corporate tax rates in Ontario are already low compared to the U.S., but they don't take into account the fact that most American states don't have a capital tax on corporate assets, and they allow rapid depreciation of equipment, another significant tax reduction. A study earlier this year by the C.D. Howe Institute concluded that, taking the full range of taxes into account, Ontario's effective rate of taxation and business investment is actually third highest in Canada, exceeded only by the economic powerhouses of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Even if the Tories' planned corporate tax cuts all go ahead, the province's businesses will still be paying more taxes than the national average." I think that's something this government just fails to grasp.
I really think that what this government needs to do is control spending. This year we are about to have more tax revenues. Over $70 billion in tax revenues come into the Minister of Finance's control, and yet this government seems bent and determined that no matter what happens they're going to have $5.6 billion --
Hon Mr Gerretsen: Five point six billion.
Mr Miller: Yes, we heard the finance critic saying, "$5.6, blah, blah, blah, $5.6, blah, blah, blah." No matter what, you guys are going to make darned sure that we have a $5.6-billion deficit, and you'll spend every dime to make sure that we have a $5.6-billion deficit. I'm sure you're capable of doing that. You need to control your spending. You can't spend $75 billion. Control your spending and balance the budget. Be responsible.
Just last week we had Ted Arnott, the member for Waterloo-Wellington, introduce a responsible private member's bill to pay off the debt of this province in 25 years. What happened?
The Acting Speaker: I apologize to the speaker. I can barely hear the member for Parry Sound-Muskoka. I would ask all members to come to order.
Mr Miller: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I was talking about the member for Waterloo-Wellington and his private member's bill that he introduced last week on Thursday morning in private members' business, an excellent bill to act responsibly and reduce the debt of this province to zero over 25 years, the way most homeowners do in this province when they have their mortgage on their house; they pay it off. It's the responsible thing to do. The problem is, governments tend to think in four-year cycles, not over 25 years. Think about it. This year we'd have $8.6 billion more to spend on the important programs if we did follow that responsible path.
But what happened? The Liberal government, on a private member's bill, had a whipped vote to vote down a private member's bill. I thought this was the time of democratic renewal, when we had more democracy in this place, yet the Liberal government whipped the vote and defeated that very responsible bill from the member from Waterloo-Wellington.
This government needs to control its spending and spend within the $71 billion they have to spend this year.
Mr McMeekin: Elections are always about trust and frequently about competing visions and also often about hope. As I went door to door in the great riding of ADFA, we heard a lot about the hopes and dreams of the people there: hope for improved health care; a government that would set about the task of fixing education; hopefully a government that would give people the straight goods; and a government that would commit to living within its means.
I also heard, as I went door to door, a request that we work at trying to set a course to see a return of civility and stability and even some decency in political life. I said to the voters there that I would do my best to reflect their views and hopes, and I rise in my place tonight in an attempt to do that.
While it's fair to be critical, it's also critical to be fair. In fairness, the problem wasn't always what the previous government was trying to do. I concede that after the tumultuous and, in their own defence, challenging NDP years, changes were needed. I know that's a bit of a shock coming from me. I'm not supposed to stand in my place and admit that the Tories can do anything right, but let's face facts: Many Ontarians believed that some reforms were needed, and many supported at least some portions of the Tory platform. That's why there were two consecutive majority governments.
Mr Barrett: You should talk to your municipalities about amalgamation.
Mr McMeekin: You made some serious mistakes, that's true. You couldn't forge a coalition of the forgetful for a third time.
The real and more important issue was the way the previous government went about what they were doing. Speaker, I know you know, because you and I have had these kinds of conversations, that there are two ways to approach any difficult problem: One is to focus on the problem and get people working together to find solutions; the other is to pick a villain, point fingers and work at setting people to fighting among themselves. The first approach, it's been my experience, builds lasting solutions and, because people are working together, forges stronger communities at the same time. The second approach sets people against each other and tears communities apart. The member mentioned amalgamation -- a good example.
It's clear to even the most casual observer which approach the previous government favoured. In case after case over many years, they opted for the finger-pointing. Is there any one of us who hasn't felt this personally? Everybody I talk to has their own health care horror story: desperately ill people sitting for hours in emergency rooms; months-long, sometimes years-long, waiting lists for life-saving treatment; a loved one lost because the resources that could have saved a life simply weren't available.
The previous government started by blaming the nurses. Remember that?
Mr Colle: Yes, they were like Hula Hoop workers.
Mr McMeekin: Yes; then the doctors and then the hospital administrators. It seemed that the previous government had their own form of no-fault insurance. Whenever anything went wrong, it was somebody else's fault. But who slashed nursing budgets? Who drove the nurses out of Ontario? Who made it possible for wealthy people to come across the border and use the medical equipment in our hospitals that we were not allowed to use because the previous government wouldn't let hospitals hire enough staff to run them? What strange logic was it that turned sick people away from emergency wards and define that a success?
The pattern was the same with education. Instead of working with parents and teachers to bring about needed change, they worked to set parents and teachers against each other. Remember? Teachers were targeted, and their abilities, dedication and competence were all questioned.
Sure, the government guaranteed funding for the classroom, but the classroom apparently didn't include the library or the librarian.
Mr Colle: Or the caretakers.
Mr McMeekin: Or the caretakers or the guidance counsellor or the music specialist or the special education instructor. Instead of working with school boards, the previous government chose to trap school boards by forcing them to close schools that had any excess capacity. Not much imagination there, folks.
I could reference some of the horror stories related to the supervisors closing rural schools, like Linden in my area. The supervisor came in at the direction of the previous government and wanted to close five of six public schools in Dundas and one of the two high schools.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): We're fixing that now.
Mr McMeekin: We are fixing that now; yes, we are. We're getting at that. That's why we declared the moratorium the other day, right? Good move for us. I know the member opposite understands that.
In short, under the previous government school boards became the bad guys, even though they had little choice in the matter and neighbourhoods began to fight against each other -- Mike, do you remember? -- to see which community school would be allowed to stay open. What a shameful legacy.
I don't want to suggest that none of the issues we face have easy or obvious solutions, but we can and ought, if nothing else, to commit to working together to promote the values we share and make our communities stronger in the process.
Mr Marchese: That's beautiful.
Mr McMeekin: Thank you.
I want to be part of a government that has people clasping hands, not shaking fists. I want to be part of a government that develops and advances policies that build up communities, not tear them down. I want to be part of a government that understands that our greatest asset is our people --
Mr Marchese: Exactly.
Mr McMeekin: "Right on," says the honourable member -- a government that understands that good public policy isn't measured by how many gifted citizens are blocked from the policy table --
Mr Marchese: No, siree.
Mr McMeekin: No, siree -- but rather by how many gifted people we can include around that table.
Mr Marchese: Yeah.
Mr McMeekin: Right? The member opposite knows about that.
There have been some real efforts to make this place work better by being more inclusive and by sharing.
I want to be part of a government that isn't afraid of its own people, a government that's prepared to dream with and work together with all people of goodwill to once again make Ontario, as Premier McGuinty has said over and over again, a place to envy.
All around us the currents of history are churning into rapids. We know that change is inevitable and that the art of living demands that we co-operate gracefully with the inevitable, but strangely many of us have a great deal of difficulty accepting change. I think we've seen some of this denial here.
To accept change means you've got to understand that people, particularly in a country like ours, have the right to make a choice, and on October 2 the people of Ontario made a very, very important choice.
Ms Judy Marsales (Hamilton West): A good choice.
Mr McMeekin: "A good choice," my colleague from Hamilton West adds -- quite appropriately I think. Thank you.
The previous government deserved to be held accountable, and they were. Their Road Ahead was exposed for what it was: a dead-end street. The fiscal deficit was bad enough. There are two kinds of attention deficit disorder: the medical kind and the kind we saw practised by the last government. They spent so little attention on the deficit that we've got so much disorder and chaos now to try to fix.
Mr Marchese: It was pathological.
Mr McMeekin: I think so. But even worse than that, and more tragic, was the social deficit that was left.
Hon Mr Gerretsen: You played tricks with the books.
Mr McMeekin: Right on, these tricky guys.
We need new measures of progress that involve the standard of care we set for the least privileged among us. This involves our having to force ourselves, in spite of the difficulties fiscally that we have, to take on the social deficit, to look at the nursing home issue, to look at childhood development and the kind of issues around autism that have been articulated, to provide help for our senior citizens and changes to the Ontario drug benefit program, to improve economic conditions by hauling down the barriers which marginalize those with physical and mental disabilities. You don't do that by hiding the reports on the status of mental health in Ontario. That's another thing this government has done; we released those reports.
It means shorter waiting lists and swifter access to surgeries and other needed medical services. Our new Prime Minister, the Honourable Paul Martin --
Hon Jim Watson (Minister of Consumer and Business Services): Right Honourable.
Mr McMeekin: The Right Honourable Paul Martin, a man and a new government we look very much forward to working with, perhaps said it best: "We can never forget that our health care system is one made blind to income so that its eyes can be fixed on need." We on this side of the House share the concern to protect universal, high-quality health care.
I don't believe in trickle-down, voodoo or déjà-voodoo economics. I don't believe in right-wing dogmatism. There are too many giant sponges at the top for trickle-down economics to work these days. I do not believe that rising levels of inequality speak to a healthy society. Nor, my friends, do I believe in left-wing dogmatism. You can't run a government with bankers pounding at the door, nor be continually borrowing from your children and grandchildren, and calling that either "common sense" or the "people's agenda."
I believe in government that's prepared to meet new challenges by embracing new ideas and responding with new solutions, solutions that respond to real people and their real everyday concerns, a government like the government that Dalton McGuinty and members on this side of the House are attempting, in spite of the difficulties, to present: responsible government, accountable government --
Mr Colle: Transparent government.
Mr McMeekin: -- transparent government. It's time to move forward, to put an end to the politics of division and respond to the challenges ahead. Some of these challenges are pretty obvious: excellence for all in public education; the health care we need; an economy that achieves our potential; an ability to grow strong, healthy, caring, vibrant, compassionate communities; and finally, government that works.
It's time for government programs that work, that deliver on their objectives and that deliver real value to the people of Ontario; for government that's truly accountable.
Mr Colle: And clean water. That's the other thing we're getting on with.
Mr McMeekin: A province where you can have a glass of water with your hamburger. It's time to make the kinds of changes the people of Ontario want to see -- a government that's prepared to set out and accomplish great things. It's time, in fact well beyond time, for a government prepared to invest its time and energy.
Mr Colle: Your time is up.
Mr McMeekin: Since my time is up, I just want to say that we're going to move forward on this. We're going to provide reform that celebrates that giftedness of Ontarians and invites them to the table to be about the process of building the strong, healthy communities we all want to see.
Mr John Yakabuski (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): Tonight, we want to speak to this supply bill. I can't even find it here. Anyway, what this bill is -- I had a little chance to look at it earlier, and we do need to ensure that the government has the needed funds to continue to operate. But this bill is nothing more than a manifestation of this government's failure to live up to its campaign promises. During the campaign, the then leader of the opposition, now Premier of the province of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, said, "I will not raise your taxes." Now, he didn't say, "I will not raise your taxes if, when I get elected, I like the way things look and it looks like I don't really have to work too hard not to raise your taxes, or I don't have to roll up my sleeves not to raise your taxes, or I don't have to do a lot of thinking or calculating." No, he didn't have all of these conditions attached to it. He said, "I will not raise your taxes."
So what did we get from Dalton McGuinty? The biggest tax hike on the people of Ontario in the history of this province. "I will not raise your taxes." Promise broken, number one. I can't tell you the exact order, but I'm just going by my order here tonight.
Then Dalton McGuinty says, "We will balance the budget." He didn't say, "We will balance the budget if, when we get there, the revenues look good and the expenses don't look too bad and it looks like, based on even very, very conservative projections, the numbers are going to be good at the end of the fiscal year." No, he said, "We will balance the budget." He said, "We will not run a deficit." He didn't give you the time of saying, "We'll balance the budget in 2006." He said, "We will not run a deficit." So that includes 2003-04.
Now we have the Minister of Finance telling us, "Oh boy, this Erik Peters, he gave us these numbers we didn't expect. We had no knowledge of this. It was totally shocking." Even though the then finance critic, Gerry Phillips, last year said, "We run the risk of a $5.5 billion deficit," the finance minister, after his Premier had campaigned on the promise, "We will not run a deficit," now is saying, "There's nothing we can do. The Tories did it."
Do you know Flip Wilson? Flip Wilson used to say, "The devil made me do it." Well, Mr Sorbara says, "The Tories made me do it." So there's promise number two.
The Acting Speaker: I'd like to ask the member to take a seat for a minute. Sorry to interrupt. I would ask the House to come to order so I can hear the member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.
Mr Yakabuski: It's hard to be heard in here, isn't it, Mr Speaker?
Then the Premier also campaigns on this ironclad guarantee: "Because I cared about those single mothers who are struggling with their hydro rates last year when those Tories had them so high, I will maintain the rate cap on hydroelectricity prices in this province at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour till 2006."
Then just not so long ago the Minister of Energy tabled -- and I believe we've already passed that bill. We voted against it, didn't we?
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): We voted against it.
Mr Yakabuski: Oh, thank goodness for that. So now we have this government --
Mr Yakabuski: Premier McGuinty, then leader of the opposition, did not say, "I will maintain the hydro cap, but only if all the stars are lined up for me and everything is favourable." He did not leave any conditions with that. He said, "I will maintain that hydro cap at 4.3 cents a kilowatt hour through 2006." Now the people of this province, unless you live in a hovel, where you can keep your electricity use below --
Mr Dunlop: Saddam Hussein.
Mr Yakabuski: Yes, if you're in the spider hole and you keep the hot water heater off, you'll be all right. But for most people, it's going to amount to a 25% increase or more in their hydro bill. I can only imagine the pain being felt by farmers across this province, by single parents across this province, by small businesses across this province because of that policy, which has simply been done because they're running on this bogus deficit figure that they've invented. That was promise broken number three.
Not too far from my riding in the beautiful city of Ottawa -- and I see the member for Ottawa West-Nepean here. I lived there for a few years, but I've gone back to God's country in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. The past government was going to build a new hospital in Ottawa, the Royal Ottawa Hospital, which was so badly needed for mental health services that it also covers people who come from my riding. But the Premier says, "We're going to cancel that deal because we won't have privatization creeping into health care in this province. We will not have the private sector have anything to do with bricks and mortar. It's got to be publicly owned."
We had a deal -- a good deal: For $110 million, you were going to see a new hospital in Ottawa providing mental health services to the people --
Hon Mr Watson: On a point of order: I'm wondering if the honourable member could show us a copy of that great deal because the public in Ottawa is still waiting for the previous government to show us the good deal.
The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. I apologize to the member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.
Mr Yakabuski: To the best of my knowledge, the copy of that deal is in the same lockbox as the new Oak Ridges moraine deal, and they're going to be shown at the same time.
But anyway, for $110 million we were going to have a new hospital in Ottawa. But the Premier says, "We can't do that. We're going to can that whole thing." So what does he do? They work a new little deal. They're not going to have a lease-to-own agreement, which would have seen that hospital publicly owned after 25 years anyway. No. Now they're going to have a mortgage. That's the only change. But the services that were going to be provided by the private sector will still be provided by the private sector. You know what that is? That is a validation of the deal that we had. They had to tinker with it a little bit, they had to just switch a couple of things here and move a couple of things there, but in the end, it's the same thing. So what do we have? I believe I'm up to broken promise number four.
Now we'll get back to that deal the member for Ottawa West-Nepean wanted to know about, because it was locked in that same place with the Oak Ridges moraine deal that we've been asking about. But let's talk about the Oak Ridges moraine. If I recall correctly, and I hope we're not being quoted on this because we might just be paraphrasing: "There won't be one single home built on the Oak Ridges moraine under my watch."
Mr Dunlop: Who said that?
Mr Yakabuski: Dalton McGuinty.
Mr Yakabuski: Yes, he did.
Mr Miller: So how many homes are they building?
Mr Yakabuski: Well, if I have the deed to one home in this hand and the deed to 5,700 homes in this hand, is that the same thing?
Mr Yakabuski: Well, I tell you, when I was in business -- that's promise broken number five. You've got a full house there, boys. When I was in business, one of the things that you had to be dependent on if you wanted to stay in business, because those customers had to come back, was that when you gave your word, it was like gold. It didn't matter if Yakabuski's Hardware lost money on the deal; sometimes their word was more important.
This finance minister says he's not going to balance the budget by taking a slash-and-burn approach to the finances of the province of Ontario. Well, I'm going to tell you that the people of Ontario are going to see that this government will crash and burn by the time of the next election.
Mr Marchese: I enjoyed the presentation by the member from Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. Not only did I enjoy his remarks, but I enjoyed the orchestra around him supporting his remarks as he did so. I'm solito here tonight -- alone, as they say in Spanish. But that's OK. If people want to join in, please do that. The choral group would be fine here, if you want to join.
Mr Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): Yeah, Rosario. Go, Rosario, go. Go, Rosario, go.
Mr Marchese: That's it. Something like that, every now and then.
I just want to say to the citizens watching, it's 8:29; we are on live. Please don't tune off. We still have about another hour or so. I've got 22 minutes, God bless. I know the member for Nipissing probably is unhappy with the fact that he only had, what, a mere 10 or 12 minutes? Certainly not enough to highlight all of the broken promises of the Liberal Party, and I regret that for him, because I'm sure he was going to give us the other list that I'm going to mention to help you out.
But I do want to say to the citizens that ever since we reached an agreement with the Liberal Party, I have mellowed somewhat. I've got to tell you, it's hard. You see, when you lose the edge, it gets complicated. You can't get too soft around here, right? So part of having the so-called rump here, it gets -- because if you befriend them, then you can't attack them as aggressively as you would like. It's a serious problem.
So we finally reached an agreement. It wasn't peaceful; it was a tough road. People of course blame everyone else.
Mr Marchese: Let me get to that. You've got to get into it.
It's hard to blame anyone, really, but it has been very difficult in terms of negotiating a fair agreement, which is something we were looking for for quite a long time, and finally we got it.
Mr McMeekin: Is this fair?
Mr Marchese: It's relatively fair. I can't dispute it.
Mr Marchese: David, it was good that we got it just before the session ended -- mercifully, thank God. That was good. As I anticipated, I didn't think the Liberals were going to reach an agreement with us prior to the last day.
Oh, God bless, the Tories are here. Please. Nice to have you. Good to see you, Bill. John Baird, nice to see you. Feel free to join in, interrupt, whatever you want to say; it's OK with me.
Mr Murdoch: Who's up there? Who sits way up there?
Mr Marchese: Bill says, "Who sits back there?" I can't see. I can't see, it's so far. That's why we argued that we should be next to you there instead of putting New Democrats all the way at the other extremity. It's not right. While you corrected some things --
Mr Marchese: I'm trying to say, member from Rexdale --
Mr Shafiq Qaadri (Etobicoke North): Etobicoke North.
Mr Marchese: Oh, that's right.
The agreement wasn't bad in terms of what one could squeeze out of the Liberal Party. You get what you can.
Mr Murdoch: It's like squeezing rotten oranges.
Mr Marchese: You get what you can.
Mr Murdoch: You get a little bit of juice, that's it.
Mr Marchese: And sometimes there isn't a whole lot of juice from that rock, so it's tough. So now I've got to be friendly with some of the Liberals beside me. I don't mind it from time to time.
Now let me get back to the supply and demand bill, because there's a lot here. There's a lot of demand out there in the public based on all the promises you made. But the supply is not there. There's no supply. And you know why? Because of the Tories, right? That's what the say, right? Now some people don't believe them. We leave that to the public and the electorate to decide. I mean, who are we, really? We make arguments here and we allow the citizens to listen to our debates and at the end of the day they decide. And they did.
Follow me with the camera. David Levac is here.
Back to the promises, because John was doing a brilliant -- he was doing well.
Mr Hudak: He wasn't done yet.
Mr Marchese: I know; there was a whole long list. I don't know if he forgot the gas tax that was going to flow to the city. Remember that one?
Mr Hudak: Remind me.
Mr Marchese: I'm going to tell you. Prior to the election, during the election campaign, the cities were angry. They were so hurt by previous governments that they wanted a new deal. They did, because they felt they were undone, hurt by previous governments. The Liberals said, "We're going to fix that." New Democrats said they would too. Liberals said, "We are going to give away two cents out of the gasoline tax to help our struggling cities." Why? Because they recognized how important cities were, the fact that 70% to 80% of the people live in cities, and they needed governmental help. "We're going to give you two cents." The cities got nothing.
Mr Murdoch: Nothing? You mean they didn't get anything?
Mr Marchese: They got nothing. The other day Dalton said, "There ain't no money, the cupboard is bare. Sorry, cities -- Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor, Peterborough -- but we got no money. I know we made a promise, it might have been foolish" -- I don't think he says that -- "but good Lord, once we found out how tough it was, you don't want us to be responsible, do you? You wouldn't want Liberals to be responsible, would you? No, cause once you're in power, you've got to act responsibly. By the way, we want transparency. We didn't want transparency prior to the election, but after the election, oh God, are we ever for transparency. So now we, the Liberals, are for transparency and responsible government because we couldn't" -- you don't want to do what New Democrats did. No, you don't want to do that. You don't want to spend your way out of the recession, do you? No, what you need to do is to have a tough leader who can break promises and feel good about it. Break promises with pride, because it takes a strong leader to break a promise. Mike Harris wouldn't have been that strong. Ernie Eves wouldn't have been that strong. It takes a tough leader like Dalton McGuinty to break a promise, and he did. There is a long enumeration of promises -- long. Let me pick them up as best as I can.
The cities are done. They're broke and on their own. The province says -- every province does this, by the way; there's a pecking order --
Mr Colle: Rosario. Three weeks. Give us some time.
Mr Marchese: No, no, I agree with you. Some of the public wants to cut you some slack, and I agree with that. But let me enumerate around some of these things. You've got the pecking order here where everybody hates Toronto. Is that not true?
Mr Marchese: Generally, it's true. Then everyone in Canada hates Ontario. Is that not true?
Mr Marchese: You agree with that. There is that pecking order where the city says, "We don't enough money," which is true. Then the province says, "We don't have enough money," which is true, because we're always trying to get a little more from somebody else. So the city is saying to the province, "Give us some money," the province is saying to the feds, "Give us some money," and in the meantime, the poor cities are struggling. They're not going to get their two cents. They're going to get two cents' worth, but not two cents of the gasoline tax. Solito, solito, solito.
Mr Hudak: What's that?
Mr Marchese: "On your own." Look, unilingualism can be cured. You guys have got to get on with other languages. Spanish is a universal language. Please, come on. Get on with that.
All right, moving on. One of the most amusing things, because I'll forget, is how the Tories say to the ministers, "You're not answering the questions."
Mr Hudak: They're not.
Mr Marchese: It's true. I remember for eight years saying to the Tories, "You're not answering the questions." I find it amusing how we do that. We get into questions and answers, and you're in opposition, you say to the ministers, "You're not answering my questions," then the Tories get in opposition and they say, "You're not answering my questions." It's tough, I'll tell you.
But I've got to tell you, Monte Kwinter's answers are usually dead on, did you notice? He answers questions.
Interjection: They're all good.
Mr Marchese: Well, not every Liberal -- you can't say they're all good. No, that's partisan. Just leave it. Monte Kwinter answers questions. I've got to say to most of the other ministers, you've got to answer questions because that's what I would do. And part of what New Democrats did, and it might have been a mistake, is they answered questions. It might have been a mistake, but they answered questions.
Moving on to the broken promises -- because I've got to tell you, that Taxpayer Protection Act is pretty serious stuff. I don't know how Dalton McGuinty did that and why he did it. I don't know. I think I understand the mind of Dalton McGuinty, in part, because it vacillates, as the Liberals do, on many fronts. I understand that. But I tell you, it was a serious mistake. What did Dalton say? "McGuinty and the Liberals promise to abide by the Taxpayer Protection Act." They voted for it. They defended it during the campaign and now McGuinty claims that the act is a joke. He said it's a joke. The promise made was, "I promise to abide by the Taxpayer Protection Act and the Balanced Budget Act": Dalton McGuinty, taxpayer protection promise, September 11, 2003. The broken promise: "We're going to have to do something about the balanced budget legislation. It's having, at present in its existing form, a perverse effect on governments." It's true, I agree with you, but why couldn't he have said that prior to the election when it mattered? People believed that he could do this.
Mr Colle: Then we saw the books.
Mr Marchese: No, no, Mike. Don't give me that. People believed that McGuinty could do the following: increase services by $7 billion; balance the budget by not increasing taxes. No tax increases, service increases, balance the budget and, to boot, we -- you -- understood that the previous government -- because you're here -- had a deficit problem, and you and I knew that the deficit was in the order -- more or less, give or take -- of anywhere from $2 to $4 billion that we were aware of. Without the benefit of Mr Erik Peters, you and I, McGuinty, the Premier now, then leader of the Liberal Party, knew that the previous government had a deficit.
Then my friends say, "Yeah, but we didn't know. The Tories said they didn't have one, but we didn't know." Come on. You guys are experienced politicians; of course you knew. Monsieur Gerry Phillips, the now Minister of Management Board --
Mr Hudak: What did Gerry say?
Mr Marchese: Gerry gets angry. Have you noticed, every time you say to Gerry, "But Gerry, you said, and you predicted with great visionary kind of abilities, there was a $5-billion risk" -- so-called, because he hates, if you refer to that remark as having anything to do with a deficit. Because a risk is not a deficit. He gets genuinely angry. Because I could feel it. Because it's a deficit, right? Two billion dollars, $3 billion, $4 billion, "risk/deficit," however you want to call it -- you knew, I knew.
All of sudden, you get into government, and as both Johns said, "We didn't know. We've got to be responsible. You don't want us to spend money, do you, and increase the deficit? No, no. You don't want tax increases. No, no." But during the election you had this little magic wand -- or big; I don't know -- saying, "Yeah, we can deliver on every promise you want, whatever it is you want. Oak Ridges moraine, Mike? No problemo. Gone. Highway 407 reduction of rates because it's really evil? Gone." Dalton could do that. "Auto insurance rates too high? We're going to reduce them. Gone. No problem." The energy cap: Before the election was good; after the election it was bad. Gone. Now you can't do it. You see, that little magic wand, it ain't so magic no more. October 2, and that little magic wand was just gone. It didn't work any more. It worked prior to the election, but after the election it's gone; no more power. Isn't that amazing how that works? It's like this magical transformation, this alchemy from one point to the other, and with the Liberal Party it happens all the time.
Mr McMeekin: Be fair.
Mr Marchese: I'm trying. I'm friendly as much as I can, but it gets hard.
On education --
Mr Marchese: No, but let me get to education because it's one of my favourite subjects. My friend from -- David, where's David? Oh, Ted -- and Wayne too -- but Ted, you were talking about education and how the former government was bad and conflicting and causing divisions between groups of people -- all of that true, quite right. Then you said how many cuts boards had to sustain with respect to librarians, special education -- remember that list? It's a big --
Mr Marchese: -- exactly -- 40,000 students waiting for special education services, the most needy of kids: gone. Social workers: gone. Youth workers in the Toronto board: gone. Educational assistants: gone. Caretakers in some of our schools went from full-load -- there might have been eight and now there are four. Bad stuff; you're quite right. Ted speaks of it as if they would come into power and correct it.
Mr Hudak: The magic wand.
Mr Marchese: Yes, prior to the election, that little magic wand was there, waving it left and right, around and every which way, right?
Mr Marchese: John, good to see you, buddy. Please, have a seat.
I've got to tell you that that little magic wand had a whole heap of power. Man, was it potent. Before the election, Ted, school closures: bad stuff. They get elected and they say, "Moratorium on school closures."
Mr Hudak: No, show me the money. Show me the money. No money.
Mr Marchese: No money. Show me the money, because that's what it's about, right?
Mr Baird: They'll make reservations, but they won't pay for dinner.
Mr Marchese: Camera: John is here.
Money was allotted for the school year. It has already been given away, there's no more money, right? They put a moratorium on school closures.
Mr Baird: They did.
Mr Marchese: They did. If you put a moratorium, it means that if there are pressures on school boards to keep the schools open without any money, what do you do?
Mr Baird: Nothing.
Mr Marchese: There's not much you can do. But they put a moratorium --
Mr Marchese: Mike, what's wrong? Mike, Mike, we're buddies, come on.
Mr Colle: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would just ask the member -- we appreciate his comments, but we hope he would address the Speaker and not the Tory backbench, please?
The Acting Speaker: You're quite right. The member for Trinity-Spadina has to address his comments through the Chair, and he knows that.
Mr Marchese: Through you, absolutely. John, you understand this, right?
If you put a moratorium on school closures -- I'm talking through you, Ted, please.
The Acting Speaker: Come to order. Please take your seat.
I appreciate the festive and jovial mood of the House, but we have to observe the rules.
I recognize the member for Trinity-Spadina.
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Speaker.
Mr Baird: Don't talk to me, Rosario.
Mr Marchese: I'm not going to talk to you, John, because if I talk to you, then the Speaker's going to rule against something.
I was talking about the fact that if you declare a moratorium on school closures, if you don't give money to school boards to keep a small school -- because it's expensive, right? But we agree, Liberals and New Democrats -- Tories probably too; I'm not sure.
Ms Kathleen O. Wynne (Don Valley West): They did close a lot of hospitals.
Mr Marchese: Yeah, they did.
But to keep a small school open, you need extra --
Mr Marchese: Let me finish, if I can. Boys, please.
You need extra money for vice-principals or principals or librarians --
Mr Marchese: I've been here all alone. I called all the others. Gilles, I'm sorry. I called everyone else. I said, "I'm alone," and so I got some extra help.
So on the point of a moratorium on school closures, that's an empty promise. It means nothing. I said to the minister today, "Show me the money or take back the empty promise," because it's got nothing in it, right?
Just the other day, a couple of weeks ago, the minister announced 112 million bucks to give to school boards. Tony Ruprecht has got real money. Show me the money, Tony. No, no money's coming. You've got to show me real money, Tony.
What does it say here?
Mr Hudak: Dalton dollars.
Mr Marchese: Oh, Liberal Dalton dollars. Right on. That goes a long way.
So, Ted, Speaker, through you --
Mr Marchese: Here, show it to Tony Ruprecht.
Some 112 million bucks are given away to school boards to do two important things: deal with the issue of ESL that Dr Rozanski spoke to, and deal with literacy programs. Good stuff. The problem is that out of the $112 million, Toronto gets $46 million, and the minister says in the press scrum -- because I was there -- "The Toronto board can use it to pay down its deficit."
Mr Marchese: Kathleen from Don Valley, you and I both know that that money should be used for ESL.
Mr Marchese: To Kathleen Wynne from Don Valley West, I say this: The minister should have dealt with the deficit apart from this money that was allocated for ESL and literacy programs. You shouldn't take valued dollars that go to valued programming to be used for the deficit instead of dealing with the deficit.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Did the Liberals do that, really?
Mr Marchese: That's what Liberals do.
So Kennedy thought, "How do I give money to the Toronto board without calling it money for the Toronto board? Well, we're going to give away the money for ESL and literacy programs." Parents think they're getting money for literacy programs and ESL, but they're not going to get one cent.
So many broken promises. Where is the magic wand after October 2? It's gone.
Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rejoice in the additions we have in the New Democratic caucus. I notice we now have status, with a multitude of people, and I call for unanimous consent that the NDP be given party status on the basis of all the additions.
The Acting Speaker: It was not a point of order.
Mr John Wilkinson (Perth-Middlesex): This is a special night here in the Legislature, a wonderful night. This is the month of December. When I was studying as a young man in school, I heard about the migration of birds and I knew that birds migrated in the spring and I knew that birds migrated in the fall, but I didn't realize that Tories migrated in December, migrated from this side of the rump to the other side of the rump. So it is a special night. There must be Christmas in the air.
Tonight, when we're being serious, we're talking about the supply motion. I want to tell the good people at home: The supply motion is very serious, because without that the government cannot do its job. It can't pay its bills. We collect the money from you and we spend the money.
What I want to talk about is a theme that I have called "Let the Sun Shine In." Who remembers that song? It's amazing, while I'm here, that we go in front of the people and we're saying in this bill that we want the authorization from the people, from this House, from their representatives, to spend some $27.7 billion in this fiscal year. Why do we do that? Because we live in a democracy. Isn't democracy a wonderful thing? That's what we're all doing here. We were elected by the people. Why are we here? Because we're offering a new direction for Ontario.
I'm looking at an article in the Toronto Star, May 14, 2003. I was discussing this matter with the legislative library, and I recalled an interesting statement that a previous government of this House had a secret $36-billion spending plan which was approved by Ontario's Conservative cabinet. Liberal MPP Sean Conway revealed that cabinet spending order, believed to be the largest in Canadian history, during debate about whether the decision by Premier Ernie Eves to present the March 27 budget in an auto parts plant constituted contempt of the Legislature. I remember the Speaker, Mr Carr, said it was contempt of this House. Why was that?
Mr Yakabuski: Was he a Liberal?
Mr Wilkinson: No, he wasn't a Liberal. He was non-partisan, but in a previous life he was a Progressive Conservative -- I think more progressive than conservative.
"Most disturbing, he added, was that the order in council was not filed in the cabinet office, leaving it effectively hidden from public scrutiny." It's time to let the sun shine in.
"Orders in council," if they had been provided, "are often reviewed by journalists and political staff.
"`This is a whole story about avoiding scrutiny, avoiding oversight and avoiding accountability,'" said Conway of the spending plan.
"He said there's a clear difference between short-term spending money for a government and the size of the Eves plan, which he labelled a slush fund.
"`This is the largest appropriation made by special cabinet order in the history of Ontario, the history of Canada, as far as I can tell, in the history of the Commonwealth.'"
The previous government was in here, decided to have a budget, not in this House, but at an auto parts factory, and among themselves, as they walked around, the former Minister of Finance, Janet Ecker, and the former head of the cabinet, Mr Runciman, decided to sign a Lieutenant Governor's warrant, an order in council, without telling us, without telling this House, without telling the people; they didn't file it with the cabinet office -- and these previous government members come into this House and give us grief about the fact that we're in this House doing our job, going in front of the people and saying, "We need $27 billion to pay the bills of this province between here and the end of March."
I find awfully interesting, when we looked into the issue of using special warrants -- what was the history of special warrants? What legislation permits special warrants to be used in this fashion? It's an interesting fact: Before 1991, special warrants could only be used when the House was prorogued, when the money was urgently required for the public good and when the expenditures fell outside of existing votes and items in the estimates. In 1991 the NDP government passed an amendment removing the urgency requirement. Do you see a trend here?
Mr Baird: You're frightening the little children.
Mr Wilkinson: I know I am.
Do you see a trend? I see a trend where government decided that they don't have to be accountable. That's why this government -- that's why we're so proud that we would go into this House --
Mr Wilkinson: The NDP. We know the NDP. They decided there didn't have to be a sense of urgency to just secretly authorize billions and billions of dollars. Oh, no. Then we get another government that came in here. Is it any wonder that there are new members in this House? The people have decided it's time to sweep out and put in some people who believe in accountability. I am a small businessman. I believe in accountability. You have to be in business. What we find here is we have just a history of spending more and more money without the public -- the public watching tonight -- being able to scrutinize what we're doing. What things happen when we don't have the scrutiny of day? We're going to let the sunshine in.
Let's look at OPG. Let's look at "Ontario Patronage Generation." What do they do? When we took the old Hydro and created the successor companies -- Hydro One, my God. I was on the radio today on the New NX -- people upset with Hydro One and some of the things that they're doing to good consumers without notice. We need to let the sunshine in there.
Then we look at Ontario Power Generation, though some people call it "Ontario Patronage Generation," but we put an end to that. There were some patronage appointments that were fired, and for good cause. We found just today that instead of getting $250 million in, we're on the hook for another $600 million on the way out; $850 million, nearly a billion dollars that we were counting on -- to do what? To pay for schools, to pay for hospitals, to protect our environment. That's why we have to do something about it.
Mr Dunlop: You don't need to act like the opposition; you're the government.
Mr Wilkinson: You're right: We're the government. We've been here for two months, and we've looked under every rock. The things we find under those rocks are not very pleasant.
Mr Wilkinson: You're right: They're scary. That would scare little children.
It's important that this government start its mandate by revising the Audit Act, by saying to people that we have to get value for money. Some 80% of what this government spends we send to our funding partners, and the only audit that we have is a quantitative audit. The auditors come in after the fact and say, "You gave so much money to the hospital, to the school boards, to the university, to the college, to the municipality. You gave them the money, and they spent it. There's nothing missing. Nobody stole anything."
What we don't get is a qualitative audit, a value-for-money audit, the type of audit that we had at Pickering. What did we find at Pickering? We find we spend $4 billion and we have no electricity. I don't think that's a very good value proposition. I don't think you can spend $4 billion, get nothing and think that's a good idea. Why didn't we know about that?
Mr Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest): Bad management.
Mr Wilkinson: Yes, bad management. Why didn't we know about that? Because previous governments didn't let the sunshine in. Oh, no, no. The successor companies to Hydro were excluded from freedom of information. They were allowed to deal in their business in secret. Why? Because they were going to be privatized, and private business doesn't have to reveal everything.
But, you know, in private business, when you make a mistake as big as billions and billions of dollars, somebody gets fired. My God, in cases like Enron, people go to jail. It shocked me that I could come to this House, find this mismanagement of the people's money and no one is going to jail. I can tell you, on Bay Street, some would be there already. They'd be lining up. The lawyers and prosecutors would be getting all set for this. We come in, and when we shine the lights into the dark, little crevices of the government of the day that we take over, what do we find? It's interesting, because we have the previous government castigating us in public by saying, "You made promises. You made promises." Do you know why? We made promises based on the fact that we thought that the honourable members of the government --
Mr Dunlop: You thought --
Mr Wilkinson: That's right, we thought, and we don't know that any more, I say to the member from Simcoe North. Now we know a fact: The people of this province were hoodwinked, I think, because there can't be such a huge difference.
So I'm glad to support the supply motion tonight, that there's money being spent in this province. It's being authorized in this House where the light of day is apparent. The sun will shine down; no more dark crevices.
Mr Bob Delaney (Mississauga West): It seems to me the essence of this debate has drifted off course. This motion asks us to support the expenditure of money in order that our government may continue to function. It asks, in part, that we continue to pay the men and women who provide Ontario's public services every day, often serving as unsung heroes to Ontarians. I say, let's not only pay them; let's also thank them.
I think the first significant part of this motion is that it has been introduced in this Legislature, where it can be subjected to open debate by all members. This is not an auto parts motion. And next year, Ontarians can look forward to a provincial budget delivered in the Ontario Legislature before Ontarians.
It's raucous in here; it's messy. Some people who watch us on TV and attend in the public galleries wish that we were more polite to one another. But, in the end, the product is pure democracy, and it's a beautiful product. That's why we ask support in this House for a supply motion presented in this House.
We're $21 billion deeper in debt than we were eight years ago. The deficit that Ontario faces is a chronic one. Selling the assets that belong to all Ontarians to paper over a deficit that deepens each year is nothing more than a band-aid solution. For a homeowner, that's like selling the sofa at distressed prices just to pay your overdraft, when each and every month you're still spending recklessly and not earning enough money. Next month, you might sell the shelves and the chairs; the month after that, the dining room furniture. This spiral would run out for a family when you run out of assets to sell. In Ontario, this attitude by its government ran out on October 2, when Ontarians voted themselves a new government.
Each week, the urban myth that Ontario Tories can manage money is exploded in new ways. More than $4.3 billion was spent, with no strategic plan, in the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade. More than $1 billion was spent from the Ontario Innovation Trust without ministry or legislative oversight, without cabinet or any other approval. During the past eight years, the previous government spent a quarter of a billion dollars of taxpayers' money on partisan government advertising. Ontarians need no longer wince and clutch their wallets while they look at glossy and expensive ads and brochures that say nothing of substance, but merely paraphrase the platform of the ruling party, with perhaps the name and photo of the Premier or a member of the executive council prominently displayed on them.
This motion is about responsible use of the tax revenues sent to their government by Ontario families and businesses. This is a motion that tells Ontario's schools that the money they need to serve students who need help learning English will be there. This is a motion that tells our hospitals that the money they need to pay doctors, nurses and technologists will be there. This is a motion for all Ontarians who reached down deep, who found hope and promise in their future and chose change. This is a motion that tells those Ontarians that their future is underway. This supply motion is one of the ways that we're changing the way Ontarians govern themselves. This is a motion that provides peace on earth and goodwill to all Ontarians.
Mr Mario Sergio (York West): I have to say, that was a wonderful quote. I'm very proud of our member who spoke on this particular issue. We only have a few minutes and we have had some wonderful conversation, if not debate, on the issue. Other than the theatrics out there, there are other people who are very seriously interested in what we are doing in the House. They are called taxpayers. This is a very important piece of legislation which normally does not attract so much debate. It's something that has to be done, and it will be done. The only problem is that we are trying to delay what's going to happen, and it's coming.
We took office barely some 50 days or so ago and we are moving very quickly in doing what we said we would do. Our leader, Dalton McGuinty, has brought into this House already a number legislative pieces. We have seen some today which are very apropos of what we are talking about here tonight.
We hear so much about breaking promises, or the Taxpayer Protection Act. There isn't one member in this House who doesn't say, "If you do one thing, you cannot do the other." It is so true. Our leader, our Premier, says, "We have to be honest. We have to tell the people of Ontario the truth. We have to be very transparent." This is exactly what we are doing here today. We are telling the people of Ontario what we have to do because the previous government tried to balance the budget and they couldn't. They tried to cut 30% for the corporations. They couldn't. They tried to sell some assets in order to balance the budget and they couldn't do it. Even as late as October 2, 2002, the former Minister of Finance, Janet Ecker -- when they saw that they couldn't do it, they broke the Taxpayer Protection Act and they abolished the 1.9% tax relief.
So what are we doing today? We are giving the people of Ontario what they expect. It is exactly what we promised during the election. If we want to give the quality of service that the people of Ontario expect from their government, we have to take the action that the government is doing today. The people understand. The people in my area do understand that if we want to provide good-quality health care, good long-term care, good education and properly fund our transportation services, which are so important for our economy, something has to give. We are moving in that direction.
The announcement that our Minister of Finance made today addresses exactly that, and rightly so. This is the right time. I don't know if I'll get another chance to speak in this House before we adjourn for the holidays, but I would love to --
Hon Mr Gerretsen: This is it, Mario.
Mr Sergio: This is it, because my friend the Minister for Municipal Affairs, the member for Kingston and the Islands, wants to have a couple of words on this issue as well, and rightly so. So I want to use the opportunity to convey a message to the people in York West, and through them to the rest of the people of Ontario. There is a positive message coming from this government. There is a direction that is full of hope from this particular government. Whatever the government is doing under the leadership of our Premier, Mr McGuinty, we are doing it with the people of Ontario in mind.
Having said that, I want to wish the members of the House, the people of York West and the people of Ontario the best for the holidays. If they drink, don't drive. The very best for 2004. With that, I'll leave the floor for the five minutes that the member for Kingston and the Islands has requested.
Hon Mr Gerretsen: I'm delighted to speak to this particular motion, because I'm sure everyone in this House agrees that the people who work for the province of Ontario, who work for each and every one of us in the various ministries, need to be paid. That's what supply is all about. We want to make sure that there are sufficient funds so that when the House doesn't sit over the next three months or so, there is enough money allocated to the various ministries and the Chair of Management Board will be very happy that all of the hard-working people who are the civil servants of this province are paid. Surely even the opposition would agree with that. I see them nodding their heads, so I can only assume that they will vote for this as well and it will be a unanimous vote.
I just wanted to address one other issue that we've heard so much about over the last couple of months or month and a half that we've been here, and that deals with the whole deficit situation. The argument goes something like this: Mr Phillips discovered back in June that according to his figures -- and he's a renowned financial expert -- the province was going to be out $5 billion if we kept going along the same line of spending and revenue coming in etc. What the opposition has never stated is that last June they violently disagreed with that. I can still remember the various ministers of the government saying that Mr Phillips was totally wrong, that the budget was balanced and what have you. That's one scenario, and I just want you to put that aside for a moment.
Our member said, "It looks like there's going to be a $5-billion deficit," and the government of the day at that time said, "There isn't going to be one." Since then, we've had a couple of affirmations, after we took over government, that in fact there is a $5.6-billion deficit looming as far as the former auditor, Mr Erik Peters, is concerned. He is now an independent consultant and he took an independent look at the books --
Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): What did you pay him?
Hon Mr Gerretsen: Obviously we paid the man. Why wouldn't we pay the man? He did a job. He did a job for you and me and the taxpayers of Ontario. He found out that what Gerry Phillips had been saying all along, since June of this year, in fact was correct, that there was a $5.6-billion deficit.
The opposition would have you believe that we can somehow make that difference up between now and the end of March. That is just absolute nonsense. How can you, in a budget where there's a $5.6-billion deficit that has now been identified by the finance minister and by Erik Peters independently, make that money up in a matter of three months? You would have to cut out just about every service that the government offers or pays for. You would have to pretty much close the hospitals, close the schools and take some extreme, drastic steps, and those members know, just as well as you and I, Speaker, that it is simply impossible. If we want to make sure that the people of Ontario, particularly those individuals who are down and out, who really need the services of government -- if those services are not available to them, either through social assistance or health care, much needed particularly by the poorer elements in our society, they darned well know that those people would be absolutely devastated if we were not somehow able to provide for them.
I say to you it is obviously our hope and our aim to balance this budget. But I am sure that the people of Ontario will understand, taking into account the horrible financial deficit that this party across the aisle from us has left us, that it may not be possible. But we will work on it, to make sure that the people of Ontario get the best possible government and get the highest quality of life possible in this province.
Mr Dunlop: It's my pleasure to represent our party in this debate tonight on the supply motion. I should let you know right up front, Mr Speaker, and the members of the government, that we will be voting against the supply motion tonight.
To the citizens of Ontario -- and I hope you're watching tonight -- this represents $27 billion, and quite frankly we simply don't trust the spending habits of this new government.
To the citizens of the province, we've watched very carefully over the last three months. We've seen no attempt to decrease the so-called deficit -- the artificial deficit that we see. What makes it --
Mr Dunlop: There's the member from Elgin-Middlesex, the man chirping over there, the Minister of Agriculture, who has let down all the farmers in the province. I'm glad to see him babbling away, because he should be ashamed of himself for what he's done so far this year.
The fact of the matter is that we've seen a so-called economic statement today -- one that wasn't locked up of course, everybody in the province had a look at it before they released it -- and it calls for a 10% increase in funding in the province, which is completely unacceptable.
We will not trust this government to actually spend that money wisely. We expect a bunch of ridiculous announcements over the course of the winter which would waste taxpayers' money in Ontario. A 10% increase in spending is completely unacceptable, and we heard that tonight.
When I got up here tonight, I wasn't planning on being bitter, but when I heard the comments from some of the members here, I realized why I should be. These people are not acting like the government; they're continuing to act like the opposition. Why are they acting like the opposition? Roll up your sleeves and get to work, ladies and gentlemen. That's your job here.
Hon Mr Peters: Mine are rolled up and ready to work.
Mr Dunlop: You've done a great job of getting to work, Minister of Agriculture. You've already let all the agricultural stakeholders in the province down. They're real happy with you today. You've done a great job, Minister, and Dalton McGuinty --
The Acting Speaker: I'm going to call the Minister of Agriculture and Food to order.
You have the floor, member for Simcoe North.
Mr Dunlop: I congratulate the Minister of Agriculture for being one of the few rural-type cabinet ministers on the urban Dalton McGuinty government. It's 50% Toronto; 21 out of 23 cabinet ministers from cities of the province. That sends a strong message to northern and rural Ontario.
In closing off tonight, I'm going to calm down now and talk more politely and more quietly. We, the 103 people who represent the citizens of Ontario, should be -- for a citizen of Ontario to be entrusted with this position is simply phenomenal, and I think everyone here knows that. I've heard all the new members from the Liberal caucus and my new friend John Yakabuski, and Laurie Scott from our Tory caucus, and all the NDP members who are here. We have a tremendous responsibility. With that responsibility, we have to spend accordingly.
I give the Liberals credit. I give Mr Sorbara credit. You won the election fair and square. Our job as the opposition, of course, is to watch you very closely. To Mr Sorbara and to Mr McGuinty, we think you're already off to a bad start. However, that's your direction, and time will tell. But the fact of the matter is, it is a tremendous responsibility that you have. You're going to spend $75 billion next year to make this province work. We hope that you're not going to drive jobs out of the province and that you'll create a strong economy -- like the million new jobs that you've seen created over the last eight years; like the $10 billion that you've seen the government, when we were in power, spend on health care; like the $4 billion that we spent on education increases. Ladies and gentlemen, that's what we did. As a result of Ernie Eves and Mike Harris, one million more people are working. That's the legacy you have to follow.
I want to say this to the citizens of Ontario and to you folks here tonight, through the Speaker: I want to congratulate everyone who is here. We're not going to have a lot of time to speak tomorrow, because tomorrow is the last day of this session. I think the government has had a good first session. I think the opposition has had a good first session of this Parliament. I think we've all done a good job representing the province of Ontario.
With that, I hope everyone in this House has a safe, healthy and happy Christmas season. On behalf of our caucus, I want to wish everyone here and all the citizens in the province all the best in 2004. I hope we have great year. All the best to Ontario, and may we last forever.
The Acting Speaker: Mr Caplan has moved second reading of Bill 28, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Call in the members. This will be a 10-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 2121 to 2122.
The Acting Speaker: All those in favour of the motion, please rise.
Broten, Laurel C.
Brown, Michael A.
Cansfield, Donna H.
Van Bommel, Maria
Wynne, Kathleen O.
The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to the motion, please rise.
Runciman, Robert W.
Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 45; the nays are 6.
The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Pursuant to standing order 63, this bill is immediately ordered for third reading.
SUPPLY ACT, 2003 /
LOI DE CRÉDITS DE 2003
Mr Caplan, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, moved third reading of the following bill:
Bill 28, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004 / Projet de loi 28, Loi autorisant l'utilisation de certaines sommes pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 2004.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Same vote? Same vote.
Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 45; the nays are 6.
The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
Hon David Caplan (Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker: All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."
Those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
The House is now adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10 am.
The House adjourned at 2130.