Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): Next Sunday, October 24, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation will be holding its second annual fund-raising event called Run for the Cure. Run for the Cure is designed as a positive and energetic way for people to show support of breast cancer awareness and research programs.
In 1960, one out of 20 women was diagnosed with breast cancer; now one out of 10 women is afflicted with this disease. Breast cancer is the leading cancer killer of women between the ages of 35 and 54. By creating an increased awareness about self-examination and through effective education, women will be able to fight back. We all know someone touched by this disease.
This run is about awareness. Run for the Cure is a positive way of bringing breast cancer awareness to the public's attention. Last year, at the inaugural run, 300 participants were expected. On the day of the run, more than 2,000 people ran and walked through High Park and over $60,000 was raised. This tremendous achievement clearly reveals the concern about breast cancer, reaching beyond a woman's issue to touch the entire family.
This Sunday, I will be participating in the run, along with 4,000 other well-wishers. The start line is in front of the Royal Ontario Museum and will proceed down University Avenue. I encourage all my colleagues in this Legislature to make time to attend Run for the Cure and contribute to this very worthwhile cause.
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I direct this statement to the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, 400 property owners along the shoreline of Lake Huron, between Goderich and Camp Ipperwash, believe this government is prepared to impose draconian planning regulations.
The organization representing these property owners, the Lake Huron Preservation Association, is opposed to the minister's dealings with Ausable-Bayfield Conservation Authority's shoreline management plan. They are opposed on the grounds that this plan is placing too much power in the hands of the conservation authority.
If this plan is implemented, the conservation authority can overrule the municipality and prevent people from winterizing their home, building a storage shed or enclosing their porch. If the minister approves this plan, he will take planning authority away from the municipality and grant it to the conservation authority. At the same time, the minister will be creating another level of government where there is already much overlap and duplication.
The property owners believe that their views have been ignored and their rights have been threatened. I urge the minister to ensure that property owners play a role in this process, and I further assert that the conservation authority's plan should be used by the municipality as a frame of reference, not as a new set of regulations.
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): On Thanksgiving weekend there was a very special fund-raising event in Strathroy, in the riding of Middlesex, for Tammy McLeod. Tammy is one of only seven Canadians going to the European Open for challenged athletes. She is an Ontario champion in bocce ball, and on November 20 she and her mother Brenda leave for Belgium.
In response to the need to raise $4,000 to cover expenses for this trip, the entire community of Strathroy gathered at Roy's Coffee Shop on Caradoc Street on Thanksgiving Day. Margaret and Roy, the proprietors, along with their restaurant staff, volunteered their restaurant, their services and their time to serve hot dogs, pop, coffee and carrot cake to the supportive people of Strathroy. In addition to the hot dog meals were door prizes and food supplies donated by Strathroy businesses and assistance from the Strathroy Lions, the Kiwanis Club and the Legion.
We in Middlesex are proud of our young people like Chad and Tammy. I would like to acknowledge the courage of the McLeod family and the deep and sincere caring of the Strathroy community for a young woman who has made and will continue to make us proud.
In 1990, the Ontario Advisory Committee on Children's Services submitted a moving and well-thought-out report entitled Children First. In its report, the committee set out a vision which expresses clearly the commitment we must make to our children:
"We envision an Ontario in which children are valued as society's most important trust. In this society, upholding and safeguarding children's basic entitlements -- the opportunity to develop, support for growth and protection from harm -- are understood not only as a responsibility but as a privilege recognized and shared by all men and women.
"We see the care of children as a partnership in which parents are supported in their efforts to raise children by others whose lives touch children. All members of the community promote the healthy development of children and respond to children in difficulties. Consequently, formal systems and informal care givers join together to create an accessible, integrated, and flexible network of services for children.
It is ironic that we have not had any comprehensive and integrated strategy from this government to deal with children's services. Today I call upon the government to act. Government must become, in the words of the report, "the leading partner in creating a public agenda for children."
A good place for this government to begin would be to withdraw its proposal to implement user fees for children's services as of November 1. I call upon the Minister of Community and Social Services to say yes to children and no to user fees.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Members of this Legislature are familiar with the Ontario Lottery Corp's TV ads, which encourage people to buy lottery tickets because "good things happen" with Ontario lottery proceeds.
Perhaps good things happen to the television stations and the marketing firms that win the contracts for the ads, but what happened to the original mandate of the Ontario Lottery Corp to use the proceeds from lotteries to provide assistance to sports and recreation?
The erosion of lottery funding to sports and recreation has been dramatic. The previous Liberal government brought in legislation which took funds away from sports and recreation in order to fund other government projects and priorities. Funding to sports and recreation for fiscal year 1992-93 stands at a meagre 8% of total lottery profits.
Amateur hockey teams that won their respective regional championships used to be eligible for financial assistance amounting to 45% of their travel and accommodation costs when attending an Ontario championship final. It is my understanding that these teams are now entitled to only 8% assistance. There is also a possibility that funding in this area will be totally eliminated by 1994.
Grants to assist with the hosting of Ontario hockey championships have also been greatly reduced. Hockey championships scheduled for April might have to be cancelled due to a team's inability, on short notice, to cover the travelling costs. Groups like the Ontario Municipal Recreation Association and the Hockey Development Centre for Ontario are understandably worried about the future of sports and recreation activities in Ontario.
While the Ontario Lottery Corp is plugging its Pro Line sports lotto, it is ironic that hardly any of the proceeds from lotteries are finding their way to sports or recreation. It's time that the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Recreation review the meagre resources being allocated to sports and recreation and take appropriate positive action to restore funding to appropriate levels.
Mr Kimble Sutherland (Oxford): I want to congratulate the residents of the village of Princeton in my riding of Oxford for their diligence and perseverance in securing financial services for their community.
Village residents have enjoyed banking services on a full- or part-time basis for almost a century, but a year ago the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce announced that it was closing the village's only bank because of the low volume of business.
The bank's closing sparked the community into action. Residents formed the four-member Princeton banking committee to work out a compromise with the CIBC. After 10 months without a financial institution in the village, Princeton residents now have a bank machine.
Princeton's successful lobbying resulted in a unique solution. It is one of the smallest non-vacation centres to have a banking machine, and this is the first bank machine in Canada to be installed in a Canada Post outlet.
The location is an excellent choice. It is located across the road from the seniors' home. Residents can pick up their mail and do their banking at one site. This was accomplished because the citizens' committee, banking representatives and postal officials were willing to work out the best solution for everyone involved.
The residents' committee agreed to pay for the renovations to the inside of the post office for the bank machine's installation. The CIBC will review the machine's use in a year to determine its viability.
Rural Ontario is an important part of our heritage as well as our future. I want to congratulate Princeton residents for showing us that success of any kind requires hard work, dedication and a willingness to compromise.
The two critical reasons which prompted Minister Lankin in January of this year to release her discussion paper on proposed legislation and the promise to introduce a bill before summer recess remain as compelling today as they were then. First, over 13,000 Ontarians die each year from smoking-related illnesses; that's five times the number of people who die from traffic accidents, suicide and AIDS combined. Second, each year in Ontario 40,000 children start smoking. Obviously, many of these kids who start fall into the powerful, addictive grip of tobacco and never break free.
In July, Minister Grier in turn promised that she would enact legislation to reduce smoking, particularly among children. The minister promised such legislation would be introduced this fall. The Minister of Finance first spoke of the need to reduce tobacco use in his April 1991 budget; that was two and a half years ago. We recently learned that this government has shelved plans to introduce legislation before Christmas.
It is completely inexcusable for the Minister of Health and for this government to delay legislation which will prevent children from starting to smoke. The chief medical officer of health for Ontario has urged all of us, as legislators, to do what we can to prevent Ontario's children from getting hooked on cigarettes.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On October 4, I gave notice in this House that I had prepared a private member's bill to enable municipalities throughout Ontario to enact vital services bylaws to bring relief to tenants when landlords fail to provide such services as water, electricity and heat. I also noted at that time that I was prepared to debate this bill during my private member's ballot on November 4.
As members of this provincial Legislature, we're responsible for the entire province and not just the concerns of our own constituents. My bill, which I urged the government to take over, would have afforded all municipalities the ability to pass such bylaws without going to the expense of seeking private legislation.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs refused to take over my provincially focused bill and, further, suggested that North York had no desire for such a bill. However, his ministry requested a copy of my draft bill and, strangely, a week later a government backbencher introduced a bill specific to the city of North York, but otherwise a copy of my draft bill. This bill will be debated as his private member's item on October 28. This bill ignores the needs of tenants in other municipalities.
I'm delighted that this issue will have a full airing on October 28. However, I'm disappointed that the government does not have the conviction to provide leadership for the province on this issue. Instead of working cooperatively with the opposition, the government once again engages in silly political games. You diminish respect for government.
Mr Mike Cooper (Kitchener-Wilmot): I rise today to inform the members of the Legislature of a reunion which took place in the city of Kitchener on October 6. It was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of city-wide blue box recycling and coincided with Waste Reduction Week.
In 1980, a pilot program for household recycling took place in the Kitchener area. Through dedication, commitment and a mutual concern for the environment, Nyle Ludolph, the grandfather of blue boxes, and Laidlaw Waste Systems worked together towards educating and encouraging household waste reduction. By 1983 the blue box recycling program was adopted by the city and blue boxes became a common sight in front of most Kitchener homes.
Waste Reduction Week was a time to commend our recycling efforts, but also a time to remind us all that recycling is the third R in the 3Rs hierarchy. We still need to concentrate and work towards higher achievement levels in reduction and reusing.
To Nyle Ludolph and Laidlaw Waste Systems, I say how proud you must feel to know that there are now blue boxes in most homes in North America, and what hope you must have for the future. To all the individuals and industries that have worked so hard to make reducing, reusing and recycling a priority, we thank you.
Hon Marion Boyd (Minister Responsible for Women's Issues): October is Women's History Month in Canada. I would like to draw the attention of this Legislature to four important anniversaries which occur this month or during this calendar year. These anniversaries are significant with respect to women and women's struggle for equality, but they are worthy of recognition by all Ontarians.
Sixty-four years ago this month, on October 18, 1929, women were declared persons under the British North America Act, the Constitution by which Canadians were then governed. Prior to that date, women, people with disabilities and criminals were excluded from the rights and privileges enjoyed by able-bodied men. Legally, we were not even considered to be persons.
The arduous struggle for women's legal personhood lasted 13 years and spanned two continents. Initial battles were waged in the supreme courts of Alberta and of Canada, but the final decision was sought from the Privy Council in London, England, the highest court in the British Empire.
Judge Emily Murphy of Alberta, the first woman police magistrate in Canada, championed the cause singlehandedly for several years. Then she happened on a section of the British North America Act stating that "any five interested persons" had the right to petition the government for a ruling on a constitutional point.
So Judge Murphy found four committed allies -- Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby -- and together they took the case to the court of highest appeal, where finally women were declared to be persons.
The persons case represented a significant step in women's continuing quest for equality. On behalf of all Ontarians, I would like to acknowledge Judge Murphy and all of the famous five women who made many of our subsequent steps possible.
This December marks the 50th anniversary of the election of Agnes Macphail, the first woman member of this Ontario Legislature. Ms MacPhail was a former teacher, born and raised in Grey county, who distinguished herself in 1921 by becoming the first woman elected to the federal House of Commons.
It was not until 1943 that a provincial riding had a woman representative, when Ms Macphail won a seat in the Ontario Legislature. She was elected as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation candidate representing the riding of York East.
Agnes Macphail served as a member of Parliament for 19 years and as a member of provincial Parliament for several more. She fought for policies that helped advance rights for women, pensions for seniors, workers' rights and prison reform. She founded the Elizabeth Fry Society and travelled to Geneva as a delegate to the League of Nations, where she was an active member of the world disarmament committee.
We cannot underestimate how difficult her political life was or how much inner strength it required. She once commented: "Being the only woman in the House of Commons was sometimes almost more than I could bear. Had I known how bad it was going to be, I wouldn't have gone through with it. But once in, I wouldn't give up."
As most of us in this House are aware, my colleague Gary Malkowski has introduced a private member's bill to proclaim March 24 Agnes Macphail Day in honour of the birth of this great Canadian feminist.
Also, this year, the Ontario Advisory Council on Women's Issues is celebrating its 20th anniversary. With us today in the Speaker's gallery is Laura Sabia, the first president of the council. I would also like to recognize two past presidents, Lynne Gordon and Sam Ion, and the current president, Jacqueline Pelltier, all of whom are here today in the member's gallery.
The council, originally referred to as the Ontario Status of Women Council, was formed as an independent arm's-length organization commenting on the government's direction and policies. It has direct access to the government through the minister responsible for women's issues. The advisory council has been instrumental in pushing the government forward on such issues as family law reform, particularly with respect to property, gender bias in school textbooks, pay equity and affordable child care.
The council has marked its 20th anniversary with a new membership and a new mandate. This mandate grew out of a series of consultations held in 1991 which asked women across the province how to improve communication between themselves and the provincial government.
The new council is the first to have been selected through nominations by the public. Its membership better reflects the diversity of Ontario's population and the interests of its regions than past councils have. This is in part because of the selection through nomination process. Perhaps more so now than ever, the council's activities are firmly rooted in the community.
Another anniversary we celebrate this year is the 10th anniversary of the Ontario women's directorate. The directorate was founded in 1983, simultaneously with the appointment of the first minister responsible for women's issues. Both these events, incidentally, were the direct result of persistent lobbying by the advisory council. The women's directorate has many accomplishments of which to be proud, perhaps most notably the drafting of the pay equity legislation which subsequently became law.
But the continuing hard work of this organization and its staff does not often garner the recognition it deserves. The directorate, on a day-to-day basis, assesses the impact on women of proposed legislation and government initiatives. It educates Ontarians about violence against women. It provides consultative services to the private and public sectors about workplace and education equity issues. In short, the directorate strives to promote the social, legal and economic equality of women in this province.
I would personally like to congratulate the Ontario women's directorate on its 10th anniversary and to thank its staff for the strong support they have given me as minister responsible for women's issues.
As I conclude these remarks, I would like to say that while the anniversaries I've mentioned today are significant to the history of women in this province, they do not necessarily speak to all women. The further back we look in the history of women's accomplishments, the more likely are the women we remember to be white, privileged, able-bodied women. This, unfortunately, can be seen as excluding a significant portion of Ontario's women.
The history book of the participation in public life of women of colour, aboriginal women and women with disabilities has yet to be written. It was only three short years ago that my colleague and friend Zanana Akande became the first black woman and the first woman of colour elected to this Legislature. We have yet to see an aboriginal woman -- or man -- in this Legislature, and a woman of disability has yet to represent a riding in this House.
I hope that by the time we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the persons case or the 75th anniversary of Agnes Macphail's election, we have other anniversaries to celebrate, anniversaries that mark the fuller participation of women who are currently underrepresented in this Legislature and in other areas of public life.
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): I am delighted to rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus and celebrate October as Women's History Month. In fact, I know the member for St Catharines would never forgive me if I didn't point out that Laura Sabia came from St Catharines, and I know the member for St Catharines wishes that he had the opportunity to stand up and thank her for all her fine work in this province.
Women's History Month gives us a unique opportunity to take a look at history from a perspective often ignored or simply omitted from the history books, because traditionally the chroniclers of our past have been male and they've preferred to concentrate on battles and the men who fought them, or on male pioneers and the challenges they faced. But we have had a much richer history than just battles and wars, and it's a history that includes personal sacrifice and heroic acts performed by women, as well as men.
The minister mentioned one pioneer woman who led the way, Agnes Macphail; another is Nellie McClung; another, perhaps a little more recently, is Maggie Campbell. In fact, I don't know if very many of the people in this Legislature know that Maggie Campbell once worked undercover for the Mounties during the Second World War and was responsible for capturing two German spies. So we do have a lot to celebrate as far as women's history and what they've contributed is concerned, not only in politics but also in other endeavours: social reform, sports, law, literature, the arts, business.
We should be celebrating Roberta Bondar, Silken Laumann, Nancy Greene, Barbara Ann Scott, Jeanne Sauvé, Pauline McGibbon, Karen Kain, Emily Carr, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, Shirley Carr, Sonja Bata, Barbara Frum, Justice Bertha Wilson, just to name a few. Those are ones I was just thinking of today, and there are many more who have contributed.
One of the important anniversaries the minister raised was that of Persons Day. I think it's hard for us to really comprehend in this Legislature that in 1929 women were not considered persons until that fateful day of October 18 and a decision by the Privy Council in Britain. We take for granted the fact that we, as women, can not only vote but that we have property rights, that we can stand and represent our constituents and people throughout this province and throughout this country. We take for granted many of the things the pioneers fought for in the women's movement, so it is good to be able to celebrate that today.
The minister also mentioned several other anniversaries, one of the advisory council and also the Ontario women's directorate. I congratulate them both on their respective anniversaries, but I would like to say that I have expectations in the coming years that they will do more. Both of these particular groups are empowered to advocate on behalf of women across this province, but I've seen too many instances in the last couple of years where there has been a silence as far as advocating on behalf of women publicly is concerned. Maybe things happen behind closed doors, but we didn't see them here. We saw an invisibility as far as someone from the government and someone as a body outside the government advocating on behalf of women were concerned.
I would like to ask, where were they when the employment equity internship program was dropped by the current government? Where were they when John Piper victimized the victims with a smear campaign? Where were they on the Carlton Masters harassment case? In that case, they did not break the silence.
Where were they when we introduced a motion on slasher films, which was passed unanimously in this House? Where were they to push and say, "Yes, there is something we can do provincially and we should do it now"? Where were they over the controversy on serial killer trading cards, to push again, "We have a provincial responsibility and something we can do provincially"?
Where were they when the government proposed to slash fees for new family doctors, paediatricians and psychiatrists, all practices where women predominate and practices where women were negatively impacted by the proposal of the government? Where were they when child care workers' salaries were not going to be exempt from the social contract?
This is a very positive time for women and what we have accomplished, but there is a need for advocacy. I would urge these two groups in the next coming days to take this empowerment in their hands and truly advocate for the women of this province.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): It's a pleasure to join in the celebration of Women's History Month. I'd like to recognize in particular Laura Sabia. Laura probably is not aware of the fact, but about 10 years ago she came to Kitchener and spoke to a men's group who had invited their wives that night. I know she really shook the men, and she had quite an impact on me personally. I've always been an admirer of Laura Sabia and the very significant role that she has played in this province. Thank you very much, Laura.
I'm pleased with the progress that we have made in this province and in this country. However, I think it's absolutely essential that women continue to represent more and more of the ridings in this province. It's absolutely essential that we have equal or more equal representation in this House in order to ensure that the concerns of all of the people in this province are better represented, and that's why we need more equal representation. It's unfortunate that the federal election indicates to us today that we are going to perhaps see fewer women elected than we have at the present time. That certainly does not speak well for people and their representation in this country.
However, I do believe that although we have made tremendous strides, it is time to move on. It is time to move on and not look at women as victims. It is time to move on and ensure that there is equal treatment for all people regardless of their sex or their gender. I believe very strongly, as my colleague from the opposition has already said, that there needs to be a greater role on behalf of the women's directorate.
I would concur with her that that particular body has been silent on the issues of concern to women in this province. I believe in many ways they have lost touch. There are issues they're concerned with such as abortion and such as lesbianism, but there are other issues in this province that touch the lives of all women that are being totally neglected. They are not reflecting the concerns, the goals and the ambitions of women today.
The one I want to focus on in particular is in the area of health issues. I have very real concerns that this government has been totally silent as to how women are being treated by our health care system. Today women are starting to question why medicine treats them the way it does. They look at cardiology and they look at cancer treatment and they wonder why their needs have not been met.
We also know that gender is a factor in patient access to kidney dialysis, transplantation, diagnosis of lung cancer and coronary catheterization. We know that we have in this province a waiting list for breast cancer radiation treatment. It's overflowing. Women are being forced to travel north for therapy or to wait for service in their home towns.
I wrote the minister this year, in February, regarding my various serious concerns about the need for immediate action by the provincial government to address the lack of adequate breast cancer prevention and treatment programs and facilities and the inadequacy of our health care system's response to breast cancer.
I want to tell you, because there is no treatment available, it is placing a severe emotional burden on those women who are being taken away from their friends and their families during a very difficult time in their lives. I've indicated that this is completely unacceptable, yet what is the women's directorate doing about this issue? What is the minister doing about this issue? I have seen very little or no action on this issue whatsoever.
I could move on to other health issues which I simply do not feel are being adequately addressed, for example, women and cardiovascular care, detoxification services for women and female teenagers and sex diseases. These are some of the issues we need to be addressing.
If we look at the area of child care and home care, we look at the fact that the government is now indicating it's going to remove the private sector from those areas. That is having a very negative impact because it's the women who have often operated these private businesses, they are the prime providers, and this government is driving those women out of business.
Hon Ed Philip (Minister of Municipal Affairs): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: May I welcome, in the members' gallery east, the new chair of the Ontario Municipal Board, Helen Cooper. Helen has been, of course, the president of AMO in the past and mayor of Kingston, and I know we all wish her well. I'm sure she's going to do a great job for all the citizens of Ontario in her new post.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): The honourable member does not have a point of order, but indeed the guest is most welcome. It is now time for oral questions and the honourable Leader of the Opposition.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Solicitor General. We have had two solicitors general in the province of Ontario over the course of the past year. Both solicitors general have promised to review the kinds of firearms that are used by police in this province.
Last week the Solicitor General again said that a decision on the kind of firearms that would be available to our police officers to use would not be made until the end of this year. Now we hear that a Ministry of Labour investigation into the safety of existing service revolvers has found that the guns have a danger of misfiring, firing accidentally, and that they're difficult to reload.
Hon David Christopherson (Solicitor General): I'm pleased to answer the question of the honourable member. The report came down last week and talks to the issue that is of course important to all members of this House, that is, of community safety and that of police officers, in this case the health and safety of police officers as workers in the conduct of their service to the people of Ontario.
I have spoken with the leadership of the police community, particularly the president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, as well as having indicated publicly that we will move on a decision of whether or not to appeal, which is of course, as the honourable member knows, the first thing that needs to be determined as quickly as possible. The process provides for up to 14 days. We will make a decision within that time, and in fact I am attempting to make that decision as soon as possible.
Mrs McLeod: Minister, you're absolutely right. There is a real and growing concern. It's a concern on the part of police officers and it's a concern on the part of the public about whether our police officers have the tools that they need to do their jobs. Now there's a concern that the tools they do have are a threat to the very safety of the officers themselves.
I would suggest to you that if the Ministry of Labour had written this kind of report on any other kind of occupational hazard, your government would have shut down the work site. I find it absolutely appalling that this review began two years ago, that it took two years to complete and that you are still talking about process and further review. I find it absolutely appalling that in a review which was a government review that went on for two years, you cannot tell us in the House today exactly what you are prepared to do to ensure the safety of our police officers.
Hon Mr Christopherson: I have said exactly what we will do, and that is to make a determination, which we are obliged to do, as quickly as possible, given the importance of this issue to police officers and indeed to communities across Ontario.
I have spoken, as I say, to the leadership of the Ontario Provincial Police Association. I cannot speak to the process of the Ministry of Labour review, because that's under the auspices of another minister and another ministry. However, my obligation in this regard is to respond as quickly as possible on behalf of the government, and the honourable member has my undertaking that we will be doing just that.
Mrs McLeod: I wonder if the minister does not find it somewhat ironical -- it is certainly a source of dismay for us -- that it took an appeal to the Ministry of Labour to have the situation of the safety of police officers reviewed. I would wonder why neither this Solicitor General nor his predecessor felt that was an issue which the Solicitor General himself should have undertaken to deal with.
But I would suggest to the Solicitor General that now there is a review that very clearly indicates that our police officers do not have safe weapons at their disposal and that their own safety is at risk, you must now deal with this situation. Before you can deal with the question of the safety of the guns that police officers have, you must decide what kinds of weapons our police officers should have.
You have said that you will not make that decision until the end of the year. You've not, in your answer today, given us a time frame; you've said you will act as quickly as possible. The end of the year is three months away, and three months is much too long when the safety of our police officers is at risk.
Hon Mr Christopherson: I believe the honourable member is correct when she talks about the importance this government places on the issue as a worker health and safety issue. I would remind the honourable member that this has been reviewed in the past in this province.
If it were as simple and straightforward as she likes to indicate, I'm sure that her government would have made the change when it introduced the act, which was just a few years ago. The fact of the matter is that this is a very complex issue. There are many jurisdictions all across North America grappling with this same issue and making determinations on what types of firearms and handguns should be provided for police officers.
In the line of protecting the people of Ontario, this government and this minister have made it a priority. I have indicated, prior to the release of that report, that by the end of the year we will make our position known. On the report itself, I have said that there are 14 days for both the employer and the employee group to respond as to whether or not there will be an appeal. I am committing once again that this government will move very quickly to make a determination on whether or not there will be such an appeal, and if not, then move into discussions of developing a compliance plan.
Mrs McLeod: No previous government had a report from the Ministry of Labour saying that police officers' weapons were unsafe for use. It deserves a more immediate response than this minister has given.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is for the Minister of Health. I think it's fair to say that there are very few people in the province of Ontario who have not in some way been touched by the shock, by the horror of a family member or a close friend who has suffered from cancer.
All of us take pride when we talk about our health care system being the best in the world. All of us I think assume that when we talk about our health care system being the best in the world, it means that if one of our family members or one of our friends becomes ill with cancer, they're going to be able to get the care they need. The recent media reports and the recent cases that have come to light have caused many people to doubt this.
Last week, Minister, we called on you to ensure that medically necessary care would be available to the people of this province. You said it would be done. Last week we were raising the issues of emergency ambulance service, of bone marrow transplants, of kidney dialysis. This week we're raising concerns about patients requiring cancer treatment. I ask today once again, what are you doing to ensure that patients are not left waiting for cancer treatment when it is absolutely critical that they have immediate care?
Hon Ruth Grier (Minister of Health): I'm glad to have an opportunity to respond to that question, because I think all of us read with dismay the stories in the papers over the weekend, and I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition. I don't think there's a woman in this province who hasn't thought about what her situation would be if she were diagnosed as having breast cancer, and more and more men in this province are also worrying about the effects of cancer.
It is not a new problem. As I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition will recall, the report that was presented to the previous government in 1985 called for planning and recognized that there were going to be enormous needs over the next decade. A great deal has happened since that report was presented. I commend the previous government, and we have continued to make that a priority.
Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that the problem arises from a number of causes, one being the much more increasing incidence of cancer than I think we had even 10 or 20 years ago believed would happen. Secondly, there is an increased demand for radiation therapy which in part flows from changing protocols of practice, practice which is better for the patient because you don't have a radical mastectomy but which does mean there is a demand for radiation that was not there before.
In response, we need to have machines and we need to have personnel. As to the number of machines, money has not been an issue with respect to trying to deal with this problem since 1985. There have been 18 additional radiotherapy machines in operation since 1985, and there will be another 13 in place by 1997 and 1998.
Mrs McLeod: Minister, there is a problem with the lack of trained personnel to deliver the care that's needed. But when the minister says in her response that it's not a matter of money, it's not a matter of financial resources, I think she would get an argument from the hospitals that are struggling within their budgets to be able to hire the trained personnel that are available, and that are not able to hire those people.
I was extremely concerned to read the minister's responses in the media this past weekend that suggested that hospitals once again were going to have to find a way of managing to provide these services within their global budget, that they were going to have to do things differently. The minister today has acknowledged that hospitals cannot do this alone, that this is a problem that is difficult to resolve. We acknowledge that; we agree. It's a problem which cuts across the hospital providers, it cuts across the medical faculties, and it certainly involves the Ministry of Health in the government of Ontario.
Hon Mrs Grier: Let me assure the Leader of the Opposition that this is a problem that we believe must be fixed and one to which we give an extremely high priority. I have over the last three or four weeks had a number of round tables in various parts of the province, as has my minister without portfolio, with all of the players in the system to try to plan for the future, and just last Friday met with representatives of the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation.
But let me say to her that while of course money enters into the solution, we first of all have to have the professionals who will operate the machines. The machines have been approved, regardless of the constraint.
We currently spend $1 billion on cancer in this province. We still have difficulties. The budget of OCTRF has grown from $65 million in 1985 to $132 million in 1993. Despite additional funding, we have not got the professionals that we need in the system.
Let me say to the member that the Princess Margaret, just last Friday, has submitted to us a proposal that it will have graduate radiation therapists at the end of this month. They would like to be able to hire those therapists, which would enable them to run their machines for a longer period. I have agreed to look at that and see how we can find a way to help them to do that.
Hon Mrs Grier: I should also say to the member and tell the House that over a month ago I authorized the exploration of trying to find foreign-trained graduates in radiation oncology. Our agreement with the Ontario Medical Association --
Hon Mrs Grier: -- which is designed to prevent people who have not had Ontario training from practising in Ontario, provides the opportunity for exemptions. I have used that exemption clause in order to deal with this problem. That's the kind of leadership we're taking.
Mrs McLeod: Surely after all the times we've raised this issue in the House, the minister is beginning to understand that one of the reasons we have a shortage of health care professionals in the province of Ontario is that health care professionals are leaving this province because of the ad hoc, crisis kinds of decisions this minister is making about how we provide health care in the province of Ontario. I say to this minister that we are facing, as a result --
Mrs McLeod: Anyone who has been Minister of Health understands the challenges of using our very scarce resources to ensure that we can in fact provide the quality of medical care that the people of the province deserve. I say to this minister in all sincerity, it is the lack of planning, it is the ad hoc, crisis kind of decision-making which has made it impossible for us to ensure that we can have that health care provide the services people need.
We are facing crisis after crisis in our health care system, and we have raised every one of those issues time and time again. Time and time again, this minister has simply said: "The hospitals are going to have to find those dollars within their global budgets. The hospitals are going to have to do things differently." The hospitals are trying to cope, and you keep taking more and more of their resources away without giving them any help to carry out the planning that will allow them to give the services that are needed.
Minister, I ask you, when are you really going to accept the responsibility to sit down and to do that strategic planning? When will you take that leadership to deal with what is truly a health care crisis? Minister, when will you even acknowledge that there is indeed a crisis in our health care system?
Hon Mrs Grier: Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that it takes four years to train a radiation oncologist. I don't think this is the kind of situation in the province that is deserving, quite frankly, of the kind of partisan approach she is taking. I acknowledged in my response that in fact the report that was received by the previous government in 1985 laid the basis for beginning to do some planning --
Hon Mrs Grier: -- and to begin to bring together all the institutions in this province that deal with cancer. That was begun under the previous government and has been continued very fruitfully under this government.
We still face a shortage in professionals, and particularly in radiation oncologists. I hope she will recognize that in my response to her second question, I told her that we had gone beyond our agreement with the Ontario Medical Association to seek people beyond the borders of this country to try to deal with that problem. If that is not acknowledging the problem and attempting to practically deal with it, I don't know what is.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): My question is for the Minister of Health. On countless occasions, I have risen in this Legislature to make you aware of the serious flaws in the health card system as brought in by the Liberals and mismanaged by your government.
Mr Jim Wilson: I obviously hit a nerve with the Liberal caucus. Last October, it was revealed that close to 12 million health cards had been issued by OHIP for a population of approximately 10.5 million residents in this province. By last February, it was revealed that the number of health cards issued had risen --
Mr Jim Wilson: -- to 12.3 million. Minister, could you tell this House today exactly how many health cards have been issued to people in Ontario since the new system was introduced by the Liberal government in 1990?
Last July, a woman from Oakville had her purse stolen while shopping for groceries. She contacted a Ministry of Health office to get a replacement health card. On September 13, the OHIP office in Kingston sent her a replacement card with a version code initialled PN. Unfortunately for taxpayers and for Mrs Poole, two weeks later OHIP sent her another health card with a different version code initialled ER. I hold in my hand both cards sent to Mrs Poole. Not only is she startled about receiving two health cards, but she is understandably confused about which card she's supposed to be using. Can you tell Mrs Poole why she received two health cards and which health card she is supposed to be using?
Hon Mrs Grier: I'm afraid I can't tell Mrs Poole, but I certainly want to find out the answer for myself. I will undertake to find out that answer just as soon as I can and to tell the member, Mrs Poole and the House how that could have happened.
Mr Jim Wilson: All taxpayers in Ontario are fortunate that Mrs Poole was honest enough to report just one more in what has been a steady stream of mistakes that have flowed from the Liberal and NDP mismanagement of the health card system. What has become abundantly clear in the last year is that your government has no idea who is receiving health cards, how many cards each individual is receiving and how many dollars are being stolen from the taxpayers of Ontario because of your mismanagement of the system.
Lives are being threatened by dangerously long waiting lists for cancer treatment, yet you seem unwilling to manage or to be incapable of managing Ontario's health card system. How can you slam the door shut on cancer patients when you continue to allow millions of dollars to be stolen from our health care system?
Hon Mrs Grier: I hope I didn't in any way minimize the importance of the honourable member's question. I thank him for bringing it to our attention. I am as disturbed by it as I know he is and I certainly want to have an investigation and find out how it could have happened.
But I have to say to him, as he continually uses the phrase "mismanagement of the system," that the flaws were in the system as it was established in the first place. It is trying to address the system and the systemic problems that we have been engaged in with our establishment of the registration division, the audit of the entire system and our commitment to bring in a system that is far more efficient, far more secure and would not allow this particular situation to have occurred. That's my undertaking and commitment, and it's one I intend to follow through on.
Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): I have a question for the Solicitor General. At the outset, I want to say that members of the Conservative caucus are wearing black ribbons made by spouses of members of the Sudbury police force in memory of Joe MacDonald --
Last week, when I questioned the Solicitor General about the decision of the Ontario Board of Parole to release one Clinton Suzack, the minister indicated that he has established a review to take a look at the circumstances surrounding the board's decision. Of course, we know that one of the two charged with the murder of Constable MacDonald is Mr Suzack.
The minister has failed to this point to indicate terms of reference or time lines with regard to this review. We know the board annually grants in the neighbourhood of 4,000 paroles. I want to ask the minister, given what he knows in terms of the details that have been made public to this point, is he confident that the process is working well? Is he not prepared to institute a freeze until he has the answers before him? Clearly, the system broke down once; it can break down again. Is he prepared to continue indefinitely with a system which may have resulted in the death of one police officer in this province?
I have indicated in this place, as a result of questions raised around the Board of Parole decision, my desire to seek answers to those questions and have said that we would do so through an independent review, independent of my ministry.
The time line is 30 days from the time the review starts. I believe that's a speedy time line in terms of a review that can be rather technical in nature. I have indicated very clearly that I will be looking at the results of that review, and if there are actions to be taken as a result of any findings, I'll be taking them.
Mr Runciman: If you look at 4,000 individuals being released on parole annually, that's several hundred a week -- no, close to 100 a week. I'm not sure of the figures; I'm doing quick math here, and I've never been good at that. I want to make the point that obviously a significant number of people are going to be considered for parole even in the time line you've indicated today.
What do we know in terms of what's happened? We know that a police officer has been murdered. We know there were outstanding warrants in the province of Alberta in respect of this individual when the decision was made by the parole board. We know that this individual had a record as long as my arm involving many violence-related criminal convictions -- not charges, convictions -- and a number of convictions involving breach of trust.
Your NDP-appointed parole board chair has said that Suzack's release was nothing unusual. He also said that his record was not serious. Thirty convictions related to assault is not serious, according to the chair you appointed.
Minister, where does your responsibility lie in this matter? Protecting the public or protecting an appointee of your government? I believe it's incumbent upon you, when we're talking about public safety issues, to do everything within your power to ensure that the public is safe in terms of decisions being made by this board, and I don't believe you're doing it.
I'm asking you once again, will you institute a freeze until this study is completed, and will you at least consider a suspension of the chair, if not firing? I believe he should be fired, but you should at least consider a suspension, based on what we know today.
Hon Mr Christopherson: First of all, let me say to the honourable member that I believe the actions I have taken to date show very clearly that we consider the questions at hand to be serious and important; that is, my indication of the short time frame and my expectation to respond to the review's result.
Hon Mr Christopherson: As the honourable member continues to raise the fact that it's this government's appointee, which indeed it is, and that we have opened up the process of reviewing appointees to various positions, which was never done before by any other government, it's interesting to note that the committee which is now charged with reviewing appointees' applications did not see fit to review this application. I guess they didn't consider it to be anything out of the ordinary, or that the qualifications weren't appropriate. In fact, I believe the honourable member who asked the question chairs that committee, so I'm not sure why there's now this question of qualifications.
Mr Runciman: That last comment by the minister was dredging from the bottom of the sleaze barrel. I didn't believe the minister was capable of saying something like that. It's an insult to the intelligence of the members of this House, let alone the public, to suggest that review process is anything more than a sham. And I do not chair that committee, for the minister's information. I did at one point, and I know indeed that it is a sham.
Minister, I want to send over to you, by way of a page, a letter from the Sault Ste Marie Police Service. I want to quote briefly from that letter. It's addressed to probation and parole services, dated April 15, 1993, from Inspector Eric Overman, of the Sault Ste Marie police:
Minister, you get up today and make a response like you just did, which is not only an insult to the people of this province but also, in my view, draws into question your competence as the minister responsible for corrections in this province and the Board of Parole of Ontario. Mr Minister, simply look at this. What is your responsibility? I believe it's public safety.
Mr Runciman: -- above public safety. That's what you're doing. You have a chair saying there's nothing unusual about a guy with a criminal record the length of my arm; not serious, nothing unusual with the release. But a 29-year-old police officer is dead.
Mr Runciman: Once again, I'm asking the minister, are you prepared to institute an immediate freeze until you have the results of this investigation and take appropriate action following its recommendations, and at least suspend the chair, who's made such irresponsible comments to the public?
Hon Mr Christopherson: Let me say with regard to the letter the honourable member has sent over that it is clearly part and parcel of the case that is being reviewed. I have indicated to the member that there will be an independent review. With regard to all the other actions the member would like me to take, I've said last week and I'll say again that I sincerely believe that if this government, on an issue so important as this, in any other area attempted to move as precipitously as the honourable member is suggesting, without some kind of due process, without an opportunity to actually look at the facts at hand as opposed to just making judgements based on what he happens to read in the media, then he would be the first to condemn us for that.
This is an extremely important issue. It's an important issue of safety to the public, and I think this government has acted responsibly. I believe I have done the right thing by instigating a review of this entire matter.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, as you know, we tragically lost two young people recently in what appears to be a case of meningitis in the region of Peel. Three of our schools, Mayfield, Clarkson and Streetsville Secondary are undergoing mass inoculation against this terrible disease. All extracurricular activities have been cancelled until further notice.
Dr Peter Cole at the regional health department, along with his staff, are doing everything they can to try to maintain calm in the region. The concern is that there is an awful lot of confusion regarding the vaccine, the availability, exactly who should be inoculated and what's going on. Can you tell me what you are doing as the Minister of Health to try to bring a sense of calm, along with Dr Peter Cole and others in the region of Peel, to try to wrest the parents' fears aside in this terrible situation?
Hon Ruth Grier (Minister of Health): I can certainly understand the fear and the worry that any parent of a child in the school system has as a result of this outbreak. I was very pleased that the provincial medical officer of health was able to appear at a press conference yesterday, with the medical officer of health from the region of Peel, and indicate that the vaccination program that the member has indicated is happening. I am also very pleased that the Peel boards of education have cancelled extracurricular activities as a way of preventing the spread of the virus from one school to another.
The role of the Ministry of Health is to provide the vaccine, to take the advice of the medical officers of health, and we believe that, working with them, the measures that have been put in place are the appropriate ones.
Mr Mahoney: Minister, this is obviously not a partisan issue in any way; I am sure you share the concerns that I and all members in this House would have regarding the situation. But I am concerned about what direction is actually coming from you as the Minister of Health. The medical officer of health has indicated to me and you have admitted that the Ministry of Health through the public health branch releases the vaccine. The region must apply to that branch for the vaccine for its immunization program, and all pharmacies must do likewise. The family doctor can prescribe the vaccine, but apparently the vaccine itself is not covered by OHIP.
We have a situation in Peel where we have a hotline set up for parents to phone and get information on this, if they're able to get through, because you can imagine the phones are burning up. If they're able to get through and they're not part of the three schools who have been identified for inoculation, then they are referred to their family doctor. They go to their family doctor; they're told the vaccine can range anywhere from $50 to $170 and that's it's not covered by OHIP. Then they're told that the vaccine is being held back; in fact, that there is a shortage of it.
We need to know exactly what's going on. Is the vaccine readily available? Can it be distributed through the family doctor? Do people require the medical officer of health direction for their children to be inoculated? How widespread can such a problem be? People are very, very frightened in this situation. Minister, with due respect, I would like you personally to take charge of this situation. I would have hoped for a minister's statement on such a crucial matter today in the Legislature, to tell the people, the parents in Peel, that if they need this vaccine it will indeed be available to them at no cost whatsoever and that they can send their young children --
Hon Mrs Grier: The responsibility for taking the lead and taking charge lies with the medical officer of health in the region of Peel. My ministry has the vaccine, supplies the vaccine for the kinds of clinics that the medical officer of health in Peel has indicated he believes need to be put in place.
Our role is to support and to cooperate with the medical officer of health, but I have every confidence that the decisions and the information to the residents are better disseminated by that person who knows the region, knows the players and knows the situation there, with the ministry there in a supportive role and providing the vaccine to the medical officer of health. For the ministry to step in and take over that authority is, I would submit, an inappropriate response at this point.
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. It concerns the wife of a wealthy Somali warlord who for some reason remains in Ontario at taxpayers' expense.
Last week, in response to a question, you said you were going to simply look at the rule that allowed Ms Gurhan to collect welfare while on a costly trip to her homeland in Somalia last year. Perhaps the public outcry of the last week over this episode, and it's coming into full public view, has convinced you that your flip answer was inappropriate and perhaps should be reviewed, and quite frankly we find it unacceptable.
Minister, you know that you and your cabinet have the power to make immediate regulatory changes to social assistance rules in this province. I challenge you: Would you please stand in your place today and assure this House that you're prepared to take immediate action to change this rule, which is deemed to be so patently wrong, for social assistance recipients in this province?
Hon Tony Silipo (Minister of Community and Social Services): Let me first of all say to the member that I'm sorry he found my answers last week to be flip. I thought I was being responsible in protecting, on the one hand, the integrity of the system, and secondly, my responsibility towards the privacy of individuals. I think, as a minister of the crown, that's a responsibility I need to take quite seriously.
Let me just say to the member, as I indicated in the House and outside when this issue was raised last week, that I am not able to discuss specifics of allegations that deal with individuals, whoever those individuals may be. I would hope that he would understand that.
What I can reiterate for the member is that whenever issues of this kind are raised, either with me directly or with people in the ministry, there is a process that kicks into place that ensures that issues, allegations, are looked after. That's the process we follow. I think we need to leave the issue of comments on individuals completely outside that process.
I would also, I guess, given that he's raised the point, remind the member that it is not the government of Ontario that makes policy about which individuals are allowed to enter or remain in the country. That is a responsibility of the federal government.
Mr Jackson: It's clearly your responsibility, Minister, one which apparently, according to your answer, you're not prepared to face nor take immediate action on, to ensure the integrity of taxpayers' dollars to a social assistance system in our province.
Five months ago, on June 9, I raised the issue of 11,000 warrants that were issued for refugee claimants here in the province, of recipients who had gone underground and were collecting welfare. You indicated that you'd undertake a review and you'd report immediately to this House. We have heard nothing from you.
The fact is that it was okay for your government to take immediate action and axe welfare benefits for genuine immigrants in this province, which was reported in the Toronto Star on October 6. I'm not asking for the details of this woman's case. I'm asking you to look at the process of possible abuse when someone can travel abroad while she's been collecting welfare in this province and be gone for five months, whether or not she's related to a warlord who's conducting a civil war and shooting at Canadian and American UN soldiers. I'm asking you to look at a loophole in the system of welfare that you are responsible for in this province. You have the regulatory power.
Hon Mr Silipo: I indicated last week that this is in fact exactly one of the things we are looking at. We are looking at that set of rules, as we are looking at a number of the other rules that exist in the system. So the answer to that is yes now, as it was yes last week.
Mr Bob Huget (Sarnia): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. You will know that today is day 24 of the strike involving the Lambton County Board of Education and its secondary school teachers. Last Friday, the Education Relations Commission announced that it will be holding a public inquiry in Sarnia this Thursday, and I am quoting from its release, "to enable the commission to obtain firsthand reactions on this matter."
My constituents have been asking: "What is the commission waiting for? Why another meeting?" My constituents want an end to this dispute and their children back in school. They've said so by the hundreds, first hand, to the commission. Minister, I ask you again, when will you act to resolve this dispute?
Hon David S. Cooke (Minister of Education and Training): It's been the position of this government and of the ministry that the best place to find a solution for this labour dispute is at the bargaining table between the board and the teachers in Lambton county. I'm very pleased to indicate that the teachers and the board are getting back to the bargaining table tomorrow morning. I think it would be responsible for all of us to encourage the teachers and the board to find a solution tomorrow morning at the bargaining table so that students can get back to school on Wednesday.
Mr Huget: I appreciate those comments and I remain as optimistic as you do. However, according to the act, the purpose of the commission is "the furthering of harmonious relations between boards and teachers." We are not even through this strike yet and I'm already hearing from parents right across Lambton county about their fears for the next round of negotiations. We have anything but harmonious relations between this board and its teachers.
Can you tell me what you're prepared to do to ensure that relations between the Lambton county board and its teachers are improved so parents and students will not fear a strike every single time this board and these teachers sit down to negotiate?
Hon Mr Cooke: I certainly agree with the member that the long-term relationship between the board and its teachers has got to improve. I think this is the third strike the board has had in the last 10 years. This does nothing to serve in improving public confidence in our public education system.
There are services that are offered by Education Relations Commission, and I certainly would encourage the trustees and the teachers' federations to use those services. Preventive mediation and working on improving the relationship between the federation, the union and the board has worked in a number of other jurisdictions in this province. It's worked in my own community in the past. I hope that when this dispute is complete, the teachers and the board will invite the Education Relations Commission to help build that relationship to avoid these problems in the future.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. You have stated in this House that it was in fact the deputy minister of your ministry who called in the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate the leak of minutes from a leadership team from the casino project. Interestingly enough, I might add, I understand that the same OPP officer who investigated the Piper affair is investigating this particular leak. I guess your government is providing them with a lot of opportunity for this type of investigation.
Hon Ms Churley: Let me try that again, Mr Speaker. The deputy informed me that she was going to call in the OPP because she was concerned about the fact that there was information leaked from a very sensitive process. She informed me early on that she was going to do that.
Mr McClelland: I'll be interested in your response at that point in time. Minister, I should advise you that I have received yet another famous brown envelope that contains some 25 questions. Maybe just to save you, we can make an appointment and the OPP can start their investigation again. When are you going to stop using the OPP to deal with your incompetence and mismanagement? I want to know that.
The other question that I think is very, very important is, what is the scope and the mandate of the OPP investigation in this respect? Is it simply to deal with the leak or, quite frankly, is the scope of the OPP investigation going somewhat beyond that, to maybe address some of these 25 questions in front of me here?
Hon Ms Churley: You get only two today, however. I say to the member that the deputy minister, when she talked to me about this, expressed a lot of concern about the fact that there were any leaks whatsoever from such a sensitive process. She was, as I said before, not worried about the substance of the information you received, but was more worried about the fact there was any leak at all.
As the member knows, this is a very sensitive and important process the deputy minister is running. There are now four short-listed proponents and highly confidential information. I have a feeling that if the deputy hadn't acted in such a responsible way the member would be asking: "What's going on over there? Why aren't you worried about this leak? Why aren't you taking action to make sure the security of this process is kept intact?"
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I have a question for the Minister of Labour. You will recall that I asked you on October 6 if you would allow the business community to nominate someone in whom it had confidence as vice-chair of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency. Your response was that you had no indication that Mr McMurdo did not have support from the business community. By now your deputy minister will no doubt have confirmed that indeed the business members of the board, as well as the management advisory committee on October 5 and many companies and associations have asked that Mr McMurdo be replaced. But my question has to do with the other side of the coin. Will you confirm that organized labour has told you that if you do not reappoint Mr McMurdo as management vice-chair, labour will walk away from the agency?
Mrs Witmer: Minister, your answer, or lack of it, does not diminish one bit the concerns of the business community. I have a letter from the chamber of commerce indicating its concerns about the selection process. You are making an intolerable intrusion into the prerogatives of management. What democracy demands is that the management team be chosen by management.
I cannot envision any situation in which you would attempt to nominate a labour co-chair who did not have the support of the union movement. Choosing business representatives for the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board is entirely the responsibility of the management reference group. There is no reason why you should not follow that precedent. I ask you again, will you conform to democratic principles and confirm to this House that any appointment you make has been nominated by and enjoys the full confidence of the other management representatives and the management advisory committee?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: It's our intent to listen to the arguments from both labour and management when it comes to the appointees, which we've done in the past. I'm not prepared to go out and organize or participate in some kind of witchhunt that seems to be going on here now.
Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. It's moose season again in northern Ontario, a time when many people of northern Ontario, with anticipation, wait for tags, along with a number of other issues that sometimes are difficult to come by.
My question is specifically, though, around hunting management area 28. There are some logging activities going on within that particular area, around Munroe Lake, around the Lake Abitibi area. What has happened is that the Ministry of Natural Resources has posted that particular township as being closed to hunting. This has obviously led to a lot of problems on the part of hunters who had planned to do some hunting up in that area, probably for the last two or three months, and all of a sudden they find out that they're not able to go into that particular township to do some hunting.
I would like to know if the minister can clarify what the position of the Ministry of Natural Resources is when it comes to designating a working area of a logging company in regard to hunting in that area.
Hon Howard Hampton (Minister of Natural Resources): It has always been the case that the Ministry of Natural Resources, in order to promote public safety and most of all to ensure safe hunting, has reserved the capacity to declare certain areas of a wildlife management unit to be offside, in terms of hunting, for a period of time while timber harvesting is taking place.
Where you have, for example, a forest access road and people are actively working in the forest, harvesting along that road, it will not be unusual for local Ministry of Natural Resources officials to place part of the area surrounding that road where people are actively working within a no-hunting restriction for a limited period of time.
Mr Bisson: The other part of the problem is the question of notification, how the ministry goes about notifying local area hunters, and obviously hunters from other areas, about how those particular areas are restricted.
One of the things that infuriated the people around the Matheson-Iroquois Falls area was that the way they found out the area was restricted was by driving into it and finding signs. People understand that we have to have hunter safety when it comes to logging. People accept that. What people have a very difficult time accepting is the possibility of not having any advance notification when it comes to closing off a particular area in terms of hunting.
The people around the Matheson and Iroquois Falls area have asked me to ask you to get your ministry to find a way to give better notification. Secondly, what is the notification process of the Ministry of Natural Resources when it comes to closing sections off to hunting?
Hon Mr Hampton: There are several ways in which hunters could receive notice of a no-hunting area or a restricted hunting area. First, there is a very long and deliberate timber management planning process, and someone can learn, by taking part in that process or by calling an MNR office, what blocks will likely be harvested at what times, so someone might have notice even months ahead of where an area will be or possibly may be harvested.
Second, as we grow closer to hunting season, it is possible, by calling an MNR area office or district office, to actually get a time line and a schedule of what areas will be harvested on an almost monthly basis.
Finally, when hunting season is actually occurring, a phone call to a local MNR office will tell you what the exact areas are that may be placed offside in terms of hunting for a given week or a two-week period.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Attorney General, concerning the investigation being conducted by the special investigations unit of the Ministry of the Attorney General into the tragic death of Constable Jeff Paolozzi of the Niagara Regional Police Force.
The Niagara Regional Police Force itself, Chief Grant Waddell, the Niagara Regional Board of Police Commissioners, the Niagara Region Police Association and the family and the individual involved in this particular case are all wondering why it is taking eight months to conduct this investigation and to produce a report.
Would the minister indicate to us when we might be able to expect the results of this report to be made available to the police force, to the family involved and to the individuals who have a special interest?
Hon Marion Boyd (Attorney General): The member is quite right. I also have received a communication from the area around the concern about the length of time. There are difficulties in terms of the ability of the SIU to be able to interview all those who are involved in the case. I have the assurance of the director of the SIU that every effort is being made to expedite the process, and I would hope, for the sake of all those concerned, that this would be resolved very quickly.
Mr Bradley: In addition to what we would expect in terms of the family and the individual involved in this case wanting to know the results of the investigation, wanting to have available to them the report, there's a second issue that arises here, and it's the issue of occupational health and safety. It's a bit along the lines of what Liberal leader Lyn McLeod asked this afternoon in her question about occupational health and safety, and it is this: The particular weapon that was used in this case --
According to Grant Waddell, there's a great concern about the 9mm Glock pistol that is used and whether it poses any particular threat or any particular safety risks to the officers who are using it. He states, "I would hate to think that some eight months later these deficiencies are continuing, if there are any."
Mike Pratt, who is the administrator of the Niagara Region Police Association, is also fed up with the length of time the SIU takes to wrap up a case, particularly the Paolozzi shooting. He's concerned with the design of the Glock and whether it poses any safety risks to the officers.
Could the Attorney General tell us whether she has been able to have her special investigations unit at least provide to the Niagara Regional Police Force information concerning the safety aspects of the weapon that was used in this particular case?
Hon Mrs Boyd: As I think the member knows, it's really very important in an investigation of this sort for it to be proceeded with in a way that is free of any interference. I do not know whether in fact that particular part of the investigation has been shared with the members. I would assume that the concern he is expressing would indicate to me that it has not at this point, but certainly these issues around both that particular weapon and the .38, which was the subject of the previous question, are questions that concern us all.
I understand that the Solicitor General has undertaken to make some decisions in terms of safety of weapons very shortly. It's not, in my view, an unusual request from the police services board that this kind of advice be given as quickly as possible, and I certainly would encourage that that happen.
Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): I've been asked by the council of the township of Wolfe Island to present this petition to the Legislative Assembly, with a request also that the Minister of Transportation abandon the proposal to institute ferry fares on the Wolfe Islander ferry.
"We, the undersigned, are shocked at the provincial government's intention of charging fares on the only link between Wolfe Island and the mainland upon which Wolfe Island is dependent. We believe that social and economic costs will be devastating and that the charging of fees on part of the provincial highway system to which we all contribute through taxes and licence fees is discriminatory,
"We request the council of the township of Wolfe Island to take urgent action against the provincial declaration and to engage such specialists as are necessary to advise and guide them on legal and technical matters. Expenses should be derived from general taxes."
"We, the undersigned, oppose the adoption and implementation of the second draft of the ABCA shoreline management plan. The SMP is unnecessarily restrictive upon existing development. The SMP can be used to prevent us from winterizing our home, enclosing a porch, erecting a storage shed and so on. The terminology employed designates our property as hazard lands and impairs the market value of our property unnecessarily, as our homes are not hazards. The SMP is premature. Its adoption and implementation is contrary to common sense and sound planning policy.
"We petition that the ABCA board of directors acknowledge the substantial public opposition to the ABCA shoreline management plan by the undersigned. Withhold approval and adoption of the plan until appropriate provincial policy statements have been approved under the Planning Act. Alternatively, instruct staff to make substantial amendments to the plan so as not to unnecessarily prejudice home owners who live along the shore of Lake Huron, to direct its staff to take into account all of the public input to date and remove the exaggerated planning restrictions contained in the plan."
Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I am bringing this petition forward on behalf of my constituents, who are concerned about the preservation of law and order in their community. Residents are concerned about an article which appeared in the September 14 issue of the local newspapers in Brock which threatened, "Brock Residents Might Lose OPP Station."
"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
"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."
Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): Last Friday I met with the Residents Against Ferry Tolls, or RAFT, in Picton. They presented me with this petition to read to the Legislature:
"The government's proposal to charge tolls on the ferries will cost individual families thousands of dollars and may very well reduce incomes of businesses whose customers use the ferry by tens of thousands of dollars.
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be transferred to the provincial government in Toronto through the new ferry toll. In the long run, the economy of this area will be reduced by millions of dollars.
"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
"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."
Bill 97, An Act to amend the Law related to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy / Projet de loi 97, Loi portant modification des lois concernant l'accès à l'information et la protection de la vie privée.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The purpose of this bill is to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987, and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989, to provide access to information relating to the salary of public service employees.
Bill 104, An Act to amend the Municipal Act in respect of vital services bylaws / Projet de loi 104, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalités en ce qui concerne les règlements municipaux relatifs aux services essentiels.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): The purpose of the bill is to allow local municipalities to pass vital services bylaws so that vital services such as electricity, gas and hot water can be provided to the occupants of rented premises when the landlord fails to meet an obligation to provide them.
Consideration of Bill 8, An Act to provide for the control of casinos through the establishment of the Ontario Casino Corporation and to provide for certain other matters related to casinos / Projet de loi 8, Loi prévoyant la réglementation des casinos par la création de la Société des casinos de l'Ontario et traitant de certaines autres questions relatives aux casinos.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): I do. I'm just pulling together, with your indulgence, a comprehensive list; bear with me. I want to indicate that I certainly have an amendment to section 6 initially, and I'll provide you momentarily with a detailed list.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): Yes, Mr Chairman, we will be introducing amendments, as we did in standing committee, to move a new section 5.1; an alternate amendment, 5.1; 5.2; an alternate subsection 5.2(1); 5.3; subsection 6(3); a new section 13.1; paragraph 13(1)1.3; paragraph 13(1)3.1; subsection 13(3); subsection 16(1); clauses 18(1)(b) and (2)(a); and a new section 19.1.
"(5) Despite anything in this section, the corporation may provide for the operation of a casino in the casino area within the meaning of section 19 or in the interim casino area within the meaning of section 19.1."
The purpose of moving this amendment, as it was indeed in standing committee during the break, was that there seems to be at least some discussion out there among the people of Ontario as to whether or not there should be any future casinos proceeded with in the province of Ontario.
The purpose of this amendment quite simply is that "casino area" is specifically defined under section 19 of the bill as it relates to the operation of a casino in the city of Windsor only. We have no problem with that, but we would not like to see any additional casinos proceeded with in other places in the province unless we were satisfied that indeed the Windsor experience had gone well and that the people, in those municipalities at least, would want a casino in their municipality.
We are quite simply moving an amendment to the legislation which would require the government to come back to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario before it proceeds with any subsequent casinos. The government has said itself on numerous occasions that it's treating Windsor as a pilot project only and that it's going to see how the experience in the city of Windsor goes before it would even think of taking any further steps elsewhere in the province. We are merely putting that intent the government has enunciated into language in the bill.
Mr Duignan: Briefly, again, this is enabling legislation to allow casinos to be established in the province of Ontario. The government at this time has no intention of expanding the casinos beyond the area of Windsor.
Mr McClelland: Notwithstanding what my friend the parliamentary assistant says -- I have absolute confidence in his personal integrity and I understand he's speaking on behalf of the government -- I note for the record that he says "at this time." I would hasten to add that I have little doubt in my mind that somewhere between now and the great consultation with the people of the province in and around 1995 the government will somehow find itself on a different tack. I would be very confident in predicting that there will be some four or five other locations.
I think that as part and parcel of this as we get into the discussion, as we talk a little bit further throughout the course of this afternoon and tomorrow's deliberations, a number of other amendments will be tabled by my friend the critic from the third party, Mr Eves, and myself that will indicate that we feel there should be some procedures in place.
I hasten to add that going into the election of 1990 the well-understood position of the current government was that there would not be legalized gaming casinos in the province of Ontario. It would certainly be a stretch to say this was a major campaign issue -- it was not -- but it was clearly understood by people who had worked both within and without the party that this was its position.
I think it incumbent on the government to state very plainly and very clearly what its intent is. They say that at this time they have no intent to proceed, and that may very well be the case. I would suspect that upon the passage of Bill 8, when it receives royal assent, it will be a different time and a whole different set of priorities, and a government agenda may be forthcoming.
I wanted to indicate that we would be supporting the PC amendment brought forward by the member for Parry Sound. What it does is put upon the government a responsibility to put some substance to its rhetoric, to say to it: "If this is your position, live by it. Be prepared to commit it to writing, commit to the legislation and stand by what you are saying." I will be supporting this amendment.
Mr Eves: I think the critic for the Liberal Party has enunciated it quite succinctly. I would like to clarify, however, the stacking and voting arrangement we have. It is my understanding among the House leaders that we will not require five people to stand for every single vote that's about to be stacked. If there's disagreement on one side or the other, we will merely stack the votes until the end of the committee of the whole process.
"(a) the corporation has completed a report on the economic and social consequences of the operation of the casino in the casino area within the meaning of the section during its first two years of operation;
"(b) the minister responsible for the administration of the act has laid the report before the assembly within six months following the end of the first two years of the casino's operation if the assembly is in session, or if not, the beginning of the next session;
This amendment is somewhat similar to the last, except that it's a little bit more detailed. It simply says, as indeed the last one did, that the government will not proceed with an additional casino until the Windsor experience has been up and operating for at least two years and the corporation has completed a report on the economic and social consequences of a casino being in Windsor and in operation for two years. Then it would simply require a report of the corporation back to the Legislative Assembly. The assembly would then refer that report to a standing committee, which would indeed produce a report of its own, and the assembly would have to approve of that report.
Again, we are simply asking that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario have the final say as to whether or not there will be additional casinos, along with residents of any municipalities in the province of Ontario in which the government proposes to place additional casinos in the future.
As Mr McClelland has indicated, it is somewhat important in that during the 1990 election, when this government was elected, I don't think any party addressed the issue of casino gambling. It certainly was not a matter of public record that the New Democratic Party, or any party, for that matter, if elected, was going to introduce casino gambling into the province of Ontario. In fact, any statements we have from the current Premier or the current Minister of Finance indicated exactly the opposite.
All we are saying is that before the province thinks about proceeding with any casinos in addition to the pilot project in the city of Windsor, which by its own words and admission is indeed a pilot project, it should certainly take a long, hard look at the experience in Windsor. All I am doing is taking the government's own sentiments and words and putting them into an amendment that will be embodied in the legislation.
Mr Duignan: I must say that this particular government has no intention of expanding casinos beyond the area of Windsor at this particular time. Also, the reason for the pilot project is to review the operations and management of the casino in Windsor. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, and there will be no more casinos either in Windsor or in the province.
Mr Eves: That is correct. I would like to introduce another new section into the bill, section 5.2. This section has to do with referendums to decide whether or not there will be casino gambling in the province.
"5.2(1) The corporation shall not provide for the operation of a casino in any location until the operation of the said casino has been approved by a referendum of the municipality in which the casino is to be located.
The Chair: Mr Eves, you said "has been approved by a referendum of the municipality." I presume you meant "regional municipality?" The amendment we have here says "regional municipality, district municipality or county."
"5.2(1) The corporation shall not provide for the operation of a casino in any location until the operation of said casino has been approved by a referendum of the municipality in which the casino is to be located.
Mr Eves: This probably goes to the crux of the entire issue of casino gambling in the province of Ontario. We had this debate at some length in the standing committee and I'm not going to reiterate all the arguments that were made in committee. Suffice it to say that both the provincial government and indeed the municipal government, for that matter, in the city of Windsor seem to say: "Trust us. The people of Ontario and the people of Windsor want casino gambling in the province of Ontario."
All I am asking the government to do is to put that in the statute and actually give the residents of any municipality in which the provincial government proposes to locate a province-owned casino the right to either accept or reject a casino in their own municipality.
As I said, and as has been reiterated I think several times during the committee stage of this bill, it is of vital importance, especially when we take into account, as I said a few minutes ago, that in the 1990 election campaign there was no discussion whatsoever of casino gambling. This was certainly not a policy or a platform advocated by the New Democratic Party of Ontario. They are now the government of Ontario, the governing party in Ontario. The very least the government could agree to is to listen and hear from the people as to whether or not they want casino gambling in their own municipality, and I don't, for the life of me, understand why the government would not adopt or be receptive to such an amendment.
They seem to be quite convinced that the people overwhelmingly want a casino in the city of Windsor. Having attended the hearings in the city of Windsor for a week, I would say that perhaps the majority of the city's residents do want a casino in the city of Windsor. But what is wrong with letting the people in the city express themselves in that municipality about whether or not they indeed want casino gambling? Similarly, for any future casinos which may be located by this or other governments in any municipality throughout the province of Ontario, what is wrong with having that jurisdiction, by way of a referendum, hear from its own constituents, its own residents, its own people, and let them decide whether they want a casino in their own jurisdiction or not?
As Donald Trump was quoted as saying on several occasions in an interview he had with the CBC, he would certainly not want a casino located in any jurisdiction in which he resided. Now, here's an individual who owns casinos, who has been in the business for a number of years, and he indicates that he certainly would not want a casino in any jurisdiction in which he resided.
All I'm saying is, why would you not let the people of any municipality -- why would you not want to hear from them? Why would you not want them to make the ultimate decision that they did or did not want a casino in their municipality?
Mr McClelland: Brampton North, Mr Chairman; I appreciate that. I'm going to reserve comment and just say that in terms of the spirit of the sentiment of this particular amendment, the Liberal Party had coauthored, if my friend from the Conservative Party will give us that indulgence, what he will be introducing as an alternate amendment to section 5.2.
Simply stated, we are in agreement with the concept of a referendum, or a series of referenda, to be more precise, and we would in fact have it on a municipality-by-municipality basis. I'll be speaking at greater length. I'll simply say that in terms of the general principle that my friend from Parry Sound has enunciated, we are in favour of that. Notwithstanding that, we would qualify it somewhat and say that rather than a province-wide referendum, we would rather have it on a city-by-city basis.
Mr Duignan: Without going into all the arguments and counterarguments that took place in the committee, I just wish to point out that our section 5.1, which we'll be coming back to later, gives additional say to the people in the municipality. It sets out that at least one public meeting must be held and a resolution of council must be passed. Also, don't forget that each municipality has the option of including that on a ballot if it wishes, without going to further lengths and including this particular amendment in legislation.
Was there a referendum on casino gambling in British Columbia? Was there a referendum on casino gambling in Alberta? Was there a referendum on casino gambling in Saskatchewan? Indeed, was there even this process in Quebec? The answer is no.
What we're doing is that we are giving a municipal option under section 5.1. Also, as I pointed out earlier, each municipality has the option of including that on the ballot if it so desires at the present time.
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I'd like to ask the member for Parry Sound for a clarification. I apologize; I don't have a copy of his amendment. I listened to his reading of the amendment and in his question, if he would just clarify it for me, I think he said the question would say, "Are you in favour of casino gambling in Ontario?" Would the member please indicate if that is what the question says?
Mr Eves: I said, "Are you in favour of gambling casinos being operated under the Ontario Casino Corporation Act?" which I believe are the words suggested by the member for Wilson Heights in the committee itself.
Mr Kwinter: If I may, the concern I have, and the member's own statement about Mr Trump outlines the problem I have, is that someone may not have a particular concern about casino gambling in a broad sense but may not want it in their particular community. I would be a little happier if the question on the referendum included the words "in your community." What you're doing is, you're asking someone to hold a referendum about a decision for their particular community, but the question is very broad and it's asking, "Are you in favour?" virtually for all of Ontario.
I would think that if it were more pointedly directed to that particular community, then someone might be able to deal with the issue without having to say, "Do we want casino gambling at all, anywhere in Ontario, or am I in favour of having it in my particular community?" I would appreciate his comments on that.
Mr Eves: Fine. I have no problem with amending the question in the wording of subsection (3) to satisfy the concern raised by the member for Wilson Heights. Am I permitted to do that? I would like to move that subsection 5.2(3) be amended to read as follows:
Mr Kwinter: I don't want to nitpick, but I think the wording isn't quite right. I think it's, "Are you in favour of gambling casinos being operated in your community?" If you do it the other way around and you say, "Are you in favour of gambling casinos in your community being operated?" it presupposes that you're going to have it there. The question you're asking is, "If the casino is in your community, are you in favour of the Ontario Casino Corp operating it?" whereas what you really want to say is, "Are you in favour? May gambling casinos be operated in your community under the Ontario Casino Corp," which means you have to make a decision as to whether or not you want them. If you do it the other way around, it presupposes you've already got the casino. You're just deciding who's going to operate it.
Mr Eves: I don't follow the honourable member's rationale. He says now, "Are you in favour of gambling casinos being operated in your municipality under the Ontario Casino Corporation Act?" How would the member like to juxtapose those words to ask what he thinks is the appropriate question?
The Chair: That's correct; that was the Chairman's mistake. The Chairman will read it again. If I make a mistake, you let me know again. "Are you in favour of gambling casinos being operated" -- but you said "community" and he said "municipality;" I will accept "municipality" -- "in your municipality under the Ontario Casino Corporation Act." Agreed? Agreed.
I want to speak briefly to this specific issue. The defence offered by the able-minded parliamentary assistant, Mr Duignan, is that there are other jurisdictions in the province or in this country that have instituted gambling casinos without going through the referendum process and, thereby, that allows us to institute gambling without a referendum. Obviously, the first argument for that is, and I look at the member for Middlesex --
Mr Stockwell: I'm doing my best. The argument is clearly, in the first place: Everyone else has done it. Should we do it? When you're a kid playing on the street, if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge? It's that simple. Just because others have done it doesn't thereby make it right. If every province in this country and every state in the United States went ahead and instituted legalized gambling, I would still feel compelled to consult with the constituents who would have to live with legalized gambling, whether it's through a referendum or some process to allow them the opportunity of changing the fabric of their neighbourhoods, which is what you're doing. With the greatest respect, I suggest the parliamentary assistant, hailing from somewhere due northwest --
Mr Stockwell: Lives in Georgetown. I say to him and the minister, who happens to represent eastern Toronto, how come they have such sway over what the people of Windsor would like in their community, particularly when it comes to casino gambling, when many people have suggested casino gambling and the mob are not far behind one another and they don't know which is first? It seems very clear to me that any reasonable government, changing the very fabric of a community, would allow the community to have some kind of say into what the process is.
The next point he's made is that he says there's going to be a public meeting. Big deal. You have a public meeting about whether or not the YMCA gets an extra gym room; you have a public meeting as to whether or not lights go up at the corner; or a public meeting as to whether or not your school goes from kindergarten to grade 8.
You don't have a public meeting to decide whether we're going to have gambling in our city, one public meeting to decide whether we're going to have gambling. Thereby, a lot of people are going to say, organized crime and a whole bunch of other problems come in.
Public meetings are meant for issues at the grass-roots level that affect communities. This is not affecting a community; it's affecting an entire city, if not region. Surely someone should have an opportunity to say yea or nay.
Now, the final point is this: If I felt their argument remotely believable and credible, I may vest in them the opportunity of making these kind of city-wide decisions for people, but let's be clear about this.
Mr Stockwell: Let's be very clear about this, and I say it right to this Noel Duignan, who lives in Georgetown and represents Halton, I say to you specifically, and I look around and say to the others -- and I note the ex-minister of culture and junior minister to some other ministry, who stood up and defended her constituents on the social contract. I respect her viewpoints and positions because she had the guts to stand up and take a stand --
Mr Stockwell: I'm not so sure I could say it to you because you didn't have the guts to take a stand, nor some of the others who are in here, nor all the others who are in here in fact. But I say to the member for Huron, Mr Klopp, I say to them all, when you campaigned in 1990, I did not hear you suggesting to the people of the province of Ontario what we need --
But, Mr Chair, what I'm saying is that this government of social democrats, this government of opposition to lotteries, for heaven's sake -- lotteries were a tax on the poor. You said: "You can't have lotteries; it's a tax on the poor. How dare you, Conservative government, have a lottery?" This government that's opposed to any form of gambling, if you want to call lotteries gambling, this government that said it's a tax on the poor, it's going to take the hardworking man's and woman's day's wages and fritter them away, is not this government that campaigned on legalized casinos. To think that you have any kind of mandate to institute this is an insult to the taxpayers and absolutely the most hypocritical thing any government has done during the past 25 years.
We may have a difference of opinion with you on some issues, but you had no position on this but one: You were opposed to lotteries, and here you are introducing legalized gambling and you're not giving the people of Windsor an opportunity --
Mr Stockwell: I'm trying, Mr Chair. You'd think the ones who were so bold-facedly hypocritical on an issue would at least have the decency to be silent when they're getting chastised. These people don't even have the decency, after fooling the public in 1990, just pure trickery and introducing this kind of thing -- you'd think they would have the decency, if not at least a little moral suasion that they be quiet. But no, they still yack, they still talk about casino gambling when they have absolutely no room to do that.
I ask them this: Tell me how many provincial legislatures introduced casino gambling in their provinces that were socialist by nature, NDP in fact, elected social democrats like yourselves who also had a position very clear during the election that they oppose lotteries, let alone casinos. I ask the member from Halton who lives in Georgetown, how many of those provinces that instituted gambling had an NDP government and how many of them actually came out beforehand and opposed not only casinos but lotteries as well?
Mr Duignan: I'm always interested and amused by the ravings of the member for Etobicoke West. If he looked at the government that introduced casino gambling in British Columbia, it was a Social Credit government, in Alberta it was a Tory government, Saskatchewan -- Quebec was a Liberal government. All governments of all political stripes introduced casino gaming in some form into their provinces.
I would remind you that we are giving a municipal option to the various municipalities that doesn't exist anywhere else in this country. We're asking that a vote of council take place, we're asking that public meetings take place and, if the people of that particular municipality so wish, that will put enough pressure on the local councillors that I suspect the councillors will introduce a referendum on the local ballot in 1994.
Obviously the member for Etobicoke West hasn't been following the debate in Windsor. There's been extensive consultation over the last 12 or 18 months with the people of Windsor, with the city of Windsor to the various corporations in Windsor, and I have great faith in the elected representatives of the city of Windsor. They know what their people want. They want the casino in Windsor and have great faith in the provincial elected representatives of Windsor because they speak for the people of Windsor and they know the people of Windsor want a casino.
Mr Stockwell: He mentioned some parties. He mentioned the Social Credit and he mentioned Conservatives and he mentioned Liberals. I didn't hear any social democratic parties; I didn't hear any NDP parties; I didn't hear any parties that campaigned against lotteries in the elections when they were elected. I didn't hear about any parties that campaigned against any kind of legalized gambling. All I heard from you were other parties that didn't go on the record as opposed to lotteries and didn't go on the record as opposed to casino gambling. You're opposed. You've been on the record as being opposed. That's the question.
The answer I got is that there hasn't been a social democratic NDP government that legalized gambling in the province that it represents. Why? Because they had some courage of their convictions, I suppose. They weren't so money-hungry and grubbing for every dollar they could grab that they would absolutely throw every principle they have out the window and legalize gambling, which is nothing but a tax on the poor and creates hardships for all the hardworking citizens in the province of Ontario.
The Chair: Order, please. The member for Etobicoke West, please take your chair. The member for Cochrane South, please take your seat. The member for Cochrane South, I find this language offensive, insulting --
I think it's clear that there's been no social democratic -- when I refer those words back, when I give you those words and those positions, those are not my positions. I never espoused those positions in any election. Those are the positions that were put forth by your leader of your government. Those are the kinds of things he said when we were talking about lotteries. Those are the positions that you put forward.
I ask in conclusion, considering the position that you put forward in 1990 and pre-1990, considering that your party was opposed to lotteries as a tax on the poor, considering that you were opposed to any kind of gambling, legal or not, before you were elected in 1990, would you not consider it reasonable, considering you got elected on a mandate which was completely opposite to this piece of legislation, that the people in Windsor be given the opportunity of voting in a referendum and not leaving it up to a local council --
Mr Duignan: Again I must say to the member for Etobicoke West that the people of Windsor have spoken very clearly and very forcefully to their city representatives over the last 12 or 18 months. They want the 8,000-odd jobs in Windsor that the casino will bring not just to the casino but to the related industries.
But again, here's a member from the Tory party. Was there a referendum when the Tories decided to institute Minaki Lodge or buy Suncor shares? No. No, but all of a sudden they want to when we introduce casinos; very selective.
Mr McClelland: Quite frankly, I apologize; I was not paying the attention due to the member for Parry Sound when he read his motion for the amendment. I in fact had two in front of me. One was an alternate that was not put forward. I indicated that we would be supporting the amendment that we are in fact speaking to, which deals with referenda on a municipality- by-municipality basis with respect to the issue and a question being put on the issue of gambling casinos being operated in a particular municipality.
I think any one of us would have some difficulty, I suppose, following the style of the member from Etobicoke, but I simply want to say that when we were at committee in the first instance, during the summer recess, this was a motion that was effectively coauthored by both the member for Parry Sound and myself as critic for the official opposition.
We felt very strongly as we went from place to place across the province that notwithstanding the fact that there were elements of support, there were also elements of concern in municipalities. By way of example, there are issues that not only deal with the appropriateness of a casino but what type of casino, and much of the public opinion in a community turns on the model and the format that it would take.
For example, I say to my friend the parliamentary assistant, when we were in Ottawa there was a very clear vision of what kind of casino that community wanted, and its support of a project, qualified as it was, was only if it was that type of casino, something entirely different than the concept in Windsor. I also hasten to add that there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty in every community we went to, and you will recall that everywhere we went there were people who spoke, in some cases very, very passionately, against the whole concept.
It is not the type of issue, I think, that can be likened to some other decisions that have been made in the past by governments. I would also suggest, quite frankly, that we are in an era, a time, an age of political life where people want to have a sense of participation.
You say it turns simply on the leadership of the community. It seems to me it's much more than that. It's not a matter of a point of interest simply for elected members of a municipal council. Given the intensity and the passion that is felt on this matter, it's the type of thing that is a fundamental change and departure from a policy and an economic direction for a government.
I find it curious as well that a government under whose leader, the Premier of the province, so very, very strongly participated in a referendum on a constitutional issue would be so reluctant to afford the opportunity to municipalities that are considering this to put it on a municipal ballot. Bear in mind in terms of logistics that we have a municipal election coming up in about a year from now.
It's evident that the interim casino itself in Windsor will not be under way until March, perhaps even later, perhaps mid-year, given some of the difficulties that are transpiring with respect to the interim casino. There's surely significant time and opportunity between now and the advent of any subsequent casino projects in this province to put a question very, very clearly on a municipal ballot. The opportunity that just cries out to be seized by the government is the municipal election of 1994.
I think it would be the kind of question put on a referendum that would engender debate in the community, that would allow -- and let me say this very candidly -- some of the myths that have surrounded the casino project to be dealt with. I think it would also allow an opportunity to ask some of the very, very tough questions on the flip side of the coin that this government has not addressed, and there are some tough questions.
I find it curious that every day we ask a question in this House, the minister will say, "Well, I'm just the minister and I've delegated this to other people." The fact of the matter is that there are some very tough questions that need to be asked surrounding this particular project in Windsor.
I don't know if the OPP investigation's going to get around to asking them, but be that as it may, I think an opportunity to put a referenda question to municipalities across this province would afford citizens in those communities and interest groups in those communities the opportunity to really dig in and get some of the answers they want.
I recall being in Niagara Falls, where we wrapped up that day with a very eloquent -- and the parliamentary assistant will remember this. There was a coalition called the Try Another Way Committee out of Niagara Falls. They put to the committee, committee members and government members, some very specific questions in terms of how they would proceed.
I do not want to revisit each and every one of those questions that they put forward. Suffice it to say that the questions were well-thought-out. I think all members of the committee, of all three parties, paid tribute to the members of that coalition and thanked them for the job they had done both in terms of the quality of the presentation and obviously the commitment they brought to the process.
Those questions, I would say to the parliamentary assistant, are still on the table. They haven't been addressed in full. Again, I say that the vehicle of a municipal referendum in an age of political life where public participation has become, I don't want to say simply in vogue but in fact very appropriate in certain circumstances -- I believe this is one of those circumstances.
I would urge the government to reconsider. By the time we come to vote, when we stack the votes on this, there may be an opportunity for the government to reconsider. I would urge people, backbenchers in the government, to really think this through. What we're saying and what the member from the third party has said in his amendment, which I again indicate that we drafted in concert, is that as you go to municipalities, put the question to them in whatever format the city leadership would like that is appropriate with the municipal elections laws. That opportunity is but a year away and it would afford an opportunity for a full and complete discussion.
The municipalities that are targeted currently by this government for casinos -- let's be candid about that. There are at least five locations that are being considered by this government, and I suspect others as well. Those communities know where they are, and I think they can deal with the issue in a very concrete and definitive fashion, given the opportunity for a municipal referendum.
Mr Arnott: I'm pleased to rise this afternoon and speak in support of the amendment put forward by the member for Parry Sound, which, as I understand it, would require the government to have a referendum prior to the establishment of a permanent casino. I think this amendment makes eminent good sense.
When we look at many of the jurisdictions across North America which have established casinos, most in the United States have allowed for a local referendum before they determined whether or not a local community will have a casino established. I think that precedent is something we should all look at positively.
The gist of the parliamentary assistant's argument appears to be that in the establishment of a number of casinos across Canada there have been no referenda, but I think there is absolutely no reason that we should follow that lead. I don't know how successful those casinos have been, but certainly the New Democrats do not take second place in terms of trying to demonstrate to people that they are a different form of government.
I think the main lesson of the constitutional referendum we had last year in Canada was that people want a greater say. They don't want to see deals brokered in back rooms any more. They want a greater say in decisions that affect their communities. Without question, the establishment of a casino will radically alter the community, wherever it is established. The government knows that; the parliamentary assistant knows that. I cannot understand and I cannot accept why the government will not allow the people of that community an opportunity to have a direct say in whether or not their community is changed in this way.
I would ask the parliamentary assistant to reconsider the decision that he has indicated this afternoon, that he's going to oppose the referendum. I think it's very important that the government give the people of Windsor and any of the other communities that may have a casino proposed an opportunity to have a direct say in whether or not that casino is established.
Mr Duignan: Very briefly, to my very good friend the honourable member for Brampton North and indeed the member for Wellington, I'll point out again that section 5.1 -- we're proposing the amendment -- gives that say to the local community and to the local council. If there's enough pressure put on the local council, the local council will say yes or no, and in fact it can put a question on the ballot.
Mr Stockwell: It just seems this government picks and chooses what decisions it wants to allow local councils to make. If they're allowed to make these local decisions, why can't they make the local decision on basement apartments? They're not allowed to make a local decision on that. You implement basement apartments, you tell them they have to have basement apartments; you're not giving them a local option on that. Then when you get a tough issue like this that you've flipped-flopped on and you've taken all sides of all positions and you know it's not a popular move for a socialist government to do and you're going to get bad press, you say, "Well, let the local council decide whether it's a referendum." Why can you not let them make decisions on all those major issues, then? Why can't they make decisions on basement apartments, if they're big enough, smart enough, fair enough and reasonable enough to know their own constituents to make a decision on casino gambling?
Mr Duignan: I can't understand the honourable member for Etobicoke West; indeed, most people can't. However, I will point out that a few minutes ago he wanted a province-wide referendum and now he's opposed to us giving a municipal option. What exactly do you want? Here we are giving the people of the municipality a chance to have a say about whether they want a casino in that municipality or not, and now you're opposed to that?
Mr Stockwell: I didn't get my question answered, Madam Chair. I did not get my question answered. I don't know what the member was blathering about. The question was very clear. If the local council has enough savvy and understanding and concern for what the local constituents want and they can decide whether or not they want casino gambling -- let me give you a clear example -- why are they not smart enough and confident enough to decide on basement apartments and what their constituents want there? You're forcing them into implementing the Planning Act. Why that and not this?
Mr Duignan: Maybe that's a good question for question period. Why don't you direct that question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Housing? Right now we're dealing with the casino bill, and we are giving that option to the local municipalities.
Mr Eves: Thank you, Chair. I've listened to the debate among several members here with respect to our amendment, and I would like to say to the parliamentary assistant that in his response, as some of the rationale or reasoning he gave as to why the province wasn't proceeding with a municipal referendum with respect to casinos, he rhymed off four provinces in Canada. But he will certainly know that in the province of Manitoba, for example, the only casino in the province of Manitoba is I believe in the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, and it is quite a small venture in comparison to what the province of Ontario is proposing. It is also totally owned and operated 100% by the province of Manitoba. He will also know that casinos in Alberta are entirely owned and operated by the province of Alberta. He will also know that casinos in British Columbia I believe are operated by and for the benefit of charitable organizations within the province of British Columbia. So although he is quite correctly pointing out what four other provinces have done -- I can't comment, quite frankly, on the province of Quebec because I don't know exactly how its system is working -- I do know of three of which I speak. It is somewhat different and they are on a much smaller scale per se than what the province of Ontario is proposing here for the city of Windsor as its first casino project.
I might also point out that in almost every other jurisdiction in North America in which casino gambling has been adopted, there have overwhelmingly been referendums or plebiscites in those states or municipalities within those states where casino gambling is being proposed. As a matter of fact, as has come out several times, especially during the hearings in Windsor and other places, the city of Detroit in the state of Michigan I believe has rejected casino gambling in its jurisdiction, I forget whether it's three or four times.
It's fine for him to say, "Well, what happened in these four provinces?" but in three of those provinces, really we're talking about a relatively small casino on the scale that perhaps the B'nai Brith Foundation operates on here in the province of Ontario.
The parliamentary assistant says, "Well, we're somewhat addressing that concern by our amendment to section 5.1 of the bill," which you've stood down until section 19 is dealt with. I understand the parliamentary assistant and the government's proposal in that regard, their proposed amendment to section 5.1. However, I would say to him and to the government that this is fine as far as it goes, but it really is not a referendum. One public meeting with 15 days' advance notice and no action by a municipality for seven days does not exactly equal giving every adult resident in that municipality a say in whether or not he or she wants casino gambling in their municipality. I don't think you can exactly equate the two.
Mr Eves: No, that's being exempted because the city of Windsor has already dealt with theirs without having a public meeting. The government is proposing that this new section 5.1 will be fine for every other municipality that might want a casino in the future, but it's not fine for the city of Windsor, where we're going to put our first casino, because the city of Windsor has already had a council meeting in which, to be fair, municipal council has I believe unanimously endorsed the proposed concept of casino gambling in the city of Windsor.
However, that does not equate, I say again, with all due respect to the parliamentary assistant, to a referendum or a plebiscite, whatever terminology you want to use: a say that every person or resident who's an adult and of voting age has in the municipality in which you propose to locate a casino. I think the venture that the province of Ontario is undertaking is a very substantial one indeed, if you attended any of the hearings, the groups that came forward, including your own Coopers and Lybrand report. We're talking about a very significant investment here of somewhere in the neighbourhood of $300 million to $400 million for the casino project that we're talking about in the city of Windsor. Indeed, that is far in excess of anything they have in at least the three western provinces.
And there's really the social aspect of this as well. There are other concerns. I don't want to bring in other sections of the bill except to say that there are numerous societal concerns that have been raised throughout the public hearing process and throughout the clause-by-clause process in committee, and amendments have been made by our party and by the Liberal Party of Ontario as well to try and address some of those societal concerns in the legislation. The government says: "We don't want to amend the bill to address those concerns, but trust us: We're looking at them. We'll take them into account in the future when we see how the Windsor operation goes. Trust us: We'll do something about gambling addiction. Trust us: We'll do something about social assistance. Trust us: We'll do something about law enforcement." But they don't want them enshrined in the legislation or the regulations. I find that somewhat disconcerting, and I think the people who are residents of municipalities in which the government proposes to locate gambling casinos should find them somewhat disconcerting as well.
There are amendments with respect to giving municipalities direct revenue sharing in the proceeds from casinos that are within their municipalities. Again, the government has rejected those amendments in committee.
So it's with some concern -- and I think this goes to the crux of the issue. I think the government would be well served, in fact the government could support its case, especially in the city of Windsor, by holding a referendum or a plebiscite and getting that overwhelming confirmation as to whether or not the residents in that municipality want to see a casino gambling project, as proposed by the provincial government, in their municipality.
Mr Eves has said on the record -- and this may elicit some response from him because I say this, I hope, in a helpful fashion -- that the city of Windsor council has unanimously endorsed the idea of a casino. That in fact is true. I hasten to add there are some qualifications on that, and I think it's very important because it speaks to the whole issue of a municipal referendum with respect to gaming.
The city of Windsor said it wanted a casino, but it put on a few qualifications, and Mr Eves has mentioned one of them. One of the qualifications was that there be some direct benefit derived to the city. As Mr Eves has indicated, I introduced amendments that would have provided that opportunity, a regulatory scheme would set up a formula or formulae across the province, as the case may be, to render to the city sufficient funds to pick up the costs associated with the operation of the casino. Make note, and there's no question about it, there will be costs associated with the casino, very significant costs, one might add.
I would like to put the question again to city council. The answer may be the same, but would they still support it, given the fact that the government is not prepared to allow them to have any direct benefit? Would they support it, given the fact that throughout this process the government has virtually ignored the city's input? Would they support it, given the fact that the proponents who came forward and said, "We want a Windsor component; we want a made-in-Canada component to the proposal," have been effectively eliminated from the list and all we have remaining are Las Vegas-style casinos?
In the first instance, the government said: "We will have a made-in-Canada type project. It will address concerns of the city. We will have the city involved." The fact of the matter is that the city has not received the opportunity to have benefit directly accrued to it. The amendments put forward by both opposition parties were rejected out of hand by the government, and they will not see financial return in a direct way to cover the costs associated with the operation of the casino.
Moreover, the government also said at the outset: "Trust us. We're going to go with a Canadian-style" -- whatever that means -- "project in Windsor. It will not be the glitz and the glamour and all the problems associated with the Las Vegas and New Jersey type casinos." But what do we have in the final instance? The proponents who came forward and said, "We want to work with labour in the city of Windsor; we want to have a component of Windsor management in this," have been ignored. You can ask person by person on city council, and the mayor, and I would suspect they would say: "We weren't really consulted in terms of the selection process. In fact, not only were we not consulted, the concerns we had were virtually ignored."
I suspect there would be a different response now on city council in Windsor, in cities that would be looking at what happened there in terms of the process, than there was beforehand, because what happened was this: There was a project put up in terms of a theory of how we were going to do this, and when it came to reality the rules of the game changed along the way, and they changed significantly.
They changed most significantly, I would say to you, Madam Chairperson, with respect to the Canadian and the made-in-Canada component and the Windsor component to the project. That was virtually ignored, and I think any objective analysis of what took place would substantiate the position that they were ignored. The city of Windsor was ignored in terms of the selection process and it was not given the revenues.
I say to my friend the member for Parry Sound, yes, they did, the city did endorse it, but I suspect now that you'd have a different response. I think that's why it's critical that municipalities be given the opportunity to hear the whole story and not part of it. I'll tell you this: The people in Windsor would say: "Now we're seeing the rest of the story. Now we're seeing how the government is really going ahead with this process and it has not been dealt to us the way we were told it would be in the first instance."
Mr Eves: The only comment I would like to make is that the comments the member for Brampton North makes are quite accurate. I don't believe the council for the city of Windsor really understood all the ramifications. They certainly were in favour and I presume still are in favour of the concept of a casino owned by the province in the city of Windsor.
However, having said that, the mayor of Windsor, several councillors and numerous officials, both private and public, appeared before us during the committee deliberations in Windsor, the hearing process, and they unanimously, I believe I'm correct in saying, asked for some direct municipal revenue-sharing in the proceeds from the casino in their own municipality.
There are going to be many societal problems. There are going to be law enforcement problems. There are going to be costs that the city's going to have to endure as a result of the project being located there.
Now, the government, to its some credit, has indicated that it's prepared to look at the law enforcement costs. It has indicated that it's prepared to talk to the city about what degree of extra financial compensation or resources will be needed to address the law enforcement problem. However, that is somewhat different from the municipality getting a direct share of the revenue itself and being able to satisfy itself that it can deal with its problems itself that are a result of the casino project being located there.
I would think that not only the people on city council in the city of Windsor but indeed the residents of the city of Windsor would want to know that they have a say in the type of casino that's going to be there, in the societal problems that are undoubtedly going to arise as a result of the casino being there as well as the concept of a casino in the first place. I think those are some very significant considerations, which again give further credence to supporting the basis for a referendum or letting the people decide in their own municipality.
Mr Eves: Yes. I gave to the clerk of the committee earlier a package of proposed amendments. I would like to withdraw the amendment with respect to subsection 5.2(1) that I gave to her, which is simply a paragraph about a referendum in municipalities, because it really is redundant to the one we've just been debating.
I would like to introduce an amendment. I apologize for having done this at the last moment, but this really is exactly the same amendment I introduced in the standing committee which deals with the idea of a referendum, except that in this case it's a province-wide referendum. It is an alternate amendment to the amendment which I just -- unfortunately I don't know what the result of that vote is going to be, although I can guess. I would like to introduce this alternate amendment with respect to section 5.2.
There's no point in elaborating much further, quite frankly, about the referendum issue. We're still debating the same principle and the same issue. If the government doesn't wish to have municipalities in which it wants casinos located decide this issue by way of referendum or plebiscite, this amendment is simply to let the provincial government take the initiative to have one province-wide referendum so that the people of Ontario can decide whether or not they wish to have gambling casinos in the province of Ontario, as indeed many states in the United States of America have done and other jurisdictions have done with respect to gambling casinos.
Mr Eves: Section 5.3: I'm going to be withdrawing this proposed amendment. Suffice it to say that the reason for prompting this amendment in the first place had been, and there still is, a great deal of questioning going on. In fact we had some questioning going on in the House about the proposals that have been submitted to the province of Ontario, nine initially, which have been reduced to four.
There also have been some questions raised by myself and others, most notably the member for Brampton North, about the four final proponents that have been put on the short list and whether or not they were given some privilege of revising their proposals before they were submitted. However, perhaps the amendment that I had proposed is a rather drastic step in that it would require the province to lay before the Legislative Assembly the proposed final contract and have the Legislative Assembly approve it.
Really, the amendment was drafted somewhat out of frustration in that the minister has steadfastly refused to agree to make public all nine proposals at the end of the day, including of course the successful one, so that at the end of the day the public and others can judge for themselves whether or not all bases were covered, so to speak, and all concerns that many people had, including the proponents themselves, had been addressed.
Mr McClelland: Unfortunately, I was drafting it at this moment. I think legislative counsel is somewhere in the wings and might help. I would have section 5.3 and I would move that the bill be amended by adding the following section. It would be subtitled, I suppose, "Tabling of lease arrangements." Forgive me, Madam Chair. I know I'm taking a fair bit of latitude here, but I would have it read as follows:
Mr McClelland: We'll stand it down then, and I'll proceed as expeditiously as I can to put it in the appropriate writing. Again, with your indulgence, if I could have the assistance of legislative counsel, who I know are just in the wings, they may in fact pick up on what I've said and help with the drafting thereof.
Mr McClelland: Similar to other amendments, we debated this at considerable length in committee. I want to advise members of the House and those who might be watching that the genesis of this particular amendment was in fact concerns expressed not only by official representatives of the city of Windsor, the mayor and others, but as well by the chief of police.
I note with interest -- and I could but I will not read at length -- that Hansard of October 8, at which time we discussed this particular amendment in committee, set out a number of arguments by a number of members of the committee. One of the more interesting ones -- and I'm glad he's here today because I'm always loath to comment on statements made by my colleagues on the other side of the House when they're not present -- was by the member for Windsor-Walkerville.
He spoke at length, and it appears in the Hansard of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs on page F-717. He spoke at length about the appropriateness of having the amendment accepted by the government. The city expressed its concerns; the chief of police expressed a number of concerns. In short, what the amendment would do is require a person to be 21 years of age to gamble in the province of Ontario. I'm not sure I can do it justice, quite frankly, but if I can try and summarize, the rationale given by Chief Adkin of the city of Windsor was as follows.
We have a different set of laws, obviously, in Ontario than they do in Michigan. It is stated quite plainly and quite clearly by the casino project and consultants that they wish to draw significantly upon the American market. In point of fact, some would suggest that an 80% market share drawn from Michigan would help the numbers -- in other words, the return -- of the casino project, so there will clearly be an attempt to draw people over from Michigan to gamble in the city of Windsor. I would suspect that there will be advertising; there will be packages and the usual course of marketing. That market is central to the success -- not only Michigan but, I might add, throughout Ohio and swinging down within an approximately 300-kilometre radius of the city of Windsor, which would pick up obviously Ohio and parts of New York, I believe, as well.
I'm sure the problem that ensues or is anticipated by the chief of police is as follows. They would tell you -- and I can only go by their experience, and far be it from me to question the experience of somebody as astute as the chief of police of the city of Windsor -- that what happens there is that they draw a tremendous number of young people from the state of Michigan who, quite frankly, haven't had the experience of drinking. Let's just tell it as it is. They come over to Ontario because they can drink earlier than they can in Michigan. There's no sense of education or responsibility, that component that I think, and I say this quite candidly, a number of governments have tried to institute in the province of Ontario in terms of consuming alcohol. I might add parenthetically that it's not just the government of the province, but that in fact breweries and distilleries have taken some very, very significant steps in trying to tie responsibility to the consumption of alcohol in this province.
I'm not aware of any like programs -- I'm not saying they don't exist -- in the state of Michigan, but the fact of the matter is that in the experience of the city of Windsor, as shared with us by the police chief and other civic leaders, they often on weekends have serious problems with young persons who come over from Michigan and drink heavily in a short period of time. They come over and, to use the vernacular, go on a bit of a binge in Windsor because they can do it here and they can't do it back home. That leads to all kinds of problems, and the police will tell us they have an inordinate number of calls for assistance in drinking establishments in the city of Windsor related to that particular scenario I just set forth.
The chief of police said it would provide him and his police force with a significantly greater level of assurance to have the participation in casinos linked more closely to or in line with the drinking age in the state of Michigan. It seemed to us that this is a significant request by the chief of police of Windsor that speaks to the quality of life for citizens in Windsor and, more importantly, the ability of the police to do their job.
The chief has said that he is concerned that he will already be taxed to the limit in terms of what resources are made available for the women and men who serve in his police force with the advent of casino gambling in Windsor. He sees it as potentially problematic to draw a particular age group that is already causing difficulties in his city. That is his evidence as put before the committee and corroborated by the mayor and others. They, in their wisdom, felt it important enough to come to the committee and ask for a specific amendment.
The parliamentary assistant has said: "You can't really justify an amendment like that. You have to have some sort of rationale for it." I would suggest that surely the rationale that I would want to act on is a request from the senior law enforcement officer for Windsor, supported, as I said, by the civic leader of that town, the mayor.
The member for Windsor-Walkerville said: "The chief speaks from a great deal of experience. I've shared some of that experience as well. I've gone out with the police in the city of Windsor on a Saturday night. I've travelled around with them and I've seen the sorts of problems that are caused by young people who come over to Windsor and consume too many alcoholic beverages and, for whatever reasons, decide to beat each other up in parking lots. I don't understand the basis for that sort of activity or why people find that entertaining, but that is what happens in the city of Windsor."
The member for Windsor-Walkerville goes on and speaks again about the experience of the police and the fact that he feels, as a representative of that city, that it's important to give the police the tools they feel they need. I thought we might get some support from the government on that. The way the numbers broke down -- and I don't say this to embarrass the member for Windsor-Walkerville, but at the end of the day the government brought out the minister's staff and others and prevailed upon the member for Windsor-Walkerville, notwithstanding what he said in committee, to vote against that amendment. I can only ask that he and others of his colleagues in government reconsider at this point in time and subsequently when we vote on the stacked vote.
It seems to me that we went to committee with the idea, in good faith, of listening to people. The only evidence we heard with respect to this issue was in favour of this particular amendment, and that evidence, I would submit to my colleagues in this House, was from somebody who I think is eminently qualified to make the recommendation that was made.
I would only hope the government would reconsider, not necessarily the amendment that I'm putting forward, but, I hasten to add, that I'm putting forward on behalf of the chief of police of the city of Windsor and all of the women and men who work under his leadership, and the request made by the mayor and council of Windsor. It's interesting to note that the rationale given by the parliamentary assistant for some of the amendments was, "The reason we're doing it is because Windsor wants it" or "Windsor needs it."
We will hear, either later today or tomorrow, some discussion on a very contentious amendment with respect to section 19. The rationale that will be given at that time, I predict, will be that the city of Windsor wants it, and that makes it okay. We'll get into the arguments pro and con for that at the appropriate time. Surely if that is sufficient rationale -- "Because the city wants it" -- on something that I would say is much more controversial and much more problematic, that rationale should substantiate the support of the government members on this amendment. We are asking the members of the government to do what the city wants, what the police want. He may wish to speak and he's more than capable of speaking for himself; one of the members, the very well-respected member for Windsor-Walkerville, said it was appropriate for that city.
I would ask members to reconsider and support this amendment that would require, at least for a period of time, if the government wishes to amend it and put a time frame on it so there would be an opportunity to monitor it -- allow the city of Windsor to have its request to have the age of gambling be 21 to try and pre-empt some of the problems that are anticipated by, again, somebody I think is eminently qualified to comment on that issue; namely, the chief of police.
At the risk of sounding trite, it's often said by, I'm sure, most of our families and friends and elders that from time to time an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think this is the kind of preventive measure that we really need to take and be careful if the government is bound and determined to go ahead, as it seems that it is, with this project at this point in time.
Mr Eves: I would just like to briefly comment on this amendment. We have a very similar amendment which we will not be moving in light of the Liberal amendment, because there's no need to duplicate, as indeed was the same situation in the standing committee.
Section 6 is a section that has received all kinds of attention during committee deliberations. Subsection (1) was amended and the government accepted our amendment on that. Indeed, compromise amendments to subsections (5) through (8) were also reached in the committee as well.
I think the member for Brampton North is quite correct when he says the only evidence we heard during our committee deliberations both in the city of Windsor and indeed in Toronto as well, but especially in Windsor, because the chief of police made it a point to come before the committee on the very first day -- he asked for several things. One, of course, was support with respect to law enforcement as a result of the casino project. But also, very significantly I think, he addressed the issue of the age and asked that the committee consider raising the age from 19 to 21.
We also heard exactly the same evidence given by the mayor of the city of Windsor and indeed several other people in the community who were very supportive of the chief of police's request and the mayor's request to raise the age for persons allowed to gamble in the casino from 19 to 21 years of age.
We did hear from the government on this. They advised that it was -- I don't want to put words in their mouth, and I'm sure the parliamentary assistant won't let me do that, and he'll be up in a few moments to speak on behalf of the government. But the government seems to be taking the tack that unless there is some extraordinary reason why you would move the age limit from 19 to 21, perhaps such an amendment would not stand the test of jurisprudence or would not stand some judicial review.
I think the evidence that's been put forward by both the chief of police and the mayor of the city of Windsor, as well as numerous other witnesses before the committee, certainly speaks volumes to the need for such an amendment. I would certainly hope the government would reconsider its position, which I think is a very non-partisan matter but a very important matter to the people of Windsor and the operation of the casino project over time in the city of Windsor.
There were a couple of Windsor members from the government side who sat in through the committee deliberations, and I speak of the member for Windsor-Riverside and the member for Windsor-Sandwich. I believe they were there and heard the testimony given by the chief of police and the mayor, as well as several other witnesses. I didn't hear any witness say that he or she thought it was not appropriate and to leave the age limit alone at 19. There may have been one, but the overwhelming majority were in favour of raising the age limit, and I would certainly like to hear from the parliamentary assistant with respect to this amendment being moved here today.
Mr Duignan: On this whole question of raising the gambling age from 19 to 21 in relation to casino gambling, first of all, the government is in deep sympathy indeed with the police chief and the mayor of Windsor about some of the problems that are caused, particularly on the weekends, with excessive drinking with people who apparently come from Detroit. However, I think the honourable member for Wilson Heights hit it on the head in the committee when he said it wasn't gambling-related, that it was alcohol-related and that that was the problem.
I draw members' attention to the fact that Dr Ron Ianni -- he's president of the institute of policy analysis in the University of Toronto -- when he was asked that question by the honourable member for Brampton North, in his reply states:
"In this day and age, the control of young people is obviously problematic, but given their exposure to television and everything, I'm not quite sure that you can merely close your eyes to it. The difference in this day and age between 19 and 21 I'm not sure is as significant as it might have been in earlier days. I think people mature much more quickly and are exposed to many more diversions, distractions and, might I say, evils than might have ever been the case in earlier times. I'm not quite sure you can shelter those people from it, and once again it may be that the educational institutions, including the high schools, are going to have to do some work, and we may have to of course cooperate with our neighbours in the United States to make sure that whatever programs have been developed are made available on both sides of the border."
Then again, I think at that point in the committee I filed a letter with the committee in relation to the legal question on the question of raising the age limit, and the letter was from the deputy minister on that particular question. For the benefit of those members who were not on the committee, and indeed for the people who are watching these proceedings this afternoon, I would like to read part of that letter from the deputy minister:
"The charter guarantees equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination on the basis of age. The age of majority is 18. There are many laws which draw distinctions on the basis of age. Currently in Ontario the age of 16 is set for driving and withdrawing from parental care. The age of 18 is required for voting, contracting and for gambling outside of casinos, and a higher age of 19 has been set for the drinking of alcohol."
"We also believe that any departure from the age of majority required in other contexts has to be justified by the government as being reasonable. This justification requires evidence to support the government's stated objective.
"In addition, certain jobs in the casino require that the employees in effect play games of chance as agents of the house. This includes blackjack dealers, baccarat dealers and other table games. If individuals under 21 are not permitted to gamble in a casino, this would also exclude 19- and 20-year-olds from these jobs.
"In order to justify drawing the line at age 21, the government would have to demonstrate that 19- and 20-year-olds, while mature enough to do everything else, including gambling at racetracks, bingos, charitable casinos and lotteries, are not mature enough to gamble at casinos. In the absence of such evidence, there is real likelihood that a higher age limit would not be justified under the charter."
Mr McClelland: I didn't think I'd debate it at quite the length, but the parliamentary assistant brings up a couple of interesting points. First of all, far be it from me to question my former dean of my law school, now president of the University of Windsor, with respect to his opinion, but I say with respect to Dr Ianni, as you read it into the record, that that's his opinion, and there's an opinion of somebody equally prominent in a position of leadership in that community who says the age of 19 is a problem.
The parliamentary assistant will stand in his place and say that the government has to justify it, that it's the job of the government to justify it. I say to the parliamentary assistant, then get the government to do the work, to do the job and to justify it. If you have concerns, pursue the matter with the chief of police of Windsor and other law enforcement officials. Take his testimony, put it before the minister, put it before the ministry to determine whether or not it is viable. To dismiss it out of hand and say, "Well, we will have some challenges; it's problematic" is quite frankly a frivolous argument.
Government is based on leadership and taking positions and dealing with those challenges. Visit the issue, talk about it and solicit the kind of expert advice that may, if you did your homework, support the position of having the age of 21 as being the appropriate age.
Dr Ianni did not say and the letter you read did not say it would be defeated. It said it may be a problem. The flip side is that it may be supported. The courts may very well support it and say it's a reasonable limitation put by a competent government in terms of its jurisdiction.
It begs the question to say, "We might have some difficulty with it." If you have some difficulty with it, deal with it. If there's evidence put forward by somebody who has the expertise who deals with it on a day-to-day basis in the community, namely, the chief of police, surely that is some evidence that leads you to a conclusion that there is a rationale or a defensible rationale for the intrusion. You can't simply say, "It may come before the Ontario Human Rights Code and it may be challenged under the charter." Yes, it may be, but it may be sustained as reasonable under the charter and appropriate under the Human Rights Code.
I say to the parliamentary assistant, you can't dismiss it out of hand by saying it'll be difficult. My goodness, you wouldn't even have begun this project if you had to throw it all out because you're having difficulties all over the place. Your minister is scrambling from day to day in terms of managing this issue. She can't get a lease together in time and there are all kinds of problems. You're having difficulties, so you deal with it. That's the responsibility of government and the responsibility of the minister.
I say to the parliamentary assistant, don't dismiss it out of hand by saying you'll have difficulties. Address the difficulties. Is it a good idea? Does it make sense? Does it maybe make sense and prevent some problems in the community? Are you prepared to risk something in terms of security and difficulty in law enforcement, as put forward by the chief of police, because it may cause you some problems? Apparently you are.
I say that the people of Windsor and the people of this province expect and should expect a greater degree of responsibility from the government, to say, "We will try and deal with it and we'll canvass the issue and we'll get into it in some substantive manner," and get the evidence you need to support it, or at least commit to doing a comprehensive review of the law, and go out there and get some evidence that would at least allow you to make -- I say this with respect -- an educated statement with respect to the viability of the proposed amendment than simply to dismiss it and say, "We're going to have some difficulties, so we're not going to do it."
Mr Duignan: Just very briefly, we have great sympathy with the police chief of Windsor, indeed the mayor of Windsor, and some other border cities too like Niagara Falls, and indeed on the Quebec-Ontario border, we look at the Hull-Ottawa issue where it's in the reverse situation where the borders are open there at 3 o'clock in the morning.
The question is not gambling-related, it's alcoholrelated, and the honourable member for Brampton North understands that alcohol will be available in casinos. It will not be available on the floor of the gaming area, but people 19 and over will still have the right to go into the casino to drink if they wish.
I also extended an offer to the opposition at that point, at the committee hearings, that if it could provide extensive data, such as the Offer committee did, we would be willing to give it to our constitutional lawyers to review. Our government feels at this time there isn't substantial evidence to move the gambling age from 19 to 21.
Mr McClelland: Let's get real here. You're the government. Don't ask the opposition to come out with the "extensive data." You do it. You've got the resources, you have the legal department and you've got literally dozens upon dozens of staff at the ministry to take a look at it. Quite frankly, to suggest that it's incumbent upon the opposition to do a legal analysis is absurd. You have before you, as I said before, evidence submitted by the chief of police. Act on that, do something about it and you get the data. You do your job as government.
Mr Eves: Just very briefly, the member for Brampton North I think has a valid comment in that the government is indeed the government. It is their responsibility to determine whether or not it is appropriate to look further into the fact of raising the gambling age from 19 to 21. There was one individual who appeared before the committee who said that was perhaps not needed, and the parliamentary assistant has read extensively from his remarks. I just wonder why the parliamentary assistant hasn't read very extensively from the remarks of all the witnesses who appeared before the committee who were overwhelmingly in favour of raising the age from 19 to 21.
He seems to be using that particular bit of evidence or testimony before the committee as the logical rationale for his support not to raise the limit. But it would seem to me that if you have figures meaning nothing, 19 people appearing before the committee, one of whom is the chief of police in the city of Windsor, another of whom is the mayor of the city of Windsor and numerous other significant people in the city of Windsor, and one significant person in the city of Windsor says it's not necessary, the overwhelming evidence is 19 to 1, or whatever that figure is, in favour of raising the age limit.
It would seem to me that if the government is assuming its responsibility as government, it should be doing some fact-finding and research of its own to see whether or not raising the age limit is indeed warranted and whether the chief of police and the mayor and numerous other officials from the city of Windsor and numerous other public and private individuals in the city of Windsor have a valid point that the age limit should be raised from 19 to 21.
It would appear to most of us having sat on the committee, and even I might say to the member for Windsor-Riverside who spoke at some length, and I thought quite well, in the standing committee during clause-by-clause in support of paying adherence to these numerous people from the city who appeared and requested that the age limit be raised from 19 to 21 -- it would seem to me as if the government is just saying to itself, "Well, that's too difficult an issue for us to tackle and we couldn't be bothered going around doing our homework and finding out what indeed the facts are, so we'll just rely upon the testimony of the only individual who didn't want the age limit raised." It seems to me that just isn't, quite frankly, good enough.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I haven't heard the first part of this debate, but one of the concerns I have when you start talking about age -- in my riding we have just gone through a coroner's inquest with respect to the age limit on drinking, the age limit on driving, and obviously, the people in my riding, rightly or wrongly, have felt a great deal of concern about that specific issue.
I quite appreciate that this has nothing to do with gambling other than the fact that it should draw to the government's attention that before you get into something like this, you should research it properly. I gather there have been very few, if any, statistics done --
Mr Tilson: I'm simply saying that you just don't go in with a blindfold over your eyes and say, "We're going to pick a particular age." There are other jurisdictions around this world, in North America, that have studied specific ages and it doesn't sound like, as in all other matters with respect to gambling casinos or casino gambling in this province, the government has looked at that. They simply said, "We're going to have a gambling casino, a pilot project in Windsor, and how we do it we're not too sure, but we're going to go ahead and we're going to sort of go through trial by error."
I guess my point is that we should be taking the example of these tragedies, the fact that there are problems over age limits. I quite appreciate that has very little, if anything, to do with gambling casinos other than it's drawn to the government's attention. Before you get into that, let's have some studies. Let's look at it rather than just simply blindly go ahead and pick an age.
The member for Brampton North has just penned a further amendment to section 6. It is presently in the process of being photocopied so that the parliamentary assistant and the two opposition parties have a copy of Mr McClelland's amendment.
Mr McClelland: Let me at the outset say that this amendment is largely as a result of concerns raised not exclusively -- I don't think you'd want me to suggest that -- but largely raised, I think, given a fair bit of air time, if you will, by Mr Phillips, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.
The essential point of this amendment, quite frankly, is to make sure that the taxpayers of Ontario don't get stuck with any bills. I suppose that's a very direct -- I don't think crass -- but very direct way of saying it.
We felt it was necessary to protect Ontario taxpayers from picking up the tab for any losses that would result from the operation of a casino. Regrettably, I say that the government members in committee rejected that.
We wanted to make sure the government of Ontario would not be, at any point in time, called upon to bail out any casino. We wanted the government to have as a part or a stipulation of the contract that all operators of a casino would guarantee that the province in the final result, in other words the taxpayer, would not be responsible for any losses.
We would not want to suggest that the government of the day is prepared to gamble on casinos with taxpayers' dollars, but I guess that's what they want to do. They say in the final analysis, "Don't worry, we'll take care of it." That's the argument we've heard before. "Trust us on this one. We're going to make sure that we review the contract very, very carefully and that the province won't be on the hook fir this one." I would say there's a sense that they're so caught up in this casino fever that they're not prepared to sit down and say, "Let's think this through very, very carefully and make sure we write into the legislation a provision that would require operators to be solely responsible for any operating deficit."
It's interesting to note that the view is: "Don't worry about this. This is a gold mine. This is a cash cow. We're going to make all kinds of money on this. The operator's going to make money, the province is going to make money, the city's going to make money and everybody will be happy." That's wonderful.
What if, two or three years from now, Detroit goes ahead and establishes not one, but two, three or four, perhaps more, casinos and we find that the draw into Windsor isn't there? What if that happens? What if the operator, for reasons that none can really predict, finds himself in financial difficulty? Bear in mind that there are a number of operations in Las Vegas and New Jersey that are currently under receivership. That can happen. What are we going to do then? Are we just going to say: "That's all right. The province will keep this thing alive and well and keep pumping money into it"?
We have said that we think the operator should state very, very clearly, so that there's no question, so that people know up front, so that municipalities know up front, municipalities that go out and say, "We really want that casino for our jurisdiction," that there will be a contractual guarantee that the taxpayer doesn't pick up the tab if things go off the rails. That may not happen. The government members and the parliamentary assistant would say: "Trust us. This is going to be a gold mine. We're going to make lots of money. Don't worry. We'll be judicious in terms of drafting the contract. We'll make sure that the people of Ontario are taken care of." If that's the case, put it in the legislation.
One of the arguments given in committee was that if you do that, we're going to scare away investment in the province of Ontario; this from a government that has done more to curtail investment in the province than any other jurisdiction in North America. They're saying now, "We're afraid to scare people away," because we want to put in a $350-million project and make sure that somewhere down the road, the province of Ontario, the taxpayer, doesn't pick up the tab.
I say to the parliamentary assistant and members of the government party that if you're so convinced that you're going to make a ton of money, that everybody's going to come out smelling of roses on this one, then put it in the legislation and live by what you say. Support this amendment. I say again what the member for Scarborough-Agincourt raised at length, time and time again: Ask questions about the economic viability of this project. Ask questions about the modelling that was used, the best-case scenarios that were extrapolated, the types of experiences that were had in New Jersey. Ask those questions over and over again.
I don't want to revisit them all at this point in time. Suffice it to say that it's not all rosy, that there are some difficulties, that there are casinos that are operating in the red, that are losing money. They're losing money in New Jersey and they're losing money in Las Vegas. As I said, some of them are into receivership. We're not immune from that possibility. I'm not saying it's going to happen; it may happen. In the event it does happen, make sure the rest of the people of Ontario aren't on the hook. If a city is so anxious to get into it, let them deal with the operator. Bring them into the picture and find some accommodation. But don't spread the potential loss to each man, woman and child in the province or Ontario now and for goodness knows how long to come.
Mr Tilson: The Conservatives will be supporting the amendment put forward by the member for Brampton North. It is rather astounding that the government is going to be taking a position anything other than what the member for Brampton North has said. When you get into an adventure such as this, it's going to cost a lot of money. The government feels it's going to be a booming success, that it's going to solve a lot of the financial problems in this province, that it's not going to have the difficulties, that there aren't going to be the losses that we have been predicting. From the province's point of view or from the taxpayers' point of view, I hope they're right. I hope it is a booming success. I don't think it will be. There are too many unknowns.
One of the members over here said, "What about the Dome?" It doesn't matter which party got us into that; the very fact of the matter is that there are adventures. Whether it's a Conservative government or a Liberal government or a New Democratic government, we've got into these things, and the taxpayer takes the brunt.
The member for Brampton North is perfectly right: Why should the taxpayer do that? Why should the taxpayer really be the guarantor of an adventure that has the possibility of failing? He's perfectly right to repeat some of his examples, whether it be a gambling casino across the river or an aboriginal gambling casino, which is quite possible in this particular area. There are all kinds of things that could happen.
The other thing, of course, that one needs to look at is that this is a bill where the government says, "Oh, it's just a pilot project." I would take the position that this is a bill that applies to all of the gambling casinos this government could put forward, whether it be in Windsor, Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie or any of the other five places that have been suggested -- or four places, whatever the numbers are. So we have to look at this very carefully. If the losses are as high as could be predicted, the taxpayer will be groaning. I will say that to go into an adventure such as this based solely on the understanding that it's going to be a successful adventure is totally irresponsible. To simply guarantee an operation is inexcusable.
I would hope the government would support the member for Brampton North's amendment, because it is a most logical amendment and it makes good business sense, aside from your philosophy as to whether -- and this government obviously is in great support of gambling casinos. This government is supporting the philosophy of the province of Ontario getting into gambling. That's their choice. If you're going to make that choice, at the very least make a sound business decision. The decision you're making is not a sound business decision, so I would ask that the members of the government support the amendment as proposed by the member for Brampton North.
Mr Eves: I would just like to briefly address this point as well. This is an issue that was discussed at great length in the committee as well, especially during the clause-by-clause deliberations of the bill. Actually, it was quite a unique circumstance, as I recall it, the day this was discussed in committee, because we had the deputy minister and one of the assistant deputy ministers, Mr Alfieri, appear before the committee and try to explain several matters to the committee over really what was the noonhour, I believe. They were elsewhere in the city at a different meeting and they gave of their time to come to the committee and try to help explain the matter, except I think in the eyes of some members at least, it further helped to somewhat confuse the matter.
I'm not going to put words in their mouths -- we can look into Hansard -- but Mr Alfieri said that one reason the government couldn't agree to such an amendment is that you might scare off some proponents or future operators of casinos in the province. Then when the deputy spoke, she said, oh, no, that isn't what Mr Alfieri meant to say at all.
Well, we know what Mr Alfieri said and we know what she said, and it would appear as if there's a complete difference of opinion between the ADM and the DM in the ministry as to why they don't want this amendment that would make operators solely responsible. I believe she indicated to the committee that of course the government, in any proposal it accepted from any operator, would insist that the operator would be responsible for any shortcomings or deficits, but we can't put that in the statute for some reason. That logic escapes me.
Under further questioning from various members of the committee, and I am paraphrasing here, she indicated, if there are any future casinos in the province, they may not be operated in the same fashion that this one's being operated in, and that there may not be exactly the same government-private operator sharing proposal as is going to happen in the Windsor casino in future casinos. I believe she even alluded to the fact that perhaps the government in the future could operate its own casinos 100%. She spoke momentarily of native casinos. Then she was questioned about those comments.
I think that, if anything, probably the presence of the deputy minister and the assistant deputy minister just served to further confuse various members of the committee as to why the government will not acquiesce in the amendment that the member for Brampton North has proposed here today, and indeed proposed in the standing committee.
I think it makes perfect sense. If the government representatives mean what they say, that of course the province would never be responsible for the operating deficit of a casino that is to be operated by a private operator, and that of course the government would never enter into any contractual arrangement with any private operator that wouldn't extract this sort of a guarantee from the private operator, what's the problem with putting it in the legislation? I fail to see the problem.
If the government never intends to have the provincial taxpayer assume operating deficits or liabilities or responsibilities of a private operator, and if the government would never dream of entering into any arrangement with any private operator by which the government or the taxpayers of Ontario would assume any operating deficit or responsibilities, then what is the problem with putting it in the legislation?
That's the question I would like to have answered, which after an hour and a half the deputy couldn't answer and the assistant deputy couldn't answer. In fact, they couldn't even agree on what the answer to the question was, so I pose that question to the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Kwinter: I'm pleased to join in on this particular point because I remember that when we were at the standing committee, this elicited a rather strange response from both the deputy minister and the assistant deputy minister.
There was a very definite mood that I detected in the proponents -- I'm talking about the bureaucratic people who are running the casino project -- that this is a cash cow, that there is no way anyone can lose any money and that it is only up to the government to make sure that it is run fairly, that it is run properly, and that it would benefit to the tune of anywhere from $110 million to $140 million a year. That's the government's share. That represents about 20% of the win.
The problem is that if you take a look at the history of casino gambling in places like Las Vegas and like New Jersey and Atlantic City, there are casinos that have failed. There are several, not only in those two jurisdictions but in other jurisdictions, that are in fact bankrupt and in receivership. The question is, how could this happen? The answer is very simple. There are certain fixed costs attributed to this facility, and there are moneys that will come out as a result of the government's take, but there's also an obligation on the part of the operator. I think it's important that people understand that this facility is going to be owned by the government and run by an operator yet to be determined.
When we discussed this with the assistant deputy minister and asked him if he would have any objection to us including in the legislation a provision that any losses that are incurred in this operation would not be the responsibility of the taxpayers of Ontario but in fact would be the responsibility of the operator, his comment was rather strange. I don't have the exact quote, but if I could paraphrase, he said, "If we did that, it would send the wrong image to the proponents."
My response to that is, stop worrying about the image to the proponents and let us start worrying about the image to the taxpayer and making sure the taxpayer is protected. This adventure, and I use that term advisedly, by the government into an area that it thinks is going to be a cash cow -- and I wish it well if it is, but certainly there is no guarantee.
The interesting thing that happened as a result of that exchange between myself and the assistant deputy minister was that the deputy minister intervened and said that it is absolutely not the intent of the government to put the taxpayer at risk and that certainly if there are any losses, those losses would have to be covered by the operator.
My question then is, if that is the case, and we were assured it was, even though there were contradictory statements by the assistant deputy minister and the deputy minister, surely no one on the government side would object to making sure that was enshrined in the legislation so that the people of Ontario -- I can tell you, and I used this example during the hearings, I can imagine bureaucrats appearing before various legislative committees and assuring members of those committee and the taxpayers of Ontario that the purchase of Suncor would never cost the citizens any money, that the investment in Minaki Lodge would never cost the citizens any money.
I'm not singling out those two particular ones for any political reason; it's just an example of major commitments that were made by a government of the day that I am sure were made in good faith, with good intentions, fully expecting that, if anything, it would be a positive situation for the taxpayers and the people of Ontario, but in fact they have turned into major financial commitments and major drains on the public purse.
My concern is, casinos, if need be, fine -- that's an issue that is going to have to be decided upon by the government -- but surely we have an obligation as legislators to make sure that the taxpayer is protected and that if this casino should have some financial problems, the burden of those financial problems does not fall on the taxpayer but falls on the people who are also going to be the chief beneficiary of any profits.
Mr Duignan: Very briefly, this particular amendment got a lot of extensive consultation in the committee hearings and discussion. I wish to point out the fact that the proponent of the casino in Windsor will be responsible for the operating deficit of the casino.
Again I wish to point out that when the question was asked by the honourable member for Parry Sound of the deputy minister, the question was, "Am I hearing that if there was such an operating loss, it's your view that the province of Ontario and the taxpayers of Ontario pick up the losses?" The deputy minister: "Absolutely not. Absolutely not." I couldn't agree more. The proponent of the casino in Windsor is the person responsible for picking up the operational deficit in the casino if there is one.
Mr Tilson: Just to clarify, you say that the person who's operating it will be responsible for the deficit. That's what you have said. Can you refer us to a section or a regulation or a contract that confirms what you have just said?
Mr Duignan: The same question was posed to the deputy minister at the committee hearings. Again, to quote the deputy minister, "I am not concerned about the Windsor casino and the government having any liability, because it's built into that arrangement and there has been no indication from any of the proponents that they would pursue anything other than that." It'll be built into the contractual arrangements with the proponents of the casino.
Mr Eves: I ask again to the parliamentary assistant,because that being the case, it only further substantiates the proposition being put forward by the member for Brampton North: Why will the government then not accept his amendment. It's only doing exactly what the deputy minister said will of course be done, so why would you not accept that amendment?
Mr Duignan: This is a general piece of legislation establishing casinos in the province of Ontario. The model that's in Windsor may not be one that will be repeated elsewhere in the province and we wouldn't want to hinder further models of various casino operations in the province, if it's the choice of the government of the day to proceed with more casinos.
Let's just tell it as it is: That's patently silly. It is. If you're talking about other arrangements, surely the principle of not having the taxpayer on the hook for any operating losses is in fact just as critical. If this model works or doesn't work, then you presumably would move to a different model. If you moved to a different model because it doesn't work, aren't you going to have the same problems all over again? It's a silly response to say we might want to do something a little bit differently.
The point is, we're suggesting that the taxpayers shouldn't be responsible, shouldn't be on the hook, whatever model you use, and that the people of this province have the assurance in fact in law. You're saying that they shouldn't worry. I don't want to make too fine a point on the word "arrangement," I say to the parliamentary assistant, but perhaps you could explain that a little bit. Maybe people are wondering what kinds of arrangements are being used. Maybe you didn't use the word advisedly. If you used that word advisedly, I'd be very interested in hearing about the arrangements that have been made.
Mr Kwinter: When we were visiting Windsor, there was a very active campaign and a lot of the proponents of the casino initiative were wearing buttons and they said "We're gambling on Windsor." I think that's great. The idea that the citizens have gathered around a particular project and they see this as an economic boon to their community I have no problem with. I have some problems with some of their projections but I have no problem with the idea that the community is supporting this.
I do have a problem when the government is asking the people of Ontario to gamble. That is really what it amounts to, when they're saying: "Trust us. If this project goes ahead in this particular form or in another form, we'll look after it." But I would suggest that if a poll or if a referendum were done today, it would be overwhelming, probably 100%, where the people of Ontario would say gambling if necessary, but surely not at the expense of the taxpayers.
To have a piece of legislation that does not recognize the fact that -- I don't care what form your present or future casinos are going to take. There isn't a circumstance that I think the taxpayers of Ontario would embrace that puts them at risk and puts them in a position where they were gambling as to whether or not this was going to cost the taxpayers money.
The whole basis for the putting forward of this initiative is that the government is projecting that this is going to be a way for the citizens of Ontario to get some economic relief because it's going to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the consolidated revenue fund of the province.
To have anybody objecting to the fact that my colleague's amendment provides that under no circumstance -- it doesn't matter whether you come up with a new formula, whether you come up with new partners, whether it's with the native peoples, whatever it is: under any circumstance -- will the citizens of Ontario ever be put at financial risk in these particular activities.
Again, we were assured by the deputy minister that under no circumstances would the citizens of Ontario ever be called upon to bail out any of these particular casino operations. Now the parliamentary assistant is saying, "Well, there's going to be an arrangement to make sure that this doesn't happen." There is a very simple solution and a very simple arrangement: Put it into the bill.
My colleague's amendment specifically states that the citizens of Ontario under no circumstance will have any financial obligation to pick up any losses of that casino or any future casino or any combination of arrangements whereby casinos are operated in Ontario. I think it's a simple proposition. I don't think it's very complicated in its outlook. It just says, "We, the citizens of Ontario, want to be assured that we will not have to pick up any of the financial obligation."
Again I think it's something I can't believe we're debating. I can't believe that there's any objection, given the fact that the government has stated that this is its intent, given the fact that the deputy minister has assured our committee that this is the intent. Surely it shouldn't be a problem to make sure that it is enshrined in the legislation so that there can be no doubt as to what the intent is.
Mr Tilson: One of the last statements the member for Wilson Heights said, "I can't believe we're debating this," is really quite true. We've heard some amazing terminology come about in this place in the last year, whether it be "social contract," which wasn't even a contract -- it was slamming the fist on the civil servants of this province as to what the financial position is going to be. Now we're hearing a new word. We're hearing the word "arrangement." There's been an arrangement made with someone in Windsor as to the operation of the gambling casino. What a strange process.
I gather that what the parliamentary assistant is saying is, "We must look down the way if we're going to have other gambling casinos around this province,and we have to leave the door open." I read it from that that he has an arrangement or he has something, and I don't know what the arrangement is. I don't know whether that's a matter of law. In fact the courts are just going to have a wonderful time telling us what the word "arrangement" means.
But assuming that it means "contract" -- and unless I see it, I don't think it is a contract. I think it's been a little chat that someone's had with someone in Windsor suggesting this, but there's nothing legal about this. There's nothing binding that if this thing goes down the tubes, the taxpayers are not going to be paying the bill.
We know perfectly well they're going to be paying the bill unless (a) you've got the amendment that's been made by the member for Brampton North or (b) you have something in a contract. That's the only way that the people of this province can have that guarantee.
Having said that and having listened to the parliamentary assistant talk about the word "arrangement," I gather then what he's saying is: "Well, there may be another gambling casino. We have to leave the door open."
Mr Tilson: It's most relevant. The people of this province are most concerned about whether they're going to have to pick up the tab if your adventure fails, and it's predicted that your adventure is going to fail.
The parliamentary assistant is now saying that somewhere down the line there's going to be another gambling casino. I suppose if it fails it may be under the circumstances that the operator is off the hook, but the taxpayer's going to be on the hook. That seems to be the rationale, a most astounding revelation, and with due respect to the member for Brampton North, it's a very simple amendment. It's guaranteeing that the taxpayer of this province isn't going to pick up the tab. When the parliamentary assistant says on the one hand, "The taxpayer isn't going to pick up the tab," then I get back to that initial comment, why not put it in the legislation?
It all boils down to the old expression, "It's going to be a roll of the dice." Maybe the taxpayers are going to be on the hook, maybe they're not going to be on the hook. Certainly it seems quite clear to us that if the Windsor experiment fails, let alone the other experiments that have been contemplated, the taxpayer is going to have to pay for all of the losses this province has got us into in terms of gambling casinos, and that is what the member for Brampton North is trying to avoid with his amendment.
Mr Eves: I still would like the question answered by the parliamentary assistant. The parliamentary assistant has said very definitively that with respect to the Windsor casino -- and I think we should pay close attention to his qualifications -- there will be an arrangement so that the province and the taxpayers of the province would not be responsible for any deficit and that the operator would be.
But it would seem to me that the parliamentary assistant has stopped short of saying that under any circumstances, under any different arrangement in the future, the taxpayers and the province of Ontario will not be responsible for any operating deficit or responsibility of an operator in the future;
Mr McClelland: While the parliamentary assistant is responding to the very thoughtful questions put forward by the members for Wilson Heights and Parry Sound, would he respond, please, to the question I asked earlier: whether you use the word "arrangement" advisedly, or were you using it in a general sense? If you were using the word "arrangement" advisedly, tell us exactly what kind of arrangement.
Mr Duignan: When I used the word "arrangement," I was talking about contractual arrangements. That's the terminology I was talking about: a legal, binding document between two people, which is normally a contract. That's what we're talking about in relation to the Windsor casino. We're only talking about one casino at this point in time, and the people of this province will not be picking up any deficit, if there is one, in the casino in Windsor. That will be the responsibility of the proponent.
Mr McClelland: I just want to make this clear, and I want to give the parliamentary assistant ample opportunity to make this point abundantly clear to the people of this province. He says there is a contractual arrangement. My question is, are you saying on the record that you are going to guarantee that the contract between the corporation representing the province of Ontario and the operator will contain an arrangement, ie, in your words, "a contractual obligation," that will stipulate that under no circumstances the people in the province of Ontario will be responsible for any operating deficit? Is that what you're saying? If not, be as clear and expansive as you like; tell us precisely what the contract is going to say and what kinds of assurances you're going to give us. I might add a supplementary to that: After it's done, are you prepared to put the contract on the table to show us?
Mr Duignan: Mr Chairman, just a point to clarify: I was answering the first part of the member's question in relation to the contractual arrangement. Contracts between two parties are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, I would remind the member.
Mr Eves: I still don't have my question answered. The parliamentary assistant again is very adeptly skirting the question. He has said that for the operation of the Windsor casino -- I've heard it again for the second or third time today and I've heard it ad nauseam in committee -- there will be a contractual arrangement to ensure that the province and the Ontario taxpayers are not going to be held responsible for any operating loss, deficit or liability.
However, this bill is not just about the Windsor casino. This bill is about the Windsor casino and any other future casinos to be operated in the province of Ontario. As a matter of fact, the government's rationale for not accepting several amendments, including one of mine, in terms of not being able to go ahead with casinos in other parts of the province etc etc etc is that this bill is for all casinos.
I don't know why we cannot get an unequivocal commitment out of the government that never, under absolutely no circumstances whatsoever, will any future government, anywhere in the province, be responsible for any liability, operating deficit, shortcoming; that the taxpayers won't pick up the tab under any circumstances, regardless of any arrangement by any future government, any municipality, any future casino site, anywhere ever in the province of Ontario. Are you willing to give us that commitment, yes or no? Or are you possibly entertaining a thought that somewhere down the road, under different circumstances, in a different municipality, under a different arrangement, the Ontario taxpayers will be responsible in whole or in part? If you are, perhaps you should come clean and tell us that now, because I'm sure we're going to have a long debate about that if that's the case.
Mr Duignan: Very simply, I can only speak for New Democratic Party governments; I can't speak for the Liberal or the Tory governments. I can assure you that the people of this province will not be responsible for any deficit in any operation of any casino if it's the decision of the government of the day to expand casinos. But all we're talking about right now is the Windsor casino, and under a contractual arrangement the proponent will be responsible for the operating deficit of the casino.