RECALL ELECTION REQUEST ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 SUR LE DÉCLENCHEMENT D'ÉLECTIONS PAR PÉTITION
ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI ÉLECTORALE
RECALL ELECTION REQUEST ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 SUR LE DÉCLENCHEMENT D'ÉLECTIONS PAR PÉTITION
ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI ÉLECTORALE
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REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF OTTAWA-CARLETON STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LA MUNICIPALITÉ RÉGIONALE D'OTTAWA-CARLETON
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 SUR LE DÉVELOPPEMENT ÉCONOMIQUE COMMUNAUTAIRE
PUBLIC SERVICE STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LA FONCTION PUBLIQUE
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
The House met at 1000.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On a point of order, I don't believe a quorum is present, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: Could we have the Clerk check for a quorum?
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
The Acting Speaker: A quorum is now present.
RECALL ELECTION REQUEST ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 SUR LE DÉCLENCHEMENT D'ÉLECTIONS PAR PÉTITION
Mr McClelland moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 59, An Act to provide for Petitions requiring the Premier to request the Calling of an Election / Loi exigeant que le premier ministre, sur pétition, demande que soit tenue une élection.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): The honourable member has 10 minutes for his opening remarks, after which every recognized party in the Legislature will have up to 15 minutes to participate and, finally, the honourable member for Brampton North will have two minutes in summation.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): As I have had the pleasure and privilege of serving the people of Brampton North in this assembly over the past now close to six years, one of the things that has come up from time to time is the issue of parliamentary reform. As I travel both within my own constituency and indeed across the province and, quite frankly, from time to time across the country, people have reflected upon the need to move the parliamentary system into a mode that is more responsive to people, that has more reflection of the realities of the 1990s and indeed beyond into the next millennium as we face that in the not-too-distant future.
We have today leadership of various political parties who have espoused fundamental changes to our parliamentary system. The context of those initiatives are very much a product of people who operate in the everyday milieu of life in this province. One of the questions that frequently comes up as I travel -- my friends opposite I know will get very, very excited about this; I can just imagine some of them going ballistic momentarily -- is: "Is there no way to get rid of a government, with particular reference to the current government, and how much longer do we have to put up with the government? When will the next election be?" People are literally praying for some mechanism to precipitate an election in this province.
I would suggest that has been the case throughout history, that from time to time governments come into disfavour, they fall out, and there's an ebb and flow in popularity. I look to my Conservative friends opposite and reflect back to post-1984 when the polls said there would be no possibility of a return of the then federal government, but what happened of course was there was a change and our former Prime Minister, the Honourable Brian Mulroney, returned with a major majority which essentially defied the polls of but a couple of years previous to that.
However, in that context, I think a lot of people are saying there is a sense of despair and a sense of frustration that has never been felt before in the province of Ontario. In the time that we have, I'm sure we'll be talking about some of the reasons for that.
As I said, one of the things that people say is: "Is there no way that we can compel the government to be responsive? Petitions don't work. Government members opposite laugh when we bring petitions to them. They say, 'We agree with you but,'" and if anything evidenced that more than anything else, it was the recent debate on Bill 48. If you look down the list of people who sit on the government benches who had previous ties to the labour movement and the union movement, there was but a handful who had the courage of their convictions and the principles that they held, as many of them that brought them to this place, and stood by those principles. I pay tribute to them. That's a tough, tough thing to do. Some of us on this side have been in that position, and that's an awfully hard thing to do and my hat goes off to them. I give them full credit for having the courage of their convictions to stand by what they believed in and what they said and would not fall into the trap and the glib response that they hear from their leader, the Premier, who says: "Well, that was then and this is now. This is the reality of government and we can afford to be politically crass. We can abandon our principles, abandon the things that we believe in, abandon the promises we made. We'll just do whatever we please because, after all, we are in power and we will exercise that power with a view to our own benefit and not the benefit of the people of the province of Ontario. And furthermore, we will abandon those very people who supported us and got us here in the first place."
Loyalty is a very fleeting commodity, and the electorate requires and expects loyalty to them, constituency by constituency, across this province. This bill provides a mechanism that is, in point of fact, relatively onerous for the people of any jurisdiction, for the people of the province of Ontario: to force an election. If you were to look at the provisions of the bill, it requires, in short, two thirds of the people of Ontario in a prescribed, controlled format with a registration-type requirement, to put their names on a petition compelling the Premier of the province to go to the Lieutenant Governor and ask for an election. Now, there are some other provisions in the bill, that it could not happen within a time frame of one year following any previous election.
You will know, Mr Speaker, as will my friends opposite and friends in the third party, that in the United States in recent history there have been situations where because of particular circumstances and things that are, quite frankly, untoward and very, very compelling, the population of a jurisdiction -- by way of example, in the state of Nevada, I believe, a few years ago, there was such a groundswell of public opinion that they were able to secure a requisite number of signatures on a petition, file that, and compel the governor in that case to resign and call an election and put his mandate to the test of democracy through the people of the province.
Everywhere I go, everywhere, day by day, I get asked: "How much longer do we have to put up with this government? Is there no way to get rid of them?" A recall provision would take a tremendous amount of courage for all of us as elected members to proceed with, but bear in mind the requirements that would be imposed upon the people of the province. They would be required to have two thirds of the people signatory to a petition. None of us, I dare say -- well, there may be some exceptions with some of the veteran members, but I doubt if anybody in the chamber presently sitting here, and I say this with all due respect to all of my colleagues, has ever secured two thirds of the vote.
In fact, I recall, after being elected for the first time in 1987, being, if you will, in the right place at the right time and enjoying good political fortune. Quite frankly, that was in large measure why I was elected with a substantial majority in 1987. It was no tribute to any particular qualities, I say in all honesty, that I brought to the people as a candidate. I hope I presented myself in an adequate fashion, and obviously there were a sufficient number of people who had confidence in my ability to represent them and do the job. But in point of fact, I was the beneficiary of, in political jargon, a "sweep-in." I was on the tide of a very popular, fresh government that came in in 1987 with a substantial majority.
Those of you who know the history of Brampton will understand that prior to my colleague Bob Callahan being elected in 1985 for Brampton South, the then riding of Brampton was served by the former Premier, the Honourable Bill Davis, for a number of years. Some of the people who worked on his campaign, and indeed the former Premier himself, reflected upon the fact that over the course of time, very few of them in majority years had received even 50% of the population. I had the good pleasure of being elected for the first time with over 50% of the popular vote in my riding. That was substantial in a race with three major parties, with five candidates running. It was a happy accomplishment. I was happy to have those numbers, but those numbers in many respects are illusory. Most of us got elected by getting less than half of the votes. In fact, the government of the day was elected with 38% of the popular vote of the province of Ontario. I'm not a great mathematician, but that tells me that 62% of the people did not vote for the government.
In the provisions of this bill that I'm bringing forward to the House today for second reading, it would require even a greater number of people to not simply show up on election day and voice their displeasure, but to take a proactive step towards moving the dissolution of Parliament and forcing an election.
This bill responds to those two fundamental questions that people have: Is it not time to reform our parliamentary system so it becomes more responsive and more accountable, where people will be held truly to account for the promises that they made, for the representations that they made that got them elected in the first place and measure their walk with their talk, to say it's one thing to promise things and to come up with a people's agenda and it's another thing shortly thereafter being elected to abandon it virtually in total and to refigure and reconstitute our party platform and our position?
Things change, governments change, the realities of the world change. That's the world we live in. But there's a significant difference between change and fundamental abandonment of what a party said it stood for. Out of that has grown a despair and a despondency across this province that I believe has never been experienced before in this province, indeed this country.
That despair has led me, as I said, everywhere I go literally without exception. People ask me, "Is there no way we can get rid of this government?" This would provide an opportunity for this government and other governments to meet the test of accountability and responsiveness to the people of the province.
I would urge people to seriously consider this, because what you are doing when you're looking at this legislation is saying, "I'm prepared to measure my performance, to risk my performance against the test on an ongoing basis as well as the election," recognizing that it would require a significant proactive initiative by a vast number of people across the province to trigger the mechanism that is set forth in this legislation.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. All recognized parties in the Legislature now have up to 15 minutes to participate in the debate on second reading of Bill 59.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I'm pleased to rise today and speak to Bill 59, the Recall Election Request Act, 1993, brought by my good friend the member for Brampton North, Mr McClelland.
I am going to vote with Mr McClelland on this particular bill. I want to put on record some of the potential difficulties that I have with it, but I recognize that this bill is put forward as an honest attempt to try to address some of the great concerns that exist in the electorate today, and I must say these are concerns which exist throughout Canada at both the federal and provincial levels. I dare say that any government anywhere in the world would be somewhat concerned about this bill, because it would realize that its own mortality was endangered by this kind of bill.
Governments today are having to make very difficult decisions, decisions which, in the normal turn of events, they would not like to make. I would start out by saying that I think it's a fair bet that this NDP, this socialist government that we have at the moment probably doesn't like at all the things it's having to do. In fact, I'm sure they don't like many of the things they're having to do.
These are very difficult circumstances which would challenge governments of all political stripes. Ultimately, difficult and unpalatable decisions have to be made, decisions which the electorate quite frankly doesn't like. But they still have to be made.
In considering a bill like this, you have to balance the fact that perhaps, if we make a bill so easy that we can sweep away a government which has been elected to a majority Parliament and is trying to do the difficult things that have to be done, even if you don't agree with it, it becomes unfair and we'll never be able to solve the very intractable problems we are faced with today.
Nevertheless, we are faced with a situation at the moment where the electorate is quite honestly coming to all members of the opposition parties and saying, "Can we not get rid of this government?" They are talking about it in terms of, "Can we not sanction them in some way that they would be forced to resign?" I have to reluctantly answer them: "No, there is no way we can force this government to resign. You can only wait for the general election."
But just to reflect on my own private member's bill, which I introduced last year, which was known as the Provincial Public Consultation Act, and I reintroduced it since the Legislature reconvened, because it died with the order papers when the government prorogued the last House, the objective of that bill was to make sure there was some outlet for people who were concerned. In fact the thrust of my private member's bill was to allow the electorate -- if 15% of the eligible voters were to sign a petition on the prescribed form, they would be able to force on to the next regularly scheduled provincial general election questions which were of concern to them.
Also, the government of the day would have the right to put questions, I would suggest questions that probably would fit a lot better with the electorate than having to have the present government struggle with things like Sunday shopping and casino gambling, things which certainly this government did not run on and are now going in exactly the opposite direction to their main planks. If we look at auto insurance, they have made complete U-turns on their position.
Quite frankly, some of them might be right. I don't happen to agree with any of the things the government is doing, but that doesn't matter. I wasn't elected to the party that is governing. They are faced today with very difficult decisions where they feel that perhaps they were wrong.
We should not in opposition totally abhor the fact that governments change their minds. I think there is a certain lack of consistency with this government and a lack of intellectual honesty about the direction they're going, because they are actually turning back on their main platforms.
There's no doubt about it that in the last provincial election, I sat and listened to the NDP candidate in my own riding preaching to the fact that they were against Sunday shopping and that they were going to bring in a system of public auto insurance and a whole raft of other things that they haven't done. In fact they've done quite the opposite.
Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Tories wanted bang, bang, bang.
Mr Turnbull: Nevertheless -- and I hear one of my friends across the floor beginning to heckle -- I'm trying to reflect on the fact that I understand you have difficult decisions to make, but it obviously sits very badly with you, the fact that you are doubling back on all of your platform from An Agenda for People.
At the time of the last election, secretly I applauded you for the fact that you had the courage to put forward a document which is called in Britain a manifesto. I really do believe that all parties should put forward a manifesto at the beginning of each election, stating what they stand for. But quite frankly, it should be a better-researched document.
The amazing thing is now we have the government, when we talk about this, suggesting that they didn't read it when they went into the last election. That is a rather sobering thought for the people who voted for them, the fact that now we're having the members who got elected on this platform say, "Oh, I didn't read it, so therefore I'm not bound by it."
I think the day for party manifestos from all parties has come, but it has to be a much more intellectually honest document, and I think we have to accept that there will be particular items in these documents that, once you get into office, if you haven't been in office before, you're going to recognize you may have to make some changes to. But when you start absolutely prostituting the very values that you have stood for as a party, then the public have an entitlement to look to legislation such as the legislation which has been brought forward today, Bill 59.
The hurdle that Mr McClelland has put in his private member's bill is two thirds of those people who voted in the last general election. In the last election, in 1990, 64.4% of those eligible voted. Therefore, 42.9% of eligible voters would have to sign this petition to force a general election.
Coincidentally, the NDP received 37.8% of the eligible votes that were cast in the last general election. So in other words, you would have to get a number which was equivalent to all of the people who cast a vote for the Liberals and the Conservatives and then some of the people who cast votes for the NDP just to sign the ballot. Let's just think about that.
I have never, ever heard of a hurdle as high as that. In the United States, where they have had referenda legislation for many years in most states and which I reviewed for my own private member's legislation, the highest hurdle was that 15% of the eligible voters would have to sign a petition to force a question on to a referendum ballot. But we're talking about a number, if we look at the last general election, of 42.9%. This is a massive hurdle.
I have to say, despite all of the rumbling and dissatisfaction in the electorate, I frankly question whether you would be able to get that number to sign a ballot. Perhaps they may today because, indeed, not only has this government broken all of the promises it made in An Agenda for People, but it has also moved massively in a direction that it certainly didn't have as its platform. They have moved to essentially kill the private residential landlords.
I hear Mr Mills laughing about that. He thinks it's funny that he is a member of a government that is killing the private sector. And what is the effect of killing the private sector? The fact is, we now in this province have a more serious economic problem than any of the other provinces in Canada. We have the largest debt load of anything outside of sovereign nations in the world -- not my words, these are the words of the Minister of Finance, lifted right out of his budget document.
That is a rather sobering thought, that we have taken this province, in those few short years since the Conservatives brought Canada prosperity through their labours in the Ontario Legislature -- and we had a prosperous, successful province. Now we have a province that has become, after sovereign nations, the largest debtor in the world bar none.
Mr Wood: Fifteen years of Tory spending, year after year.
Mr Turnbull: It's interesting. I hear Mr Wood from the NDP heckling that we were the big spender. It's very interesting that when we left office, we left, in my estimation, too large a debt. It was $30 billion. Let's just concentrate on the numbers. The Liberals in just five years --
The Acting Speaker: Order. Members will have the opportunity. The member for York Mills has the floor.
Mr Turnbull: The Conservatives, since Confederation, had achieved a debt level of $30 billion. The Liberals, in the best five years this province has ever known, added $10 billion in just five short years. One third of the debt since Confederation was added on again by the Liberals. But my big-spending friends across the floor are adding that amount of debt each and every year.
The Minister of Finance, when he was asked a question about his budget some year and a half ago, was spot on. He was so spot on that he was billions off the mark, increasing the debt. With all the foofaraw that comes from the government saying, "Oh, we should be getting more transfers from the federal government," the fact is -- and these are irrefutable because these are provincial government numbers -- that this provincial government has received more each year from the federal government in increases than the rate of inflation.
Those are, unfortunately, the facts, my friends. You may not like them. This is very different to this provincial government which is actually cutting back the amount of money that it is giving to its transfer agencies. The fact is that this government has to make some very difficult choices and I am not trying to take away from it the right to make those difficult choices. These are difficult times and any political party that would be in office today would be having difficult times and, frankly, would be unpopular with the people. I give you that.
All I am suggesting is that it is reasonable, in view of the tremendous concern, the unease, about the political process that is abroad throughout the world, that perhaps we have to look at measures such as this which will provide a safety valve for the electorate, so that they can gain back confidence in the political system. Throughout the world they are having to do these things now.
The interesting thing, if you look at what is happening in Italy today, is that in Italy they have had for many years a system of proportional representation and they have found that proportional representation is not working for them. It is establishing people. They are so entrenched in politics that they are there for a lifetime. So the Italian electorate are saying, "We want to get rid of proportional representation."
The interesting thing is that there's discussion in Britain at the moment where they have first-past-the-post system like we have here. People are beginning to say, "Maybe we need proportional representation." It is a reflection to a great extent of the fact that the electorate are fed up with the problems. They're very intractable problems and we have to allow the public to be a party to solving these problems.
So for this reason, I will be voting for my friend Mr McClelland's bill, and I recommend that the government at least consider the ability to let the electorate have their say.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): It's my pleasure to speak to this bill, having a great interest in opposing it. I listened very carefully to what Mr Turnbull has said, and apart from his rhetorical digressions and political hyperbole, he said some interesting remarks and stated earlier on some good points as to why he would oppose it, and continues by the very end, after all the other hyperbole, to support it. It's quite interesting to listen to political arguments because you can never really tell what people argue.
I also listened very attentively to the member for Brampton North, trying to understand the intent of his bill. He begins to talk about parliamentary reform, being responsive to the people and being accountable, and he says, "This is in no way intended to get rid of this government." Five minutes later, he says he listens to people saying, "How do we get rid of this government?" He comes up with a bill that is designed to do just that, so he contradicts his intent, I believe. He might want to clarify that as he speaks later on in his two-minute rebuttal.
Within our system, petitions are only meant to express an opinion, not to bring down a government. The member speaks about petitions and says, of course, that these petitions are inadequate, that expressing your opinion contrary to what a government is doing is simply not enough, that what we need to do is to propose a bill that can dissolve this government, and how do we proactively do that? That's the real intent, not parliamentary reform, not making it responsive to the people, not making it more accountable, because we do have a mechanism in this parliamentary system that makes us accountable. I have no problems with the system as it currently exists to make individuals like himself and all of us accountable.
If the bill were proposed in such a way that it would build cultural development, political development, that it would make people more politically active in the political process, as opposed to signing a petition that says, "We don't like this government; we want you to call an election," if we had done something different that speaks to that political development, I could support it. But nothing in this bill speaks to that.
Petitions do not politicize the public. Petitions do not involve the public in a way that they would understand either the difficulties or the profundities of a particular issue, or all of the issues that we face as a government. They do not do that. That is not the intent of what the member's trying to do.
The intent clearly is that he wants to bring down the government. What it says to me is that this particular Liberal is so unhappy being out of government that he wants to find a way to get back in, in a hurry. They have not accepted the fact that the NDP is in power and that we're governing and that we're making tough decisions. He doesn't like it. The Liberals don't like being out of power and they want to get back in. That's the real intent.
But he doesn't want to speak to that. He alludes to a number of people to whom he speaks who say, "How do we dissolve this government and what mechanism can we put into place to do this quickly?" That's the rhetoric this member brings.
The concern expressed by supporters he speaks of, that Canadians have few opportunities to hold their MPPs accountable is dubious when assessed against Canada's recent electoral history. I read here:
"Since 1945, Canadians have gone to the polls in 15 general elections. The results have created nine majority and six minority governments. Only twice have governments been re-elected to two consecutive majorities. From 1945 to 1988, the average term of Parliament was 3.1 years. Compared with the US, there is a high legislative turnover in Canada."
That's the fact. There is a high legislative turnover. We are accountable to the public. We're seeing that across Canada, nationally and provincially. When people do not like what governments do, they express it in their vote, and in the meantime they allow us the freedom, as governments, to govern and to make tough decisions.
We've made some good decisions on many different issues that neither this party, the Liberal Party, nor the Conservative Party, would never do. We speak about our record on labour rights, which the member spoke against. We talk about a workers' protection fund to help people who have been laid off work when companies go bankrupt, and an investment employee ownership program to increase workers' ownership of private industry. We've increased the minimum wage. We're investing more than any other government in the country in job training and job creation, and we're opposing free trade, very definitely.
We have done some great things that are of interest to the majority of Ontarians in this province. We have done employment equity in a way that they do not like on the opposite side. We have moved on pay equity in a way that the other governments would not have moved, as we have. We have done things that these other parties would never do. They don't like it, so this member proposes a bill that would have the effect of bringing down the government.
Decisions that are arrived at within an environment seething with emotion, as he proposes, is not an environment marked by calm and collected debate. What we want is reasoned debate that lasts over a period of time, and not to allow a political party, in this case the Liberal Party, or the Conservative Party, to be able to force a vote through a petition to undo the things a government should do.
I oppose this not because I'm in government right now, because if the Liberals were in government I would say that they have a right to govern. I would oppose their views, and I will do that for as long as it takes and will wait for an election, but every government, every party, if in power, needs to be able to govern to do that.
This is a bad bill, it's a nonsensical bill, it doesn't give us genuine parliamentary reform, it doesn't build political development or political culture in this country, and as such we need to oppose it.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I rise today during private members' hour to discuss Bill 59, which has been put forward by my colleague Mr McClelland from Brampton North. I believe the reason this bill is before us is because what Mr McClelland is hearing, what I'm hearing and I think what most members of this Legislature, particularly those on the opposition side but I suspect those in the government caucus as well, from their constituents is, "How soon can we have the next election?"
People in Ontario today are feeling cynical, they're feeling frustrated, they're feeling a sense of despair, they're feeling anger and anguish and alienation, and one of the reasons they're feeling that way is their sense that there's nothing they can do to influence the government.
In the summer of 1990, in the wake of a very real and legitimate process within our democracy, the people of Ontario made a decision. They voted for a party that had put forward their Agenda for People. They thought they knew who they were voting for, and frankly they're feeling a tremendous sense of betrayal.
We've seen Ontario suffer through a recession, through difficult economic times in a way which many of us never could have contemplated or anticipated because of our belief that Ontario was fundamentally strong. Because we had outperformed our neighbours during buoyant and good economic times, many of us felt we would outperform our neighbours in difficult economic times, and yet we know that Ontario's performance has not been as good as that of her neighbours. Ontario's performance has been worse because of the policies of this NDP government.
What I hear time and time again from my constituents is: "Isn't there anything you can do, Elinor, to cause an election? Isn't there anything you can do, Elinor, to see that we have an opportunity to influence this government in a way which will stop it from doing the damaging and dangerous things that it never talked to us about during the election?"
What Bill 59 does is put forward a mechanism which is not available today in Ontario. It is a remedy when the normal democratic safeguards don't work. Normally, you will have a caucus revolt if you have a government attempting to do things that its caucus does not support. But unfortunately, you have a caucus of NDP members who are so afraid of losing their jobs and having to face the people that they are like sheep following along in the wake of the disastrous policies of this government and not taking the strong and important role of defending the public interest and attempting to influence their own government.
The opposition has done what we can do to be both effective and responsible. We have stayed here in this House. It's now the end of July 1992. We have insisted on debating legislation --
Hon Fred Wilson (Minister without Portfolio and Chief Government Whip): I's 1993.
Mrs Caplan: It's 1993, and I thank the minister. It is July 1993, and we are here in this House working, debating the legislation. We refused to allow the government to ram its agenda through without debate. They had anticipated that if they said the House was going to sit here at times when people thought we would all be on holidays or doing our committee work, they could just get the acquiesence of the opposition, and we've refused to do that.
We have used every parliamentary tool that is available to influence the government to make sure that its policies will reflect the public interest. We've used every democratic rule that we can to attempt to defeat this government. We have encouraged and supported its caucus members to speak out and to try to influence, within the government caucus, the important changes so necessary to recovery and job creation in Ontario.
Bill 59 is a remedy which is not available today, and that is the ability to recall the government. One of the ways to restore confidence in the province of Ontario, to say to those people who are cynical and alienated and despondent and angry and frustrated, what we can say to them is that by support of Bill 59 we can give you a remedy not only for this government, but for future governments so that you can take action to cause an election before the Premier decides that he wants to go to the polls.
It's a sad day that I stand here to say that our democracy is not working well enough if people are feeling so alienated and so cynical, and it's with a sad heart that I support a recall provision as proposed in Bill 59, but I do support it.
Mr David Winninger (London South): I'm pleased to rise and join in this debate today. I won't pass any judgement on the constitutionality of this bill, which may indeed be suspect, and I won't advert to clause 3(1)(c), which I find very obnoxious in that the petition could contain names of only those people who voted in the last election. So all of those people who may object to the holding of another election prematurely would not have a vehicle by which to register their opposition to that petition.
I find it quite peculiar that the member for Brampton North, who was just a few moments ago reflecting on his election in 1987 and his years of office in the Legislature since that time, did not bring forward this legislation back in 1987, 1988 or 1989, because I put it to you that we had in Ontario, between 1987 and 1990, the most bloated, arrogant, complacent and do-nothing government this province has ever seen. If there was ever a need for this kind of legislation, the member for Brampton North should have brought it forward at that time.
I believe this legislation is of a fraudulent nature in that it attacks the results of the democratic vote. It's an attack on representational democracy as it has evolved since the times of the ancient city-states in Greece, when direct democracy ruled. It's like saying, "I like baseball, but I'm losing the game, and because I'm losing the game, I'm gonna change the rules, or we're going to abolish baseball." I mean, it's that kind of attitude, which, as my colleague says, is certainly a pernicious one.
We all agree there should be more accountability in the parliamentary process. We all agree that, especially in this political climate, people need to be heard and need to know that they're being heard. However, at election time, we trust the good voters of this province to choose representatives to judge, to reflect, to deliberate, to compromise, to lead and respond to their concerns. People accept the need for responsible governance. We respect the voters' ability to choose responsible representatives.
The existing recall provisions in the US have been seldom used and in fact don't extend to senators, congressmen, the executive council and the President. Individual states have recall mechanisms; they too are seldom used. In fact, one expert on the subject matter of recall in the United States concluded recently that the recall device has not significantly improved direct communication between leaders and the led; neither has it produced better-qualified office holders or noticeably enriched the quality of citizenship or democracy in those places permitting it.
We, as elected members of this House, when in government, walk a fine line between advancing the greater good, as a collectivity of members, for the people of the province, versus responding to the needs and aspirations of the people in our own local communities. We can't be held hostage in our decision-making by the threat looming over us each and every day of petitions being circulated around the province, often fuelled by large, powerful lobby groups with considerable resources and money.
It's interesting that Joseph Zimmerman observed that because these weapons of direct democracy have been employed by fiscally conservative groups -- the weapons of course, he says, are available to all groups, and successful use of the weapons by one group is an inadequate ground for their abolition. Interestingly, he says, these devices originally were advocated and employed by liberal reformers, such as the member for Brampton North.
In conclusion, because I know my colleague behind me wishes to have a little time left as well, I would say that this particular legislation has to be opposed by all those who have a firm commitment to democracy, because what it suggests is that a validly held electoral vote under existing rules, providing for a fixed mandate for a majority government, can no longer apply simply because Liberal members happen to be out of government.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate on the second reading of Bill 59? Members from the government side still have two minutes.
Mr Anthony Perruzza (Downsview): Just very briefly, I read this bill, and if this bill at all empowered people, I'd support it; if it increased people's representation in this place in any way, I would support it. I'm one who does not believe that a majority government should be won with 38% of the vote, nor 42%, nor 45%, nor 49%. I believe it should be won with 51% of the vote, because that's how people have a voice in this place.
The member says, "Well, let's conduct a petition." What that would suggest to me is that government should be delivered on the basis of polls. You take some money, you pay for a poll, you find out what's popular with people and what people want and that's what you do. That doesn't make government right or honest or truthful with people, because it's simple to ask the question: "People, do you want a higher deficit?" No. "Do you want increased services?" Yes. "Do you want to pay more in taxes?" No. "Do you want less government?" Yes. "Do you want faster services?" Yes.
Let's do that, let's poll everybody in Ontario. Let's ask them what's popular and what they would like and then let's be dishonest and try to deliver. That's what this says: Let's be dishonest and try to deliver. The Liberals governed during the 1980s and their popularity level was always over 50%. They did nothing. Nobody would have undertaken a petition to boot them out; nobody would have done that. But in 1990, when they issued the writ, what did the people of Ontario say? "We've had enough of you."
People want tough decisions. They want the truth. They want you to govern in the best way you can and not by polls.
The Acting Speaker: The member's time has elapsed. Further debate on second reading of Bill 59?
Mr McClelland: I want at the outset to commend the member for London South who obviously did a little bit of research, took a look at some literature and some academic review of some similar legislation in the United States and drew, I believe, an opinion that was based on his assessment of the data and literature available. I want to commend him for that and pay tribute to the fact that he took time to do some work on behalf of the people he represents.
It seems to me that my friend from Downsview particularly summed it up very, very well. He talked about what happens in elections, the ebb and flow of popularity. Herein lies the issue and the pivotal point. This has nothing to do with being in power or out of power, I say with respect to my friend the member for Fort York and the member for London South. This would apply to any government of any political stripe. Therein lies the issue and the essence of what we're talking about. It is not a matter of current popularity. This requires a fairly onerous task undertaken by the general population to do something that is not simple and straightforward, as the member for York Mills alluded to, taking in parallel with that his I think very thoughtful Bill 16, Mr Turnbull's Provincial Public Consultation Ac,t which requires people to take initiative.
This is not a matter of people responding at election time in response to six weeks of campaigning and people presenting their message; if you will, people having the ultimate poll in terms of parliamentary democracy. This is an opportunity for people who are so frustrated, so angry and so upset that they are desperate for some way to respond and make their feelings known to the government, a government that has betrayed them and betrayed its supporters consistently since the time it was elected.
The member for Oriole makes a very, very good point. The member for Oriole says that the real recall provision should be caucus. It should be caucus, based on women and men who have the courage and the convictions to stand by their principles and to say to their leadership: "No, we will not allow you to push us around and tell us what to do, when we know that the people who got us here don't want us to do that. Our supporters are opposed to what you're doing and the population generally across this province is sick and tired of the way you have been mismanaging and mishandling the government and putting it over on the people. We will not put up with it any more. Get your own house in order," a caucus would say to its leadership. That would be the appropriate recall provision in a parliamentary democracy, but sadly and unhappily, that's lacking at the present time.
This has nothing to do with which party is in power. It has to do with the mechanism to provide people with the opportunity to respond to the concerns they have.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Downsview is out of order; he's out of his seat. Please allow the member for Brampton North the time to participate in the debate.
Mr McClelland: I looked, as the Minister of Finance would say, in one of the local tabloids yesterday. It had an editorial, and the concluding comment was, "How do you like socialism so far?" It's a question I've seen on billboards, a question I've heard asked tongue-in-cheek and rhetorically by countless people all across the province.
It's really quite amazing to look at the sources of despondency. They are people you would have thought would be true right to the end. I was almost going to say true blue, but of course that would be a misnomer -- but true right to the end with their NDP friends. They are absolutely outraged at some of the things that are happening.
They applaud people like the member for Welland-Thorold, who says, "I'm going to stick up for what we said we were going to do." I don't happen to agree with the position on public auto insurance. I think it's absurd and ludicrous. We'll talk about that some other time, I'm sure, because they'll be back again trying to undo the damage they did with Bill 64. At least the member for Welland-Thorold said: "We had a position and we went to the people five times on it. Then when we got elected, what did we do? We abandoned that position."
Consider Bill 48 and the abandonment. We have the minister standing up and saying they're almost in tears, in fact basically crying in their seats, when they get up and vote for it; none the less, they don't have the courage of their convictions but for one minister, who said, "I'm going to stand by what I believe in and I'm going to vote my conscience and vote for the people who brought me here and the people I represent."
Day care: They are the people who say ideologically, "I want to wipe out day care," in the region of Peel right now putting home day care in jeopardy for people who really need it, people with special-needs kids, and that's because they're bound to this ideological conviction that there's something wrong with profit, that it's a dirty word.
I met somebody on Monday night who had no idea what I did, a gentleman who lived in Ontario for many years and is now operating a business in Hong Kong. He said to me, and I quote: "There's no way I will put another nickel into this province until we get rid of the Commie government. I'm better off investing in China, where I'm investing." Those were his words. He had no idea of the business I was in at the current time. That's indicative of the kinds of things I hear everywhere I go.
A local bartender, a gentleman who runs a pub and a bar, a strong supporter in Brampton of the New Democrats, still remains on the executive, says, "I wish there was some way we could get rid of the leadership and get the NDP back to what it used to be and why I committed myself to this party." He said to me, "McClelland, I'll do everything I can to defeat you in the next election, but I want to do it on the basis of an New Democratic Party that is truly a New Democratic Party."
Medical laboratories, efficiency, cost efficiency --
Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): Profit.
Mr McClelland: And profit. Isn't that a terrible thing, I say to Mr Mills. "Profit": What a dirty word. Profit only drives the economy of this province, it only drives the opportunities that existed for you, sir, that brought you to immigrate to this country and this province and build a good life for yourself, and now you say "profit" is a dirty word.
The folly of the socialist ideological idiocy is: "We can make the experiment work in Ontario when it's failed everywhere else in the world. We'll drive people away, we'll drive investment away."
I say to the member for York Mills that I have a seven-year-old son and I fear for the future of him and kids like him in this province, because it will take decades to undo the nonsense that you have perpetrated on the people of this province.
You don't care about long-term care and the efficiencies that are available there, medical laboratories, because profit -- my God, profit has only worked and built one of the highest standards of living in the world for our province. It has drawn people, ironically, from other parts of the world, like yourself, sir, to come here, and then you throw it away with some ideological dismiss.
Casino gambling has just totally gone contrary to every position from the now Minister of Natural Resources, the former Attorney General, things that the Premier had said himself, and what do we have? We have one member who has the courage of his convictions to stand up and say, "I'm not going to put up with that." I'm not here to debate casino gambling; we'll have ample time to do that, I suppose, in the next week or two. The point is, again, another reversal. People are upset about that. They're angry.
Playing games with numbers and saying we're going to set up crown corporations is not really part of the deficit, playing games with the social contract and saying, "You're in, you're not in; $30,000 if you're under, but you're not under, and we'll change those roles and we're refer to the niceties of the act to manoeuvre things to our advantage."
Young physicians who have invested years of their life, women and men who have prepared to practise medicine in this province and whom the taxpayers have invested in, saying, "We're going to go to the job lottery at the Royal York Hotel and get out of this province because we're not welcome here and there's no future."
Budgets start out with a government that says, "First of all, we're going to spend our way out of the deficit." Then the next budget says, "We're going to balance it, a little bit of spend, a little bit of cut and slash." Then the next budget says, "A little bit of slash," a constant moving target.
The Waste Management Act says, "We will abandon all the principles that we ever had," and, ironically, try to go with the environment assessment reforms, at the same time throwing out that very process available to the people of Ontario.
You wonder why there's cynicism. It's not a matter of the ebb and flow of popularity, as my friend from Downsview says. Governments rise and they fall; I alluded to that in my earlier comments. The former Prime Minister was at an all-time low. He had an opportunity to go to the people, and the people, over the course of a campaign, came up with a decision and re-elected him with a majority.
This is an extraordinary remedy for extraordinary times and the extraordinary despondency that exists now in the province of Ontario. I can tell you, when I walk around my community, whether it be the emergency services at Peel Memorial Hospital that are in jeopardy at the current time, people are concerned. They want to make sure that they have it there, and they're concerned about the future of their children and the safety of their families. I look at what happened with the development in my community, the Chinguacousy health care facility, ready to go, on the verge of being delivered, and pulled at the last minute by a government that now refuses to consider it. Notwithstanding their philosophical commitment to community health, community care, they're going to pull that one.
Look at day care, at the hundreds of women, primarily single women but some single men, who are depending on in-home child care that is at jeopardy and is being cancelled because of the impact of the social contract by this NDP government.
Think of long-term care, people who are getting bills now, and moms and dads who have made a family decision and are have been denied the option of going to the marketplace and looking at private sector care for them, because again, my friend from York Mills would say, "Profit, what a terrible thing," profit that has built one of the best places. We have essentially a sound infrastructure. It needs some work. We have essentially a sound educational system, but the point of fact is --
Mr Perruzza: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I've listened to the member all morning and he hasn't said once how this bill would empower people any more than they're empowered now.
The Acting Speaker: It's not a point of order; it's a point of view.
Mr McClelland: In conclusion, as my friend has very cleverly taken off the last few seconds of my last minute, let me say this to the member for Downsview: The opportunity for people is this, the empowerment to people is this: When there is such despondency and despair and an absolute total lack of confidence, as there is, in the mismanagement and incompetence of the government of the day, it would provide people with an opportunity. If they were to overcome some relatively onerous provisions of the act to initiate a process that would give them an opportunity -- and people want that opportunity today. Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to says, "Is there no way we can get rid of this disastrous government," and this bill would provide them with an opportunity to have a remedy.
The Acting Speaker: This completes the time allotted for the second reading of Bill 59. We will deal further with this bill at 12 o'clock.
ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI ÉLECTORALE
Mr David Johnson moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 60, An Act to amend the Election Act / Loi modifiant la Loi électorale.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): The honourable member for Don Mills will have 10 minutes, after which every recognized party in the Legislature will have 15 minutes to debate. The honourable member for Don Mills will then have two minutes in response.
Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): I don't think this matter may be as contentious as the previous one. Indeed, this private member's bill is a straightforward, simple amendment that I think we can all endorse. It simply extends the categories of those who can get a proxy vote during a provincial election to include the elderly, the disabled and those who are away on vacation.
It also extends the period of time during which a person can get a proxy vote. At present, bona fide electors who are qualified to receive a proxy vote can do so up until the day in advance of polling day, but on election day itself you cannot get a proxy vote. This bill would address that situation and would permit bona fide electors to receive a proxy vote on election day itself.
I think we would all agree that the most fundamental, the most basic, the most important right that we enjoy in our society here in the province of Ontario and here in Canada is the right to vote. Indeed, many Canadian citizens have fought, have served in the First World War, the Second World War and in Korea for this kind of right.
I have had the honour and the privilege to be a member of Branch 10, the Todmorden branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Through my association with the legion members, I know not only of the suffering, the sacrifice and the hardships that took place during those wars, but I know of the great pride of the men and women who served and that they fought for the rights and the freedoms that we enjoy here within our country today: the rights and the freedoms of free speech, of worship and of course to vote and to select and choose a government that will set the policies and the decisions for the future of our country. Through this voting process we are shaping our own future, and it's very important that we all be able to participate in this procedure.
It's ironic as well that many of the same people who value the right to vote, value the right to participate and indeed consider it beyond a right, consider it an obligation and feel that in fact they are not being a good citizen if they don't vote, are the ones who have the greatest difficulty or the greatest restrictions in terms of actually being able to get out and to vote. I'm speaking specifically of the elderly, the frail and the disabled.
I also wanted to note that after each election, the chief election officer prepares a report, and I have a copy of two of those most recent reports in my hand here at the present time. I have a copy of a report dated 1988 and a copy of a report dated 1991 from the chief election officer. In both of these reports, the CEO has reported on the proxy voting system and he has made recommendations through these reports with regard to the general election procedures, but specifically with regard to proxy voting.
I suppose we all know, but perhaps for the benefit of anybody who may be watching, proxy voting is the right of a bona fide elector who is not able to vote on election day to get someone else, another bona fide elector, to vote in that person's place. The Election Act does permit a number of different categories of proxy voting, even at the present time.
It still excludes some people but it does permit, for example, Canadian Forces members or their spouses or their families -- those who are bona fide electors -- to receive a proxy vote. If they're not able to be present, somebody else can vote in their stead. It permits those people employed in the business of long-distance travel, either by air or water or rail or motor vehicle, to vote by proxy. It permits people who are away on business to vote by proxy. It doesn't permit their spouses or their children, but the people themselves are able to vote by proxy.
It permits people who have medical problems to vote by proxy, although I'm not sure if the interpretation of "medical reasons" is uniform across the province of Ontario, but at least there is that category. It permits students who are away at registered institutes to vote by proxy. It permits people in job training or retraining to vote by proxy. The interesting category -- and I'll come back to this a bit later, either in my remaining four minutes or in the subsequent 15 minutes -- is it permits people who are inmates in penal institutes or correctional institutes to vote by proxy.
Now, coming back to the chief electoral officer, I'm going to quote from his most recent report. He's indicated that "eligible electors who are unable to vote solely because no administrative mechanism has been devised to accommodate them are as effectively disenfranchised as persons to whom the legal right is denied." Basically what he's saying is, if you're an eligible voter, and because you're away or because of some physical restriction you are unable to get out and vote, then you have been denied that right to vote. In our society, that is not acceptable.
The chief election officer goes on to say, "The democratic principles interpreted in the spirit of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms support the elimination of administrative disenfranchisement where reasonably possible." Again, what he's saying here is, in a modern society we should do all we can to assist people to participate in the most important aspect of our society: to form government and determine how government is created. I believe my amendment is in that spirit.
I might say that, having talked with the chief election officer, he fully supports what I'm putting forward. In fact, he recommended that section 17 of the act be amended to grant the right to vote by proxy to any elector with reason to believe that he or she will be unable to vote, both at the advance poll and at his or her regular polling place on election day. So the chief election officer is saying: "Throw out all the different categories. You shouldn't have to justify it on medical reasons. You shouldn't have to justify it because you're in the armed forces or any other specific reason. There should be any bona fide, valid reason whatsoever that you can't attend on voting day, you can't attend at the advance polls, and you should be able to get a proxy."
This recommendation, I might say, has been before this Legislature for some time but, I guess, in terms of priorities, it hasn't come to the top and it hasn't been implemented. My amendment doesn't quite go that far but it certainly does broaden the number of categories.
Inevitably, there are seniors and there are disabled people who will earnestly wish to vote but who, on election day, for whatever reason -- reasons of health, physical limitations, extremely bad weather -- will simply not be able to get out and vote.
In my municipality of East York -- I might say that I represented it until I came to this House -- over 16% of the population are 65 or over. This is Ontario of the future. In East York perhaps there is the highest proportion of senior citizens of any municipality in Ontario, but this will happen in all our municipalities as the years go by. We have an aging population and more and more we are going to have higher proportions of elderly people.
My 10 minutes are coming to an end. I'm simply going to say at this point, although I'll be commenting later, that our society is changing. There are needs of the elderly that need to be accommodated. I think this is one small step, this proxy vote for the elderly, that could be accommodated and I'll speak further to it later on in this period.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): I am very proud to be able to participate in the debate of the private member's bill introduced by the member for Don Mills. I listened carefully to the points he raised, and I think he has some very valid points and concerns to ensure that we respect the rights of people to be able to vote, for example, people who are disabled or seniors. I believe he is very well intentioned to make sure that people have access to that vote, and it's an important point that he raises.
But I do have a problem with this private member's bill. When we really look at the bill, I think in the current situation it does not prevent people who are disabled or who are seniors from voting, so I think I'd like to clarify a couple of points.
I think the bill seems to give the right to people who are seniors or who are disabled that does not exist, but there is one line in the present act that enables people to have a proxy vote for people who for medical reasons are unable physically to go to polling places. That is 17(1)(d).
The elderly or disabled who cannot get around to go shopping or to movies or to visit relatives are already provided with the ability to vote by proxy, and now most polling places are accessible. However, if the polling place is not accessible, the same section of the act then enables the voter to deal with the inaccessible polling station by the opportunity of proxy vote.
From my own experience within the riding of York East, I think most places are accessible. I have seen many seniors and many persons with disabilities who have been able to go out to the polling stations, and I think they have really made the places accessible.
I believe there are perhaps some areas across the province, in rural areas or other places, that may not have accessibility because of transportation or because of the building where the polling station is located, but I think the act then still permits people to vote by proxy.
Another point to make: I think the only group that really will be added to the list of those who are entitled to vote by proxy are people who are away because of personal travel plans, and I have a little bit of difficulty with that because we do have advance polls before election day, so that provides the opportunity for people to vote at them.
But if we're thinking in general, if we open up this process, I think the current act provides for proxy on any day, including the immediate day preceding polling day, then the polling day will be extended to include election day. I think what could result is that there would be additional administrative complexities at the polling station and it could increase the potential of fraud. That point is one that really concerns me.
As you know, there was the recent federal report released by the Conservative government and in the report -- I have the report here and I would just like to quote from it -- it's the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, the Lortie commission. It recommends that the proxy vote be abolished, and the recommendation is 2.2.5(e), and it says, "Voting by special ballot." I think that's a recommendation that they make and this would be to reduce the potential of fraud: "A special process should be developed, one that can be administered well."
Clearly, the Election Act wants to ensure that people who are disabled or who are seniors have polling places that are accessible. I think we're looking at people who have disabilities who cannot get to the polling station for whatever reason. Because of illness or disability it is impossible for them to go to a polling station. Under clause 17(1)(d) we do permit them to vote by proxy. For example, it's talking about deaf people, people who are in wheelchairs.
We're talking about the number of people who have disabilities, they have the ability to go to polling stations to vote, they are able to do that. So then why would we permit people with disabilities to be given the special treatment who can take advantage of the system in this way? We want the system to be fair. I think we have to maintain that question of fairness and the question of people having the same treatment.
We understand and recognize that people who are disabled or seniors who are very vulnerable or who are very ill and it's impossible for them to get out -- the act already permits them to have a medical certificate or they register with the election officer and then they are sensitive to the needs of those people and they are allowed to vote.
But I'm concerned that if we look at people specifically, because of their personal travel plans, who have difficulty -- but we do already take that into consideration by having the advance polls. I think we have to look at the administration of the voting, we have to look at the procedures, and if it becomes very complex or very open, we are leaving ourselves open to fraud.
Just to wrap up, I strongly believe that the member for Don Mills has very good intentions in the bill, a very caring person, to make sure that people with disabilities and seniors and other people do have access to use their right to vote. I think the intention is right and I support the intention or the principle, but I think the problem is with a very specific line where it's permitting persons who have personal travel plans to keep it a little bit open. I think the current Election Act does not prevent people from having the opportunity because of illness or medical reasons; it does not prevent them from voting by proxy. I think the current act is very clear that it does not prevent people from this.
I wish to congratulate the member for Don Mills for the good intention behind the bill, but this is a point that I raise in the debate on this concern and I would be interested to hear the other members, and the member for Don Mills, convince me, if he perhaps could give some very specific, valid examples, so that I may be able to then reconsider my position.
I look forward to hearing more in the debate and I encourage the other members of government to listen to the points that are raised. I think perhaps we need a little more convincing on how people could benefit from this.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate on second reading of Bill 60. The honourable member for Brant-Haldimand.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I'm certainly pleased to be able to stand in support of the bill presented by the member for Don Mills because I think it's very important. It's very important to encourage people to vote in all elections in the wonderful democracy that we have in this land.
I was pleased also to hear from the member for York East about the elections review commission and the proposals they are making, a special ballot. But the problem is, when will that be completed? When will action be taken on it? So it's an unknown length of time until the problems, as I see them, as responded to by this bill, will be faced and indeed solved.
While many citizens don't agree that we have a true democracy, and that's because of the restrictions, rules and regulations placed upon them by all levels of government, we certainly do have a democratic form of government where people can be nominated, can run for office, and some be elected. So those are important procedures, and in the election procedure it is important to include all and make possible access to all regardless of personal problems and disabilities.
Of course, once people are elected, we should take the opportunity to report back to our constituents on an ongoing basis and indeed be responsible to the constituency for some of the things that we stand for after being elected, as well as saying what we're going to stand for previously. That almost refers back to the previous bill, which I did not have an opportunity to speak to but certainly support and will be voting for.
This bill will provide additional access to the election process for many people, and that indeed is very important. Millions of dollars are spent by candidates, riding associations and governments to encourage people to vote, but the turnout is often very disappointing. In many cases people cannot go to the polls on election day; indeed cannot vote in the advance poll.
I found this out particularly in the by-election held March 5, 1992, in the riding of Brant-Haldimand, where many people were -- they weren't so upset that they couldn't vote for me; they were more upset at the fact that they wouldn't be able to vote in the election, and it was because of precommitted travel plans and various other things. So I think it behooves us to encourage eligible voters to vote in elections as much as possible.
On the rare occasion, as a locally elected municipal official, when I was confronted with statements by citizens that they didn't vote for me and probably wouldn't, but they didn't vote for me and that many others hadn't either -- in other words, I did not represent all the people -- I had to admit, and did on many occasions, that indeed I was elected by the majority of the minority of citizens who took the opportunity to vote. Wouldn't it be a real accomplishment in our society if indeed candidates were elected by the majority of the voters eligible to vote? That would be certainly an improvement.
Now, there is a Municipal Elections Act, of course, governing municipal elections, and it's interesting to note that proxy voting is much less restrictive there. I hasten to add that there are problems with that particular act that are being addressed by the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, as I understand it, at the present time, and so some changes will be coming forth. I realize the importance of wanting to provide proxy voting but also having it protected, that such a system cannot be abused. That's very important. So I think we'll see some change to that.
I recall that when I went to public school many years ago, we were required to take a course called civics. Civics was a course where we learned about the operation, responsibility and services of our federal government, of our provincial government and of our municipal governments. It was intensive, and of course the result of that course was to try to instil in every student the wonderful future opportunity to be able to vote for candidates of our choice to represent us in the various levels of government. I think that's very important, and I understand there are some moves to go back to teaching those very important things. I hope that indeed is being pursued, because it's important in my view.
Indeed, many of the people who are unable to vote at the present time, and would be able to vote through the proxy system recommended by this bill, consider voting not only a right but an obligation. There are many people who feel very strongly about that. So I say let this House facilitate additional access to elections for the elderly, ill, disabled and those who have pre-committed travel plans, because that does happen for various reasons and they are not able to vote.
There are many other problems of course with elections and with the election procedures and ridings. One of the very confusing things I find in Ontario is when you talk to people about the riding in which they're situated. It's a very complicated system. In the provincial riding of Brant-Haldimand, parts of the riding are in four different federal ridings and three upper-tier governments plus two first nations governments. It is quite confusing. One riding goes east and west, another will go north and south and criss-cross. I think that's something that in the future we should be looking at in some way too.
I realize that's a big job, a task that would involve maybe changing the population bases for ridings, but it's particularly troublesome in rural areas because with both the province and the federal government, when there is a riding distribution, the large urban centres are allocated ridings first, the boundaries are set and then what's left over is fitted together in various jigsaw puzzle manners to form ridings. It is very confusing.
Indeed, the term "Brant-Haldimand" doesn't really represent in entirety the riding I serve, because I have the township of North Dumfries, which is in the region of Waterloo in the north, as well as the county of Brant and two first nations, as I've said, and part of the old county of Haldimand, which includes the town of Haldimand and the town of Dunnville. It does make it very confusing, but of course, Mr Speaker, I want to assure you that I'm doing my best to make people realize that I am the member at the present time -- the current member, as someone termed it -- of that riding and doing my best to serve it, and that includes reporting back to the people and giving them the opportunity to speak their minds to me.
Coming back to the bill, and I have wandered a bit, I am pleased to support it because it was, I assure you, a particular problem in the by-election in my riding. I hope we will be able to correct that.
I appreciation the presentation by the member for Don Mills and encourage the House to support it. Let's get on with the change even though there may be some very good changes in amendments coming through from the elections review commission.
Another favourite subject of mine is the matter of the designated terms of members of this House, where we're called MPPs. I still get many letters addressed to me as MLA. It's unfortunate, I think, that the term wasn't corrected in legislation. It was simply a resolution in 1938 by the government of the day and the term was changed from MLA to MPP.
I understand that except in Newfoundland and Quebec, in all of the other provinces, except Ontario of course, the members of the provincial houses are members of the Legislative Assembly, and I must say there is considerable confusion. Many times, I have been introduced as "the MP" and the MPs in my area have on many occasions been introduced as MPPs, and I think there's confusion.
Mr Bob Huget (Sarnia): I just call you Ron.
Mr Eddy: That, of course, is what I hope most of my constituents would call me -- Ron or Eddy. It doesn't matter which when you have two first names.
It really is confusing to the general public to have those terms so close. I was researching the matter and found that indeed it was simply by resolution the change was made and not by legislation. I really think that we should proceed to determine the issue, and I would hope to see it changed. I found that several members over the years have attempted to make those changes but have not been successful. I'm hoping that will come forward.
Back to the bill again, I would say that I'm pleased that it has been presented, because it's one of the things that I would have liked to have had the opportunity to present myself. I think it's very important and it meets the problems of proxy voting for many people. I think that's important and I urge you to support it. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I'm pleased to rise in support of Bill 60, brought by my colleague the member for Don Mills, Mr Johnson.
It is indeed appropriate that we look at all possible ways to encourage greater participation in the democratic process. When we consider that in such countries as Italy, the Italian government mandates that everybody has to vote, I'm not suggesting that we adopt that kind of posture, but it shows how other countries deem it necessary to ensure that as broad a number of people as possible will vote. In fact, I remember that the Italian government used to send trains into Germany and Switzerland to get the so-called gastarbeiter to go and vote in their home town in general elections.
Any way that we can enhance the ability of people to vote should be considered. It may not be perfect, and I listened attentively to the member for York East commenting on perhaps the need to go to mail-in voting. Indeed, the advantage of mail-in voting would be that you would ensure that the person who had received the proxy would be voting the way you wished. I suppose if you don't have that trust level, that is always the concern.
In the meantime, this would be a very reasonable step to make sure that people who at the moment are not able to vote for various reasons, elderly persons particularly -- when I consider what happened in the by-elections which occurred in the springtime of this year, there were many elderly people who, in the particularly severe weather we had during that time, didn't feel they would be able to come out to vote. There were other people who, for health reasons and other personal reasons, were going on holiday down south because of the inclement weather, and this would allow them to exercise their franchise.
As to the whole question of people being away at the time of an election, it's reasonable for us to review that because nowadays we know that with the changes in work patterns, it isn't always possible to plan your holidays and then just simply change them because there's a general election going on. Even though you may very much want to cast your vote in the election, at the moment you are shut out from that process because we don't allow this. Yet at the same time, we allow, under the present electoral rules, inmates in penal or correctional institutions who are not under sentence at that time to cast a vote through a proxy. It would seem only reasonable and fair that we'd extend that same principle to those people who, through disabilities or through their elderly age, cannot get out to vote or, alternatively, those people who cannot change their holiday or other travel plans.
I very much hope that the government members will vote in favour of this so that we can send this out to committee and then we'll be able to consider it. Indeed, the suggestions that Mr Malkowski was mentioning could be brought forward, I presume, as amendments at that time.
My own particular desire would be for us to look at a permanent voters list. A permanent voters list would have great advantages for the taxpayers and the government, both in this province and in Canada. We are facing, according to the newspapers, the very likely election date for the federal election of October 25, because on the following day the list which was prepared for the referendum last year will expire, and that would involve the expenditure of many millions of dollars to do a new enumeration.
When we consider the cost of enumeration, it is indeed massive and is often very inaccurate. The irregularities which have been regularly reported by all parties over the years about voters lists are something which we could address by having a permanent voters list. To the extent that governments collect data as to the eligibility of the citizens in that province to be able to draw certain benefits from the state, this demonstrates that we have the data, and with some relatively simple changes, we would be able to achieve a permanent voters list which would be (a) more accurate and (b) much less costly to the taxpayer.
At a time of desperate need for fiscal restraint, it would be a reasonable step for this government to contemplate, and that could be achieved through an amendment brought in if it was sent to committee, and indeed the discussions, as I have said, that Mr Malkowski, the member for York East, brought forward. These are all reasonable considerations that we should reflect on and allow to go forward in the best interests of the electorate and the taxpayer. Usually, the two are one and the same.
I applaud this amendment to the Election Act brought forward by my colleague. I would say that his concern is to make sure that the exercise of our democratic rights are ensured. They are fairly modest steps, but would ensure that we'd have a better chance of letting more people participate. I will be voting for this and I urge the government and the Liberals to vote along with this.
Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): It is a pleasure for me to rise and take part in this debate this morning on the member for York Mills's bill, Bill 60. I must say that I am in agreement with anything that affords people the right to vote.
There are one or two flaws in it. As most times when private members' bills are presented in this House in the morning, there are flaws. The only flaw that I can see is that the only group that is being truly added to the list of those entitled to vote by proxy at the moment are people with travel plans. I would think that would include the snowbirds, but any government that calls an election when the snowbirds are down south has got to have rocks in its head, so I don't know.
Anyway, I feel that the right to vote is precious, very precious to us, and it's unfortunate that not enough of us in this country realize how precious that is. I have this idea in my head -- it might not go over very well -- but I would like to see that when you go to the polls to vote, the elections officer, the table officer, pulls off a bit at the bottom of your thing, hands it back to you, and then you can attach that to your income tax and you can get a rebate because you participated in the process. That might seem a bit draconian to some people, but I think it would encourage people to vote.
As I said before, voting to me is precious. I was brought up in England in a place called Brighton, in Sussex-by-the-Sea, and my dad was a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union. I can tell you that in our House the privilege of taking part in an election, the privilege of voting, was uppermost in our minds all day. We used to have a family prayer before every meal, every day. Goodness knows, it's 60-odd years ago now, but I can remember my dad burying his face in his hands and praying for the defeat of the Tory party in England. It wasn't until 1945 when Winston Churchill was booted out and Clement Attlee became the Prime Minister that our prayers were answered.
Mr Turnbull: That was the beginning of the demise of Britain.
Mr Mills: I'm going to talk through you, Mr Speaker. We were brought up in my family to respect that preciousness, that being able to vote is so vital to the whole framework of the country we live in and the country I used to live in.
The municipal council was run by Tories in Brighton. They ran everything: They were the federal, they were all over the place like flies. Come election day, we used to champ at the bit: "Let's get to the polls. Let's round people up. Let's get them to vote." I was only a boy at the time, knocking on doors: "Please vote, please vote." Unfortunately, we would end the day just absolutely played out and my father was absolutely exhausted. Then we'd hear the results coming in. We'd sit there, and my dad would say, "Son, how come we keep losing? There's more of us than there is of them. What's gone wrong with the system?" And I used to really feel bad about that.
Anyway, the member's bill is very encouraging. I'm going to speak to the bill; I know he's getting edgy over there that I'm wandering off the bill and reminiscing. I'm going to support the bill. I'm going to support anything that encourages Canadians to take part in the democratic process. If this needs some refinement, if we have to have some discussion to make it possible, so be it, because we cannot do enough to encourage voters to vote in the municipal elections, in the federal elections and in the provincial elections.
I've got a little bit of time left. One of my colleagues wants to say a few words.
To you, sir, I will be supporting. I applaud your effort and I'm wholeheartedly behind absolutely anything that would encourage Ontarians to take part in the democratic process.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments and, might I add, in a not trite or offhand way to Slugger Johnson, to pay tribute to his athletic prowess in a very worthy cause, for cystic fibrosis. I know this is probably not particularly in order, but I couldn't help but make reference to his outstanding accomplishment last Saturday.
I want to join my colleagues in paying tribute to and indeed thanking the member for Don Mills for his thoughtful bill put before the House today. I think it's the kind of amendment that makes the process more user-friendly. Ultimately, people want to participate, and sometimes, through a variety of circumstances entirely beyond their control, they are unable to participate in the most fundamental right of parliamentary democracy: to cast their ballot.
It's one of those things that many people would perhaps dismiss as a housekeeping measure. I think it's much more than that. The member for Don Mills, who has had a distinguished career of public service, is saying that he wants, in the early months of his service in this place, I must say, to provide something in a very positive way for people across this province to continue the opportunity of participating when circumstances would otherwise prohibit them from doing that.
It's also timely to note it's in the context of earlier discussion with respect to initiatives that open up the system to people, that makes it more, I guess I come back to that phrase "user-friendly," that makes people more comfortable in terms of accessibility.
I think it sends more than the particular message. The particular message and the particular provisions of the bill are very, very important, but it sends a message as well. The message is this: It's important for people to participate.
We have our battles in here all the time. Some of it is political rhetoric -- let's be honest about that -- and some of it is fundamental disagreement about philosophical or policy positions, but the one thing I think we all share, or we wouldn't be here, and I say this to all 130 members who are in this House from whatever extreme position they might have politically on the right, left, centre or wherever they fit, is that we believe in the system or we wouldn't be here and we believe we need to have people involved.
I've heard so many of my colleagues say, "Even if you disagree with me, get involved and vote." To the member for Don Mills, you've extended that opportunity to more people, and for that he's to be applauded.
The Acting Speaker: The government members have a very short amount of time.
Mr Huget: I'd like to join with my colleagues in congratulating the member for Don Mills for bringing the bill forward.
The bill on its surface appears to give rights to, for example, elderly and disabled persons in the province that they currently don't have. I think that's an inaccurate reflection of our present act, because there is already in place a proxy voting procedure for people who, for example, for medical reasons are physically incapable of attending a polling place. They can already cast a vote by proxy.
In addition, I would think that in terms of people with disabilities there have been tremendous advances made in recent years in making polling places and the like more accessible. There isn't a lot of work to do in those areas, but certainly I think everyone in this House recognizes the need to ensure that there is accessibility.
When you look at the bill, although the elderly and disabled are mentioned in the bill, the only group I can see which, truthfully, is being added in terms of a proxy vote are those with personal travel plans. I think one could have quite a lengthy debate as to whether or not that's an issue that needs to take the same priority, for example, as elderly and disabled persons. There is and currently exists in our system an advance polling mechanism that would allow people to vote in advance should they be away on election day.
It's interesting to note, as some of my colleagues have mentioned, that the Lortie commission has recommended that the proxy vote be abolished altogether and replaced with a special ballot.
I feel this bill will cause a few more problems than it'll solve, and I won't be supporting it.
Mr David Johnson: I would certainly like to, first of all, thank all those who've participated in the debate, the member for Sarnia -- I'll come back to him in a minute -- the member for Brampton North in particular. He is one of the people who caught the essence of what I'm attempting to do here today; perhaps not doing it as well as I should. He used the term "user-friendly." Those are two words that came to me as I was contemplating this bill. That's exactly what I'm trying to do, to make the system easier for people to vote, because we want people to participate, and I think the member for Durham East has said this as well. We want to do anything we can to encourage Canadians to vote, and that's exactly what I'm trying to do and all I'm trying to do: to make the system more friendly, more available for people to participate.
I thank my colleague the member for York Mills. As usual, he's got some excellent ideas, different ideas. He brought in the international scene. If this bill is put forward to committee, many of his ideas could be looked at.
The member for Brant-Haldimand has a great deal of experience, as usual, and brings in a number of ideas. I've often wondered whether we were called an MPP or an MLA myself, but perhaps we can get that straightened out.
The members for York East and Sarnia have indicated that really what we've got here is already accommodated within the existing bill. I'm just going to read you a letter that I got after my by-election recently. The letter says, and this is from one of my people, one of my scrutineers, I guess:
"During the final hours of voting I was busy phoning a number of known PC supporters," naturally, because we're the PC Party, but think to yourself and substitute "Liberal" or "NDP," if you wish, "who were enumerated but had not voted. Several, four at least, pleaded that they were taken too ill to come down to the polling booth located in their apartment building." They were too ill to come down. These were elderly people. "These invalids" -- and he names a certain gentleman -- "seemed to live alone. I was advised by the PC lawyer that the only way these no-shows could vote was by the usual proxy," the usual proxy that has to be organized at least a day in advance, and we're talking here of election day itself. "I was also advised that it takes some hours, if not days, to arrange a proxy. Hence the PC supporters I referred to were disenfranchised. This is surely a violation of their human rights and one day could be a cause for legal action."
I don't know if there'd be legal action or not, but I think the point is there. Yes, we've made strides for the disabled; yes, we've opened up the polling areas. But there are people, for example, who may have an arthritic attack on the day of the election, and it's too late; they cannot arrange a proxy on that particular day. They would have had to have done it before. The other part of the bill that I'm introducing today, in addition to formally including seniors, the disabled and those who go away on vacation, is to allow them to get that proxy on the day in question.
Then the concern comes up: "What about fraud? People will abuse this system." Bear in mind again that we're trying to make a user-friendly system; we're trying to get Canadians to come out and vote. But what about fraud? The chief election officer says that's a concern that does come up but in actual fact is not borne out. It's something that people are always concerned about, but it's never borne out. He says: "The existing act prevents any person from voting by proxy on behalf of more than two electors" -- and his wording is a bit unusual here -- "and establishes a number of corrupt practices relating to abuse of proxy rights. These provisions should be sufficient to regulate expanded proxy entitlement."
What he's saying is that we should expand the proxy entitlement, that we can handle any potential fraud or abuse, and the basic thing we should do is to make this system more friendly and more accessible to people who have a legitimate excuse for not being there and not being able to vote: Let them have a proxy.
I might say that the issue of travel plans comes up as well. This is part of the amendment. Again this is trying to be user-friendly, trying to recognize that in our society today people do travel, people go away; people go away for a month. Somebody said "snowbirds" earlier today. Snowbirds go away for two or three months. As a matter of fact, I've had people come to me after the by-election we had in April. They went south. I was the mayor of East York. There was no by-election even contemplated. They spent some time down south, and when they came back I was a member of provincial Parliament or MLA -- one or the other; whichever the member says we should call it -- and there was a new mayor. The whole process had taken place, and they were shocked and they wondered what happened: "How come you're no longer mayor? Why are you a member of the provincial Parliament?"
Mr McClelland: We're wondering the same thing over here.
Mr David Johnson: All right. The point is that the proxy system wouldn't help those people. But there are other people who take shorter periods of time, who arrange their vacations with their spouse, with their children, and then they're put in an awkward spot. What do they do when an election comes up? Do they cancel their vacation? Do they disappoint their spouse and their children? Or do they miss their opportunity to vote and to participate in the decision-making and forming the next government? That's a difficult place to be in.
If we get back to those words "user-friendly," we would like to create a system where they could get a proxy. It's valid. They're not abusing the system. It's not fraud. It's legitimate. This is something the chief election officer has indicated. A lot of those people say: "Look, I planned this vacation for months in advance. I'm a bona fide elector. I've lived here. I've paid taxes for years and years. I want to have a say in my government, but I can't cancel my vacation. A prisoner in a correctional institution or a penal institution can get a proxy, but I can't get a proxy." They say something's wrong with the system and something should be changed.
That's a concern that comes up time and time again, along with the concern for seniors, the disabled, who may not fit within the medical category that exists at the present time, and certainly there are different interpretations there.
I would just say that this is only intended to be a bill to encourage Canadians to participate, to vote, and I hope all three parties could support it and we could get it to the proper legislative committee and get on with it. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member still has some time.
Mr David Johnson: All right. In the final two minutes, I'll just mention that one other concern that has come up is in terms of the administrative problems that are associated with this. I just want to assure the members that I've talked to Mr Bailie, who is the chief election officer. This is the way I like to do things: I like to talk to the people who are going to be responsible for implementing this sort of thing. He says the administrative problems can be handled and he is recommending that indeed we go ahead and do this.
The last point I would make is that to make this user-friendly, the way I would like to see this system work and I think the way it could work is that on election day itself, if a senior citizen has an arthritic attack and can't get out to vote, right then and there on that day, a form could be brought to them. Any one of the three parties, I'm sure, or any one of the candidates would be more than happy to bring a form. The form could be filled in, the person who is going to vote the proxy could take that form right that same day to the polling location, could have the form validated right then and there on election day and vote, all in the same motion.
This would be a very streamlined process, it would be a process that the chief election officer said can work and it would be extremely user-friendly. I think it would involve people who are currently disenfranchised, and I hope it's something this House will consider.
The Acting Speaker: This completes private members' business.
RECALL ELECTION REQUEST ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 SUR LE DÉCLENCHEMENT D'ÉLECTIONS PAR PÉTITION
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): We will deal first with ballot item number 23 standing in the name of Mr McClelland. Are there any members opposed to a vote on this ballot item? If so, please rise in your place.
All those in favour of Mr McClelland's motion, please say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Call in the members. A five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1205 to 1210.
The Acting Speaker: Would all members please take their seats. We are dealing with ballot item 23, standing in the name of Mr McClelland.
All those in favour of Mr McClelland's motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the table.
Callahan, Caplan, Cunningham, Eddy, Fawcett, Johnson (Don Mills), Kwinter, McClelland, Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt), Poole, Turnbull, Witmer.
The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to Mr McClelland's motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.
Abel, Akande, Bisson, Boyd, Cooper, Dadamo, Drainville, Duignan, Fletcher, Haeck, Hansen, Harrington, Haslam, Hayes, Hope, Huget, Kormos, Lessard, MacKinnon, Malkowski, Mammoliti, Marchese, Martin, Mathyssen, Mills, Murdock (Sudbury), North, O'Connor, Owens, Perruzza, Rizzo, Waters, Wildman, Wilson (Kingston and The Islands), Wilson (Frontenac-Addington), Winninger, Wiseman, Wood.
The Acting Speaker: The ayes are 12; the nays are 38. I declare the motion lost.
ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI ÉLECTORALE
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): We now proceed to deal with ballot item number 24. Do we have any members opposed to a vote on this ballot item? If so, please rise. Ballot item 24 stands in the name of Mr Johnson.
Is it the pleasure of the House that Mr Johnson's motion carry?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1213 to 1218.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Can I have all members take their seats. We are now dealing with ballot item number 24, standing in the name of Mr Johnson, the member for Don Mills.
All those in favour of Mr Johnson's motion, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.
Bradley, Callahan, Caplan, Cunningham, Drainville, Eddy, Fawcett, Johnson (Don Mills), Kormos, Kwinter, Malkowski, McClelland, Mills, Perruzza, Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt), Poole, Rizzo, Stockwell, Turnbull, Witmer.
The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to Mr Johnson's motion, please rise and remain standing until identified by the Clerk.
Abel, Akande, Bisson, Boyd, Cooper, Dadamo, Duignan, Fletcher, Haeck, Hansen, Harrington, Haslam, Hayes, Hope, Huget, Lessard, MacKinnon, Mammoliti, Marchese, Martin, Mathyssen, Murdock (Sudbury), North, O'Connor, Owens, Waters, Wilson (Frontenac-Addington), Wilson (Kingston and The Islands), Winninger, Wiseman, Wood.
The Acting Speaker: The ayes are 20; the nays are 31. I therefore declare the motion lost.
This completes private members' business. I do now leave the chair to return at 1:30.
The House recessed at 1222.
The House resumed at 1330.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On January 27, 1992, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario became the first in Canada to ban its doctors from performing female circumcision. Unfortunately, this ban has not ended the practice and procedure in Ontario. Ontario doctors are reporting cases of female patients who have had circumcisions performed on them.
Female circumcision varies in degree of mutilation involving surgical removal of the female's external genitalia. This procedure can lead to a range of medical problems, from vaginal infection to death in childbirth.
I understand the cultural sensitivities that female circumcisions involve. However, when the college announced its ban it stated, "These procedures are not based on religious beliefs."
Last month in Vienna, the United Nations held a conference on human rights. Ed Broadbent was one of many who participated in the conference and listened to women tell their horror stories of abuse. It was found that the abuse of women has too long been dismissed as private, family, cultural or religious.
In Ontario today, I'm asking the Attorney General, also the minister responsible for women's issues, to take action. The CPSO has led the way; it's now your turn, Minister. The practice of female circumcision should be declared illegal and punishable by law. We must stop parents from having their young girls circumcised. I believe that with the cooperation of the federal government, the mutilation of young girls can be stopped. This is clearly child abuse. By changing the attitudes of Ontarians through laws and education, we can stop this form of child abuse.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): This afternoon I will be presenting a petition containing more than 1,500 names which petitions the region and the province of Ontario to immediately invoke and follow the jury recommendations arising out of the death of Laurie Brain which occurred on the Conestoga expressway in Kitchener and, more particularly, for the installation of median guard-rails and reconstruction of the roadway to make it safe for the travelling public of Ontario.
This petition was organized by Brock Cober, Rob Huber, Jonathan Weatherdon, three of the friends of the two young men killed in the June 15 cross-median accident on the Conestoga Parkway, and it is being done in loving memory of the seven people who have been tragically killed since 1990. I congratulate and support these young men in their efforts to persuade the minister to adopt the jury recommendations to build these barriers now before any more deaths occur.
They are supported in this endeavour by Waterloo council, who have unanimously approved a motion calling for the reallocation of the money intended for sound barriers to the installation of median safety barriers. The Waterloo County Board of Education has also written to the minister asking for the immediate installation of median barriers.
I urge the Minister of Transportation not to wait until 1996. Please respond to these pleas from the families and friends of those who have been killed and from the citizens of Kitchener-Waterloo and act immediately to install median barriers on the Conestoga Parkway.
Mr Donald Abel (Wentworth North): Bill 48 was introduced to allow public sector employers and workers across the province to negotiate agreements following the principles of the social contract. It also includes measures that will permit the government to meet its target of reducing compensation costs.
This government is committed to saving $2 billion in public sector compensation costs over the next three fiscal years. This, together with the additional $4-billion cut in government spending and $2.7 billion in revenue increases, will ensure that Ontarians will not see a massive transfer of its wealth from education and health care to interest on a monstrous debt.
The Liberals were obsessed with not allowing the NDP to be seen as champions of the public purse. Leader Lyn McLeod insisted she supported the principle of Bill 48, but nitpicked on technicalities in an attempt to woo votes from discontented public sector employees. Tory leader Mike Harris became offended when the government voted down his proposed amendments that attacked low-income workers, and when he thought there was a possibility of forcing an election, he cast the principles of the legislation aside to give precedence to forcing that election.
The Liberals and Tories are unable to accept the fact that this NDP government is proving its ability to govern and is leading the way in showing them how to save money. In a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator, freelance columnist Eric Dowd wrote, "Rae is a cut above the critics." Eric, you're spot on.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I rise today to announce the release of a discussion paper which I have produced with the support of my Liberal colleagues concerning the critical state of Ontario's forest industry and the individuals and communities that depend upon its strength for their survival.
It is no coincidence that since the NDP assumed power, the forest industry in many communities in northern and eastern Ontario has suffered considerable financial and employment losses. While it is true that the global recession has hit Ontario's resource industries particularly hard, the NDP has magnified the losses of the forest industry by proposing regulations and implementing policies that have stifled investment and saddled the industry with unprecedented production costs.
Interestingly, we have heard nothing from the government's forestry industry action group. To date, a task force that was presumably designed to assist in meeting the serious economic challenges confronting the forest industry and many northern and eastern communities in this province has not been heard from.
The focus of our discussion paper is on promoting sustainability; that is, sustainable forestry practices and sustainable jobs in communities that depend upon the forest industry. We have taken this initiative because of the tremendous void left by the Rae government in addressing this important issue.
Ultimately, we hope that through this undertaking we can generate enough discussion around this important issue to wake up the Minister of Natural Resources and have him take action to ensure that the forest industry remains a vital and integral component of the economic development of this province.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Since its election in September 1990, the Bob Rae NDP government has repeatedly attacked seniors.
In 1991, the NDP restricted OHIP coverage for seniors who travel to warmer climates for health reasons. In 1992, they reduced the seniors' tax grant, then changed it to a tax credit that is received by lower-income seniors only. The NDP also increased probate fees. On an estate of $500,000, probate fees have risen from $2,500 to $7,000. The NDP Minister of Finance hasn't ruled out the possibility of introducing estate and wealth taxes.
Last year, the Bob Rae government removed several drugs from the list of medications which are free to seniors under the Ontario drug benefit program. This year, the drug program is under attack again. Soon many seniors will have to pay for their own prescriptions.
One of the most punishing NDP measures is a new user fee for long-term care in residential facilities. This fee, which came into effect on July 1, 1993, can be as high as $12 a day, or $372 a month. The NDP government has failed to consider the PC Party's suggestion that the fee increase at least be phased in over four years.
The NDP has also switched to multiple-year drivers' licences, which require seniors to pay up front for six years' fees at once, even though they may not be able to drive for six more years.
Enough is enough. Seniors have already paid their fair share. They do not deserve this assault by the Bob Rae socialist government.
GRIMSBY ROTARY CLUB
Mr Ron Hansen (Lincoln): I rise to pay tribute to the Grimsby Rotary Club. This group recently raised $1,000 towards the $3,000 cost of purchasing a new tracking dog for the Niagara Regional Police. The new dog, a German shepherd named Saint, replaces a police dog killed in the line of duty last summer. Saint's arrival means there is presently a dog on duty every night in the Niagara region.
While Saint is not trained to track explosives or narcotics, he can track suspects, lost people or stolen property. He is also trained to protect his master, Constable Scott Johnston, from potential harm.
Saint is worth a lot more than his purchase price. He's now valued at more than $40,000 because of his advanced training. I'd say that puts him up there with many of our university graduates.
According to police, this is the first time a local service club has helped offset the cost of a police dog, but it's likely not the last. Other rotary clubs in the Niagara region are considering making fund-raising an ongoing project. I would like to congratulate the Grimsby Rotary Club for doing a doggone good job of helping keep the streets of Niagara safe.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On behalf of the official opposition, the Liberal caucus, I would like to congratulate Mr Rodney Johnston of Ajax, Ontario, on being named 1992 firefighter of the year.
On March 25 of this year, Mr Johnston performed a singular feat of bravery which saved the lives of two people. On his way home from his shift at the fire station that night, Mr Johnston observed that a neighbourhood house was on fire. After contacting police, he entered and searched the house, finding two men and helping them out. Mr Johnston did this without breathing apparatus or protective equipment, in life-threatening conditions.
Mr Johnston's efforts and dedication in this instance were indeed heroic. I'm informed that the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs will honour him at its annual meeting in Quebec City in August. We join with them and the sponsor of the award, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, in congratulating Mr Johnston.
This award is an important way of recognizing the very real danger in which Mr Johnston placed himself on that night. More generally, it is a reminder to us of the countless other incidents where firefighters and police across Ontario have put themselves at physical risk to help and protect others.
Today, our hats are off to Mr Johnston and to the thousands of men and women in the province who perform the often unseen duties involved in fire and police service.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): To the Premier and to the Minister of Finance, I suggest that your treatment of the Metro Toronto school board under the social contract legislation is unconstitutional. Provinces do not have the power to impose indirect taxes. Your demand that Metro send you a cheque for $93 million is precisely that; it is nothing more than property taxation through the back door.
There is no question that people are willing to do their part to fight the deficit and to support quality education, but Metro property taxpayers are already doing their part. They are taxed to the hilt. The fallout from the social contract is that the government will have the power to control wages, to disregard legal contracts, negotiated wage agreements and even our nation's Constitution.
Treasurer, we've seen your targets for achievable savings shift from day to day, just as the numbers about the savings needed and the size of the deficit fluctuate on a daily basis. Come clean with us, Mr Premier. If you intend to have province-wide pooling of education taxes, tell us that. Have the courage to make it an election issue, but don't bring it in through the back door.
This money belongs to Metro property taxpayers and not to the province. The Metro Toronto school board does not receive any transfer payments from the province and it is unfair to request that money that has never been paid in the first place by the province be given to the provincial government to pay for its incompetence.
TOUCHSTONE YOUTH SERVICES
Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): On Saturday, July 17, I was very happy to participate in a fund-raiser for Touchstone Youth Services. Myself, along with Reverend James Garland of St Luke's Church and also Reverend Ian Noseworthy from St Cuthbert's Church, as well as a host of other volunteers, flipped hamburgers and hot dogs on the barbecue at the corner of Bayview and Merton.
East Yorkers were quite generous in their support. All in all it was a successful event, a beautiful day, and the cooks made some of the best burgers and dogs I've ever tasted.
The proceeds go to Touchstone Youth Services, which is a shelter for homeless youth. Located in York East, Touchstone serves Metro Toronto youths 16 to 20 years of age. They provide shelter, food and counselling and, most importantly, an alternative to the street.
Although the need for emergency shelter for young people in East York was first documented several years ago, the community's struggle to establish a centre was only attained when Touchstone finally opened its doors in September 1991. Thanks to the concerned efforts of our community and the staff of Touchstone, our young people have an opportunity to improve their circumstances.
Young people have much to offer, a lot to contribute. Let's support them.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Statements by ministers?
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Today the CBC Radio Noon phone-in topic is to have callers call in on their vacations and what their vacations are like, why they like where they are on their vacations. This is a hard-hitting call-in show today. There are still 15 minutes left. I don't know if any members of the Legislature would like to call Radio Noon to tell them about the vacation that members of the Legislature are enjoying today.
The Speaker: I don't think the honourable member wants me to comment on that. It's not a point of order, though it is a point of great interest to many.
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm somewhat disappointed with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who didn't make a statement today, who will be introducing legislation for first reading on the Ottawa-Carleton review.
I think this is very unfair when we have to sit in this House in July and the Minister of Municipal Affairs is in Ottawa making a major announcement and no minister without portfolio, the parliamentary assistants, even the minister responsible for the Ottawa-Carleton area, is making a statement or at least saying something about the Ottawa-Carleton review.
The Speaker: To the member for Ottawa East: I can indeed handle points of order, but points of disappointment I am not able to assist you on.
NEW WCB HEADQUARTERS
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Labour. He will probably be aware that this morning our public accounts committee attempted to deal with last week's report by the Provincial Auditor on the Workers' Compensation Board building. That report was a very damning report.
But this morning, Minister, as I'm sure people have told you, the government members on that committee stonewalled. They passed a motion that said essentially we would not be dealing with this until 1996. The motion says, "That the standing committee on public accounts return to the issue of the WCB's new headquarters after the WCB has reported back to this committee in 1996...."
The opposition members then tried to get a motion passed that would allow us to have before us the chair of WCB to answer some very serious questions. The government members stonewalled. They refused to allow the discussion to go ahead on the report.
My question to the minister is this: Will the minister undertake to the House today to assure us that you will instruct the government members on your committee to allow a full and open discussion of this report that has been prepared by the Provincial Auditor on WCB's building?
Hon Bob Mackenzie (Minister of Labour): The government is complying with the recommendation in the report that states, "In early 1996 the WCB should report back to the standing committee on public accounts detailing all costs associated with the relocation." That is in fact what we have every intention of doing.
Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): What a joke. That is really a joke.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order, the member for Brampton South.
Mr Phillips: I can't tell you how angry, among other things, the Provincial Auditor was. I've never seen a Provincial Auditor who expressed such outrage as the Provincial Auditor did this morning in the refusal of this government to permit a full and open discussion on the report. Believe me, this will not be allowed to stand, Minister. It is time for you to step in and to ensure that the public accounts committee, the committee of the Legislature that is designed to deal with specific issues like this, is allowed to deal with it thoroughly and openly.
The only conclusion -- I say this as sincerely as I can -- that the public can reach as they listen to the debate this morning is that for some reason or other the government doesn't want a full and open discussion on this. So I repeat what I said earlier: Will you undertake today to ensure that the public accounts committee will have a full, open discussion involving the senior people at Workers' Compensation Board, so that we can get to the heart of the matter on this very damning report on Workers' Compensation Board's new building?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: The issue of the new WCB building has been public from the beginning. Our members on the public accounts committee voted in favour of having the Provincial Auditor do a report on the building, and I might say that the committee held two days of public testimony on the building and there was ample opportunity for members to question the Workers' Compensation Board on the reasons for proceeding with the building.
Mr Phillips: I assure you that the public will not allow this not to be debated in a full and open discussion by the all-party legislative committee, and you may try and stonewall this, but it will not be allowed to stand. I assure you of that. I will say again that the auditor's report could not have been more damning, and it is littered with significant concerns about Workers' Compensation Board's decision to locate this building and to build this building.
Surely, recognizing the significant concerns, recognizing that the Provincial Auditor wants an opportunity to have a full and open hearing on this, recognizing that Workers' Compensation Board just today issued, I think, a 51-page report that the committee has had no chance to have an open discussion on, I repeat to you again and I would urge you to carefully consider your answer: Will you undertake to the Legislature today to ensure that the government majority on that committee will allow for a full, open discussion quickly?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: We are following the advice given to us in the report. There have been hearings on this. The member knows it. I don't know where he was when the hearings were held in the committee on the WCB building.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): My question is to the designated Deputy Premier, I think, of the day. I would ask the acting Deputy Premier if she would outline the provisions for the government's expenditure control plan for last fiscal year, including the measures taken to ensure that there were not overexpenditures made by government ministries on a last-minute basis for last fiscal year.
Hon Frances Lankin (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): I'll attempt to answer that and I think I may also take part of the question under advisement and have the Minister of Finance provide more detail to the member opposite at a later date.
Certainly, within various ministries, there were attempts throughout the course of the year to meet in-year savings targets that had been identified as part of the budget, and through the expenditure control plan as in its former generation, I guess, throughout the last fiscal year. We had identified in terms of year-ends, at a certain point in time, freezes that were to be put on. We're certainly aware that in some ministries that was not adhered to and that caused us great concern and there were actions taken following that to follow up on that and to ensure that didn't happen again.
I'm sure that the member must have a specific incident that he would like to raise and perhaps in his supplementary, when I hear that, I might be able to provide some more information.
Mr Elston: We now know why the member is the acting Deputy Premier. She's very observant. I do in fact have an item. While I was reading one of my favourite newspapers, the Terrace Bay Schreiber News, I was taken by surprise when it reported on remarks by the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, who said, "I'm glad this project is going forward," and, paraphrasing, "The Northern Development and Mines minister, Shelley Martel, told the crowd her ministry was given 48 hours to come up with ways to spend the remaining $8 million in the budget before the fiscal year ended on March 31."
My question, having quoted the news from Terrace Bay Schreiber, is to the minister: Who authorized this last-minute evacuation of the government Treasury, how many ministries were involved, and what has been done to control this type of last-minute spending in this current fiscal year?
Hon Ms Lankin: The specific project that's being talked about, I'm sorry I don't know the detail of it, but it sounds, from what the member has reported, as if this is a capital project.
I think in fact we have been very consistent in saying that we wanted to maintain high levels of capital expenditures, and in many situations there has been slippage in some projects over the course of the year where construction couldn't get going fast enough or where parts of the construction tenders took longer to let. There are a number of reasons why, over the course of the year, that might happen.
I think it is fair to say that with respect to capital expenditures, where there have been projects that have been awaiting funding that might be able to start immediately if they got approval and be flowed through that capital budget, that expenditure would happen.
I think that's different from some of the things we saw during the course of the 1980s. I can remember when I was out there in the community the year-end budget sort of spending spree where social agencies were called and told: "You've got all of these operating dollars left. Go spend them."
We're trying to bring an end to that, because I think that culture in government, no matter how or who the government is, is not the way in which we'll be able to proceed in the future.
Mr Elston: While I have just quoted the paraphrase in the Terrace Bay Schreiber News of Minister Martel's earlier remarks, I quote this time directly from the Terrace Bay Schreiber, quoting the minister herself, "And we were very, very pleased that the reeve was able to put this project together so quickly," meaning that he had to come together with this project in the last 48 hours of the budget year.
I repeat, what steps were taken to approve this type of mass evacuation of the Treasurer's -- as he then was known -- vaults, and what have you done this year to ensure that nothing similar, nothing anywhere close to the mass evacuation as the fiscal year winds down, will occur so that the taxpayers of this province will be protected from this last-minute New Democratic Party spending spree?
Hon Ms Lankin: I will again say that I think the member is doing what opposition members will do. He's doing a generalization, a characterization of something which I don't think accurately represents the situation.
When we've talked in this Legislature -- and many of us have raised this issue and it's been an area of concern -- about last-minute spending sprees that go on within ministries or organizations, we've talked about spending other direct operating expense moneys, those pools of money where people go out and buy computers or buy fax machines or get it out so that they can protect that level of their budget for the next year. That's the kind of spending we've put a freeze on, although we acknowledge that we've found some areas that didn't abide by that.
With respect to capital dollars, with respect to the capital budgets of government which go to construct buildings -- in this case, I understand a medical clinic in a small town -- those projects that await year after year to be funded, when there is sufficient funding towards year-end, we will always look at where there has been money left unspent because projects haven't moved fast enough and we will always take the opportunity, where we can, with our funding partners like the municipalities, to move quickly to approve those projects and put shovels in the ground because that's delivering jobs to communities and ensuring future delivery of services to Canadians.
NEW WCB HEADQUARTERS
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is to the Minister of Labour. This morning your members of the public accounts committee rammed through one of the most repugnant motions that I have ever experienced in eight years in office in this place. The NDP motion will effectively block the public accounts committee from examining the issue of the WCB headquarters until 1996 and insulate the executives of the WCB from public scrutiny on this matter for three more years.
Can you as the minister tell us who was the architect of this coverup? Can the minister tell us who was so afraid of what we would learn about this matter that they decided to gag a committee of this House? Who is responsible for this motion? Your office, your good friend the chairman of the WCB, Mr Odoardo Di Santo, or the Premier's office? Who? Please tell us.
Hon Bob Mackenzie (Minister of Labour): I think it's very unfortunate that individuals are labelled the way that has just been done by the across the way. I want to say that the issue of the WCB building has been public from the beginning.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Our members on the public accounts committee voted in favour of having the Provincial Auditor do a report on the building, and that has been done.
The Speaker: Supplementary.
The Speaker: The supplementary is for the member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: It's unfortunate that whoever wrote your briefing notes, which you have to read in answer to a very straightforward question, doesn't really know what's going on. If the members of your committee cannot report back to you, I suggest you appoint other members to that committee.
We have what we call a kick it under the carpet motion. That's what we're dealing with here, Mr Minister. Last week, your members on that committee passed a motion to have the committee review the auditor's report in closed session. This morning, they passed a further motion sweeping the report totally under the carpet for a three-year period and voted against my motion to have the head of the WCB appear before the committee to explain his objections to some of the auditor's findings and conclusions.
Minister, you are compromising the public accounts committee. You are compromising the auditor of this province, who is the final check and balance on behalf of the taxpayers. You have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this province as a minister of the crown.
Minister, wouldn't you agree that this reeks of a coverup, of an effort to protect your appointees to the WCB, and if it's not a coverup and you don't object to subjecting this matter to a complete and timely review, will you, or whoever is in charge over there, direct your spear carriers on the public accounts committee to stop objecting to our efforts to get to the bottom of this mess? Minister, we implore you --
The Speaker: Will the member complete her question, please.
Mrs Marland: -- to allow this public process to take place. The auditor has identified this building as not being value for money.
The Speaker: Would the member please complete her question.
Mrs Marland: Minister, will you open up the books on this building once and for all?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I want to make it clear, first, that I totally reject the language being used by the member across the way. I want to also say that the recommendation for a look at the building in 1996 is clearly laid out in the report. It's up to the all-party committee to ascertain how they will deal with the report and that is exactly what they're doing, as I understand it.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): After the events were reported to me by the members of the public accounts committee, a committee, by the way, that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale used to chair, a committee that was one of the committees of this Legislature that operated in a non-partisan way to ferret out waste in the system -- today, we have the majority of the NDP members blocking this committee, whose goal and whose purpose is to ferret out the waste, to report on it, to expose it, and more importantly, to stop it from ever happening again.
I would ask you, by way of final supplementary, Minister, to reflect on your years of experience here, particularly those in opposition, when there were government members who relished the opportunity, along with opposition members, to get to the bottom of taxpayers' dollars being wasted. I would ask you to meet in caucus with your members on this committee, stop the coverup, stop the stifling of the information, allow the auditor and allow the committee to proceed with the exposé of this dramatic waste of taxpayers' dollars. Will you do that for democracy? Otherwise, Minister, I ask you to tell me, why have an auditor, why have a public accounts committee?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Surely the leader of the third party is aware that the auditor is an independent body who is entitled to speak and express opinions. We appreciate his views. We are complying with the recommendations in the report, and that, I think, clearly indicates that it's not a coverup, and that's a ridiculous comment, once again.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Etobicoke-West.
The Speaker: Order. The member for EtobicokeWest has the floor.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I would suggest the minister speak to the auditor, because the auditor doesn't share the same opinion that he just enunciated.
The Speaker: To whom is your question directed?
PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): My question is to the Chair of Management Board. Yesterday, sir, nearly 3,000 civil servants, despite many years of service, received layoff notices effective just after Christmas this year. These public servants understand that we are in the midst of tough economic times and that we all must share the burden of restraint. I put it to you very sincerely, sir.
However, what they don't understand is why they face job losses while the list of NDP friends and family who have been given plum jobs by your government continues to grow. Minister, can you explain to these nearly 3,000 families that don't know what 1994 will hold for them why the NDP faithful remained untouched in Bob Rae's Ontario?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): The member for Mississauga West raises an issue which is a very important and very serious issue. That's one of the reasons why I guess the issue should be dealt with with some real serious thought on the part of all who decide to stick their nose into it.
First of all, there have not been 3,000 layoff notices issued to anyone. Something less than 2,000 layoff notices have been issued. The member for Mississauga West --
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs): Etobicoke West.
Hon Mr Charlton: I'm sorry, Etobicoke West -- should understand that these are layoff notices that result from announcements that were made in April or prior to April as a result of the expenditure reduction process.
The layoff notices which have been issued have been issued under a number of programs, both under the collective agreement and voluntary programs, with those who aren't part of the bargaining unit, around redeployment, retraining and direct assignment.
About a third of the people who have received layoff notices have a job offer guarantee, so that about 600 and change of those roughly 2,000 have a job offer guarantee, an absolute guarantee of employment.
Secondly, of those who have gone on to the surplus list to date, 358 of them have already been redeployed, placed in new jobs. It's our very clear expectation that with the kinds of programs we have in place, and given the cooperation of the bargaining units and others, all the people being impacted will be redeployed in this process.
Mr Stockwell: I don't think that's going to sit well with those people who received their layoff notices, some guarantee from this government that potentially they could be redeployed or not redeployed. The fact of the matter is that there's a significant number of people who've received layoff notices. As far as they are concerned, they are laid off effective January 1, 1994, and they've been given absolutely no guarantee they're going to be gainfully employed after that period of time.
Yet I have a list of 25 names of NDP friends who have been given positions since your government took office and I'm sure we've missed some. These members of the NDP family have been given either appointments, political jobs or high-paying civil service positions.
Let me read a few: Mr Stephen Lewis -- we all recall Mr Stephen Lewis; Jack Layton; Marc Eliesen, who has since flown the coop; Dale Martin; Karl Morin-Strom; Richard Johnston; Michael Decter; Laura Ziemba; Anne Creighton --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Would the member place a question, please.
Mr Stockwell: -- Wally Majesky; Odoardo Di Santo; Linda Jolley, Carol Phillips, Walter Pitman, Doug Davis, David Agnew, Gerry Caplan. Are any of these people receiving layoff notices today? I'd like to know that.
Hon Mr Charlton: Let me first pick up on some of the comments that the member made in his preamble about the layoff notices and those who are in receipt of them specifically. I repeat what I said earlier, and I'll add a couple of comments to it, that those who have received layoff notices were people whose positions were affected by the expenditure control program and the amalgamations of several ministries. Those announcements were made four months ago, in April. Since April, as these layoff surplus notices have gone out, 358 of those people have already been placed, and I repeat that. In fact, that number is double in the last month as the direct assignment process has gathered steam.
Secondly, as I said, a full third of those people have access to a job offer guarantee, a permanent guarantee of employment. They will be redeployed. As we move through the rest of the redeployment and retraining process, the vast majority of these people will be placed.
Now to the second part of the member's question. As the member romped through a list of a dozen or 15 appointments out of the thousands of appointments that occur each year in this province, I would have to assume that the 15 people he's named mean that the rest of the thousands were all Liberals and Tories or citizens without affiliation. And no, none of those thousands of appointments are receiving layoff notices at this point.
Mr Stockwell: Let me just say that we don't have time to go through the list of thousands of appointments that you've made since you've taken office. We all know full well the type of appointments that you've made. This is simply the tip of the iceberg.
Those people who received layoff notices through expenditure control plans and amalgamation and redeployments, when they're left in the cold, are not going to feed their children and they're not going to pay their mortgages. Empty rhetoric. When these people get appointed, that's the guarantee that's going to get these people jobs.
I put it to the minister: If this is the kind of attack you're going to make, why is it not part of the attack to examine people like the Jack Laytons, the Dale Martins, the Richard Johnstons, the Pitmans, the Agnews, the Caplans, the list of NDP appointments you've made over three years? Why are these people not on the list of public employees who are receiving layoff notices today?
Don't tell me about amalgamation and redeployment. You know some of those people are going to be out of work effective January 1. You know some of them will fall through the cracks. I ask you: Why are none of the NDP hacks whom you've spent so much time appointing not on your unemployment list today?
Hon Mr Charlton: Two things in response to the member's last rant there. Firstly, we believe that all of the people who have received surplus notices to date can be effectively dealt with. A successful negotiation under the social contract might increase the certainty of that happening somewhat. In terms of the list the member keeps referring to, Stephen Lewis, Marc Eliesen, Anne Creighton, Wally Majesky and Jack Layton don't work for this government, so in his own view their employment has already been affected.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Solicitor General about casino gambling. The casino gambling bill, as everyone knows, is going to be brought before the House very soon, in the midst of the summer months when most people are on vacation and perhaps not aware that the Legislature is sitting.
I would like draw to attention, through a question to the minister, the Solicitor General, to the following. Windsor Police Chief Jim Adkin says that if he doesn't have the police resources he needs to combat crime, the doors of Windsor's casino shouldn't be opened. He was addressing the Kiwanis Club in Windsor, and he went on to say: "The casino came to the community on the pretence it would remain safe. Until it can be properly policed, it shouldn't exist." Adkin also said, when referring to the extra police officers, that he needed them three weeks ago so they can be trained, but the chief doesn't want to see his officers pulled from other areas of the community because of the casino.
I'd like to ask the Solicitor General, because this question cannot be fobbed off to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations today because she's not present; she usually is, but she's not present today. I ask the member, is he now prepared to counsel the government House leader to withdraw this bill in light of the comments that have been made by the chief of police in the city of Windsor?
Hon David Christopherson (Solicitor General): I'm pleased to answer the question the honourable member poses. Let me say very clearly, as he has already mentioned, that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is the lead minister responsible for the casino legislation as well as the Ontario casino project, which includes and encompasses the policing necessary in this particular community around this particular pilot project.
However, let me say that I have also met with the chief of police and we have talked about this issue in the course of our discussions. To date, to the best of my knowledge, he is satisfied that indeed the needs of the Windsor community are being met. He certainly leaves open the possibility for that to be reviewed as time goes on. But as I understand it, from my discussions with him and my discussions with the minister taking the lead for this government, the needs in the Windsor community, as currently planned, are being met.
Mr Bradley: The reason, of course, that I directed the question to the Solicitor General is that his responsibility in the province is for all police forces and reports to the House in this connection, whether it's any kind of crime that takes place or whether we're dealing with civil matters.
As well, I've raised the social contract with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and its effect on policing. Jacqueline Smrke of the Windsor Star reports: "The demands of Ontario's social contract are an added complication. City police were recently told by city council to slash $1.2 million from their 1993 budget because the province is cutting Windsor's municipal grants by $10 million. Adkin said earlier the cutbacks may force him to move officers from various other departments.
"'At the present time, the province is looking at pulling out as much as they can and leaving behind as little as they can -- that's the business side to it,' he told one Kiwanis member."
In view of the fact that the social contract, as you people call it, the contract-breaking that you're engaged in at the present time, means that the Windsor police force will have to reduce its budget, how can the minister contend to this House that in fact there's going to be sufficient policing to deal with the many problems related to crime as they relate to casino gambling in Windsor and elsewhere?
Hon Mr Christopherson: I heard two questions in there, and I'll try to answer both as briefly as possible. One was with regard to the needs of the Windsor community vis-à-vis the casino project. Again I would reiterate that those needs are being met and that indeed the policing costs, the increased costs that will be incurred as a result of the casino being in that community, are being covered off by the proceeds from the casino and that further negotiations in the out years will take place with the local police services board, the municipal council and the minister responsible as time goes by.
On the other issue, in terms of the social contract, let me say very directly that I was pleased that there was a sectoral agreement with police associations across the province. That of course allows us to set out the framework by which local police service boards may reach specific agreements for their individual communities. We all realize the pressure this puts on all the services across the province, but I'm satisfied that our police service boards as well as our chiefs, officers and local councils are prepared, committed and quite capable of dealing with the constraint measures in a way that does not jeopardize the safety of the citizens in any community across Ontario.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): I'd like to as well apologize on behalf of the member for Etobicoke West for leaving Ross McClellan and David Reville off the rogues' gallery list. I know they both would have been very disappointed not to have hit the list. I just wanted to say that.
SCHOOL BREAKFAST PROGRAM
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services on an issue which, as a parent and as a former educator, I feel very strongly about. In December 1990, close to three years ago, I asked the Premier to immediately coordinate a nutrition program for our school children. He said he would, and I believed him. Six months later, I asked the former minister. She said she had a plan, and I believed her. Six months later, I asked the Premier again. Again, he gave his personal support, as well as that of the Office of the Premier, and I believed him.
Minister, it's been three years and you have done nothing, absolutely nothing. Yes or no, Minister. Will you establish a nutrition program so that no Ontario child goes to school in September hungry?
Hon Tony Silipo (Minister of Community and Social Services): I have to say that despite the criticism the leader of the third party has launched in his question, I do none the less appreciate very much the question that's being asked, because it does deal with a very serious issue. I think there is indeed some legitimacy in his criticism in terms of how long it has taken us to be able to deal effectively with this issue.
We are dealing with it. The answer is yes, we are interested in putting an initiative together, which will not resolve through any action of the provincial government the question of nutrition in and of itself, but I think we are looking at the appropriate role we can play as a government, together with local communities and together with a whole array of volunteer initiatives that we know exists in our communities across the province to help us address the question of hunger as it relates to children, particularly children in school, and child nutrition. We are very much interested in that. My hope is that we can have some activities under way later this year.
Mr Harris: Minister, I have asked your government now a dozen times to take some action and show leadership. The last time, I even offered the Premier my own time if he would give me the green light and the mandate I need to go out on behalf of this Legislature in a non-partisan way, on behalf of all 130 of us, and coordinate the program.
My proposal to you and to the Premier at that time would not cost the taxpayers any money, it was not a taxpayer-paid program, but it did require a commitment from the government of Ontario and an endorsement of the program.
We would all benefit in the long run. You know the studies are there that when children go to school hungry, they don't learn properly and you further disadvantage a segment of society in Ontario today. It's a problem that crosses all lines of race, of gender, even of economic family situation.
Quite frankly, I'm fed up with the rhetoric. I would ask you today, Minister, for the 12th time, to give us a firm undertaking that we will have a program in place this September, or I would ask you to be up front, as you've not been the previous 11 times, nor has the Premier, and just tell me once and for all that you don't plan to do anything, you wash your hands of it, in which case we will proceed on our own.
Hon Mr Silipo: If we were not planning to do anything, I would be standing up and telling the honourable member that we would not be doing anything. We are planning to take some initiatives. I don't think I would agree with the member in his belief that we could take some initiative of this kind without being prepared to look at what additional dollars we would need to spend. Again I would say to him that in looking at that, we also recognize that this is not a question of simply the provincial government putting in a whole pile of dollars and saying that's going to resolve the problem. We know that isn't the solution.
As to the leader of the third party going out and encouraging, in whatever way he wants to encourage, initiatives that we know are under way and initiatives that people are interested in pursuing, he has not only my full blessing in doing that but I think he received the encouragement of the Premier when he raised this question the last time, very much so, for him to do that. I encourage him to do that as well. Indeed, I encourage all members of the House to do that. In fact, I look forward to his continuing support on this issue.
I don't expect we'll be able to have something in place for September of this year, but I hope we'll be able to have something in place for later in the school year.
Mr Mike Cooper (Kitchener-Wilmot): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. There is growing concern among my constituents, specifically within the education system, about violence in the schools. In fact, there have been a couple of committees set up locally, the Wellington county task force on youth violence and the Waterloo task force on violence. These community-based committees are organized to address the societal issue of youth violence. Members of these organizations include: crown attorney representation; municipal and provincial police forces; public and separate boards of education; probation officers; corrections, race and ethnocultural representatives, as well as other community-based agencies.
My question is this: What is being done regarding the issue of violence in the schools, and what is being done to ensure the security and safety of school personnel and students?
Hon David S. Cooke (Minister of Education and Training): I appreciate the question from the member, and I know of his ongoing interest in this issue. I certainly can tell the member that there is a group of people within the Ministry of Education and Training, in the violence prevention secretariat of the ministry, working on this issue. We're also working with teachers' federations, in particular the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, with its Safe School Task Force.
But I would be less than honest if I told the member we were doing everything that needed to be done. I believe very strongly that the ministry, in cooperation with our communities and the federations and students and others involved in the whole question of safety in our schools, needs to become more proactive, and that's exactly what we intend to do.
There are a lot of good ideas in the communities, there's a lot of experience in our communities, and the Ministry of Education and Training needs to become much more involved in this issue, because there's concern in every area of the province.
Mr Cooper: Right now school's out, but shortly there are going to be a lot of students going back to school, and usually over the summer a lot of people move and there are new students coming into the schools.
The principals are responsible for the safety and security of school personnel and students. Because of section 44.1 of the Young Offenders Act, principals of schools are not made aware that young offenders are attending their institutions. Do principals or superintendents have a way to find out this information that they need to do their job effectively?
Hon Mr Cooke: The member will be aware that the Young Offenders Act is in fact federal legislation, but this is a question and an issue that has been raised with me in other parts of the province as well.
When the ministry becomes more proactive, and we intend to do that on this issue, I can assure the member that obviously one of the groups of people in one of the other levels of government that we're going to have to talk to will be the federal government, so that this issue and other issues can be appropriately dealt with, so that students and staff can feel safe in the schools they attend.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. The question concerns the northern environment, the northern forests and, more particularly, northern jobs.
Since your administration took power, there are 30 million fewer trees being planted in Ontario's crown forests. You mulched 11 million trees just last spring. The area tended in forestry is down by 50% since Lyn McLeod was the Minister of Natural Resources. We've seen huge increases in hydro rates, WCB costs, the forest companies are out of control, and just lately, we have heard of the stumpage fees and the area charges. The member for Timiskaming, the member for Kenora and myself toured the northeast. We heard about this issue in virtually every community we stopped in.
Are you prepared to stand in the Legislature today and commit that you will eliminate the increases in stumpage fees and area charges that so dramatically impact on northern jobs and northern communities?
Hon Howard Hampton (Minister of Natural Resources): The member wants to get a number of issues on the agenda at the same time, so permit me to answer those issues.
It was not this government that concluded the construction of nuclear plants that cost the province $14 billion. It was those people over there, the Liberals. It was not this government that signed a contract with the government of Manitoba to purchase and import another $13-billion worth of power without ascertaining if the province needed it. This government did not make those deals. That government, when it was in power, did it, and if people want to know why power rates are going up today, look no further than Lyn McLeod, the member for Fort William, who was the Minister of Energy at the time.
That party, while it was the government, continued the mythology that reforestation and care for the forests consist only of sticking little seedlings in the ground. It is a far more complex process than that. It involves tending. It involves making use of aerial seeding. It involves letting nature do its part. We are trying to build a balanced forest policy, something that another government should have done when the province had more money to do it with.
Mr Brown: I don't know, but I don't think I heard an answer to the question about stumpage fees and area charges.
I have a letter from the Atikokan Loggers and Citizens Organization, one that you might be familiar with, addressed to our leader, Mrs McLeod. It said:
"We met with Howard Hampton on Thursday, July 15, here in Atikokan.
"Mr Hampton stated that we should go to our local MNR office to cut deals. His deal is still the deferral of fees to a later date. This is not a deal for us; it means only bankruptcy. 'Pay now or pay three times as much later!' Some deal...
"Mr Hampton is telling us repeatedly that he does not have the power to help us, and that he has to meet with the Minister of Finance. Mr Laughren's office is telling us that Mr Hampton does have the power...who are we to believe?
"These two ministers are just buying time and playing political games at our expense. This has got to stop."
Minister, my question is the same question the loggers ask: Please try to help us understand who we should believe.
Hon Mr Hampton: Once again, I remember the meeting with the particular gentlemen, and I pointed out two other things to them.
First of all, I think anyone who looks at Ontario's stumpage fee system would say that it is probably at least 10 years out of date, perhaps 15 years out of date. Once again, we as a government are having to fix something that governments before us, if they had been doing their job, would have taken a look at and would have looked at restructuring the system.
I acknowledge that some independent contractors and some sawmills have difficulty with the current system of stumpage fees. I only say to the member that he will remember that lumber prices hit $570 Canadian funds back in January, February and March. When that happens, it has an indexing effect on stumpage fees and, three months following that, stumpage fees rise.
We will do what we can to help those individual mills, but some of the independent contractors will have to talk to the mill owners. Since some of the mill owners derived a very extensive economic benefit when lumber prices were high, they have to turn some of that benefit over to the independent contractors now, to be sure that everyone is being fair.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I have many examples of mismanagement at the Ministry of Transportation. This is to the Minister of Transportation. Many examples of mismanagement at the Ministry of Transportation are reported to me, but I'd like to quote specifically one.
John Bottomley from Calendar, Ontario, received a speeding ticket in North Bay in February of this year. He paid the ticket on March 3. The government cashed the cheque on March 9. However, on July 14, he received a letter from the Ministry of Transportation dated July 2, stating that his driver's licence would be suspended, effective July 23, because he had not paid his fine.
Minister, I know that at the same time as I received the information, you received the information. I've just sent over another copy in case you are completely in a daze. What are you doing about this situation?
Hon Gilles Pouliot (Minister of Transportation): I appreciate the question from the critic opposite. I never thought that one day I would standing in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and be expected to monitor compliance on each of 6.5 million licensees in the province, and I want to thank the member for his ultimate vote of confidence. It speaks highly of the way we do things at Transportation.
What I will do in this case, because due process has to be meticulously adhered to, is I will go to our legal department, we will take the case that has been identified by the member, we will do it in accordance with process and all parties will be pleased.
Mr Turnbull: You know, there's a word for that: It's called bafflegab. When you don't know a logical answer, you spout a whole bunch of words.
The fact is, Mr Bottomley is going to have his licence suspended tomorrow. When he phoned the court in North Bay, he was informed that the delays are due to processing in Oshawa. He was told to drive 20 miles to North Bay to present his cancelled cheque at the courthouse, and he said no, he didn't have time to do that. He has faxed you, at the same time that he faxed me, a copy of his cancelled cheque.
What have you done to fix this? We've been told that it will take a minimum of 10 days to reinstate his licence. You cashed the cheque in March, Minister. Don't sit on your hands and hide behind words. What are you going to do to fix this, and many other examples, because there are hundreds of people in this situation across the province.
Hon Mr Pouliot: I'm trying to quote verbatim what the member said. Repeatedly the member shouted across that I cashed the cheque. I want to assure the House that I never cashed a cheque.
If the events are as reported by the member, we will endeavour, inside the context of due process, to do everything so that a citizen of the province of Ontario is not shortchanged --
Mr Turnbull: Will you fix it today?
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order, the member for York Mills.
Hon Mr Pouliot: -- or victimized by the system in any fashion.
The Speaker: New question, the member for London South.
Mr Turnbull: Point of order, Mr Speaker: There's a citizen in this province being wronged, and my question was simply, will he fix it today?
The Speaker: No, there's nothing out of order. The member for London South.
Mr David Winninger (London South): My question is also to the Minister of Transportation.
Hon Howard Hampton (Minister of Natural Resources): Tory justice: fix the ticket, right?
Mr Turnbull: The guy has paid his ticket, you idiot.
The Speaker: Order. The member for York Mills knows that that is not parliamentary language. It is not appropriate to use that type of language in reference to another member. Would the member please withdraw the remark.
Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, I withdraw it. I particularly withdraw any reference to an idiot. We will just --
The Speaker: No, the first two words, "I withdraw," are all that's required. Those are the magic words.
Mr David Winninger (London South): My question is also to the Minister of Transportation, since he gave such a convincing answer to the last question.
In my riding of London South, and I'm certain right across the province, there is a concern about road safety. We know in excess of 1,000 people die each year in motor vehicle-related accidents. Human pain and suffering are foremost among the enormous costs this represents.
Nearly half of these fatalities happen at night, and as the minister is aware, raised reflective pavement markers, often called cat's-eyes, are currently used extensively throughout the United States to enhance night visibility of lane position and direction. Does the Ministry of Transportation have plans to make Ontario highways safer by installing these high-visibility markers, and if so, when?
Hon Gilles Pouliot (Minister of Transportation): I'm fully appreciative of the thousand people who lose their lives on an annual basis, although I must take this opportunity, if you will bear with me for a second, to say that ours is far from a perfect record, but it is, nevertheless, one of constant improvement. We're concerned with each fatality and we're at a 40-year low at present.
There are 5,000 markers currently in use. I'll give you an example. Highway 401 and Avenue Road: Markers are effective there. There's a lot of traffic. The snowplows don't prove to be a deterrent and increase the replacement value. The fact remains that north of the US border, we experience more difficult winter conditions. It's evident to each and every one of us. At times, it can cost as much as 10 times conventional signage, so we have to be careful whenever the delineation, meeting the standards always, is cheaper, we will do it the cheaper way. But, first and foremost, we're cognizant, we're trying to implement as many as possible keeping within budget and also looking at alternatives.
Mr Winninger: Recently you announced that Highway 407 would be extended, being built in partnership with private industry. Would this not be a good pilot project to consider the use of cat's-eye markers on it?
Hon Mr Pouliot: I cherish those moments of anxiety when people are cognizant of the politics, all politics being local, and for one of those rare moments, they're saying by the stroke of a pen, should you be able to find the money, will you help the folks back home? In this case, you've guessed it; the answer is yes, consider it done. It's no problem here.
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. I've just delivered to you a letter from a constituent of mine and you will find that Mrs Deborah Salsberg wrote to me about the death of her son on August 22, 1988. It happened on Highway 69 just north of the Shell station before the cutoff of 169, and I've highlighted her comments to you in that letter. The thing I'd like you to do is turn to page 2 and you'll see her statement, which says:
"Please note that I was advised to contact the regional traffic engineer in northern region re statistics of accidents occurring in the Highway 69 area before it branches off to become Highway 169.
"I've been trying for weeks to contact Mr Tom Fletcher and Mr Matt Vautour, the two men referred to me by the Ministry of Transport, to no avail. I have been unable to reach them."
Mrs Salsberg called me and I called your ministry. I have to say that they responded very quickly, and you'll see their response on the next page.
The thing that puzzles me is that when Mrs Salsberg talks about this accident, she says, "The accident occurred, a head-on collision with a pickup truck, they were returning to Toronto from cottage country, and all four people were killed." Mrs Salsberg is trying to determine how many people have been killed over the last five years in that particular area.
That is the question I asked of your officials, and if you take a look at the chart they returned to me, you'll see that under 1988 on exactly this portion of road that we were interested in, they said there have been no fatalities during that year.
Mr Minister, when we know that at least there were four fatalities -- and from what I hear, there have been a lot more because we've had lots of complaints about that particular stretch of highway -- why is your ministry reporting that no one has been killed on that stretch of highway when, in fact, I have a letter from a bereaved mother whose son was one of those victims and there were four people killed in that accident alone? Could you answer that for me?
Hon Mr Pouliot: You know something? You've got me. We're talking about lives here. I am presented, with respect, through you for one of your constituents, with an opportunity to answer questions. You have dealt through the ministry. We have 9,700 loyal, dedicated employees at the Ministry of Transportation. I take these matters very, very seriously, as you do, and I thank you.
A citizen should not have to go through people "above" or people with a little push or "clout." I don't have the answer, but the next time you ask me, I can assure you I will have a much more detailed answer, because the people who have shown confidence in me deserve it.
This is a very serious matter. One party says people have lost their lives. I have a report in my hands saying that there have been no fatalities. I have to find out now about it. I've just received the inquiry, and I will do that.
Mr Kwinter: I thank the minister for that answer. I really do. But while you're investigating, will you investigate this. When my staff showed me this report, I said: "There's no way. There have obviously been some fatalities. You call them back and tell them that they must have made a mistake." They called back and they said: "We are very sorry. We do have other figures but we are not prepared to let you have them."
What kind of a response is that? They're saying, "We've given you a response that said there are no fatalities." Then, in a subsequent call, because I thought that was unacceptable given the fact that I have a constituent who was the mother of a victim, the same people who provided this information to me told me that they are sorry but they cannot give me that information.
That doesn't make any sense. We have a situation where people are being killed on that stretch of Highway 69. It is common knowledge that there are a lot of accidents. Your ministry is putting out information that for the last five years -- never mind 1988; for the last five years -- there has not been a fatality on that stretch of highway. When I subsequently call back, they say, "Yes, there have been fatalities, but we're not at liberty to give you that information." Do you have an answer for that?
Hon Mr Pouliot: It's the same: No, I don't. If you'll give me the names involved, obviously some work has to be done here, and, please, with your help. I want to thank you for bringing this matter up. Needless to say, it's going to be a short walk back to the office this afternoon and I intend, with you, to go to the bottom of this.
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): I have a question for the Solicitor General. This morning the Minister of Municipal Affairs announced in Ottawa the restructuring of the Ottawa-Carleton government. He informed four townships which I represent that he was downloading $10 million on to those townships to pay for policing which they now receive from the OPP and are not paying directly out of property taxes. This will raise taxes from $125 to $200 per household in the Ottawa-Carleton area, as confirmed by the CEO of the regional capital this morning in my conversations with them.
I was told by the Minister of Municipal Affairs that you were considering doing this to all townships that had populations in excess of 5,000 across the province, and that includes 40 other townships. Are you planning to download police costs on all townships in excess of 5,000 which are receiving free OPP policing at this time?
Hon David Christopherson (Solicitor General): Mr Speaker, I'll refer that to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Hon Ed Philip (Minister of Municipal Affairs): At no time were the words "$10 million" used. What we are doing and what the Solicitor General has been doing is talking to municipalities about the fact that some municipalities are paying for police protection while others of equal size are paying absolutely nothing.
What we're dealing with is a matter of fairness, and a number of the people this morning who were at the meeting said that they thought it was only right that people receive police services and pay for it the same way as the rest of the people in Ottawa-Carleton do.
We also said that there would be a phase-in process, a time, if you like, when there would be consultation and there also would be --
Mr Sterling: You are not paying for it, Ed. You are not paying for it.
Hon Mr Philip: Well, Mr Speaker, the honourable member doesn't want to hear the truth. He didn't want to this morning when he grabbed time away from the municipal councillors who wanted to ask some sensible questions.
Mr Sterling: From your lackeys in city of Ottawa council.
Hon Mr Philip: But I can say that we do have a provincial fund that we will be announcing that will assist in the phasing in of this, and the region also has, under the legislation, which he might care to read --
Hon Mr Philip: He obviously doesn't want an answer, Mr Speaker.
MEETINGS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing order 96(a), the House will meet on the morning of Thursday, July 29, 1993, from 10 am to 12 noon for the consideration of government business, with routine proceedings to commence at 1:30 pm.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas proposals made under the government's expenditure control plan and social contract initiatives regarding health care in the province of Ontario will have a devastating impact on access to and the delivery of health care; and
"Whereas these proposals will result in a severe reduction in the provision of quality health care services across the province,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"The government of Ontario move immediately to withdraw these proposed measures and reaffirm its commitment to rational reform of Ontario's health care system through its obligations under the Ontario Medical Association-government framework and economic agreement."
Signed by 297 constituents. I affix my signature.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I have a petition here that has been signed by over 1,500 people in Kitchener-Waterloo. The petition was organized by the three friends of the two young men who were killed in the June 15, 1993, cross-median accident on the Conestoga Parkway in Kitchener. They are Brock Cober, Rob Huber and Jonathan Weatherdon. The petition is being circulated in loving memory of the seven people who have been tragically killed on the Conestoga Expressway due to lack of sufficient median barriers.
"We, the undersigned, hereby petition the region and the province of Ontario to immediately invoke and follow the jury recommendations arising out of the death of Laurie Brain, which occurred on the Conestoga Parkway and, more particularly, for the installation of median guard rails and reconstruction of the roadway to make it safe for the travelling public of Ontario."
I am pleased to sign this petition in an attempt to help persuade the government to build the barriers before any more deaths do occur.
GO BUS SERVICE
Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows: to object to the proposed cuts to the GO Transit bus service to Stouffville and Uxbridge.
"Whereas this will be a major inconvenience to non-drivers and will substantially increase the travelling time for all of the users;
"Whereas the lack of transit services will increase traffic, thereby increasing the air pollution levels at a time when all levels of government are making an effort to reduce pollution and encourage public transportation systems;
"Whereas the cuts leave no alternative means of commuting in and out of Toronto for the individual with flexible working arrangements and child care commitments (the earliest train departs from downtown at 5:20 pm);
"Whereas it will have a negative impact on the local economy;
"Whereas the lack of GO buses will force passengers to incur extra expenses in finding and using alternative forms of transportation,
"That the government of Ontario overturn GO Transit's decision and continue the GO bus transit service to Stouffville and Uxbridge."
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"Whereas proposals made under the government's expenditure control plan and social contract initiatives regarding health care in the province of Ontario will have a devastating impact on access to and the delivery of health care; and
"Whereas these proposals will result in a severe reduction in the provision of quality health care services across the province;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"The government of Ontario move immediately to withdraw these proposed measures and reaffirm its commitment to rational reform of Ontario's health care system through its obligations under the 1991 Ontario Medical Association-government framework and economic agreement."
I add my name to this petition.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I have a petition here that has been sent to me by the Committee of Concerned Citizens Against Bill 38.
"Re the amendment of the Retail Business Holidays Act, proposed wide-open Sunday shopping and elimination of Sunday as a legal holiday:
"I, the undersigned, hereby register my opposition in the strongest of terms to Bill 38, which will eliminate Sunday from the definition of 'legal holiday' in the Retail Business Holidays Act.
"I believe in the need of keeping Sunday as a holiday for family time, quality of life and religious freedom. The elimination of such a day will be detrimental to the fabric of society in Ontario and cause increased hardship on many families.
"The amendment included in Bill 38, dated June 3, 1992, to delete all Sundays except Easter from the definition of 'legal holiday' and reclassify them as working days should be defeated."
Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): On behalf of my colleague the member for Sarnia, who is participating in a meeting right now, I introduce a petition from the riding of Sarnia. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"Whereas proposals under the government's expenditure control plan and social contract initiatives regarding health care in the province of Ontario will have a devastating impact on access to and delivery of health care; and
"Whereas the proposals will result in a severe reduction in the provision of quality health care services across the province;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"The government of Ontario move immediately to withdraw these proposed measures and reaffirm its commitment to rational reform of Ontario's health care system through its obligations under the 1991 Ontario Medical Association-government framework and economic agreement."
On behalf of the constituents of the member for Sarnia, Mr Huget, I present these petitions.
Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): I have a petition here signed by many people from the Campbellford, Warkworth, Hastings and Castleton area to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"Whereas proposals made under the government's expenditure control plan and social contract initiatives regarding health care in the province of Ontario will have a devastating impact on access to and the delivery of health care; and
"Whereas these proposals will result in a severe reduction in the provision of quality health care services across the province;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"The government of Ontario move immediately to withdraw these proposed measures and reaffirm its commitment to rational reform of Ontario's health care system through its obligations under the 1991 Ontario Medical Association-government framework and economic agreement."
I have signed the petition.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I have a petition that has been signed by almost 50 people in the Waterloo-Kitchener-New Hamburg-Cambridge community.
The purpose of this petition is to bring to the attention of Ontario Attorney General Marion Boyd the real outrage of the citizens of Ontario over the Judge Francis Kovacs decision in the Karla Homolka case.
Its purpose is also to let her know that she has added to their anger with her obvious disregard of the intelligence of the people of Ontario, shown by her statement, "I don't think people understand very well how the justice system operates." She does not think the public is outraged, but that there is only an angry press. This élitist attitude will not be tolerated in a Canadian or Ontario government.
It has been signed by approximately 15 people.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Donald Abel (Wentworth North): I have a petition here I present on behalf of my colleague the Honourable Richard Allen. It's in regard to Sunday shopping. Constituents from the Hamilton West area have signed it. I notice there are a couple of signatures there from my own riding of Dundas and Ancaster. As I said, they are expressing their opposition to Bill 38, Sunday shopping. As with an earlier petition, I have also affixed my name in support.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I have a petition to the members of the Legislative Assembly.
"We, the undersigned, hereby request you to vote against the passing of Bill 38. We believe that this bill defies God's laws, violates the principle of religious freedom, reduces the quality of life, removes all legal protection to workers regarding when they must work and will reduce rather than improve the prosperity of our province.
"The observance of Sunday as a non-working day was not invented by man but was created by God and is an absolute necessity for the wellbeing of all people both physically and spiritually.
"We beg you to defeat the passing of Bill 38."
It's signed by 50 constituents. I affix my signature.
Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a petition that states as follows:
"The following petition is circulated in support of our area physicians to demand the government of Ontario remove the cap imposed on their wages, not implement further restrictions.
"These cutbacks are causing this area and others in the province to be in desperate situations. The expenses of physicians are not being taken into consideration. Their exodus and the rippling effect must be stopped."
Mr Paul Wessenger (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That free and open collective bargaining for public service employees be restored and be returned to its honourable position in Ontario;
"The social contract in its present form be destroyed and that the valuable programs and services in the public sector be maintained for the betterment of all Ontarians;
"The government withdraw Bill 48 and in place of this bill the government work cooperatively with the public service unions to find an equitable solution rather than eliminating valuable public services."
Mr Mike Cooper (Kitchener-Wilmot): I have a petition from the members, adherents and visitors of Kitchener East Presbyterian Church.
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the New Democratic Party government has not consulted the citizens of the province regarding the expansion of gambling; and
"Whereas families are made more emotionally and economically vulnerable by the operation of various gaming and gambling ventures; and
"Whereas creditable academic studies have shown that state-operated gambling is nothing more than a regressive tax on the poor; and
"Whereas the New Democratic Party has in the past vociferously opposed the raising of moneys for the state through gambling; and
"Whereas the government has not attempted to address the very serious concerns that have been raised by groups and individuals regarding the potential growth in crime;
"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the government immediately cease all moves to establish gambling casinos and refrain from introducing video lottery terminals in the province of Ontario."
Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): On behalf of my constituents in the riding of Chatham-Kent -- and I just noticed this is Bill 124, the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act -- I have a petition that's addressed to the Speaker of the House and the Parliament of Ontario.
"Whereas we, the undersigned, support the voluntary use of bicycle helmets, promoted as part of a comprehensive bicycle safety program;
"Whereas we, the undersigned, oppose the province's plan to mandate the use of bicycle helmets as being excessive restriction of personal rights to choose for ourselves as guaranteed under the Constitution;
"We respectfully submit this petition for your consideration."
I propose and I support the initiatives that are being put forward by these constituents.
Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): On behalf of 30 constituents from St Paul's United Church in the wonderful riding of Scarborough Centre:
"To the Legislative Assembly:
"Whereas the Christian is called to love of neighbour, which includes a concern for the general wellbeing of society; and
"Whereas there is a direct link between the higher availability of legalized gambling and the incidence of addictive gambling; and
"Whereas the damage of addiction to gambling in individuals is compounded by the damage done to families, both emotionally and economically; and
"Whereas the gambling market is already saturated with various kinds of government-operated lotteries; and
"Whereas large-scale gambling activity invariably attracts criminal activity; and
"Whereas the citizens of Detroit have since 1976 on three occasions voted down the introduction of casinos into that city, each time with a larger majority than the time before,
"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the government of Ontario cease all moves to establish gambling casinos."
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): Pursuant to standing order 120(b), I beg leave to present a report with respect to an appeal from the decision of the Chair of the standing committee on estimates by the majority of the members of the committee.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Dennis Drainville): The Speaker shall review the report just presented by the Chair of the standing committee and will advise the House at the earliest opportunity of his decision to confirm or vary the decision of the Chair of the standing committee.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF OTTAWA-CARLETON STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LA MUNICIPALITÉ RÉGIONALE D'OTTAWA-CARLETON
On motion by Mr Philip, the following bill was introduced for first reading:
Bill 77, An Act to amend certain Acts related to The Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton / Loi modifiant certaines lois relatives à la municipalité régionale d'Ottawa-Carleton.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Dennis Drainville): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? No?
All those in favour of the motion please say "aye."
All those opposed please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
I declare the motion carried. Further introduction of bills? One moment. The honourable minister has a few moments.
Hon Ed Philip (Minister of Municipal Affairs): I'll only use a few moments. I wish to introduce a bill that will reform the local government in the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. This legislation is designed to give a greater regional focus to the area's governing arrangements. It proposes that regional council be directly elected, that the region be given responsibility for policing services and that it be given a new and stronger role in economic development. The changes in the electoral process would be in effect for the 1994 municipal elections.
Under this legislation, area mayors would no longer sit on regional council. A committee of provincial and municipal staff will be established to determine regional and local ward boundaries. Another committee composed of representatives of stakeholders involved with policing in Ottawa-Carleton will set the framework for the transition of regional responsibility for policing.
Members will recall that there has been extensive consultation in the Ottawa-Carleton area including three studies in the past five years, the most recent one being chaired by Graeme Kirby who issued his final report in November 1992. This legislation builds on his report and the comments which follow from that.
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm pleased to see that some legislation is being introduced to resolve some of the differences that exist --
The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. The honourable member -- what is your point of order?
Mr Grandmaître: I'm asking for unanimous consent to give the opposition at least five minutes because we didn't have the opportunity to be in Ottawa while the minister was making the announcement outside this House. I'm asking for unanimous consent.
The Acting Speaker: Let me ask if there's unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent to allow the opposition to speak? There is not unanimous consent. Further introduction of bills?
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand that the normal practice for the House is to allow the minister to speak for approximately 20 or 30 seconds to introduce the principle of the bill. This minister went far beyond that and thus avoided giving a ministerial statement.
Therefore, I put forward the argument, in support of the member for Ottawa-East, that the opposition parties be given a chance to respond, because in effect what we had this afternoon was a ministerial statement, not a statement --
The Acting Speaker: I thank the honourable member. I have asked for unanimous consent. There is not consent to allow that to happen. We'll move on.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 SUR LE DÉVELOPPEMENT ÉCONOMIQUE COMMUNAUTAIRE
Mr White, on behalf of Mr Philip, moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 40, An Act to stimulate Economic Development through the Creation of Community Economic Development Corporations and through certain amendments to the Education Act, the Municipal Act, the Planning Act and the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act / Loi visant à stimuler le développement économique grâce à la création de sociétés de développement économique communautaire et à certaines modifications apportées à la Loi sur l'éducation, à la Loi sur les municipalités, à la Loi sur l'aménagement du territoire et à la Loi sur la planification et l'aménagement d'une ceinture de promenade.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Dennis Drainville): Does the honourable member have some introductory remarks?
Mr Drummond White (Durham Centre): The Community Economic Development Act is an important part of this government's three-year, $300-million Jobs Ontario Community Action program. Jobs Ontario Community Action is a new way of making things happen locally. It's a recognition that communities themselves are best equipped and best able to stimulate local economic activity.
It has three main thrusts: Community development is the assistance to each community in building its capacity to organize, strategize and plan for the future; community financing to help communities invest in themselves; and community capital to provide support for capital infrastructure programs identified as priorities in the planning process by those communities.
Bill 40 addresses the area of community financing.
The Community Economic Development Act provides tools to help communities invest in themselves, and it gives municipalities additional flexibility to participate directly in new ways of supporting economic development initiatives within their communities.
In our consultation, what we heard again and again is that concepts for community local development are there. Communities know what they need, but the capital to pursue them, the dollars to pursue them, is lacking. We realize that renewal and growth of local economies is often hampered by this lack of access to capital.
Interjection: It's about time somebody did something.
Mr White: It is.
Traditional financial institutions often have excessive collateral requirements, and even if financing is available, the terms offered do not meet the needs of the entrepreneurs. This lack of debt financing is almost an insurmountable barrier for those at the entry level of the economy.
Economic growth and job creation can also be hampered by a lack of access to equity financing. Many local enterprises do not meet the test of a high rate of return imposed by venture capitalists, who look for a high rate of compensation for the high risk they take. Although a small enterprise may be viable, it might not meet that test. Furthermore, it may also be costly for those enterprises to raise capital in the equity market. This legislation helps narrow that capital gap.
The legislation empowers communities to raise their own investment capital, forge new economic partnerships and work with both traditional and non-traditional sources of expertise to provide capital for entrepreneurial activities.
The legislation makes available a series of tools and mechanisms to accomplish these things. It enables municipalities to participate in the establishment of community development corporations and to support their operations. Community development corporations will be non-profit organizations operated by a board of directors that will ideally reflect the wide diversity of people and organizations in the community. The government will provide some financial assistance from Jobs Ontario Community Action to help communities set these organizations up.
Among other things, a community development corporation could sponsor the new community financing tools that will be created through this legislation. Community loan funds and community investment share corporations are those community financing tools.
Community loan funds will give local investors a chance to support small businesses in their community. These funds will provide access to loans in the range of $500 to $15,000 for all types of what are called micro-enterprises: small business. Local investors who put money into these funds will have their principal guaranteed by the province.
At the larger level, the community investment share corporations will be set up by local groups. They'll provide a source of equity financing for enterprises and these community investment share corporations will benefit the community as a whole. Again, the government will guarantee the principal; not the interest or the return but the principal alone.
We plan to allocate $10 million for community loan fund guarantees and $20 million for community investment share guarantees. We estimate that over the next five years, 40 community investment share corporations and 35 community loan funds will become operational in communities throughout Ontario. This will help communities create some 4,000 jobs.
This legislation also contains amendments to the Municipal Act to allow municipalities to forge partnerships with the private sector, partnerships to finance facilities that benefit the entire community such as community centre complexes, water and sewage facilities, roads and transit facilities. Municipalities will also be able to make better use of pooled investment and borrowing arrangements among certain public sector institutions.
The Community Economic Development Act also includes amendments to the Planning Act that will save time and money and will contribute to economic renewal. The changes will contribute to a smoother, more efficient and effective planning and development review process.
By encouraging communities to invest in local ventures, this legislation will support strong, self-reliant local economies, and strong local economies are vitally important to the financial wellbeing of our province as a whole. We believe local communities can help lead the way to jobs, growth and economic prosperity. This legislation gives them the tools they will need to get on with the job of creating more jobs and more vital jobs in our communities.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and/or comments? If there are none, further debate? The honourable member for Ottawa Vanier.
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Ottawa East; that's close enough.
Interjection: What do you think of a one-tier government?
Mr Grandmaître: One-tier government in Ottawa? I'm dead against it. There's only one member who's for one-tier government, and that's the member for Ottawa Centre.
Today I'm addressing another very serious problem, and that's investment in our local communities, as pointed out by the member for Durham Centre. I will be very short for the simple reason that I'm expected in committee at the present time.
This is the third time I've listened to or heard the same announcement. First, it was made by the Minister of Economic Development and Trade and then the Minister of Municipal Affairs and now the member for Durham Centre, who gave us a very good explanation of what this bill is supposed to do.
It's a very complex bill because it's actually a three-pronged bill. It creates other corporations. I realize that the government is committed to spend $300 million over the next three years: $120 million comes from Jobs Ontario, and the additional dollars will come from 22 different programs that didn't work before. There are no new dollars in this new program.
The member pointed out that this will give municipalities and communities the tools to invest in their own future. I see it differently. I see it as the government -- which is very concerned, very worried about its additional deficits, and also concerned about its credit rating -- now giving communities and municipalities the power to borrow money in the name of the government, and the government will pay them back. This is what I see in Bill 40.
As pointed out by the member for Durham Centre, these two new corporations will do three things, actually: help communities build their capacity to organize community financing, help communities invest in themselves, and community capital to provide support for capital infrastructure programs. The Community Economic Development Act will help communities, as I pointed out, to invest in themselves.
But I find it somewhat strange that this government is now realizing that communities can invest in themselves and do something for themselves, to borrow money and to maybe bust their municipal budget. It's okay as long as their budget or their capital dollars are not touched. I'm a little concerned that such programs, that do look good on paper, will not be totally appreciated by our municipalities in the province of Ontario.
Municipalities do need our help, and when I say municipalities need our help, they need help through unconditional grants and they need help on their conditional grants, which this government has cut back. They've cut back $190 million in unconditional grants, and I don't have the exact figure on conditional grants, but it's close to $275 million.
I hear the member from Durham, who has to deliver a product today that we're supposed to buy and swallow and say this is a great thing. I don't accept this kind of proposal. I think this government is trying to rebuild its lost confidence in local communities and municipalities in this province.
There's $30 million, if I'm not mistaken, invested in those two corporations, the community loan funds -- that's part III of Bill 40 -- by which local investors will have a chance to support small businesses and have access to loans from $500 to $15,000 and the government will guarantee the principal of the local investors. The second corporation being built through this Bill 40 is the community investment share corporation; that's part II of Bill 40. These corporations will be supported by a $30-million injection, $10 million for the community loan fund and $20 million for the community investment share guarantees.
Going back to what I was saying previously, this government is now realizing that it can't do it on its own. They need municipalities and communities to invest and to improve the economic climate, or the lack of the economic climate, in this province.
But I'm also concerned for people in Windsor and Chatham -- even in Windsor -- who were due to be part of the relocation program, which would have created jobs in those communities with less money than is being offered today.
I'm talking about money. Maybe I should ask the member for Durham Centre about the fact that $100 million will be invested every year, and the minister of trade mentioned when she introduced the bill in the House that some communities had already applied for some of those dollars. I don't know how much money is left in 1993-94. I don't know if the member has an answer for this, but the minister said in the House that she would honour those commitments. I would like to know how much money will be invested, will be allowed to be invested, in 1993-94.
I think if this government had been serious in its first budget, we wouldn't be faced with this kind of dilemma. Right now we're asking municipalities, we're asking people in the education field, social services, to pay for the mismanagement of this government. Now they're trying to tell communities, tell municipalities, "Listen, we're sorry, but you will have to do with less."
We all agree that we have to do with less, but when you look at this program, there won't be any rush. I know the minister has said she thinks that 30 or 40 communities will be participating in this program by the end of 1994. I would like to see the list of communities that have already gotten involved in this program.
Also, I realize that the government is trying to create partnerships. We hear this word every day in the House, "partnership," and "We want to work with municipalities, we want to work with the health people, the social services people, all of these great agencies, we want to work with these people," yet some few months ago, another bill was introduced to kill business and give unions more power in order to kill small business. I call this tokenism. Today they're trying to repair wrongs that were previously introduced in this House by introducing bills that will certainly not help municipalities and communities.
This government has a responsibility to help small communities, and I agree with the member that communities know best what is good for their communities. I think this government owes it to our municipalities, which are being dearly affected by the social contract, the expenditure control program, this government owes it to these communities to create permanent jobs, not only side jobs or semi-permanent jobs. I think this government has a lot of deep thinking to do, because by introducing legislation that is affecting our communities, this government owes it to our municipalities.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): They're crying out for one-tier government.
Mr Grandmaître: Well, they must be. They must be crying out.
Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): They're crying out for a new speech.
Mr Grandmaître: Then you shouldn't be sitting there.
I say that this government is too late in its approach. It should have started three years ago to work with our communities and work with our municipalities. What we're seeing today is only half a job and not a complete job.
Mr White: In response to my friend, he mentions the amount of financing that goes into this program. I think I mentioned it was $30 million over a period of time, some $10 million into community loan funds and $20 million into community investment share corporations. I think that's an important investment. It's a good investment in our communities, as my friend mentioned. I'm certainly pleased at the general tenor of his remarks, that he is, like ourselves, feeling that the best way of getting jobs going, getting communities working, is by giving those individuals who are now unemployed the tools they need to get themselves into micro-businesses, and with the small and medium businesses, the share investments they need.
He mentioned how much money is going in in 1993-94, in this current fiscal year. I believe the Minister of Economic Development and Trade made a commitment to $120 million, most of which, as my colleague mentions, are moneys that are refocused from other categories, other areas. They aren't all new moneys, but they are streamlined into Jobs Ontario Community Action. This, however, is new money and new direction.
With regard to the response he asks about in terms of the municipalities, certainly from my work and from my contact with the municipalities there's a great deal of interest. With regard to the list of municipalities, obviously until such time as the bill is passed we can't have those 35 community loan funds -- those numbers of communities have expressed interest, but we can't have those funds and those corporations established until the bill is passed.
Mr Grandmaître: Mr Speaker, can I clarify something?
The Acting Speaker: Well, you've got your two-minute windup and you have to wait till that.
Are there any other members who have a wish to participate in questions and comments?
Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): First of all, I want to commend the member for Ottawa East for his fine critique of this bill. I think the claim that the government is introducing this legislation to foster local economic growth is an admirable one and one we would agree with. But as usual, it is the way in which they are introducing this and the way in which they are going to try to make it work, and that of course remains always suspect, because under previous bills things just don't always work out the way they think.
I know two municipalities in my area, Port Hope and Cobourg -- in fact, all of the municipalities are trying to be very fiscally responsible. The downloading and the cutbacks in the conditional and unconditional grants have been a real thorn in their sides, because they are trying to do the jobs that they must do and yet now they find themselves really restrained.
Certainly, I know, with regard to the municipality of Port Hope, the mayor expressed to me complete bafflement as to how she was going to really manage the cutbacks and exist and whether or not she should even declare bankruptcy and let the government take over. I assured her that I didn't think that was the answer.
Cobourg really, in this last month, along with the $500,000 that it had to cut out of its budgets, or that it was going to receive under the social contract, has been ordered by MOE to build a $1.2-million plant to deal with sludge. They just wonder how on earth they can manage it.
The Acting Speaker: Further questions and/or comments?
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): I've had difficulty in determining whether or not I should support this legislation on second reading, but I've come to the conclusion that we should support it on second reading because I'm quite interested in looking at different kinds of investment vehicles that may be used for communities for different kinds of purposes.
However, I'll be very much interested in hearing how people react to the control mechanisms that are put in this legislation, how in fact control is exhibited and whether it really does provide an impetus for investment in new ventures, because in this province and in Canada, particularly this province, there aren't very many venture capital corporations or venture capital sources. Therefore, I'm going to maintain, as I believe my caucus members will probably, as the critic will indicate, an open mind to looking at this. But I really do hope that when the investment community comes in, when small business comes in, when community leaders come in, they will support and clarify for me how the whole mechanism is to work to their good.
The one part I will not support is if this is vehicle for any level of government to continue borrowing at a higher rate than they are now. I will not support that.
The Acting Speaker: Further questions and/or comments? If there are none, the honourable member for Ottawa East has two minutes to make a response.
Mr Grandmaître: I'd like to go on record and again ask the very same question as I did to the member for Durham Centre. From my explanatory notes on this bill, of the $300 million, $120 million will come from Jobs Ontario Capital funds -- no new funds -- and also, the rest of the $300 million will come from 22 existing programs related to community economic development.
My second question was a very simple one: How much money is left for these communities to invest in 1993-94?
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): I am delighted to comment on the community development corporation. I won't talk too much, though, about the money, the $300 million or $120 million, I guess, which comes from Jobs Ontario. I think the taxpayer would be delighted if all the money came from somewhere else, because frankly taxpayers are sick and tired of paying more money for more schemes.
However, what I will say is that the member for Carleton, I think, has probably put our position the best in that we will have an open mind. The Progressive Conservatives will have an open mind on this issue as it wends its way through the committee. We'd like to have certainly a number of concerns addressed, a number of questions answered, but we'll have an open mind on it.
I might say that to some degree this is similar to an initiative that the Progressive Conservatives recommended in New Directions: A Blueprint for Economic Renewal and Prosperity in Ontario, which is dated October 1991, the version that I have. In that New Directions we recommended the establishment of industrial development bonds. It appears to me that the community development corporation is somewhat akin to that. We said that:
"Ontario needs creative solutions to generate new investment, and especially to support economic diversification in rural and regional communities. Development bonds...have proven to be an excellent vehicle in other jurisdictions to attract investment in order to create long-term employment opportunities."
I think perhaps we didn't have in mind at that time some of the same investors that the government seems to have in mind at the present time, however.
Having said we'll keep an open mind, we do have some concerns, and I hope these concerns are addressed through the committee level, concerns, for example, pertaining to the control mechanisms associated with this development corporation.
If we look, first of all, at the loan fund, the loan fund will be soliciting moneys from people within a "community." Those moneys will be distributed by a board to local business opportunities, as I understand it. That board will have the authority to distribute up to $15,000, I think, to individual projects.
Now, that board will need to have some control, and I'm not sure what the control is, and I hope as we go through this process that that will become clear.
What are the qualifications for members to serve on the board? What sort of experience should they have?
In terms of various boards and different situations, we hear of fraud, we hear of dollars being wasted, and I think this should be of serious concern. Thought should be given to this to understand how this board operates, how it's being audited, how it's being controlled and how, essentially, public moneys are being handled. You can say, well, the moneys are coming from individual investors. The moneys are coming from people in the community who are putting this money forward to be invested back in their own community. However, the boards do have an obligation to steward that money in trust for the community, and that's a serious obligation.
In addition, if the loans are defaulted, if the loans are not repaid, then the province is on the hook, the taxpayers of this province are on the hook, to make up the difference. Consequently, the taxpayers have a right to know the standards, the qualifications, the controls of people involved in giving out these loans and ensuring that there is success.
Another issue I want to raise is that the loan funds will operate two accounts, as I understand it: an operating account and a capital account. Out of the capital account will come the loans for the businesses within the community that will, hopefully, use those loans to create jobs and to be successful. Out of the operating side, the moneys will cover salaries, rents, office expenses. What sort of controls are there on the salaries? What sort of controls on rents, office expenses and those kinds of expenditures, bearing in mind again that, in the final analysis, it is the taxpayers of the province of Ontario who stand behind the monetary success of the loan fund? I think that's a question that needs to be addressed.
The loans will be given to applicants who meet certain tests. Business applicants within the community must satisfy certain tests. The first test is rather interesting. The first test, as I understand it, is that they must prove that a traditional institution -- and here I guess we're talking about a bank or a trust company or some traditional institution that would loan funds to a business -- has refused to lend money to this business. Normally when that happens, of course the reason is because the risk is too great.
So I think that highlights even more the importance that there are adequate controls, because we are talking about business ventures that have been turned down by a bank for a loan, that have been turned down by a trust company or another organization, presumably because the risk is too great. If the risk is great, then all the more need for controls.
There has to be a business plan, a plan to show that the business will operate successfully and will be able to repay the money to the loan corporation within a period, I believe, of about three years. Now, again, we need qualified people to be able to assess that and to be able to determine whether or not that's possible; all the more reason, again, why we need to know controls, qualifications etc.
Perhaps I'll shift now to the community investment share corporation. I think it's been explained earlier there are really two corporations involved. One is a loan fund which will accept moneys from within the community and lend that money out to a small business, up to $15,000. The second vehicle is what's called a community investment share corporation. That corporation will operate on the basis of sale of preferred shares. You essentially buy shares in that corporation and you'll hold those shares for a period of time, perhaps up to seven years. At a predetermined time, as long as seven years, then you will be able to cash in those shares.
Again, the shares are guaranteed by the taxpayers of the province of Ontario, so if anything goes wrong, if the investments go wrong -- and the investments here are greater than with the loan corporation; the investments here, indeed, in certain circumstances can exceed half a million dollars -- then it will be the taxpayers of the province of Ontario who will foot the bill.
Again, it points out the need for the board that will be involved in assessing the share corporation, determining the validity of the business plan that'll be brought forward, that'll be assessing the risk of the business ventures. It's so important that there be controls, that there be standards and qualifications for the people who will be serving in this capacity.
I'll shift to one other concern that I have that I think should be addressed. Through the share corporation, a loan of no more than 40% can be made to a particular business venture. If the business venture, for example, is of the order of $100,000, then no more than $40,000 could be invested through the share corporation. However, the individuals, the proponents of the business themselves, will be compelled to put in 25% -- in the case of a $100,000 business venture, $25,000 -- and the remainder of the money will have to come from other sources.
I think we should take a second look at the balance involved in that sort of funding arrangement. Is a 25% share for the proponents adequate when one considers that the community and ultimately the taxpayer, who is backing up this investment, are asked or at least are able to put up to 40% of the investment in this corporation? Is that a suitable balance? Should the proponents put more money up front and ask the community perhaps not to put up quite as much?
I think a second look needs to be taken at that. It certainly puts more of the community's money in jeopardy at that rate.
Getting down to the final couple of points, the definition of a business that can qualify, as I understand it, although not perhaps fully determined at this point, indicates that the business must be destination tourism, manufacturing and processing and information or telecommunications and technology. So we're talking about tourism, manufacturing or telecommunications.
The main thrust of this proposal, as I understood it, was to assist particularly in rural communities. I don't think anybody really feels the takeup in the large urban centres will be very great. I think we're looking at the smaller communities. I think that's the history of this kind of concept in the United States, for example. It's mostly the smaller rural communities.
I have to ask myself, if we're looking at tourism, if we're looking at manufacturing, if we're looking at telecommunications, are these the kinds of industries, are these the kinds of uses that will be predominant in a rural setting? Somehow I think the definition is out of whack. In a rural setting, we may be talking about more of a commercial type of venture, perhaps a feed store or something of that nature and, as I understand it, under the present definition that may not qualify. So I think we have some work to do in that regard.
I think rightfully in this bill municipalities have been constrained in terms of their investment. I believe that's a good thing because they would certainly be under a lot of pressure in terms of putting money into a venture like this. As we've heard, these ventures will be at a higher risk than any other lending institution would accommodate, so I think it's right that the municipalities have been limited in terms of their financial involvement. But municipalities are put in the place of perhaps sponsoring these investment opportunities. I have to question how the working relationship will be with the province of Ontario, and I think this needs some investigation.
The municipalities will be in the position of promoting it in the first instance, whereas the provincial government will be responsible for picking up the tab at the end of the day if the venture fails. One wonders about the accountability of one government instituting a business venture and another government being stuck with the tab if it fails. I think that's a question that needs to be addressed, to see if it makes sense the way it's set up.
One last comment is that in addition, in terms of the municipalities' position in this, they will be put in a position perhaps of encouraging their local constituents to be involved in a business venture. They will perhaps be put in a position of trying to drum up support for a business venture that would be at a higher risk than normal. I'm just wondering what happens if the investors are not happy with the way this turns out, how this reflects on the local municipalities. I think we should have some discussion in that regard as this goes through committee, because it could put the municipalities in an awkward situation vis-à-vis their local communities.
With those comments, I'll say that we do have an open mind on it. We have a lot of concerns, and I guess that's what the committee is there for, to address those concerns and answer those questions. But personally, at any rate, I'm prepared to see this go through to the committee and to work with it.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and/or comments?
Mr White: I want to thank my colleague from Don Mills for his very well articulated speech, his many concerns, and I look forward to working with him in committee in dealing with some of those issues. Some of them are very viable concerns.
I would reflect on a couple of them at this moment. The community development corporations would probably be the bodies that would initially sponsor those other organizations. The community development corporation might be something that the municipality would be involved in, or it might be something emerging from the community; it might be in the nature of a cultural group or whatever.
That group -- and we have seen that already with the city of Burlington, which has a community development project -- would then sponsor or initiate something, the community loan fund group or the community investment share corporation, make information available, and I would imagine that it would be from that initial impetus that you would find some of the members of the board of directors. My friend mentioned particularly the concern with the community loan fund organizations.
Some of those people would come from our local communities, and we are talking about some risk involved, risk both there and with the community investment share corporations. I'm sure that risk would be mediated by the very fact that with some of these groups, the people's own moneys are significantly invested in those areas. They of course want a decent return in those areas. As my friend knows, it's very difficult these days just to ensure ongoing loans when banks are pulling in loans on the basis of collateral not being of the same value it was, say, two years ago.
I look forward to working with my colleague in committee on this bill and to further of his comments.
The Acting Speaker: Further questions and/or comments?
Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): I would just like to comment about the understanding of the manufacturing in rural Ontario. I'm a rural member who represents a wide -- and I took exception when you said about grain feeds. We're not talking about funding stables here, we're talking about telecommunication, and Smart Talk Network has just said that in the next 18 months they'll be hiring another 200 people in the city of Chatham, which is a rural community.
We talk about the rural contributions around ethanol. We're also looking into the production of corn and using it in car fuel as a major initiative that's going on in our communities. We look at fish farms, which are a very important aspect of replenishing our lakes, plus the marketplace. Food processing is a very key element to rural communities.
I know I've had great conversations with a lot of people in my community just dealing with the manufacturing sector, dealing with bridge financing for those tool and die industries that are out there that cannot obtain bridge financing right now from ODC or any other corporation. So this is a plus. I believe that when you talk about investment, yes, you have to spend a little money to make a little money, and there is generation of economic prosperity in our communities that will be very essential to them.
I just hope that we can move expeditiously through the committee process and expeditiously through third reading of this legislation, which will allow our communities, which have community dollars and don't mind investing their own money in their own community, to entice those around the telecommunication technology base that would be there, around the manufacturing opportunity that's there. Navistar is another prime example that is contributing in our community.
Plus around our agricultural base, because our agricultural is a high risk. When I heard the member from this side talk about the banks, the banks are not very friendly to high-risk. They might be high-risk for a short period of time, but there's gainful opportunity there and we must address that high-risk aspect also for our manufacturing and our agricultural communities.
I would just like to say thank you for the compliments, but rural Ontario is more than the banking corporations that are there.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Don Mills has two minutes to make a response.
Mr David Johnson: I thank the member for Durham Centre and the member for Chatham-Kent for their comments on my comments. I will say that the member for Chatham-Kent raised the prospect of fish farms; I think it was one of the examples he presented. Now, maybe that's allowed somehow under the definition in this bill, but it's not immediately obvious to me how that particular application, which could well be a good application, fits under the definition of this bill. Perhaps I'll see that as it goes through committee.
The member for Chatham-Kent also mentioned that banks are not particularly happy with high-risk applications. There's a pretty good reason for that, because at the end of the day banks, being a private business, have to make a profit. If they don't make a profit, they're out of business. That's the way the economy rolls.
There's a kind of a message there, that if there's not money to be made, then I hope we simply don't redirect all of those sorts of applications where there isn't money to be made, to the public sector, and consider the public purse, the taxpayers' purse, in the province of Ontario to be the method of funding. I know that there has been some history of success of these sorts of corporations in the United States, so I'm going into this with an open mind and I hope there is going to be some merit in it.
It is also interesting to me to note that the bill is Bill 40. I hadn't thought of that before, but whenever I think of Bill 40 I think of the labour bill. Here's a new Bill 40. What we need to be focusing on is job creation in many different concepts, not just through corporations like this but every way we can promote jobs. The previous Bill 40 killed a whole lot of jobs in the province of Ontario. It's just ironical that the two have the same number.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this bill which I hope will have some positive effect on the many communities in our province that have been hit hard by unemployment and economic dislocation, not the least of those communities being the city of St Catharines and the surrounding area in the Niagara region.
I happen to sit on a coalition that is put together of people from business and labour, the political scene and the community, which has been wrestling for some period of time with the major announced layoffs at General Motors and their consequences for the Niagara region, and indeed even into Hamilton. There's been representation from all of those areas. They are reaching out to endeavour to find ways to revitalize our communities.
I am a person who is not prepared to write off the older industries that exist in this province. I know that it's in vogue these days to say that we should be moving into the new high-tech industries, that we should be moving into information-related industries and those which, in my view, don't always produce so many jobs. The jobs they do produce are often high-paying, but there's a lot of competition in that field.
I understand there's a need to be moving in that direction. What I am concerned about is that as the gurus of economics and competition talk about moving into these new areas, they seem almost prepared to abandon some of the traditional industries upon which Ontario has relied for its employment and its economic vitality over the years.
I speak parochially and I guess with a good deal of emotion about the automotive industry in the Niagara Peninsula, and the steel industry which is in Hamilton and Nanticoke and other parts of Ontario, of course, but speaking on a regional and parochial basis, Welland also has an industry which is related to steel.
Many of us feel we can't simply abandon those industries and say that while they have produced a lot of economic impact in the past and that the job opportunities have been there, particularly for people who might not otherwise have access to high-paying jobs, somehow we should now abandon those and look in new directions. Yes, I believe we should, and perhaps some of the financing that might be available under the auspices of this bill may be able to help us move in that direction. At the same time, I urge the government and other members of the Legislature not to abandon the traditional heavy industries which have been good for this province and have provided good job opportunities for so many.
We in St Catharines have been hit with the announcement of the closing of the foundry and a shutdown of one of the parts of the engine plant. In addition to that, we have been hit with the news that the axle plant on Ontario Street in St Catharines is going to be sold and there is a possibility, if a buyer is not found, that in fact it will be closed down. In addition to the 750 indefinite layoffs which were announced in March 1992, this would mean close to half the operation of General Motors in St Catharines would no longer be there at the end of this period of time. Those of us who represent the Niagara region are simply not prepared to accept that.
I found it disconcerting. At the risk of appearing to be partisan, but simply pointing out, the problem with being prepared to abandon industries or to fall into the new thinking: When the Premier visited St Catharines and discussed with local people, I think it was in August of last year, the shutdown of the foundry, he sounded an awful lot like George Peapples, I would have thought, the president of General Motors in Canada, who would make a strong business case for not continuing with operations which were not essential to the company.
I know that subsequent to newspaper reports, the Premier issued a retraction. However, there is something called a tape recorder which has been very difficult on politicians who try to indicate that they're misquoted.
My concern was that when the Premier was there, he lectured certain people about the fact that you have to face reality, that jobs are gone, that corporations are losing money and that they have to make these major changes, and, "Don't you understand that?" The Premier is not alone in that. I certainly don't place the onus on him alone. There are many people. He's echoing what many, particularly in the business community, are saying.
Someone once referred to it -- I don't know why the terminology; someone might tell me someday -- as crackpot realism that we see. They referred to that once in another context and I didn't know whether that was particularly unflattering or not. There was this kind of realism that is put before us.
But what it does, it seems to me, is that it gives a message to General Motors that the Ontario government may be prepared to throw in the towel; that is, to accept the fact that General Motors has some difficult decisions to make and that therefore they would be accepted. I'm sure the Premier would not want it to be portrayed that way. I'm sure that's not the message he wanted to get out to the industry itself. I simply talk about it as a consequence when the Premier of a province makes this kind of concession publicly.
He might well make it privately to people he's trying to motivate to move in different directions, but a public declaration of that kind, unfortunately, has the effect on General Motors. It's not necessarily the overwhelming effect, but it's one of the factors they'll take into consideration. So I hope that is well behind us now and that we're moving in a different direction.
I'm part of this coalition, as I mentioned, and it's supported by all the local members who joined in a conference we had at the CAW hall in St Catharines last year, and there have been subsequent meetings and conferences under the auspices of the regional government and other organizations. There is no question that communities such as the one I represent are in need of some kind of financial assistance that senior levels of government can provide.
For those of us who represent the Niagara region, it's been difficult over the years to make the case. Unfortunately, senior levels of government -- I'm talking now of the federal and provincial governments -- have looked upon the St Catharines-Niagara area, despite our unemployment figures, as being part of the Golden Horseshoe, an area which has been rich in financing and rich in industry and has created a lot of jobs. But as all of us who represent the Niagara region know, we have been perhaps the tarnished end economically of the Golden Horseshoe for some period of time.
What we all strive for is to get the recognition of senior levels of government that our part of the province is in need of some special assistance that would be helpful in rejuvenating it, revitalizing it, bringing back the economic base that was there at one time.
Again, though I see some problems with the legislation, I am hopeful, and I want to be hopeful and optimistic, that at least some of the initiatives that might be forthcoming from this may have a small impact on my community. Several small impacts can be positive for a community such as mine.
I know, however, that when we talk about new money -- I recognize as well as anyone that there isn't a lot of new money out there. I make that case to a lot of people and it's not easy for an opposition person to make that case to people. The easy, political thing to do, and I've watched it over the years -- did I watch it over the years -- from others who have said that the government should spend more money on this and that. I've made the case to people who ask for it, "Are you (a) prepared to pay more money, (b) prepared to see another service cut, or (c) prepared to see the government borrow more money?"
I simply note that where we want to bring in municipalities as partners, they're going to be strained for more cash because the provincial government is not going to provide the anticipated amount of funding for this year in terms of conditional and unconditional grants, because the province has bailed out of several areas for financial reasons, just as the federal government has bailed out of several areas for financial reasons.
It's going to be more difficult for the local municipalities to find those funds to participate in these initiatives as they might have hoped to do. Now, a rebound of the economy may be helpful in that regard. As I indicated earlier this week in the House, one of my concerns about the rebound in the economy is that it will be held back, if not stopped -- I prefer to think perhaps held back than stopped -- by several significant tax increases, some of which came into effect on July 1 of this year.
I also want to deal with an issue, and it's less of an issue in this particular case, of who controls the money and who is on these agencies, boards and commissions and what axe they have to grind. I think it's going to be important to have the right people on this, people who have the interest of the community, who have good business sense, because there's no use throwing money at a bad project.
Yes, you have to be, I guess, a bit less cautious than the banks and, heaven knows, the banks aren't noted for providing much in the way of risk capital unless it's for very rich people or rich corporations. I sometimes think the federal House of Commons has a minefield there to deal with if it could ever get at banks. That would be something I'd be very interested in some day, getting at the fact that the banks don't lend a lot of money out at certain times.
If you're operating a clothing store at this time and everybody says, "Isn't it nice the rates are low?" just try to get any money out of the banks when the rates are low. They're happy to lend the money to you when the rates are high; not so happy to lend the money to you when the rates are low. We see very low inventory in businesses such as clothing businesses. Sometimes those people think that at least they can get the money when there are high interest rates, not that they're asking for them.
All of this financing is going to be quite difficult. There's not a lot of money out there and there's not a lot of confidence in investment in a lot of areas, and that includes Ontario for a variety of reasons. I don't want to get into the partisan end of that; just to leave it at that. There's not a lot of confidence in investing in many areas in this country and Ontario is one of them.
I want to get back to the point of the control of elected people as opposed to the control of non-elected people. It's a trend I'm seeing all over, I must say, and Ontario is certainly no exception there.
I mentioned on the OTAB legislation, again, an enviable goal, people working hard on that, trying to get retraining going -- but there we see a 22-person board which has an awful lot of power, and it's in the interests of the people of this province and certainly in the interests of the members of this Legislature to have as much control as possible over policy, over programs, over practical -- well, not so much over practical, day-to-day decisions, but the setting of the policy and the financing.
I see governments all over, and this government is certainly moving in that direction, putting things off to crown agencies over which you have not much control. There's a lot of money out there being controlled by those crown agencies. There are a variety of reasons for doing that. Some of the reasons are quite positive in terms of governments genuinely believe that certain corporations can function better than if something is a department of government. But there's another agenda there that we're all aware of and it's simply the agenda which says, "Let's get it off the central books and fob it off to various crown corporations and then it will look as though our deficit is lower."
I happen to believe it's more important for the elected people to control all of these things, all of these expenditures, than it is to have non-elected people doing so. I have noted in my 16 years and one month in this Legislature -- almost two months -- a diminishing of the role, a diminishing of the responsibility and a diminishing of the power of elected members of this assembly for a variety of reasons. One of them relates to the changes that have been made in terms of rules in the House, not simply the last change, but some of the other changes that have been made as well.
In addition to this, it is what we're talking about here this afternoon, and that is more and more the civil service taking control, the special agencies taking control and the political gurus who hang around every Premier's office -- regardless of what the party happens to be, and they all have them -- who want to have control over how things are spent.
I've said in the Legislature before, in the last couple of weeks and perhaps on other occasions, that we're the only people the population can get at. They can't get at others directly; they can have at least some influence on us. When they phone our constituency offices, when they write to us, when they encounter us on the street, we all bring back to our colleagues the dialogues which we engage in on those occasions. Sometimes, within a government caucus, they have the opportunity to get into full revolt with the cabinet and bring the cabinet into line, and that's happened with every party, I'm sure this party as well, and in opposition you get a chance to share those thoughts.
I hope in this particular case that the appointments that are made to the agencies or the boards, or the directors who control these expenditures, are responsible people to the public at large, as we are, as opposed to special-interest groups. That is something else that's happening in our democracy in North America: watching special-interest groups take control.
I used to listen to the statement, "You can't fight city hall." You know, sometimes city hall is right. Sometimes city hall is protecting the interests of the population at large. The person who has a particular problem with city hall may be right or may be wrong, but there's an assumption on the part of, say, the CBC, Sunday Morning or something like that, that those people are automatically right and that city hall is wrong, or that someone who has a grievance with the provincial government is right and the minister happens to be wrong. Sometimes the minister is right. In fact, often the minister is right and has to protect the general interests of the public. I think that's something that we as a Legislature are going to have to address in some time to come.
I want to deal with certain other aspects of this bill. Again, at the risk of sounding partisan -- and that's always a risk in this Legislature, although it was never anything that held anybody else back over the years -- I will just express the hope that the money isn't doled out to friends and sympathizers of the government. I think that if the boards are properly composed, that won't happen.
We get these faxes every day in our constituency offices -- why, I don't know -- on all the Jobs Ontario grants that are given out, and I'll tell you, when I look at some of the allocations in that regard, if they aren't friends of the government getting some allocations, I'd be very surprised. But there are a lot of good allocations as well, so it would be unfair to simply characterize the whole program that way.
But I think that's important. You have to watch out for those things, that governments -- plural, generically speaking -- don't simply reward their friends and their supporters with something that isn't very economically viable.
It's hard for the Minister of Environment, for instance -- and let me tell you what the Minister of Environment has to wrestle with -- to deal with some of the great ideas people have to save the environment. Again, you can get the public pressure on. I remember being in a major clash with somebody who was in the oil refining business, and the person certainly managed to get vengeance on me on one occasion by lying on national television, but that happens from time to time, I guess, when you're confronted with these situations.
It's easy to throw money at some of these projects which sound good, but you always have to remember that it's the taxpayers' money you're throwing at these projects, and if they don't have a good business plan -- you don't hear me get up in the House and condemn the government when it doesn't finance some of these bizarre initiatives that are brought forward, because there are some bizarre ones, and they come to the opposition and say, "You know, the government is missing a grand opportunity." Well, having had an opportunity to serve in government for over five years, I know that some of those opportunities aren't as good for the taxpayer at large or the province as they might be, so I'm sympathetic when ministers are confronted publicly with this, and I admire them when they don't simply throw money at it. Financial circumstances today hardly allow a minister to throw money at anything any more, so I guess that's one option that's diminishing.
I want to also deal with -- and it may not be so much in this bill, but it's bordered on in this bill -- municipal incentives. There are a lot of municipalities, probably including my own, which have proponents of allowing municipalities, as they do in the United States, to be able to offer great deals to businesses and industries to come into their area.
I'm opposed to that. I know that goes against what a lot of people think, but the only loser in that regard is the taxpayer, because the competition gets very, very great. As that competition increases, with the tax incentives that are provided, either taking away the tax altogether or providing great infrastructure and so on, that just becomes a bidding war, and the only winners are the people who are running those companies and nobody else. I suppose there's a spinoff effect, but there's a great price to be paid, and remember who has to pick up the slack: When somebody's not paying taxes, somebody else has to pay taxes. So I hope the government isn't contemplating letting municipalities get into a bidding war with one another and, even more difficult, a bidding war with the United States for industries. I would just hope the United States would abandon that, as opposed to those of us in Ontario moving in that direction.
There was mention this afternoon of the agriculture business, and that's high-risk, but there's an area where I think there's some opportunity for people. We often think of agriculture as somehow not an industry or not a business, that it's somehow different: It's called farming and it's something different. Well, in fact of course it's a major industry in this province and has been for years. It's a business. A person running a farm is running a business, and it seems to me that if we can assist businesses in maintaining their operations or initiating new operations, we are doing something positive for the province.
I happen to believe that it is not our responsibility to feed the people of Ontario alone, or indeed the people of this country alone; that we who have the benefit of good agricultural land, of some favourable climatic conditions, of some excellent farmers, of some equipment which has allowed us to be very competitive and productive, should be providing food for other parts of the world. It is good for business, quite obviously: You're able to sell that food. But also, I think it is a bit of a moral responsibility we have to our fellow women and men across this globe, so I'm pleased that mention has been made of the possibility of some agricultural businesses being able to take advantage of the provisions of this bill.
When we get into Planning Act amendments -- I looked at these, and they appear to be pretty innocuous. I'm always very cautious about Planning Act amendments. There are many people out there, I'm sure, who would like to fire some darts in my direction for doing that, because there's a very strong lobby out there to bulldoze government aside, particularly the Ministry of Environment. If you want to see them sharpening their knives, just watch the coalition of people, who often try to use environmental names or community-sounding names, out to elbow aside the Ministry of Environment.
The Ministry of Environment's obligations are to protect not only the immediate circumstances that people will be living in but the long-term situation facing people. I have watched pressure being put on the Ministry of the Environment to rush through approvals. There's not so much of that now because we're in a pretty deep recession, but when times were booming, I can tell you there was an awful lot of pressure and an awful lot of annoyance with the Ministry of the Environment.
But it seems to me that many of these planning mechanisms are there for good reason. I watch with interest the assault now on the Niagara Escarpment Commission, for instance. A lot of enemies of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and what it's stood for over the years are mounting a major offence against it. I hope the government will stand up against that offence.
I was a bit disappointed that Mr Sewell, in his commission, did not deal with the Niagara Escarpment Commission. He was before the government agencies committee and indicated on that occasion that it really wasn't within his mandate. But with the thinking that he has on that commission, I would have been encouraged if he and his fellow commissioners had in fact made some specific comments, because the five-year review plan which took place within the Niagara Escarpment Commission certainly didn't offer me optimism that the reviewing officers were particularly sympathetic to maintaining the integrity of the Niagara Escarpment. I know there are a lot of municipal people who are unhappy with that. I notice that there's an opportunity for municipalities to have more power, and in some cases they have the wherewithal and the concern.
Whether you like the government that's in power at any specific time or not, one thing about the province is that it's objective. Local municipalities are not. In many municipalities there are people at the local level who would like to pave every last centimetre of the land, and they'd say that's progress: "Here we are, we don't have development on this five inches of land. Let's get some development in there. Let's bulldoze something down."
I think the provincial government is less subject to the kind of pressures that are faced by local governments, and that's why I'm always a bit queasy when I see the provincial government yielding to local governments more powers within the planning decisions. If there are official plans, if there are provincial statements that are there and the option for the province to intervene, I suppose that can be helpful, because it means the province doesn't have to hire as many employees to deal with the various applications that come before it. But I do want to share with members of the Legislature a concern that we could see a weakening of that.
I've mentioned in the House Project X, which some of you, when you were running as candidates, may have remembered. Certainly the Globe and Mail and the CBC and others were very interested in this at one time. It was a potential catastrophe when the cell within the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, the Ministry of Finance -- if they are watching this -- I doubt it; they must have better things to do, but if they're watching this, they would resent the word "cell," but that's exactly what it is, a cell within the Ministry of Treasury and Economics that is there to make sure that the Ministry of Environment doesn't spoil the economy of the province; and their desire to listen to certain people who have a vested interest in bulldozing over the planning rules in this province and speeding everything up because that will be progress, because that will be economic vitality for the province. There's a group within that ministry which is interested in that, and other ministries of this government.
I was very saddened because I thought, of all governments, an NDP government would resist that. I had more confidence, frankly, because that's the kind of issue that the NDP has fought for. Certainly in opposition they were very, very strong in fighting Project X. But I saw an announcement made by the Minister of Municipal Affairs at the time, Dave Cooke as opposed to Ed Philip -- I use their names because I want to differentiate between them -- an announcement that in effect seemed to me to be the implementation of project X. Then I see the water corporation taking over and that leaving the Ministry of Environment, where there are at least some controls.
I simply alert members of the Legislature to that possibility, particularly the government backbenchers or frontbenchers who are not in the cabinet. I don't like that terminology. To the government members who are not in the cabinet, I particularly alert those people to keep the cabinet on its toes. The cabinet listens a lot to civil servants, many great people there who make some excellent recommendations, and to political gurus -- if that's the plural of guru. They listen to those people. A lot of the recommendations which are made nobody knows about.
You have to look at their ramifications, if I can just give one. I appreciate the Speaker's indulgence of my wandering a bit on this, but if I can speak of one, it would be where people want to build on old dump sites or next to old dump sites. Everybody says: "Oh, that's great. There's no problem, no methane gas." Then of course there's a big problem that arises and millions of dollars have to be spent to rectify those problems. I can think of one particularly in Durham where that was a circumstance. You end up hoeing the soil out and so on when people are allowed to build on dumps or next to dumps.
So the Ministry of Environment isn't being difficult just to be mean or just to exercise power; it is doing it to defend the environmental interests of the province. I hope when these changes are made that they don't represent a beginning of the end of provincial control and power in this field, that it isn't simply a yielding to the municipalities for three reasons: first, to make the development industry happy, because of course the development industry can produce a lot of jobs; second, to make municipal politicians happy; and third because it's a good way of not having to spend money.
I would normally be critical of a fee structure I see in here because I would see it as another tax. The only reason I'm not critical of it in this particular instance when the province applies those is that it allows the province to get some revenues in so that it's allowed to have sufficient staff to deal with various matters, particularly approvals and environmental assessment. While nobody likes those, and I don't like them either, at least I can express an understanding of why governments would want to have those, because there will be people who directly benefit from development. Those people will have to invest some of their money -- not too much, I hope, but some of their money -- in helping to pay for those officials who will carefully scrutinize, I would hope, each and every plan that comes forward.
I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this. I hope it will be helpful to the Niagara region, if I can be parochial on this occasion, the Hamilton-Niagara area. I hope it will produce jobs, allow areas to diversify in terms of their economics; without forgetting the existing industries are there, allow them to diversify. I hope it will provide some source of optimism to well-meaning people within a community who believe that they can come forward with an idea that can receive some financing that might not otherwise be available from the banks.
Mr White: Just a couple of brief comments in response to my colleague's queries in regard to the amendments to the Planning Act. There are a number of amendments to the Planning Act that are included in this legislation. They are quite -- I shouldn't say numerous, but there are almost a dozen of them. They are an attempt, I believe, to speed up the process in terms of referral of matters to the Ontario Municipal Board: what is referred, how these things are dealt with. I think my friend will acknowledge that while there are some endeavours and some efforts to speed things up, there is not a substantive abrogation of people's rights or of the rights of environmental concerns. It is a matter really of making government work better.
There is the issue, for example, of the Ontario Municipal Board, which can make decisions on consents for minor variances without going through a full process. There is a request that municipalities forward appeals to the OMB within a period of some 15 days. So the process is sped up to some degree. The Ontario Municipal Board can also partially approve zoning bylaws. For those parts of the bylaws that are not under appeal, not under scrutiny, those portions can be approved. So those areas can be dealt with and development can occur.
These issues I don't think are in much contention and I think are all strongly recommended by the provincial facilitator, who has done an excellent job, I believe, in speeding up some significant areas of development, including even in my friend's area in Niagara region.
The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to make a response.
Mr Bradley: I guess what I find a bit amusing is to hear Dale Martin's name mentioned as a facilitator. I think Dale Martin made his reputation in Metropolitan Toronto and the city of Toronto by stalling developments and blocking developments. So I suppose it was perhaps a stroke of genius to appoint Dale to this particular position, outside of the fact he's a supporter of the New Democratic Party, because he's figured out every possible way there is to block any developments. So perhaps he would be able to assist municipalities in that regard.
The member is correct in assuming that my concerns are not so much about what I see contained here in terms of the changes in the Planning Act, because a quick glance at them makes them look pretty innocuous; what I was concerned about was that you'll find this in this bill, and if you keep finding these changes in a variety of bills, you'll find that things will move very quickly but they may not move in the best interests of the environment.
I think that planned development, effectively controlled development, well-thought-out development, is very helpful to our province, but I must tell you that when I go down the Queen Elizabeth Way from Toronto to St Catharines and back, I see something that I don't consider to be progress, when I look at a number of businesses which have now taken over all the farm land all the way around. It used to be a beautiful sight and it used to be a very lucrative business in terms of farming. I look now at warehousing, which produces very little in the way of jobs and not very much in the way of a beautiful sight out there. So I hope we don't go headlong in the opposite direction in trying to accommodate the development industry in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Does the honourable member for Durham Centre wish to make a concluding remark?
Mr White: A very short concluding note, and that is simply to thank my colleagues for their support and interest in this legislation, which I think is very important and innovative. It will be a major tool in terms of facilitating community economic development. It will allow municipalities to participate in a way in which they have never been able to before. It will allow funds to become available for micro-business, for people who are presently unemployed to get themselves on to their feet and at work. It will allow some important investment in their futures. It also allows for small and medium-sized businesses to receive some equity shares and for full participation in community development, community planning, community strategizing.
These are things which I look forward to discussing in committee with my colleagues. There are also, as my friend from St Catharines noted, some amendments to the Planning Act. They are pretty well innocuous, as he mentioned, and they will also be discussed to some degree in committee.
The Acting Speaker: Mr White, on behalf of the minister, has moved second reading of Bill 40.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr White: I move that the bill be referred to the standing committee on general government.
The Acting Speaker: The bill has been ordered for the committee on general government.
PUBLIC SERVICE STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LA FONCTION PUBLIQUE
Mr Charlton moved third reading of Bill 169, An Act to amend the Public Service Act and the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act / Loi modifiant la Loi sur la fonction publique et la Loi sur la négociation collective des employés de la Couronne.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): Does the honourable minister have some opening remarks?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Yes, I do, Mr Speaker. Thank you, and I'll be very brief.
Bill 169 essentially serves two main purposes. First, it confirms that the government of Ontario has the sole responsibility to decide who is a crown employee, a public servant or a civil servant. It will specifically prevent third- party tribunals from assigning government employee status to employees of transfer agencies.
Secondly, the legislation ensures that the government will continue to be able to manage responsibly the growth and cost of the public service in this province. This will eliminate the confusion and large costs that can occur when tribunals declare public sector workers to be direct government employees.
The issue of government having the ability to determine who is the employer is a long-standing one. In the past, a number of quasi-judicial tribunals have declared employees in the broader public sector to be direct employees of the provincial government. More recently, employees in some public sector agencies were forced to seek rulings from the pay equity tribunal that they were provincial government employees for the purpose of gaining access to pay equity.
Bill 102, An Act to amend the Pay Equity Act, which became law on July 1, 1993, contains complementary amendments to Bill 169. Bill 102 extends pay equity to an estimated 420,000 women in the broader public and private sectors. By introducing the two new methods of job comparison, this bill will eliminate the need for public sector employees to seek government-as-employer declarations, as they're only a means of achieving non-discriminatory pay rates.
It is true, and I acknowledge, that some unions have concerns about this legislation, Bill 169, and we have made sincere efforts to meet those concerns. One of the most cited objections to Bill 169 was the fear that it could create a class of public sector employees who would be denied the right to organize and bargain collectively under either the Ontario Labour Relations Act or the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act. The reforms to CECBA recently introduced in Bill 49 include a clause that formally states that the Ontario Labour Relations Act binds the crown. This is a further clarification that the employees who are not considered crown employees under CECBA will have access to the provisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Act.
Bill 169 does not take away rights from public sector workers. It does, however, recognize the responsibility of government to control the size and the cost of the public service in this province.
Similarly, this legislation will not remove women's access to pay equity. Instead, Bill 169 and Bill 102, which through a large part of the legislative process we dealt with as a package, recognize that access to pay equity should be extended to as many women as possible in a fair and equitable manner and not through the mechanism of a legal loophole.
The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments. Seeing none, further debate.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): As the critic of Management Board, I've had carriage of Bill 169 since it was tabled for first reading in December 1991. At the time when it was presented for second reading approval in principle I supported the legislation in principle because of the need for government to be able to designate and to manage.
Although I supported it in principle at that time, I said very clearly that I would have preferred to have seen this issue dealt with as part of reforms to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act. I am persuaded that Bill 169 as it stands today, with the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act before us in the form of Bill 49, suggests that Bill 169 should not go forward in its present form alone, that in fact this is not a piece of legislation that should be carried by the Chairman of Management Board and dealt with separately from the reforms of the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act. Bill 49 has carriage by the Minister of Labour, and that has added to tremendous confusion and upset by those people who follow legislative proceedings.
One of the things I have learned in the years that I've served in this Legislature -- it has been since 1985 -- is that lawmaking is a challenging task, the issues are often complex and we have a responsibility here in this Legislature to try and make sure that people understand what the problem is, what the remedies or the options are and why the government of the day has chosen the method of remedies that it has chosen. It's important in our democracy to make sure that as we change laws or make new laws people understand very clearly the need for those laws to be made and to be changed.
I was at the committee hearings for Bill 169, an act to amend the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, and I heard from every presenter who came forward who understood the implications of Bill 169 that while they acknowledged that there may be difficulties and problems, Bill 169 did not present the opportunity for debate on the issues that it raised that it should have.
Let me just elaborate for a moment. Because Bill 169 was a companion bill to Bill 102, it was presented under the guise of a package of pay equity reforms. I said at committee, I said during the second reading debate in this House and I repeat again -- and I would be pleased to note in the remarks from the Chair of Management Board that he has confirmed this -- that Bill 169 first and foremost, in its primary objective, has nothing whatever to do with pay equity. It has to do with the rights of the government, of the employer, to determine who is a crown employee.
That's what Bill 169 is about, and those are very important rights for employers and for managers within the government, but this is a very significant change from the history and the tradition of what has existed in Ontario for many years. When the minister says that this does not take away rights, I would argue with him that he is wrong, because it does change the rights of crown employees. This takes away the rights that crown employees have had to this point in time to argue before tribunals that they are in fact crown employees.
I believe, as I said during second reading, that the government must have the ability to manage and that the government must have the ability to determine who will and will not be a crown employee. I acknowledge that. But I stand here today in this House saying to the Chair of Management Board, to the Premier, Bob Rae, and to his NDP caucus that you have not gone about this change in a way which has instilled confidence, permitted debate, allowed openness or in fact even allowed the issues to be raised.
When the Chair of Management Board made his second point, the first being government's desire to determine who is and who is not a crown employee and be able to manage the size of the civil service, he went on to the second point and again referred to the result of other legislation which had permitted particularly women in the extended public sector to argue that for the purposes of pay equity they should be considered as crown employees.
But it was not just women; it was also ambulance workers. One of the most significant decisions, as I pointed out in this House before, was the McKechnie Ambulance decision. I would note that the government treated the ambulance workers very differently than it treated the child care workers.
This bill sends out a mixed message to crown employees and to broader public sector employees that really this government cannot be trusted, because it has said one thing, it has said that Bill 169 is about pay equity. It has said that Bill 169 does not take away rights, but in fact Bill 169 has very little to do with pay equity and Bill 169 does take away rights. While we did have public hearings on Bill 169, we had them in the context of the pay equity bill, Bill 102.
I would point out to the minister, as he stands and he says that Bill 102 extends pay equity to all those people who could have sought remedy under the existing legislation, that what Bill 102 did was extend pay equity beyond the mandate of this government; that what Bill 102 did was, in my view, diminish the law as it exists today and hold out the promise for the future -- some point in the future to be determined, although they've set a date.
But they've also set a precedent of delay. They've set a precedent of putting off into the future. I predict today that precedent will be one which this government, when it again has the opportunity perhaps to serve in opposition, will stand on this side of the House and criticize and realize that it had not served the interests of women in this province.
I'm most concerned about cynicism and alienation in our society today. Our democracy is really not working very well because people are not engaging and participating because they don't believe that they can really make a difference. I've been a member of this House since 1985 and I've had a lot of opportunities to influence public policy, to speak out on issues that I feel very strongly about.
I've always said to people that by participating, you can make a difference and you can influence. I told them how important it is to deal with their frustration and their anger and their cynicism by learning more about what's going on and taking the opportunities to be heard, whether it's through petitions, coming out to committees or meeting with their local member.
Do you know what I've been hearing, Mr Speaker, over and over the last few months, as people start to realize the approach that this NDP government has taken? How they use the word "fairness" over and over again, and yet many of the results of their initiatives and their policies are grossly unfair.
The other thing that does is it increases the level of cynicism, voter alienation, fear, and it decreases participation in democracy, because people lose heart. So I would stress again how very important it is for us here in this Legislature to be as open as we can be about what it is that the government is doing and why the opposition is taking the position that we are taking.
Over the last few months, I have seen so many examples. I can't think of any other word: We often use language which is considered unparliamentary because it arouses the other side. It provokes and creates a furore in this House. I'm not going to use this word to be provocative. I'm going to say that the public confidence is diminished when they believe the government is being sneaky, and Bill 169 is sneaky.
It is sneaky particularly because Bill 49 is on the order paper, and Bill 49 is the place where changes to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act should be discussed and debated in total. Bill 169 standing on its own does not do justice to the important public policy issue that it contains.
If this government were committed to openness and accountability, it would not move forward with Bill 169 today. There's no rush. We don't have to do this in the middle of the summer. This bill is retroactive to the date it was tabled. It could easily be incorporated in Bill 49 and allow for the full public debate and public discussion that these issues deserve, but sad to say, this government has not chosen to do so.
There are so many examples of Bob Rae and the NDP government doing things in a sneaky way. I'm going to give you another couple of examples, things that I'm really concerned about and that I've done what I can as a private member in this House to both bring to public attention and attempt to remedy.
Bill 29 is an omnibus bill and is called an act to amend the Commercial Concentration Tax Act and other amendments. What that bill does is it repeals the Commercial Concentration Tax, but it also allows for intrusionary powers and changes to the Ontario drug benefit plan. The front of the bill doesn't even mention the Ontario drug benefit plan. The bill is not carried by the Minister of Health; it's carried by the Minister of Finance.
The bill -- I'm now referring to Bill 29 -- under the guise of attempting to get everybody to vote for the repeal of a piece of tax legislation that I believe should've been repealed two years ago, and I have been very supportive of having that tax repealed -- under that guise, to sneak through major changes without debate to the Ontario drug benefit program, in my view, is sneaky. I can tell you, as the critic responsible, that until I sat down and read through the whole bill from front to end, I did not know the changes to the Ontario drug benefit plan were there.
When the Minister of Finance got up and made his remarks upon tabling Bill 29, he didn't mention those changes. The Minister of Health never said it was coming. That does not serve democracy well.
I'll give you another example. Bill 30 contains a number of changes -- again, it is an omnibus bill -- to the provincial Retail Sales Tax Act. One of those changes is the repeal of the $5 tire tax. I happen to believe that's a good initiative at this point in time. I think the consciousness of the consumer has been raised. Funds have been raised to fund projects for recycling of old tires. The reality is that while it is still a problem, the rationale for the tax and the timing has changed, and so repeal of that tax is a good thing. But because the government has been sneaky and included the repeal of the tire tax in a host of amendments to the Retail Sales Tax Act, what it means is that along with voting for the repeal of one act, of one tax, you would have to support changes that would increase sales tax for premiums on auto insurance and other things which are not in the interest of the people of the province of Ontario at this time.
I've said in this House before that I do not believe this is the time, as we are hoping to see recovery pick up steam, to be taking more money out of the economy in the form of new taxes, and so I saw Bill 29 and Bill 30 as sneaky legislation.
There has been a lot of debate and we've seen the social contract, Bill 48, already passed into law, and we've heard from so many ministers and from the Premier in answers to questions about how fair this piece of legislation was going to be. We know that sameness doesn't equal fairness. We know that as that legislation is implemented, people are suffering unduly because of the complexity. We know that it is not going to achieve the government's objectives and that it is very unfair and draconian legislation. Yes, that legislation is sneaky because it purports to do something that it cannot and will not do.
We see the auto insurance bill, which was passed in this House over the objections of my colleagues in the official opposition, Bill 164, yet another example of very sneaky legislation.
Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): Is that the $200 one?
Mrs Caplan: That's the one. My constituents are telling me they already believe the insurance premiums are too high, and here you have a government that has brought in legislation which is going to increase the cost to the individual consumer, plus they added 5% provincial sales tax to the cost of auto insurance, and so we see those rates go up. What they've done when they did all this was to suggest that this met the commitment on auto insurance that they had made in the summer of 1990. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
I cite these examples to point out to you why I believe the public is cynical, why I believe they are frustrated, why I believe they are angry, disillusioned and feeling a sense of betrayal, because even when there is a legitimate initiative, even when there is a real problem that could be addressed in a proper and legitimate way, even when the government has a public policy objective which is deserving of their time and attention and debate, they go about it in a way which throws the whole issue into disrespect and ill repute because of the way they have gone about addressing it.
In response to that, to what I heard at committee from every presenter who came forward and spoke on Bill 169, everyone said, "Withdraw this bill." Everyone said this bill should not go forward because it has much broader implications than simply pay equity. I agree this bill has much broader implications for the civil service and I believe the issues in this bill are worthy and deserving of debate. We have not had that debate. We have not had that debate in this House and we have not had that debate at committee, because everyone was focusing their attention on the issue of pay equity and not on the issues of who should be considered a crown employee and what powers the government should have in determining crown employee status.
I will not be supporting Bill 169, out of protest for the process that the government has chosen and the sneakiness; the government has attempted to hide what it is doing in this legislation.
I hope there will be others who will come forward and understand that the government has done a grave disservice to its own employees and to those in the broader public sector, its so-called social contract partners, the people it wants to come to the table and work with it and cooperate with it, at the same time as it has done this without proper public debate and proper public discussion.
Especially, the government cannot argue that there would not be an opportunity or that this was a simple amendment. They cannot argue that, because Bill 49 is on the order paper. It was tabled June 14, 1993, and it is comprehensive changes and amendments to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act.
The fact that this piece of legislation, Bill 49, is before us, yet to be dealt with, yet to have second reading debate, yet to have public hearings at committee, suggests that there is no urgency to move forward and ram through Bill 169 today. The government doesn't have to do this. Let me repeat: Bill 169 does not have to be dealt with today. It could be dealt with in conjunction with Bill 49, where people would have an opportunity to understand how the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act is going to be changed.
If this government were interested in fairness, it would combine Bill 169 and Bill 49 and deal with those issues together at committee. They would allow their own employees and those in the broader public sector to come forward at committee and discuss the implications of the changes to Bill 49. They would give them the opportunity to discuss what rights are appropriate and what rights are creating problems in the government and its ability to manage the civil service.
If they wanted to be fair and have the kind of public debate that would lead to better public policy, they would hold off on Bill 169 until Bill 49 had been dealt with by this House. Bill 49 is on the order paper, scheduled for second reading within the next few days. So I don't understand why the government refuses to listen to those people who are saying, like myself, that there may be a problem. I accept that, but you can deal with this in a way which is open and aboveboard, which will instill confidence and which will treat your own employees, and those who'd like to be your employees, with respect.
That would be fair. The process that this government, this NDP government of Bob Rae, who speaks of fairness at every opportunity -- what this tells me is that he does not understand fair, he is not interested in fair; that he is going to have his way, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead, my way or the highway. That's Bob Rae, and that's what he says. Every time I hear him say "fair," my skin begins to crawl, because so much of what he is doing is so unfair, and people are just beginning to realize how he has betrayed his principles, how he has betrayed the people of this province.
I'm not going to speak any further. Bill 169 is a very simple piece of legislation. What it says very clearly is that the government can decide by fiat, by order in council, who is and who is not entitled to the protections of crown employee status. That's really what it says.
By a simple stroke of the pen at the cabinet table, crown employees can have their rights taken away; crown employees can be determined no longer to be crown employees. They're worried about that, and justifiably so.
I would point out to this government that legislation like this in the hands of other governments in the future could be used in ways you have not contemplated, and that is simply because you have not had the appropriate debate and the thoughtfulness and the discussion. To those of you on the government benches who purport to be concerned about workers and employees in the broader public sector, I would suggest that you think twice about what you are doing, because Bill 169 is a very powerful tool in the hands of the executive council and the Premier. With the stroke of a pen, they can decide whether or not an employee is a crown employee.
I don't believe that the changes to Bill 102 or the changes to Bill 49 enhance or protect or negate any of the changes that come in Bill 169, but my biggest criticism of this bill is that it has not had debate, its implications have not been considered. There was no one who came forward and supported this legislation in its present form. It is anti-worker, it is anti-democratic, it is downright sneaky, and it is unworthy of any government in the province of Ontario, especially today in this summer of 1993.
I will be leading my caucus in opposition to this bill to protest the method the government has chosen to march over the rights of public service workers.
The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments on the member for Oriole's participation?
Mr George Mammoliti (Yorkview): I feel somewhat compelled again to stand up on this. I stand because, in a way, I take some ownership of this piece of legislation.
In my experience prior to election in 1990, I confronted one of the leaders of the Liberals at that time, the Treasurer, Mr Nixon, with a number of my colleagues within the labour movement and talked a lot about what's in this piece of legislation. I can remember some discussions I had with that individual that weren't too pleasant. I can tell you that this piece of legislation deals with a lot of the concerns that might be out there at this point. The Treasurer at that time didn't have very nice comments to make to a number of us who went to see him. I wanted to get that on record because, to me, this is very important.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I just would like to say that of course we will be voting against this bill also. In commenting on the member for Oriole's comments, it's very interesting when you have a bill that, as this does: "amends the Public Service Act and the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act to provide that individuals become public servants, civil servants and crown employees only by an expressed appointment as such. Only employees of designated crown agencies will be eligible to be crown employees."
And then it goes on to say, "The bill enables the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations designating those crown agencies whose employees are eligible to be considered crown employees." It gets back to the actual wording where we refer to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, which of course is the cabinet.
So here we are giving the cabinet a tremendous amount of power, and at the moment it's very significant, because this is the same cabinet that is expanding the civil service in this province and in fact is taking the civil service, up into management and middle- and upper-management positions, into unions for the first time in this province, which is of great concern to those of us who realize that the greater the power of unions in this province, the greater the loss to the public as a whole. The fact that 33% of the workforce today is unionized is very significant when you look at the direction this government in fact would take the rest of the province, and this act is just a further tool for them to have control over the people who work here.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Oriole has two minutes in response.
Mrs Caplan: I listened very carefully to the member for Yorkview, and I don't think he is aware of what this piece of legislation has to say, because this legislation has nothing to do with any discussions that he would have had with the former Treasurer, Mr Nixon. For him, let me tell him what this legislation has to say.
This legislation is about who is and is not designated a crown employee under the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, and I would say to him that this is a very simple piece of legislation. It has very little to do with pay equity. It has broad-ranging and sweeping powers where the cabinet of Ontario can decide, for the purposes of the protections offered to crown employees, whether or not those rights will be given or whether those rights will be taken away. This is a very powerful tool.
I see the Attorney General shaking her head. I honestly do not believe that the members of the cabinet understand the implications and the precedent that this legislation establishes.
I have to tell you that you will at some point in the future remember this day when we in the future see crown employees who potentially have their rights stripped away, where the government of the day, whoever that government is -- and if it's a right-wing Conservative government, God help us. You've given them the tools to treat employees in a way I would not want to see any employee treated, the stripping away of rights. So you had better realize what you are doing as you pass this legislation, and I will not be supporting it.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): The stated goal of this bill is that the government has introduced these amendments to ensure that it can keep control over the growth and cost of the government's payroll, certainly a laudable objective.
The difficulties that I have with it are that there is the potential here for the government to try a giant shell game. We know they're quite adept at this kind of thing, and as we move towards the next election I suspect that they are going to use this to claim that they have reduced the size of the civil service, a civil service which I would say was massively increased in size by the previous Liberal government. The NDP inherited a very difficult situation in the sense that the Liberals had expanded the civil service at an absolutely unheard-of rate. They added some 9,000 civil servants, direct employees of the crown -- civil servants, not the broader public sector -- within just a five-year period: this at the time that everywhere in the world companies were reducing the size of their workforce because they were embracing technology and making sure that they were the most efficient, but the Liberal government decided to increase.
The NDP have not demonstrated any management ability to be able to significantly affect the size of the civil service, and in fact they have brought more people in, and what they have done is they have politicized the civil service to a degree which the Liberals, in fairness to them, did not do. They brought in some of their appointments. That's fair enough; that will happen with any political party. But this government has brought in huge numbers of people specifically because of their political affiliation.
We only have to look at the head of the civil service, somebody who ran the NDP election. Then, after he worked in the Premier's office, they moved him over to head the civil service. There's no doubt about it. He has to go when this government is thrown out of office, presumably in 1995. But the NDP will undoubtedly try and use this legislation to show that they have downsized the government by saying of people, "No, they're not really crown employees."
They have also, at the same time, moved on creating these various crown corporations. We have the Ontario Realty Corp, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, the Ontario Transportation Capital Corp and the Ontario Financing Authority. They created a new class of crown corporations which ensured that those people who were moved over from the civil service into these crown corporations would in fact enjoy all of the benefits of being government employees and all of the protection that implies, but they are trying to get them off the books so that it looks as though, presto, they've reduced the size of the civil service. We will make sure that the electorate remembers this.
But what I would say to the government is that it should be addressing themselves to the more serious task of really fixing the problems. I hear from my friends across the floor every time we have a debate of, oh, how other governments have created these problems and how they are so lily white. Fine, if that's what you believe. You have an opportunity today to move on these particular issues and to prove to the public that you really have solved them, but don't engage in shell games.
I've spoken about the massive increase in the civil service under the Liberals. Why do you want to bless that? Move and make sensible reductions, and make the civil service more efficient. I do believe that there was some merit in what the member for Oriole said in her debate, and that was that the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, Bill 49, and this bill should in truth be combined. That would not be inconsistent with what you have been doing in terms of combining bills. In fact, it would be a lot more intellectually honest than what you have been doing, in the sense that there are many omnibus bills that you have brought in. The perfect example is the Ontario drug benefit plan which was snuck in on Bill 29, a bill which is titled an act to eliminate the commercial concentration tax.
I have to give this government a compliment. They have been the very best in terms of creative titling of bills, because all other parties have a lot to learn from this government. If you cloak something in a motherhood name, it's very hard to vote against it, because it is very hard for the public to understand why you would vote against something which seems quite appropriate.
I mean, who would want to vote against the elimination of the commercial concentration tax? I myself pleaded with the Treasurer on many occasions to eliminate the commercial concentration tax, but lo and behold, when you read through the bill, they have snuck in the fact that you are going to take away drug benefits to seniors in that same bill. Surprisingly, very surprisingly, there was no allusion to that fact, which was probably the most important part of the bill, in the title of the bill. The bill spoke about, in its title, an act to eliminate the commercial concentration tax.
That's what this government has been doing. It's been combining bills, but quite frankly, they're a hodgepodge that bear no relationship to one another and have overtones of what happens in the US political system where a president is presented with a bill with a whole set of things that he wants and a whole lot of things that he doesn't want and the president is in the position that he has to veto a bill and send it back to Congress. That opens up a very, very dangerous precedent, if that is what this government intends to do.
I've no doubt the NDP will say, "Oh no, that's rubbish." But simply read the bills. Read the titles of the bills. Look at the content and look in your heart of hearts. Can you seriously disagree with the fact that that is what you're doing? So why would it be incompatible to bring together the guts of this bill with Bill 49 so that a reasonable discussion of that can be held?
The danger we see in this bill is that with pay equity the government has exempted itself for a period of time to comply with pay equity. They've moved it off conveniently to when the next government is in power. I don't believe anybody in this House disagrees with the concept of pay equity, but why on earth does this government find itself in the position that it says, "Oh, we want to push off the payment of pay equity until a point after the next election," when it is not allowing corporations, which are in equally dire circumstances, to do that? If it's good for the private sector, why then is it not good for the public sector? That is one of the great dangers contained in this bill and one of the reasons I and my party will be voting against it.
I just want to, in conclusion, turn to that great document which will live in the annals of infamy called the NDP's Agenda for People, which was its manifesto in the last election. If you want to read along with me, turn to page 4, under pay equity. This might interest you.
I'll just quote from it, the bottom of page 4, pay equity -- and my Liberal friends will be interested in this. It says: "The Liberal pay equity bill, passed in June 1987 excludes hundreds of thousands of women -- many of whom, such as garment workers and child care workers, are among the lowest-paid workers in the province."
Let's just reflect on that for a moment. You remember just recently the government said it was going to exempt anybody under the so-called social contract from any reductions in their pay if they earned less than $30,000 a year. Remember that, Mr Speaker? I'm sure you do because I know you follow these things very carefully. Well, lo and behold, they haven't really exempted those people. They criticized in their election platform the fact that the Liberals had excluded "hundreds of thousands of women -- many of whom, such as garment workers and child care workers, are among the lowest-paid workers in the province."
With this Bill 169, they get to designate who is a government employee and through their other bills they have exempted themselves from paying pay equity to their own employees until after the next election, until the next government's in. And do you know something? I've got a kind of suspicion that they know they won't be the government, because we've seen in many of their actions that they are deferring a whole bunch of problems for the next government.
We've already seen, for example, that with car licences -- they have moved recently to a six-year car licence. Now, I'll tell you, that means that about a two-and-a-half-year window after the next government comes in there's going to be no revenue whatsoever, save and except for the people who are getting an automobile licence for the very first time in their life. In rough figures, that's about $80 million a year that the next government won't have.
But there is a quid pro quo. Yes, they won't have $80 million, but do you know what? They will have the pleasure of paying pay equity that this government is not paying to its own workers. This is the dishonesty of a government which put out a document called Agenda for People in the last election, which isn't worth the paper it was printed on. I raised it yesterday, and it was very interesting. One of their members said, "Oh, I never read it." Do you know what? I don't believe him. I don't believe him.
Let's go to the same section on pay equity. It says: "New Democrats would pass legislation that covers all women. The cost to the government of eliminating current exemptions is estimated to be $60 million."
Let's just turn to the bill that we have before us. Andy Todd, chief negotiator for OPSEU, estimated that it would cost Ontario at least half a billion dollars a year just to bring 10,000 to 15,000 transfer agency salaries up to par with the civil service. Now I think we've got it. We understand what the game is. They don't want to pay what they are expecting private business to pay.
The basic problem we have here is that we have a government which is populated by people who have no business experience. All they've done is they have been on receiving end. They've always been thinking up schemes: How can we suck a little more tax dollars out of corporations? We can remember, legion, the kind of comments about corporations not paying their fair share.
You know what? The Fair Tax Commission has pricked holes in all of their schemes. They've told them in essence that they're all wet with all of the things that they've said in the past. The government itself is now ignoring its own Fair Tax Commission, which they so carefully selected people to sit on. But do you know what? The results aren't coming in as they wanted, so they don't like it, so they're going to ignore it.
So what do they do? They continue on in their merry way. They grab future revenues from future governments for automobile licences. They don't pay pay equity to their own people. You can do that later.
With the social contract -- that's incredible. We have those people who will be designated essential services: people who, for example, work in such services as homes for the aged, where there is a proportion of the workers who must be on duty at all times. Those people cannot take holidays, the unpaid days off, the 12 per year, just as they wish because there wouldn't be enough staff. So what they will have to do is they will have to take those days off during their regularly scheduled holidays. That's very interesting because what it does, once again, is it defers the payment for those holidays until -- get this -- March 31, 1996.
Do you know, Mr Speaker -- you'll really be surprised -- that's after the expiration of this government's mandate. In other words, we see a pattern. We see a pattern of grab any revenues you can now and defer all of the problems till the next government is in. It will undoubtedly be either the PCs or the Liberals. I happen to think it's the PCs. I know my friends on the Liberal benches don't agree with me. That's fine. But either way, it will be a government that has to pick up the pieces and solve these problems that the government of the day now is creating.
Defer all of the costs and grab the revenues now, and with this legislation, they will claim that they've reduced the size of the civil service. That is not very intellectually honest, just like this document, Agenda for People, wasn't very intellectually honest. I think the authors of it should be hung, drawn and quartered. People are fed up, absolutely fed up, with lies.
Quite frankly, I think all parties should come forward with an agenda at the beginning of an election. It should clearly and concisely state all of their platform. It should be costed not by the party that is bringing it forward, but by an independent body. They should not be allowed to make one single promise after that and they should be expected to live substantially by the words of it.
Hon Richard Allen (Minister without Portfolio in Economic Development and Trade): You know a government has to change with the times. You know that economic circumstances change. You know it is necessary to have some flexibility in programming.
Mr Turnbull: Now this is very interesting. The former minister, he's now deputy minister, gets to keep his car and driver. They call it "car and driver" now. It used to be "limo and chauffeur" when they were in opposition, when they heckled both the Liberals and the Conservatives. Now they call it "car and driver." I'm not quite sure what the difference is. Maybe it's the colour of the car.
But he's heckling me. He thinks this would be a straightjacket. I'll tell you, former minister, now associate minister or whatever you're called, that you simply are ignoring what you have done. He is heckling me and saying, "The economic circumstances have changed."
Yes, they have changed. They acknowledged in their own document that we were going into a serious recession. They acknowledged it in the very document that I'm talking about. Notwithstanding that, they bought the electorate with its own money, which successive parties of all political stripes have done, and the electorate are sick to their back teeth. It is time we all woke up. It is not acceptable. Given the fact that you knew that you were going into a recession, it was reasonable to put forward a reasonable, balanced agenda. But they didn't.
They hate it when we bring this document out. I have never seen them more antsy than when we bring this document out, because this is a catalogue of lies.
I remember when Bob Rae, on the first day of the election, called the former Premier, David Peterson, a liar. Well, I wonder what people will be calling Mr Rae. I've got a suspicion, because I've already heard them saying it, but far be it from me to suggest what that word would be. But we are fed up with intellectual dishonesty, pushing off the problems to the future and grabbing all the revenue and trying to disguise it as being efficient and responsive to the needs of the economy.
Quite frankly, my friends, the international economic community isn't buying this. I'll tell you that unless you smarten up and make some real, serious changes to the way you're running the economy and not having a deficit of over $10 billion a year, there will be no uptake for your bonds and you won't be able to refinance your future. Do you remember that tape you saw at the beginning of the year about New Zealand? Fellows, it's happening here.
The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?
Mrs Marland: The member for York Mills talked about how this government has politicized the civil service in this province, and I just want to lay out very clearly the example which for all of us was a turning point in the history of this province.
We had in this province a particularly fine person as secretary to cabinet. Peter Barnes was secretary to cabinet when the Progressive Conservative Party was the government. He also made the transition to being secretary to cabinet under Premier David Peterson for the Liberal government. Peter Barnes is an exemplary civil servant. I think the very fact that he could make the transition from the Progressive Conservatives to the Liberals to the New Democratic Party government said more about Peter Barnes than anything I or anyone else in this House could say. Not knowing him well personally but knowing him from a professional basis, I always have admired Peter Barnes.
What this government did when they decided to appoint David Agnew, the Premier's personal campaign manager, to the position of secretary of cabinet was, for the first time in the history of this province, to politicize the highest post in the civil service in this province.
In order to do that, what did they do? They had to remove the Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. In order to remove Tim Armstrong, that deputy minister, they had to promise him a $300,000, two-year contract, without tender I might add. When he got his $1,000-a-day contract plus expenses, that actually --
Hon Mr Allen: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think the member is getting rather close to the involvement of neutral civil servants in the political debate in this House. I think she is attributing arguments and motives with respect to movement of personnel in the civil service about which she does not really know the facts.
The Acting Speaker: That's not really a point of order. There's very little time. The member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: The facts are that a deputy minister is now a private consultant with a $300,000-a-year contract which wasn't tendered. I need say no more.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for York Mills has two minutes in response.
Mr Turnbull: I think my colleague the member for Mississauga South brings once again a very salient point to bear, and that is, the very expensive payoffs of senior civil servants.
I had a discussion today with somebody who used to be a very senior deputy minister. That person very clearly pointed out how professional the Ontario civil service had been and the fact that the present civil service at the most senior level consists of two sides: one is the political hacks they've brought in from various socialist administrations or ex-socialist administrations around the country, and then on the other side, we have the remnants of the professional civil service, who are so terrified to open their mouths now that they won't give advice, which is much needed.
I'll tell you that if we form the next government and I'm a minister, I will tell my deputy minister on day one, "I want you to close the door, sit down and argue with me on every single item that I view, so that we have a clear discussion of all the options and look at what in fact we can do under this scenario."
I think it's just hilarious that we have such a bunch of incompetents running this government. Every single day, I get a call from my constituents who say, "How can you stand these people?" and my answer is, "It's very, very difficult."
The Acting Speaker: Does the honourable minister have some closing remarks?
Hon Mr Charlton: Just very briefly, I'd like to say that I listened to the comments of the member for Oriole very carefully. Although we don't agree with her view of this bill, I take her comments seriously and assure her that from my perspective, we will ensure that her predictions don't come true.
I would like to thank the members who participated throughout the process, including the committee hear- ings, on both sides of the House. It is a serious topic about a serious piece of legislation that has important consequences, and all the points of view that were put are important to the overall conclusions that this Legislature reaches.
I'd like to thank the staff of the Management Board secretariat who helped us both before my time in Management Board and since with the carriage of this piece of legislation.
The Acting Speaker: Mr Charlton has moved third reading of Bill 169.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour please say "aye."
All those opposed please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
I declare the motion carried.
Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Government House Leader): The three House leaders have agreed that the two bills we've dealt with this afternoon would be all the business on the agenda this afternoon. Just before I move the adjournment of the House, I'd like to deal with business for the coming week.
Pursuant to standing order 55, I would like to announce the business for at least the first day of the coming week. On Monday, July 26, we will give second reading consideration to Bill 50, which is one of the expenditure control bills, and second reading consideration to Bill 8, the Ontario Casino Corporation Act. The business for the remainder of the week is still under negotiation between the House leaders and will be announced on a day-by-day basis next week.
It should be noted that by agreement of the three House leaders, we will be dealing with an evening sitting on Monday at least, from 6 till 8:30, and we will judge progress during the week about other possible extended sittings, and we passed a motion earlier this afternoon that sets aside the two hours on Thursday morning for the consideration of government business, if that be necessary as well.
I move the adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
It now being 5:40 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until Monday at 1:30 pm.
The House adjourned at 1742.