25 JUIN 1998 ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO

The House met at 1000.

Prayers.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA PROTECTION DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT

Mr Carroll moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 34, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act / Projet de loi 34, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 95(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): It's a pleasure to be here this morning to lead off the debate on my first opportunity to introduce a private member's bill in the Legislature.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think Mr Carroll has an important bill, but there's no quorum here this morning.

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

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The member for Chatham-Kent.

Mr Carroll: Quorum calls on Thursday morning are unusual, but I thank the member for Algoma-Manitoulin who had it called to make sure we had an audience to listen to what I think is a very important bill.

Bill 34 is a very simple bill, as one might expect. It says, "No person shall sell, offer to sell, or use gasoline as a fuel for operating a motor vehicle as defined in the Highway Traffic Act unless the gasoline contains at least 2.7% of oxygen by weight," and it allows the act to come into force on January 1, 2005.

There is a lot of talk about ethanol around the province, but the bill specifically does not limit the oxygenating agent to ethanol, because there is technology or there could be technology developed that would use other products. It talks simply in terms of an oxygen level of 2.7%. That currently would translate into an ethanol blend of about 8%. Ethanol is currently the most efficient fuel, and ethanol produced from corn is the most efficient. In six or seven years' time, there's no telling what could happen.

This House has seen quite a history of conversation about ethanol. Many very distinguished members of this House have spoken about the issue: the member for Parry Sound, the current finance minister, Ernie Eves, has spoken of it; the leader of the third party, Howard Hampton, has spoken often of it; former Agriculture Minister Elmer Buchanan of the New Democratic Party was a big champion of ethanol; the member for Grey-Owen Sound, Mr Murdoch, has spoken about it.

I must make some comment about my predecessor, Randy Hope, who was a member of the NDP government, the member for Chatham-Kent, who was a champion of the cause and in fact was very instrumental in moving the government forward and moving the creation of a plant in Chatham-Kent. I want to acknowledge Randy's role in that.

In actual fact, the third recommendation of a fuel ethanol discussion paper by the New Democrats in 1992 was "to actively encourage market demand for ethanol-blended gasolines by encouraging legislated ethanol use." Back in 1992 we talked about legislated use of ethanol, and here we are in 1998 and very little has happened.

There are three areas I would like to touch on this morning, three positives about this particular bill. The first one involves the environment. My colleague the member for Guelph will be speaking more to this issue because one of her interests in life is the environment. But the use of ethanol, the use of oxygen in fuel as an octane enhancer and as an additive reduces the level of carbon monoxide and benzene levels at the tailpipe. So it certainly reduces negative emissions at the tailpipe, and two of the most deadly are carbon monoxide and benzene.

From an agricultural standpoint, this is where we get into some big positives. Currently the use of corn to generate ethanol is a big boost to the farmers in our community. The Ontario Corn Producers' Association, Mr Eadie, said, "The impact of the legislation on the ethanol industry could be quite dramatic, requiring more than triple the present level of ethanol manufacturing to ensure domestic supply."

Farmers are the true stewards of our land. It's interesting that in that role, as the true stewards of our land and our environment, they have the capacity to produce a product that could be used to blend with gasoline to promote cleaner air. I think it's only fitting that we would have the farmers in that particular light.

Over and above the pluses for agriculture - and of course in Chatham-Kent, part of the corn-growing belt in Ontario, it would be a big plus - in many areas of the province we grow corn and, quite frankly, the ethanol process can use corn of lower quality that maybe doesn't have so many other uses.

Then we talk about the whole job creation issue. The state of Minnesota currently mandates the use of ethanol, the first state in the United States to do that. They use 2.7%, the number we are suggesting in our act. They indicate that in Minnesota this piece of legislation they enacted in January 1997 has led to the creation of 4,000 to 5,000 new jobs in that state, directly in the ethanol industry and in spinoffs. There is obviously great potential for us here in Ontario, because their ethanol use, based on their population, is substantially less than ours.

We know that the volume required - 900 million litres, roughly, is what is estimated, up to one billion litres - would see the necessity of the construction of three to four more plants of the same capacity as the great plant that we have in Chatham-Kent. So there is a great opportunity there for additional jobs to be created in the province through construction, as well as additional jobs through the manufacture of ethanol.

We rely on gasoline produced from crude oil to run our vehicles and, as you know, we import a lot of that. Our memories are still, I'm sure, relatively fresh from the time when other countries in the world that had control of that industry chose to hold the rest of us hostage. It would certainly be to our advantage to move to an environment where we could have a domestically produced fuel that we could use in our automobiles, rather than rely solely on foreign crude oil.

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We are only looking at roughly an 8% blend. There are vehicles in the United States now, sold by the manufacturers - they are called E-85 vehicles - that will run on an 85% blend of ethanol. All the car manufacturers, in their warranties, say that up to 10% ethanol blend is quite acceptable. As a mater of fact, some of them even go so far as to encourage the use of ethanol. So there's no problem from the standpoint of automobile warranties, from the standpoint of performance, from the standpoint of the environment and from agriculture.

As we look to the future, while corn is currently the product of choice to produce ethanol, and ethanol is currently the oxygenating agent that looks to be the most efficient, there's a lot of technology being developed out there, being worked on, to use other products.

The other products are very interesting. Over and above other cash crops, sugar beets could be used, other types of grains could be used. We could even use cheese to produce ethanol. But over and above those particular edible products, there is technology being worked on to use waste paper, wood chips, leaves to produce ethanol. A lot of things that have not a lot of other use could in fact be used to produce ethanol. We could even go so far as to use residential waste. The technology is being worked on to use residential waste.

What we're really talking about in this Bill 34, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act, is not so much ethanol or oxygenated fuels, what we're really talking about is cleaner fuel. We can talk about cleaner fuel all we want, but until such time as we take it upon ourselves to mandate, at a particular point in time, that all fuel sold in the province must contain a minimum level of oxygen, until we have the courage to do that, I don't believe those with the expertise to develop the new products we require will really see the benefit in developing them. Why would you spend a lot of money creating some new products to blend with gasoline if there wasn't any requirement that they ever be used?

When I look at Bill 34, when I look at the situation, I see that the environment wins, because it would reduce the level of carbon monoxide and benzene emissions from the tailpipe. The agricultural community in our great province, which is very important to us, wins big time. Noble Villeneuve, the Minister of Agriculture, has been very supportive of ethanol as an alternative fuel. When I look at that, I see we've created a lot of new jobs. To me, it looks like everybody wins.

It's ironic that, on this day that we're in this House debating an issue that involves cleaner air, a smog alert is issued in the city of Toronto. When we hear warnings to older people and children about being outside today because of the poor quality of our air, it's time we got serious about ways to improve the quality of our air.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on the bill and to say that certainly I'll be supporting the bill, and to say how important it is that we move aggressively on the environment. The member mentioned it is ironic that we are debating this today because it probably is the worst air day in two or three years, if not more. It's almost symbolic that we would be debating a bill that should result in cleaner air.

I would also say that our corn producers are absolutely world-class. We can compete with corn producers anywhere in the world, without a question of a doubt. We have a ready-made future supply of high-quality corn at reasonable prices. As we look ahead at a sustainable fuel, this also meets that criteria. It is proven that it will improve the air quality. It's a bill that we have no difficulty in supporting.

I would say to the people who are watching this debate that it is a debate around the environment. It is useful to remind ourselves of what's going on right now outside our walls. By the way, the condition of the air in the Toronto area is very poor today. There is a warning to suggest that people with any kind of respiratory problems should stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise. Also, many organizations are trying to cut down on emissions. It is also ironic that, as we're speaking here, the government has its lawnmowers outside, literally, right now. When other organizations have stopped cutting the grass to cut down on emissions, the government has its own lawnmowers a matter of a few metres from this building, cutting the grass.

My concern is that, while this is an important bill, I hoped the government might have found a way to deal with the environment on a more comprehensive basis in addition to this bill. I think the environment is indeed suffering now as the result of government cuts. When Mike Harris became Premier, the ministry had a staff of around 2,400 people; it's now down by 750 people that they've cut out of the Ministry of the Environment. In 1994-95 the government was spending on the environment roughly $260 million; this year the budget is $143 million. The Ministry of the Environment budget is not quite cut in half, but almost cut in half.

I'm not one who says that money solves all, but there's no question that the protection of the environment does require an investment by the public in sustaining the quality of the environment. We find that, when we look at the government's commitment to the environment, they've cut the Ministry of the Environment budget almost in half. We see they've cut more than a quarter of the jobs out of the Ministry of the Environment. There were 700 water monitoring stations a mere six years ago; now there are 200 water monitoring stations. And so it goes.

It should perhaps come as no surprise to us that we are beginning to run into some serious problems on the environment. I realize that Mike Harris is an unabashed free enterpriser. I am very much supportive of our business community growing the economy, but one of the things that Ontario also demands is that we monitor and are stewards of the environment.

This bill, as I say, is a worthwhile step forward, but I would also say to the member for Chatham-Kent, I hope in his caucus he is spending a lot of time urging the cabinet to make the environment once again a high priority. You can see the number of people we have available to work on the environment, the amount of investment we've put into the environment, the number of water monitoring stations down now to 200 from 700 a mere six years ago. We've also seen substantial changes in the legislative and regulatory protection of the environment.

The government passed a bill called Bill 20 that changed the Planning Act. I think anybody who looked at that would acknowledge that it severely weakened the legal and the policy tools that were available to protect the environment. The Legislature passed Bill 76. That changed the Environmental Assessment Act and substantially tied the hands of the Environmental Assessment Board to review major environmental projects. I could go on: Bill 57 also changed the Environmental Protection Act; Bill 107 downloaded or moved on to the municipalities the responsibility for 230 water and sewage treatment plants, all of which require, for the property taxpayers, a substantial investment.

To conclude, so that I leave my colleague some time to talk on this bill, we are supportive of the ethanol bill. We are supportive of any responsible steps that will protect our environment. We are supportive because the Ontario corn producers are world-class in their ability to produce quality corn at worldwide competitive prices, so this is one future source of fuel that we are assured of. I hope the government caucus will put as much pressure as possible on the Premier and on the Minister of the Environment to do a U-turn and get back to giving the environment the priority it deserves here in Ontario.

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Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I've told Mr Carroll, the member for Chatham-Kent, that we will be supporting this bill today. I want to publicly congratulate him for bringing it forward and would like to indicate again that we're in full support of this bill.

I acknowledge that Mr Carroll mentioned that it was during our term in government - in particular I remember very well the lobbying by Mr Randy Hope, the then member for Chatham-Kent, and of course as an environmentalist I was always there supporting him. We were in very tough recession and we were talking about spending money. As you know, that was a source of great criticism, particularly from the opposition at the time. But I believe overall everybody was in support of spending money on a plant in the area, because not only did it create jobs but it went a long way towards improving our environment.

This is a really good example of how you can create jobs and at the same time protect the environment. We need to be using this as an example and looking more and more to how we can put the two together, because unfortunately what we hear mostly, an awful lot, is that we have to cut red tape and regulations because it's a job killer. That is happening to some extent in the environment, and we haven't gotten away from that mentality.

This is a very important step today that has been taken by the member. I applaud him for bringing it forward. I'd like to see the Minister of the Environment come in today and assure us that he will back this and make sure it goes forward. I'm disappointed that we're not having third reading today. In fact, I would suggest that if there's support from everybody, we could go ahead today and just get right through it. I don't know if the minister is supporting this or not.

Certainly, as I said, when we were in government this issue became a very important one for the former member, Randy Hope, and we were able to work with the federal government and we invested in the plant in the area. I'm glad to see that the member today, Mr Carroll, is coming forward with badly needed regulations now.

I'm sure the member won't be surprised if I use this opportunity, having congratulated him, to talk, however, about the government's overall record on the environment and to tie some of the things Mr Carroll is bringing forward today into that record. One of the things that concerns me is, for instance, that his government, having gotten rid of the CURB program, which is another program our government brought in - that's the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. One of the reasons that was so important was it was a program to help agricultural farmers to deal with the runoff from pesticides on their land.

There was a report; I believe it was the draft state of the environment report prepared by the MOEE itself. That report indicated that runoff from agricultural operations is the leading cause of declining surface water quality in southern Ontario. That is pretty significant and important. I would like to see, while we are advancing - and I certainly support it - more work for corn producers and this certainly gives them an opportunity to produce more corn, and that's a good thing, but we can't ignore other problems as we increase agricultural activity. I would like to see the government bring back this program. It was a small program, but it was a worthwhile one that started to deal with some of those runoff problems, for which I believe the farmers were happy to accept assistance from the government.

Today, as my colleague from Scarborough-Agincourt mentioned - I believe Mr Carroll mentioned it too - is a very bad air quality day in Toronto. I have been pushing the Minister of the Environment and this government for some time now to move ahead with clean air regulations. As you know, we've been pushing the government since they came into office to do something about mandatory tailpipe emissions testing. Our government brought in the very first volunteer experimental program in Ontario. By the time the election in 1995 happened, it was ready to move forward into a mandatory program.

The Minister of the Environment continues to say they want to move carefully and slowly to make sure it's done right. There certainly is evidence that the ministry no longer has the resources or the ability to put this program in place. That is a big problem. When we have bad air days like today, there is a whole bunch of things that need to be done. Yes, this will go a small way in helping with the problems, but only a small way. There needs to be an overall air pollution plan. There has been one. There have been a couple of very damning reports that have come out recently on the state of the environment in Ontario in regard to this government's approach to environmental protection, which is to deregulate and cut. One of the things that is talked about is air emission problems and the issues around the government's cleanup program, it being weak and not going far enough, and furthermore there's no action on it; it's moving very slowly and it's not substantive enough.

Here we are today, on the last day of the session before what is now widely known is going to be a long, hot summer. I don't know if you can hear it in my voice today; I don't have asthma, but I do have problems in this kind of weather. I'm not going to die from it, I'm not even going to end up in a hospital. I know that. I can't ride my bike, though, on days I'd like to ride my bike to save emissions from my car going into the air, because the air's too hard for me to breathe today, riding my bike in the smog. That's a small problem.

There are people - as we know, up to 1,800 a year die in Ontario from pollution. The warnings today said that certain people shouldn't exercise; certain people shouldn't even go outside. It's a very serious problem that needs to be dealt with. This government continues to say it's going to, but here's the last day and we're going to have another long, hot summer, where people are literally going to die as a result of the smog problems. I would hope that the minister would come in today and say yes, he is going to support this private member's bill today, but that he is going to announce that the vehicle emissions control testing program is going to start this summer as well.

I want to take this opportunity again to thank the member for bringing forward this bill and to let him know that he has our support today. I will be speaking to the minister - I don't know if he has - to see if he's going to make sure that this bill - I'd like to see it, as I said, pass today and go through all three readings so we can get on with it. Perhaps Mr Carroll can indicate later whether the Minister of the Environment is going to let this go ahead, because I know that if ministers don't want bills to go ahead, they have really effective ways in dealing with that and making sure that they don't go ahead, that they die on the order paper or whatever.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): We know what it's like.

Ms Churley: My colleague from Cochrane South says, "Boy, do we know about that."

Having been a minister, of course, at one time, I would never have interfered with any backbenchers to let bills go through. But we know that happens.

This is one small piece in a very big puzzle and I hope we can get it to go through the House and have it effective.

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Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): First, I'd like to commend the member for Chatham-Kent for introducing a private member's bill intended to reduce tailpipe emissions in Ontario. There's no doubt that smog is a serious problem, as we witness here today. It aggravates a wide range of health ailments, especially respiratory illnesses and it damages the environment by harming vegetation, materials and crops.

I'd like to bring to the attention of the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, who commented on our track record, what has happened federally with his federal cousins. This was written by Elizabeth May and was in the Globe and Mail on June 22. She is the executive director of the Sierra Club. It says, "Five years later it is clear that the Progressive Conservative floor has become the Liberals' ceiling." She goes on to say that five years later, under a Liberal government, "Environment Canada has moved from being the seventh largest department in the Canadian bureaucracy to nearly the smallest among 21." She also commented on a previous speech by the Conservative Prime Minister and what has happened to the current Liberal Prime Minister. "The problem was not so much that I couldn't recall Mr Chrétien saying anything so forceful about the environment; it was that I couldn't even imagine him giving such a speech."

The member for Riverdale talked about the CURB program. Obviously she's interested in the NDP approach of charge, convict, fine and harass the public rather than working with farmers to ensure these kinds of pollutants will not reach our environment.

I'm pleased to report that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs certainly supports this bill. The Minister of the Environment and I also support the proposed bill in principle. It would amend the Environmental Protection Act to require all gasoline sold in Ontario to have a minimum oxygen content of 2.7%. This would mean that Ontario gasoline would have to contain 7.5% ethanol or other oxygenates.

Currently the use of oxygenates in Canada is voluntary. The federal government gives ethanol-blended gasoline its Ecologo endorsement. There is general agreement that boosting the oxygen content of gasoline improves combustion. The use of oxygenates has been shown to reduce carbon monoxide. On the other hand, no significant improvements have been found for newer vehicles with advanced technologies. On average, oxides of nitrogen, or NOx emissions are not affected, although low aromatic gasoline shows an increase in NOx of some 5%.

The future of oxygen-blended fuels is being considered as part of a broader clean air strategy. Certainly Ontario has made a long-range commitment to reduce smog under an Ontario smog plan. We're taking action to address vehicle emissions from Ontario's more than six million vehicles. The ministry's air sniffer, called the Smog Rover, is out every week taking air readings in the GTA. Recently it found that 34% of nearly 5,000 vehicles monitored needed tune-ups. Our new Drive Clean program will reduce those numbers.

All of these initiatives and partnerships are working towards cleaner air for Ontario. In this effort, a major goal is to reduce smog-causing emissions by 45% by 2015.

Clean air is in everyone's best interests. I can assure the members of this House that the ministry will review the environmental implications of ethanol and other oxygenates in gasoline. We will make it part of our consultation with stakeholders as part of our overall strategy for cleaner vehicles and fuels.

This bill needs to be referred to a standing committee for full investigation and consideration. If it passes this test, it should be adopted as an innovative measure to provide renewable and alternative fuel choices. I urge all of you to give serious consideration to this private member's bill and to applaud the member for Chatham-Kent's sincere concern about this environmental issue.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I was going to congratulate the member for Chatham-Kent on bringing forward this initiative until I heard the member for Northumberland. The member for Northumberland seems to make the argument that it's okay for this government to have cut the Ministry of the Environment by half because the federal government has cut. Basically that's what he's saying. He's saying that the federal government has cut, so that therefore excuses what this government has done.

The member also demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of what the CURB program was, which surprises me, considering that he used to be a civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He seemed to think it was a fines program, putting fines on people. In fact, the CURB program was a program that assisted farmers with new technologies and new approaches to try to curb the runoff of waste, the runoff of pesticide and herbicide residues and fertilizers into the creeks, the streams and so on.

Under the CURB program, there weren't fines. One of the things the CURB program did was encourage farmers to build fences along streams so that livestock wouldn't get into the creeks and defecate in the creeks. I suppose that's in some way curbing or confining cattle, and I suppose, being a veterinarian, the member likes to see free-ranging for cattle or something. I don't know. He was opposed to the CURB program, obviously, and that explains why this government got rid of it.

We have a real, serious problem, particularly in the area of Lake Huron - I said "Lake Huron" not "Lake Urine" - with regard to agricultural runoff in the creeks and rivers running into that Great Lake. The farm community is concerned, as are many others. The idea of cleaning up rural beaches was something that was supported by the farm community, by the rural communities throughout Ontario, and certainly by environmental groups. It's a real shame that this government chose to discontinue that very important program.

Specifically with regard to this bill, the member for Chatham-Kent is emphasizing the importance of ethanol, not only for fuel but for other purposes, as a way of cutting down on the very serious pollution problems we face. He mentioned the role of his predecessor as member for Chatham-Kent, in the previous government, in providing assistance to establish the plant in his riding. The previous government provided somewhere in the neighbourhood of $175,000 to assist in the feasibility study and a pilot project, which eventually led to the establishment of the plant. We were glad to do that, because we understood the importance, not only for the corn producers and for the agricultural community but for all of our society, of looking for and encouraging alternatives. We also saw it, of course, as an economic development possibility for that part of southwestern Ontario.

It is ironic, as one of the other members mentioned, that on a day when we have a terrible smog alert in the Toronto area, in Metropolitan Toronto, and people with respiratory problems, elderly people and young children are being advised to stay indoors, this government, which professes to be interested in the long-term - underlined - air quality program would have their lawnmowers running on the lawns of Queen's Park, putting out emissions from gasoline and so on into the atmosphere and adding to the smog we're all going to face in this area today, at a time when the city of Toronto is asking people not to run their own lawnmowers.

Now, the member for - where are you? Oh, yes, the long name - Prince Edward, Lennox and so on is suggesting that we should just have push lawnmowers and that would probably be good for people's health as well as long as they don't have respiratory problems; that if they must be out on a day like today to cut the lawn, then they should be using push lawnmowers rather than gasoline-powered lawnmowers.

Mr Galt: They shouldn't be using motorized ones either.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Northumberland, you had your turn.

Mr Wildman: The member for Northumberland is right on one thing: He should be cut off.

I congratulate the member for Chatham-Kent on bringing forward this initiative. We all of us are in favour of doing whatever we can to improve air quality and look for alternatives, and to encourage the agricultural community and encourage economic development in our small centres in the agricultural areas of the province. This is one of those initiatives and for that reason we support it. I just wish the government had a stronger commitment to air quality in this province.

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Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph): I'm very pleased to rise this morning in support of my colleague's bill put forward recommending an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act. From every perspective when you look at this bill, this is one to be supported, and I'm very pleased to hear our colleagues in both the official opposition and the third party indicating that they will support this initiative.

I think Mr Carroll's constituents need to be very proud of the initiatives he has brought forward. In his riding we have commercial alcohol, ethanol producers. Interestingly enough, they don't only produce ethanol, which is an oxygenating agent; they also produce as byproducts, things like industrial alcohol, which is used for cosmetics, mash from the corn, which is used for animal feed, and the carbon dioxide used in ordinary beverages. It's a tremendous economic driver for his community should this become part of our laws in this province. The estimates are that it would double or even triple the commercial enterprises that are now under way producing ethanol.

As a former Minister of the Environment, what particularly pleases me about initiatives such as this one dealing with ethanol is that I look at it as another opportunity to enhance sustainable initiatives in this province. When I was the Minister of Energy, I was quite surprised to find bureaucrats in the Ministry of Energy at the time counselling me not to support the Minister of Agriculture when he was bringing forth initiatives to support ethanol development in Chatham-Kent. The reason, as I recall, although I don't have my notes from the time, was that increased use of alcohol would actually increase nitrous oxide and could in fact enhance smog.

I looked at it from a totally different point of view, I guess, perhaps from my own philosophical perspective about how environmental issues should be treated. I learned, from a very early time, that there's no environmental issue that's black and white; they're all shades of grey. In this particular one, you clearly see a reduction, with the use of ethanol, in carbon monoxide and in benzene, but more important, to my view, you see a tremendous increase in a sustainable element of how we work and live in our province.

Energy is absolutely critical for economic development. We pride ourselves on the number of jobs being created in this province. The potential in this initiative is for even more jobs to be created. But what I see in this initiative is a very strong emphasis on sustainability. This is a product that our own farmers will grow, that will be produced locally. When you ask environmentalists what they consider to be sustainable, they look at issues like not having to transport products a great distance. I look at this as a tremendous benefit in that we have a greater opportunity to be independent in Ontario. We're not reliant so much on foreign fuels or on the vagaries of a foreign market or of price fluctuations or, say, potential strikes or catastrophes in other jurisdictions. I see this as a very, very positive thing for Ontario and for Ontarian workers.

Someone mentioned the fact that lawnmowers are running outside. I think that's an indication of how everything we do, simple little things, when added together have an effect on the environment. From the minute we wake up in the morning and first brush our teeth, we are using something. We are all consumers. In every possible way that we can find to minimize our consumption, our effect on the planet, or to do it in a less destructive way, we are being good stewards. This initiative is to be commended because it does emphasize that, but it does not limit. It also, as he said, allows an opportunity for new technologies to be developed, new products to be developed and enhanced.

In my view, this government has a good track record. Many years ago, there was not the environmental conscience that we have now. I think that has grown and been fostered in our students right from the very beginning. They appreciate what it is that we want to cherish and they are finding new ways of doing it and are trying to act responsibly. Years ago, there was a tremendous emphasis on the Ministry of the Environment to be the leader, to be the only leader, and I think that's what has changed tremendously.

There are certainly some bad apples out there as far as environmental actions are concerned, but there are a lot of good partners. I notice very carefully when I drive from place to place what is happening in stream rehabilitation. We are seeing tremendous improvements. In my own riding we are part of the Grand River area, and I have seen tremendous cooperation among all the municipalities to undertake new initiatives that have never been thought of before to do with conservation, to do with stream rehabilitation. Those are the kinds of things that I think we want - long-lasting partnerships, good motives emphasizing effectiveness and cooperation - and the end result will be a cleaner environment.

It is my pleasure to support this bill. I congratulate the member. I think it's excellent any way you look at it, and I believe it will be very good for Ontario's environment at the end of the day. Congratulations.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): As has been indicated, many people will be supporting the bill this morning, as I will. I see it, however, as only a component of what should be happening in Ontario. I was absolutely devastated by the desecration, as I'm going to call it for want of a better word, of the Ministry of the Environment by this government.

It's nice to see one gesture, at least, taking place which may be of some benefit to the environment. But I look at the fact that if you want to enforce environmental laws in this province, if you want to make environmental laws, if you want to inspect appropriately, you've got to have the staff, you've got to have the resources and you've got to have the budget and, in this regard, this government has totally abandoned the environment.

We have had 880 positions lost in the Ministry of the Environment. Some 36% of the staff are gone from the Ministry of the Environment as a result of the budget cuts of this government. The operating budget has been reduced by some 42% in the Ministry of the Environment. In the Ministry of Natural Resources, 2,170 jobs have disappeared; that's 43%. The budget cut is 31% in the Ministry of Natural Resources.

If you look all around, for instance at the compliance and enforcement branch - we called that the investigation and enforcement branch, the green cops, if you will - that has been cut by $15 million, or 30%. The inspection staff and budget have been greatly reduced: 141 jobs lost. Reduction in inspection and enforcement has resulted in a drop in charges against polluters: 683 charges were laid against polluters in the first 10 months of 1996 compared to 1,037 in all of 1995, a 21% reduction. Fines have dropped 57%. The Ministry of the Environment's prosecution unit has been reduced from 10 people to four people. The number of water monitoring stations has fallen from nearly 700 to just over 200. What is happening is that there is a total abandonment of the environment by this government.

Look out today at the problem we're confronting and this government has done virtually nothing. They're sitting in the Ministry of the Environment now, because they have - they had some excellent staff. I know they've fired at least a third of them out the door. But there is an excellent program for clean air that is sitting in the Ministry of the Environment waiting to be implemented. It involves not only mobile sources but stationary sources, something which builds on the Countdown Acid Rain program, for instance, which was implemented beginning in 1985 and is now fully completed.

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There are so many initiatives that can be taken dealing with, for instance, tailpipe testing, the tuning of vehicles, the assurance, that the pollution abatement equipment in vehicles - all vehicles, not just cars but the trucks and buses you see out there - is as clean as possible. This is one of the steps that has to be taken. There are so many that have to be taken, however, and you can't do it by continually cutting the budget.

We have had several initiatives taken which weaken the position of the Ministry of the Environment and the environment in this province. For instance, we have had several bills that have been passed.

Bill 20, changes to the Planning Act, severely weakens legal and policy tools to curb both the environmental and economic excesses of urban sprawl and to protect Ontario's natural heritage. My friend from Chatham-Kent knows the potential problems that urban sprawl can cause for the agricultural community and for a very important industry in our province, that being agriculture.

Bill 76, changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, ties the hands of the Environmental Assessment Board to adequately review major environmental projects. There's no requirement that major new landfill sites will be referred to the board for full environmental review.

If you pass Bill 57, changes to the Environmental Protection Act, it gives the minister sweeping powers to exempt any person, activity or thing from the Environmental Protection Act.

Environmental regulatory review: Some 40 environmental regulations are proposed to be changed or scrapped under your so-called responsive environmental protection paper. Proposals include allowing blood to be dumped into municipal sewer systems.

When I look at the record of the Ministry of the Environment, I just wish several other members of the Legislature would have brought forward other bills to compensate for the absolute destruction of the Ministry of the Environment by this government.

I know this pleases a certain segment out there, the people who want to pollute, the people who don't want to spend the money on appropriate staff in their operations or on the training of that staff on the equipment.

There are two groups who oppose the desecration of the Ministry of the Environment, the dismantling of that ministry. One group is the general population who have to accept the consequences of poor environmental policy and regulation and legislation. We're facing that today, all over Ontario but particularly in the major urban centres where the smog is just hanging over these communities and great health problems are there. Second, it's the good business people, the responsible people out there who have spent the time, have spent the money, who have purchased the equipment, who have put staff on guard and who have trained that staff. They are the people who are annoyed when they see others within the business community get away with breaking these laws.

You're going to find a lot of support among those top-notch, good corporate citizens. But what happens? You're catering to those who want to break the laws of this province.

While I am happy to see this bill come forward, it's only one little piece and this government has a lot to do. A lot of it has to do with attitude. I know they like to say: "We want people to be cooperative. We want to gain their cooperation. We don't want to prosecute. We don't want to pass tough laws." The tougher the laws and the tougher those laws are enforced, the better it is for our province, for the health of all the people in this province, and the animals and the plant life, but second, the better it is for those good corporate citizens who have invested the money, the time and the employees, who have changed their equipment, who have avoided purveying pollution in this province. They are the ones who want to see these positive environmental changes.

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I want to rise today in support of the member for Chatham-Kent on his endeavour to bring this bill in. I think it's the foresight we need to see as a government, and as a backbencher, to have him bring this forward.

One of the things that is nice is that we're replacing some of the crude oil qualities that we are wasting and using. If we can cut that down by a few percentage points, such as 10 percentage points - I know the oil companies may not be as enthused about this bill as some of the other people in our environment who are concerned with it. But Sunoco has taken the bullet and led off by taking basically all the ethanol that's produced in Ontario. They are using it now. They're doing very well.

One of the things, as a mechanic and a service station operator, is that I know some mechanics say that if a car has been using ethanol there's a problem with it, but I think mechanics have been very ill-informed as far as the formulation of fuel is concerned and what it has done as far as the internal combustion engine is concerned, because ethanol injected does not destroy any parts or pieces of it.

Some of the information we have in front of us here: North Dakota, New Mexico, Idaho, those states, banded together and said, "We'll reward anybody with $100 if you will come forth with any engine to show us any deterioration or if it's caused because of use of ethanol in your engine. Where there's any destruction whatsoever, we will pay you." So far they have not paid out one penny towards that $100.

Chrysler Corp is one of the first to develop and test vehicles that will use the multi-fuel reformer developed by Arthur D. Little. It was funded by the USDOE and the DCCA. The reformer was originally designed to use ethanol fuel.

The state of Illinois is testing and demonstrating four of the first 15 pre-production E-85 FFV Ford Windstar minivans. These vans use the same 3.0-litre V6 FFV engine used in the E-85 FFV Ford Taurus model. These are the same kind of vehicles we see on the road every day, and those people are finding no problems with the use of those vehicles.

I know that the Ford Motor Co Ranger pickup, equipped with the 3.0-litre V6 engine, will be a flexible fuel vehicle capable of operating on E-85 fuel, gasoline, or a mixture of these fuels.

These people in these companies have had the foresight to see what ethanol and the oxygen-producing ingredient can add to our environment and make it just a little safer place.

We could go on longer, but I would like to share my time, so congratulations to the member again.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): It gives me great pleasure to stand in the House today and support the member for Chatham-Kent's private member's bill in the time available to me.

I've heard a number of comments concerning agricultural production techniques in Ontario, and the run-off and conversations like that, and I wonder sometimes how intimately knowledgeable the members of the opposition are about production techniques in Ontario.

Much of Ontario's corn and soya bean production, which accounts for over 50% of the acreage in Ontario that is under cultivation, some nine million acres in total, is now done under what is referred to as a GPS system, a global positioning satellite. The harvesters, the fertilizers and the planters are all equipped with this mechanism that will give a position in the field of within one foot. So when the crop is being harvested it is monitored and the harvest throughout that field is known exactly as to what it is. The next year, when fertilizing takes place, that same computer-based knowledge distributes the fertilizer in that field in exactly the position it is required to be in in order to maximize that yield.

Farming today cannot withstand the losses that would be involved with run-off or other wasted materials, such as the opposition have referred to. Agriculture today has entered the very high-tech business and is among the forefront of the farming community in the world, and we produce crops that are without equal. These crops, when put to good use in producing ethanol, will put a floor price under this product. I congratulate the member for Chatham-Kent for bringing in this bill.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Chatham-Kent, you have two minutes.

Mr Carroll: I want to first of all thank all my colleagues on both sides of the House who stood in support of this initiative. I appreciate their support.

I hadn't quite expected that my bill would be a lightning rod for the opposition like it was, but I guess this place being as it is, it was that.

I would like to make a comment about the tailpipe emission issue. The province and the federal government set standards and I believe that is their role. As citizens, we have an obligation, and the obligation we have as citizens is to maintain our vehicles in running order. We know when we don't get tune-ups, and we know that when we don't get tune-ups we cause our vehicles to issue more pollutants.

If the government has to be the big policeman all the time to come along and tell us when we're doing wrong, then how much can we expect the environment to be protected if it's only protected when the government is a watchdog? I encourage all the people who drive cars - they understand that manufacturers suggest what maintenance schedules are required. People understand that and they should be responsible for looking after those issues on their own.

What we have before us today is a bill that I believe represents a win-win-win situation. It represents a win for the environment, it represents a win for the agricultural community because it provides an additional market for some products that we can grow, and it represents an enormous win for job creation. Also, it allows some time for those who are out there to develop some new, innovative products to produce cleaner gasoline so that the environment we will be handing on to our children and to our grandchildren at some point in time is better than it is today and as good as we can possibly make it.

I appreciate the opportunity to present my bill today.

The Acting Speaker: The time allotted for the first ballot item has expired.

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ONTARIO AGRICULTURE WEEK ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA SEMAINE DE L'AGRICULTURE EN ONTARIO

Mr Bert Johnson moved the following bill:

Bill 37, An Act to designate a week of recognition for Ontario's Farmers / Projet de loi 137, Loi désignant une semaine de reconnaissance envers les agriculteurs de l'Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 95(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): It's indeed a pleasure for me to move second reading of Bill 37, An Act to designate a week of recognition for Ontario's farmers.

If passed, this bill will provide special recognition for the contribution of Ontario's farmers to our society by proclaiming a week, commencing on the Monday immediately before Thanksgiving Day in each year, as Ontario Agriculture Week.

The act would set aside a time in which all citizens of Ontario can acknowledge, reflect on and celebrate the hard work of Ontario farmers, farm families and agricultural workers. These are the people and communities who provide us with the food we eat and with many of the products we use in our daily lives, which unfortunately we too often take for granted.

Thanksgiving Day and the week leading up to it is ideally suited, I believe, for paying tribute to Ontario's agriculture industry and celebrating its achievements on our behalf.

Throughout the year the hard work, dedication and expertise of farm families of Ontario ensure that safe, fresh, quality food and other agricultural products are available to everyone. At Thanksgiving the harvest is nearing completion and we can see the full bounty of what Ontario has to offer the world.

This bill is a result of much consultation and deliberation. In the gallery today are many of those leaders and individuals who provided input and ideas, and I'd like to thank them for coming to this second reading debate today - of particular interest, Mr Ed Segsworth, the president of the OFA, and Jon Dreise from the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.

Today we are part of a global economy with a faster pace of life. Technology is advancing in quantum leaps, and yet nothing can replace the contribution of the farmer. There's nobody in the world who does farming and food production better than the farmers of Ontario.

Over a century ago, when this country was formed, nearly 90% of Canadians were engaged in agriculture. These days the percentages have decreased, but the facts surrounding our agrifood industry speak for its importance. There are more than 67,000 farms in Ontario where each farmer produces enough food to feed 120 people. More than 200 commodities are produced in Ontario, including fruits, vegetables, livestock, dairy products, poultry, grains, honey and oil seeds. Ontario is number one in Canada in total farm cash receipts, totalling $6.9 billion.

Ontario's agrifood industry is extremely diverse and includes a great number of people who would not define themselves as farmers. This bill celebrates their many contributions to Ontario, as they deserve special recognition and grateful acknowledgement by this province.

This is reflected in the fact that the agrifood industry contributes more than $25 billion to the provincial economy each year and employs over 640,000 people. Every $1 million of output from agriculture and related services generates 31 jobs. That's more jobs per dollar of output than any other industry. In 1997, we shipped $5.6 billion in agrifood products around the world, an increase of 167% in just the last 10 years.

The agrifood industry is in fact the second-largest industry in Ontario, and as the farmers of Ontario like to say, "If you eat, you're involved in agriculture."

The purpose of this legislation is not to provide an exhaustive list of those who can participate. Instead, it will give everyone involved in agriculture an opportunity to show their pride in what they do to provide for the people of Ontario and others around the world.

How many people do you know who, when asked where milk comes from, would say, "The fridge"? How many others are unaware of the tremendous process behind the production of foodstuffs they buy on a regular basis at their local supermarket? One of the purposes of Ontario Agriculture Week will be to correct the stereotypes and the myths about our agriculture industry that are both inaccurate and outdated.

Ontario's agriculture industry today is more complex and diverse than it was even 10 years ago. The industry is involved in all facets of research. It is on the crest of the latest breaking technologies and advancements in scientific fields. As an example, the farmers in Perth and other places use the global positioning system, GPS, to plant, fertilize and harvest their crops.

Our agriculture industry is leading and we as citizens of Ontario are benefiting in terms of jobs, investment and excellent products that we should be very proud of. These quality products are some of the best ambassadors wherever they appear in the international market. One of the goals of this bill is in fact to increase public awareness of this living agricultural legacy which belongs to all of us and should make us extremely proud as farmers, as agricultural workers and as Ontarians.

I know I'm speaking for everyone in the Legislature when I say that we understand the tremendous contributions that the farmers of Ontario make to the economy and the overall economic wellbeing of the province. We know that farmers, food manufacturers and rural residents share a lot of the attributes that will continue to put Ontario on the leading edge. The independence, good sense, innovation and foresight shown by the agricultural community in Ontario are keys to unlocking a future of prosperity, economic growth and job creation. As the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Honourable Noble Villeneuve, says, when Ontario's agrifood sector prospers, all Ontarians benefit.

The creation of Ontario Agriculture Week provides an opportunity for everyone in Ontario to celebrate the contributions of Ontario's agricultural communities and farm families. More importantly, it gives all of us an opportunity to give thanks for the hard work of those unsung heroes who provide us with the safe, sumptuous food we eat and many of the products we use in our daily lives.

After Harry Truman was elected to the presidency of the United States, someone went to his mother and said, "You must be very proud of your son." To this she replied: "I am, but I have another son who is just as fine. He's right outside plowing the fields."

I was born in Moorefield, Ontario, and raised on a farm. The hard work and dedication of my parents when raising our family was truly an example of what makes the farmers of Ontario great. My mother was a 4-H leader, secretary for many years of the Drayton Fall Fair board, farm correspondent and a leader of the Women's Institute, Farm Safety and the horticultural society. A special thanks to my father, Frank, who is 95 years old and a member of the Farmers Club, Farm Forum after we got a radio, Co-operators Insurance, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and is still a member of the Drayton Co-op.

Today I'm pleased and proud and humbled to be the representative of the riding of Perth. Close to 13% of the people in my riding are directly involved in agriculture and related service industries. When you compare that with the provincial average of 2.43%, you can see that Perth county truly represents an agricultural force in the province.

There are over 2,800 farms in county Perth and each of the hard-working people of my riding plant more than 427,000 acres of crops. In total, these farm families generate more than $430 million in gross receipts.

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I'd like to congratulate the farmers of Perth county and many other farmers across the province who are driving agriculture, the economic engine of Ontario, forward into the 21st century.

This proposed time of celebration in recognition of the farmers of Ontario is about more than the many individuals who are working to provide for us today; it's about the future as well.

As a one-time member of the Maryborough 4-H and the Wellington County Junior Farmers, I know the value of these programs and would like to congratulate all of the people of the province who participate in these worthwhile endeavours, particularly their leaders. The strong values and work ethic taught have always been a part of what makes Ontario great.

I look forward to the debate today and hope to have the support of all members of the Legislature. I see this as an opportunity to build momentum, ensuring that the hard work and dedication of Ontario's farmers is recognized and appreciated.

Ontario's agrifood sector is getting stronger, and a strong agrifood sector builds prosperous rural communities. Let's start now to ensure that the future of agriculture is a true cause for celebration.

I'd like to end with a saying that is often used by a friend of agriculture, "Mankind, despite all their accomplishments, owe their existence to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains." Thank you, Mary. It's a simple, truthful and accurate statement.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I'm pleased to join the debate on the motion sponsored by my colleague, the member for Perth. I want to take this opportunity to say that agriculture and farming are certainly important in my part of eastern Ontario. The county of Renfrew over the decades has seen very considerable agricultural activity. Rural communities like Douglas, Beachburg and Cobden, to name but three, are a vital part of the daily life, not just socially but economically, of my home district.

It is an evident fact of daily life in Renfrew county that agriculture and rural affairs are extremely important, particularly to the economic wellbeing of my county. The agricultural community in the Ottawa Valley has seen some very strong leadership. When I visit annually the agricultural Wall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony, usually held in the town of Renfrew, I'm reminded that families like the Galbraiths, the Kilbys and the Gallaghers, to name but three, have been very important in providing leadership, not just to the county but to provincial and national organizations.

At the present time, Mr Bob Dobson from the Cobden area is the president of the Ontario Cattlemen's Association. People like Ellard Powers from the Beachburg area have played a very active role in not just provincial but national associations. Mr Del O'Brien, a very well known lawyer in the city of Pembroke, has been a very strong spokesperson for agricultural issues in the province and country for many years. That farming is important, that agriculture is important in my county is evident.

I must say, in the time I have this morning, farmers in my area would want me to say that all is not well. They are concerned in places like Douglas that they've lost their bank. They are concerned in communities like Admaston and Westmeath and Ross that the resources they have come to rely on in the community, provided by ministries like agriculture and food, for example, and natural resources, are being reduced. It is absolutely clear to farmers and rural folks in areas like Renfrew county that the front-line services they have come to expect - and they know they have paid for through their taxes, to sustain in the community - operations like the local ag office, the local MNR office, the local Ministry of Transportation office, are in fact being reduced. We are pleased, I suppose, that they haven't shut the ag office in Renfrew entirely, but if you're a farmer in Renfrew county, you know that in recent times the actual front-line services and the people - and we are talking about people - are simply not as available as they once were.

Some of the whiz kids like to say, "Well, there's voice mail and there's the Net." Yes, those things are interesting and they're new-fangled, but if you're a farmer in Ross township or Westmeath township - and Harry Danford's been the ag rep or he's been the red meat adviser - you've come to expect those people to be available in the community. We see fewer and fewer of those people. Not to say that Harry's been our ag rep, but he knows of what I speak in that respect. He probably has been an ag rep, for all I know. Seriously, there is a real sense of loss and reduction as governments, not just provincially but federally, pull back from service delivery.

I was reading in our papers not too many weeks ago that, I guess it was 75 years ago, Ontario prepared for an election. It was at a time when Mr Drury led a farmers' government. One of the stories in the Eganville paper a couple of weeks ago said that something like 1,000 people had come out in Eganville in the summer or late spring of 1923 to greet the farmers' Premier. Both MLAs were representatives of the farmers' party then in government. That was then, and I know it was a long time ago, but it's important for me to recall that there was a time when the farmers were so powerful in this province they could elect a government. We know there has been much urbanization and now much suburbanization to reduce the power of the farm vote.

I want to take this opportunity to observe something I said a year and a half ago when we were dealing with the latest redistribution bill: "Thanks to Mike Harris and his supporters, the farm vote in this province is being substantially reduced with the latest redistribution bill. Never in the history of the province will the farm vote count for as little as it will at the time of the next election."

I want to make it very plain that farmers who have, for a century and then some, had a very significant voice in the affairs of this province and its government will have seen their representation in the next Legislative Assembly very substantially reduced because we passed the Fewer Politicians Act. Make no mistake about it, that redistribution bill represents a substantial shift of political power away from the farm communities and into the suburban belt just around this great city in which we now find ourselves.

For the apologists of this government, when they go to the Women's Institute, when they go to the local farm dinners, I hope they're going to have an answer, because in the next election there will be 27 fewer people returned to this assembly. At the time of the next election, the farm voice in this assembly will be at an all-time low. Yes, you will say, "That is because the Mississaugas and the Pickerings and the Newmarkets have grown tremendously," and that has to be recognized, but there was absolutely nothing in our redistribution bill to recognize the special situation in which rural and northern Ontario find themselves.

As I take my seat and give some of the remaining time to my good friend from Prescott and Russell, I just want to say to the sponsor of this bill, the member for Perth, that we have managed to pass in this Parliament a redistribution bill that substantially reduces the representation and the very voice that his private member's bill properly wants to celebrate. That is a legacy of this Harris government; it is not a legacy of which we should be proud.

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Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I'm very pleased to be able to speak to this bill. Let me say at the outset that I support and appreciate the symbolic gesture that is being made here and I'll be voting for this bill. But in my view, it is absolutely essential to get on the record the more important things that go beyond symbolism, the things that have happened, and are happening right now, to farmers, to the farm community, to the rural community in Ontario.

I want to hark back to what the farm community did earlier this spring. The farm community joined together, 37 farm organizations joined together, to lobby the government to reinvest in agriculture. They weren't talking about symbolism, they were talking about real reinvestment in rural Ontario, real reinvestment in agriculture, real reinvestment in the people who work and make a contribution in rural Ontario. They lobbied government members and they lobbied opposition members.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Yes, that's what they were doing. Spend more money, $10 billion -

The Acting Speaker: Member for Grey-Owen Sound, would you please remain quiet.

Mr Hampton: Farm organizations put a great deal of effort into trying to talk to this government. They waited with great anticipation for the budget, hoping there would be a sign that the government was going to reinvestment in rural Ontario. They were sadly disappointed, very sadly disappointed. In fact, if I can quote Ed Segsworth, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture: "We know they heard our message. We also know they chose to ignore our message." In other words, representatives of farm organizations, after speaking to individual members, after speaking to cabinet ministers, knew that the government heard the message. The government chose to ignore the message, chose not to reinvest in rural Ontario.

Then there is the issue of what's happening through all of the provincial downloading. We know that virtually every rural municipality in Ontario has lost funding for roads and highways. We know that the rural economy, the farm economy, depends on being able to move the product to market. You can't move the product to market if roads and highways and bridges in rural Ontario are beginning to deteriorate. What has the government done about reinvestment in highway infrastructure, road infrastructure, bridge infrastructure in rural Ontario?

The sad story is the government has done absolutely nothing. It has thrown all these costs on to local municipalities. It has thrown all these costs directly on to rural residents, farm residents and said: "You're on your own. If you want to move your product to market, if you want to be part of the economy, you're on on your own. You increase your property taxes. You increase user fees. You increase administrative fees, if you want to move your product to market." When you get beyond the symbolism, that's the real message that is going out in Ontario today to all of the people who are members of the farm economy, to all of those people who live in rural Ontario.

But it doesn't end there. We're facing the abandonment of many rail lines. We're facing the potential closure of a number of Ontario ports, and I wonder where this government is in terms of putting together a policy, a program to support this kind of infrastructure.

Then there's the question of the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I see reinvestment in rural Ontario, reinvestment in agriculture as a very broad issue. It takes into account transportation; it takes into account rural infrastructure. Part of that, as a subset of that, is the question of the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. What is interesting is what the MPP for Nipissing had to say when he was in opposition. He said that a Conservative government would restore the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. That was the message that was put out.

What have we seen in three years? Again, I want to get beyond the symbolism. What we have seen in three years, and we're living in economic boom times - this is the perspective that we have to have. We are living in times when the American economy has done better than it has ever done since the late 1960s. We are living in a time when the American economy is absorbing our agricultural exports, our truck, car and auto exports, our pulp, paper and lumber exports. The American economy is literally powering North America right now. In the best of all economic times, what has happened to the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in the last three years? It's been cut by over $100 million. When you add it all in, that's been the cut.

I simply want to say this. Even now, in 1998-99, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is going to absorb a further 3.5% cut in its budget when you factor in inflation. This is all incredibly shortsighted and, frankly, it's the wrong direction. If we want to be a player in the world agriculture and food market, these long-term investments have to be made. It's not just enough to bring forward a symbolic private member's bill saying, "We celebrate agriculture in Ontario." You have to put your heart into it. There has to be some substance to it.

Finally, I too want to speak about what farmers are going to find after the next provincial election. Twenty-seven seats in this Legislature are going to disappear. Of the 27 that are going to disappear, 22 of them are from rural Ontario. What farmers are going to find, what the residents of rural Ontario are going to find after the next election is that whatever voice they have had in this Legislature is going to be very much decimated after the next election.

I would say to you, when you add all of these things up: the downloading on to rural municipalities in terms of highway infrastructure, road infrastructure, bridge infrastructure, when you add in the absolute cut to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' budget, when you add in the continuing cuts to the budget, when you add in the fact that there are going to be far fewer representatives from rural Ontario in the next Legislature, what it says to me is that we're living in a situation where the government of the day chooses to ignore rural Ontario, chooses to ignore the food producers, the agricultural producers in this province. In fact, I would go so far as to say we're living in times when the government of the day chooses to take for granted people who live in rural Ontario, chooses to take for granted the agricultural producers of this province.

I support this bill. I will vote for it. But it must be said that this bill cannot cover, cannot make up for the neglect that has been shown to the people of rural Ontario and the agricultural producers of Ontario by the government of the day, and that is a shame, absolutely a shame.

My colleagues will have more to say later.

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Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): It is my pleasure this morning to rise and speak to this bill. I will try and keep my comments to this bill because in the very short time that we have in this House for private members, I will allow time for that.

I would like to begin by congratulating the member for Perth for bringing forth what I consider is a very important initiative. I'm particularly pleased that the member has chosen to designate the week beginning with Thanksgiving Day as Agriculture Week, since I feel it is in the harvest season that we should honour the hard work and dedication of farm families in the province.

In Ontario we have a lot to thank our farmers for. From the earliest French and Loyalist settlements along the St Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, the Grand, the Thames, the Detroit River and indeed the Niagara Peninsula, farming has been the economic mainstay of hundreds of our communities. French and Loyalist farmers carved their farms out of the bush of Ontario, using the most primitive tools of agriculture: an ox, a horse, a pick, an axe and a shovel. Working long hours in all extremes of weather and relying upon their family, their friends and neighbours for assistance, they cleared the forest at the rate of five acres per year for their homesteads. Over many generations they established the farming community in Ontario as we know it today. Indeed, many of our present-day farm families can proudly trace their roots to the early French settlers or the Loyalist migration from the United States.

As the farm community grew, so did many of the institutions of rural Ontario that are so familiar to us today, such as The Grange, the women's institutes, the 4-H clubs, as well as the towns and villages that grew to serve the early settlers' needs. Even our present political system owes its existence to the demands of the rural community for proper representation in the Legislature.

Farming has grown so that now it is the second largest industry in Ontario. The member for Perth gave us statistics to support this in his comments earlier, but I think some of those statistics are worth repeating.

We generate over $25 billion worth of economic activity and we employ over 640,000 people. In 1997 Ontario again was number one in Canada in total farm cash receipts of $6.9 billion. Even more significant, each farmer produces enough food to feed 120 people every year. I think that is very significant. What an example of productivity and efficiency in the province of Ontario.

Some 200 commodities are produced in Ontario. They include everything, and I won't go into the list. There are also 1,200 food and beverage processors that are located in Ontario, and that makes up almost half of that industry in Canada.

We all know that agriculture is more than food to eat and to be on our tables in front of us each evening. Cloth and textiles begin in the barnyard as wool and indeed in the fields as hemp. Hemp, while it's still an experimental crop, is also used to make paper and a variety of industrial products.

Flowers and ornamental plants: Certainly our greenhouse industry is thriving in Ontario. Last year, in 1997, greenhouse plants had a value of over $4 million. We've already debated corn with a previous bill that was before us here this morning. Corn is involved in ethanol fuel, but it's also involved in soap, toothpaste, paint, varnish, sparkplugs and so many other things we use every day and perhaps sometimes take for granted and really don't realize where they begin. These are only a few of the products produced by farmers in Ontario today.

Agriculture Week will give us all a chance to reflect on the debt we owe to Ontario's farmers and their forebears, to applaud their pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial zeal and to wish them even greater success in the future.

I urge all members of this House to support Bill 37 and the passage of Ontario Agriculture Week.

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : C'est avec plaisir que je prends la parole sur ce projet de loi que je crois d'une très, très grande importance. Lorsque nous parlons de reconnaître une semaine pour les agriculteurs de l'Ontario, je crois que ça pourrait sensibiliser davantage ceux et celles qui ne comprennent pas le rôle important que ces agriculteurs ont à jouer dans cette province et dans ce grand pays.

Lors de la tempête de verglas, nous avons pu être sensibilisés davantage, mais j'aimerais dire au tout début que nous avons, dans ma circonscription, plus de 1250 fermiers, agriculteurs, et nous avons aussi une mise en valeur de plus d'un milliard de dollars en équipement et en infrastructure.

De plus en plus, avec les coupures ou le délestage que nous connaissons, surtout lorsque nous regardons l'annulation de la taxe agricole à laquelle nos municipalités devront faire face en 1998, que va-t-il devenir à nos agriculteurs, et aussi avec les fusions des municipalités ? Dans le passé, les municipalités n'étaient pas aussi grandes qu'aujourd'hui. Souvent, à plusieurs reprises, nous pouvions voir sur les conseils municipaux des agriculteurs qui faisaient partie du conseil. Mais aujourd'hui, de plus en plus, ça va être très difficile pour ces agriculteurs de se joindre à un conseil municipal ou de se faire élire.

Je crois que le gouvernement doit prendre les procédures nécessaires afin de protéger l'agriculture. Lorsque je dis «les procédures nécessaires», c'est que, dorénavant, ça va être encore très difficile d'avoir des personnes qui vont siéger sur des comités d'urbanistes. Quand je dis «des comités d'urbanistes», c'est dû au fait que les municipalités auront peu de représentants du secteur de l'agriculture sur le conseil municipal. Le gouvernement devrait s'assurer qu'une municipalité dont un certain pourcentage sera évalué agricole s'assure à ce qu'un minimum de personnes faisant partie du comité d'urbanistes proviennent du secteur agricole.

Lors de la tempête de verglas, nous avons connu des périodes très, très difficiles, que nous connaissons encore. Je regarde des fermiers et des agriculteurs de fermes laitières, comme la ferme Cayer à St-Albert, qui a dû procéder avec des réparations d'au-delà de 80 000 $ et où on attend toujours des compensations du gouvernement. Je regarde la ferme Kaisan, où on élève des chèvres ; ils ont perdu au-delà de 160 chèvres durant le verglas. On attend toujours la compensation.

Mais pour cette tempête de verglas, et je ne sais pas si le gouvernement s'en rend compte, les coûts totals qui ont été estimés vont dépasser un milliard de dollars. Ce n'est pas seulement durant le mois de janvier que nous allons reconnaître tous les problèmes auxquels nous allons être appelés à faire face dans les prochains 20 ans. C'est que déjà, cinq mois après le verglas, les agriculteurs doivent procéder à un changement de leur bétail, leurs animaux. Une vache laitière qui a dû faire face à des périodes de stress, aujourd'hui on s'en ressent. On doit procéder avec le changement de troupeaux puisque les animaux ont attrapé ce qu'on appelle la mammite : la viande ne peut plus être utilisée pour le boucher et le lait est réduit à 25 % et même encore plus, donc, des montants d'argent que nos agriculteurs vont être obligés d'aller chercher à la banque. Mais il faut se rappeler que depuis la tempête de verglas, les lignes de crédits sont rendues à la limite.

Mais je vais définitivement supporter ce projet de loi. C'est que surtout, le projet de loi provient d'un membre du gouvernement qui en reconnaît l'importance. Mais je crois que durant la semaine que nous allons décider de déclarer la Semaine des agriculteurs, nous allons faire une promotion. Quand je dis «une promotion», c'est que nous devrions encourager davantage les écoles à aller rendre visite à nos fermes.

I'm going to say this part in English, Mr Speaker, because I think it's very important. During this week that we want to proclaim as Ontario Agriculture Week, we should stress that a certain number of schools should visit a farming community, should visit a dairy farmer. This would instruct them so they would recognize the important role that the farming community is playing in our daily life. Without the farmers, without the dairy farmers, without the cash-crop people, we wouldn't be here today. We wouldn't be here today because they are the ones who built our country. I would say for the majority of us, either our parents or our grandparents were born and raised on a farm, and today we are happy that the farmers are giving us what we have today.

The sales in Prescott and Russell alone are over $200 million a year, of which 81% comes from the dairy farmers. Some other areas are either the cash crop, the corn - if I go down to the Sussex area, it could be corn.

But once again I say this is a very, very important bill.

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Je crois que nous allons pouvoir sensibiliser les Ontariens et Ontariennes, Canadiens et Canadiennes, en déclarant une semaine reconnaissant le rôle important que jouent nos agriculteurs dans notre vie quotidienne.

Encore une fois, je crois que, dans tout comité où nous affectons le développement, on devrait toujours consulter les agriculteurs, les personnes qui se connaissent dans le développement de l'agriculture.

I look at the disaster relief committee that was formed for the ice storm, and I just wonder if we think of having a representative of the agricultural community on that committee. At the present time, if we had done that, the farmers wouldn't be waiting like they are today to get compensation.

Once again, I will support the bill, and I congratulate the member for Perth.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Je ne vais prendre qu'un couple de minutes parce que je sais que mon collègue d'Algoma aimerait parler sur ce projet de loi, car pour lui c'est une question très importante.

Je veux dire quelque chose au début. Beaucoup de fois dans cette Assemblée, quand les députés francophones parlent, ils vont dire, «J'ai quelque chose d'important à dire que j'ai besoin de dire en anglais.» Excuse-moi. On est francophone. On a des affaires importantes à dire ; les dire en français ou en anglais, ça m'est égal, mais j'aimerais qu'on arrête cette pratique. Je pense que c'est un oubli, puis je ne peux pas me passer de faire une remarque, mais autrement, d'essayer de sensibiliser les députés à cette question.

Je veux dire premièrement que j'appuie le projet de loi du député. Je pense que c'est important. Je suis d'accord que la communauté agricole est très importante à la survie de l'Ontario pour beaucoup de raisons ; premièrement, parce que c'est eux qui sont responsables de s'assurer que la nourriture est produite pour nous, les consommateurs, finalement, les personnes qui ont besoin de manger. Sans ça, on a de grands problèmes. Il y en a qui mangent moins que d'autres, comme on le sait tous.

Deuxièmement, c'est une industrie très importante pour l'économie de l'Ontario. Je pense qu'il faut le souligner. Donc, je vais le supporter.

Je veux aussi dire je ne vais pas avoir la chance de rester pour le vote, mais je veux être sur le record en disant que je voterais pour. Je suis engagé à partir à midi cet après-midi, mais autrement je veux dire que oui, j'y donne mon support.

J'aimerais faire un autre commentaire en ce qui concerne le ministre de l'Agriculture. Le ministre, M. Villeneuve, a trouvé le temps de venir ici à l'Assemblée pour parler contre un projet de loi qui donnerait des protections aux francophones, un projet de loi que j'avais présenté, le projet de loi 17. Je trouve ça bien intéressant, qu'il est venu ici parler contre les francophones, mais il n'a pas eu assez de temps pour venir ici parler pour la communauté agricole. Je me demande : quelles sont ses priorités ?

À part ça, j'aimerais donner mes félicitations au député. Qu'on aille en avant avec ce projet de loi.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): To go back to the original intent of the member for Perth, the week leading up to Thanksgiving is ideally suited to pay tribute to our farmers. This bill proposes to create an agriculture week in the fall, a time when many local communities are already hosting their harvest and fall festivals. In my riding of Norfolk, ag week would parallel the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show.

Overall, this creation of Ontario Agriculture Week would allow us to celebrate the heritage and the prosperous future of farming. We all know that farming is not easy, but as my aunt would say, it's good for the soul. We always seem to be equal part joy and struggle. Weeds, diseases, hail, drought and insects, the forces of nature, are constantly at odds with our farmers.

Farming has also been described as "the good life," but it takes more business skill, more technical and scientific knowledge and more patience than either God or government usually allows.

Agriculture, with a history of up to 10,000 years, has no single or simple origin. At different times and in numerous places, many plants and animals have been domesticated. One constant, however, is the plough. It's deemed the most important agricultural implement since the beginning of history. It's used to turn back and break up soil, bury crop residues and, of course, help control weeds.

I wish to quote a statement from W.A. Young, chaplain of the Ontario Agricultural College, in 1957:

"The pathway of the progress of mankind has been marked by the furrow of the plow. Not only is the plow the basic instrument of agriculture, it is the symbol of civilization.... Agriculture and civilization have come a long way together since our ancestors scratched the soil with a crooked stick. Godspeed the plow."

The horse collar was another very important invention in the history of agriculture. Apparently invented in China, the rigid, padded horse collar allowed the animal to exert its full strength, enabling it to do heavier work such as plowing and hauling.

Of the many changes that took place during the European period in agricultural history, few were more important than the Norfolk four system. Established in Norfolk county, England, before the end of the 17th century, this system was the standard practice on most British farms for the following 100 years. Wheat was grown in the first year, followed by turnips, then barley, with clover and rye undersown, in the third. The clover and rye were grazed or cut for feed in the fourth year. The turnips either fed cattle in open yards during the winter or were used to feed sheep. These crops eaten by livestock produced large supplies of previously scarce and quite valuable animal manure.

In more recent years farmers have been forced to make changes to address world surpluses and low commodity prices. Farmers have therefore increased their productivity by adopting new technologies. The effect is an increase in farm size and a reduction in the number of farmers. The farm operated by a single family, however, remains the dominant model in most of the world. As we enter the 21st century, we should recognize that only at the beginning of the 20th century did farming become a way of making a living as opposed to being a way of life.

In the 1929 issue of the Norfolk Agricultural Journal the Honourable John S. Martin, local MPP and Minister of Agriculture of the day - John was born in Cheapside in my riding - stated that no county had better prospects for the future than Norfolk, citing the rapid growth of area tobacco farming - the first tobacco crop was grown in our area in 1911 - and apple production with its attendant marketing organization. But he went on to say:

"While Norfolk is a county of specialties, it is, on the whole, a well balanced county.... Apart from its natural resources, Norfolk has a splendid asset in the spirit of the people. The enterprise and the readiness to cooperate on the part of the people of both town and country has been one of the big factors in our progress."

Farming in my riding of Norfolk has always been diversified. This 1929 issue describes the age-old menace to sheep production from dogs, although the author, T.B. Barrett, chairman of the sheep committee, states, "There are not nearly so many sheep-killing dogs in the county as there are chicken-stealing men." Chicken thieves - and I do not wish to reflect on anyone's family here.

I am proud to be part of the plan to initiate Ontario Agriculture Week. I believe this is a fitting tribute to those who work our land, raise our livestock and produce our food. I think Jimmy Allan, former MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk, a Dunnville lad, said it best when he stated, "Some skill in almost any trade can be acquired in a few months - learning to be a farmer takes a lifetime."

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Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to support the bill put forward by the member for Perth and to congratulate him, although I ask, just as a matter of interest in passing, why he chose to make this a bill rather than a resolution, since the bill is almost all preamble with "whereases" rather than anything substantive. But to recognize the contributions of farmers by designating a week after Thanksgiving is supportable and symbolic, as my leader indicated. I would say, though, that we should be ensuring that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs understands that there should be 52 weeks a year recognizing the importance of agriculture in the province rather than just one symbolic week after Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately I believe, as my leader indicated, that this government has turned its back on rural Ontario and on the farm community. I make one exception to that and recognize the contribution of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in responding to the request of the local federation of agriculture and myself to ensure that the ag rep's office be maintained in Algoma and be moved to the rural community. I accept that, but at the same time, as part of the overall cutbacks by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the pasture adviser's position has been eliminated, in an area which is mainly a cattle-raising area. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

When we see $100 million cut from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs budget, we understand what importance this government puts on agriculture. When we see that, despite the promises of the leader of the Conservative Party to restore the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, this government has cut the budget more than any previous government, we understand the priority this government puts on agriculture.

With regard to the effect of this government's program of downloading on rural communities, when we see the cost of policing, ambulance, ground ambulance, public health, social services, roads, all the things that have been downloaded to the rural community, and we combine that with the changes this government made to the farm tax rebate system, all I can say is that farmers are going to see the taxes on their residence, as opposed to their farm buildings and farm lands, skyrocket because of the downloading this government has done in rural communities. This government has given grants to rural municipalities to get them over the next provincial election, but once that election is over, property taxes are going to go sky-high.

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): If I have any time left at the end, I'll be sharing it with the member for Durham East. I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of Bill 37, proposed by my colleague from the riding of Perth, Mr Bert Johnson. Bill 37 would designate the week before Thanksgiving as Ontario Agriculture Week.

As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and as the member for the riding of Bruce, I certainly support this bill. It designates a week during the year to recognize and appreciate Ontario's farmers, farming families and those businesses and individuals involved in the agrifood sector.

The magnitude of the agriculture and agrifood industry in Ontario is astounding. Many Ontarians will not be aware of the major economic force this industry represents in this province. We take for granted the thousands of farms we pass as we drive through Ontario on our way to work and on our way to vacations. Agriculture does more than just put food on your table. It is also the producer of a wide variety of products, such as clothing, textiles, paper, fuels and many others.

The greenhouse industry in Ontario is also thriving. In 1997, the value of greenhouse plant production was more than $4 million. This creates year-round employment for Ontarians such as those employed by Bruce Tropical Produce, a 7.5-acre tomato greenhouse in Bruce township. Corn is produced into road de-icers, windshield washer fluid, ethanol fuel, soap, toothpaste, varnish and sparkplugs, just to name a few. Commercial alcohol in the riding of Bruce is a contributor to all of these, and this ties in very well with this morning's previous bill by Jack Carroll, Bill 34.

The figures and statistics related to the agriculture and agrifood industry are impressive and serve to remind us of the valuable contribution the agriculture sector makes to Ontario's economy. But let us not forget those who make this possible. Farmers and farming families are some of the most hardworking and dedicated workers in Ontario. The land is their heritage. The family farm is not just a job to go to on a daily basis, it is a way of life and has been for hundreds of years. Often the family farm has been in the same family for generations.

Bruce county is well known for its strong agriculture character and heritage. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize just a few of the hardworking and dedicated farmers in Bruce county who, through their volunteerism in their associations, give back to the agricultural community. Some of these include the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the Ontario francophone farmers, the Ontario Corn Producers' Association, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Cattlemen's Association, the Ontario pork producers, the Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association, the Ontario Farm Safety Association, junior farmers' and 4-H clubs, the Canola Growers' Association and many others, many of whom are here today.

The struggles faced by Ontario's farmers are more challenging than many of us deal with on a daily basis. The success of the family farm depends on a favourable economic climate, strong markets and, last but not least, good weather. One ice storm, one hailstorm, one drought or one rainy season can make or break a farmer for an entire year or perhaps forever.

Ontario Agriculture Week is one way of expressing appreciation to Ontario's farmers. The food and other agricultural products upon which we depend are due to the hard work, skill and dedication of Ontario's farmers, their communities and their families.

We must also not forget our rural youth. Young people brought up in a farming family have extraordinary talents and skills which they acquire at a very young age and will use throughout their lives. The work ethic is developed early in these young people, who, as part of a farming family, are expected to contribute their share to the overall success of the farm, and they do it well. Employers lucky enough to hire these people for any type of job are usually well satisfied.

I would therefore encourage my colleagues in this Legislature to support this bill. I thank and commend my colleague from Perth, Bert Johnson, for bringing the bill forward. Ontario Agriculture Week will provide an opportunity for Ontarians to celebrate the contribution made by Ontario farmers to the quality of life enjoyed by all Ontarians and to appreciate the significant impact the agrifood industry has on the economy of this province.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Perth, you have two minutes.

Mr Johnson: Ontario's agriculture industry has always been and continues to be an important part of the province's economy. Farming in Ontario dates back to before the time that the first Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John Graves Simcoe, had the land in Upper Canada surveyed for the purpose of establishing farming homesteads for the early Loyalist settlers.

The food and other agricultural products that sustain our lives are the result of the skill, hard work and dedication of Ontario's farming communities and farm families. It is important to recognize and acknowledge this ongoing contribution by Ontario farmers to the quality of life of all our citizens.

Thanksgiving Day is the annual day on which Ontarians express thanks for the bounties of the harvest. It is appropriate at that time to celebrate and acknowledge gratefully the contribution of Ontario's farm families in providing Ontarians with the food they eat and agricultural products during the fall and throughout the year.

In closing, I would like to thank the members of the House who have taken the time to speak to the bill today, the members for Renfrew North, Rainy River, Hastings-Peterborough, Prescott-Russell, Cochrane South, Norfolk, Algoma and Bruce. We all recognize, from parades, Big Bruce, who's trucked down nearly every small-town Main Street in Ontario.

I'd also ask all the members present to recognize the historic importance of agriculture in Ontario by supporting this bill. Ontario would not be the same without the contributions of Ontario farmers and farm communities. Let's start now to plan the celebrations for this fall. I look forward to your support later on.

The Acting Speaker: The time provided for private members' public business has expired.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA PROTECTION DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with ballot item number 19, standing in the name of Mr Carroll.

Mr Carroll has moved second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I'd like to request that the bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

ONTARIO AGRICULTURE WEEK ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA SEMAINE DE L'AGRICULTURE EN ONTARIO

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now deal with ballot item number 20, standing in the name of Mr Bert Johnson.

Mr Johnson has moved second reading of Bill 37, An Act to designate a week of recognition for Ontario's Farmers.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): Mr Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent that my bill, Bill 37, be ordered for third reading forthwith.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? I heard a no. The bill will automatically go to committee of the whole.

All matters related to private members' public business having expired, I will now leave the chair. The House will resume at 1:30.

The House recessed from 1201 to 1330.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

WOMEN'S COLLEGE HOSPITAL

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Today the government seeks second and third reading of a bill that would see the amalgamation of Sunnybrook Hospital and Women's College Hospital.

While I congratulate the many friends of Women's College Hospital who have fought long and hard to protect women's health, I say to you that this is not a happy day. I have said before that this government's programs have been a relentless attack on women. This legislation will now weaken its commitment to women's health.

Women's College Hospital came into being because women doctors needed a place to practise, because women wanted to be treated by women doctors and because research on women's health was inadequate. Much has changed since it came into being, but there's still much that needs to change in the area of women's health.

That is why a strong and independent Women's College Hospital is critical. Women's College Hospital is more than just a building. Its reputation is world-class. Its leadership in the area of women's health and research into women's health is undisputed both nationally and internationally. It is the only hospital in the western hemisphere designated as a World Health Organization collaborating centre in women's health. Only the Harris government fails to see the importance of this institution. This bill proves their myopia.

The bill before the Legislature this afternoon represents a valiant effort by all those who care about women's health. I and others in my caucus applaud them for their extraordinary efforts in a difficult situation, but let me be clear: I can't support this bill, because they and women everywhere deserve more.

PUBLIC ACCOUNTING LICENCES

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Certified general accountants have been asking successive provincial governments to modernize the Public Accountancy Act for some 30 years now. They are looking to the government to provide true competition among accountants with different designations and increase consumer choice in the selection of accountants by removing the monopoly that exists in licensed public accounting.

A revitalized Public Accountants Council should focus more directly on the qualifications and competence of applicants for licences and accommodate different accounting designations under the act while still protecting the public. In Ontario, certified general accountants are recognized by statute as professional accountants. We're not talking about an unrecognized profession.

We believe that certified general accountants recognize that this government didn't create this problem but that it can demonstrate leadership by bringing change. They are willing to negotiate with other professional associations to develop a new licensing system. The Attorney General needs to announce that the monopoly in licensed public accounting must end, an announcement which would initiate a process by which the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario and the Society of Management Accountants of Ontario could meet and develop joint standards and procedures for licensing.

The Attorney General should tell the Legislature what plans the government has to modernize and amend the Public Accountancy Act to ensure that all qualified professional accountants - recognized by statute - with sufficient experience and knowledge are permitted to access public accounting licences.

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): Last week I had the honour of representing the Minister of Health to present $1 million to the Pembroke General Hospital. This money will relieve budget pressures faced by the first restructured hospital in Ontario.

The reaction by health care officials was very positive. However, we received a very unrealistic account of their financial situation from the member for Renfrew North. The member characterized operating expenditures as debt. Businesses do run lines of credit, especially on a budget of $20 million. In fact, this hospital pools resources with other public partners to secure a rate below prime.

The ministry is addressing those expenses in three ways: the $1 million I presented, a cash advance of $2.4 million, and the hospital will submit a plan for reimbursement of costs. Also, the projected budget for 1998-99 shows a $3-million wage and staffing increase.

The Ministry of Health also, as a result of its review of the conditions of long-term-care facilities, committed $14.1 million to improve long-term care at Miramachi Lodge in Pembroke and $4.2 million for Lakeview in Cobden.

I thank the Minister of Health for the honour of representing her on this important occasion.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): It's with great pleasure that I rise today to announce to the House the awarding of the Canadian Special Olympics National Winter Games to the city of Ottawa. I know that I speak on behalf of all the citizens of Ottawa when I state how much we look forward to welcoming the athletes, the volunteers and the spectators to this fabulous event.

The games will be in the nation's capital during the year 2000, in January. The participants will compete in figure skating, speed skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, floor hockey, snowshoeing and, as a demonstration sport, curling.

As we have had the pleasure of hosting the Special Olympics previously, during the summer of 1981, we know that we shall be witness to what is in the best spirit of the games: skill, dedication and, above all, the camaraderie and fair play with which the athletes acquit themselves.

The city of Ottawa will continue the Special Olympics traditions: The events will be centred around the participants. They will be community-based. Most importantly, the Special Olympics will be driven by the many volunteers who give so freely of their time and effort and who, more than anyone else, make these games happen.

Congratulations are due to the city of Ottawa and the games committee, led by Peter Hoysted, all of whom worked diligently and successfully on the bid to host this particular event.

Ottawa will be a special place to be during the millennium year, and the Special Olympics is just one more reason. We look forward to seeing everybody in Ottawa during the winter of the year 2000.

TORONTO FIESTA

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm really pleased today to tell members of the House and the public about a new, exciting music festival that's coming to the St Clair and Dufferin area. It's Toronto Fiesta, celebrating its first year of operation. It will be in effect July 10, 11 and 12 of this year.

Producers Lido Chilelli and Fernando Vallandares, along with the assistance of the Corso Italia business improvement association, will help this community festival grow into one of the city's most exciting events of the summer, attracting both Canadian and American tourists. Toronto Fiesta will be one of the few remaining free musical festivals and one of the leading festivals for promoting Canadian and international music talent.

A half-mile of Fiesta streetfest will be a unique attraction to the Toronto Fiesta, which will feature over 25 bands performing nightly on selected street corners, balconies and rooftops on St Clair Avenue West between Dufferin Street and Lansdowne Avenue. Over 200 performers will play a variety of musical styles, including Latin, flamenco, Italian, folklore, tango, jazz and calypso.

In addition to the music, arts and crafts exhibitors will be displaying and selling their products.

Through local cooperation, the Toronto Fiesta will support various non-profit organizations in the Corso Italia area, including the J.J. Piccininni Centre and Las Flores.

This is going to be an exciting time, and what's going to also add to this is that the finals of the World Cup of soccer also happen to be that weekend, so it's going to truly be an exciting two or three days. I invite everyone to participate.

EDUCATION FUNDING

Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I rise today to state that the government's new student-focused funding formula is a good-news announcement for all the school boards in my riding. Contrary to the misguided doom-and-gloom mantra we hear from the opposition every day about spending cuts in the classroom, school closures and teacher layoffs, the four reconstituted school boards servicing my riding of Simcoe Centre will enjoy significant revenue increases in the classroom and overall.

For example, the total operating revenue for English-language public district school board number 17 will increase by 7%, while defined classroom spending will increase by 3%. The Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic board will enjoy an overall increase of 17.1% and a classroom spending increase of close to 30%. Our French-language boards will receive classroom spending increases of 14.4% for the separate school side and 6.2% on the public school side.

For the first time ever, the new student funding model creates a basic universal per capita grant, no matter where they live. My riding is experiencing unprecedented growth. It is exciting that Barrie may be the fastest-growing city in Canada. While we hope this growth continues, it means that enrolment in our elementary and secondary schools is skyrocketing. The good news is that the government's new student funding formula recognizes enrolment increases with much-needed additional funding.

The new per capita student funding model is solid proof that our government is on the right track, especially for the partners in education in Simcoe Centre.

NORTHERN HEALTH SERVICES

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): As the Legislature prepares to rise for the summer, I feel compelled to call on the Ministry of Health to recognize and deal with the serious problem facing our regional hospital in Thunder Bay, particularly as it relates to the number of acute care beds in our system.

While the minister and this government send out propaganda that brags about their commitment to improve health care, the reality in our hospital system turns that bragging into nothing more than a cruel joke, a joke that nobody finds very amusing.

The fact is that every day in our community, people needing a hospital bed come face to face with the fact that there is no room for them. The emergency halls are crammed with people who simply cannot be turned away, while many others needing care are directed elsewhere, sometimes to Manitoba, often to other hospitals in the north, all of which have the same space problem. Why is that? It's because the Health Services Restructuring Commission is forcing more bed cuts on our community, cuts that are simply leading to a crisis in acute care delivery.

Thunder Bay Regional Hospital is trying to get that message to you, Minister, as they have put together a proposal asking for funding for 20 temporary beds, beds that are absolutely crucial right now.

Minister, you must respond. This crisis in acute care services is not a made-up issue. It's real, and your officials know it's real. If you agree that people needing care in our hospitals should receive it, then you must recognize that your bed-cut targets are making people suffer and are truly dangerous.

Release the funds for those beds now. It's the responsibility of this government to provide quality care. Do not make people suffer any more.

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PAY EQUITY

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The London and District Service Workers' Union, Local 220, is a local that is currently located in my riding. It represents nursing home workers throughout the London-Middlesex area.

These workers in these nursing homes are still awaiting pay equity. They are still waiting for the payment that is due to them for equal pay for work of equal value, as provided in law by the Pay Equity Act.

Earlier this month, they sent invoices to the minister responsible for women's issues, who they thought might be interested in championing their cause. However, they did not hear back from them.

This box contains hundreds of these invoices indicating that the payment for pay equity is overdue and billing the employer, the Ontario government, for the amounts owing, the adjustments owing.

I know that the minister responsible for women's issues must understand how important pay equity is and she should understand that many of these workers waiting for their pay equity settlement actually live in her riding and will be voters in the next election, so it is incumbent upon her to bring their plight to the attention of the Minister of Labour and to ensure that SEIU Local 220 gets its pay equity settlement as soon as possible.

WATERFRONT FESTIVAL AND FOLKLORAMA

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): On this last day that the Legislature sits before the summer recess, I would like to invite each and every member of the House to attend the Belleville Waterfront Festival and Folklorama, held this summer on July 10, 11 and 12. Offering something for everybody, the Waterfront Festival and Folklorama has grown from a simple celebration of multiculturalism to one of the largest summer festivals of its type in Ontario.

Representing the various cultures and nationalities of the people who settled in the Quinte area, the ethnic pavilions offer food and entertainment from every corner of the globe. There are arts and crafts, the bathtub race and the belly-flop contest. Take the kids for a ride on the midway, see the water ski show and the fireworks. Just get there early on Friday evening to catch the parade which kicks off the weekend celebrations.

The Waterfront Festival and Folklorama has some big-name music acts too, such as Trooper, Sass Jordan, Spirit of the West, Junkhouse, Colin James and Fifty-Four Forty.

There is so much to see in the Belleville Waterfront Festival and Folklorama that it is hard to describe in the space of so little time.

The three-day celebration can be enjoyed for the price of $5 for a shore pass, and children under 13 are free. I hope to see each and every one of you some time over the summer.

VISITOR

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speakers' gallery today Mr Chundra Bhandari, consul general for India. Please join me in welcoming him.

LEGISLATIVE PAGES

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I want to take this opportunity to tell the Legislative Assembly that this is the last day for the legislative pages. I want to thank them for their hard work, diligence and good service.

Applause.

The Speaker: Another standing ovation for the pages.

LEGISLATIVE USHERS

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd also like to inform the members that today is the last day in the House for many of our legislative ushers. Deon Cousins, Sherene Lindsay, Christeen Kivinen, Emma Hogbin, Mike Wood, Peter Smiechowski and Gaurav Gupta have served us with enthusiasm and efficiency and I wish them well in their future endeavours.

Members will continue to see the familiar faces of Carla Mulligan and Peter McLeod, who will be continuing in their good services to us in the fall.

With the legislative session sitting in the 6:30 to 9:30 period, I'd like to thank the ushers personally for all the hard work and good work they did while we were in session.

INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS' EXPENDITURE REPORT

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House I have today laid upon the table the individual members' expenditures for the fiscal year 1997-98.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Finally.

The Speaker: Finally, right.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on regulations and private bills and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

LAW SOCIETY AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE BARREAU

Mr Harnick moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 53, An Act to amend the Law Society Act / Projet de loi 53, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le Barreau.

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

HEALTH INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR L'ASSURANCE-SANTÉ

Mr Duncan moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 54, An Act to amend the Health Insurance Act to satisfy the criteria for contribution by the Government of Canada set out in the Canada Health Act / Projet de loi 54, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'assurance-santé pour satisfaire aux critères régissant les contributions du gouvernement du Canada et énoncés dans la Loi canadienne sur la santé.

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

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): This bill amends the Health Insurance Act so that the Ontario health insurance plan satisfies the criteria set out in the Canada Health and so that the province of Ontario qualifies for receiving the full cash contribution from the government of Canada described in that act.

Those criteria are public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. We believe the federal government ought to reintroduce conditional health care grants to the province of Ontario and we look forward to working with them to do that, because we simply don't trust the government to spend that money on health care.

APPRENTICESHIP AND CERTIFICATION ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR L'APPRENTISSAGE ET LA RECONNAISSANCE PROFESSIONNELLE

Mr David Johnson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 55, An Act to revise the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act / Projet de loi 55, Loi révisant la Loi sur la qualification professionnelle et l'apprentissage des gens de métier.

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

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Mr Speaker, I will be making a few comments during ministerial statements.

GREATER TORONTO SERVICES BOARD ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA COMMISSION DES SERVICES DU GRAND TORONTO

Mr Leach moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 56, An Act to establish the Greater Toronto Services Board and the Greater Toronto Transit Authority and to amend the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority Act / Projet de loi 56, Loi visant à créer la Commission des services du grand Toronto et la Régie des Transports en commun du grand Toronto et à modifier la Loi sur la Régie des transports en commun de la région de Toronto.

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

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I just want to let the House know that this bill will establish a Greater Toronto Services Board that will ensure service coordination across the entire GTA and that the representation model that has been developed will ensure that all municipalities have a voice at the table.

I would also like to thank Mr Alan Tonks, who did a great job in moderating the draft legislation, with all of the stakeholders, that resulted in the production of this bill.

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LIQUOR LICENCE AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES PERMIS D'ALCOOL

Mr Tsubouchi moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 57, An Act to amend the Liquor Licence Act in respect of brew on premise facilities / Projet de loi 57, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les permis d'alcool en ce qui concerne les centres de brassage libre-service.

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

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I would simply like to thank two groups for assisting us in developing this legislation; first of all, Mr Don Wolan, president of the Brew on Premises Association of Ontario. The association has been very supportive of the legislation and has worked with us very closely to develop this, and I believe it will do a lot of good for the industry.

Second, I'd like to thank Frank Sheehan of the Red Tape Commission, who has certainly worked with our stakeholders and consulted with the industries out there to really ensure the viability of this industry.

ONTARIO HERITAGE AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE PATRIMOINE DE L'ONTARIO

Mr Gilchrist moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 58, An Act to amend the Ontario Heritage Act / Projet de loi 58, Loi visant à modifier la Loi sur le patrimoine de l'Ontario.

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

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Very briefly, this bill would give greater powers to municipalities to reflect the importance of our cultural heritage by waiving the ability of anyone to demolish or renovate heritage buildings until such time as the appropriate bylaw had been repealed. It will go a long way to guaranteeing that buildings such as the Guild Inn in my riding are protected for future generations.

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT (LICENCE SUSPENSIONS), 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LE CODE DE LA ROUTE (SUSPENSIONS DE PERMIS)

Mr Grimmett moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 59, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to the suspension of drivers' licences / Projet de loi 59, Loi modifiant le Code de la route en ce qui concerne les suspensions de permis de conduire.

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

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): This bill would amend the Highway Traffic Act to allow for the suspension of a driver's licence upon conviction for impaired operation of a motorized vessel.

INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT (EXPENSE ALLOWANCES OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT AND SENATORS), 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI DE L'IMPÔT SUR LE REVENU (INDEMNITÉS DE FONCTIONS DES PARLEMENTAIRES FÉDÉRAUX)

Mr Gilchrist moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 60, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act with respect to expense allowances earned in Ontario by Members of Parliament and Senators / Projet de loi 60, Loi modifiant la Loi de l'impôt sur le revenu en ce qui a trait aux indemnités de fonctions gagnées en Ontario par les parlementaires fédéraux.

Interjections.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Is it in order?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'll have to read it later to find out.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Recognizing the fact that this government has had the courage and this Parliament has reflected the importance that we all pay tax on the full salary we earn, I think the final straw, the extra $181-a-day allowance the senators have just given themselves, demands that, while the federal government members may have the power to waive the federal tax on their income, it's inappropriate that they relieve themselves of provincial obligations. This bill would rectify that.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES

APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Earlier today I introduced for first reading the Apprenticeship and Certification Act, 1998.

This morning I visited with apprentices in the kitchens of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. I met with three of 14 apprentices working in the kitchens, enjoying challenging, relevant training that will lead to vital, rewarding careers. I also met employers and educators who are committed to apprenticeship training and are convinced that the apprenticeship training system must change to meet the challenges of today and the 21st century.

That is what the proposed Apprenticeship and Certification Act, if passed by the Legislature, would do. Proposed changes to apprenticeship legislation would create work and learning opportunities for thousands of people in Ontario, particularly our young people. The Apprenticeship and Certification Act, if passed by the Legislature, would encourage more employers to train apprentices and would provide a framework for more young people to get involved in apprenticeship training.

Developed in consultation with our partners in apprenticeship training, the bill would provide a framework for a more relevant training system. It would give industries greater flexibility to meet unique training needs. It would provide industry with the flexibility to introduce apprenticeship training to new sectors, such as high technology or agriculture. It would ensure that training continues to be of a high standard, providing quality and safety to consumers, employers and workers.

If this bill receives royal assent, it would complement reform in our high schools. It would help young people to find the information they need to consider careers in skilled trades.

It would provide a new framework for a strengthened Ontario youth apprenticeship program. This program helps students understand the relevance of what they learn in the classroom to what they may do in the workplace. It helps young people make the critical transition from school to work.

The Ontario youth apprenticeship program is one of the programs offered by the Ministry of Education and Training and it's offered through Youth Opportunities Ontario. That is the government's strategy for promoting training and employment services to our young people.

In addition to providing more young people with opportunities to participate in apprenticeship training, I announced in January that the government will be implementing tuition and financial assistance.

Tuition and the financial assistance required by apprentices will be introduced after Ontario completes negotiations on training with the federal government. The new funding model for the apprenticeship training system must reflect what the two governments have agreed to on training.

We will implement tuition and financial assistance in a managed way. Employers, apprentices and trainers will receive at least three months' notice when we do implement tuition and financial assistance. The Ontario youth apprenticeship program students will be exempt from tuition fees, as well as other administrative fees recently introduced to the apprenticeship training system.

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If we were to act now, in advance of an agreement, our programs might not incorporate all the possible benefits to apprentices that could flow from such an agreement.

The current apprenticeship legislation and training system has served some sectors well. We know, for example, of the high quality of training in the construction industry. Today, the system's regulations are too rigid to meet the needs of our competitive economy. One message was repeated time and again during consultation with the apprenticeship partners. That message was, "We must move forward."

This is a message I heard from Charles Grieco, president of the Ontario Hostelry Institute; from Cosmo Mannella, of the Labourers' International Union of North America; from Ian Howcroft, director, human resources, Ontario division, the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada; and from Gerald Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association. Some of these people are here today in the gallery of this Legislature. I ask members to thank them for their support of the apprenticeship reform.

Speaker, I wish we could thank all the employers, all the journeypersons, all the apprentices, all the educators and all the trainers who have contributed their ideas to this proposed bill. Thanks to their participation, we have a bill that, should it receive royal assent, would encourage employers to train and inspire our young people to become apprentices. We hope to double the number of new apprentices up to 22,000 from the current 11,000 apprentices.

Through the support of partners in apprenticeship training, and through the legislation I have introduced today, we can help a new generation of skilled workers share in our province's prosperity and keep our economy strong.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I waited in the hope that the information I had was wrong, that the Minister of Municipal Affairs introduced two important pieces of legislation, or one that makes two changes, and we've yet to see a statement. So I'd like to ask for unanimous consent to have the Minister of Municipal Affairs make a statement with respect to the introduction of the Greater Toronto Services Board Act.

The Speaker: Unanimous consent? Agreed? No.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to -

Interjection.

Mr Bradley: I'm trying to be helpful here, as the government whip would know.

I want to ask for unanimous consent for the minister of privatization to make a statement in the House about what he's going to do tomorrow to TVO.

The Speaker: Minister? Agreed? No.

Mr David Caplan (Oriole): I am pleased to respond to the minister's remarks, which I would add are long overdue. It has been six months since the minister's announcement in January that he was going to implement reform of the apprenticeship system so that he could send a positive message to our young adults about to enter the skilled trades sector. I am concerned that now that we are finally getting some directions from the government, instead of giving young people the right messages, the minister is in fact sending the wrong ones.

Let's look at the minister's messages in this legislation today. His first message makes it more difficult for young people to be able to afford to enter the trades and for people in the trades to continue their training. The minister says he wants to make the trades attractive, yet he is guaranteeing that the wage rates will drop by removing provisions from the legislation that protect apprentice wage rates. Instead of saying to young people, "I want you to consider spending a few years getting education in the skilled trades sector and I will guarantee that this will be affordable," the minister says, "I see no reason to protect your wages while you learn."

What message is he sending to those apprentices already in their training? The average age of the apprentice entering the program is 27. These young people have obligations, obligations to their unmanageable student debts that they have already accumulated, to mortgages, to young families. Now the minister is saying, "Despite what you expected, you can now plan on completing your training for significantly lower wages." That is not the message that we should be sending to these highly skilled young adults who are trying to extend their education and start a new career.

What about the new costs? This morning at a press conference the minister confirmed that he is still serious about bringing in tuition fees for the apprenticeship program. I hope that all young people contemplating entry into the trades will be wary of this. Mike Harris's record of skyrocketing tuition fees and inadequate student assistance programs are well known.

This government cannot be trusted to give our students an affordable education. The minister fails to mention that his own government's consultation showed that when tuition fees were added to program requirements, participation rates would drop significantly. And still he contemplates bringing in tuition fees. What kind of message is that? We should not forget that the minister never acknowledges the trades that already support their own training through a contribution of a portion of wages.

Let's look at the message that the minister is sending to industry and labour about the value of his supposed consultations. This government says they consult, but they never listen. They started the consultation process in December 1996 on apprenticeship reform, but before the consultations were concluded, he leaked a document called New Directions. It was signed off by nine assistant deputy ministers. The minister and this government have not changed their tune since then.

In January, the minister said to industry and labour that he was serious about strengthening the roles of the provincial advisory committees, and we agree. We know now that this is not true. The PACs don't want to make any recommendations that they cannot enforce. Where is the real strengthening of the role? It's now apparent that the message the minister was trying to send out was one of lip-service and not real respect for the role that industry and labour could play together in the expansion and enhancement of apprenticeship programs.

The minister will need the goodwill of all stakeholders in this process to make it work. This legislation proposed will not do that. What message is the minister sending when he removes the legislated journeyperson's ratio from the new bill? Ratios are in place to ensure that apprentices are adequately supervised and that safety on the job site is not compromised. Industry and labour were clear that to preserve a quality learning environment, you need to maintain the ratios and not scrap them.

What are you saying to schools? You want them to counsel students to participate in the program, yet because of your funding formula and your Bill 160, boards across Ontario are being forced to cut back on guidance programs. We know there are going to be fewer teachers in the system and that these teachers are going to be taking on more students. You're asking an awful lot without providing adequate resources.

My final concern is a message that the minister is not sending. He will not say what he will do about the minimum educational requirements. Industry and labour say they want higher standards, not lower. Studies in BC show that students who have completed high school have the highest success rate in apprenticeship programs. I am not confident about this government's ability to effect positive change. I am disappointed that the minister will not put his money where his mouth is and give real substance to the apprenticeship program, a real role for PACs, not leaving it up to his colleagues in cabinet -

The Speaker: Responses?

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): It's been months and months since the minister announced with great fanfare that he was bringing in changes to the apprenticeship training act. We wonder, if the government thinks that this is such a high priority, why it would wait until the last day of the session to introduce this piece of legislation. We suspect that a lot of the stakeholders that the minister says that he's been consulting with have probably been telling him that the changes that he was going to be bringing in weren't good for apprentices or for skilled trades or for workers, or for industries, for that matter.

Just a couple of weeks ago there were hundreds of construction trades workers who were demonstrating in front of the minister's office before they even knew that this legislation was going to be introduced. That was before they knew the government was going to be introducing Bill 31, labour legislation that was going to be taking away their hard-won rights, rammed through this Legislature in a mere 19 days.

I think the government's spin masters were having a bit of a hard time coming up with a package that people were going to be able to swallow on the introduction of this legislation, so this morning we saw the minister down at the Royal York Hotel put on an apron and try to sugar-coat the bitter taste of this legislation by putting some sweet icing on the cake.

He found $1.4 million to give to school boards for co-op education. We have no problem with expanding opportunities for high school students, but we're going to be watching very carefully to ensure that the minister doesn't denounce this funding as non-classroom spending and then take credit for cutting it.

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The minister brought in this legislation with the excuse that the current act hasn't been updated since 1964. But what we've been hearing from people like Wayne Samuelson from Ontario Federation of Labour and Bob Chernecki from the Canadian Auto Workers is that, by and large, this is legislation that has been working fairly well. The Mike Harris government has been consistent in its attacks on unions and workers in Ontario and this announcement today is really a smokescreen for your attempts to drive down wages and lower government's commitment to funding of apprenticeship.

We do need to expand opportunities for young people but we shouldn't be misleading high school students into dropping out. It's clear that what you are doing is eliminating regulations respecting minimum wages and the journeyman-to-apprentice ratios and leaving it to industry to set those standards. We think that's wrong and we think it's going to lead to lower wages. It's going to water down the standards, lower the quality of training, expose workers to unsafe work conditions and also cause consumers to be concerned about anything that threatens the quality of workmanship.

Minister, if you were serious about expanding and improving apprenticeship, you wouldn't be lowering wages, you wouldn't be making apprentices pay tuition and you wouldn't be increasing fees, deregulating standards or cutting funding. And that's right, Minister, we're talking about cutting funding here. You're right to complain about the federal Liberal government cutting funding for apprentices, but your own estimates say that in 1996-97 actual spending was $94 million and that the estimates for 1998-99 are $58 million. That's a cut of $36 million in two years for the government's spending on apprenticeship and training.

I'm not surprised that you tried to make the announcement in the way that you did this morning, by putting the icing on the cake to make this bill look like something that it isn't. But we know what it is: Workers, apprentices and students will recognize this as a framework for lower standards, for lower wages, for increased fees for students who want to undertake opportunities in apprenticeship training, and we don't think that is the right direction to be going in.

CHILD ABUSE

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seek unanimous consent of the Legislature for a statement to recognize and support the efforts of Sheldon Kennedy to raise awareness of child abuse and sexual assault against children in Canada.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Agreed? Agreed.

Mr McGuinty: Child abuse is a crime with lifetime and sometimes tragic effects for the young victim. Studies have taught us that children who have suffered abuse are at higher risk of having psychiatric problems, health problems and addiction problems. These children are more likely to commit crimes, attempt suicide, drop out of school or become unemployed. I am sure I speak for all members when I say that one abused child is one too many.

Sheldon Kennedy was one of those children. A National Hockey League player, who was a hero to many for his skill on the ice, he took the courageous step of going public off the ice with his personal story of abuse at the hands of his junior league coach. Sheldon has now made it his crusade to raise public awareness of these crimes, and for that he deserves our support and our congratulations.

Thirty-one per cent of boys and 21% of girls in Ontario suffer physical abuse, and 4.5% of boys and 12% of girls in Ontario suffer sexual abuse. According to Dr Brenda Wattie of the Ontario Children's Mental Health Committee, the risk of suicidal behaviour has been found to increase five times if a child has been physically abused, five times if there has been sexual abuse, and nine times if both physical and sexual abuse have been present.

Eighty-five per cent of the young runaways in Toronto have been sexually abused.

Eighty per cent of female prisoners were physically or sexually abused as children.

Thirty-three per cent of sex offenders experienced sexual trauma as a child.

Ninety-nine per cent of our child prostitutes nine years of age and up were at one time abused.

The reported incidence of child abuse has doubled in the past five years.

Sheldon Kennedy, a man of great courage, will be in-line skating from one end of the country to the other to raise awareness of child abuse and sexual assault against children. He will be in Ontario during the month of July. On behalf of the Ontario Liberal caucus and the people we represent, I would like to offer him my congratulations and my heartfelt support.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I would like to join in recognizing the efforts of Sheldon Kennedy, most of all to recognize the incredible personal courage that Sheldon Kennedy has shown. To come forward as he did and to come forward in the environment he did and to make the disclosures that he did were certainly incredible acts of personal courage that, I would argue, should serve as examples for all of us and should serve as examples for government most of all.

The fact of the matter is that when Sheldon Kennedy made the decision he made, he was swimming against the tide in terms of the kind of environment he works in and the kinds of attitudes he had to overcome. I think that Sheldon Kennedy, by now taking on this campaign that he is conducting from one end of Canada to the other, is challenging all of us to recognize that there is a very serious issue, that all of us, individually and collectively, must recognize this issue, and that all of us, individually and collectively, must make a contribution, first, to the awareness and, second, to address the issues that are being raised.

I hope that all members of the Legislature this summer, as Sheldon Kennedy makes his way across this country, will take the time to recognize the unique effort, the incredible effort, the valuable effort that is being made and to do what we can, in whatever way we can, to further the efforts of Sheldon Kennedy and to further the public understanding of what he represents and what he is trying to do.

Hon Isabel Bassett (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I rise also to salute the emergence of a Canadian hero who has shown enormous courage in the face of adversity, to rise above the situation and turn it to the good of other Canadians and youth. I'm speaking, of course, of Sheldon Kennedy, who has made it his life's work to raise awareness about sexual abuse and to find the resources needed to develop a treatment and research centre for abused children.

Currently, Mr Kennedy is in-line skating, as you've heard, right across Canada to promote this crucial cause. He is to be in Ontario from July 5 to July 11, and I want him to know that this government supports his work. We support him entirely. I wrote to him in May wishing him well on his venture and on his cause, and I plan to meet with him in July. I too urge all members of this House to find time in their busy schedules to talk to Sheldon Kennedy.

I want to emphasize that this government is committed to fighting sexual abuse and to working in every way possible to ensure that Ontarians have a safe and accessible sport environment, one that is free from sexual abuse.

To this end, the government has been working with its amateur sports partners on various fronts. We have distributed a video called Good Sports Don't Hurt, Harassment Does to all of our provincial sport and recreation organizations.

I know all members of this House will join me in wishing the very best to Mr Sheldon Kennedy.

DEFERRED VOTES

TAX CUTS FOR PEOPLE AND FOR SMALL BUSINESS ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA RÉDUCTION DES IMPÔTS DES PARTICULIERS ET DES PETITES ENTREPRISES

Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 15, An Act to cut taxes for people and for small business and to implement other measures contained in the 1998 Budget / Projet de loi 15, Loi visant à réduire les impôts des particuliers et des petites entreprises et à mettre en oeuvre d'autres mesures contenues dans le budget de 1998.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): There will be a five-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1421 to 1426.

The Speaker: All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bassett, Isabel

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carr, Gary

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

Doyle, Ed

Elliott, Brenda

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Jackson, Cameron

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Parker, John L.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Shea, Derwyn

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

Agostino, Dominic

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Caplan, David

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Cordiano, Joseph

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Lankin, Frances

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McGuinty, Dalton

McLeod, Lyn

Morin, Gilles E.

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Ruprecht, Tony

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 63; the nays are 33.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In view of the announcement today that Alan Eagleson is being granted parole as of July 7, only one third of his sentence being served, I seek unanimous consent to address the matter by all three parties, hoping that the members of the Crime Control Commission will comment on this early release of Alan Eagleson.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Agreed? No.

ORAL QUESTIONS

AIR QUALITY

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of the Environment. It's 30 degrees outside, it's hot, it's humid and it's another smog alert day in Ontario. You have been talking about your Drive Clean program. Your predecessor first talked about your Drive Clean program in October 1995. We had mistakenly assumed that that meant we would have it in place for the summer of 1996. That came and went, but still no program. We thought then that maybe you'd have it in place for the summer of 1997 - nowhere to be found. We thought that at least you'd have it in place for this summer, the summer of 1998, but apparently that's not going to be the case either.

It's not that you can't move quickly when you want to. It took your government no time at all to cut your ministry staff by 30%, no time at all to cut your budget by 45%. Minister, why don't you simply stand now and admit that the Drive Clean program is not a priority for you and it will not be in place at all during the summer?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I believe last year we announced that we were going to have a Drive Clean program. It was never held out to the public nor this Legislature that the program would be in place by the summer of 1998. It is a very comprehensive program. It involves a major contract with the private sector, which we are now negotiating, which could amount, over the term of the contract, to hundreds of millions of dollars. We want a program which will be effective, which will get the reduction in emissions that we are aiming for. We believe this program will be sound, will be solid, will be all-encompassing and will in fact improve the air for the people of southwestern Ontario in the future. It's a very important program and we're implementing it in a very careful and cautious manner.

Mr McGuinty: The Drive Clean program and the protection, preservation and enhancement of our natural environment are not priorities for your government. Why not have the honesty to stand up and say that? You've moved forward on so many different fronts and you've brought about so much change in Ontario, but you have either done nothing on the environmental front or you have gone in reverse. Why not just stand up and say: "It's not a priority for us. You'll have to look to another government to do that kind of stuff"?

Let's talk about some of your priorities when it does come to the environment. You have increased the allowable discharges of pollutants into our lakes and rivers. You have dropped the fine for our polluters from a high of $3 million to $955,000. That's the lowest total of fines in our province since 1985. That's what you've done. One thing you could do and the one thing you promised to do was to give us the Drive Clean program. Why don't you stand up - again I'm giving you this opportunity - and tell us that you're not going to do it because it's not a priority?

Hon Mr Sterling: We have done many things with regard to changing the whole environmental paradigm and improving our regulatory regime, improving many of the processes so that things can get done in this province. We have lowered the gasoline volatility regulations, as I've said here before. We have for the first time set particulate standards in this province, which was never done before. We have revamped and are in the stages of revamping some 70 air quality standards which have been left neglected by previous governments for some 20 years. To revise these particular standards is a very important and difficult process in order to reach what is best for our people. We have done more with regard to air quality than any previous government has ever done.

Mr McGuinty: Here's what our own environmental commissioner said: "If we continue down this government's path, our right to a healthy environment will be jeopardized. We can't afford to focus on short-term savings at the expense of our long-term environmental health." You were the one who told us in October of 1996 that 1,800 people die in Ontario every year as a result of breathing bad Ontario air.

Now, when it comes to the Drive Clean program, I've given up on that. You're not going to proceed with that. But there's something else that you should do and you could do, and it doesn't cost a lot of money and it doesn't take a lot of work. You could put in place a provincial smog alert plan. The city of Toronto has one on the books. They limit certain kinds of activities like grass cutting, paving and use of pesticides. The problem, as you know or should know, is that pollution and smog do not respect municipal boundaries.

Will you know commit to implementing a province-wide smog alert emergency program?

Hon Mr Sterling: We are going to implement the Drive Clean program. We are committed to implementing the Drive Clean program. We will do it, as opposed to your government's previous record when these emissions-control programs were in place in the United States, and notwithstanding what happened with regard to the last government's efforts in this regard. We are going to implement this program. We are going to do it.

We have done many things with regard to addressing the smog problem. Another part that I'd like to clarify is that we have a smog plan in this province. We are reducing the precursors to smog through a variety of measures.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon Mr Sterling: We also participate in providing the information to cities like Toronto to allow them to predict when smog is approaching and to incur -

The Speaker: Thank you.

TUITION FEES

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education. You've been busy this session wreaking havoc on the lives of our college and university students. The other day I met a Queen's University student, and he told me that his first-year poli-sci program, an undergrad program, cost him $2,500 in tuition fees. This coming September his tuition fees will be $3,800. When you add on top of that $400 in ancillary fees, that's $4,200, and he's lucky enough to live in the city of Kingston.

You have increased tuition fees for our undergraduates by 60% in Ontario. You have deregistered tuition fees for people in professional and post-graduate programs.

Minister, what have you got to say to the student who said this: "I wonder how anyone could expect someone from a lower socioeconomic background to buy an education with a price tag of $80,000 debt at the end of it"? That's a young articling student. What have you got to say to that student?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): What I would say to that student and all students within the system is that there has never been a better time to get into post-secondary education in the province of Ontario. In fact, the numbers of those participating in post-secondary education are going up. I'd say that the opportunities are there.

This government, by doubling the pipeline at the universities and at the colleges in the high-tech area, as one example, by investing $150 million in our post-secondary institutions, there will be more and more opportunities for students who have been turned away in the past.

Second, I would say that there has never been more financial assistance for the very kind of person that the Leader of the Opposition describes, for those who need assistance: $600 million from the Ontario opportunity fund instituted by this government. Never before in Ontario have we had the opportunity trust fund, $600 million, to assist. And I would say that if any university does put up its tuition, as apparently in this case, 30% of that money must be set aside -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

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Mr McGuinty: I'm going to suggest that the minister get in touch with some of our students and some of their families and ask them whether they believe you have made post-secondary education more or less affordable in Ontario, because they're going to tell you very clearly that you have not.

It seems very clear to me, painfully clear, that you don't understand the connection between the affordability of college and university and the sustained prosperity of our province. If our young people do well, we do well. If our young people can afford to go on to college and university, that's in our collective interest. You are making it harder and harder for them to go on to college and university.

Do you know how much a student is going to have to make this summer to pay for one year of undergraduate education at the university level in Ontario? Twenty-five dollars an hour. I want you to stand up, because there are a lot of students listening now. They want to know where they can find the jobs that pay $25 an hour this summer so they can afford to go to one year of university this September.

Hon David Johnson: I'll tell you what I understand about our students, and this is no different today than it has been through the years: Students want a quality program at our post-secondary institutions. They want a program that has relevance. That's exactly what we're doing by investing $150 million in high-tech areas, ensuring that there are more and more opportunities.

I talked to a university student the other day. He asked me about the flexibility of universities in terms of putting up the tuition fees, and I said, "If they do that, they have to improve the quality." He said: "That's sounds all right. I can buy that, yes, because I'm interested in a quality program. That helps me as a student and that prepares me for the future. But will you insist that the universities institute that quality program?" I said to him: "You can count on it. We are going to require a clear plan from every institution to approve a quality improvement program within that post-secondary institution."

Mr McGuinty: The record is very clear and it speaks for itself. We have the lowest level of funding per capita in the entire country when it comes to our universities, and you put us there. Right now we have the second-highest tuition fees in the country, but you're working hard to put us into first place, to ensure that Ontario students, our young people, move to the head of the class when it comes to paying the most for their college or university education.

And something else: Did you know that students this summer are not letting go of their apartments? Do you know why? Because you never stood up on their behalf in this Legislature and spoke out against the rent decontrol bill. They understand that if they leave their apartments, those rents are going to skyrocket when they come back to school in September. So their tuition fees are going up, and now they've got to contend with exorbitant rents.

All we can conclude from this is that you're not there acting in the best interests of students in this province to ensure that post-secondary education remains affordable and accessible to everybody. Stand up and admit that accessibility to post-secondary education in Ontario is not a priority for the Mike Harris government.

Hon David Johnson: What I'll do is stand up and relate the facts. If we're talking about accessibility, if we're talking about the participation rates of our students in our post-secondary institutions, let's have a look and see what it is. In 1989 - is that a year that rings a bell? That's the year of the Liberal government. After four years of Liberal government, let's have a look at the participation rate for 18- to 24-year-olds: 26.6%. What is it today, after three years of Progressive Conservative government? It's 35.1%.

If the issue is accessibility, there are more young people today going to our post-secondary institutions than ever before and there is more assistance today, more assistance generated by this government to help those students get the very education they deserve.

AIR QUALITY

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Air pollution is so bad today that an air quality advisory has been issued for most of Ontario. We could call it another Harris bad-air day in the province. According to your air quality advisory, a lot of the pollution has its source here in Ontario.

I understand the city of Toronto has put in place a smog reduction plan. Under its plan, city workers will not be mowing lawns, will not be using pesticides and will be minimizing the use of gasoline and diesel engines, all in an effort to reduce smog. Can you tell us what your government, the government of Ontario, is doing?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): As I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition, our government is doing a number of things with regard to air quality in this province. As indicated before, we are looking at the air quality standards for the province of Ontario, making them tougher, to ensure that when we're faced with this kind of weather we are going to be able to deliver to the people of Ontario better air quality.

When we face a day like today we ask our government vehicles to be driven very much less, we encourage our employees to take alternative transportation and in fact we put into place a similar program that the city of Toronto has done with regard to the emergency or smog alert. I am very thankful that this city has taken that kind of leadership in this area.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon Mr Sterling: I also encourage other municipalities, because smog tends to be an air quality problem of a local nature and therefore it is very important that cities -

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Mr Hampton: Let's get to the facts. You can't get your so-called Drive Clean program off the ground because you've laid off so many employees and so many scientific experts in your ministry that you don't have the expertise to do it any more. Your so-called clean air program we found out will take 17 years to implement, and then we'll only get a 45% reduction. Further, you say that you've implemented some of the things that the city of Toronto has done. We sent our video crew out today and, gee, here are government of Ontario people out using gasoline engines to mow the lawn.

The Speaker: It's a prop.

Mr Hampton: It's a photograph, Speaker. It's a picture.

The Speaker: It's a prop.

Mr Hampton: I guess showing a photograph is not allowed any more in the Ontario Legislature. Anyway, I'll be glad to show the press, because every one of these pictures shows visibly that what you just said is false and that in fact you are doing nothing in a practical day-to-day sense to reduce smog.

The Speaker: Question?

Mr Hampton: You are out there using diesel engines, gasoline engines and a variety of other air-polluting sources on a day when you shouldn't be using any according to your own air quality advisory. What are you going to do -

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, I appreciate the question you're asking but it's not in order. The question is a question about this precinct and about the people working at this precinct, and the minister has no jurisdiction over the employees of -

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You don't know. You haven't seen the picture.

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, I'm not here to debate the issue. Can you stop the clock, please. The fact is, the minister has no jurisdiction over the employees who work in or outside this building so it is not a proper question to put. I will give the floor back to the leader of the third party if you want to pursue a different line, but that is not an appropriate line.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a quick point of order, Speaker, to help out: Would it be possible for the member to ask the question in a general sense, whether there could be a province-wide regulation that would govern this?

The Speaker: You know what? The member has got a lot of options available and I'm certain he can figure one out.

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Mr Hampton: Let me try again to state -

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, I would appreciate it if you would try not to censor these photographs and the information without having seen them. The important issue here, Speaker, is this: Cities across southern Ontario -

The Speaker: Is this a question or are you asking me a question?

Mr Hampton: No, I'm asking a question. I'd like very much to get my question in, Speaker.

Ms Lankin: The Minister of Transportation isn't in this precinct.

The Speaker: Member, I can only say to you that a question about the operation of the precinct is -

Ms Lankin: You don't know what -

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order. Thank you.

What I'm saying to the leader of the third party is that you may produce these pictures and ask questions about a number of issues, but questions about the operation of this precinct are not a proper question to put to a minister. You may ask the Speaker, because that's my responsibility.

Whether the ministry staff is working here - we could be contracting them to work here. It's not a proper question to put to the minister. Thank you. Now go ahead.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, I will read from the government's own air quality advisory, if you'll permit me to do it.

The Speaker: You know what? Leader of the third party, I'm seeing you as a challenge to the Chair and I'm warning you now not -

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): He didn't challenge the Chair. You didn't answer the question.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, I'm going to name you if you don't come to order.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Why don't you go and have a glass of water?

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane North, I'm going to name you too. Please come to order, members of the third party.

Mr Pouliot: Name everybody.

The Speaker: I name the member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Pouliot was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, I'll give you the floor -

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect, to have a member of the House stand and ask permission to put a question - I don't understand how you interpret that as a challenge of the Chair. Surely a member has the right to stand and -

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, with great respect - if you'd take your seat, please - I cautioned the member for Lake Nipigon and I also cautioned the leader of the third party. I appreciate the fact that you don't agree with my ruling, but my ruling was very clear. There could be a million reasons for what is happening where the picture is taken, but that's how I see the situation.

Now, either we move on and continue - and I see the comments made by the leader of the third party afterwards as being condescending to the Chair as well. I don't think anyone else could see it any other way.

I suggest to the leader of the third party that you may put your supplementary question, but if it's about the operation, the workings around or within the precinct, it's not properly before this House. Thank you.

Mr Hampton: The government's own air advisory reads: "You can reduce air pollution by driving less and avoiding the use of gas-powered equipment, solvents, aerosol sprays and oil-based paints." I heard the Minister of the Environment say that the government has advised government employees and other people who are associated with the government to do these things. I merely want to say that we sent a video crew out today and it would appear that this government, despite what the Minister of the Environment has said, is carrying on business as usual, is using all kinds of aerosol sprays, diesel engines, gasoline engines when they don't need to be used. This government is not even following its own air quality advisory.

As I've said, and I put this question to the minister, we know that your Drive Clean plan can't get off the ground because you've laid off anybody in your ministry who used to have the capacity to implement it. We know that your so-called air quality plan won't get off the ground for 17 years, and even then will only provide a 45% reduction. Other jurisdictions in this province are doing practical things to protect the air. What are you doing?

Hon Mr Sterling: If the leader would get some of his facts straight he would find out that our Drive Clean program is going to be implemented by the private sector and has nothing to do with the staffing levels of the Ministry of the Environment or any other ministry. As the Speaker has outlined, whatever happens in this legislative precinct is not within my control or any other cabinet minister's control.

We have taken a number of very courageous and bold manoeuvres with regard to dealing with air quality. I spoke in this Legislature yesterday about the new electricity restructuring bill which will make our legislation on the generation of electricity the best with regard to environmental protection of any in North America. We are proud of our record.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): You're the minister responsible for the environment and for our health. Why don't you take it upon yourself to come up with a policy for your ministry and the Minister of Transportation to make sure that you have a program in place like the city of Toronto has? Will you do that?

Over the past few weeks, report after report has come out condemning your government on your terrible environmental record, and week after week, like today, you have the gall to stand there and say you care about clean air and clean water in this province.

It's going to be a long, hot summer. Parents are going to have to keep their children indoors. Elderly people will not be able to go out to shop or go for walks. Worse yet, people will die; more people will die. Even your own Premier said last summer that he considers it to be one of the biggest failings of this government that you haven't moved ahead with your clean air program.

Minister, when are you going to stop selling us these lousy excuses and actually do something?

Hon Mr Sterling: Coincident with this last week of the Legislature, I am proud to say that the Ministry of the Environment is one of the chief sponsors of the Clean Air Commute Week with the Pollution Probe organization.

I also earlier this week unveiled the first mobile air monitoring bus that this province has ever had, at a cost of $300,000. This monitoring bus is an active, useful tool in measuring our air quality in this province, something that previous governments never thought about.

The difference between our government and their government is that they considered a Drive Clean program and rejected it. Our government is doing things. Your government talked, talked, talked.

ONTARIO HYDRO

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is for the Minister of Energy. We've argued for the past few days that the chair of Hydro, the Premier's good golfing buddy, Bill Farlinger, is in a conflict of interest. We say that Mr Farlinger can't sit as the chair of Hydro and, at the same time, sit on the board of directors of Newcourt, a company which finances the building of electrical power plants that are going to compete with Hydro.

Just this week, the employees of Hydro received this very glossy publication, much like your propaganda that you put out. It says: "Ontario Hydro's Code of Business Conduct." It says on page 12: "Certain outside business interests may serve as a conflict of interest. We do not serve as directors or officers of any organization that supplies goods or services to Ontario Hydro, buys goods or services from Ontario Hydro or competes with Ontario Hydro without the approval of the accountable manager."

Minister, you are the accountable manager in this situation. What are you going to do about the Premier's buddy, Bill Farlinger?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): The NDP appointed a number of people during their time in office who sat on a -

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister?

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Hon Mr Wilson: Donald Fullerton was appointed by the NDP. He was a former chair and is CEO of CIBC, and while he was on Ontario Hydro he was a director of Westcoast Energy Inc, Amoco Canada Petroleum Co and Honeywell. David Kerr was appointed by the NDP. He was a member of the board of Brascan, Carena Developments Ltd, Falconbridge, Hemlo Gold Mines Inc, Noranda, Norcen Energy Resouces, Hees International Bankcorp Inc. Arthur Sawchuk was appointed by the NDP and he was a member of the Canadian Chemical Producers Association, Avenor Inc, Manufacturers' Life Insurance Co.

Unlike the NDP, though, this government encouraged Ontario Hydro in October 1997 to bring in conflict-of-interest guidelines that didn't exist under your government when you appointed all these people who were members of boards of directors of several companies that do business with Ontario Hydro or during the time the Liberals were in office when they had no conflict-of-interest guidelines either.

Mr Hampton: The minister does his very best to ignore the issue. What you're doing is putting Hydro into a competitive environment. In fact, I'd even argue further that you're going to privatize it. That means that someone can't sit on the board of Hydro and sit on the board of a competitor at the same time. That's the difference, Minister. That's the big difference.

Let me read again from this so-called code of business conduct. On page 9, with reference to conflict of interest, it says, "Employees are to avoid any situation that may, or even may appear to, create a conflict of interest between their personal interests and those of Ontario Hydro." Minister, if Hydro employees are to avoid a conflict of interest, according to this document, why isn't the Premier's golfing buddy Bill Farlinger also avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest in this situation?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, the honourable member is wrong in his facts. A number of people I just mentioned, appointed by the NDP, all had interests with companies that did business with Ontario Hydro. The difference between our government and previous governments is that we brought in conflict-of-interest guidelines. Those guidelines ensure that members of the board must establish a conflict of interest. They have a strict duty to identify any potential conflict to the board at the earliest possible time and not to participate in any deliberation or decision of the board relevant to such conflicts. Under these guidelines, directors shall not enter into any material transactions or contracts with the corporation in which they have conflicts or interests. Additionally, directors must immediately disclose in writing to the board the nature and extent of their interests in detail. These rules ensure that any possible conflict is exposed to the light of day and is clearly understood by all directors, a very prudent move. I know Mr Farlinger will follow to the T the conflict-of-interest guidelines.

Mr Hampton: Minister, we've heard lectures from your government on conflict of interest before and we see your good buddies Leslie Noble, Bill Noble, Mr Boddington, all of whom advised the Conservative Party, all of whom lobbied you to set up casinos, who are now over there on the other side benefiting from those casinos, benefiting from the policy decision that you've made, and you say there's no conflict of interest.

The situation here is this: Ontario Hydro is going to get stuck with $30 billion of stranded debt by Bill Farlinger's own admission. It will be in the interests of Newcourt, which finances the competitors of Ontario Hydro, that all that debt stays with Hydro. It will be in the interests of Ontario Hydro consumers and Ontario taxpayers that that debt get spread around.

The question will be, how can Mr Farlinger work both sides of the fence? In his own letter here he says, "In this new world of competition we may face new and different ethical issues."

The Speaker: Question.

Mr Hampton: That's the reason for this updated code of conflict. He can't sit on both sides of the fence. What are you, as the political minister responsible, going to do -

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: The decisions that the honourable member mentions in setting up a competitive electricity market will not be made by Mr Farlinger or the board of directors of Ontario Hydro. They will be made by this government on the advice of the Market Design Committee, which has international credibility in the tremendous work they've been doing in setting up the market to date. The government will take those decisions in establishing the market, along with the expert advice we're receiving from the Ministry of Finance.

Second, I would remind all honourable members that Mr Farlinger and the new management that he's put in place at Hydro are turning around Ontario Hydro. He is a hands-on manager; he is lending about 60 years of experience in the business community; he is providing that leadership and that experience to the board of directors. Ontario Hydro, under this government, has repaid substantial amounts of debt, something it hasn't been able to do in the past. It's on a direction now to be a world leader in supplying world-class high-efficiency energy to the people of Ontario. We're the shareholders and it's in our best interest that we have the best possible management and the best possible chair. We have -

The Speaker: Thank you. New question.

MUNICIPAL RESTRUCTURING

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question's to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. It has to do with the legislation introduced today on the Greater Toronto Services Board and to get an explanation from you on what seems to be a rather bizarre turn of events that has happened with the introduction of this bill. I refer now to the voting.

The major financial decision the board will make will be on GO Transit. The city of Toronto, of course, has been quite interested because you've allocated 50% of the costs of GO Transit to them; that's over $50 million a year. That will be one of the key decisions the city of Toronto wants to be involved in. But in order to change your decision, the Greater Toronto Services Board now doesn't need a majority vote; it needs a two-thirds vote. It's very strange. They need a two-thirds vote of the board in order to overturn your allocation of 50% of the cost of GO. Can you possibly give us any explanation of the logic of a two-thirds vote required on a key financial decision for the city of Toronto?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I think everybody will agree that the Greater Toronto Services Board is a great addition to making sure that the city of Toronto and its surrounding regions work very well. What we've done is that Alan Tonks went out to all of the communities -

Mr Phillips: He didn't recommend this.

Hon Mr Leach: He did recommend that, Gerry; that's exactly what he recommended. Mr Tonks went out to all of the stakeholders involved, all of the municipalities, including the city of Toronto, and said, "There's a difficulty with representation on the board." Mr Tonks came back with a recommendation, which we've accepted, that gives every municipality in the greater Toronto area a place on the board. It makes sure that the votes are weighted to ensure that the city of Toronto at all times, when it's dealing with any issue, including GO Transit, has at least 50% of the votes.

What we have here is a bill that addresses the concerns that were brought forward. The legislation, as introduced today, will be out for further consultation over the summer. If there are adjustments that any of the stakeholders want to make, we will certainly -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr Phillips: You've sandbagged Mr Tonks. Yes, the city of Toronto has 50% of the vote, but they need two-thirds of the votes in order to carry the day, in order to change your allocation of cost. You have said, "City of Toronto, you're paying 50% of the cost of GO; you're going to pay the $50 million." In order to make any change, they need two-thirds of the vote. It's not going to happen. You have handcuffed this board that you're creating.

I return to the question. You have gone against the recommendations of Al Tonks, you've gone against the recommendations of Milt Farrow, of all of these people you appointed. They all said, "Don't do this." You now have made it a two-thirds vote. Can you give us any explanation at all of why in the world you would force a two-thirds vote in order to change your allocation of the GO cost?

Hon Mr Leach: The member is right; it does take a two-thirds vote to change the funding allocation for GO Transit. Because the funding allocation formula is one -

Interjections.

The Speaker: This is an important question. I think we all want to hear the answer. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: The funding allocation for GO Transit is one of the more important issues that will be dealt with by the Greater Toronto Services Board. On a 50-50 vote, the city of Toronto would win it. All they need is one plus their vote and they win and change the funding allocation all around. We think having two thirds gives all of the stakeholders an opportunity to be involved.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): You have sandbagged Toronto.

Hon Mr Leach: No, we haven't sandbagged Toronto; we've made sure that they have a 50% vote on all of the issues that affect all of the services right across. It's a two-thirds vote on the funding allocation only.

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HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Ministry of Health. Last Friday the hospital restructuring commission shocked the people of Northumberland county by ordering the closure of the modern, up-to-date Port Hope hospital, built in the 1960s by donations from the community, and the retention of the old, inconvenient and inefficient Cobourg site. People are deeply concerned that this decision compromises the quality of health care in Northumberland. The commission made this decision despite a Northumberland Health Care Corp report clearly outlining their site-specific clinical concerns.

A single ward at Cobourg cares for a combination of medical-surgical, perinatal and obstetrics patients, and the report warns, "In general, newborn babies should not be exposed to sick elderly patients, and certainly not to infectious children, and operating rooms should not be located near infectious children."

If I ask you to reverse this decision of the commission, you're just going to pull out your script and say you're not responsible, but I challenge you today to claim that the quality of health care delivered in Northumberland county is not your responsibility and that you cannot act to protect standards.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): As the member knows, the Health Services Restructuring Commission has examined this community in Northumberland, and other communities as well, and any of the recommendations that are made by the commission are final recommendations; they are binding. However, it is now up to the Ministry of Health to implement the recommendations. Whatever changes do take place we will certainly ensure that health standards are maintained and quality health care is delivered to the people in that community. The local member has talked to me about that particular community, and we will ensure that high-quality health care will be provided to citizens there.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, you're well aware that it is your responsibility and yours alone to ensure that every citizen resident in this province has access to quality care and that those standards are maintained. The bill that I introduced yesterday would have required you to take standards of care into consideration. That's not what the commission does; it just looks at the bottom line.

The commission has directed the Northumberland Health Care Corp to save an additional $1.7 million and given them a paltry $400,000 for rehab. Dr Mark Azzopardi, until last Friday the chief of medical staff at NHCC, resigned, citing the commission's decision. He said, "That will enforce the level of mediocrity in our services that I cannot accept. It goes against my principles as a physician."

Minister, will you fulfil your responsibility as minister to protect health care standards by reversing the Northumberland decision?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Our Ministry of Health and our government have always indicated that we do everything possible to maintain standards within this province. In fact, the document that was brought forward by the member's party yesterday regarding the Patients' Bill of Rights was a very sweeping document. Unfortunately, what it did not take into consideration was the fact that there was absolutely no framework as to how this would be funded and there was absolutely no framework as to how it could be enforced.

I would indicate to you that our government is working on a Patients' Bill of Rights; we're working on a patients' safety act. We'll certainly take into consideration the information that you have provided. We want to make sure, however, that our bill of rights does ensure there is a framework for enforcement and for funding.

HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): My question is to the Ministry of Health. Hospitals in my riding of Durham-York continue to face significant growth pressures of at least twice the provincial average. I have had a number of meetings with constituents in my riding where they have raised their concerns about funding our hospitals and I wanted to raise these concerns in the House today.

Historic underfunding of hospitals in the GTA 905 region has created a situation where our residents need to play catch-up just to be in the same playing field as residents in the rest of the province. Minister, I understand that you made an announcement yesterday regarding funding for hospitals in the GTA 905 area. Could you please explain how this government has recognized the needs of residents in the GTA and how this government will ensure that quality health care in the GTA is not compromised?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): I say to the member for Durham York that yesterday we did make our recommendations public concerning the final directions of the Health Services Restructuring Commission and I was very, very pleased yesterday to announce that our government was making available to the GTA area in recognition of the tremendous growth that's taking place in that community $206.7 million, and that includes renovations and certainly additions to 10 hospitals.

Most important, what that is going to do is bring services close to home in the GTA area and it will enable the area to also see the construction of two new cancer centres to serve people in the GTA as well as a new cardiac centre. Certainly the announcement yesterday was well received. Mississauga will have both the cardiac centre and the cancer centre and Oshawa will have a new cancer centre.

Mrs Munro: Thank you, Minister. Obviously, this is good news for the residents not only in my riding, but also in other communities in the GTA, where it has to be recognized there is a high level of growth in the population. Minister, can my colleagues and I assure the hospitals in our communities that the issue of growth funding has been addressed?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Yesterday, when we made our announcement of $206.7 million for capital, we also responded to the need for growth funding and we have increased the growth funding again for this community and we added yesterday as well $17 million. That allocation, the individual allocation for each hospital, will be known to the hospitals in a few weeks.

RURAL AND NORTHERN HEALTH SERVICES

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is also for the Minister of Health. It's almost a year ago today that your predecessor Mr Wilson, on the lawns of the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital in Goderich, outlined your government's rural and northern hospital framework. We haven't heard much in the intervening 364 days.

I'd like you to stand here today and tell the people of communities like Barry's Bay and Almonte, Petrolia and Walkerton, Grimsby and Alexandria when you are going to announce the specifics of your rural and northern small hospitals framework and what those specifics will mean to quality care in rural and northern communities.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): The framework has been under development, and I'm very pleased to say we are at a point where we are very, very close now to making all the information public. Of course, this will preserve the hospitals in the rural and the northern parts of this province.

Mr Conway: I thank the minister for that bromide. But the bromide is not going to solve the problems that hospitals like St Francis Memorial are having in Barry's Bay, to name but one. In the intervening months budgets have been cut further, programs are under more stress, public concern in rural and northern communities increases.

Minister, we need specifics. When do you specifically intend to tell those scores of small hospital communities in rural and northern Ontario what the program is specifically going to mean? And let me ask this other question. Will you as minister be making the decision about the specific configurations in these rural and northern hospital communities or will those decisions be left to your all-powerful hospital restructuring commission or some other body?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As the member knows, the framework has been developed in conjunction with the Ontario Hospital Association and also there has been a small role played by the Health Services Restructuring Commission, but in large part it has been the local community through the district health council that has made many of the decisions. As I say, we hope to have all that information available to people in this community in very short order. I think what we're going to see is the continuance of high-quality health care to people in this province; we're going to see 24-hour care provided, and certainly services will be enhanced for people in this province.

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HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. The minister will know that there is about a 20% unemployment rate in Sault Ste Marie and Algoma district. He will also know that the previous government negotiated a land claim with the Garden River First Nation which allowed for the construction of a four-lane highway link east of Sault Ste Marie across that reserve. That would be an approximately $50-million project and would create a great deal of employment and improve the infrastructure.

Can the minister explain why he has held this project up for over two years and when the announcement will be made that this project will proceed?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Northern Development and Mines): The member of the third party knows full well that I've been instrumental in making this agreement so it was an agreement between the government of Ontario and the Garden River First Nation. The MTO is the lead ministry on this on the highway construction. This road has been envisioned in the Sault Ste Marie area since John Rhodes was the cabinet minister.

Mr Wildman: We got the agreement.

Hon Mr Hodgson: And the agreement wasn't signed. I was at the signing ceremony shortly after. You were invited and Tony Martin attended. Since that I've been in Garden River twice. The MTO is having some difficulties negotiating the specifics around some of the terms of the contract. I know that they are proceeding ahead. The money has been budgeted to complete this project and I'm hopeful that the two parties will come to an amicable agreement and begin work.

Mr Wildman: The minister should know that the former Minister of Indian Affairs, Ron Irwin, and I and my colleague the then Minister of Northern Development participated with the chief and council in a signing ceremony prior to the last election. It was after the election that this government decided to put a hold on all highway construction projects and decided to lengthen the time of this project from five to seven years to 13, which led to the problems.

Will the minister commit that he will complete the final agreement and get the project online so that there will be improvements to infrastructure in the Sault Ste Marie-Algoma area and more jobs so that we can help to start getting rid of this high unemployment rate in our region?

Hon Mr Hodgson: We are trying to help the whole Sault area. If you look at your mayor's comments in a radio interview yesterday, you will see that he's acknowledged that this government is listening and trying to work with the community to improve the economic situation there. All of our government policies have been directed to make it so it's possible for people to get jobs in this province and as well in Sault Ste Marie.

I want to talk specifically about this contract. We are trying our best to make sure this becomes a reality. I have met twice with the first nation. It takes two sides to agree on the terms of the agreement. If it was totally up to me, I would have loved to see it happen a year ago. It's unfortunate that it has dragged on for a year. I'm hopeful that both sides will come to the table and get on with this project. Not only does it create jobs but it makes it safer for the residents of that area. That's been a dangerous section of highway for almost a generation now. I find that totally unacceptable.

We are trying to come to an agreement. I look forward to working with you as well as your other colleague from Sault Ste Marie to make that happen.

TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): My question is directed to the Minister of Education and Training. It pertains to some disturbing information that has come to my attention through phone calls from many grandparents but I'd say at least 100 parents in the last week. That concerns the so-called newsletter put out by the Toronto District School Board called Parent Link. This particular so-called newsletter has a lot of inaccuracies in it, much mischievous misinformation, and even what I'd term some propaganda.

Minister, you have read this so-called newsletter. I'd like to know to what extent you believe this particular so-called newsletter is so odious, so inappropriate, so misleading and so mischievous, both in its intent and its tone.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale because his concerns, unfortunately, are very accurate. I have a copy of the newsletter, which purports to be a communication from parents to parents, but on further inspection, what the Ministry of Education has been able to ascertain is that this particular organization was approved at a Toronto Board of Education meeting on April 8. It was set up, created and approved by a Toronto Board of Education meeting on April 8.

It is co-chaired by a member of the Toronto school board. It is staffed by two members of the Toronto District School Board. I'm informed that the publication is funded by the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. So, rather than being a parent-to-parent communication, this is very clearly a communication from the Toronto District School Board to the people of Toronto.

Interjections.

Mr Hastings: It's quite obvious we've hit a sensitive nerve with the members opposite, because even they, by their own objective standards, if they have any, would know that there are mythological situations in this particular newsletter, as the questions point out, particularly with respect to classroom size, safe schools and also the standards of cleanliness and a healthy environment in those particular schools.

Minister, what are we going to do about this misleading so-called newsletter?

Interjections.

Hon David Johnson: We certainly intend to bring to the attention of the people of Toronto the misinformation, if I can speak over the din over here. The Toronto school board, in this publication -

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: The Toronto school board has indicated a reduction, for example, in its revenues, funding from the province of Ontario. In fact, the funding in the classroom has gone up. The funding for teachers, for textbooks, for library, for guidance, for all of the activities in the classroom has gone up. The board has indicated in this publication that there's no funding for portables, when in fact each and every student will be funded, whether they're in a portable or whether they're in a permanent location. The board has said it will not receive money for special and diverse needs, when in fact the board gets the lion's share of the learning opportunities grant to support children at risk, when in fact we have approved the special education moneys needed by the Toronto District School Board.

I think it's very unfortunate that this type of misinformation has been directed through our children out into the community.

RURAL AND NORTHERN HEALTH SERVICES

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a question for the Minister of Health. Speaking of propaganda, I have it right here, at $1.3 million. My question specifically involves rural and northern health. It involves the Manitoulin Health Centre on Manitoulin Island, and in particular Earl Leeson, who is a constituent of mine.

On November 15, Mr Leeson had orthopaedic surgery on his knee. All went well. He went home. He then, on New Year's Day, experienced difficulties with his leg. He went to the hospital, to the emergency room, and they said they couldn't admit him because they already had two too many people in beds. He came back the next day, with more difficulties, and still could not be admitted. Eventually, some days later, he ended up being taken to the hospital and ending up in Sudbury for 17 days.

Minister, is this health care in northern and rural Ontario?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): As the member opposite knows, this is related to clinical decisions that are made by health professionals. Certainly it's absolutely imperative that people are treated and provided with the highest quality care possible.

Mr Michael Brown: This is what Mr Leeson says: "`The doctors and nurses did a wonderful job'.... His gripe is entirely with the government. `It's Harris's cutbacks - there's just no beds'.... `Harris says we don't need the beds.'" But Mr Leeson says we need them.

Could you commit today, to the rural hospitals in northern Ontario, that you will restore funding for needed services for my constituents, for people like Mr Leeson who ended up 60 days hospitalized because you couldn't keep him in the hospital for five days when he needed it?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As the member knows, this government has indicated that health is a high priority. We have increased funding for health in this province from $17.4 billion to about $18.6 billion. We have developed a rural and a northern health framework, and we are going to ensure that people in this province have the services as close to home as we can possibly provide them and that we have equitable funding in order that people, no matter where they can live, have the accessibility to the services that are going to be required.

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PETITIONS

LINHAVEN HOME FOR THE AGED

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

"Whereas Linhaven Home for the Aged has provided excellent service to seniors in St Catharines for many years;

"Whereas the staff and volunteers at Linhaven have endeavoured to enhance the quality of life of residents of the home through their kind and compassionate care;

"Whereas cuts in funding to Linhaven will result in a reduction of staff and resources available to meet the needs of seniors who reside in the home;

"Whereas the discharging of acute care patients from active treatment hospitals results in medical staff at homes for the aged being required to provide more extensive and intensive care to patients who are discharged from hospitals;

"Whereas Linhaven and other homes for the aged have among the residents more individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other medical conditions which require an appropriate complement of staff and necessary equipment to meet their medical needs;

"Be it resolved that the government of Ontario increase funding to Linhaven Home for the Aged in St Catharines so that the medical requirements of Linhaven residents may be properly addressed and seniors may live in dignity in our community."

I affix my signature to this petition, as I am in full agreement with its content.

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition that is signed by over 44,000 people from the Brantford area that I've been asked to present. It's to the Legislative Assembly:

"Whereas on Thursday November 27, 1997, the Health Services Restructuring Commission proposed the recommendation that St Joseph's Hospital Brantford be closed by April 2000;

"We are asking for the support of all of you who agree that the government should not waste $20 million to duplicate the existing facility of St Joseph's Hospital to another site.

"Therefore I am signing this petition as a taxpayer and a concerned member of this community to show that I disagree with the recommendation to close St Joseph's Hospital."

FIREARMS CONTROL

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): "Whereas the federal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons; and

"Whereas we welcome real gun control and support those portions of Bill C-68 which provide tougher penalties for the criminal use of firearms, new offences related to firearms smuggling and trafficking; and

"Whereas the registration provisions of Bill C-68 will misallocate limited resources available to law enforcement agencies, with no practical effect on the traffic of illegal firearms or the use of guns by violent criminals; and

"Whereas the gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will cost taxpayers enormous sums of money while creating another level of taxation for law abiding hunters and sports enthusiasts;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to repeal from Bill C-68 those provisions for a compulsory registration of all firearms."

I proudly affix my signature.

RENT REGULATION

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): To Premier Michael Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach and members of the Ontario provincial Legislature:

"We, the undersigned, protest the government actions against tenants described below:

"The Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants. Rent control allows for security and stability in their homes and communities. Uncontrolled rent increases leave tenants, their families and Ontario communities open to eviction, personal distress and contribute directly to social instability. We want this government to stop any actions that would allow uncontrolled rents.

"Further, this government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favourable to landlords for easier and faster evictions. This is unacceptable to Ontario tenants and damaging to Ontario communities.

"This government also plans to get rid of public housing, has halted the creation of basement apartments and the new supply of affordable non-profit housing. These types of housing are necessary for low- and moderate-income tenants to obtain accommodation they can afford. The government must cease all actions that reduce the affordability and availability of these kinds of housing.

"This government has eliminated funding for United Tenants of Ontario, the five municipal tenant federations and other important tenant services at a time when they are attacking all tenants' rights. Funding for these groups must be reinstated so that Ontario's tenants, and not just their landlords, are able to bring their views to bear in government deliberations on tenants' rights and protections. A consultation process with tenant organizations should be initiated immediately to develop a plan for sustainable funding for services to tenants."

I affix my signature to this petition.

PROTECTION FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I have a petition signed by over 1,000 of my constituents and it says:

"We, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to enact legislation explicitly recognizing the freedom of conscience of health care workers, prohibiting coercion of and unjust discrimination against health care workers because of their refusal to participate in matters contrary to the dictates of their consciences, and establishing penalties for such coercion and unjust discrimination."

I present this to the House today on their behalf.

CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CARE

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): "To the Ontario Legislature, to Premier Mike Harris, Minister Elizabeth Witmer and the members of the Ontario Legislature:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.

RENT REGULATION

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, protest this government's actions against tenants described below.

"The Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants. Rent control allows for security and stability in their homes and communities. Uncontrolled rent increases leave tenants, their families and Ontario communities open to eviction, personal distress and contribute directly to social instability. We want this government to stop any actions that would allow uncontrolled rents.

"Further, this government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favourable to landlords for easier and faster evictions. This is unacceptable to Ontario tenants and damaging to Ontario communities.

"This government also plans to get rid of public housing, has halted the creation of basement apartments and the new supply of affordable non-profit housing. These types of housing are necessary for low- and moderate-income tenants to obtain accommodation they can afford. The government must cease all actions that reduce the affordability and availability of these kinds of housing.

"This government has eliminated funding for United Tenants of Ontario, the five municipal tenant federations and other important tenant services at a time when they are attacking all tenants' rights. Funding for these groups must be reinstated so that Ontario's tenants, and not just their landlords, are able to bring their views to bear in government deliberations on tenants' rights and protections. A consultation process with tenant organizations should be initiated immediately to develop a plan for sustainable funding for services to tenants."

I'm affixing my signature to this document.

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OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition signed by workers in Hamilton, Kingston and Sault Ste Marie. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas each year in Ontario approximately 300 workers are killed on the job, several thousand die of occupational diseases and 400,000 suffer work-related injuries and illnesses; and

"Whereas during the past decade the Workers' Health and Safety Centre proved to be the most cost-effective WCB-funded prevention organization dedicated to worker health and safety concerns; and

"Whereas the WCB provides over 80% of its legislated prevention funding to several employer-controlled safety associations and less than 20% to the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre recently lost several million dollars in funding and course revenues" - and it has been confirmed by correspondence from the ministry that that money has gone - "due to government changes to legislated training requirements; and

"Whereas 30% of Workers' Health and Safety Centre staff were laid off due to these lost training funds; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre now faces an additional 25% cut to its 1998 budget, which will be used to augment new funding for employer safety associations in the health, education and service sectors; and

"Whereas the WCB's 1998 planned baseline budget cuts for safety associations and Workers' Health and Safety Centre will be disproportionately against the workers' centre and reduce its 1998 budget allocation to less than 15% of the WCB prevention funding,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to stop the WCB's proposed cuts and direct the WCB to increase the Workers' Health and Safety Centre's funding to at least 50% of the WCB's legislated prevention funding; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the WCB to significantly increase its legislated prevention funding in order to eliminate workplace illness, injury and death."

On behalf of my NDP colleagues, I continue to support these petitions.

MUNICIPAL RESTRUCTURING

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I'm pleased to read the first of what will be many more petitions I expect to present in the fall of this session. It reads:

"Whereas the municipalities of Hamilton-Wentworth have refused to accept any of the five proposals put forth in the last three years, which were aimed at finding a solution to the question of municipal restructuring; and

"Whereas the regional chairman has been elected in the last two elections with major pluralities based on a platform of one-tier government; and

"Whereas the taxpayers of Hamilton-Wentworth will incur unnecessary costs due to local government's inability to find a solution to the question of municipal restructuring in Hamilton-Wentworth;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government to allow the municipalities of Hamilton-Wentworth until October 31, 1998, to resolve the question of municipal restructuring in Hamilton-Wentworth; and if at that time no solution has been reached by consensus, that the Ontario government appoint a commissioner, who will have binding authority, to come forward with a solution to restructure Hamilton-Wentworth; thereby ending any more waste of taxpayers' money."

I affix my signature as I'm in full agreement.

RENT REGULATION

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has brought forth Bill 96, legislation which will effectively kill rent control in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris campaign literature during the York South by-election stated that rent control will continue; and

"Whereas tenant groups, students and seniors have pointed out that this legislation will hurt those that can least afford it, as it will cause higher rents across markets in Ontario; and

"Whereas this Mike Harris proposal will make it easier for residents to be evicted from retirement care homes; and

"Whereas the Liberal caucus continues to believe that all tenants, and particularly the vulnerable in our society who live on fixed incomes, deserve the assurance of a maximum rent cap;

"We, the undersigned, demand that the Mike Harris government scrap its proposal to abandon and eliminate rent control and introduce legislation which will protect tenants in the province of Ontario."

I have affixed my signature to this petition.

LABOUR LEGISLATION

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by Professor Roy Adams, supported by the Hamilton Against Poverty Organization, the Hamilton-Wentworth Coalition for Social Justice, Ontario Education Alliance and the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, Zone 14. It reads as follows:

"Whereas freedom of association is one of our most well-established international human rights standards; and

"Whereas it is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the covenants of the United Nations, the constitution of the International Labour Organization and has recently been reaffirmed by such politically disparate organizations as the World Conference on Human Rights, the World Social Summit, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Trade Organization and the International Organization of Employers; and

"Whereas the standard establishes, in the words of the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that `Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his or her interests'; and

"Whereas your prevention of unionism act, Bill 22, which expressly forbids workfare participants to joint a trade union, violates this international human rights norm, placing your government in the company of a very few others worldwide who openly stand against this cornerstone of democracy; and

"Whereas it is also contrary to Canada's obligations as a member of the UN and the ILO and it almost certainly offends Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"Therefore, we urge you to withdraw Bill 22, this most offensive act, immediately."

I proudly add my name to the petitioners mentioned.

WITHDRAWAL OF BILL 29

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think I have unanimous agreement to request unanimous consent for the withdrawal of my private member's Bill 29, An Act to increase teacher representation at the Ontario College of Teachers, from the order paper.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is there unanimous consent to withdraw that bill from the order paper? It is agreed.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

CHILD CARE SUPPLEMENT INFORMATION COLLECTION ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA COLLECTE DES RENSEIGNEMENTS NÉCESSAIRES À L'OCTROI DU SUPPLÉMENT DE REVENU POUR LES FRAIS DE GARDE D'ENFANTS

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 28, An Act to permit the Collection of Personal Information for the Payment of the Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families / Projet de loi 28, Loi permettant la collecte de renseignements personnels en vue du versement du supplément de revenu de l'Ontario pour les familles travailleuses ayant des frais de garde d'enfants.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'll indicate at the outset that I'll only be speaking for a short while on Bill 28, the Child Care Supplement Information Collection Act.

I would like to discuss two things, maybe to give some background on the national child benefits and then some of the rationale behind the government's proceeding with Bill 28.

One of the goals of our government is to ensure the best outcomes for children in Ontario, those on welfare and indeed those working low-income families, and I am encouraged that the federal government has recognized the need to act on this important issue.

The national child benefit is the missing piece in the policy development process that will help combat child poverty, not just here in Ontario but across the country. I know that's something we all hold to be a key public policy priority.

In July 1998, the national child benefit will come into effect. The NCB is a new initiative designed by federal, provincial and territorial governments for low-income families with children. It will help reduce child poverty and help families to stay in the workforce, in the labour market. This is an important issue for me. I know I asked a question more a year ago of the Minister of Community and Social Services on this issue, so it's something that I believe is very important and that I know constituents in Nepean believe is important as well.

We as a government are very committed to addressing child poverty and assisting children at risk. The member for Wellington was a very key advocate with respect to the Healthy Babies program and deserves a significant amount of credit for ensuring that was contained in the budget. He advocated that as part of the pre-budget consultations through the standing committee on finance, and we congratulate him for that effort.

We are committed to addressing child poverty and assisting children at risk, as I said, and we will be reinvesting money in programs and benefits that help low-income families. Municipalities will be partners in Ontario's reinvestment programs and benefits that help families by tailoring programs to help meet local needs.

We are surpassing our reinvestment commitment by creating new benefits such as the Ontario child care supplement for working families that will provide support for up to 350,000 children. We are also expanding existing programs such as Healthy Babies, Healthy Children, which I mentioned just a short moment ago.

Coming out of the most recent federal-provincial meeting, we agreed that we will release an annual accountability report to account for our reinvestment and also to measure how successful the NCB initiative is at addressing child poverty.

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The goals of the national child benefit are to help prevent and reduce the depth of child poverty, promote attachment to the workforce and reduce overlap and duplication between provincial and federal programs. There are two parts to the national child benefit: (a) the creation of the Canada child tax benefit, which combines the child tax benefit with the new national supplement, and (b) an Ontario strategy to invest dollars to benefit low-income families with children.

The increased federal dollars will begin to flow in July through the new Canada child tax benefit, specifically to low-income families. This increase will be known and reflected on the benefit cheque as the NCB supplement. That is a very worthwhile initiative with the province of Ontario, and the Minister of Community and Social Services has worked very hard with her federal counterpart in Ottawa.

With respect to Bill 28, the 1998 budget proposed a new Ontario child care supplement for working families that would be delivered monthly to 210,000 families for 350,000 children under the age of seven. The budget proposed that the payment of the supplement would start later this year, in the latter part of 1998. To ensure that payments begin in 1998, personal information to determine entitlement to this supplement must be collected by early fall. Bill 28, if enacted, would authorize the collection of this information.

Bill 28 provides that the information collected under this act is to be destroyed if legislation establishing the supplement has not been enacted by March 31, 1999. It also repeals the authority to collect this information on April 1, 1999.

It's extremely important to note at the conclusion of my remarks that the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been consulted in the drafting of this bill. The bill reflects the commissioner's advice on these issues. The commissioner was consulted and his recommendations were very much reflected in this bill.

The bill should deal only with the collection of personal information for the purposes of the supplement. The IPC recognized that special legislative authority would be necessary to obtain the information in time to verify entitlement shortly after the actual enactment of the supplement in the fall, but recommended that the information collected be destroyed if the supplement was not enacted this year, and that in any case the authority for collecting the information be repealed when legislation authorizing payment of the supplement is passed.

Since it is not known when the legislation will be passed, the IPC accepted the provision repealing the new act on April 1, 1999, and the requirement to destroy collected information if the supplement for which it was collected is not enacted. This requirement is to inform individuals from whom personal information is directly collected in a whole host of ways. The government certainly did take the opportunity to consult with the Information and Privacy Commissioner in the preparation and presentation of Bill 28 to this Legislature prior to it being introduced at first reading.

With those remarks on the national child benefit and a brief summary of Bill 28, I yield the floor to my colleagues in the official opposition and the third party.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I appreciate a relatively early opportunity to enter the debate. The member's somewhat different tone from his introductory comments on Tuesday evening of this week would suggest that as we approach the dying hours of the legislative session, they have been urged not to bait the bears in the opposition and get us going, so that we will indeed be cooperative in having only one speaker and somewhat limiting our time in commenting on the legislation that remains to be dealt with today.

I was more than ready to challenge the member opposite on some of the rather provocative comments that were being made at a quarter to midnight on Tuesday evening, but in the heat of the assembly, in the dying hours, I will refrain from going back and revisiting some of those comments and will proceed simply to comment on the bill which is in front of us.

This bill is a rather small bill, and the fact that it is coming to us in the last hours of the legislative session suggests that the government may not consider it to be a terribly significant piece of legislation, that they would expect the opposition would agree to limit its debate and move through fairly quickly to approve what is basically enabling legislation to ensure that the Ontario child care supplement for working families can be put into place. Nevertheless I have a number of questions and a number of concerns that arise from this seemingly rather small, simply enabling piece of legislation.

It's quite obvious that if you are going to bring in a child care supplement for working families, you're going to have to have the access that is necessary to determine eligibility for that supplement.

I am pleased to note that this government may be prepared to be a little bit more careful in establishing eligibility for the child care supplement for working families than they were when they brought in the rebate for child care of $40 a day last November in response to the fact that students were out of school because of the teachers' protest over Bill 160. You will recall that that particular rebate, which was supposedly for child care, did not require any kind of verification that child care expenses had actually been incurred. There were no receipts required whatsoever. So it simply became a $40-a-day rebate to people who had children under a certain age whether they had incurred any out-of-pocket expenses or not. Therefore, there was no need to have any kind of validation.

We objected rather strongly to that approach, because we believed what this government was really doing was simply trying in a rather blatant way to buy the silence of parents on this particular issue, which was causing great political concern for the government at that moment in time. It clearly did not succeed in buying parents' support because parents continue to be extremely concerned about what this government is doing to the education of their children.

Nevertheless, I think it is important to note that if the government is serious about a child care benefit, they are going to bring in legislation which will allow eligibility for that benefit to be determined. At least I think that's what this bill does. I've read it fairly carefully, and I don't actually see that they are requiring receipts for child care expenses. There are a number of pieces of information which people are required to present in order to determine eligibility, but it doesn't actually say that they have to have a receipt for their child care expenses. I trust that's an omission in the drafting of the legislation that is going to be addressed in regulations, because surely if this is indeed to be a child care supplement to relieve some of the costs of child care for working and low-income families, they will require some receipt to demonstrate that those dollars are indeed going to pay for child care costs.

I do have some further confusion. My confusion is about the child care supplement itself, because this legislation is enabling legislation to put the child care supplement in place. I have a confusion first of all that arises from the statement that was made in the 1998 Ontario budget speech in which the Minister of Finance announced that we were going to have this new supplement. I note that he says there will be $140 million to be spent on a new child care supplement for working families. He goes on to say: "In the 1997 budget, I announced a $40 million child care tax credit. Ontario intends to combine that money with an additional $100 million in 1998-99 to create a new program that supports 350,000 young children in working families."

We're not going to quarrel with the establishment of a child care benefit, a supplement, to support working families, but I find it very interesting that in this budget speech that additional $100 million could almost pass as being a financial commitment being made to young children by the Mike Harris government. I think it's important to point out of course that the $100 million which is being put into the budget, or at least into the new child care supplement, is $100 million that's coming from the federal government to support child care programs. It doesn't mention that anywhere in this particular budget speech statement.

It reminds me of another part in this budget speech in which the government established a new - again, they use the word "new" - millennium scholarship fund, building on the federal government's millennium scholarship fund which had just been announced and which was very well received by post-secondary students across the country. Ontario and the Mike Harris government indeed wanted to get on the bandwagon of the new millennium scholarship fund that the federal government had introduced so they decided they would roll their existing funds into the new millennium scholarship fund and call it a new fund although there was no new Ontario money in that fund.

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We have exactly the same situation again with the child care supplement for working families. It is a new program, according to the budget speech, with an additional $100 million. I think it's important to note that there is no new Ontario government money in this program, at least not at this point in this budget, and the only new money in the program, which allows a new program to be created, is coming from the federal government.

The other question I have is exactly how much money is going to be committed. We have the budget speech saying that there's $140 million - $40 million of the provincial government's money and $100 million from the federal fund. That should be $140 million. The federal minister, in announcing this program just last week, has been given the information that Ontario estimates that $117 million will be available in 1998-99 for reinvestment as a result of this new program, the national child benefit, the federal program.

That gives me just a little bit of concern. I don't want to be too sceptical in this place on the last day, we think, of the Legislative sitting, but it does trouble me a little bit that this program is so late coming into place that there will not be cheques for individuals receiving this supplement until later in the year, and I quote the government's background paper. I just hope the full $140 million is indeed going to flow to people who are eligible for the supplement in the course of the 1998-99 year and that this is not going to be in any way reduced to perhaps the $117 million which Mr Pettigrew was given to believe Ontario would be spending in this current year. I trust we will see the full $140 million expended, even though this enabling legislation is coming before the Legislature in the very last days of our June session.

Minister Pettigrew also indicates that he's been given information that the reinvestment pool on this new benefit will grow to $156 million on an annualized basis. The budget speech indication from the Minister of Finance is that next year the Harris government plans to invest more than $200 million in this program. Again, that creates a confusion. The federal minister has been told that the fund will be $156 million on an annualized basis; Mr Eves, the finance minister, said it will be $200 million next year. I trust again, and I don't want to be too cynical, that in next year's budget we will see a commitment of $200 million flowing to people in that fiscal year, and that the $200 million will be a minimum annualized commitment to this supplement.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Don't hold your breath.

Mrs McLeod: The member for Beaches-Woodbine says, "Don't hold your breath." I think we all believe there is reason to be sceptical about this government's commitment to child care. That's why I hasten to point out the somewhat reduced figures which Mr Pettigrew, the federal minister, has been given by the Ontario government, reduced in terms of the comparison to what was in the budget speech.

I want to take it on faith and I want publicly to challenge the government to make sure that in this fiscal year, 1998-99, $140 million flows to working families under this supplement and that in next year's budget, and in next year's fiscal year, indeed at least $200 million will flow as a child care supplement to working families. We will go back and check that record and determine whether or not Mr Eves has made good on his government's commitment.

My next area of concern is the question of when this money is going to reach people. The federal program is in effect as of July 1. Next week, next Wednesday, the federal government program is in effect. The federal money, the $100 million in new funding which makes this new child care supplement possible, is available for provincial governments to spend on child care.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Would you ascertain whether there is a quorum?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is there a quorum present?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Fort William.

Mrs McLeod: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The government members are really testing the opposition's willingness to cooperate. They move very slowly today. They should realize that if at any point they can't get a quorum back in the House, they will lose the balance of their legislative agenda because the House will adjourn and we have no motion in front of us that calls us back next week. We were under the understanding that the government House leader was rather anxious to get these remaining pieces of legislation passed today and if the government -

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Yes, but we want to come back next week.

Mrs McLeod: We're here next week so I don't mind if this debate is to continue to next Monday or next Tuesday. I'm most happy to be here. I feel we might be able to give due and proper justice to some of these pieces of legislation if the House comes back next week. But I'm a little bit surprised, given the slowness of the response of the government members, that they are so anxious to be back next week. It looks to me as though they're rather anxious to be out of this place as quickly as possible.

In any event, I return to my concern about when the money is going to reach people. The government is taking its time not only in returning to the House this afternoon to keep a quorum, but they are certainly going to take their time in terms of getting the child care supplement into the hands of the working families they profess to be concerned about in their budget speech. The minister made his budget speech some time ago, May 5, 1998, yet here we are, on supposedly the last day of the legislative sitting, and we are only now dealing with the legislation which enables the commitments made in this budget to proceed.

The federal moneys are available to this government to use to the benefit of working families for child care expenses as of July 1. The costs of child care to families don't end when the House rises. They don't stop on July 1. Families continue to incur child care costs over the course of the summer; they'll continue to incur child care costs over September and October and November. The government is late bringing in this legislation. Families therefore cannot even apply for the supplement until September 1, 1998, a full two months after the moneys were available to the provincial government to be used to provide supplements to working families, and it is anybody's guess when this government is going to process the applications and actually get money into the hands of working families.

The government's background statement says that families can expect, once their eligibility is determined, "to receive cheques later in the year." That's like saying, "Your cheque will be in the mail." I guess we'll have to take the government on faith, because that's what the government says. It is absolutely inexcusable that this government makes a commitment to working families, says how concerned they are to make sure that the working families, those families in need, get some relief for their child care expenses, says that on May 5 and here we are on June 25 considering enabling legislation that allows it to get off the ground, to at least start the process of gathering the information which the government says it needs to get this supplement into the hands of working families; and that this government makes no commitment to working families in terms of actually putting the dollars into their pockets until some time later in the year.

If this government was serious about providing relief and serious about acting on the commitments which they are so quick to highlight, to put in bold print in the budget speeches, they could have brought this enabling legislation forward much sooner. It is not an extensive bill. It is only three and a half pages long. It didn't take a lot of drafting. It's not going to take a lot of debate, I suspect. Why could this not have come forward sooner so this program could have been in place for families to apply as of July 1, when the federal program becomes effective?

There's a further confusion. There's a lot of confusion when it comes to this seemingly simply bill.

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They do call it a new program, a new Ontario child supplement program for working families, but some form of program, according to the government's own budget speech, was announced in the 1997 budget. In the 1997 budget, the minister says, "I announced a $40-million child tax credit." We know that this $40 million that the government is putting into this new child care supplement for working families is exactly the same money that was in the 1997 child care tax credit.

We know that this government has made previous announcements of $40 million for child care support. We know that the first time the Mike Harris government announced that they were going to commit $40 million to support for child care programs in this province, none of that money flowed. The Minister of Finance acknowledged that in reviewing estimates last year of the government's previous year's spending on child care. They hadn't spent that $40 million.

They reannounced the $40 million in the 1997 budget and said it would now be a child care tax credit. I guess we have to assume that the $40 million did indeed flow to people through a tax credit when they indicated their eligibility on their income tax forms. We don't know whether the $40 million was spent; we don't know how much of it or how little of it was actually claimed and was therefore spent by the government, but we have to assume that the money did flow last year. What we do know is that it is exactly the same $40 million that was to have been spent last year and the year before; the same $40 million is the $40 million that's going into this new child care supplement this year.

That's what leads to my confusion. There may be an answer, and if we didn't have such limited time for debate in the dying hours of the legislative session, I would hope to get an answer from the government to clear up my confusion, because I'm sure there must be an answer to this. I don't understand why, since there was a child care tax credit in 1997 that presumably flowed, that presumably the government paid out, we now need enabling legislation to gather the same kind of information which I assume was required in 1997 to pay the child care tax credit.

I don't see any information that's required in this legislation which would not be obtainable from the tax return. I know that the eligibility for the child tax supplement is going to be based on the 1997 tax returns. I know in future years the information that is going to be used to determine eligibility for the supplement is going to be based on the previous year's tax return. I'm not sure why we need enabling legislation to collect this information now when we didn't seem to need that enabling legislation for the 1997 child care tax credit that, as I say, I believe was in place, and I believe money flowed.

Again, I wouldn't want to be cynical. I wouldn't want to assume that for a second year in a row no money flowed of that $40 million to families because the government hadn't done its homework, hadn't put in place necessary legislation to collect the information to allow the $40 million to go to working families who claimed it through their tax forms.

Since I don't want to assume the money didn't flow last year, I don't want to assume the government didn't do its homework, it leaves me with the question, why then do we need new enabling legislation to collect the same information that I would think needed to be collected for the 1997 child care tax credit? If there was a little more time, I think we could delay the passage of this legislation in order to get answers to that particular question.

Nevertheless, the reason I have that basic concern is that the fact that we need this enabling legislation, that this new information needs to be gathered - whatever new information has to be gathered - means that this program can't now be in place for July 1 and the dollars are not actually going to flow to families until some time later in the year.

I have one other area in which I have very serious confusion. That I find on page 4 of the bill. It's a very brief bill, but it has a clause on page 4 that I want to draw to the attention of the Legislature. Again, if there was time, we could place this as a question and hopefully get some answers from the government. The clause on page 4 of the bill says, "If the legislation establishing the Ontario child care supplement for working families has not received royal assent by March 31, 1999, the personal information collected under this act shall be destroyed as soon as practicable."

I am truly puzzled by the inclusion of that clause in this seemingly innocent act that's here to gather information. I guess the questions that occur to me are: Why is the government collecting information for something that they have not yet brought into place? What would stop the government from ensuring that royal assent is indeed given to the child care supplement for working families? Why isn't that legislation here? Why hasn't it been passed? Why doesn't it have royal assent?

They have said - this is supposed to be an assurance to people who are providing personal information - they are going to ensure that personal information that's collected under this enabling act will be destroyed as soon as is practicable. But why are they collecting information before the other act, the act that this enables to be put in place, receives royal assent? And why in their own enabling legislation are they now questioning whether their legislation to establish the child care supplement is actually going to be put in place and have royal assent?

This government has a majority. If this government is committed to bringing in a child care supplement for working families, it has the power to do it and to do it much more quickly than they're doing it. I can't think of any reason why this act establishing the child care supplement for working families would not have royal assent by the end of March 1999, given this government's majority and given their supposed commitment to the program.

Are they going to collect the information in order to find out how much money they are prepared to actually give to people to make sure it doesn't exceed the $40 million which they are prepared to put into it? Are they going to reduce the supplement they are prepared to flow to individuals if they find, after they collect their information, that the program is going to cost considerably more than they thought it was going to cost? Or are they going to renege on the entire program, for whatever reason? What possible explanation could there be for a government with a majority being concerned that it will not put into place the legislation it is committed to, to establish its program that this legislation is enabling?

Mr Baird: It's the privacy commissioner.

Mrs McLeod: The member opposite says it's the privacy commissioner. The member opposite just assured this House that there had been due consultation with the privacy commissioner and that the privacy commissioner was satisfied that this bill was suitable.

I say to the member opposite, if the government wants to ensure that this child care supplement is put in place, there should be no barrier that the government can't overcome. If the government's enabling legislation is requiring information or requiring it in such a way that the privacy commissioner is liable to object in spite of the fact that he has apparently been consulted, then the government should fix the enabling legislation. In fact, the government should have made sure the enabling legislation was fine before the last days of the legislative session.

There should be no hesitation in the government's own mind, with its majority, that they are going to be able to put in place the child care supplement for working families before the end of March 1999, fully six months after the federal dollars were available to make this program possible. So I have to be a little bit sceptical, a little bit cynical and more than a little bit concerned that the government is so untrusting of its own agenda, of its own commitments, that they had to put an escape clause into enabling legislation that allows this supplement program to get off the ground.

I see that my colleagues in the New Democratic Party have shared some of that concern and some of that cynicism and that they are therefore bringing forward an amendment to the legislation. I think it's a wise amendment. They are clearly questioning this clause, as we are.

They clearly aren't trusting of this government to deliver on the child care supplement program. But they have been even more cynical than we have and want more protection against what this government may do, because they've proposed an amendment that makes it clear that if this government doesn't live up to its commitment to establish this child care supplement for working families by the end of March 1999, the government cannot take the $100 million in federal money and run with it by using it to offset the payments they are obligated to make under the income assistance program, whether it is the social assistance program or the Family Benefits Act or the Ontario disability support plan. We will of course support the amendment because I think it was very wise of the New Democrats to bring the full measure of cynicism to bear in terms of what this government might intend to do, what they might not be held to do, in spite of the glowing commitments which they made in their budget speech of May 5.

You have to be a little bit cynical when you see a clause like this inserted in legislation, knowing the government has fully within its power the ability to bring in this legislation at any point they choose. Maybe it's the intention of the government not to bring the House back in time for us to approve the legislation before March 31, 1999, but I hate to think that's the case.

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I'm not going to take longer, because I think that there are some important pieces of legislation we need to deal with before this House adjourns for the summer and for who knows how long over the fall. I want first of all to recognize the fact that the child care supplement which this legislation is enabling is going to be of some benefit to working families, but it is certainly not going to offset the costs that they're experiencing of child care.

The family with earnings of under $20,000 will get a maximum annual benefit of $1,020 under this child care supplement. That's $85 a month, and that's assuming that the government does not decide, when it collects its information and finds out that there are more needful families deserving and eligible for the supplement than they'd expected, to reduce the level of supplement they are committed to at this point. But $85 a month is what's expected to be flowed some time later this year to a family with earnings under $20,000.

Let's recognize that child care for a preschooler in a regulated child care setting costs on average $7,000 annually and requires a monthly expenditure of $583. I know that families with an income of under $20,000 will no doubt find a use for the extra $85 a month, but in no way will that amount help those families to get quality regulated child care.

That brings me to my final concern that I want to address, that this new child care supplement program, touted as a new program even though there's no new government money from Ontario going into it, is in no way going to ensure that children in the province of Ontario will not be forced into second-rate, unregulated, informal, risky babysitting arrangements in order to get the care they need for their children.

The fact that people are more and more having to enter into unregulated care is directly related to the fact that this government has not seen fit to increase the numbers of subsidies that are available for child care in Ontario. In fact, we know this government's record on child care. We know that because of the cuts they first made when they came into government, we lost 9,000 subsidies for child care in this province. We know that there are at least 14,000 existing subsidies in jeopardy because municipalities have had the administrative costs of child care downloaded on to them, and they are not sure they can carry the increased administrative costs and still pay their 20% of the child care costs.

There is some real question about whether existing subsidies for child care are going to continue. Without subsidy, that family earning under $20,000 will not be significantly benefited by the $85 a month which the supplement provides them. That's why they're going to be forced more and more into second-rate, unregulated care and into the very risky ad hoc, informal babysitting arrangements which may be all they can afford, even with this supplement, and which this government has been too ready to condone as appropriate child care in Ontario.

I refer to an article that was in the Globe and Mail two days ago, on June 23, where they describe the situation facing parents seeking child care in Ontario. It gives this one example:

"Hours after catching a first glimpse of her three-month-old foetus on an ultrasound monitor, Lea Ray rushed to a nearby day care centre and registered her name on its growing waiting list.

"Word was that only parents sharp enough to place their names on a waiting list within months of conceiving could hope to land a day care space once maternity leave ended."

Why is that word out there that if you find that you are pregnant you're going to have to rush to get your child's name on a waiting list? It's because in Toronto the vacancy rate in the city's 725 licensed day care centres has dropped to zero for the first time. There is no place in a regulated child care centre in the entire city of Toronto for a new child who needs child care.

This government thinks that $85 a month is going to offset the cost. They won't even be able to get their child into a regulated day care centre, and $85 a month is not going to offset the cost of the babysitting arrangements which people are going to have to desperately seek if they are going to continue to be working families.

The other example in this same article is from Ottawa, lest we think this is solely a Toronto problem.

"At Aladin Childcare Services in Ottawa, parents are waiting more than two years to enrol their preschool-age children in the centre. `For a subsidized space,' said executive director Diane O'Neill, `the waiting list is closer to five to six years.'"

I know the anguish that my daughter and son-in-law have gone through over the course of the last two months in a small community outside of Toronto where there is no regulated day care, no child care provision, trying to find some arrangement which will be suitable for their two preschool children, one of them being an infant.

I say to this government that you can tout the child care supplement for working families, and we will all be glad to see some relief for working families experiencing the cost of child care brought into place. We wish that it was coming into place sooner. We wish the cheques would be in people's hands much earlier than some time later this year. We wish there was some assurance that those cheques would ever arrive, rather than this clause in the bill that says, "Don't worry, we'll destroy your personal information if we decide we can't get the program up and running by the end of March 1999."

We wish all of those things were true, but even if this child care supplement is put in place and families are able to receive their $85 a month in support, it will not in any way ensure that there is accessible, affordable, quality child care for the children of this province. On that agenda this government has rolled the clock back so far on all fronts that it is going to take a very long time before we can even hope to aspire to a situation in which my two grandchildren will have some assurance that there will be quality, accessible, affordable day care.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Speaker: Would you check and see if there's quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Check and see if there's quorum for me, please.

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Ms Lankin: The bill we have before us today is a bill that's very limited in its scope. It's called "An Act to permit the Collection of Personal Information for the Payment of the Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families."

This supplement was a commitment in the 1998 budget that the government was going to move to the implementation of this supplement, with at least a third of the money coming from the federal government in the way of a clawback under the national child benefit program. The relationship between these programs is a little complicated, but as I speak to this bill I want to try and shed some light on that, because there are some elements of this that concern me in terms of the intent of the federal program, which I think is a good one, but how we see that being applied here in Ontario; who will benefit and, more to the point, who will be the losers in this scenario.

Speaking directly to this bill, first of all let me indicate that all this bill purports to do is to allow the government to collect the information that would be used, once there is legislation in the future to establish - I'm going to refer to it as a child care tax credit in the system. It's a little bit different from a tax credit. While it will be based on information collected through previous years' taxation on income tax forms, it's going to be paid out on a regular basis. So the government is referring to it as a supplement, but it still has a relationship to your taxable earnings and incomes and the amounts that you have paid.

Obviously, for any program like that, in order to determine eligibility first and foremost and at what level of payment a person would be eligible, the government must have information, so this bill sets out the ability for the government to collect the information that it feels is necessary.

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When this was announced in the budget, the finance minister said that this year families would be required to submit their application for this program by September 30, 1998. I find this interesting. We are rushing through this little four-page bill to get the collection of information up and running, I can only presume, because the government is not ready to proceed with the legislation that's actually going to establish the program. I would like to have before me the information that is establishing the program before I give the government carte blanche to collect all this information - you know, for what purposes? I think in terms of proper process that would be more appropriate. That's fine, we don't have it before us.

If we're going to be asking members of the public to make application, according to the finance minister in his budget statement, by September 30 of this year for a program that doesn't yet exist, the parameters of which we don't know - we've got some broad-stroke description of it - there is something backwards in that to my way of thinking in terms of how we are approaching this.

They say that benefits would accrue from July 1998. That's when the federal program comes into effect, and there is a relationship and I will describe that in a moment, between this program and the federal benefits that are flowing. The first payment will be made to Ontarian working families a little bit later this year but would be reflective of benefits accruing to them from the period of July 1998. Not very good planning, not very good government, I would say, in terms of how we're approaching this. We're playing a little bit of catch-up. As a result, there are some concerns I have in terms of the way bill is structured.

This bill was only tabled a couple of weeks ago, three weeks ago maybe, and here we are, the last day that the Legislature is sitting, and the government yesterday all of a sudden said, "We want second and third reading at the same time." The reason there's a process in which you take some time is so that you can examine concerns with the bill. I have an amendment that I wish to put forward so we're going to move into committee of the whole a little bit later this afternoon to deal with that amendment. I also have some questions and if, as a result of my questions, there are some other concerns which I would like to address or which even the government feels it might like to address, then there will be no opportunity because the government has indicated that it wants to move to third reading today. That's why the process doesn't normally work like that. In fact, it's extraordinary and it requires unanimous consent. Because it's the last day, none of us wants to hold the bill up, but the government has not proceeded in a rational way or in a way which allows for the development and passing of good legislation.

Let me for a moment talk about - this bill is an enabling bill and what it enables.

Madam Speaker, could I ask you to check and see if there's a quorum.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: Continue debate, please

Ms Lankin: I was about to speak about this bill from its perspective as enabling legislation. It is a piece of legislation that will enable down the road another program, for which the government has yet to introduce the legislation, to be implemented, that being a child care supplement.

The government, in its announcement of this, spoke with very glowing terms as if this child care supplement was the answer to many parents' child care concerns in this province, and I want to speak about that for a moment. While I'm sure no member of this House would be opposed to a program which provides some assistance to low-income working families for their child care, I think we have to examine what this program is, in light of what the history of the development of subsidized, quality and licensed child care spaces in child care centres has been in this province.

In the attempt of government to support working families and families on social assistance who require child care in order to get off social assistance and get into the workforce, the history of government has been to support the development of a high-quality child care system in this province. It is my contention that this piece of legislation to establish a child care supplement, which we will see the government introducing presumably in the fall, does nothing to contribute to the development of a quality, regulated child care system in Ontario; one that is affordable, one that recognizes the principles of early childhood education, the importance of early childhood education, and one that tries to ensure that our kids are being taken care of in an educational environment that is safe and healthy for them.

There has been much written in research in the field of child care, comparing the actual child care experience of those kids who are in an early education experience versus those children who are in unregulated care. While there are very many good caregivers who provide in-home, unregulated care service, there are unfortunately too many who are not good. There are unfortunately too many horror stories about children who have been left in unregulated babysitting situations who have been subject to abuse, who have been subject to neglect; stories of how parents have found out, much to their horror, that a sheet has been put down on the floor and the kids have been told, "That's your space; you stay on that sheet for the whole day," or they have been plunked down with bags of junk food in front of the television and the television essentially babysits them. That's a very different type of experience than what a child would experience in a regulated child care setting, whether that be a centre-based setting or regulated, licensed home care.

One of the things we believe profoundly is that there has to be enough of a stock of child care spaces, if I can put it that way, available in our communities for parents to access, and they have to be accessible in the sense of being affordable as well. The way in which that has been done in the past is for governments to contribute to the physical space, the construction of child care centres, and to contribute to subsidizing a certain number of spots for low-income parents. Where full-fee-paying parents can afford their share, the centre however, overall, has support from subsidies to support those parents who can't afford the full fee.

Over the years we have developed a very broad system in this province. It's not universal. I wish it were. We have made attempts by putting in place supports; for example, a program in which, whenever there was a new school built, it was part of the policy direction of the province that a child care centre had to be included in that school. Doesn't that make sense? The kids who come from their pre-kindergarten early childhood education experience into junior or senior kindergarten have a relationship with that school. That's a logical place to locate it. It's in the community. It's close to home.

There have also been supports in the past to help employers establish child care so that parents of very young children who don't want to leave them in the community, who want to be able to take them to the workplace, mothers who breastfeed, for example, and have infants in child care, can at the workplace go to the child care centre during the day. There have been supports for those kinds of programs.

As a result of this, over the years, in a combination of home-regulated child care, child care centres in the community, workplace child care centres and organizations like family resource centres and toy-lending libraries that provide another level of support to parenting in our communities, we have developed quite an enviable child care system. Much remains to improve, I would argue, but I think we are in danger of losing much of it at this time.

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The government's announcement I would argue does very little to contribute to the development or the further development of that child care system. The supplement that they're talking about has a maximum. If you are a low-income working family whose income is between $5,000 and $20,000 a year total, the maximum that you will be able to claim is $85 a month. I ask members to actually think about this. If you are a low-income working family, let's say with an income of $15,000, how could you afford to pay the money for a fully regulated, quality, licensed child care place in order to claim back and get $85 a month? The average cost of a quality child care space is $7,000 a year. This commitment isn't even one seventh of that. So this supplement in and of itself, while it's not bad - I'm not arguing that it's bad - is not going to enable parents who currently can't afford good quality child care to access it.

What it may do is help supplement unregulated, less expensive, cheaper and in many cases less safe, lower-quality babysitting services. That is of great concern to me. I argue that this, along with some of the changes that the Minister of Community and Social Services presented in a report she wrote during the time she was a parliamentary assistant, will actually move the market to that lower end. The supports and the assistance that are being provided move people to that lower end. I don't think that is in the best interests of our children. I don't think that is appropriate. I don't think that is putting in place, as I believe governments should be responsible for, the appropriate system of quality child care services for our citizens of this province, parents, to access.

The minister calls it choices; she says this is about parental choice. I don't think so. I think it's about spending a lot less money, spreading it around and essentially undermining the quality licensed child care system that has been built up.

I question the government's commitment on the child care front. You have to look at the record here. It was in the 1996 budget that the first child care announcement was made. The finance minister at that time made some bold statements. He talked about the fact that the government was going to be spending more money than any government had ever spent before on child care in the history of the province of Ontario. Those are the words that he used.

He announced $200 million in new money, spread out over five years. That's $40 million a year over the course of five years. In answer to questions, he indicated that was cumulative, that it would be $40 million to the base budget one year, and the next year another $40 million, which means it's $80 million, and the next year it would be $120 million. So in five years' time we understood there would be 200 million new dollars in the base budget.

What happened? The first year following that announcement in the budget, not one penny was spent. The minister put a freeze on subsidies to child care spaces and in fact not only was that money not spent, but they cut money in other areas. There was a $10-million fund in the Ministry of Education that had been put in place to provide for the construction of child care centres in schools. They cancelled that. They said: "No more. That's not the mandate of the Ministry of Education. No more support for child care centres in schools."

There was a $50-million fund within the Ministry of Community and Social Services for the capital construction of child care centres, and the government cut that. The minister explained it by saying: "We're not into bricks and mortar. These groups can go out there and find their own financing." I've got to tell you, it doesn't work like that. I've been around the block a few times on this issue, but even in this last year, with some groups who were in schools that were being rebuilt and who saw that they were losing their child care centres and they would have to go out and build in the community. They went to great lengths. One of them was in Minister - at the time - Saunderson's riding. They asked him to help in trying to bring them together with corporate sponsors and with financial institutions, but they are a non-profit parent board. They don't have the capital or the equity to back this up and they couldn't get financing anywhere. The minister must not understand how this works out there and that essentially her decision to cut those funds was sounding the death knell for the expansion of quality licensed child care in child care centres in this province.

That great, grand announcement, "More money than any government's ever spent before" - and we hear that kind of superlative talk a lot from the government - what came of it? Not one penny of that first year instalment of $40 million was spent. The government put the freeze on and cut the other programs. Where the previous Rae government had put in place the higher level of provincial participation in cost-sharing for subsidies - because under Jobs Ontario, which was the program we had put in place to try and help people get off social assistance and into the workplace, we recognized that those were additional costs that municipalities would have to bear and we wanted to ensure that the child care spaces were there. So instead of cost-sharing, we said we'd pay 100% instead of just the normal 80% the province paid. The new government cancelled that as well, and many of those spaces were lost in the communities.

We saw subsidized spaces lost; we saw funding for community-based child care centres and the capital costs on the buildings lost; we saw the $10 million for capital construction of child care centres in schools lost; and not a penny of the "more money than ever before in any other government in the history of Ontario" spent. That was the first year after that announcement.

What happened in year two? We hit the 1997 budget and the government says: "Forget that. We said we were going to spend that money on subsidized child care and, by the way, we didn't spend a penny, but we'll just kind of gloss over that. We're going to spend that same money again and we're going to spend it now on a child care tax cut. This is our next big announcement and we're going to" - you know, with fanfare - "support families out there through this child care tax announcement."

Not only have they not spent a penny, it meant that there wouldn't be a penny spent that year, because they announced that in their budget in the spring of the year and people wouldn't be eligible for it until following the next taxation year. So it would be in 1998 before they would get any of that money, if they even knew about it, if they applied, if they were eligible, and there were no clear rules around what the eligibility was.

We now have gone through two full years and not a penny of that grand announcement of "We're going to spend more money on child care than any government ever before in the history of the province of Ontario" has been spent, two years later.

What happens in 1998? This is the third budget now that we have grand announcements about child care. The government announced yet again another version of what it's going to do to spend this child care money, not a penny of which has been spent. If I appear cynical at all about the government's intentions here, you may understand why, you may feel some sympathy with me, because the record's not very good. I hope the members of the government would even acknowledge that the record so far is not very good.

Now we come to the announcement in the 1998 budget and this, as I mentioned before, is for a child care supplement for low-income working families. It is only applied to low-income working families. This doesn't help anybody on social assistance who's trying to get off social assistance. It's not across the board. It's targeted at the low-income working family and it provides a maximum of $85 a month. Nice, warm, fuzzy. I'm glad that people will get that little bit of money, if they have enough money to put up in the first place to pay for child care expenses so they'd become eligible.

I worry that in effect this is another empty promise in that there won't be the volume of take-up by people because it is not realistic to expect that someone who is earning $7,000 a year or $10,000 a year could afford a $7,000 quality child care space if there are no subsidies - and the government has not put any more money into subsidies. How could they afford to pay for that in order to claim back their $85 a month? Come on, folks, take a look at this.

I don't think this is a very effective way for those families it does help and maybe those over $20,000, because there is still a range of people over $20,000 who can claim some of this, but it decreases; it will be less than $85 a month. Maybe some families will get a little bit of change. For them, I say thank you to the government. But this is not going to provide the kind of support that we need for working families in terms of accessing affordable, quality licensed child care in Ontario.

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I have a couple of areas of concern with the bill itself. I just want to highlight them, because I know there are some staff from the Ministry of Finance here that I can see who will be coming to the floor when we move into committee of the whole. If I can perhaps highlight a couple of the areas for which I have questions, it might be helpful to them so that they can be prepared and be of assistance to the parliamentary assistant as we're going through this. Mr Sealey, I can see that you are listening - always, I know. I will run through some of these questions.

Section 2 sets out that the Ministry of Finance can collect and use information from a variety of sources, municipal government, federal government and others like that. It sets out under subsection 2(2) the type of personal information that's referred to in subsection 2(1). It puts some limits on the type of personal information the government can collect, although there are some sections later that interact with parts of the freedom of information and privacy act that sort of open all that up again. In any event, subsection 2(2) sets out things like name, social insurance number, the amount of child care expenses allowed as a deduction under income tax, name and date of birth of the applicant or child, all those sorts of things.

I was interested in the remarks of the previous speaker, who said that this bill didn't set out in it any requirement for people to file expenses or receipts with respect to their child care costs. I was thinking when I heard that, actually, that is probably more appropriate in the bill to come, the bill that actually sets out the nature of the child care supplement program or in the regulations thereof.

But I did notice under subsection 2(2), paragraph 7 says, "Amounts paid as child care expenses by the individual or the individual's cohabiting spouse for each child." What made me click on to that was this question of whether receipts would be required. I will be asking in what form the government will require that information to be submitted. Is it enough for me to say, "I pay $7,000 a year"? Do I have to write a letter? Do I have to provide a receipt? Where is that set out? Where is the authority to define that particular form of submitting the information?

As I look through here, I believe I'm right in that I don't see any general power for regulation making under this legislation. Normally, if legislation provides for information to be submitted, if it's going to be submitted in a certain prescribed form, there would be a section that sets out the power for the government to pass regulations with respect to that, and that regulation-making power needs to be in the legislation. It's not here.

I envision that this summer there will be information going out to people - I'm sure glossy and colourful, as an aside - information will be going out to people about this. They'll be invited to apply, and they will have to submit information in order to determine their eligibility. We don't know what the eligibility requirements will be. I guess we'll see that in the next piece of legislation that comes. But presumably they'll be told they have to submit the information in some form. What legislative authority is there for that, when there is no regulation-making power here?

I'd also like some information with respect to section 3:

"Personal information collected under this act may also be used to determine the eligibility of the individual or of his or her cohabiting spouse for a tax credit, deduction or benefit under the Income Tax Act (Ontario), and the amount thereof."

The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, would you mind? There are too many loud conversations happening on the government side of the House. The member for Beaches-Woodbine is outlining the questions she's going to be asking about this bill and giving the staff an opportunity to understand what the questions are. I think it would help our proceedings to go along more quickly if she were able to do that. Thank you.

Ms Lankin: Thanks very much, Madam Speaker. I appreciate that.

Section 3 provides that personal information collected under this act can be used for purposes of tax credits, deductions or benefits under the Income Tax Act.

There's nothing in that section that specifically says, "for the purposes of child care, tax credits or deductions," for example. What is envisioned by that? Why would there be the crossover? Is that just a standard clause that is inserted in all collection-of-information legislation by government, and what does the privacy commissioner think about that?

I see a little bit of Big Brother and I worry a little bit when I see us giving powers to government to use information for purposes totally unrelated to the purpose of the act. Perhaps I am wrong in my understanding of that, but I would like some clarification on that.

I don't have before me the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but with respect to subsection 3(4), which provides for an exception to subsection 17(2) of the freedom of information act, I would just like some clarification of what the purpose and intent of that is.

Subsection 3(5) also relates to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and it suggests that any information that is under the Ministry of Finance purview at this point in time, that they've collected, for whatever reason they may have collected it in the past, may be used by the same ministry for the purposes described in this act, in other words, for determining eligibility for the legislation yet to come establishing the child care supplement, "and that use shall be deemed to be for a purpose that is consistent with the purpose for which the personal information was obtained or compiled."

Again, I would be interested in the privacy commissioner's view of this. I see how that is enabling. I see if there is information with respect to property tax rolls or sales tax or what - I don't know what it is the Ministry of Finance may have - but I can see how, from a commonsense point of view, you'd want it to be available and to work cooperatively with other programs the government is running. But if you pass a piece of legislation in this House and say the Ministry of Finance can collect information for this specific purpose, it seems wrong to me to then down the road pass another piece of legislation and say, "By the way, anything they collected, even though the law said it was for that express purpose, can now be used over in this piece of legislation and it will be deemed to be consistent with the purpose that it was collected for."

It's retroactively amending a piece of legislation that's not even before us. I'm sure it's probably done all the time. I'm sure it's one of those legislative tricks in terms of how we get around what some people might call red tape; I don't know. But from a protection of privacy - that concerns me. I feel that is an inappropriate way. I think we should be more express in terms of our intent here.

If there are types of information we are aware that the Ministry of Finance has which would be useful for the purpose of this act, name it. Make it clear. These broad, sweeping statements that allow government to trade information, even between itself, is of concern. I think that we should have - it's one of the reasons why I'm concerned about the process today. When we move into committee of the whole shortly some answers I get may be satisfactory but there may be some things that even the parliamentary assistant may be concerned about in response to points I am raising. Yet the government's intent is to move immediately to third reading. There's a need for a breathing space.

I would encourage the parliamentary assistant to speak to his House leader as the clock ticks on because perhaps, if there are a couple of areas where we see we're going to need some further refinement to the legislation, it perhaps would behoove us to consider it in committee of the whole - leaving it at the end of that stage, reporting the bill out and not calling it for third reading today but doing some further work on amendments over the summer and dealing with this as soon as the House resumes.

Last, I want to indicate that I will be tabling an amendment to this legislation. I'll just set out briefly for the members of the Legislature the intent of that legislation.

Currently in the bill section 5 sets out that if the legislation yet to come - this is the legislation that will establish the Ontario child care supplement for working families; we don't have that legislation in front of us yet - if that legislation isn't passed and doesn't receive royal assent by March 31, 1999, all the information that has been collected under this piece of legislation will be destroyed. That's a cautionary clause and I'm sure it's put in place to respond to concerns that the privacy commissioner would have about that information being collected and then perhaps never used. Who knows how many other pieces of legislation out there have these little clauses that say, "If you have it, you can use it for a purpose and then say it's the same as the purpose that the legislation said you could only collect it for." It does show you why the concerns I'm raising have some validity.

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There's a cautionary clause there, and we accept that. We think that is useful and it's appropriate to have. But there's another little trick in this whole program, and that's the relationship between this child care supplement and the federal government program, the national child benefit. That national child benefit is a federal government commitment to provide dollars in support of child welfare, child wellbeing, to low-income families; not just working families, as in the legislation the Ontario Harris government is talking about, but to all low-income families.

That federal money flows through - and that starts next month - directly to the lowest-income families in this province: those on social assistance, on family benefits, and those who are in the low-income working bracket. That money is meant, on the part of the federal government, to be of assistance to low-income families in support for children.

The agreement that was signed between the provincial government and the federal government - and I don't know why the federal government agreed to this, but they did - allows that the money the federal government is going to send to people - and in this case the group of people I'm talking about are those families who are on social assistance or family benefits, so who are not working - that money that's supposed to be there to help those kids, and those are the poorest kids in the province, the provincial government can claw that money back, dollar for dollar, out of the social assistance benefits that are provided to those families. I don't understand the merit of that.

The federal government agreed to it. It is an agreement between the two levels of government. So it's not just blaming across the floor here; it's kind of a pox on all your houses. I don't understand why a program that's been put in place to help the poorest children in this country is being denied to the poorest of the poorest children in this country. But there you have it. Every dollar the federal government sends to a family on social assistance, the provincial government, dollar for dollar, takes it back. It's bad. It has bad effects.

Let me explain to you. We encourage families to try and get some work, to try and have some income, to try and work their way off social assistance. There is a range in which, if they get some income, that gets deducted from their social assistance. If they work a part-time job, for example, maybe one day a week or so, that money is deducted from their benefits. It allows them to start to earn up to a certain amount until they become ineligible.

For thousands of families who are in that situation, who receive just a little bit of top-up of social assistance to their income but are also eligible for support for drug benefits - important for their kids - dental, vision benefits, winter school clothing allowance, those sorts of things, that federal benefit will be just enough to top them up over. This provincial government has said they are going to make them ineligible therefore for social assistance, and they lose those other supports and benefits: the drug card, the vision and dental care. We're talking poor, poor kids here. Let's not get confused in terms of the people we're talking about.

Part of the deal between the federal and provincial government was that the money the province is clawing back, dollar for dollar, has to be spent on something to help families and kids. In this case, in this province, the enabling legislation we're talking about today and the child care supplement is how the Ontario Harris government plans to spend that money. Not one penny of that will benefit any families who are currently on social assistance from whom the money is being taken.

What they have done in other provinces is they have put together a pool from that money to support drug benefits, dental, vision benefits, those sorts of things I outlined, for those families, to help them move off social assistance, so they don't lose all of that coverage, so the poorest of poor kids can get their teeth fixed, for example, even though they've got this little bit of a benefit coming from the government. That, to me, would be a much better way to spend this money, but this government's made a different decision.

What I want to say, however, is that if this government is prepared in legislation today to say, "If we don't get the child care supplement passed and royal assent by March 1999, then we'll make the legislation we're looking at passing today null and void; we'll tear up the information we've collected," I want one more commitment from them. I want a commitment that the money they are going to be clawing back, dollar for dollar, from those poorest of poor families in this province, because they got a cheque from the federal government and the province is saying, "Okay, you put it in that pocket, we're taking it out of the other pocket," I want a commitment that they won't keep that money either, that that money will revert to those families. If not, it is a grand ripoff by the provincial government of dollars that the federal government has sent to the poorest families; the provincial government taking it back and not spending it on anything that will benefit poor kids and low-income families.

If you're prepared to acknowledge that there is even a remote possibility that the legislation you refer to here, which this enables, may not be passed and therefore you have a commitment in the legislation to rip up the information you've collected for the purposes of determining eligibility for that program, I also wish that you will put in place, through my amendment, a commitment that the money you're clawing back from those poorest of poor kids won't be simply transferred over into government coffers and not applied for the purpose for which it is intended.

It's a simple amendment. If you truly intend to bring forward this program in a timely fashion, and the legislation for it, I can see no reason why you would object to my amendment, because it won't be of any import then, right? You will have passed the legislation before the key date. That, to me, is a critical point with respect to ensuring that we protect the intent of a program which is to provide support to poor children, to try and help poor children gain access to the benefits that will give them a good start in life so they have a reasonable expectation of good, healthy outcomes as their life goes on.

That provision for the Ontario government to claw back the money from social assistance doesn't appear in any legislation yet, but we do know that there are regulations that have been written under the Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act and the Family Benefits Act that have yet to be gazetted but that would give effect to that - at least I think they've yet to be gazetted. In any event, when those regulations come into effect, then the government will be able to claw that money back.

It's not as if we won't see that until they pass their Ontario child care supplement program sometime in the fall, the legislation we haven't seen yet; they will be taking that money back from social assistance/welfare recipient families starting next month. As the federal government flows it through, the provincial government will yank it out of their hand. My contention is, if they don't pass the legislation to set up the program in which they will spend that money to support families and kids, then they don't have a right to that money and the legislation should make that very clear.

With that, let me wrap up by saying that, overall, I think this is not at all a commitment on the part of the government to affordable, accessible, quality child care - quite the opposite; it moves the market in the direction of unregulated and often unsafe, unhealthy situations for our children. It is a complete reversal of the government's budget commitment two years ago, in 1997, when they announced money that would have made them a government that would spend more than any government ever in the history of Ontario, and of course we know not a penny of that has been spent. It's a complete reversal of that.

While I certainly don't object to a child care supplement program, there are far greater needs with respect to child care in Ontario that the government is not addressing. That gives me great concern.

I know that we will pass this bill today. I look forward to the fall to see the terms and breadth of the child care supplement legislation when they bring that forward. I hope that over the course of the summer the government may reflect on that and realize that it is important that it look to also providing benefits - continued drug, dental and vision kinds of benefits - to families on social assistance or just coming off of social assistance so that we can truly help people, truly, as you in your language say, give them a hand up and make it possible for people to leave the world of social assistance, but to do so in a way where their families have the supports for them to work and the supports for their kids to be healthy.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Seeing no further debate, Mr Baird has moved second reading of Bill 28. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? The motion carries.

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House in committee of the whole.

CHILD CARE SUPPLEMENT INFORMATION COLLECTION ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA COLLECTE DES RENSEIGNEMENTS NÉCESSAIRES À L'OCTROI DU SUPPLÉMENT DE REVENU POUR LES FRAIS DE GARDE D'ENFANTS

Consideration of Bill 28, An Act to permit the Collection of Personal Information for the Payment of the Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families / Projet de loi 28, Loi permettant la collecte de renseignements personnels en vue du versement du supplément de revenu de l'Ontario pour les familles travailleuses ayant des frais de garde d'enfants.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I would make two requests: that legal staff from the Ministry of Finance be allowed to enter the floor and that I would sit at the front.

The Acting Chair (Mrs Marion Boyd): Agreed. If we are ready to proceed, are there any amendments and, if so, to which section?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Madam Chair, I will be moving an amendment to subsections 5(2) and (3).

The Acting Chair: Thank you. Any other amendments? If there are none in sections 1 through 4, are there any questions or comments?

Ms Lankin: Just following up on the questions I put in my participation in second reading debate, with respect to paragraph 7 of subsection 2(2), as an example, which reads "Amounts paid as child care expenses by the individual or the individual's cohabiting spouse for each child," that is a description of the type of personal information referred to in subsection (1) that the Minister of Finance may collect. Not set out anywhere that I can see in the legislation is the prescribed form for submitting that information. I wonder if the parliamentary assistant could respond to that concern.

Mr Baird: I'd simply indicate that, much like the current income tax practice would be, at this point it would seem logical that a receipt would not be required to be submitted but that it would have to be available from the claimant if requested, much like the current provisions of the Income Tax Act with respect to tax credits such as the Ontario property tax credit and the federal child care deduction expense. Obviously, though, the administrative requirements of the legislation are still under development, so it's not possible to give a definitive answer as to receipts, but it would seem that would be the best practice that has been used in the past.

Ms Lankin: Jut to follow up on that, if the administrative requirements of this legislation have not yet been developed, I don't see any provision in the legislation for regulation-making power. How will you in fact have legislative authority for those requirements?

Mr Baird: There's no legal requirement that a form have a particular shape, so we don't have a prescribed form under legislation. I suppose we could make it, but in this piece of legislation we don't. The person who would be applying for the benefit of course wouldn't be required to, so under the current practice it's not a prescribed form.

Ms Lankin: Is there a possibility a person could submit information which the ministry would determine to be inadequate for the basis of determining eligibility in a positive sense, and then on what grounds would you be denying eligibility if there's nothing clearly set out either in legislation or regulations in terms of what nature and form the information must either be submitted in or must be available in to substantiate?

Mr Baird: Under this legislation, it basically just allows the government of Ontario to collect the relevant information that is required. Obviously, with the legislation the government would intend to present in the fall, we would have to spell out the entitlements for that. We are just right now looking to collect information. Rather, we would not have to police the process, because of course the fall legislation hasn't been passed yet, so that would be contained in the fall legislation.

Ms Lankin: Could I ask the parliamentary assistant why the government is proceeding in this way? Why do we not have the full legislation in front of us, then, that sets out the type of program, the eligibility requirements and the thresholds that people must meet in terms of evidentiary proof to be eligible? I fail to understand that, unless the answer is simply that the government didn't get the bill ready and now they're just trying to sort of cover off the eventuality of that and get the forms out into people's hands this summer. It does not seem to me to be a rational approach to this legislation.

Mr Baird: We are currently in negotiations with the federal government on a whole host of issues relating to this issue. Also, the child tax credit from the federal government, of course, the national benefit, hasn't begun to flow. That will happen next week. It was always the intent to follow through in the fall. Traditionally, the Ministry of Finance has presented two budget bills, one presented with the budget in early May and then another in the fall session of the Legislature.

Ms Lankin: I won't get into debate - this is not the appropriate time - but I think this is a shoddy process and I think it's inappropriate to be asking this Legislature to rush this bill through at this point when we don't have the rest of it.

Let me move to subsection 3(1), which allows personal information collected under this act to be used to determine eligibility of individuals for tax credits, deductions or benefits under the Income Tax Act. Are there any restrictions on which tax credit benefits or deductions we are speaking of here? Is this wide open, and why is this clause included?

If I may, let me just elaborate on this. It may be of some assistance to the staff. Subsection 3(1) talks about: "Personal information collected under this act may also be used to determine the eligibility of the individual or...spouse for a tax credit, deduction or benefit under the Income Tax Act (Ontario) and the amount thereof."

I'm concerned about information collected here being used for other purposes. What is it that you're envisioning? It again seems to me to be a very broad brush and very intrusive of privacy.

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Mr Baird: The member indicated in her remarks at second reading that she was sure this was done all the time and that she had a concern about this. That concern is one. This is not something that is new. We collect information with respect to a whole host of Ontario tax credits, the property tax or the retail sales tax, so it just would seem only prudent that if someone is applying - not that the government would go out after it, but if someone is applying for a particular tax credit at the provincial Ministry of Finance, that we could use that information for the other two or three credits with which they would apply.

Ms Lankin: Have you got a standard clause that I would find in those other pieces of legislation providing those tax credits, like sales tax credit or the Ontario tax credit or whatever? Will I find this same clause in those other pieces of legislation?

Mr Baird: Under the Freedom of Information Act we would have the authority to collect that information under the act that established it. Obviously, the act that would establish this benefit will be introduced in the fall, so you obviously wouldn't need to, with the other two examples that you mentioned.

The Acting Chair: Mrs McLeod.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Madam Chair, I don't particularly want to prolong the session, but the answers are making the question even more pertinent and causing me greater concern.

I would ask exactly what information you are seeking to gather under this clause that might entitle somebody to eligibility to any of the other deductions that you're not already able to collect under the acts that established those other benefits.

Mr Baird: In response to the question, if there were an existing act with which we collect information, this wouldn't be required, but given that there's no existing act with respect to the benefit, it is required. I guess the issue would be to avoid duplicate requests for information. This wouldn't be required if the legislation hadn't been passed but, as has been said earlier, we indicated we would be pursuing legislation with this in the fall.

Mrs McLeod: I appreciate my colleague having raised this. The dilemma for us obviously is that the Legislature is about to adjourn and we want this supplement to be made available to working families. But as my colleague has noted, this is really shoddy work.

This clause is a very sweeping clause, allowing you to gather any kind of personal information that's set out in the act, and the act is very general in terms of the categories of information that can be collected. The legislation is supposed to be about enabling. It is because you haven't got the other act in place and it's supposed to enable you to collect the information for the purposes of that other act. That we understand from the balance of what's in this three-and-a-half page document.

But this clause allows you to collect information and to use that information to determine eligibility of the individual or of his or her spouse for a tax credit deduction or benefit under the Income Tax Act. It's not specifically referencing the child care supplement. The rest of the act does. This clause goes beyond that. We don't understand why it's there. Surely a sweeping clause like that, when you've supposedly consulted with the privacy committee, didn't get in here by accident.

It doesn't look like a standard clause. My colleague's question was, is it a standard clause in every piece of legislation? It is really unacceptable for that kind of clause, with that kind of invasion of personal privacy, to be entered into a very small piece of legislation if it has no purpose at all.

Ms Lankin: I just want to add to that. It seems to me that this clause, if it is as you suggest in here, because we don't have the child care supplement legislation passed yet, should specifically reference that this information may be used for determining eligibility of the individual for a tax credit reduction or benefit under the income tax for the child care supplement. If that's what your intent is, that's what the legislation should say. This is inappropriate, the breadth of this clause as it's set out here.

Madam Chair, may I just suggest, since the parliamentary assistant is determining a response, that one of the ways we may deal with this - I'm very conscious of the time, but I'm very concerned about the bill and this is why I object to this kind of process. I just want to indicate that a possible solution could be for the members to vote down this section, and when you introduce the legislation this fall, you can appropriately make the connector clause available, to use the information that's collected under Bill 28.

Mr Baird: Perhaps I could just respond to the issue. This is not, in all fairness, what by any definition general or sweeping information would be collected blanket through Bill 28. There are nine specific sets of information that are detailed in the previous section of the bill, section 2. I guess the intention is to avoid duplication.

One of the concerns that I understand was raised by some of the members of the official opposition, which I think were real and legitimate, centred around what the Information and Privacy Commissioner had to say about this act. I think it's important to get this on the record to be very clear that the Information and Privacy Commissioner was consulted in the drafting of this bill. The recommendations that came out of that office are all reflected in this bill. I mentioned them earlier. The bill should deal only with the collection of personal information for the supplement. The IPC recognizes that special legislative authority would be necessary to obtain the information in time to verify it shortly after the actual enactment of the supplement in the fall. They recommended that the information collected be destroyed if the supplement was not enacted. The privacy commissioner was consulted in this act and doesn't have a problem with section 3.

The Acting Chair: Just for the information of the members of the House, there was no time limit on committee of the whole. We made an error and hadn't switched the clock back to the regular clock. So if people were getting concerned about committee of the whole, it's all right.

Ms Lankin: I just want to indicate that I do not believe that the parliamentary assistant has answered my concerns with respect to the breadth of this clause - let me qualify that statement - certainly not to my satisfaction.

I believe that it might be prudent for us to look at refusing that section, defeating that section, and in the child care supplement legislation that comes forward this fall you can put in place the appropriate provision to allow the use of the information that's been collected under Bill 28. I wonder if the parliamentary assistant could just indicate quickly if there is any problem with that as an approach, if legal counsel has any concern about that as an approach. I don't want to take much more time on this.

Mr Baird: I would simply indicate that this information may be needed. I think the public has spoken very clearly in terms of their reaction, as to government, that if you're applying for an Ontario sales tax credit or an Ontario property tax credit, to then in the future lose this requirement for simply another Ontario Ministry of Finance tax credit, there's simply no need to go to people three times. This is required trough December, and the ministry's position and the government's position would be that we need it.

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Ms Lankin: I just want to say that that answer is totally different from every other answer we've had so far with respect to the intent of that clause and I'm teed off in terms of the process. I do not want to upset the House leaders' schedule, particularly with respect to the Women's College bill, which was why I requested earlier that that bill be dealt with before this so we had sufficient time to deal with legislation in an appropriate manner. This is how you make bad laws.

Mrs McLeod: I'm going to take time to add my concern. It is absolutely irresponsible to bring forward what seems to be a very small piece of legislation with clauses that are so indefensible and inexplicable. The strategy of the government to insist that this legislation be called prior to the calling of the Women's College Hospital bill this afternoon is putting us in a position where we feel compelled to move on. There should be extensive debate and considerably more explanation of this kind of clause being included in this legislation. It's only because of the government's essentially - is "blackmail" a parliamentary term, Madam Chair? - of this process that we are going to have to move on.

The Acting Chair: Are there any further comments or questions on sections 1 through 4?

Shall sections 1 through 4 carry?

Ms Lankin: Madam Chair, sorry. Procedurally, is there an opportunity to record votes on any of these sections? There is a section I would like to vote against. Perhaps if you can call each section individually.

The Acting Chair: Section 1 first: Shall section 1 carry? Carried.

Shall section 2 carry? Carried.

Shall section 3 carry? I hear "no."

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

I believe the ayes carry.

Shall section 4 carry? Carried.

Ms Lankin has an amendment to section 5.

Ms Lankin: I have circulated copies to members of the other parties and to the table.

I move that section 5 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsections:

"National child benefit

"(2) If legislation establishing the Ontario child care supplement for working families has not received royal assent by March 31, 1999, no part of the national child benefit shall be treated as income for the purpose of determining eligibility for the amount of,

"(a) income assistance under the Ontario Works Act, 1997;

"(b) income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997; or

"(c) benefits under the Family Benefits Act,

"despite those acts or any regulations made under them."

"Same

"(3) Subsection (2) applies during the period from the day this act receives royal assent until March 31, 1999, with respect to determining eligibility for and the amount of income assistance under the Ontario Works Act, 1997, income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, or benefits under the Family Benefits Act and any amounts owing to any applicants or recipients with respect to that period as a result of the determination shall be paid to those applicants or recipients."

The Acting Chair: Ms Lankin has moved that section 5 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsections.

Ms Lankin: Dispense.

The Acting Chair: Dispense? Dispensed.

Comments or questions on the amendment?

Ms Lankin: Quickly, because I spoke to this during second reading debate, the bill already provides, under section 5, that if the legislation, which we've yet to see, which will establish the child care supplement fails to be given royal assent by March 31, information collected under this act will be destroyed. That's an appropriate clause; it's cautionary and it's appropriate.

As I indicated, the money that is going to be used to pay for the child care supplement comes in part from the federal government's national child benefit. That program will provide funds to all low-income families. Under that agreement, the province will claw back, dollar for dollar, those moneys from families on social assistance or family benefits or Ontario Works or the Ontario disability support program. It is the contention of our party, as provided for in this amendment, that if the child care supplement does not come into effect, the money that has been clawed back should also not remain with the government and that it should be returned to those individuals.

Mrs McLeod: The only reason this would not receive unanimous agreement in the House would be if the perhaps somewhat cynical concern that underlies the amendment is seen to be true and the government does have some intention of not fulfilling the supplement program and would want to keep the federal government's commitment and use it for other purposes. Otherwise, I'm sure they would endorse the amendment.

Mr Baird: I'll be brief. The member mentioned in her debate on second reading that she couldn't understand why the federal government would make this allowance. I'll tell you why the government of Ontario feels this way. We not only want to help young children who are on social assistance, we also want to help to ensure that those families get off social assistance and to help the working poor, those real heroes out there who are working very hard, often at rates not uncomparable with social assistance rates. We've introduced a whole host of initiatives over the last number of years in terms of transition. We have the earn-back, which is 100%, we have STEP, we have advancements such as in the Trillium drug plan to make it easy for families to get off -

Ms Lankin: You're going to claim credit for the Trillium drug plan?

Mr Baird: Well, we've expanded the Ontario Trillium drug plan.

She mentioned the federal government. It's also the case in other provinces. Ontario is not the only one. Nova Scotia -

Ms Lankin: I didn't say it was.

Mr Baird: To be fair, she didn't. But it's not just the federal government doing it. Nova Scotia is undertaking two primary reinvestment initiatives, the Nova Scotia child benefit for low-income families with children and a range of healthy child development initiatives. Prince Edward Island is seeking reinvestments designed to promote healthy childhood development. New Brunswick is seeking similar. Manitoba is seeking early intervention and healthy child development programs. Saskatchewan is doing the same, and Alberta and British Columbia. So Ontario is not the only province pursuing this option. That is the option that other provinces are pursuing and that we want to take.

To be very clear on one final point, we've been extremely clear in the Minister of Community and Social Services' negotiations with the federal government, as have all the other governments, and there's been a commitment coming out of the federal-provincial meetings, to which we've agreed, that we will release an annual accountability report for both the reinvestments to allow them to be measured on how successful the initiative has been in addressing child poverty. There's a clear accountability framework to ensure that this money goes to help exactly those it was designed to help.

Ms Lankin: The parliamentary assistant once again misses the point. In response to the provincial examples you raised, let me tell you, from coast to coast, from BC to PEI, and even including the province of Alberta, which you often look to as a model, they are putting in place programs which will provide the very needed access to drug benefits, dental and vision care for those low-income kids if they come off social assistance. You are not doing that. You are not providing the help in that way. What this program will do is ensure that the poorest kids don't get supports.

However, that's not what we're debating here. We're debating what you will bring in in the fall: the legislation that enables it. My point is simply that if you're prepared to say that if the legislation isn't enacted you'll rip up the information, I want you to also say that you'll give the money back to the poorest families. If you don't have a plan in place, with legislative authority to spend that money, it'll simply end up in Ernie Eves's coffers and not helping the poor kids in this province, and that, I think, is untenable.

Mr Baird: In all fairness, our reinvestments have already begun. The Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program has already been announced, so we've already begun the reinvestment even prior to the program being enacted.

The Acting Chair: Any further comments on the amendment to section 5? Seeing none, shall the amendment carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Shall section 5 carry? I hear a "no."

All those in favour? All those opposed? The section carries.

Shall sections 6 through 8 carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall the bill carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? Agreed.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Madam Chair, I move that the committee rise and report.

The Acting Chair: Mr Sterling has moved that the committee rise and report. Agreed? Agreed.

The committee of the whole House begs to report one bill without amendment and asks for leave to sit again

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marion Boyd): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: Madam Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to call third reading of Bill 28 this afternoon.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

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CHILD CARE SUPPLEMENT INFORMATION COLLECTION ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LA COLLECTE DES RENSEIGNEMENTS NÉCESSAIRES À L'OCTROI DU SUPPLÉMENT DE REVENU POUR LES FRAIS DE GARDE D'ENFANTS

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

Bill 28, An Act to permit the Collection of Personal Information for the Payment of the Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families / Projet de loi 28, Loi permettant la collecte de renseignements personnels en vue du versement du supplément de revenu de l'Ontario pour les familles travailleuses ayant des frais de garde d'enfants.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Orders of the day?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to call the 13th order.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Sterling has asked for unanimous consent to call the 13th order. Agreed? Agreed.

SUNNYBROOK AND WOMEN'S COLLEGE HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LE CENTRE APPELÉ SUNNYBROOK AND WOMEN'S COLLEGE HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE

Mrs Marland, on behalf of Mrs Witmer, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 51, An Act to amalgamate Sunnybrook Hospital and Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital and to transfer all assets and liabilities of Women's College Hospital to the amalgamated hospital / Projet de loi 51, Loi fusionnant les hôpitaux nommés Sunnybrook Hospital et Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital et transférant l'actif et le passif de l'hôpital nommé Women's College Hospital à l'hôpital issu de la fusion.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Madam Speaker, on a point of order: Do we have unanimous consent to divide the time among the three parties?

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): Do we have unanimous consent to divide the time between the three parties? Agreed.

Hon Margaret Marland (Minister without Portfolio [children's issues]): This bill was presented on behalf of the three hospitals which are merging, Sunnybrook, Women's College Hospital and the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital.

The hospitals have been working hard for the past year to develop a governance structure which addresses the unique needs of their representative clients. It is very positive that they have come up with a framework which recognizes this diversity. The discussions which led to this framework have been a challenge for these three hospitals because they serve such different client bases.

The hospitals have been working for over a year to reach this agreement, and this is the framework which, in their opinion, works best for them and for their communities. This is the consensus reached by these three institutions. This is what the three hospitals believe they need to make the merger work the best for them. This is their agreement, and we are pleased today to help them in implementing this consensus arrangement.

I would just like to quote Gail Regan, who is with the Friends of Women's College Hospital and the past chair of that board, in a letter that she wrote to the Minister of Health, Elizabeth Witmer, on June 23, this week:

"Friends of Women's College Hospital have had the opportunity to review the draft legislation to create this new hospital, and are pleased that it offers such promise for a strong collaborative partnership. We hope that the Legislative Assembly will pass the legislation without amendment."

On behalf of the government, I would like to express the congratulations of all of us to all the people who have been involved in reaching this consensus and helping to come to this decision.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I will reluctantly not oppose this legislation. My reluctance is because I cannot condone what this government is doing to Women's College Hospital and the preference of myself and the preference of my colleagues would be to continue to fight with our opposition in every possible way to this government's destruction of Women's College Hospital and its blatant closure of hospitals across the province.

I will be supporting this legislation because it is what is left to Women's College Hospital. It is here because of the commitment and the persistence and the refusal to give up of the Friends of Women's College Hospital. We applaud the courage of these Friends of Women's College Hospital, we applaud their determination to fight for a hospital dedicated to women's health and truly unique in the leadership it has provided and the support it has offered to women.

I will support this legislation because it is the only way left to support the Friends of Women's College Hospital and the continuance of Women's College Hospital in some form. But we in our party will not rejoice today and we are certainly not supporting the government on this. If the Friends of Women's College Hospital are celebrating today, it will be a bittersweet celebration.

No one who truly cares about Women's College Hospital will forget that the hospital restructuring commission simply ordered Women's College Hospital closed. Just as the Harris government is responsible for the closing of hospitals because their hospital restructuring commission is not indeed at arm's length, the Harris government was prepared to close Women's College Hospital. That was a shocking decision and anyone who knew what Women's College Hospital had achieved, what it meant to women, was dismayed that there was no understanding of that by the commission or by the government that set up the hospital destruction commission and gave it a free rein.

Women's College Hospital has been, not a pioneer, but the pioneer in focusing on women's health. It has been a difficult, frustrating fight to build a realization over the years that issues of women's health are different and that they need a special focus. It is still a difficult fight to ensure that there is research on women's health issues and that medical research generally will use women as well as men as its base. It has been a fight to make society and the health care system and the justice system understand the support that is needed by women who are victims of rape.

All have been fights, and Women's College Hospital has been winning those fights on all fronts. The people who are and have been Women's College Hospital have been visionary, they have been creative, and their leadership has been phenomenal, and it was all about to be lost. Women's College Hospital's biggest fight has been the fight of the last six months, just to survive.

This bill today preserves some of what Women's College Hospital has been. It preserves an ambulatory centre for women in downtown Toronto with a separate governance and an assurance that the sexual assault centre can continue to be there, where it is so needed and where there is so much yet to do, and the Women's College Hospital people know that better than anyone.

There has been an assurance that Women's College Hospital will continue to exist as an independent public hospital under the Public Hospitals Act. We take on faith the government's assurance that that will continue to be the case. The new mega-hospital will have in its mandate a commitment to provide leadership in women's health, and a majority of members of the board of the new mega-hospital are to be women.

That's all well and good, but there is reason to be sceptical that that mandate will be met when we have a mega-hospital which does not have as its sole mandate women's health. That's why it is absolutely essential that Women's College Hospital continue to exist in some form as an independent public hospital. It is essential that Women's College Hospital not be simply swallowed up by the new mega-hospital, whatever promises have been made about protecting the women's health mandate.

It is absolutely essential that the research foundation dedicated to women's health research continue to be independent. None of this, none of the assurances about some continuance of Women's College Hospital, what it has been, what it has meant to women and that the services it has provided to women are going to continue, would be here today without the fight of Women's College Hospital.

We can support this legislation only because it means that Women's College Hospital will survive, that it will not truly close, despite the directives of the Health Services Restructuring Commission. We will not support the government's rampant closures of hospitals. We will support the fights of people in every other community in this province to protect the health care that they know is right for their community, and we will continue with the Friends of Women's College Hospital to fight to ensure that women's health continues to be a focus for Women's College Hospital and indeed for the governments of this province.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak, if even briefly, to this bill. It is indeed a tribute to the strength, the courage, the persistence and, quite frankly, the very clear vision that those supporting Women's College Hospital and the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital have had in the negotiations that have gone on.

My colleague from Fort William has talked about some of the heartbreak that attends today, and that is something that we must recognize. For many people, seeing Women's College change from a freestanding hospital with a long tradition of supporting women's health matters into a part of a huge hospital conglomerate is indeed heartbreaking. The concerns that have been expressed about the loss of that mission, that vision, have truly been heard, I think, by the people of Canada.

I should tell you that the other day I was at a national conference on breaking the barriers to equitable delivery of health care, a conference on social justice in health care. The minister came to speak and outlined all the grandiose things that had happened in Ontario with restructuring. When she left, a health care provider from another province stood and asked the assembly, "And is Women's College still closing?" Obviously the people out there in the rest of the world understand that Women's College is a world-class facility with a worldwide reputation for the kind of work that it does.

I must congratulate the group that has worked so hard through the negotiations to ensure that heritage is not lost. It is extremely important for us to know the hours and hours of voluntary work that have gone on in supporting the hospital, and the commitment to the ideal that really caused people to sit back and say, "We must negotiate this and get the best that we can to protect the heritage that we have." That was a hard decision to make, and I must say that I believe the negotiations were carried out brilliantly.

I would be remiss if I didn't say something about the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital as well, because it too is a fine institution. It too has a reputation that is known far and wide for the very specialized work that it has done. It is really pleasing to see, as part of the result of the negotiations, that it too will not get entirely lost, that it too will continue to have a presence in our community, that it too will continue to be recognized as an institute within the Sunnybrook conglomerate. That is indeed pleasing.

It is hard for us to accept change, probably harder when we look at our hospitals that we have worked so hard to build and to support. Our hearts get tied up in those facilities and it is very difficult for us to accept change. It is particularly difficult when there is a chance that the mission and the whole purpose of a hospital may get subsumed in a huge hospital conglomerate that looks much more like an industrial corporation than the kind of hospital that we've envisioned.

I must note the efforts of those who have worked so hard to ensure that in the language of this bill it is very clear that this is not an industrial corporation that is being formed by this bill; it is indeed a health care facility that is there with a purpose and a mission that reflects the dreams and aspirations of those who founded and who have continued, largely through very large volunteer efforts over the years, to make sure that those missions continue.

It is important for us not to think that the battle is won because of this legislation. The importance of maintaining the programs, the facilities, the focus on women's health and on musculoskeletal health remains. It is going to be extremely important for all of us as citizens who enjoy the services of these three hospitals to be sure that the excellence and the skill and the programs that have been developed are not lost through this amalgamation.

So we will certainly support the bill tonight.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate?

Mrs Marland has moved second reading of Bill 51. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to call third reading of Bill 51 this afternoon.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is there unanimous consent to call for third reading of Bill 51? Agreed.

SUNNYBROOK AND WOMEN'S COLLEGE HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LE CENTRE APPELÉ SUNNYBROOK AND WOMEN'S COLLEGE HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE

Mrs Marland, on behalf of Mrs Witmer, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 51, An Act to amalgamate Sunnybrook Hospital and Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital and to transfer all assets and liabilities of Women's College Hospital to the amalgamated hospital / Projet de loi 51, Loi fusionnant les hôpitaux nommés Sunnybrook Hospital et Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital et transférant l'actif et le passif de l'hôpital nommé Women's College Hospital à l'hôpital issu de la fusion.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue sitting between 6 and 6:30 and continue on until we're finished the business for the day.

The Speaker: The government House leader is seeking unanimous consent to continue sitting. Would it be the same sessional day you're seeking unanimous consent for? It wouldn't be a new sessional day. Is there unanimous consent to continue sitting from 6 o'clock until 12 o'clock?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Before you put the question, I think I can perhaps be a bit helpful.

The Speaker: No. We're seeking agreement for unanimous consent. I can't entertain any more debate or motions.

Agreed? No, it's not.

Orders of the day.

RED TAPE REDUCTION ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 VISANT À RÉDUIRE LES FORMALITÉS ADMINISTRATIVES

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 25, An Act to reduce red tape by amending or repealing certain Acts and by enacting two new Acts / Projet de loi 25, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant ou abrogeant certaines lois et en édictant deux nouvelles lois.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 25. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Pursuant to the time allocation motion, the bill is referred to the standing committee on administration of justice.

It now being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till 6:30 of the clock today.

The House adjourned at 1800.

Evening meeting reported in volume B.

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