L257a - Mon 8 Dec 1997 / Lun 8 Déc 1997

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

EDUCATION FINANCING

NURSING CONFERENCE

GIRL GUIDES

SERVICES FOR THE DISABLED

NORTHERN ONTARIO DEVELOPMENT

LAND TRANSFER TAX REBATE

NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO ASSOCIATED CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

TVONTARIO

JAMES SHAW

VISITORS

CONSIDERATION OF LEGISLATION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

TORONTO HOSPITAL ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR L'HÔPITAL DE TORONTO

JAMAICAN CANADIAN ASSOCIATION ACT, 1997

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

DEFERRED VOTES

DEVELOPMENT CHARGES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LES REDEVANCES D'AMÉNAGEMENT

ORAL QUESTIONS

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

CHARITABLE GAMING

EDUCATION FINANCING

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

WINTER HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE

WOMEN'S SHELTERS

MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES' PENSIONS

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

TELEMARKETING PRACTICES

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

NATIONAL UNITY

PETITIONS

CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CARE

EDUCATION REFORM

COURT DECISION

CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS

ABORTION

PAY EQUITY

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE

CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS

EDUCATION FINANCING

ANIMAL WELFARE

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE

COURT DECISION

CHOICE IN HEALTH CARE

PAY EQUITY

CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CARE

BEAR HUNTING

ROYAL ASSENT / SANCTION ROYALE

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TAX CREDITS TO CREATE JOBS ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 ACCORDANT DES CRÉDITS D'IMPÔT POUR CRÉER DES EMPLOIS


The House met at 1331.

Prayers.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

EDUCATION FINANCING

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): We are beginning to see the future of public education under a Mike Harris government, and what we see is truly frightening. It is a future where there is so little money for textbooks and school supplies and equipment that private citizens and parents feel they must contribute money out of their own pockets to keep their local schools going.

Toni Skarica knows how bad things are already. As the former parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education, he became so concerned about the sad state of equipment in a secondary school he visited that he is donating $5,000 to help address what he describes as a desperate situation.

Mr Skarica is not the only one who is concerned. Many parents across the province are planning to donate the $40 a day that they can claim in protest compensation money to their local schools to buy much-needed textbooks and supplies.

Thunder Bay parent councils have been encouraging parents to make a contribution. The parents of the Mississauga People's Forum have started the First Forty campaign to put funds into breakfast programs and art and music supplies that they believe are at risk with the Harris cutbacks. The idea is spreading across the province, being taken up by concerned parents in all parts of Ontario.

The parents' concern is understandable. Mr Skarica's generosity and his concern is admirable, but the Harris government should not be counting on private individuals and parents to make up for the damage caused by their cuts. The Harris government must stop the cuts and provide adequate funding to public education.

NURSING CONFERENCE

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I was very pleased to have been invited to join with the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario in their two-day conference entitled Health Care Reform: Where Are We Going? As you may know, Madam Speaker, the Registered Nurses' Association takes the point of view that nurses are the most important part of our health care system. They are the advocates for parents and those who deliver most of the care in the system. They have had the courage the last two years to have an invited conference in which they work with those in the political and in the medical field to look at what is happening with health care reform.

I want to give my congratulations to the president of the RNAO, Charlotte Noesgaard, and the executive director, Doris Grinspun, who this year delivered a conference that was second to none. It allowed the nurses of Ontario, by themselves, to look at all of the issues that face health care today as it undergoes reform, to determine for themselves what is rhetoric and what is real about the promises around reform, not only from the political sphere but also from the various aspects of the medical system itself, the OHA, the OMA and other nurses' associations. I congratulate them on a wonderful conference and look forward to next year.

GIRL GUIDES

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I am pleased and proud to inform the members today about a dinner that I went to recently that was hosted by the Bramalea Division Girl Guides where they announced their adoption of a killer whale named Ripple through the Vancouver Aquarium.

Using photographic identification of physical characteristics, researchers at the aquarium are able to identify individual whales and therefore determine how they hunt, socialize and communicate with each other.

In order to help defray the costs of such research, the Guides donated $25 a year for which they receive an adoption certificate, a photograph of their adopted whale, an audio tape of the whale communication sounds and a copy of the aquarium newsletter, The Blackfish Sounder, to keep them up to date about killer whale research.

I commend the Bramalea Division Girl Guides for their involvement in this program and for their eagerness to learn everything they can about these whales, including how they live and socialize and some of the potential dangers faced by them and their marine environment.

I also commend their efforts to promote the program among other Guide divisions so that they too can share in the knowledge and the feeling of satisfaction which this program provides.

If there are any groups in other members' ridings that you feel would be interested in participating in this program, I urge you to please contact my office and we'll be happy to put you in touch with Donna McLean of the Bramalea Girl Guides.

SERVICES FOR THE DISABLED

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): For almost two years now, I've been fighting on behalf of Veronica Manuel and her multi-disabled son Dylan, two constituents in my Port Arthur riding. I've been fighting for this hard-hearted government to acknowledge that their vicious cuts to social assistance, health care and the disabled in our province will eventually leave people like Ms Manuel no choice but to have their children institutionalized.

Dylan was born with cerebral palsy and a number of medical conditions that require extensive medication, complex equipment and 24-hour care. Dylan cannot walk, talk or hold his head up by himself. His mother, Veronica, who is a registered nurse, spends most of her time caring for her son.

The point is that Veronica loves her son a great deal and wants to keep him at home, because she believes that the love and support he receives at home are what are keeping him alive. But she needs more from this government in order to do that.

Later today Veronica and Dylan will be in the Legislature sitting in the Speaker's gallery. I am standing here now to make a plea to Community and Social Services Minister Ecker that she find some time to meet with Veronica and Dylan, if only briefly, so that Veronica can tell Dylan's story to her face to face. She deserves that, Minister.

Although the minister coldly noted in a recent letter to Veronica that she wished to bring closure to Veronica's concerns, the minister needs to understand that Veronica cannot talk about closure because this is her child. There is no closure for a mother and a child.

Minister, will you show some compassion and meet with Veronica and Dylan today?

NORTHERN ONTARIO DEVELOPMENT

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On Friday last, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines visited Algoma and Sault Ste Marie for two important meetings, among other things. In the morning he attended at the Garden River to join with Chief Lyle Sayers and former chief Dennis Jones and others in a cheque presentation for the transfer of the lands from the Garden River reserve for the construction of the four-lane highway across the reserve from the Echo Bay area to Sault Ste Marie.

This is a project that has been debated and negotiated and talked about for over 20 years, and I'm glad to see that it's going forward. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because I was not informed of the meeting until two days previously when I had already committed to be in Chapleau.

The minister also met with Reeve Jim Aquino of the township of Michipicoten, Wawa, in the afternoon in Sault Ste Marie to discuss how the provincial government might respond initially to the crisis in Wawa as a result of the decision of Algoma Steel Inc to close down the Algoma Ore division in June 1998. The minister presented Mr Aquino with a cheque for $50,000 as a provincial contribution, along with the federal government and the company -

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Statements.

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LAND TRANSFER TAX REBATE

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I'm pleased to rise in the House today as the member for Scarborough Centre to inform the House of the tremendous support I have received from residents across the province regarding our government's land transfer tax rebate program.

Our government is working to create jobs, hope, growth and opportunity for all Ontarians, and the land transfer tax rebate program is an initiative that is indeed working to achieve those goals.

The land transfer tax constitutes a significant portion of the closing costs that all first-time home buyers face.

Our government, through this program, is working to ensure that our economy is spurred by the sale of homes. A 1994-95 study commissioned by the Canadian Real Estate Association and the Ontario Real Estate Association reported that $16,200 is generated by the average housing transaction. Recently an update of that report put the figure at well over $17,000.

As well, the purchase and sale of homes also generates fees to professionals such as lawyers, appraisers, real estate agents and surveyors, all of which create significant economic activity and jobs. In addition, when individuals move, they typically purchase new appliances, furnishings and other durable goods, as well as undertake renovations to the home, all of which create significant economic activity and, most important, jobs.

Finally, whenever a first-time home buyer purchases a resale home, the seller has to move somewhere, which creates further economic activity in our communities.

My office has been contacted by many Ontarians who want to share -

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Thank you.

NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO ASSOCIATED CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My statement is directed to the Premier. The Premier will know that the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce has worked closely with provincial governments of all political stripes for the past 62 years.

From 1952 to 1995, NOACC has personally met with the Premier and cabinet of the day, a tradition this current Premier and government have decided to ignore.

Premier, NOACC wrote to you to seek a meeting with them in January or February of next year, as other governments have done since 1952. I must request on their behalf that you agree to this request.

Premier, NOACC's reputation is one of providing well-thought-out briefs on issues of concern to our region.

You stated in the last election that you would provide the opportunity for northern groups and organizations such as NOACC to "play an important role in making the decisions which affect their lives." Thus far, all they have received from you is your Minister of Northern Development's fluffy acknowledgement letters to their position papers.

They believed you when you stated that they and others would be involved in the policy-making process. Now they are calling upon you to keep your promise.

Premier, take this opportunity to show that your commitment in terms of meaningful consultation with northerners was not just political rhetoric. I call on you to set up a meeting between your cabinet and NOACC's executive and directors, as they have requested, this coming January or February.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): The member for Nickel Belt.

TVONTARIO

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I congratulate you on your elevation.

On November 24, the privatization of TVO road show came to Sudbury. My colleague from Sudbury East and I went to the same hotel where that road show was being held and held a press conference of our own to talk to people about the perils of privatizing TVO.

Imagine our surprise when constituents kept coming up to us and saying, "Where is the official TVO privatization road show meeting being held?" We said, "Why don't you ask at the desk of this fine hotel." They said, "We did ask at the desk and we were told, `We can't tell you.'" I said, "That can't be true." So I went to the desk myself and I said, "Where's the TVO meeting?" "We can't tell you." "What do you mean you can't tell us?" "We were told by the Toronto office of the privatization secretariat that we couldn't let the news out as to where the meeting was being held until just about an hour before the meeting begins."

I ask you, what kind of government is it that holds a road show to hear people's views on an issue such as the privatization of TVO and then doesn't tell anybody where it is, refuses to tell anybody where it is? We're told the instructions for that came directly from the minister's office, not from the hotel but right from the minister's office. It's a joke.

JAMES SHAW

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I will be brief. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate one of my special constituents, Mr James Shaw of Newcastle. Mr Shaw, a discus, javelin and shot-put competitor, recently was named the recipient of a prestigious Ontario award as the top athlete with a disability.

Multi-sport athlete James Shaw earned two gold medals and a bronze at the Paralympics in Atlanta and three gold medals in the Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled in Peterborough.

At the Paralympics Mr Shaw set a world record with a heave of 41.24 metres in the discus, won a gold medal in the shot-put and a bronze in the javelin - truly remarkable. At the Ontario Games he won three gold medals on each of the discus, javelin and shot-put.

Our Ontario government renewed its commitment to sport and recreation for all athletes in the province by honouring its amateur athletes for sports achievements in 1996 at the 30th annual Ontario Sports Awards ceremony held this fall.

I ask the members of the Legislature and the assembly to join with me today in recognizing and congratulating Jim Shaw and the other exceptional individuals for their outstanding achievements as amateur athletes. Jim is truly an inspiration for each and every one of us in this House today.

VISITORS

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the Honourable Umberto Aimola, Speaker of the Regional Parliament of Abruzzo, Italy. Also, please welcome Mr Odoardo Di Santo, former member of the provincial Parliament for Downsview. Please join me in welcoming our guests.

CONSIDERATION OF LEGISLATION

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Last week, the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) raised a point of order with respect to the admissibility of Bill 164, An Act to implement job creation measures and other measures contained in the 1997 Budget and to make other amendments to statutes administered by the Ministry of Finance or relating to taxation matters, in light of the pending consideration of Bill l49. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt (Mr Phillips) and the government House leader contributed to the discussion of this issue. In addition, later that same week, the member for Fort William (Mrs McLeod) raised a similar point concerning the relationship of Bill 164 to Bill 160, and this week the Chair received additional written and oral submissions.

Members cited standing order 51, which states: "No motion, or amendment, the subject matter of which has been decided upon, can be again proposed during the same session." The interpretation of this standing order is that the House may not revisit substantially the same question twice in the same session. That is, having decided upon something once, the matter cannot again be raised. The interpretation of this standing order, however, is quite restrictive and there are many examples of debates on variations of the same or similar subject matters being debated more than once in a session.

Indeed, on April 22, the Chair ruled on a similar question being raised relating to a time allocation motion on Bill 104. Allowing a second time allocation motion at that time underscores the very tight and restrictive interpretation that standing order 51 undergoes when these questions are raised.

In short, if a matter before the House is not substantially the same, or identical, to one already decided upon, it is not prohibited from being considered. What the House cannot do under this standing order is put itself in a position of voting on a question that is, for all intents and purposes, identical to one already dealt with.

Now let me relate the standing order to the passage of legislation. Section 3 of the Statutes Act states that,

"Any act may be amended, altered or repealed by an act passed in the same session of the Legislature." Further, in the 21st edition of Erskine May on page 470 it states: "There is now no rule against the amendment or repeal of an act of the same session. Formerly it was expressly disallowed, but it has been permissible since 1850." These references are not incompatible with standing order 51. Standing order 51 seeks to prevent two bills that are substantially the same from being considered in the same session. Its purpose is not to prevent consideration of legislation which further amends any bill passed in the same session.

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The Chair has also reviewed the 1968 ruling of Speaker Lamoureux at the House of Commons of Canada. In that case, the Speaker found a bill out of order because certain of its clauses were identical to those defeated in a previous bill at third reading. This ruling served as a guideline to the Chair because, while he found the bill out of order based on the identical clauses, he also stated that in at least one case the fact that a clause contained similar provisions to those in the previous bill "is not sufficient to justify a ruling that they are out of order."

In view of the foregoing, with respect to Bill 164, the Chair had to determine whether Bill 164 or any part of it is substantially the same as Bill 149 or Bill 160. The Chair has reviewed Bill 164 and cannot find that the changes it seeks to make to Bills 149 and 160, in their eventual existence as statutes, are changes that revisit prior decisions of this House. While Bill 164 certainly makes amendments to other bills, the Chair is not convinced that it is virtually the same bill or indeed that it contains identical clauses.

Finally, I want to address the point that since both Bill 149 and Bill 160 were time-allocated, the deadline for amendment had passed, thereby rendering legislation that seeks to make further amendments out of order. The Chair disagrees. The deadlines set by the time allocation motions were specific to the consideration of the various stages of those bills. The deadlines were not imposed in perpetuity for any future consideration of the legislation. An act can be amended by subsequent legislation regardless of the terms of the passage of the original act. Obviously, this new legislation is subject to the usual scrutiny and opportunity for debate or amendment.

For these reasons, I find that Bill 164 is in order.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I thank the Speaker for the ruling and I just ask if you would entertain a question that you might like to consider. In your ruling, Speaker, you have repeated in terms of the standing orders and Erskine May the statement that an act can be amended subsequently by a bill in the same session, as long as they are not identical, and I understand your ruling.

The small point I would like to raise a question about is that when Bill 164 was introduced on the order paper the legislation it was attempting to modify and to amend was not acts, not statutes. It was bills before this House that could then be amended in the House by referring the matter to committee of the whole House, and you might argue that that was precluded because of the time allocation motions. Time allocation motions, as you indicated in your ruling, could be superseded by a subsequent time allocation motion. My question simply is, while citing that acts can be amended by further bills in the same session, are you also saying that bills that have not been passed into law can also be amended prior to actually being law by another bill?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: Timing obviously is everything in the contention that is being made by the opposition in this particular case. As my friend the member for Algoma has aptly pointed out, we fully understand that when a bill has already passed the Legislature, when it is an act of the Ontario Legislature, a subsequent bill would be able to amend that. That's understandable.

The contention we come back to as an opposition is that those bills had not been passed by the Legislature and in fact all the government was doing was using a device, that is, an omnibus bill, in which they could include many unrelated matters, as I think some of these are unrelated in this particular case, to avoid going to committee of the whole, which is the appropriate venue to make amendments to the two bills that were in question, Bill 160 and Bill 149.

It seems to me what we have in this Legislature, if this ruling is as I understand it, is that the government is now going to be able to avoid going to committee of the whole simply by starting anew another bill to amend bills which have not yet passed the Legislature. To me, that's a rather backward way of doing it and an inappropriate way of doing it and, I would suggest, somewhat undemocratic.

The Deputy Speaker: Just give me a moment here.

The House is recessed for 10 minutes.

The House recessed from 1358 to 1411.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you very much for your indulgence while I conferred with the Clerk. As I understand it, the question raised by the member for Algoma and the member for St Catharines was whether Bill 164 is out of order because it was introduced prior to royal assent being given to Bills 160 and 149. After careful consideration and discussions, I've come to the conclusion that this would only be an impediment to Bill 164 passing before the enactment of Bills 149 and 160, but it does not prevent Bill 164 from being introduced and considered.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

TORONTO HOSPITAL ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR L'HÔPITAL DE TORONTO

Mr Gilchrist moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 172, An Act to amalgamate The Toronto Hospital and The Ontario Cancer Institute and to amend the Cancer Act / Projet de loi 172, Loi visant à fusionner l'Hôpital de Toronto et l'Institut ontarien du cancer et à modifier la Loi sur le cancer.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): The purpose of the bill will be to amalgamate the Toronto Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute, otherwise known as the Princess Margaret Hospital, under the name of the Toronto Hospital. It's my understanding that we have all-party support to give second and third reading for this bill later today.

I would just like to point out to the members that we have Dr Alan Hudson, the president and CEO of the Toronto Hospital and Princess Margaret, as well as Ms Bella Martin, legal counsel and director of medical affairs of the two hospitals, with us in the gallery here today.

I look forward to the members' comments on this bill later this afternoon.

JAMAICAN CANADIAN ASSOCIATION ACT, 1997

Mr Sergio moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr94, An Act respecting the Jamaican Canadian Association.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Northern Development and Mines): I move, notwithstanding standing order 96(d), Mr Guzzo and Mr Grimmett exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

DEFERRED VOTES

DEVELOPMENT CHARGES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LES REDEVANCES D'AMÉNAGEMENT

Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 98, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth / Projet de loi 98, Loi visant à promouvoir la création d'emplois et à accroître la responsabilité des municipalités tout en prévoyant le recouvrement des coûts d'aménagement liés à la croissance.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): There will be a five-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1416 to 1421.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion, please rise one at a time.

Ayes

Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Beaubien, Marcel

Brown, Jim

Carr, Gary

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

DeFaria, Carl

Doyle, Ed

Ecker, Janet

Eves, Ernie L.

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Johnson, Ron

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Palladini, Al

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Runciman, Robert W.

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Sheehan, Frank

Skarica, Toni

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Stewart, R. Gary

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed, please stand one at a time.

Nays

Bartolucci, Rick

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Caplan, David

Cleary, John C.

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Hoy, Pat

Kennedy, Gerard

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Laughren, Floyd

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

McLeod, Lyn

Miclash, Frank

Morin, Gilles E.

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Ramsay, David

Sergio, Mario

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 68; the nays are 30.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

ORAL QUESTIONS

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health. The people of northwest Toronto today got information about their hospital services and they got it in an unusual form, Minister. You'll be aware there was a full-page ad telling the people who use North York Branson that if they arrive in the night hours by car, will they be treated by the emergency department? The answer is no.

Minister, 18 months ahead of the time that your hospital closing commission said, North York Branson is forced to close its overnight emergency services. It is forced to close it not because of the board of the hospital, which held an emergency meeting yesterday, another one today, I understand with your officials, but because of the chaos that your ministry has created. There is no plan to ensure the doctors and nurses needed to provide emergency services will have a place once this hospital eventually closes or changes itself to ambulatory services. There is no plan -

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Question, please.

Mr Kennedy: - for these services to go elsewhere because those other hospitals haven't done their renovations. Will you be able to guarantee emergency services for the people who had to read that ad this weekend?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): Yes, we certainly are fully aware of the situation at North York Branson Hospital and the fact that it has closed the night-time emergency department. In fact, as you know, last week they issued a press release indicating that indeed was going to happen. That was part of their efforts to ensure that people in that community know of the change in the treatment that is going to be available to them and that during the nights, from 10 to 8, they will not be open.

As you've just indicated, officials from the Ministry of Health have been meeting with the North York Branson Hospital and they will be continuing to meet today. Certainly we will do everything possible to ensure that first-class quality patient care will continue to be delivered as we go through the transition stage.

Mr Kennedy: Minister, that quality care is only possible if people know what to expect in terms of the hospital. The blue sign is being taken down outside North York Branson. I don't know how you can ensure that quality care is going to be there. It's not going to be a hospital 18 months ahead of the time that your hospital closing commission said it should shut down. You had correspondence from this hospital in April of this year and September of this year. They told you it was because of the great uncertainty caused by the decisions that you made, and no doubt the 12% cuts in their budget don't help either.

Minister, will you act to deal with these problems? You know that in Windsor closing of emergency rooms created great problems and you have a report to tell you how serious those problems were, that the facilities were inadequate, inefficient and unsafe.

The surrounding hospitals have not had time to do their renovations. Part of Branson will shut down. You're told by the head of the board that you ought not presume stability.

The Deputy Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Kennedy: Can you tell us specifically how you will take responsibility and make sure that those quality services are there for the people who had to read this ad in the paper this weekend?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Again I indicate to you that the ad in the paper was simply part of the ongoing communication to ensure that people knew about the changes that were taking place.

I just want to stress again that patients will still be able to access full-service emergency facilities at the York-Finch site of the Humber River Regional and the North York General as well. I think we also need to remember that the Humber River Regional has already increased its emergency room capacity from 54 stretchers to 67 stretchers in order to deal with the conversion. So there are some changes already going on, but as you know as well, the commission has also taken the opportunity to review the human resource report, a draft they have received from Mr Pathe. Again, it's going to be up to them to direct hospitals how to continue to deal with the staffing problems, so I am very confident that quality patient care will continue to be provided to those patients who use the hospitals.

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Mr Kennedy: It's not good enough for you to be confident down here at Queen's Park. Out there in the real world, people are not able to access emergency services the way they need to. Your ministry knew about this in April. They knew about it in September. You have told 30 hospitals across this province to close, and there is no plan to tell doctors and nurses, whom people are depending on, where they will go, what their careers will be, and some of them are now acting and they are moving to other hospitals.

The situation in Branson can be happening over and over again in this province. Two specific things: Will you assure the people who are served by Branson, many disproportionately elderly, in telling them there's a hospital somewhere away? It may look good on a map, but it's not real for them. Will you do something about Branson? Will you provide some funding? Will you make sure the staff get appointments to hospitals so that this uncertainty can be lifted? As you have been told, they could be unstable, the whole emergency could close, and many other services could close as well.

Will you announce the date when we will have a human resources adjustment strategy so that this chaos that you and Premier Harris and your predecessor have brought to this province can be dealt with properly?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I certainly understand the concerns of the individuals who use North York Branson. Again I would indicate to you that was part of the communication that was received this weekend. We will continue to monitor the situation at Branson very closely; in fact, as I said before, our staff are meeting with them, and as I said to you in my last answer, and now you've made reference to it, there is a human resource report. It is a draft at the present time, and there will be directions coming very soon as to how to deal with all those issues, so there is a plan in place that is being developed, and I can assure you we will have quality patient care for each and every individual.

CHARITABLE GAMING

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In response to a question I asked you last week, you stated you would not force the new Mike Harris gambling halls on to municipalities that did not want them. Since then, we have learned that your former aide and Mike Harris employee Paul Burns, acting on behalf of RPC Gaming, arranged to meet with Toronto councillor Judy Sgro and told her that RPC Gaming already has a contract with the Harris government and that charitable casinos in Metro were a done deal. In fact, the councillor said the following:

"She said she told Burns that since voters had indicated in the referendum that they didn't want charity casinos anywhere in the city, she wasn't inclined to work with him on a location.

"`So he said to me, "You don't understand. We have a contract with the province to put a casino into North York and since it's going to happen, I'd like to work with you."'"

How do you square that with the answer you gave in the House the other day, that you do not intend to force upon municipalities these new permanent gambling halls?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): First of all, I'll just reiterate what I have said before and what I have been saying for the last several months, and I don't think it's new news to anybody: We have clearly said we wouldn't force any communities to take a charity gaming club that didn't want one.

Second, I suppose I should comment on the article the member for St Catharines was reading. I guess this is a wonderful piece of work of journalistic reporting. Instead of going to the source, I suppose Mr Burns, who apparently denies he said that - it says here, "So he said to me...." Here's hearsay, I guess. It certainly wouldn't be admissible in a court. It's gossipy and certainly rumoury.

Interjection.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please, member for Oakwood.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I can only reiterate our position, which is very clear. We've said clearly we will not force any community to take a charity gaming club that did not want one.

Mr Bradley: I think it's quite clear what Mr Burns is up to. First of all, we have to know that Mr Burns is a former employee of yours, a former aide to you as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. He also worked for Mike Harris when he was the leader of the Conservative Party. He obviously has a lot of clout and a lot of connections, so when he speaks, it must mean that he has those connections with the government and he knows of what he speaks.

Will you today reveal to the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who voted against gambling expansion, that is, against the charity casinos in the last municipal election, what commitment you have made to RPC Gaming as it relates to the new Mike Harris gambling halls?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The member keeps asking the same question over and over again in different ways. Once again the short answer to all of this is the answer we've been saying all along. We will not force any community to take a charity gaming club that does not want one.

Mr Burns doesn't work for me right now. Mr Burns, when he left - and this was a question that was raised about three or four times in the House. I'll answer it the same way as I did before; apparently it's not new news again. Mr Burns spoke to the Integrity Commissioner. The Integrity Commissioner gave him a clean bill of health. Mr Burns does not speak on behalf of this government; we do.

Applause.

Mr Bradley: Obviously you get applause for a non-answer because he didn't tell me what was in the contract. I thought you people in the family values coalition of the government would want to know what's in that gambling contract to set up the new Mike Harris gambling halls across Ontario.

Right across the country there is a lot of concern being expressed, not just in this province, but in other provinces, in other jurisdictions, about the proliferation of new and different gambling opportunities that really affect those who are the most desperate in our society or those who are addicted. Isn't it time that the Mike Harris government decided to embark upon a moratorium on this new expansion of video lottery terminals across the province, of these charity casinos for which I believe you are trying to go over the electorate who expressed their views in the referendum, to go and try to persuade the local councillors to approve?

You're putting pressure on through the charities. You're trying to intimidate, you're trying to bribe by saying they're going to $1,500 per video lottery terminal. Isn't it time to call a moratorium and reassess this policy and look at the damage that is being done by this expansion of gambling opportunities in our province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I guess I should refer to last Thursday, which wasn't such a long time ago, where I said we're very clear. We've been very clear all along that we would not force any community that did not want to have a charity gaming club to have a charity gaming club. That's pretty clear.

Let's put this in perspective again. The member for St Catharines is referring to a former employee, but let's look at who gave the quote.

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Judy Sgro, who gave the quote, ran for the Liberal cousins in the last federal election and lost to John Nunziata. Here's a really objective person who's talking here. Let's also bring this into a little perspective again. I think the member is familiar with what Jennifer Patrick of the St Catharines Downtown Association said, that, "A charity gaming casino anywhere in the region will probably help all of Niagara."

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EDUCATION FINANCING

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. In just three short weeks, the 72 new boards of education have to assume responsibility for the schools in their geographic area, yet they still don't know what their budgets will be, an incredibly absurd situation. They have to be up and running in three weeks and you still haven't told them what their budgets will be.

Minister, will you tell the parents, the students and the teachers today what funding you're going to provide those new boards in the new year and will you guarantee to them today that you're not going to be cutting their budgets from what they otherwise would have been?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): The leader of the third party knows well that on January 1 the school boards will be receiving stable funding. This has been announced by the previous minister and I have reiterated that support. I quote again from the letter that was sent out in April that for the 1997-98 school year - that is, the year ending August 1998 - the government will continue to provide in grants and taxes the level of funding the system was receiving in 1997.

Once that period of time is completed, then on September 1, 1998, the new funding formula will kick in. The government is working on that new formula and that new formula will be announced over the next short period of time. But that doesn't begin until September 1998, which is many months from now.

Mr Hampton: Minister, if it were so simple, why haven't you sent out the funding formula to the boards? Why did you promise them the funding formula back in October and yet you have not as yet sent them their budgets? Why do boards of education not know whether junior kindergarten is going to be included in those budgets or not? Why do schools in the Toronto area not know whether or not they're going to receive funding adequate to cover the needs of students who speak a different language at home and are trying to learn English at school? What is it that your government can't come clean about?

If the formula is as it was, if there aren't going to be any cuts, why haven't you told the 72 boards of education across this province exactly what their funding formula is and exactly what their budget is? Can you tell us, Minister, why your government insists on keeping this behind closed doors, why you're trying to keep the boards in the dark? If you know the numbers, announce them so that the boards of education will know what they have to finance the education of children. Tell them today.

Hon David Johnson: The government did release earlier this year the booklet entitled Excellence in Education: Student-focused Funding for Ontario. There has been a consultation process before that time, during that time and after that time with the various school boards. The government has outlined its initiative in terms of a foundation grant which includes learning materials, classroom teachers, teachers' assistants, classroom computers, preparation time, library services, guidance and other professionals, which would include psychologists or psychiatrists or speech pathologists, for example. There are special purpose grants that are outlined in this document.

The precise amounts of money are being worked with the various school board officials. This formula does not kick in until September 1998.

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order. Answer, please.

Hon David Johnson: The school boards will have that level of detail. We're working with them. They'll have that level of detail in plenty of time for September 1998.

Mr Hampton: Here is the absurdity of the situation: The minister stands here day after day and says that the funding will be as it was. But he is creating a situation where the new boards of education, which have to be up and running within 23 days, still don't know how much money they're going to have to work with. Does the minister not see the absurdity of the situation? Do you not see how unfair this is to parents, how unfair it is to students, how unfair it is to teachers to not tell people what funding they are going to have to work with?

Minister, it's a simple question. You say it's not a problem. If it's not a problem, stand on your feet today, tell the 72 boards of education what the funding formula is, show them how much money they have and guarantee them that you're not cutting the budgets, cutting the funding that they otherwise would have. If you have all the answers, tell the people. Tell the people who care about education what those answers are, and tell them today.

Hon David Johnson: It's apparent that the leader of the third party is talking about the stub year, and again I will say that this government has committed to stable stub-year funding in terms of the taxes, the grants, but there are different circumstances. One of his colleagues, from Fort York I guess it was, outlined some of the slightly different circumstances that vary from board to board. While the boards can be guaranteed stable funding, we are in the midst right now and coming to the final stages of fine-tuning to determine fairness for all the boards right across Ontario, that indeed the stub-year funding does reflect that stability, those grants, those taxes that each board, under slightly different circumstances, should have access to. The government is working on that. They can be guaranteed the amount of money they need to carry on the programs, and the details will be out very shortly. But the boards know they have that stable funding. They've been planning on that right from the word go earlier in the year, through their whole calendar and fiscal year.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. As I understand it, he also now assumes some responsibility especially with respect to the unemployment situation among younger workers.

Minister, I understand the Premier is going to go to a first ministers' conference at the end of this week and he is supposed to be putting some ideas on the table as to how you're going to address the very high rate of unemployment among young people.

I held a little conference a couple of weeks ago where we brought together about 200 young people from across the province and they put some ideas on the table. They said, for one, the province could implement a better employment standards law, better enforcement of the employment standards laws and a provincial bad-boss hotline to prevent the exploitation of young workers. Second, they said that the government should find a way to create a better balance between stressed-out, overworked older workers and work-starved younger workers.

Minister, can you tell us, is the Premier going to put any ideas like this on the table at the premiers' conference? Is he going to put any new ideas on the table and can you tell us what they are?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I would like to thank the member for the question, but I also want to share some information that he should know, but obviously he does not. First of all, the youth unemployment rate has been steadily dropping for the past eight months and we're certainly on the right track. But even where it is right now, it's still unacceptable and I agree with the member.

We recently launched a program for young entrepreneurs which our government is very proud of. We believe we're on the right track to certainly stimulate youth employment. There's a lot to do and I think there is a lot to talk about with the federal government.

I am willing to work with the federal government to see how we can work together to see how we can eliminate youth unemployment. It's definitely a problem. I know my Premier will be discussing with the federal counterparts to see how we can address that. The previous government did not address this issue, and we are.

Mr Hampton: I asked the minister if this government had any new ideas for dealing with youth unemployment and what I think I got was the minister believes that 15% unemployment among young people is doing better. I think that's what he said. Other than that, I didn't hear any new ideas.

Minister, I want to take you up on one of the things that's happening out there under your government. This morning in Sault Ste Marie my colleague Tony Martin, the member for Sault Ste Marie, attended a news conference to protest that Sears is laying off full-time workers with seniority of 25 to 30 years and they're going to hire young workers on a part-time basis to replace the permanent employees they're putting out the door.

You know what that does, Minister. That allows you to say that unemployment is coming down, because your government can then say, "Well, we created two jobs for young people." Are these your new ideas, your good ideas? You lay off permanent older workers and bring younger workers in on a part-time basis. Is that your new idea for younger workers?

Hon Mr Palladini: I'm really disappointed in the leader of the third party because he was part of the government that totally destroyed employment in Ontario. Youth employment in the province is up by 43,000.

Interjection.

Hon Mr Palladini: Yes, it has been declining in the past six months because of the initiatives this government is taking. But I want to agree with the member that it's not good enough. We want to do better and we are going to do better.

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Mr Hampton: Once again a minister who believes that 15% unemployment among young people is acceptable I think indicates the true thinking of this government.

I hoped I would hear from you some new ideas about how you're going to deal with the problem of young people who are graduating from college and university with $25,000 in education debts and can't get a job. Instead, when I read what your government is doing, I find you're going the other way. I find that you're actually cutting funding for training and apprenticeships, and Veronica Lacey's performance contract indicates that you're going to start charging young people tuition fees to even get involved in apprenticeships.

Minister, these aren't new ideas; these are wrong ideas. They are ideas that will make it more difficult for young people to get into the job market. Can you tell us, do you have any new ideas whatsoever that you're going to take to the Prime Minister's conference? Do you have any ideas whatsoever that are going to help young people get the training they need, the apprenticeships they need and, most of all, the jobs they need? Give us the new ideas.

Hon Mr Palladini: New ideas I shared with the member. The one we just launched, the young entrepreneur program, is certainly a new idea where we get buy-ins from the private sector, the young entrepreneur and the provincial government. That's a new idea. There is more that we can do, but contrary to what you did while you were the government, our job creation programs are going to create jobs.

Interjection.

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

Hon Mr Palladini: At the end of our mandate we're going to create those jobs that we said we would in the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Oh, never mind. That's going to help young people, isn't it.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Hon Mr Palladini: That is 725,000 jobs that we are going to create, contrary to what you did in five years in government. You lost 10,000 net jobs. We're not going to do that.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Hampton: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: The minister should go back to transportation. He talked more about potholes.

The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.

WINTER HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Now that winter has arrived, I, like a number of my colleagues from northern and rural Ontario, am receiving calls about winter highway maintenance. In the Ottawa Valley over the last number of days, I've had several calls from heads of councils, from motorists, from commercial drivers who are extremely upset and concerned about what they believe to be the deterioration in the winter maintenance of Highway 17, particularly through the Pembroke, Renfrew and Arnprior area.

Minister, what do you have to say to my constituents and other motorists who believe, on the basis of a lot of good evidence, that Ontario's winter road maintenance is not as good as it used to be and not as good as it must be to protect the security and safety of the travelling public?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Transportation): I thank the honourable member for the question. I would like to assure him that highway winter maintenance is one of the top priorities of my ministry. We understand that safety, getting from point A to point B in a safe manner, is one of the critical issues for people who are on the provincial highways. We have committed an extensive array of resources to sanding and salting. In fact, we're investing in new technologies to do the job better for less.

I would assure the honourable member that Pembroke is not being unduly badly done by. We are expending the resources that are necessary to get the job done. We are looking at overhead. We want to make sure the resources go to the actual roads involved. We are doing the job that has to be done, given the climatic conditions in Ontario.

Mr Conway: This is a deadly serious matter. A 19-month-old constituent of mine was killed near Arnprior last week and there are a lot of knowledgeable and thoughtful people who believe that the Highway 17 maintenance was not as good as it ought to have been.

This past July - July 24, 1997, to be specific - Mr Justice Joseph O'Brien, in the Ontario Supreme Court (General Division), awarded $4.5 million worth of damages to Penny Roberts, a 16-year-old Ontarian who was tragically and seriously hurt on the 401 just east of Toronto five years ago. Mr Justice O'Brien found the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario 50% liable for those conditions: bad, substandard winter maintenance conditions.

I say to the minister, what particular assurances is he prepared to give my constituents and the travelling public of Ontario that on the King's highways, 17 and 62 and 28 and 41, the ones we're keeping after downloading, there is going to be an adequate, proper and safe level of winter maintenance?

Hon Mr Clement: Again, I thank the honourable member for the question and assure him that the government is committed to spending $130 million to ensure that winter maintenance is up to the standard we are expecting in this province. We will ensure that that money is spent in the best way possible for the taxpayers of Ontario. If winter conditions are such that they are worse this year, our government always assures that we spend the money that has to be spent to ensure that our roads are the safest possible under the circumstances, given the conditions in Ontario. I want to assure the honourable member that that will continue under this government this year, next year and in future years as well.

WOMEN'S SHELTERS

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. In 23 days, your government will assume 100% funding responsibility for the emergency women's shelters across the province, yet from one end of the province to the other the women's shelters don't know what their budgets are going to be. In fact, this is what they say: "We, the people who run women's emergency shelters, do not know if we will have money for counselling programs. We don't know if we will get money to cover the full per diem. We don't know if the government will cover victims' personal needs allowances."

Minister, can you tell us why, with only 23 days left, you haven't told these people who do this very important work what their budgets will be, and can you guarantee them that you won't be cutting their budgets as well?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I thought I heard the honourable member say something about the municipalities assuming responsibility. I'm not sure if that was accurate or not, if that's what he said, but the municipalities are not assuming responsibility; the province is assuming 100% responsibility. The province will be assuming that and the province will be funding that 100%.

We've also received recommendations from the shelters that the way the funding has currently gone to them on the per diems creates significant problems for their budget process. That's one of the reasons why we are reforming that. We are looking at a budget that will be much easier administratively for them to deal with and that meets the commitment to fund them at 100%.

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Mr Hampton: I asked the minister if your government would be covering victims' personal needs allowances, if you'd be covering the full per diem. I asked you if you would be covering the cost of counselling programs. Everyone knows that in the tradeoff with municipalities and the downloading effort, you're now going to take 100% responsibility for this. I didn't get an answer to any of those three questions.

What we do know, Minister, is this: Women's shelters have been shown a memo which says that you are not going to cover the cost of pay equity. After you were ordered by the Supreme Court of Ontario to live up to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to follow through on pay equity, you're now out there telling women's shelters that you're not going to cover the cost of pay equity.

Minister, is it your idea that women who work in emergency shelters should be paid less? Is that your idea, that women who work in emergency shelters should be paid less, should accept lower pay? When are you going to tell them their funding, and when are you going to guarantee there will be no funding cuts?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I appreciate the honourable member's attempt to play politics with this, but I'm very surprised that there would be any memo out there saying we are not paying for pay equity when the government has made no final decisions on that. So I would think that's inaccurate, whatever memo he's talking about. There are a number of factors that have been raised around that court decision, and certainly the government is considering very carefully any potential changes in response, if necessary.

Second, I would repeat that 100% responsibility for funding is 100% responsibility for that funding, and we do not back away from that commitment.

MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES' PENSIONS

Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I recently noted that the government has accepted the changes proposed by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Board, commonly referred to as OMERS. I know that the OMERS plan manages about $30 billion in pension funds on behalf of approximately 250,000 members, so any changes that are made are going to affect a great deal of people. Could the minister please tell the House what implications these changes to the OMERS pension plan will have on Ontario municipalities and also on Ontario taxpayers?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I would like to thank the member for Kitchener-Wilmot for the question. It's true that the government has recently accepted the changes from the OMERS board, which are going to be very positive for municipalities in Ontario. These changes will amount to $1.5 billion in savings for the taxpayers and plan members over the next five years. As a matter of fact, David Griffin, the OMERS board chair, recently stated that when local government wins, taxpayers also win and it's a win-win for all levels.

It's estimated that the changes will result in savings of $600 million for the GTA alone, another $120 million for Ottawa-Carleton and $125 million in the London-Windsor-Sarnia area. Local governments will be able to incorporate these great savings in their 1998 budgets, which is good news for both the municipalities and the taxpayers in this province.

Mr Leadston: The good news is not only for the municipalities in my riding but for all the taxpayers in Ontario. However, I am sure that my constituents would like to know more about the specific changes to the OMERS pension plan. Could the minister please provide the House with some specific details of the OMERS plan that the government has accepted?

Hon Mr Leach: The main change to the plan is a 2% contribution by both the employer and the employees, which means it's a great benefit to the municipalities in doing their 1998 budget, but it's also a 2% savings for the employees. It's like a 2% wage increase.

The OMERS board was able to propose this reduction due to high investment returns, a large surplus and low inflation rates over the past few years. Other changes include enhancing early retirement provisions for OMERS board members who retire over the next five years. These provisions will also help municipalities in their restructuring plans across Ontario. This is just another example of how this government is working with our stakeholders to make sure that the municipalities and taxpayers across this province get the best return for their investment.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Mr David Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Education. I've been hearing a lot of rhetoric from your government about what it's doing to address the tragedy of youth unemployment in this province. Statistics Canada figures will confirm that 17% of our youth are unemployed versus 15.5% only one year ago.

In April your ministry changed the Futures program, a program focused on youth job placement, to the career and employment preparation program. I'm interested in knowing what are the successes of this new program. I know that on October 10 of this year the Ministry of Education reduced the target for this program to 60% of the expected placements, from 94,000 to 50,000.

Can you tell us what the overall target numbers are for the on-the-job-placement portion of the program, and since the ministry does monthly reviews with the employment agencies, how many young people have been placed to date?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I'm pleased to say that the province of Ontario over the course of this year is looking at an investment of some $180 million in total in the youth employment situation, and that will serve about 141,000 young people. As the minister in a previous question has indicated, there are some 43,000 new youth jobs just over this last seven months alone, and Ontario certainly leads Canada in that regard.

In terms of the career and employment preparation program, there are some $110 million allocated to this particular program. I think this is the information the member was seeking. The program will serve about 94,000 people and the vast majority of them, about 85,000, will be youth. In the transition period for this year - this year is a transition period, 1997-98 - some 50,000 young people will be served through that program.

Mr Caplan: The minister's answer was quite inadequate. Minister, I think you should be clear on what your commitment is to providing adequate job programs for our young people.

Your deputy minister's performance contract states, "The implementation of the new career and employment preparation program is key," and her expected results are "to reduce costs, to improve participant placement and to increase employer satisfaction."

So far you have reduced moneys to the program. You've cut almost $42 million from this part of the budget, almost 17.5%. In fact, your participation numbers have not gone up; your own ministry has reduced them to 60% of your target.

When you gave your opening remarks to the estimates committee, and I was there, employment preparation and placement were never mentioned as priorities for your ministry. Minister, this speaks volumes about your government's commitment to youth unemployment in this province. Tell us, what are you planning to do to address the crisis in youth unemployment?

Hon David Johnson: I think I indicated one of the activities in terms of the career and employment preparation program, but the main thing that this government is going to do, as it promised to do during the election, is remove the impediments to the creation of jobs: lowering taxes, getting rid of red tape, overhauling the WCB system.

Between 1985 and 1990, the government represented by the member opposite, the Liberal government, put taxes up some 32 times, I believe it was, in the province of Ontario. If there's anything that kills jobs for young people, for people of all ages, it's that kind of tax increase. That's the problem.

In terms of our investment here in Ontario, I'm pleased to say that this government, the government I represent, is investing some $180 million in the youth employment situation. The federal government, by comparison, is investing less than half of that amount. Your Liberal federal colleagues in Ottawa -

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Answer, please.

Hon David Johnson: - are investing less than $80 million.

I plead with you. Talk to your federal colleagues in Ottawa. Get them to put in the same support that we are -

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

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POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training as well. With all the attention being paid to the damage to education caused by Bill 160, it's been easy to overlook what's been happening to colleges and universities in Ontario. In a recent speech the Premier suggested that graduates in humanities have little chance to make a contribution to society and that liberal arts education wasn't a practical area of study for the future.

Funding to universities is continuing to decline and, as a result, universities are having to make damaging decisions. We've heard that on Friday, Carleton University decided to close undergraduate programs in classics, German, Italian, Spanish, and comparative literature studies, and master's programs in German and in Spanish. This is likely to lead to the first dismissals of tenured faculty as a result of this government's cuts to post-secondary education. Minister, is this what the Premier wanted? Is this what he had in mind?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I think what the Premier had in mind was simply a system that is accountable, efficient and relevant to the needs of our students today. The universities and colleges are independent. I might say that in terms of our universities, for example, and the kind of test - I guess "test" isn't the right word but the kind of relationships - Maclean's does a scoring system on the universities across Canada, and I'm really delighted that the universities in Ontario score extremely high. They scored extremely high this year and have over the years.

We are privileged to have leaders at the university level, at the college level, who are providing courses, but can the courses be changed to be more relevant, to be more accountable, to be more efficient? I believe we all here today would say yes, they could be, to serve the students, to get jobs and to lead lives in the international world we live in today.

Mr Lessard: From your answer, it appears to me you may agree with the decision by Carleton to cut some of these programs. We believe your approach to post-secondary education is both short-sighted and anti-intellectual. If your budget cuts force universities to slash these kinds of programs, it will have long-term impacts on Ontario's competitiveness and the quality of the society within which we live. We believe those are going to be negative impacts. Is that what you want, Minister?

Hon David Johnson: We simply want the moneys spent at the university level, at the colleges, to be spent in a most effective and efficient manner, and that they involve courses that are relevant to the new century we're embarking upon in the very near future. We must bear in mind that we need to train our young people, equip our young people with the kind of education that will serve them in their life and in the workforce. At the same time we must realize it is the taxpayers - and most of the taxpayers do not attend university - who pay for it, so there must be an accountable and efficient system so that indeed all society benefits from the kind of training they get in universities and colleges, and that's all we're asking for.

TELEMARKETING PRACTICES

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): My question is directed to the minister -

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): I'm not sure what's happening here. I missed it, but if you could continue with your question.

Mr Preston: I'd like to get started. My question is directed to the minister responsible for seniors. Over the past few days there have been several newspaper articles in my riding of Brant-Haldimand, and indeed across the province, mentioning the very serious danger seniors face every day from telephone fraud. Telephone fraud is expected to cost Ontario seniors $3.5 million this year. Can the minister tell the House what the government is doing to protect seniors from these con artists?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): I want to thank my colleague for the question, and I want to inform members of the House that last week my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, his parliamentary assistant and I participated in a special program to talk to seniors in this province and warn them about fraud that is continuing on the rise in this province and in this country. It was conducted at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. It involved various members of the community who came in and assisted in this reverse boiler room set up to call seniors and warn them.

The Hang Up On Fraud program that was initiated in this province is in response to a very serious crime that's going on in this country. OPP Detective Staff Sergeant Barry Elliott noted that over the last three years seniors represent about 70% of all of the fraud, which is estimated at $200 million. The worst case was a senior here in Ontario, which was almost $2 million taken from one senior citizen.

I'm pleased to report that in initiating this program we talked to over 2,000 seniors; 160 volunteers performed that. I was pleased the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations hosted that event.

Mr Preston: It's encouraging to hear that this program went on, and that's great for Baycrest. But still, fraud is an ongoing problem. Telemarketing fraud is a problem for our seniors particularly. Can you tell me and my constituents in Brant-Haldimand what the government is going to do to help the seniors?

Hon Mr Jackson: First of all, I might point out that after three successive governments, it was this government that brought in the first Victims' Bill of Rights so that we can move towards lessening the victimization of citizens, including seniors. Our Solicitor General has made fraud awareness a major focus of Crime Prevention Week with a combination of educational videos, training and in-service for police officers and additional supports for seniors' groups across the province.

As well, my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has provided leadership at the national forum of ministers to lobby for stiffer penalties with federal legislation, which is involved here. He has begun providing interprovincial agreements so that we can stop these fraud artists who set up shop in Quebec and phone in Ontario and set up in other parts of the country and victimize our seniors.

Anyone with questions about telemarketing fraud can call Phonebusters toll free. That number is 1-888-495-8501. I'm sure all the members will be interested.

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, $44 million was spent on a chronic care centre, and we called that centre Malden Park. We keep our most sickly patients there. Why will you not now fund it as a chronic care hospital?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): I would certainly take the question under advisement, and I will certainly respond to you as to the status as to what is going on.

Mrs Pupatello: I'm going to take that as a sign that you are not aware of what your own commission that you sent to Windsor is recommending. Instead of continuing to fund a building that you spent $44 million on as a chronic care facility, you're prepared to spend millions to renovate some other beds to become chronic care. What you're really doing to our Malden Park Centre is reducing the operating cost per bed from $208 for a chronic care bed to $58 as a nursing home. May I remind you and all other members in this House that this is a very sneaky way of getting around properly funding chronic care beds which, as this minister knows, we desperately need in Ontario.

I look forward to a very specific answer to explain why on earth you would change that kind of funding when you know, as the last government did, that it always should have been designated a chronic care facility and it was built as such.

Hon Mrs Witmer: The facility was built, as you know, as a long-term-care facility, and it is being funded accordingly at the present time, but I will certainly get the information for you.

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HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is also for the Minister of Health. You've been going around the province since your appointment talking about the need to slow down and look at what the effect of all the restructuring has been. That's given rise to hope in some communities that you may not follow through with some of the recommendations of the hospital restructuring commission.

In particular, I've had approaches, as I'm sure the member for Elgin has, from members of our communities in St Thomas and London around the proposed devolution of the London Psychiatric Hospital and the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital to the St Joseph's Hospital corporation. I understand that there is some delay happening in terms of that devolution and I'm asking you today, will the timetable suggested by the restructuring commission go ahead with that devolution occurring as of December 31, 1997?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): We are continuing to look at all of those time lines in order to ensure that the steps that need to be taken can be taken within those time lines, and obviously if there is a need for some adjustment, then the appropriate steps will be taken accordingly.

Mrs Boyd: I think the minister ought to understand that this is a very important question for the people who work in those facilities, for the people who supply those facilities and indeed for the hospitals that may be the recipients of those services. Again, we're talking about a time frame that is very short. It is unbelievable to all of us that whether it's education or health care or any of the other areas, none of the ministers of the government can give us any information about what's going to be happening only 23 days from now.

Minister, would you make it clear? Are you planning, first of all, for the government of Ontario to devolve those services to St Joseph's, and are you intending to go ahead with the recommendation that those two facilities close and the services be shifted to other communities?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As you know, the Ministry of Health is working very closely with the district health councils and they, in turn, are working very closely with the providers and all those involved in the devolution. We are endeavouring to meet those time lines, and obviously if there is a reason to make some changes, we are prepared to do so. We are working actively each day with all those that are impacted to ensure that the appropriate services are in place when the change takes place. I can understand your concern and certainly the concern of those individuals who are going to be impacted by this decision, but let me assure you that we are very closely monitoring that situation.

NATIONAL UNITY

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. My constituents are keenly interested in the public consultation process on national unity. I've already held one public meeting, which was well attended, this past Saturday and plan to hold another public meeting on December 13, this coming Saturday.

Many who attended the meeting had not received one of the brochures that had been sent out in the mail. I know that home delivery of the questionnaires on the issue was delayed by the recent postal strike. I'm wondering about the status of these brochures and when the public might expect to receive them.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): The member for Northumberland should be congratulated on the work he's doing. It gives me an opportunity to advise everyone in the House, including my friend from Algoma, that we're taking every opportunity we can to get the message out with regard to Ontario Speaks, a questionnaire where families are given the opportunity to let us know how they feel about the unity of our country. We really want their opinions. They can telephone 1-800-695-4045 or fax 1-888-258-1940, and hopefully by the end of this week the other two million questionnaires will be distributed throughout Ontario, which will make it almost four million households that will have this opportunity. So it's Web site www.ontariospeaks.com.

Mr Galt: Minister, there are many ways of getting information back to the government. Are there any other ways, and could you tell the House and my constituents how successfully these consultations are going across the province?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: This is a different kind of response, only to remind the members that we in Ontario - the members of the committee from all three parties - have made the decision on this consultation process, because it is so important to the future of the country, that we will continue after the new year with our public meetings throughout our communities.

For all of you who have not taken that opportunity, I hope you will call the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, speak to the member for Downsview, the member for Algoma and myself. Most of us are keenly interested in hearing from the public with regard to their feelings about the future of our country. This is an opportunity that hasn't been made available to them in the past.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): This is probably out of order, but before we move on to petitions, I want to thank you all for your indulgence today and being patient with me. It's the first time as your new Deputy Speaker that I've done question period.

Applause.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. I want particularly to thank those who noticed that I am indeed female - I want to reassure you all of that - and you may call me Madam Speaker. Thank you for your indulgence today.

PETITIONS

CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CARE

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

"To the Ontario Legislature, Premier Mike Harris, Health Minister Elizabeth Witmer and members of the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has recently strengthened its reputation as the Ministry of Medicine through its $1.7-billion three-year agreement with the Ontario Medical Association; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is restricting access to alternative cost-saving treatments for patients of the province; and

"Whereas two recent reports commissioned by the Ministry of Health called for increased OHIP funding to improve patient access to chiropractic services on the grounds of safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness; and

"Whereas over one million Ontario adults now use chiropractic services annually, increasingly those with higher incomes because of the cost barrier caused by government underfunding; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has shown blatant disregard for the needs of the citizens of Ontario in restricting funding for chiropractic services;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize the contribution made by chiropractors to the good health of the people of Ontario, to recognize the taxpayer dollars saved by the use of low-cost preventive care such as that provided by chiropractors and to recognize that to restrict funding for chiropractic health care only serves to limit access to a needed health care service."

I affix my signature to this petition.

EDUCATION REFORM

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by 120 teachers in independent schools in Ontario in support of their colleagues in the public education system. The teachers in the independent schools of Ontario endorse the public school teachers' concern for maintaining the quality of public schooling in Ontario and as taxpayers they are grateful for the teachers' sacrifice and their service to young people in the province.

I agree with the petition and I am affixing my name thereto.

COURT DECISION

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I have a petition that reads:

"We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following:

"That the decision to allow women to appear topless in public is offensive; and

"That children should not be exposed to public displays of nudity which contradicts values taught in the Canadian school system; and

"That there are laws and regulations in Canada to protect children against nudity in the media but currently there are no laws protecting children from nudity in public places; and

"That allowing women to appear topless in public encourages poor behaviour which may lead to increased incidence of violence against women;

"Therefore, the undersigned petitioners humbly pray and call upon Parliament to amend the indecent act and public nudity provisions of the Criminal Code to clearly state that it is an indecent act for a woman to expose her breasts in a public place, with the exception of women who are breast-feeding."

To this I affix my signature.

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CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, a petition:

"Whereas it is in the best interests of the public to have open market competition among professional accountants; and

"Whereas, under the Public Accountancy Act, only chartered accountants have full access to public accounting licences in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the province of Ontario restricts certified general accountants more than all other provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island; and

"Whereas certified general accountants, whose training is identical to that of certified general accountants in the province of Ontario, have a statutory right to practise public accounting in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, are free to practise in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, can be licensed to practise in Nova Scotia and have considerable public accountancy rights in the province of Quebec; and

"Whereas this has created a monopoly in the province of Ontario since 1962 that is not only unfair to the public but also results in additional expenses, particularly to small business owners; and

"Whereas the monopoly results in NAFTA inequalities for certified general accountants in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas according full professional rights to certified general accountants would lower costs to business by creating competition in accounting and auditing services, which is consistent with the current government's initiative to introduce measures designed to reduce government interference in the private and business lives of Ontario residents; and

"Whereas certified general accountants in the province of Ontario are qualified professionals whose governing body delivers a rigorous and demanding program of professional studies, examines for professional competency, requires practical experience to qualify individuals as certified general accountants, has an established code of ethics and rules of professional conduct and an accompanying disciplinary process to ensure that the standards of the profession are maintained and that the interests of the public are protected; and

"Whereas the Professional Organizations Committee rejected the notion of a monopoly over licensed practices for chartered accountants and specifically supported and recommended the extension of public accounting licences to certified general accountants with experience in the field of public accounting;

"We, the undersigned residents of the province of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to grant to the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario their request for overdue amendments to the Public Accountancy Act to allow certified general accountants full access to public practice licences and to eliminate the present monopoly."

This is signed by residents of Ontario from Newmarket, Toronto, London, Waterdown, as well as residents of my constituency on Scarlett Road, Humberside and other locations. I affix my signature to this petition.

ABORTION

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario health system is overburdened and unnecessary spending must be cut; and

"Whereas pregnancy is not a disease, injury or illness and abortions are not therapeutic procedures; and

"Whereas the vast majority of abortions are done for reasons of convenience or finance; and

"Whereas the province has exclusive authority to determine what service will be insured; and

"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require funding for elective procedures; and

"Whereas there is mounting evidence that abortion is in fact hazardous to women's health; and

"Whereas Ontario taxpayers funded over 45,000 abortions in 1993 at an estimated cost of $25 million;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to cease from providing any taxpayers' dollars for the performance of abortions."

PAY EQUITY

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I have a petition signed by a great number of home care workers with the Canadian Red Cross in my riding. They're requesting that the government do something about the pay equity problem that has arisen for their workers. The main focus of their petition is, "We are prepared to forgo this last pay equity payment if it means saving our jobs. All homemakers, regardless of agency, should be paid similar wages, as they do work of a similar nature."

I would like to file this petition with the House.

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly. It says:

"Whereas it took 20 years and $10 million in local donations to create a 225-bed chronic facility known as Malden Park; and

"Whereas this community believed that its donations were going towards the creation of a new chronic care hospital; and

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission recommends putting chronic care beds in Windsor Western Hospital, at a cost of $14 million to $25 million; and

"Whereas the funding levels for Malden Park have been deteriorating over the past two years;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to restore funding levels to Malden Park to the average per-day rate for chronic care and designate Malden Park as a complex continuing care facility, which is what this community raised $10 million for, and to save the $14-million cost required to refurbish Windsor Western as a chronic care facility."

I agree with this petition and have signed my name to it as well.

CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I have a petition similar to the one the member for York South presented, which reads in part:

"Whereas it is in the best interests of the public to have open market competition among professional accountants; and

"Whereas under the Public Accountancy Act only chartered accountants have full access to public accounting licences in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the province of Ontario restricts certified general accountants more than all other provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island; and....

"Whereas this has created a monopoly in the province of Ontario since 1962 that is not only unfair to the public but also results in additional expenses, particularly to small business owners....

"We, the undersigned residents of the province of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to grant to the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario their request for overdue amendments to the Public Accountancy Act to allow certified general accountants full access to public practice licences and to eliminate the present monopoly."

EDUCATION FINANCING

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas education is our future; and

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

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

"Whereas you cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and

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

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

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, support our MPP Frank Miclash in his efforts to withdraw Bill 160 immediately."

I've attached my name to that petition as well.

ANIMAL WELFARE

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have a petition signed by over 1,000 people from Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Niagara and the Toronto area. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas ownership of a domestic animal (pet) is a responsibility not a right;

"Whereas owners have a responsibility to treat their domestic animal (pet) with care and utmost concern for their wellbeing;

"We, the undersigned, support the amendments to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act."

In support, I add my signature.

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas it took 20 years and $10 million in local donations to create a 225-bed chronic facility known as Malden Park; and

"Whereas this community believed that its donations were going towards the creation of a new chronic care hospital; and

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission recommends putting chronic care beds in Windsor Western Hospital at a cost of $14 million to $25 million; and

"Whereas the funding levels for Malden Park have been deteriorating over the past two years;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to restore funding levels to Malden Park to the average per-day rate for chronic care and designate Malden Park as a complex continuing care facility, which is what this community raised $10 million for, and to save the $14-million cost required to refurbish Windsor Western as a chronic care facility."

This petition is signed by many, many people in the riding of Windsor-Sandwich and the county of Essex.

COURT DECISION

Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition signed by 112 people.

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

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

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

CHOICE IN HEALTH CARE

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): This petition reads:

"Please support Tammy. By signing this petition, you will let Janet Ecker, Minister of Community and Social Services, know that she has no right in making decisions about an individual's health. Treatment decisions should be left up to medical professionals, patients and their families."

I will affix my signature to this.

PAY EQUITY

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I have a petition signed by over 3,000 residents of Northumberland. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the province's pay equity law which goes into effect January 1, 1998, will drive the Red Cross homemakers out of business; and

"Whereas this pay equity legislation only affects the Red Cross homemakers; and

"Whereas if the legislation is not amended, the Canadian Red Cross homemakers will no longer be able to provide in-home care for the frail, elderly, handicapped and people coming home early from hospitals;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to amend the legislation to maintain the Red Cross homemakers' ability to continue this vital public service."

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CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CARE

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has recently strengthened its reputation as the Ministry of Medicine through its $1.7-billion three-year agreement with the OMA; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is restricting access to alternative cost-saving treatments for patients of the province; and

"Whereas two recent reports commissioned by the Ministry of Health called for increased OHIP funding to improve patient access to chiropractic services on the grounds of safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness; and

"Whereas over one million Ontario adults now use chiropractic services annually, increasingly those with higher incomes, because of the cost barrier caused by government underfunding; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has shown blatant disregard for the needs of the citizens of Ontario in restricting funding for chiropractic services;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize the contribution made by chiropractors to the good health of the people of Ontario, to recognize the taxpayer dollars saved by the use of lower-cost preventive care such as that provided by chiropractors and to recognize that to restrict funding for chiropractic health care only serves to limit access to a needed health care service."

This petition is signed by several thousand people.

BEAR HUNTING

Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): This petition is signed by citizens all over Ontario with respect to protecting the hunting heritage and allowing the continuation of hunting for black bear.

ROYAL ASSENT / SANCTION ROYALE

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her office.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour did assent:

Bill 98, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth / Projet de loi 98, Loi visant à promouvoir la création d'emplois et à accroître la responsabilité des municipalités tout en prévoyant le recouvrement des coûts d'aménagement liés à la croissance

Bill 140, An Act to establish the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and to make complementary amendments to other statutes / Projet de loi 140, Loi créant la Commission des services financiers de l'Ontario et apportant des modifications complémentaires à d'autres lois

Bill 149, An Act to continue the reforms begun by the Fair Municipal Finance Act, 1997 and to make other amendments respecting the financing of local governments / Projet de loi 149, Loi continuant les réformes amorcées par la Loi de 1997 sur le financement équitable des municipalités et apportant d'autres modifications relativement au financement des administrations locales

Bill 152, An Act to improve Services, increase Efficiency and benefit Taxpayers by eliminating Duplication and reallocating Responsibilities between Provincial and Municipal Governments in various areas and to implement other aspects of the Government's "Who Does What" Agenda / Projet de loi 152, Loi visant à améliorer les services, à accroître l'efficience et à procurer des avantages aux contribuables en éliminant le double emploi et en redistribuant les responsabilités entre le gouvernement provincial et les municipalités dans divers secteurs et visant à mettre en oeuvre d'autres aspects du programme «Qui fait quoi» du gouvernement

Bill 160, An Act to reform the education system, protect classroom funding, and enhance accountability, and make other improvements consistent with the Government's education quality agenda, including improved student achievement and regulated class size / Projet de loi 160, Loi visant à réformer le système scolaire, à protéger le financement des classes, à accroître l'obligation de rendre compte et à apporter d'autres améliorations compatibles avec la politique du gouvernement en matière de qualité de l'éducation, y compris l'amélioration du rendement des élèves et la réglementation de l'effectif des classes

Bill 161, An Act to provide fairness for parents and employees by providing remedies relating to the province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers between October 27 and November 7, 1997 and to make a complementary amendment to the Education Act / Projet de loi 161, Loi favorisant le traitement équitable des parents et des employés en prévoyant des recours à la suite du retrait de services par les enseignants à l'échelle de la province entre le 27 octobre et le 7 novembre 1997 et apportant une modification complémentaire à la Loi sur l'éducation

Bill 167, An Act to Change the name of the geographic township of Creighton in the Territorial District of Sudbury to Creighton-Davies, and to make a consequential amendment to the Territorial Division Act / Projet de loi 167, Loi visant à remplacer le nom du canton géographique de Creighton dans le district territorial de Sudbury par celui de Creighton-Davies, et apportant une modification corrélative à la Loi sur la division territoriale.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TAX CREDITS TO CREATE JOBS ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 ACCORDANT DES CRÉDITS D'IMPÔT POUR CRÉER DES EMPLOIS

Mr Baird, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved second reading of the following bill:

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

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill 164. This bill implements and enhances our 1997 budget commitments to invest in research and development, new technology, cultural industries, youth employment and small business job creation. We listened to the people of Ontario and responded to ideas that would further create economic growth and employment in Ontario.

Bill 164 will support creating more well-paid, leading-edge technology jobs for Ontario's youth. This is absolutely key to the economic future of the province. During the last 10 years, two out of every three jobs in Ontario were created in knowledge and technology-based industries.

Bill 164 will extend the leading-edge technology component of the cooperative education tax credit to include approved apprenticeships and private sector vocational school programs.

Perhaps before I continue, Mr Speaker, I will indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kitchener.

We are going well beyond our budget commitment to encourage companies to expand and create jobs in computer animation and special effects. Bill 164 will increase the Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit. Ontario trains some of the best experts in the world for this growing and dynamic segment of the film and television production industry. This will help ensure that the talented people trained in Ontario have opportunities to work here.

Bill 164 will also deliver on our commitment to strengthen Ontario's research and development competitiveness and to forge stronger links between the private sector and Ontario's post-secondary research institutions.

The Ontario business research institute tax credit will encourage post-secondary educational and research institutions to become more market-driven to attract business-sponsored research and development. It will also complement the research and development challenge fund by providing companies with an added incentive to contribute towards university research and development.

To help foster job creation and new investment, Bill 164 will also provide an incentive to acquire new technology and to innovate in Ontario.

The Ontario new technology tax incentive will encourage the acquisition and commercialization of new technology by allowing firms to deduct immediately the cost of new technology acquired.

High-tech means jobs for Ontario in Silicon Valley North, in my part of Ontario in Nepean and Kanata in the Ottawa area, in Kitchener-Waterloo, in Carleton Place and indeed in the greater Toronto area. If you look at my community of Nepean alone, you can see a tremendous amount of economic growth that comes right out of this area.

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I have here the front page of the Nepean Clarion from June 14, 1997: "5,000 Jobs Coming to City of Nepean: Nortel Announces $250 Million Expansion." What a tremendous example that is of the good economic news across the province of Ontario, and no provincial money going to support this, there was no grant. It's an Ontario success story.

I'll read briefly from it:

"A recent announcement by Nortel to expand in the capital region has left many buzzing with excitement - and Nepean stands to be a great benefactor.

"Not only is the $250-million expansion slated to create over 5,000 new jobs in Nepean by the year 2000, it is expected that 15,000 spinoff jobs will be created in construction, retailing, and service industries across the region."

That's tremendously good news for the people in Ottawa-Carleton and across the province. We look forward to more announcements like that.

We said if we could have an announcement like that once a month we'd be in good shape, and the following month in Ottawa-Carleton we saw another major economic development announcement, from Newbridge Networks. They didn't match the 5,000 new jobs announced for Nepean by Nortel, but they came pretty close: 4,100 new jobs coming to Newbridge in the city of Kanata, adjacent to the city of Nepean.

In Ottawa-Carleton we've only in recent years become good at attracting new companies to our region, but we're very good, in my part of the province, at growing small business. Newbridge is a small business success story. A growing small business in Ottawa-Carleton is good news. Newbridge started out just 10 years ago with annual sales of only $1 million. Today, its annual sales globally are more than $1.5 billion. That's tremendously good news for high tech in Ottawa-Carleton, very important.

One of the other important areas for high tech is high income tax rates. When you look at the competitiveness for our friends from other countries, when they go to attract graduates from universities like the University of Waterloo and Bill Gates can set up a Microsoft recruiting office right in the city of Waterloo, they can point to a very low tax rate in Seattle, Washington. That's why our tax competitiveness, in addition to the strong health care system and strong quality of life, is essential to ensuring that these young people can get jobs right here in Ontario. That's extremely important for folks not just in Ottawa-Carleton but right across the province.

The small business sector is an important job creator for our young people. The Ontario graduate transition tax credit will help ensure that taxpayers' investment in educating our young people translates into jobs. Bill 164 enhances our budget commitment to give small business incentives to provide Ontario's young people with jobs. Bill 164 will increase the tax credit rate for small business with both the graduate transition tax credit and the cooperative education tax credit. In my constituency, an incredible number of co-op education students working at Nortel and Newbridge and various small businesses around the region benefit greatly from the co-op education programs of a number of Ontario universities.

Over the next three years, we estimate the graduate transition tax credit will help up to 45,000 unemployed graduates get employment experience and on-the-job training in a tough job market. That will be good news for young people in Ontario. It's a specific example of one of the many policies and initiatives undertaken by this government in recent times to help concentrate on the problem of youth unemployment, because young people in the province are looking for more than platitudes from politicians. They want more than another government program to simply throw money at a problem; they want some concrete solutions that will yield results. Strategic investments in our young people through the tax system ensure that it will get a maximum bang for the buck and will be of great assistance to young people looking for work in the province. This came out of our budget in May, and we're putting it into legislation through Bill 164, so it's not a new commitment on a Monday afternoon.

The cooperative education tax credit encourages businesses to provide more work experience opportunities for students and encourages institutions to form stronger partnerships with firms in leading-edge fields. Expanding this tax credit to private sector vocational schools and to apprenticeships broadens the benefits of this program for students and employers. By targeting more programs and students in leading-edge technology fields of study, this tax credit will encourage enrolment in high technology fields and increase job opportunities for Ontario's youth.

I can point out another few examples to my colleagues opposite in terms of other tangible examples for young people that have been seen by this government. The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, our friend Mr Palladini, made reference earlier today in the House to an important program to help young entrepreneurs in the province. There's an article in the Globe and Mail I'll quote from:

"The Ontario government has launched a new training and loans program aimed at young people who want to start their own businesses. Called the young entrepreneurs program, it will provide aspiring owners (aged 18 to 29) with a loan guarantee of up to $7,500." That's another example of a program to help young people in the province find their way and get that key first employment opportunity.

Another very important area where this government has sought change to help the problem of youth unemployment has to do with the employment insurance premiums of the federal government. This is an issue where parties on all sides of the political spectrum can agree that Ottawa, the federal government, must cut employment insurance taxes. Right now, a windfall in employment insurance tax is going to the bottom line of the federal government. It's a tax that's killing jobs. If you look at the people pushing for changes in employment insurance taxes, and I can quote from the Globe and Mail just this morning -

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is so fascinating that I'm sure we'd like to have more members present to hear what the member for Nepean has to say. Could you call for a quorum?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Would you please check if we have a quorum?

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: I want to thank my colleague the member for Algoma, who sees so much good in the Ontario economy he wants more people to know about it - more good news in the Ontario economy on job creation efforts.

Before I was interrupted, I was speaking about employment insurance premiums and the terrible tax on jobs that employment insurance premiums are putting on the Ontario economy. There's widespread agreement on this problem. Not only is Ontario's finance minister, Ernie Eves, pushing it; so is the government of British Columbia and its finance minister, Andrew Petter. They're leading the charge, according to today's Globe and Mail article on this issue. The huge surplus created in the employment insurance account goes to offset Mr Martin's fiscal problems but kills jobs. That's why in Ontario we on this side of the House believe that job creation is the central priority of government, to create jobs and restore hope and opportunity in Ontario.

Ontario pushed not only for employment insurance premiums to be cut effective January 1; we also, last week, pushed the federal government and our friend Mr Martin and his colleagues in Ottawa to cut and eliminate premiums entirely for young workers. What a great signal that would send to the economy, not just in Ontario but throughout Canada, if we could eliminate employment insurance taxes on workers under the age of 25, to make it as easy as possible, particularly for small business in Ontario, to hire more young people. We look forward to our colleagues at the federal level to respond to that important tax.

Interjection.

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Mr Baird: Don't worry, member for Fort York, I'm not through.

I can also mention small business as a key job creator in Ontario. If you look at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, they regularly poll their members to find out what their views are on a whole host of issues, one of the most job-creation-friendly organizations in the province. They asked a question of their members.

Leur question était dans le questionnaire du 17 octobre 1997. Une fois que le déficit budgétaire fédéral est éliminé, cela devrait remettre davantage l'accent sur les réductions d'impôts sur les dépenses pour les programmes. Les résultats des réponses dans la province à cette question, bien sûr c'est en français aussi, sont très intéressants. Le nombre de petites entreprises dans la province qui ont dit oui à cette question était de 91 %, et qui ont dit non de 15 %.

So we can see that there is solidly more support for further reducing taxes to help job creation measures than for the federal government to undertake new spending policies. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business represents some of the biggest job creators in Ontario, because while we love to see 5,000 new jobs at Northern Telecom, we know that so many of the jobs are going to be created when one small enterprise takes on an extra employee or two a couple of times a year. That's where we'll see a substantial amount of opportunity for young people in Ontario.

We hope that our friend Mr Martin will keep this in mind in the consultations leading up to his budget. I have a clipping here where obviously the finance minister at the federal level realizes the problem, and I'll quote the Toronto Sun headline: "Martin Admits Taxes Too High. Four years into his term as Minister of Finance, Paul Martin" - the federal Liberal Minister of Finance - "finally recognizes that taxes across the country are too high." I'll read from this article: "`Obviously, I think taxes are too high,' Finance Minister Paul Martin told CTV's Question Period yesterday." This is from February 24. "`We would like to bring them down, but we're not going to bring them down to jeopardize the basic values of Canadians.'"

So tax cuts later or tax cuts never with this individual, you would think. He thinks we should do both, though, according to this article. We're waiting for some tangible evidence, as the federal budget comes into balance, that he is concerned about the plight of small business, one of the key job creation sectors in Ontario, to give them a glitter of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of high taxes. We anxiously await announcements coming from his department.

Improving access to capital will help small business in communities throughout Ontario grow and create jobs. Bill 164 reflects how we listen to stakeholders on making the community small business investment fund more attractive. The 1997 budget announced the creation of the community small business investment fund to encourage communities to partner with financial institutions, labour-sponsored investment funds and local investors to provide greater access to capital for small, local-growth businesses.

Bill 164 will provide further support for small business by enhancing and simplifying the small business investment tax credit for banks, trust companies, credit unions and caisses populaires, which will allow these financial institutions to reduce their capital tax when they invest or lend to small businesses. I know my colleague from Fort York - all the big banks are headquartered in his constituency - will be very pleased to learn about these new measures.

To simplify and modernize Ontario's capital tax system, this bill will harmonize Ontario's capital tax on banks and other financial institutions with the federal large corporations tax. This will level the playing field between financial institutions. It will also reduce compliance costs for businesses and administration costs for government.

Bill 164 recognizes the important contribution of the domestic film and television industry to our economy. This was an issue that got a lot of favourable push from the then Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski, who pushed very hard for these programs. It's already yielding substantially more investment in Ontario and more jobs, particularly here in Toronto.

Interjection.

Mr Baird: In fact, as the member for Scarborough Centre says, right outside this building today, outside the Macdonald and Whitney blocks, they're filming another film and television production as a positive result and example of this measure brought in during the last budget. This change implements the 1997 budget announcement to increase Ontario's domestic film and television tax credit rate and increase the corporate annual limit.

The Minister of Finance has also announced that legislation will be introduced to expand eligible genres and to remove caps on size of production and total credits. These changes will significantly expand the amount of eligible Canadian content production that will qualify for Ontario's tax credits. These measures will help ensure that Ontario continues to be a leading-edge film and television production centre in North America.

The finance minister said that we will be consulting with the federal government on the 48% cap on qualifying expenditures for the domestic film and television credit tax credit in an effort to work in concert as we harmonize Ontario's film tax credit with the federal system.

He also announced that Ontario will also be reviewing the existing caps under the federal computer animation and special effects tax credits.

Bill 164 will provide more support for other cultural industries. The book publishing tax credit will encourage Ontario publishers to publish more and promote new Canadian authors, and that will be good news in Ontario.

The bill responds to advice from the book publishing industry to include educational textbooks and first-time illustrators of children's books.

There is new confidence in the private sector. We want to help Ontarians take advantage of the opportunities opening up around the province.

Bill 164 supports lower-income working families who are not benefiting from the current child care funding. By implementing our budget commitment for a child care tax credit, about 90,000 families and about 125,000 children under the age of seven are expected to benefit from the 1997 tax credit. This tax credit will be a new investment of $40 million to support lower-income working families and, most important, their children.

This government is committed to ensuring that Ontarians receive high-quality services in a cost-effective way. This legislation delivers on our commitment to reduce costs and to make sense of the division of provincial and municipal responsibilities by returning property assessment to municipalities where it can be done more efficiently. Bill 164 will establish the Ontario Property Assessment Corp. After a quarter-century of the province running this local tax base, local governments will take over the control and management of it now that the province-wide assessment is nearly completed.

The 1997 budget announced measures that are part of the government's plan to make Ontario the best place in the world to live, work and invest.

For many, many years Ontario was the economic engine of Canada. We were a magnet for jobs, investment and opportunity. But for 10 years around the world, Ontario became known as a mismanaged debtor, overgoverned, overregulated, overtaxed. In just two years the Ontario economy has rebounded sharply. We're leading the way in jobs in Canada. Once again we're the magnet for jobs, investment and opportunity.

Looking through the papers just today, you can see examples: "Ontario Top Job Creator and Welfare Rolls Dropping" - the Toronto Sun. "Ontario is leading the country in job growth in 1997 and the trend should spill over to the new year, Statistics Canada figures show." Those aren't Ministry of Finance figures; those are figures from the federal government, Statistics Canada - more jobs in Ontario.

Just last month alone, Ontario picked up 13,000 of these jobs. I know my colleagues on all sides of the House will welcome those types of measures.

Canadians are confident about personal finances. That's something we haven't seen in many, many years in Ontario. We look at the Toronto Star, December 5: "Help-Wanted Index Holds Seven-Year High." More good news.

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Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Seven years.

Mr Baird: Seven years, as the member for Kitchener says. "Job listings hit seven-year high. The number of advertised job postings jumped to its highest level in seven years last month, suggesting an improving job picture." We think this is good news. We think it's going to lead to substantially more jobs. We've already seen some solid evidence of solid job growth across the province. But now is not the time to let up. That's why we have a whole host of tax measures in this budget designed to ensure the ball keeps rolling and that more jobs are created in Ontario.

The Ontario economy grew at an annualized rate in the first quarter of this fiscal year, from April to June, by 7.2%. That's substantial growth and good news for the people of Ontario. Clearly, tax cuts are helping to restore consumer confidence, and that's good news. Tax cuts are restoring consumer confidence.

The income for too many families in Ontario was flat-lined. The ability of working men and women to be able to provide for their families was severely compromised. More taxes and static income led to less hope and less opportunity, particularly for young people looking for their first job. Too many young families were struggling to provide an income for their families.

These folks don't protest high taxes in front of Queen's Park, they don't have temper tantrums in front of the television cameras, but these folks are the backbone of Ontario's society. They work hard, they raise their families, they pay the taxes, they run the small businesses, they are active in the community and they play by the rules. These hardworking families across Ontario were hit hard by 65 tax increases over 10 years and they are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. They are beginning to see for the first time in many, many years their real spending power increase. There is confidence coming in the Ontario economy and that's good news, because for far too many, the price of high taxes meant it was just that much more difficult to raise a family and to provide for their children.

We know that the private sector is the primary economic engine of Canada. It is our government's responsibility to motivate entrepreneurs to invest and to create jobs here. This is what we are doing by cutting taxes, eliminating barriers to growth and providing the private sector with the tools it needs to invest, compete and create jobs for the people of this province. In the last eight months Ontario has created 70% of all the new private sector jobs in Canada.

Mr Wettlaufer: Seventy per cent.

Mr Baird: "Seventy per cent," the member for Kitchener says. Clearly, something is working in Ontario that is not working across the provinces. If there were such solid job creation across the whole country, we'd see the same job growth on a per capita basis in the Maritimes, in Winnipeg or in Saskatchewan, but we're seeing a disproportionate amount of the growth in Ontario and in Alberta. Why? Because taxes are low, and low taxes help encourage more job creation.

The concern we have as a community, spanning all political parties, whether it's for young people looking for their first job - it's helped more by solid economic growth than it is by any haphazard government program.

The high incidence of child poverty, despite having declined considerably over the last two years, is still far too high. The single best thing we can do for a child living in poverty is to get their mother or father a job. As a government, it's our priority to create an environment where those jobs will come, and we've seen some very solid growth in that area in recent months.

Ontario's youth are starting to realize the benefits of our strong economic and employment growth. In the past six months, 39,000 jobs have been created for youth in Ontario; more than 90% of Canada's youth employment gains right here in Ontario; 39,000 more jobs for young people. Again, if the federal government's youth job creation strategy is working, why are 90% of those jobs coming to Ontario? I suggest it's because the climate is right in Ontario for economic growth, and this government has played a major role in setting that climate on the right track - in the past six months, 39,000 jobs.

While this is encouraging progress, there are still 144,000 young Ontarians looking for work. This is unacceptable. That is why we are introducing measures like the graduate transition tax credit and improving the cooperative education tax credit. It's extremely important because across the country the other provinces - Ralph Klein, the Premier of Alberta, had a jobs and economic growth summit in Alberta. They invited business, labour and representatives from universities to come together and look at what they could do to help grow the Alberta economy. Do you know one of the questions they asked at that Alberta growth summit?

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): What was that?

Mr Baird: The member for Scarborough Centre asks. They had Northern Telecom there, and at one of the public sessions, Ralph Klein and his officials looked over at Northern Telecom and said, "What is it going to take in the province of Alberta for you to make a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar job announcement like you did in Nepean?" That's what they asked. So our climate in Ontario is right and it has seen substantial growth.

For those high-tech and knowledge-based industries, the budget measures will help small business. So many small businesses in Ontario need nurturing. This will help those so that the Newbridge of tomorrow will be born today. The government of Ontario wants to be there to assist in these measures so that we can see more solid growth.

I mentioned the job growth in Nepean, where 5,000 new jobs came in at Northern Telecom. Even more exciting than the 5,000 jobs themselves, even more exciting than the $250 million of capital investment in our economy, in direct construction jobs and fabrication jobs, is that the federal government estimates that three to four spinoff jobs will come from every single new job at Nortel. That means 15,000 or 20,000 net new jobs for my region, which is incredible, so that everyone can benefit. Whether you're the construction worker building a new home in Longfield or Davidson Heights, whether you're a small business person operating a retail establishment in Bells Corners, whether you're someone who installs carpet directly at Nortel, whatever you do, whatever small business you undertake, you will benefit. This high tide will bring in far more than the 5,000 boats in this job and a tremendous amount of opportunity for young people.

Mr Wildman: If they are already doing it, why do you wish to -

Mr Baird: The member asks, if they're already doing it, why do we want to encourage it? Because we want to help small business. We want to help those growing enterprises succeed. We want to help create the climate and the competitive research and development strategy that will make more companies want to invest in Ontario, allow more companies to expand their operations in Ontario and not in other competing jurisdictions.

Mr Wildman: Spend, spend, spend.

Mr Baird: The member opposite, I know, shares my enthusiasm for the very solid job growth we've seen in the province. It's been very, very solid growth and we're pleased to see it, particularly for young people.

In these average jobs out at a place like Newbridge Networks in Kanata, right adjacent to Nepean in the region of Ottawa-Carleton, the average salary is $50,000 or $60,000; a full-time job at a good salary, where someone can realize their dream of owning their own home and raising a family. That's good news for the folks there. We want to encourage more small business successes like Newbridge, through research and development tax credits, through co-op education programs. It helps the economy, it helps young people and it helps research and development, and that's good news for Ontario.

The measures in Bill 164 are a significant part of our plan to make Ontario's economy stronger by creating a climate where investment and initiative are rewarded. The government, with the advice and commitment of Ontario, is working to make Ontario once again the province of hope and opportunity, to make Ontario again the magnet for jobs, investment and opportunity, the magnet for solid economic growth. This bill will be a major part of that plan.

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Mr Wettlaufer: It's a real pleasure to be able to speak to Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, 1997. As you're aware, when we campaigned prior to the last election, we campaigned on the basis of jobs. That was our goal, to create jobs.

Mr Wildman: How many jobs?

Mr Wettlaufer: The member for Algoma calls out, "How many jobs?" We campaigned on the basis of creating 725,000 jobs. We knew there was going to be some economic drag as a result of some of the measures that we were going to take. As a result of some of the measures that we have taken, we knew that this economic drag was going to last for a period of one to two years, and it did last two years. We only managed to create an environment in which 25,000 jobs were created in the first two years, but in the first eight months of this year we created an environment in which private industry created 235,000 jobs. Not only that, but we exceed -

Mr Baird: How many did the NDP create?

Mr Wettlaufer: The member for Nepean says, "How many did the NDP create?" We know that the NDP had a net loss of 10,000 jobs in the period of time that they were in power. But more important is that we have exceeded our budget targets each year since we've come into power. The five years under the previous government, they never met one of their targets. Every one they fell short. The deficit grew and unemployment grew, but we have changed that.

We said that we would achieve this environment through a number of measures. One of them, of course, was by the reduction of red tape. A second was streamlined business startup. A third was incentive for banks to invest in small business - small business, the engine of our economy; small business, which provides so many jobs, the vast majority of jobs. Seventy per cent of all new jobs this year in Ontario have come in small business.

We also said we would cut personal and business taxes, that that would assist in the creation of jobs. How are we doing? I think that's a very good question, even if I asked it myself, but I think for an answer we'll go to what Dalton McGuinty, the leader of the Liberal Party, said this summer. First of all, he applauded the Mike Harris Tories. This is the leader of the opposition party, the Liberal Party. He applauded us for our tight-fisted spending controls and said that he would not undo the Tory tax cuts if elected Premier. I'll quote him now:

"I think there is a sense, in some quarters, that this is the first Premier that has made a genuine effort to reduce the costs of government.

"I think a lot of people like that. Somebody is getting a grip on the fiscal realities.

"I will not reverse the tax cuts if I become Premier. You can't afford to do so. It would send out a negative signal about our economy."

That's the end of the quotation. Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal leader of Ontario, said that this summer. That's a blanket endorsement of our economic policies.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Take your time.

Mr Wettlaufer: Thank you, I will. The member for Fort York says to take my time. I will, but I was trying to speed it up, member for Fort York, because I was hoping to leave you some time to speak. But if you don't want it, then I can just keep going on all afternoon, as you're aware.

What is happening in Ontario? The member for Nepean said Ontario used to be the engine that drove the economy of the country, and then, all of a sudden, it came to a stop during that five-year period of the NDP government. In the last two years, is it picking up? Yes, it is picking up. It is picking up in such a manner that the housing market is up. In my riding, Kitchener, in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Waterloo region, it's up 25% this year. Auto sales, what's happening to them? They're up. Of course they're up. What about sales of consumer goods? They're up. The economy is booming, and Ontario is driving Canada's economy once again.

I'd like to go to a couple of the clippings that I read from day to day. We all read them. It doesn't matter whether it's in the pages of the Financial Post or the Globe and Mail or the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, my home paper, a good paper. Here's one from the Toronto Star, October 7:

"Ontario Engine Driving Canadian Economy

"Today Ontario is attracting many foreign direct investments with world and North American product mandates. All of the top 10 Canadian high-technology manufacturers are based in Ontario. We are the most R&D-intensive jurisdiction in Canada."

In my riding, Kitchener-Waterloo, we know that. We know in Kitchener and Waterloo and Cambridge the effect that R&D is having. We are an intense R&D area. We are an intense high-tech area. There are thousands upon thousands of jobs being created in high tech. In my riding of Kitchener and in Waterloo region, we are now one of the lowest unemployment areas in all of Canada: 7.4% and it is still decreasing.

We read an article. We have quoted John McCallum, the vice-president of the Royal Bank, chief economist. John McCallum said that he might have trouble with us reaching our 725,000 job goal, but he did say we will reach 525,000, and he said: "However, 525,000 is a huge number." But before we emphasize too much what he said, I think all we have to do is go to what they said in the TD Bank, and the Bank of Canada governor. They said that they expect there will be another 400,000 net new jobs created this year. We know 70% of them are coming to Ontario. They're predicting another 300,000 for 1998-99. There's going to be 70% again coming to Ontario. They're talking about another 300,000 in the year 1999-2000.

Where are the jobs coming? They're coming to Ontario. Why? Because we have an environment which is creating these jobs. We have an environment which is encouraging business to invest here, and when they invest here, jobs are created here. So of course we're going to hit our 725,000 target. It's a steady growth, a steady growth which provides steady jobs, and these jobs are going to be in the higher element. They are going to be the higher-grade jobs. We're talking $50,000-, $60,000-, $70,000-, $80,000-, $100,000-a-year jobs.

We do have a shortage, however. We have a demand for jobs in the tool and die industry that we can't even meet, and these jobs are going to provide $40,000- and $50,000- and $60,000-a-year incomes - so many jobs that we can't meet them in the province of Ontario.

What does the public say about all this? This past week, there was a poll done by Compas Research. Conrad Winn, the president of Compas Research, has been doing a fair amount of discussing. He has been arguing, in some sense, about what this all means.

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Mr Marchese: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no quorum in the House that I can tell. Would you check for that, please?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Would you check to see if there is a quorum present?

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Kitchener.

Mr Wettlaufer: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate the member for Fort York encouraging more people to come in because we have such good news to say that I think everyone should hear about it.

But we want to know what the public is saying about this. In this poll that Compas Research recently put out - this is very interesting and I would appreciate it if you would listen: "Canadians are fed up and angry about the amount of taxes they pay, with 82% of respondents" in this poll saying that taxes are just too high, just like Paul Martin, the finance minister for the federal government, and "52% of Canadians hold this opinion intensely." They are intensely angry about high taxes.

There was "A 1970s-style, tax-the-rich mentality." Do you know something, Mr Speaker? There are some parties in this House who hold to that old-style mentality.

Mr Marchese: Who are those?

Mr Wettlaufer: "Who are those?" says the member for Fort York. Well, we know who they are. They're the Liberal and the New Democratic parties, primarily the NDP.

Mr Marchese: The New Democratic Party.

Mr Wettlaufer: New Democratic? You call that democratic? High taxes are democratic? That's anti-democratic.

But 60% of those polled agree that one reason Ottawa should not cut taxes is that a lot of high-income people can afford to pay a lot more taxes. I find that very contradictory.

But, "Canadians oppose high taxes for corporations." Why do Canadians oppose high taxes for corporations? Because they realize that corporations are providing jobs and they realize that high taxes inhibit job creation.

"Canadians' hostility to high taxes is driven by fear...." It's not driven by greed. Even Conrad Winn said that in this article. We might ask, if it's fear and anxiety which drives this, what are the causes of fear and anxiety? It's the fear that high taxes will cause a corporation to lay off more people. It's fear about the taxpayers' future. It's fear that the taxpayer won't have a job, won't have this standard of living that we like and that we've become accustomed to having.

People are looking to corporations to create jobs and they realize that high taxes will inhibit those jobs. It's something that the NDP hasn't got through their heads yet. But they will. There's also a realization -

Mr Marchese: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no quorum in this House again. Would you check, please?

The Acting Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please?

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Kitchener.

Mr Wettlaufer: There is another reason why the public is a little upset about business taxes. The public has now come to realize that business does pay its fair share of taxes.

I quote here from a column in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on December 6. With all respect to the individual quoted, from the Conference Board of Canada, the report was by Mahmood Iqbal, and I hope I have pronounced his name right.

"`The myth is that corporations pay only income taxes,' he said. What's missing from the picture is the fact that, in addition to income tax, corporations pay taxes on practically all aspects, including capital, sales, property and payroll - and the share of all these taxes has been increasing.'"

The article goes on to say: "Corporate income tax, which was applied at the rate of 50% in 1965, decreased to 36% in 1995." That's corporate income tax now. "But employers' payroll taxes increased to 36% from 8% in the same period.

"Total tax contribution of Canadian corporations - including payroll, sales, property and income taxes - increased by 144% over the last 30 years.

"Payroll taxes recorded the highest growth at 341%, followed by non-residential property tax at 151%."

We recognized, from what happened to the previous government, that if taxes go up, revenue does not necessarily follow. Revenue goes down because it encourages people to cheat. It encourages corporations to cheat. It encourages looking for more loopholes.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): The underground economy is a big one.

Mr Wettlaufer: The underground economy - I say to the member for Brantford, thank you - has grown by leaps and bounds in all sectors of our society. But if we bring taxes down to their proper level, encouraging people in legitimate businesses, legitimate jobs, to pay legitimate taxes, revenues will go up, will they not? Of course they will. We've already seen in the last two years that they will. We've seen that.

Do you know what? What is happening is that we are on target to balance our books by the year 2001, as we said we would. We said we would balance our budget by the year 2000-01 and we are on target. In fact, we're not only on target, we are ahead of budget.

This government is ahead of budget. We have met our targets every year, but the previous government, whose numbers now are in the area of 17 and they sit as the third party, is constantly attacking us.

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Mr Ron Johnson: They don't even have targets.

Mr Wettlaufer: They don't even understand business. They never met a target.

We will achieve our goals. We will provide the jobs for the public. We will provide the jobs for the youth and we will not saddle our youth with a deficit that they will not be able to recover from. Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, 1997, goes a long way in that direction.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): If you'd listened to the last two speakers, who have been espousing what they feel has been happening in Ontario, you would say, "Yes, that may be so for some people," but for about a third of the people of Ontario things have gotten progressively worse, and we all know where that started. It all started when the welfare rates were cut by 22%, and don't for a moment forget that there are still an awful lot of vulnerable people in this province who are hurting as a result of that decision. All one has to do is walk into the shelters. All one has to do is walk into any kind of mental health care institution or facility or see people who have any kind of problems in life and you realize very quickly that whatever good things are happening in Ontario as far as these two members are concerned, they sure aren't affecting everybody.

It was always my impression that when a government was elected, it was elected to govern on behalf of all the people of Ontario. This government, the longer that I sit here and the longer I go and the longer I meet with people etc, I'm becoming more and more convinced that this government has basically written off the people at the bottom third of the economic scale and ladder. They basically don't care about them. It's a fact, because look at the chaos that this government has created over the last two years. The only way they seem to be able to govern at all is by taking on this group or that group. It started with the people on welfare. Then we went to the OPSEU workers. Then we went to even the doctors. Of course, the doctors won, as we all know. Then it was the teachers a while back. It just goes on and on. They seem to be convinced that as long as they create chaos and controversy, then they will keep their so-called popularity, which of course is on a downward swing anyway.

It just isn't the way these last two members have stated it to be for the majority of Ontarians.

Mr Marchese: With each and every speech that we get from this government, it reveals nothing except the oleaginous nature of this party. That is all we get with each and every speech. Mind you, I love olive oil. I love it in my salad. I love it in the pasta. But when you listen to these speeches from these members, we have nothing but the oleaginous nature and character that is revealed in these speeches.

I urge you to look at the title, and I will read it very briefly: "An Act to implement job creation measures and other measures contained in the 1997 Budget...." Would you trust a government that in each and every one of the titles that is contained in this bill has absolutely nothing to do with what is contained inside that bill, in each and every one of the bills? For example, if you recall the tenant protection bill, there was nothing in the bill for tenants. I read this title to tell you and again to reveal the odious nature, the duplicitous nature of this government.

What we have is a legislative process in this government that has been nothing short of chaotic. We have 300-page bills drafted in a hurry, hundreds of pages of amendments to fix up mistakes, and then more-than-200-page bills of this sort to fix up mistakes that weren't caught in the hundreds of amendments. We have nothing but chaos in this government because it's in too much of a hurry to destroy basic fundamental things that we hold dear and that we value.

What we have in this bill is a revelation of the chaos and the incompetence of this government. This bill is a bill intended to fix the incompetencies of each and every other bill that has preceded it. That's what this bill is all about, and it is hidden in the duplicitous title, "An Act to implement job creation measures...." Would you believe a government that entitles its bills in this way? I don't.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): It's a pleasure to comment on the speeches given by the member for Nepean and the member for Kitchener, a couple of people who, from their very lengthy business pasts, I'm sure are able to comment on the nice climate we have in Ontario now for business. It certainly is also a great opportunity to comment on the name of Bill 164: "Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act." Both speakers, for those of us who were listening, mentioned the significance of the tax credits in the bill and how they will lead to job creation.

Just to remind the members who weren't listening, the tax credits to create jobs in the act include under the Corporations Tax Act, the new technology tax incentive, the film and television tax credit, the graduate transitions tax credit, the cooperative education tax credit, the Ontario book publishing tax credit, the Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit, the Ontario business-research institute tax credit and the capital tax harmonization and capital tax surcharge, as well as the small business investment tax credit. These are all well-researched areas of the economy. We know these tax credits are going to lead to job creation. That was very clearly pointed out by the member for Nepean, who has an enviable record in his riding of creating numerous high-tech jobs. He deserves some of the credit. They're well-paying jobs.

The member for Kitchener also talked about the job creation in his riding and how in his riding businesses recognize that we've created a very positive climate for investment and job creation. This has been the result of the very cautious fiscal measures that we've taken, and in addition to that, the very innovative suggestions that were brought out in the budget and that are in Bill 164.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I thought I was hearing from a number of people who had business experience and I was wondering where the member for Nepean had had business experience. The member for Scarborough Centre said that he had a paper route, so I did want to allow for that. I had one as well, if it helps at all.

Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough-Ellesmere): I bet it wasn't the Toronto Star.

Mr Bradley: I have offended the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere by saying that; I don't know why. I had a paper route. It was actually the Sudbury Star that I had at one time as a youngster.

Bill 164, as people at home can see, is another thick bill which has just come into being today. The critics of the two opposition parties - they'll tell us more about this - have been looking for a briefing on Bill 164. For some reason, I can't figure out what it would be, ministry officials have been unable - or unwilling; I don't know which it is, they'll explain better - to give a briefing on Bill 164. I hope it's not because this has been cobbled together at the last minute. I hope it's not because this is simply a bill which tries to fix up several other mistakes out there, one of these omnibus bills which is also ominous.

Bill 160 needed some amendments and the government didn't want to open Bill 160 up and deal with it where it should, so we didn't get any amendments to that bill.

Then there was Bill 149, another bill that needed some amendments. Instead of the government going to what's called committee of the whole to implement those amendments, to put them forward, to debate them, they came in the back door with another thick bill, which I call the fix-up-all-the-mistakes bill because it in effect does exactly that. All the mistakes of the Harris government have to be fixed up in this particular bill, and it's unfortunate that's what it's taken.

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The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: I'd like to thank the members for Kingston and The Islands, Fort York, Muskoka-Georgian Bay and St Catharines for their comments.

I can certainly indicate to my colleagues opposite and to the member for St Catharines that now that the Speaker has rendered a ruling on the challenge on Bill 164, we of course will be very pleased to work with them to set up any briefings that would be required, and that goes without saying.

I want to comment about the economic alternatives presented by my colleagues. We just heard statements from the Liberals and from the NDP. I look at my friend Mr Marchese, M. Marchese. I respect him. We disagree on the issues but I respect his position and it's consistent.

But two of my colleagues from the Liberal Party commented on the tax cuts in this bill and the economic policy of the government. I did a little research: Thursday, February 16, 1995, "McLeod Reinforces Commitment to Cut Taxes." "Ontario Liberal leader Lyn McLeod said tonight a Liberal government in Ontario would cut taxes. `It's time that government started following a policy for zero tolerance for tax increases. A Liberal government will reduce overall taxes by 5%.'" A $2-billion tax cut.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): Who said that?

Mr Baird: Lyn McLeod, the leader of the Liberal Party.

Mr Wettlaufer: The former leader.

Mr Baird: The former leader. I'm sorry.

What do the other Liberal critics say about the Liberal policies? "How can we go in, guns blazing, when we would be doing the same things?" Do you know who said that? Sandra Pupatello said that. "We would be doing the same things." This is from a Hamilton newspaper, the 9th day of the ninth month, 1995. "We would be doing the same things as Mike Harris." That's what Sandra Pupatello and the Liberal Party are saying.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to continue the debate on Bill 164. I'll start by something that I'm not sure all our -

Mr Ron Johnson: What did Sandra say?

Mr Phillips: There goes the member for Brantford. He's very seldom here, but just so the public - Mr Johnson shows up about every two weeks or three weeks and then he yells loud enough that he gets his name mentioned and then we don't see him again.

Mr Gerretsen: He's like Andy Thompson.

Mr Phillips: He's like Andy Thompson.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have the greatest respect for my friend from Scarborough-Agincourt and I'm looking forward to his intervention, but I do want to say that it is really against the rules to comment on the continuing absence of the member for Brantford.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I'll try not to comment again on his continuing absence.

I want to comment on the process we're following here, just so the public understands, and that is, I used to be a businessperson myself. I had three companies. Two of them I started literally from scratch. I had 300 employees, so I know a little bit about businesslike approaches to things. Let me just say that I've seldom seen - I don't like to use extreme language - any government that seems as less prepared as this government.

This Bill 164 is 200 pages long. It was introduced on November 25. The government is going to demand that we pass this into law by next Thursday. By December 18 this will be law. We were unable to get any briefing on it and the public may say, "Well, can't you just read it and understand it?" No, you can't because you have to firstly go through the intent of the law. You have to say, "If we pass this with that language, what will it permit and what will it not permit?"

We finally were able to get a briefing at 12:30 today. It now is 5 o'clock. This will be the last opportunity I will have to debate this bill. The way the rules are around here, and I'm what's called the critic for this area, we had a briefing and the bureaucracy - I'm not blaming them - was put in a very difficult spot. There were three or four major questions on the contents of this bill that we were simply unable to get any answer to. For example, there are significant freedom of information implications in this bill where there will be virtually unfettered rights to personal information, with the exception of health records, but all other records. This bill will fundamentally provide that. That has the potential for significant invasion of privacy.

I heard some of the Conservative backbench members twice recently, correctly I think, point out some of the freedom of information problems if you're not careful. As I recall, one of the major objections to photo-radar was the invasion of privacy, but this bill, although they were unable to give us an answer because I gather whoever could get the answer was not around, I think fundamentally changes that. The bill also provides, I gather, for example, for all of the deposits at our Ontario savings and loan offices -

Mr Bradley: POSO.

Mr Phillips: POSO. My colleague Mr Bradley deals with them on a regular basis. All of their assets can now be transferred with this bill, I think, over to other financial institutions.

My point is this: It is wrong from the public's point of view and from our point of view, and I would think wrong from that of the Conservative backbench members, that we are going to be forced to pass a bill 200 pages long. The short title of the bill is Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act. Part of it's about that, but the majority of the bill's about all sorts of other things.

If the public doesn't want to listen to the opposition, and sometimes they probably watch us and there seems to be constant bickering, let me just say what the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers said. This is a well-regarded organization. These are the senior municipal bureaucrats. This is the organization of the very top people in all our municipalities, the clerks and treasurers.

What do they say about Bill 164? They provided a brief on Bill 164. Among other things, they're concerned about Bill 164 because here's a bill we're being asked to pass that amends major bills we only passed last week: Bill 160, quite a controversial bill on education that we all are familiar with, and the property tax bill, Bill 149. This is what the clerks and treasurers say, and this is strong language for them, but I think they selected this language carefully and with conviction:

"Isn't this wonderful? This government wants to amend legislation that hasn't even been passed yet." This is the key point: "Surely this illustrates better than anything that this government, in its haste, is making legislation by the seat of its pants without proper thought or planning. Yesterday's bill is amended by today's, which will likely be amended by tomorrow's. No wonder the municipal clerks and treasurers are confused. No wonder they say they are facing an administrative nightmare."

The reason I point that out is because that's a comment specifically on Bill 164 and it is from our senior municipal bureaucrats who select their language carefully. I think it should be a warning for the public that this government is trying to ram through legislation that clearly is not well-thought-out and that clearly is filled with mistakes.

1700

I want to comment just briefly on the job front, at the risk of jumping around. We get into the sort of, "you've got your numbers, I've got my numbers" kind of argument, but I will just simply use a couple of statistics from the office of economic policy, Ministry of Finance, just so there's no argument about the figures. What they show is that when Mike Harris became Premier in June 1995 - the public can't see this - there were 499,000 people in the province out of work. The numbers were released on Friday, three days ago, of the number of people out of work in Ontario in November. Almost halfway through the five years that Mike Harris has promised job creation there were actually 3,000 more people out of work, in November 1997, than there were the day Mike Harris became Premier: 502,000 people out of work.

Surely none of us can be proud of that record. I remember that in the Common Sense Revolution, one of the key statements was, "There are more than a half a million people unemployed in this province." Harris was attacking the previous government. Guess what? Two and a half years after Mike Harris became Premier there are actually more people out of work in the province than the day he became Premier. That's an important -

Mr Bradley: More people today?

Mr Phillips: More people out of work today than when he became Premier.

Mr Beaubien: Where do you get your information?

Mr Phillips: There's the member for Lambton, "Where do you get your information?" I hope Ernie Eves isn't hiding this from you. It's the Ministry of Finance. I will just say to any of the Conservative members, take a look yourself. I guarantee you the numbers released on Friday, three days ago: more people out of work in Ontario than the day he became Premier.

The member for Perth, who was sitting in your chair, Mr Speaker, until you came, raised this issue last week as well, and that's the youth unemployment. We now have the first 11 months of 1997. The youth unemployment rate in the province of Ontario is 17%.

Mr Wildman: Shame.

Mr Phillips: It is a shame and that is, by the way, higher than it was under the NDP. The rate when the NDP was in was lower than that. It's up substantially from last year. There were 10,000 fewer jobs in the first 11 months of 1997 over 1996.

The reason I stress that is that as long as the government says to us that it's not a problem, as long as it says, "Things are just great, the Common Sense Revolution is working," we will never deal with this issue. I guarantee you that we are sowing the seeds of substantial problems if we ignore that. Those are the facts. I just ask all of you, get this document. The Ministry of Finance puts it out monthly and that'll show the numbers. Somebody said, "Where do you get your numbers?" It's straight out of the Minister of Finance's numbers.

I want to talk about some of the things in Bill 164 that I think all of us should be focusing on. When the government introduced this bill, I immediately - first, I no longer listen to the title of bills because that is probably the least helpful description of a bill, "tax credits to create jobs." Let's do what I think increasingly people are now doing, and that's looking at the end of the government bills and working from there.

Mr Wildman: That's exactly right.

Mr Phillips: "That's exactly right," the member for Algoma said. The first thing I did was say, "All right, what's the government all about, really?" They'll put the good-news stuff in the front, so you go to the back. The first thing is, it sets up the Ontario Property Assessment Corporation Act. You can see that this has, frankly, little to do with a tax credit to create jobs; it is part of the downloading on to municipalities. That is going to transfer $120 million of costs off the province on to property taxes.

Furthermore, as you get into the detail - and this is where I again rely on the comments of the clerks and treasurers. They had expected that the municipalities, in this transfer of responsibility, actually would have some responsibility for it. But they now find that when they look at the detail, as they say, "The minister may establish policies, procedures and standards" etc.

Their comment is: "Isn't this the government simply wanting to walk both sides of the street? On one hand to have a municipally owned and operated corporation and on the other hand for the government to be able to call the shots? Is this corporation independent or is this just a ruse? A ruse that the government can hide behind to avoid accountability for tax assessment matters."

One of the major parts of this bill is the establishment of the tax assessment corporation. It transfers $120 million of costs off the province and on to municipalities, and the province, frankly, will still be basically totally in control. I must say that I think it's important we have uniformity of policies across the province. I don't question that, but, as the clerks and treasurers said, it's just another way of downloading costs on to municipalities.

Mr Bradley: So the municipalities have to pay that now.

Mr Phillips: The property taxpayers will pay 100% of this, $120 million. I will say, without any question of a doubt - and we will find out, I hope, shortly about the dumping or downloading of costs on to municipalities - based on the numbers the government has provided us so far, the province is going to dump at least $660 million of new costs on to the property taxpayers, permanent new costs.

They're going to have some one-time pots of money to kind of sweeten the deal for 1998 and maybe 1999, as the government heads into a provincial election, and then the municipalities will be right out on that limb in the year 2000 when the government pulls back all of its one-time money and leaves the municipalities out to dry. That's the first thing I wanted to talk about in the bill. That's the assessment corporation, and it's under something called section G.

We then move to the previous section, section F. This is called "Amendments to Other Acts." I'll talk about some of the major amendments to other acts.

I think perhaps the most significant amendment to other acts is the one that gives the Minister of Finance the power to prescribe new transition ratios for a municipality in specified circumstances. That's jargon to mean in 1998 and in future years, here's what's going to happen: The Minister of Finance is by regulation going to set literally dozens and dozens of taxes. This new regulation says that if the minister happens to get it wrong, this new regulation will allow the minister to change it again.

Mr Bradley: Without the Legislature.

Mr Phillips: Without the Legislature, by the stroke of a pen.

The reason it's important - and again I go back to the municipalities, the clerks and treasurers, just so the public know. It is these people who have the responsibility for implementing all of this tax stuff; it's these people who have to actually get the taxes raised. They expressed serious concerns about this new provision in the bill that allows the Minister of Finance halfway through 1998 - he will set these ratios early in 1998, all the work will get done, and then he may find, oops, it's not working out, so he'll be able to set a whole set of new taxes.

1710

I know that sounds mildly confusing, but it gives the minister literally unfettered rights to set taxes. This is what the clerks and treasurers said about that:

"Furthermore, under section 18, schedule F" - that's what we're talking about, schedule F - "the Minister of Finance may, by regulation, prescribe new transition ratios where a significant shift in taxation occurs among classes of real property in the municipality." The association says, and listen to this: "This will create an administrative nightmare for municipalities, or it could be a vehicle for those municipalities who work with the prescribed ratios and later discover that the figures are unacceptable to demand assistance from the government. Either way, this is a recipe for administrative chaos."

Mr Bradley: Why would they do it?

Mr Phillips: My colleague says, "Why would they do it?" The fact is that a good idea, property tax reform - I've said constantly here that the system needs to be changed. The area I represent is dramatically treated unfairly; all that needs to be changed. The problem is they've taken a good idea and now it frankly is completely screwed up. The clerks and treasurers - this is language they don't normally use - call it "a recipe for administrative chaos."

We've been told that the whole idea here was to simplify the system, make it fairer, make it more transparent, have it one that everyone can understand and can feel confident in. The clerks and treasurers say that the property tax system is being immensely complicated by the institution of some 84 classes and subclasses, and up to 156 tax rates. That's all part of this - 156 tax rates. They say, "The combination of these factors will undoubtedly increase the complexity of the property tax system rather than streamline it."

Here we are being told by Premier Harris that this new system is going to streamline things, and the clerks and treasurers point out the complications. It is further complicated by this part of Bill 164 that gives the Minister of Finance literally unfettered rights not only to set them initially, but then if he doesn't like them, to change them halfway through the year.

Mr Bradley: By regulation.

Mr Phillips: By regulation. That's where they say, "Either way, this is a recipe for administrative chaos." The clerks and treasurers went on to warn us that the way this thing is being set up, and they use the language, here it is: "Implementation on January 1, 1998, is a high-risk situation for the stability and financial health of the municipal sector. There are some municipalities in Ontario that simply will not be able to cope with this situation."

They went on to say, by the way, that the association of clerks and treasurers finds overwhelming the amount of regulation to be set by the minister and the extent of the minister's involvement in a process that's supposed to be run by the municipalities.

I point out that part of the bill that adds to this chaos and complexity and uncertainty, and frankly, in our opinion, should be done through legislation and not by regulation. We moved some amendments to say this should be done by legislation.

The proof of that is that these other matters, these tax credit matters dealing with the film industry, the tax credits for co-op students, all of that is being done through legislation. The first 120 pages of this bill are the legislation to implement those important but, compared to the property tax issue, small changes in the tax system. But we are going to do the rest by regulation.

Bill 164 also, in our opinion, raises some questions around disclosure of information. We asked the civil servants if they could give us an explanation of how this is going to work, and they said they couldn't. They didn't have the right person there. Bill 164, it says here, "is amended to authorize the collection, use and disclosure of information," other than health information, by the way, but all other information, on a much broader basis. So information that previously was protected now becomes much more broadly distributed and available.

Interjection: It's crazy.

Mr Phillips: My colleague says it's crazy. All of us are beginning to recognize the challenge to, on the one hand, have efficient government but, on the other hand, have some semblance of protection of our information, our privacy. As I say, I recall that one of the concerns on photo-radar was that. This bill does dramatically increase the availability of information.

We've talked about the transition ratios. The bill also amends the Municipal Act to give Mike Harris the power to prepare the information that goes out on the property tax bill.

Mr Bradley: Ah, this is the censorship provision.

Mr Phillips: Yes. I remember as clear as can be that Mike Harris used to say: "I trust the duly elected local people. I have faith in them. They are elected. They represent their people. They should have the respect of us here at Queen's Park." But when that happens to get in his road, he says: "Stand back. I am going to take away from you the right to communicate how your tax bill was arrived at and how it's going to be paid."

I can't think of anything quite as fundamental as the locally elected municipal politicians setting the tax rate for their area - by the way, they go through the most public process imaginable, and rightly so - yet they're not even going to be allowed to write the message of how the tax bill was arrived at, why it was arrived at that way and explain to their local taxpayers the background on it.

Mr Bradley: Why would the government prevent that?

Mr Phillips: My colleague said, "Why would the government prevent that?" Here is why they will: Because in 1998 we are going to have chaos in our property tax system. That's not me speaking; that's the clerks and treasurers. I'll just tell you a few things. One is that nobody -

Interjection.

Mr Phillips: I'll ignore the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who used to be a municipal politician.

Mr Gerretsen: She should know better.

Mr Phillips: She should know better. Mike Harris is going to be sending out the 1998 property tax bills in July or August. The last date to appeal your taxes is June 29.

1720

Mr Bradley: That's backwards.

Mr Phillips: That's backwards, as my colleague said. Mike Harris will be setting -

Interjections.

Mr Phillips: I just say to my business friends, look at your property tax bill in 1998. Mike Harris will be setting over half of it. Mike Harris will set well over half of your business property taxes. There will be no public debate. Even the Legislature will not see it. It will never come here. It will be done by something called minister's regulation at the stroke of a pen and that will be set.

By the way, nobody will know what their property taxes are in 1998 until at least July, probably August or September.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's very important. As the member for Scarborough-Agincourt is explaining the ramifications of this bill, there are not enough here to listen to him speak, so I wonder if you could check for quorum?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Would you please check if there is a quorum?

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: We were discussing why Mike Harris would want to control what goes out in the 1998 property tax bill. I was just saying that I guess he doesn't trust the municipalities to tell their local property taxpayers what's happening. It actually is totally inconsistent with what Mike Harris said before the election. I think our municipal politicians should rightly be angered about it.

Again I go back to the clerks and treasurers and what they said about the cumulative effects of Bill 106, 149, 160 and now 164. Just so the public is aware, 106 and 149 are the property tax bills, 160 is the bill that gives Mike Harris the power to unilaterally set $6 billion worth of property taxes, and 164 is the bill we're debating. They said: "We no longer have a municipal property tax system. We have a provincial tax system administered by municipalities." In other words, the province has now moved in and taken over the property tax system. "The province controls the education tax, it determines classes and subclasses of land, it allocates tax ratios and transition ratios. And now it may determine what will go on the tax notice."

You can see the level of frustration now among our senior municipal civil servants about Bill 164.

On the further provisions in Bill 164, again I repeat, here we are and this bill will be law a week this Thursday. The first opportunity we had -

Mr Bradley: No public hearings?

Mr Phillips: No public hearings, no opportunity for public input, rammed through in typical fashion in a matter of days. We've been through just a few of the concerns within the bill, the latest one being that this now gives the government the right to write the language that goes in the tax bill. If anybody wants to deviate, they must get the express approval of the minister. So if Mel Lastman wants to put in his tax bill anything that Mike Harris doesn't already write for him, he's got to come down here on bended knee and say, "Premier, can I tell our taxpayers a little bit more about this?" Mike will have to say, "Well, write it out, and if I agree with it, I'll sign it." But for someone like Mel Lastman, and I dare say any mayor -

Mr Bradley: What about Hazel?

Mr Phillips: - Hazel McCallion or any mayor or reeve or warden in Ontario, surely this is the ultimate insult, that you cannot even tell your local property taxpayers the basis on which their property taxes were arrived at.

As I say, part of this bill is around downloading. It is downloading the assessment-department cost of $120 million. It amends, as I say, two bills that we passed last week after an awful lot of debate and concern across the province. In a matter of days, we're amending it again. I keep saying to my business friends, this government is -

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Do you have some? Jim says you don't have any.

Mr Phillips: I will just say that the business community have to shake their heads at this government, to be introducing a bill like that, where we are amending -

Mr Froese: Jim Bradley says you don't have any business friends. I always listen to the member for St Catharines.

Mr Phillips: I hear one of the members from St Catharines barracking -

Mr Bradley: St Catharines-Brock.

Mr Phillips: St Catharines-Brock. But how absurd can you be? We passed the bill last week and now this amends, in a very significant way, the very bill we passed last week. It's crazy.

Mr Bradley: Wait till I tell Jamie Almas what this is all about.

Mr Phillips: Think about this, member for St Catharines-Brock: Any Minister of Finance can set these taxes in January or February and the municipalities will go through hoops trying to get it all set, and then the government, in May or June, can say, "We've decided to change our mind," and can change it with the stroke of a pen. Surely that's no way to run an operation.

I say to all of us, I don't know who's in charge over there any longer, but to introduce a bill that is 200 pages long, that has this many changes in it, that our senior municipal clerks and treasurers say - and they study this stuff; they say that surely this bill, Bill 164, "illustrates better than anything that this government, in its haste, is making legislation by the seat of its pants, without proper thought or planning. Yesterday's bill is amended by today's which will likely be amended by tomorrow's."

For the public, I think there's a statement that perhaps best sums up this government. Whether it was dealing with our education system in Bill 160, whether it was dealing with the - do you remember the downloading? It was just a year ago. We started that downloading process, and all education was going to come off, there was a $500-million mistake. They finally had to admit there was a $1-billion problem. Chaos. Total chaos. Everything Mike Harris touches turns to chaos. Good ideas evaporate.

As I say, there's nobody better than the clerks and treasurers to point out - that illustrates better than anything - that this government, in its haste, is making legislation by the seat of its pants, without proper thought or planning. Yesterday's bill, amended by today, will likely be amended by tomorrow.

We've got a government that has taken John Snobelen's advice to a fine art. John said, "Create a crisis"; Harris is doing it, everywhere.

1730

Mr Bradley: I'm pleased that the member for Scarborough-Agincourt has allowed me a few minutes to contribute to this debate and directly to the matters that are contained within this bill, as I always do.

I want to indicate first of all that this is a bill that amends several other pieces of legislation where the government made a mistake in the first place. The opposition parties, as I recall - my friend from Algoma will confirm this for the third party - said we would be prepared to open Bill 160 up to allow for further amendments. This was the day they shut the door at 5 o'clock and the Minister of Education didn't have all of his amendments in at the time, and some of the ones he had in were draft amendments. Rather than accepting the kind offer of the opposition parties to open up Bill 160 once again to allow for further amendments from the government, and hopefully from the opposition, the government said, "No, we don't want to do that."

With Bill 149, another assessment bill, the offer was made again. We said, "Why don't you make further amendments to the bill?" This government is so obsessed with what are called time allocation motions, motions which have the effect of closing off, choking off debate, that they did not take up the offer of the opposition to open the bills for further amendments.

So we have 200 pages or more of mistakes that have to be corrected. These are corrections of those mistakes, in this bill. It's what we call an omnibus bill - I mentioned earlier I think most people would consider it to be an ominous bill - which has a few tricks in it, a few hostages in it. With most bills there are some provisions with which one agrees.

Interjection.

Mr Bradley: The member for Scarborough East has talked about Scrooge. I don't know how he gets into this, "It seems like Scrooge." I don't know what that means in relation to the member for Scarborough East, but it probably has some significance totally outside of this Legislature.

What I want to say about this bill is its back-door amendments to other pieces of legislation. There was a very contentious issue on which the Speaker has ruled. The Speaker rules as he believes he should rule on each of these issues. On this one I am not happy with the final decision which was made - but I always respect the rulings of the Speaker of this House - because I think the door is open to the government now, when it makes a mistake, instead of admitting it and dealing with it in the piece of legislation before the House, to simply find another bill, an omnibus bill, an all-encompassing bill, throw everything but the kitchen sink into it and then end up after that passing such a piece of legislation.

Here we are in the last two weeks of the session and we're dealing with a major, important bill where there will be no public hearings. I think the public would like to be heard on this.

I look at some of the things that I see as ominous in this. The first I see is the complete muzzling of municipalities. What the people at the municipal level like to do with their tax bill to give more explanation to the people they represent is to explain why the tax bill is what it is, as high as it might be, for instance. Many of them wanted to explain this time the impact of downloading of responsibilities from the province on to the backs of municipalities.

But Mike Harris issued an edict which said: "I will censor the information that comes to property tax owners because I don't want them to see the effect of this downloading. I will decide what will be found on this tax bill in terms of information, not your local municipal politicians."

Even those who are apologists for the Harris government on municipal councils are going to have a hard time justifying this one. I will be expecting to see them make a real effort to persuade this government, before this bill finally passes the Legislature, to drop this censorship provision, which muzzles, as I mentioned, and throttles local municipalities so they cannot put the necessary information on the tax bill - yet another example of Big Brother, of intimidation, of the bullying, in my view, of this government towards those with whom they deal.

The transfer of cost of assessment to municipalities is yet another cost. My friend the member for Scarborough Centre smiles. He knows what I'm saying is true, that the provincial government used to assume the cost of assessment, and now the people of Scarborough - we can't call it that any more - Toronto are going to have to assume that cost.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): For another two weeks.

Mr Bradley: For another two weeks I'm told they can say that.

I don't think Hazel McCallion is going to be very happy about that or, for that matter, Tim Rigby, the new mayor of the city of St Catharines. None of these people are going to be happy that in fact they are having the cost of assessment turned over to municipalities from the provincial government, which had that cost under its purview previously.

We understand why the government has set up a private agency. That's because when the bad news comes out, they want to say, "Oh, it's not Mike Harris's tax bill" - even though he has brand-new, expanded powers in this bill - "it's this agency, an arm's-length agency." The blame will be sent to the municipality, without explanation, because it can't explain to its taxpayers on the tax bill itself, or this agency will be to blame for any mistakes that might be found in assessment.

In 1998, as my colleague has mentioned, and into the future, the Minister of Finance will set dozens of property taxes for all of Ontario, and if he wants to change it in the future, he doesn't have to come back to this House where we have elected members, such as the member for Durham Centre, who can pass judgement on this; he simply goes behind closed doors in the cabinet room and signs. A quick signature and Mike Harris has that power. Just as we have the new Mike Harris gambling halls coming into Ontario, they will have this provision as well.

As the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario said - they're non-political people - "This is a recipe for administrative chaos." I agree with the clerks and treasurers of Ontario.

There is a part in here that affects POSO, as it's known, the Province of Ontario Savings Office. This is a small operation. Some people have their savings in there. It's a little different from others. It works well, but because it's working well and it's public sector, this government wants to get rid of it, because they don't want to see any success stories in the public sector. Jane Becker, who is a Toronto journalist, wrote an excellent article in the Toronto Star about this, and I have had some calls from constituents, such as John Hall in St Catharines, who have called to express their concern about the changes to the Province of Ontario Savings Office. I can believe that the member for Wentworth East, moderate individual that he is, former excellent commentator on channel 11 - I hope to see him back on the air in a couple of years, because he did such a good job in that position. But I want to share with members of the Legislature and with the public at large what this article says about the Province of Ontario Savings Office, which is going to be privatized, in my view, under this bill. Jane Becker says the following:

"In its headlong rush to privatize everything that breathes, and even some things that don't, such as Highway 407, the Harris government has put the finger on the inoffensive, profitable ($11.2 million for the province last year), unique and useful Province of Ontario Savings Office.

"The provincial government bank - one of the best-kept secrets in the financial community - serves about 50,000 contented depositors with simple, hassle-free and above all pleasant banking at 23 branches and five agencies across Ontario, including six Toronto branches. In some places, there is no other bank in the area.

"Its deposits - about $2.1 billion at last count - go to the province's consolidated revenue fund, from where they can be loaned to the government and its various agencies at interest slightly below what we pay to an outside lender." So it benefits the government of Ontario itself, the taxpayers of Ontario.

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She goes on to say: "At the same time, it pays depositors slightly more on their savings accounts and GICs than do the chartered banks. Its few service charges, set out on a single sheet" - in other words, its few service charges and it just has very few - "in contrast to the involved booklets of the major banks, are about half as much as the other banks. If you're lucky enough to have more than the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp's $60,000 insurable limit in your account, no need to worry. The province guarantees every dollar.

"Contrary to popular belief, most depositors are not civil servants, although the latter may form the majority of customers at branches near government offices such as the Queen's Park branch in Toronto.

"You can't get a loan, a mutual fund or an RRSP at a savings office, but you'll never be hounded out of a lineup and told to use the ATM - the POSO has no ATMs and few lineups - or charged that abomination, a monthly maintenance fee. The staff doesn't change every month or so - there are about 190 employees all told - and go out of their way to give good service such as telephoning a customer if they must debit an account.

"Now the provincial government is threatening to change it all. In April, it told savings office customers by letter that it was reviewing the operation. Possibilities for the future were `improved efficiency' under provincial ownership, a partnership with an existing bank or trust company, or outright sale. It invited customers to contact the privatization office if they wanted to comment.

"They did so by the score. POSO director David Brand says the office was flooded with calls and letters, most squarely against any privatization." It doesn't say whether Conrad Black wrote in or not.

"The government has now named CIBC Wood Gundy to conduct a review of POSO operations and report by mid-August. Talk about inviting the fox into the henhouse.

"All this makes little sense. The savings office is profitable, it works well for the government, customers like it and there's no obvious outside group lusting to take it over.

"Brand says, however, that the POSO" - that is, the Province of Ontario Savings Office - "must spend money to modernize and upgrade services. Its systems and computer networks are outdated. It cannot, for instance, issue credit cards with present equipment.

"`It's reached a major decisive point as to whether the province should do the upgrading and expansion or whether it's better left to the private sector,' he says.

"The savings office was conceived by the United Farmers government of 1919 in order to keep its election promise to small farmers to pay interest on small deposits - something the chartered banks didn't do in those days. It began operating in 1922. When the Conservatives returned to office the next year they kept it, for a time using deposits to make small loans to farmers in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture's farm loan program." Good idea.

"In the thirties, Premier Mitchell Hepburn floated a $20 million loan through the POSO" -

Mr Froese: On a point of order, Speaker: The member for St Catharines is very familiar with what the rules of the House are with respect to speaking to the bill. Mr Speaker, you've noticed him speak before. He rarely ever talks about what's in the bill; he talks about everything else. He's reading a newspaper article here. If I didn't know him as well as I do, I would think he was just trying to kill time. Could you ask him to speak to Bill 164?

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines heard you. Member for St Catharines.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know the member for St Catharines-Brock knows the rules very well too and I'd ask him, along with the Clerk, to check and see if there's a quorum present.

The Acting Speaker: Would you please check if we have a quorum.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I hesitate to say this, but the member hasn't read the bill, because of course the Province of Ontario Savings Office is in this bill, the provision is in it.

What the article I'm reading is doing is pointing out the danger of doing what this bill says. This person, ahead of time, was pointing that out. I'm glad we have enough members who are back from the caviar table in the Tory caucus room to be able to hear the rest of my remarks. Actually it's not true. I want to say to the people out there I was just fooling when I said that. It's filet mignon, it's not caviar.

Anyway, I continue because this is directly speaking to the bill, as the member for Wentworth East knows. It goes on to say:

"In the thirties, Premier Mitchell Hepburn floated a $20 million loan through the POSO as part of his continuing war with Bay Street. Successive governments have contemplated closing it but constituents' protests - many branches have been in Tory ridings - always forestalled them.

"Now the Harris Tories have leapt in where their predecessors feared to tread.

"Last spring, the savings office held customer appreciation days with balloons and refreshments to mark its 75th anniversary. Around the quiche table at one branch a number of us thought it was the customers who should be appreciating the savings office.

"Is the government now going to destroy 75 years of good relations by handing us over to a mega-bank? If it does, you can say goodbye to the last shred of civilized, gougeless, customer-friendly banking in Ontario - the kind all bank patrons would have if they could design the bank themselves."

This is Jane Becker. She must have known this bill was coming. She must have seen the provision in this bill that greases the skids for this government to privatize the Province of Ontario Savings Office. I know some of the former Conservative members of the Legislature who are watching today will want to get on their phones immediately to their local members of Parliament, their Tory members, to tell them, "Cease and desist; here is something that is successful." The government is trying to undermine it and I think it would be very unwise to do so.

The bill does something else, which is establishing the legislative framework to privatize the Province of Ontario Savings Office. It has exemptions from freedom of information protections to allow the government to share information on taxpayers with other agencies involved in collections.

Many of the people I know who have supported this government, who themselves were at one time presidents of the YPC and are now perhaps running their father's business, have said, "We are concerned when any government" - I don't care what political stripe - "starts to intrude into the private information of people," and this bill allows that to happen.

It is setting up new fees for appeals for tax problems. I heard today the Minister of Education get up and he said, "A previous government was responsible for 32 tax increases." I see in this bill now we're going to see more.

I've counted 187 in just two years, 187 Conservative tax increases, because Mike Harris said, "A user fee is a tax increase," and I agreed with Mike Harris when he said that. But his government is responsible already, and this is all I could find so far, for 187 new tax increases. Because they're in the form of user fees, they do not take into account a person's ability to pay. If you're the wealthiest person in Ontario, you would pay the same fee as the poorest person in Ontario to get a particular service, for instance, if you wanted to appeal according to what your tax problems are. It mentions that the bill is allowing the minister to change the new property tax transition ratios during the course of the year after the rates were initially set if the minister decides the change has been too dramatic. Last, the legislation sets up the Ontario Property Assessment Corp, which I've dealt with.

There are many sleepers in this bill, many hostages, many provisions the government had hoped nobody would look at. They'd say, "Well, it's this thick," and I think they charged - Bud, tell me, was it $30 for Bill 160?

Mr Wildman: Yes.

Mr Bradley: This I would guess is about $30 as well if somebody wants to get it. If you're rich, no problem; you write the cheque. You cut the cheque easily for $30. But what about the person who is having a difficult time out there and wants to look at this bill? Perhaps they have their meagre savings in the Province of Ontario Savings Office. This bill will not be available to them unless they are prepared to fork over maybe $30 or whatever the government is charging for this bill.

They might say, "Maybe I can get a subscription to Hansard or see my neighbour's subscription to Hansard so I can see what the debate was about." You would know, Mr Speaker, that this government has cut off Hansard. No longer can an individual in this province receive the transcripts of this Legislature independently, as an independent subscriber. Now they have to be on the Internet. They have to have an expensive computer to be able to access this.

Again we see the government skewing its policies towards those who are already in a privileged position. Even some of those people - just because people are people of means, that doesn't mean they don't have compassion for others and a sense of fairness. I think what the government is finding out now is that even people who are financially well off, who are in a privileged position, want to see fairness for others and are prepared to see that. They want to see a government working towards fairness for others. They won't find it in Bill 164. If they want information on their assessment, the tax bill comes out from the municipality and Mike Harris has censored that.

I know that the Conservatives on local councils in the Niagara region will be immediately contacting their Conservative MPPs to say, "Would you give us permission to put on the tax bill what we consider to be the reasons for any increases or decreases that might be there?" instead of censoring that tax bill. I would think that Joyce Trimmer, were she the mayor of Scarborough - when Scarborough was still in existence, for instance, Joyce would be very unhappy to have her council censored. I'm sure Mel Lastman won't like that. He's an outspoken individual and he won't like that. That's contained in this bill. It is a bill censoring municipalities in Ontario.

I hope every municipality passes a resolution and sends it to this provincial government to say, "We object to the censorship that you are imposing on our municipal council." They don't have to worry because there's going to be a slush fund in the first year. That's to get the Conservatives over to the next election. So we will not see the real changes for municipalities, the real impact of downloading, until the slush fund is finished, until the provincial election takes place. But the clever, perceptive municipal political representatives are assessing the impact of this bill and the downloading in the long term for those municipalities.

I understand the government whip wants me to adjourn the debate at this time, so I will, if he wants me to, adjourn the debate, it being close to 6 o'clock.

The Acting Speaker: It being close to 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:30.

The House adjourned at 1755.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.