The House met at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. Instant Hansard, page 94-2 of yesterday, has a statement: “It indicated to me that they were ill-informed, that they behaved like boors and like working slobs.” I consider that an insult to all working people in this province. Working people muck in our mines and in our factories. I don’t believe it is called for. I think there should be a retraction and an apology in this House.
Mr. Speaker: Actually, it is not a point of personal privilege. It has nothing to do with the privileges of the hon. member or the House.
Mr. Bain: He is a working man.
Mr. Renwick: He has been all his life.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, thank you very much.
Mr. Lewis: What do you mean, “Thank you very much”? It was a speech worthy of Huey Long and it was made in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: I’m thanking the hon. member for taking his seat.
BUDGETS OF SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES
Mr. Lewis: A question to the Minister of Community and Social Services: How did the ministry arrive at the 5.5 per cent figure for increases in the budgets of the various social service agencies across the province, which is so substantially below even that which the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) is granting to municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: What we did was look at the effective rate of increase for my ministry, which is about eight per cent. Then, we took into consideration the number of capital works which are currently under way. As the member can appreciate, while there is a freeze on new capital spending, there will still be new capital construction because of commitments that have been made and construction that will be under way very shortly. Those contracts have to be completed and the contractors paid, so that we will have capital works during this next year. When we take into consideration those commitments and we see what is left in terms of overall moneys then, in distributing that, we find that the maximum moneys that we have for these agencies is about 5.5 per cent. That is a 5.5 per cent increase over the amount of moneys that they had for spending the previous year.
Mr. Lewis: Right, I understood that. How does the minister expect, for example, the Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario to survive? In many instances they are almost frantic because of the increased responsibility pressed upon them when we, in this Legislature, removed section 8 from the Training Schools Act and said: “You must now look after all those additional kids.” How can they possibly survive at a level of 5.5 per cent without incurring serious debts or curtailing services?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The member knows and I know that while section 8 was repealed, the proclamation of that repeal has not taken place, so that in fact, in law, section 8 is still there. I appreciate some of the concerns of agencies in terms of child care, because in some areas that section is looked upon as having been repealed.
Mr. Lewis: All the judges in the courts know that?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I shouldn’t say all, but some are looking upon it that way. We have been doing what we can in that area. I have been dealing with the Ministry of Correctional Services in terms of working out a reasonable arrangement in terms of transfer of additional moneys which would accommodate financially the change when it is proclaimed and also accommodate, in a physical way, the children who will have to be accommodated because of the change. I want the members to know, Mr. Speaker, that the proclamation has not as yet taken place and my position is that it should not be treated as having taken place until such lime.
Mr. Lewis: Oh, come on as we have the finances and the accommodation.
Mr. Nixon: Is the minister then telling the House that he is delaying proclamation so the young people can be kept in training schools as an economy measure?
Mr. Lewis: That is what he is saying.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: What I am saying simply is that section 8 of the Training Schools Act is still there --
Mr. Nixon: And the minister is going to leave it there.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- and that as far as my ministry is concerned and until such time as that repeal of section 8 is proclaimed, and we can work out the physical and financial accommodations, then the status quo should and must remain the same.
Mr. Nixon: Keep them in jail to save money.
Mr. Lewis: By way of a supplementary: Does the minister remember -- as a member of the House at the lime, if not a minister -- that during the debate on the bill, the Children’s Aid Societies and the courts were advised by the ministry in the process of the debate to start forthwith in making alternative plans because of the deluge that would emerge with the repeal of that section? That is what is happening all across the province. Judges are no longer consigning kids to training schools. How can the minister be so irresponsible as to say the law hasn’t changed?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I don’t remember that direction coming from the minister at that time; certainly not in the way that the member puts it.
Mr. Cassidy: The minister said “by the end of the year.”
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It’s not an act of irresponsibility, either.
Mr. Speaker: The member for London North was on his feet first for a supplementary.
Mr. Shore: Recognizing the infighting that perhaps went on in the priority assessment of spending, is the minister satisfied in his mind as the minister in charge that he got his fair share of the dollars that purportedly are going to be used?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Certainly there is a competition naturally for the global funds and my ministry was treated equitably in relationship to other ministries.
Mr. Speaker: We will allow the member for Ottawa Centre to ask his supplementary and then the member for St. George.
Mr. Cassidy: Is the minister aware that the Children’s Aid Society in Ottawa, and I presume those in other parts of the province, has a number of programmes which were brought in after many years of negotiations with the ministry and with ministry approval in the latter half of 1975 which are now being slashed right back to where they were five and 10 years ago because of the proposals of the ministry?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The Ottawa Children’s Aid Societies and other Children’s Aid Societies will have to look very thoroughly at their own programmes.
Mr. Lewis: Having been the man with the responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Just remember this: They have had substantial increases in their budgeting in this past year.
Mr. Lewis: Oh, come on! The minister tells them what they have to do legislatively.
Mr. Cassidy: They were encouraged and persuaded to take on these programmes.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: They were up considerably in percentage terms over the last year. They will all have to look very closely at their programmes and to weigh their priorities.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: Does the minister not recall that there was a commitment given by his predecessor to engage in some meaningful activity insofar as prevention was concerned? Does he not now realize that there can be no preventive care by the Children’s Aid Societies with these restrictions?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I don’t accept that.
Mr. Lewis: That is dead on.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: We are into the argument of preventive services and there is no question about the merits of it.
Mr. McClellan: The minister hasn’t the slightest idea what the priorities are.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Campbell: It is going to cost the government millions.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Did the member want to ask another question?
Mr. Speaker: This is becoming a debate. The hon. minister will complete his answer.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: They are okay within their overall budget. They are going to have to determine what their priorities are in terms of their own preventive services.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON DAY CARE
Mr. Lewis: A further question to the Minister of Community and Social Services: When did he decide to write the obituary for the daycare advisory council which we thought was a continuing body in an effort to bring some coherence to day care in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The member might have been misadvised as to that committee.
Mr. Lewis: I guess we were.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That committee was set up about a year and a half ago to advise the then minister in the field of day care.
Mr. Lewis: It was to rescue the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch).
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I don’t need to be rescued.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The member can impute whatever motive he likes but the fact remains that that was a committee set up to advise the minister. I don’t think that any committee that is set up to advise the minister should be functioning in perpetuity.
Mr. Martel: Does the minister not need any advising about day care?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It has had some 18 months or so in which to function. It has issued two reports. I requested that the final report be submitted by the end of the year -- and now by the end of this month.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: If we are to take a positive position in terms of the provincial posture on day care, I think it is time that we had the benefit of that report. Remember this too, in terms of the backup support, they call upon the technical people, and have been utilizing the personnel of my ministry. I am looking forward to a report which I think will be constructive and positive and will outline areas in which --
Mrs. Campbell: It’s futile.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- if they need more detail, it is available within our ministry because that is the source of information now.
Mr. McClellan: Can the minister assure the House, in connection with the advisory council on day care, that he will publish the final draft of the council’s report as they submit it to him and not, as is commonly suspected, some kind of a dramatically reedited version?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The member can rest assured that we don’t dramatize or re-edit any of these things. My own position has been one of openness in regard to reports.
Mr. Martel: They write their own.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I want to let the members know, however, that the report is a report to me, because it was an advisory committee of the minister to report to the minister. When I receive that report I will study it and make a determination at that time in terms of its distribution. As the members know, in connection with the other two reports, they have been distributed.
Mr. Martel: If you want to discuss them you’ll want them distributed by the election.
MENTAL RETARDATION CENTRES
Mr. Lewis: One last question to the Minister of Community and Social Services: How much will the annual cost be of the mental retardation human resource centre which the minister is establishing, a facility once occupied by the Goderich psychiatric hospital?
Mr. Martel: He’s like John Anderson.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Is the member talking about the ultimate cost?
Mr. Lewis: Yes. I gather it has been planned for some time; the minister must have it.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, I don’t know. No one can determine the ultimate cost, not even in this forum. We, of course, have plans for the development of these resource centres throughout Ontario. We are proceeding, I think, very quickly in the implementation of the current philosophy of our ministry in mental retardation.
Mr. Lewis: Just answer the question; a simple question.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Insofar as the Goderich centre or the Timmins centre is concerned, what we do there of course will be dependent upon the final disposition of those facilities. We have plans to take them over, pursuant to the current thinking of the Ministry of Health which is to let them go.
As to the ultimate number of dollars involved, I can’t say. I might be able to give the member a forecast as to what our costs would be in the next fiscal year and that, of course, would be in our estimates in any event.
Mr. Speaker: We will allow a supplementary.
Mr. Riddell: Is the minister going ahead with plans to transfer the Goderich psychiatric hospital into a mental retardation centre when the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) hasn’t given final approval yet to the phasing out of the psychiatric facilities in Goderich?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: First of all, I would like to clarify the member’s misconception. It is not a mental retardation centre, it’s a proposal for a resource centre which would not he principally a centre for residential accommodation. It would be a centre to service an entire area -- two counties.
Mr. Lewis: The whole thing is preposterous.
Mrs. Campbell: You have already got retardation facilities.
Mr. Singer: This is a clarification of misconceptions.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Just a minute. Insofar as our plans go, assuming that --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Do you want some information on it or don’t you?
Mr. S. Smith: Ask your superminister.
Mr. Ruston: Talk about it.
Mr. Shore: Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: We naturally work on the premise that if a facility which will accommodate our long-range programmes becomes available, then it is only wise to utilize that facility, based on the release that that facility would not be required as a psychiatric hospital.
Mrs. Campbell: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Then, of course, we immediately made plans to use it for a resource centre and, of course, to use as much of the personnel as possible and to ensure that there would be an orderly transition from one use to another.
BUDGETS OF SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES
Mr. Nixon: I would like to put a question to the same minister, Mr. Speaker. Have his statisticians calculated the additional financial burden that will descend upon the municipalities because of their withdrawal of the expected increase in the budget for social assistance that has normally been available at the community level?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Of course, what the municipalities may want to pick up in terms of additional services at --
Mr. Shore: No, he said the same service.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Well, insofar as the same service is concerned, we are expecting that the municipalities are resourceful enough to --
Mrs. Campbell: You’re not. The government is resourceful in passing its responsibilities on to the municipalities.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Why, certainly we are resourceful. We have internal economies that we are effecting as well and we expect that the municipalities, in the spirit of co-operation, are trying to do everything that they can to contain government spending at all levels. We will look very closely at their programmes to see if they can run them more efficiently and more effectively. We have a great deal of faith in local government.
Mrs. Campbell: They are far more efficient than this government is.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: We have a great deal of faith in the municipalities and the manner in which --
An hon. member: That’s a switch.
Mrs. Campbell: So do we.
Mr. Martel: You have a funny way of showing it.
Mr. Cassidy: You don’t see people at all; you just see dollars.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: This represents no change for me.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order, please. Will the hon. minister take his seat, please.
The hon. minister should be answering the original question, not the interjections. If he has anything further to add to it, would he please ignore the interjections, which are improper --
Mr. Singer: He wants to clarify a few more misconceptions.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. If there are supplementary questions, that’s a different matter.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, I have a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I would like to determine if the minister was finished with the first answer.
Mr. Singer: Has he clarified all the misconceptions?
Mr. Speaker: If he is finished, fine. The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Nixon: Well I would simply like to ask the minister, as a supplementary, wouldn’t he agree that the solution to his fiscal problems, among his other problems, has been to contribute to an additional billion dollars that will be loaded on the tax bills of the municipalities, which has been the recommendation of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), though the McKeough report, sometimes called the Henderson report -- that this is part of government policy, to simply load it on the municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Oh come on now.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Not at all, not at all. You see, there is one basic concept people over there just don’t seem to grasp, Mr. Speaker, and that is that we cannot combat and beat inflation --
Mr. Nixon: What is it?
Mr. Riddell: The minister is not helping it.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- if we build inflation into our spending in our budgeting. Members opposite want to give everybody a double-digit increase so that we can build inflation in, with the expectation that we are going to cut out inflation by government policies. It is just nonsense.
Mr. Shore: He’s passing the buck.
Mr. Martel: The minister didn’t say that when he was spending. He takes it out on those who can ill afford it.
Mr. S. Smith: As a supplementary question: Could the minister explain, now that his ministry is limited to 10 per cent growth, how he has decided to pass on to municipalities and agencies only 5.5 per cent growth? What’s happened to the rest of that money?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I gave the explanation to the Leader of the Opposition in response to his first question; so that possibly if the member reads Hansard he will get that.
BEER ADVERTISING AND SALES OUTLETS
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations if we are going to have beer at the ball game.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, the answer is, I don’t know yet.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: How much more perambulation will be necessary with his executive assistant before the minister finds out?
Mr. Reid: And who is paying for the tickets?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The word “perambulation” escapes me. We will be --
Mr. Nixon: It means wandering and travelling around to the hockey games.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I think we will be travelling over the Ottawa Valley to Montreal, and that’s the last of the perambulations; the second of the two.
Mr. Reid: Who pays for the tickets to get into the games?
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: While the minister is considering this concept -- frankly, I think it would be good idea -- is he also considering ways whereby some of the pressures, particularly on young people, through advertising, to get into the happy life of beer drinking, how those pressures are going to be reduced? Is he, at the same time when he is considering selling beer at the ball game, going to come out with some rational policy of reducing these advertising pressures?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, we are constantly looking at the advertising code. There is a new draft code now in preparation.
Mr. Nixon: We are all looking at the ads these days on TV.
Mr. Reid: The minister is going to hockey games and watching TV; what else does he do?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I certainly am concerned about the proliferation of lifestyle advertising. I will be meeting with the advertising agencies and the advertisers to ascertain how we can curtail the lifestyle advertising which is now becoming quite common.
Mr. Singer: Pass an order in council. This government does that for everything else.
Mr. Reid: Why not use Lorne as a horrible example of what can happen?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: If you look at Canadian publications, Mr. Speaker, I think you have some idea of the economic impact of banning advertising, as the leader of the Liberal Party has suggested. But we are concerned about the nature of the advertising and certainly are reviewing it constantly.
Mr. Singer: That won’t wash either.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I would wash it in beer, Vern.
Mr. Ziemba: A question to the minister: Could the minister tell this House whether it is by arrangement or coincidence that the very next day after Labatt’s makes overtures to bring in the San Francisco Giants, he announces that he would like to see beer sales in arenas and stadiums, with the statement that beer is part of the ritual of baseball?
Mr. Shore: Part of the deal.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I made no such announcement. I have not announced that I would like to see beer in stadiums. I said that we are on a fact-finding mission to determine the pros and cons. The decision as to whether or not there will be a recommendation hasn’t even been made.
Mr. Lewis: A fact-finding mission on beer? What a chap you are.
Mr. Nixon: Hands in the suds.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It’s 30 below; do you want to come?
COST OF FOOT CARE FOR PENSIONERS
Mr. Godfrey: A question to the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) -- oh, he seems to have disappeared. I will address it to the Premier, if I may. I have received considerable communication from Pensioners Concerned (Canada) Inc. with regard to foot care. I wonder if the Premier has been apprised of the fact that older people are charged a considerable amount of money in order to take care of their feet -- which is very important for them -- in addition to this being charged to OHIP? I would wonder whether he has had any direction or advice from his minister as to how this problem might be handled?
Mr. Nixon: “Footicare.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, but I’m sure the Minister of Health has it well under control, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Singer: He has two feet.
Mr. Godfrey: A supplementary, if I may, Mr. Speaker: I appreciate that the minister has it well under control, but I would point out that the older people of this country, through --
Mr. Shore: Question?
Mr. Godfrey: Thank you. I would ask the Premier if he feels it is fair that older people should be paying amounts of $100 to $200 out of their own purses per year for the care of their feet when they cannot afford that and when these practitioners are also being compensated in the amount of $90, $100 or $125 per year from an insurance scheme? Does that seem fair to the leader of our government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the hon. member refers to us as leader of our government. There is a breakthrough this morning that I certainly appreciate.
Mr. Moffatt: He didn’t say for how long, though.
Mr. Deans: It’s not our fault.
Mr. Bains: He uses the royal “we.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m glad to see the New Democratic Party is so committed to the royalist cause, too. That’s tremendous; I’m delighted to see that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Which is really a switch for some of them, I have to say that. Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to discuss this with the Minister of Health.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Huron-Middlesex.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: No, the member for Huron-Middlesex.
Mr. Riddell: A question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Let’s have a little better question period. We will allow a supplementary from the member for Brantford if it’s a true supplementary.
Mr. Makarchuk: Yes, it is a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, and again I’ll have to go to the Premier. Would the Premier intercede on his own behalf and on behalf of the Minister of Health with the podiatrists in Ontario who are at this time charging patients $15 plus OHIP for the first visit, and $7.50 plus OHIP for every visit thereafter? Does he think that is fair?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not passing any judgement without total knowledge of all the facts. As I said to the other hon. member, I’d be delighted to discuss it with the Minister of Health.
Mr. Nixon: Total knowledge? What a great thing to strive for.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I will give it another try. A question of the Premier: Considering that both he and the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) are receiving numerous letters and personal contacts condemning their actions regarding the phasing out of the Goderich psychiatric hospital, and considering that the Premier was approached just recently by a very honourable gentleman who used to sit on his left, very much concerned about the phasing out of this hospital, does the Premier think that there will be any consideration on his part or on the part of the Minister of Health to retain the psychiatric services in Goderich or at least to retain a wing for outpatient service?
Mr. Shore: That’s the way they make decisions.
Hon Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I could be a little bit facetious here and comment just what a great member the hon. member was referring to and what a great service he did for that riding and what excellent representation he did give.
Mr. Nixon: You mean the chairman of the racing commission?
Mr. Cassidy: A great service? You mean when he resigned?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think in fairness to the former member for that riding, I don’t recall his exact geographic location in this House compared to that of my own, but in fairness to him I wouldn’t want to construe that he was necessarily philosophically to my left when he was here -- he might not totally approve of that sort of approach, I don’t know -- but I don’t know that he was philosophically to my right either.
Mr. Reid: Oh, believe me, he was.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, you think so?
Mr. Reid: On the other hand, he might have been in the middle.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, yesterday I did talk to Mr. MacNaughton, who still has the interests of that great riding at heart and was an excellent member and did a tremendous job of representing that riding -- and I won’t make any comparisons, it’s Friday. The Minister of Health explained the situation yesterday. I’ve seen Mr. MacNaughton, and there are one or two other people who wish to see me and I have said that I will see them. The member hasn’t asked to see me. He makes mistakes.
CHILD WELFARE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Some months ago he indicated he would reconvene a meeting of interested groups to determine whether or not an advisory council would be established to consider the Child Welfare Act. When does he intend to call that group together to indicate if he intends to proceed?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I have already indicated my intention to proceed and have instructed that it be called together.
Mr. Martel: Has the minister any indication when that will occur, in view of the fact he told us a month and a half ago he was going to proceed?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I cannot give the member any firm date today.
COMPULSORY USE OF SEATBELTS
Mr. Spence: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister aware that I received 1,625 letters and petitions protesting the legislation that was passed before we adjourned at Christmas?
Hon. Mr. Davis: One of your members introduced a bill on it.
Mr. Eaton: You supported it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You can’t get off the hook back home.
Mr. Spence: Just a minute; they wish me to bring the minister’s attention their concern regarding the mandatory wearing of seatbelts in operating motor vehicles on our highways. They say that they are not going to pay the fines if they are stopped by the provincial police and that they are going to take a jail sentence. I don’t think we have sufficient space in our jails.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: We refuse to put them in jail.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the hon. member has asked the question. He asked is the hon. minister aware.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t you think Hansard should record that you voted for that bill?
Mr. Kennedy: You should have yanked his coattails.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister with his answer.
Mr. Nixon: He didn’t.
Mrs. Campbell: He didn’t vote for it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He chickened out. He left, did he?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I have followed with interest some press clippings --
Mr. Speaker: We are waiting to hear the minister.
Mr. Nixon: You had better check again. Interjections.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have followed with interest the press clippings of comments that the hon. member has made and I have trouble trying to relate those comments to the comments he made during the debate on the bill. I know he did state that he had some concerns regarding the legislation, but after he had summed it all up, as I recall, and I haven’t checked with Hansard exactly, he did state he was in favour of the bill and that he was supporting the bill.
Mr. Ruston: You’d better check again.
Mr. Nixon: At least he was consistent.
Mr. Kerrio: What about the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Johnston)?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have been getting a great deal of mail --
Mr. Shore: What are you doing with it?
Mr. Moffatt: Who reads it?
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- with regard to seatbelts. I must say, that if I had to summarize, in the mail that has come to my desk, there has been a great deal more support for this legislation than there has been objection to it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is the legislation of your party.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Regarding the hon. member’s concern about the capacity of the correctional centres of the province, I would have to ask him to refer that question to the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) as to whether he can handle any constituents of the hon. member’s who may wish to use those services.
Mr. Spence: Supplementary.
Mr. Ruston: Supplementary.
Mr. Riddell: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The first question was, is the minister aware of the 1,625 letters? How do we get supplementaries? Was yours a supplementary? We will allow the original questioner a supplementary.
Hon Mr. Davis: You people all voted for it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Spence: Mr. Speaker, I have 1,629 letters here to present to the minister.
Mr. Speaker: You may do what you like with them. The member for Huron-Middlesex with a final supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, may I reply to the supplementary?
Mr. Speaker: No, there was no supplementary question. The member for Huron-Middlesex, I believe, has a supplementary question.
Mr. Riddell: In connection with the mandatory use of seatbelts, is the minister aware of the hardship that this legislation is bringing to bear on those people who are delivering mail in the rural areas? Every time they stop at a post-box they have to undo that seatbelt, lean across the seat and put the mail in.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been asked.
Mr. Riddell: Is there any concession for these postal people?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, that shows how familiar the hon. member is with the legislation and with the regulations. There is a specific regulation that has been passed that exempts rural mail drivers from the wearing of seatbelts while they are in the process of delivering their mail.
Mr. Nixon: If they go at 25 miles an hour.
Mr. Shore: What about rural female drivers?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Just as with the hospital, you have got to be informed.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Speaking of the letters that I have received and the letters that the hon. member has forwarded me, I would like to tell the hon. member that I will be forwarding him today a copy of a letter that I received from one of my constituents, who I am sure is well known to all those people in the Liberal Party, a Mr. Harold Young. I will also send one to the leader of the Liberal Party, because I know he is a great friend of Mr. Young’s.
Mr. Nixon: He certainly is.
Mr. Singer: A fine man; he speaks well of you too.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am sure he would be very interested in Mr. Young’s comments regarding seatbelts. In fact, he says it is the greatest legislation there ever was. It is so good that you would almost think it was Liberal. That’s what the comment was.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN ONTARIO
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. In the interview which the Globe and Mail had with the Premier, published Jan. 13, he stated that the level of unemployment in Ontario was at an unacceptable level and that the Ontario economy was growing at a slower rate than the rest of the country. Now we have had the bombshell of 4,500 Eaton’s employees in the mail order business losing their jobs completely. Is the Premier now ready to bring in a set of measures to counteract this growing unemployment?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the hon. member read that article in the Globe and Mail because I hope, being a non-expert and non-economist, I indicated that I was really very optimistic about the future of this province. It may or may not have appeared in the article just how well we had done in this province in terms of provisions of new jobs, which I think was superior to that of any other provincial jurisdiction, as a matter of fact and, on a percentage basis, probably greater than in the United States or anywhere in western Europe. In fact, I think the record of this government in this province in providing jobs is the envy of just about every other jurisdiction.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, it happens to be true. I’m just giving the facts. We certainly did a lot better than British Columbia under the excellent tutelage in government, which, thank heavens, they had for a very short period of time --
Mr. Martel: You sort of got clobbered, Bill.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, I do agree; I do not find the level of unemployment acceptable. I make that abundantly clear. That’s the view held by this government. In recent budgets we have made a very genuine effort to come to grips with this. We have been, I think, of some substantial assistance to the real estate business and the construction industry; and for those members who happen to represent ridings where the automotive industry is situate, in spite of the very cynical observations made in this House, there is no question the measures introduced by this government had a very genuine impact on the level of employment in those communities--
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) in particular should be very grateful for the enlightenment that we show.
Mr. Moffatt: That’s why he is here -- because of your enlightenment.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, we shall continue to keep an eye on the unemployment situation and take those steps necessary or that we feel we can do to assist in this very important area.
Mr. Ruston: You gave a Throne Speech once, Bill.
Mr. Speaker: With all the interjections, it just makes it useless to carry on a question period. Will the hon. members refrain from making interjections?
Mr. Singer: They’re probably out of order anyway.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Did the hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine have a supplementary?
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Do I take it that the Premier’s reply indicates that we will hear nothing until the budget, even though there are 234,000 people out of work in Ontario right now, which is 2,000 more than in the previous month?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think the hon. member should take anything from the answer other than what was in it.
An hon. member: There was nothing in it!
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, that’s a matter of judgement.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We’re trying to clear up one unemployment problem right now if you would help us today.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
GREAT LAKES CLEANUP
Mr. Reid: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Can the minister indicate where the programme is in the cleaning-up of the Great Lakes, and does the United States now intend to live up to its original commitment of two or three years ago to expend some billions of dollars in funds to in fact clean up pollution in the Great Lakes?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, the programme is on schedule. There was some concern that federal money in the United States would be reallocated to other parts of the United States, particularly southern states; however, I am advised by the Great Lakes Commission, which includes representatives from the eight Great Lakes states as well as Ontario, that there have been some second thoughts on that funding and that they expect to get the money that was originally allocated for the programme on the Great Lakes.
Mr. Reid: One short supplementary, if I may: Do I understand then from the minister that the Americans have lived up to their commitment and that their programme as enunciated some three years ago, I believe, is in fact on schedule and the water quality in the Great Lakes is improving?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, there are some states which aren’t exactly on time. For example, I think the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, because of some concern about federal funding, are behind, but I think, generally, the programme and the target dates which we have set will be reached hopefully, again, as I say, because of the efforts of the Great Lakes Commission in convincing the federal government that there should be a reallocation of funds and because of the fact that, naturally, there is more concern by the present head of state in the USA than there was before.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, one supplementary just to clear this up if I may. Has President Ford redirected or released those funds that President Nixon held back from the programme? Has he done that?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes. It is my understanding that a major portion of those funds has been reallocated for Great Lakes use.
Mr. Godfrey: Supplementary to that, in view of the fact the minister said the water quality is improving; the simple statement is that polychlorinated biphenyls are increasing. What steps is the minister taking in order to control this increase, which is undoubtedly a serious health and environmental hazard?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: As I indicated to the House in my statement that was made last fall, Mr. Speaker, the levels of PCBs remain constant. We’re concerned about certain species of fish. This is the type of contamination that isn’t necessarily solved by way of municipal sewage treatment plants or the general Great Lakes programme. This is a problem because of leakage from certain plants of PCBs and other types of what we call phantom pollutants. However, the Great Lakes Commission is recommending to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington that PCBs be banned and we expect to have a meeting on whether or not that is possible. I anticipate that Ontario will support that move.
Mr. Stokes: When are you going for another swim, George?
BUDGETS OF SOCIAL SERVICES AGENCIES
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. In his speech in Hamilton this past Tuesday he stated that he was considering legislative or regulatory changes in order to assist social service agencies to comply with the restraint programme. Inasmuch as most of these agencies or municipalities cannot comply in terms of their own permissive programmes unless there are cuts in the mandatory programmes, would the minister inform this House which programmes -- mothers’ allowance, general welfare assistance or whatever -- he intends to cut?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The member is operating from a false assumption and a false conclusion. The reference was made in regard to a joint committee that was set up with the municipal welfare administrators and my staff and certain recommendations flowed from that particular committee’s considerations. As a result of those recommendations, I am considering amendments to the regulations which may be of some assistance to the municipal welfare administrators.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’ll allow one supplementary. The member for Hamilton East.
Mr. Mackenzie: Is the minister then ready to assure this House that there will not be cuts in mothers’ allowance or other programmes of this kind?
Mr. Bath: He doesn’t know.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: First of all, I’m not sure what the member means. If he is talking in terms of the actual level of payment, we don’t contemplate any cuts in the level of payments to recipients.
BUTTONVILLE AIRPORT EXPANSION
Mr. Stong: I have a question of the Premier. Could the Premier share with this House the reasons for which his cabinet allowed the owner of the Buttonville Airport to expand its airways, against the wishes of the people of Markham and Richmond Hill?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, it has not been the policy, nor will it become the policy, to discuss the deliberations that go on in cabinet. There was an appeal from the Ontario Municipal Board. The cabinet of this province maintained the ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell), I would like to ask the Premier to perhaps give us some indication on this question. We have been reading articles in the paper, and there were discussions in this House yesterday in question period, about the plight of the paperworkers. Last night, CBC-TV commented on hydro being cut off for these striking pulp workers. I wonder if perhaps the Premier could give us any indication of what the minister or the government might be proposing to do, because obviously this is a pretty serious situation in some of our northern communities for these men who have been on strike for this period of time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I heard of these observations and communicated with the minister. I can assure members of this House that no person who is out on strike as a result of the disruption in the pulp and paper industry will have their hydro service cut off because of non-payment because of the lack of funds because they haven’t been employed.
Mr. Bain: Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Timiskaming.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t know why somebody over there didn’t ask me that question.
Mr. Bain: Because the Premier didn’t give us the question beforehand.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I haven’t seen the member since yesterday.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Timiskaming has a question
Hon. Mr. Davis: Is the member not interested in his own constituents?
REDUCTION OF ONTC WORK FORCE
Mr. Bain: I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I was wondering if the minister was aware that over 140 people have been laid off by the Ontario Northland Railway? Is the minister also aware that management refuses to give any reassurances that when economic conditions improve these people will be rehired and reposted in their old jobs? Does this cavalier attitude by management toward workers --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Could we have a question without --
Mr. Bain: There are two questions. I will now get to the third.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Bain: If you object to the word “cavalier,” then I will withdraw it.
Mr. Speaker: No, it is a question for information --
Mr. Bain: Does the attitude of management --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the member ask his question for information, please?
Mr. Bain: I am.
Mr. Speaker: Will the member proceed with the question, without the editorials?
Mr. Bain: Does the attitude of management signal an overall reduction of services by the Ontario Northland Railway and a permanent firing of employees, or is it simply an inability of management to deal openly with the community’s employees affected?
Mr. Makarchuk: Good question.
Mr. Laughren: Good question.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly aware of the necessary reduction in the work force at the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.
I think the hon. member should be very much aware of the obvious reason for this; it is because of the labour difficulties in the pulp and paper industry. There has been a tremendous decrease in the work load of the railroad. As that has been going on for several months, we have, totally, gone as far as possible in using the services of these employees on maintenance work and all the things that could be done, and it has now come to the stage where temporary layoffs have to be made. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I am as anxious as I am sure the hon. member is, to get this traffic back for the railroad, which I am sure will come about when the other difficulties are solved. It is not a permanent layoff, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Hon. Mr. Meen, on behalf of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman), presented the 49th report of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Snow tabled the annual report of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1975.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills.
Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion for second reading of Bill 1, An Act respecting the Metropolitan Toronto Boards of Education and Teachers Disputes.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO BOARDS OF EDUCATION AND TEACHERS DISPUTES ACT (CONCLUDED)
Mr. Speaker: Yes, the hon. member for Riverdale has the floor.
An hon. member: He’ll be twice as good this morning.
An hon. member: He had his time last night.
Mr. Deans: But he deserves more; more and more.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Did he have his steak and kidney dinner?
Mr. Martel: I’ll tell the Liberal leader why he won’t even vote for a floor level this morning.
Mr. Speaker: Order please, the hon. member for Riverdale has the floor.
Mr. Renwick: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Singer: Tell us about “Dear Roy” and “Dear Jim.”
Mr. Renwick: If not in this hour certainly in the next hour, the NDP will experience its finest hour in this Legislature.
Mr. Kennedy: It wasn’t yesterday.
Mr. Singer: Is the NDP going to accept that cabinet decision?
Mr. Reid: Does the member mean they are all going to resign?
Mr. Singer: The members of the NDP are walking across the floor.
Mr. Deans: No, but if the member keeps at it we could be driven out.
Mr. Martel: What isn’t the Liberal leader supporting today?
Mr. Renwick: One of the comments I would like to make initially is -- and I am sure the members of the House will be saddened to know that I do not intend either to repeat or recapitulate what I said last night.
Mr. Ruston: Oh come on.
Mr. Singer: Oh a pity.
Mr. Reid: Ruined my whole weekend.
Mr. Renwick: My words are already enshrined in Hansard and no doubt will be read and reread in the weeks and months ahead many, many times.
Mr. Speaker: Will the hon. member for Riverdale continue with his speech, please?
Mr. Singer: Very good ruling.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of our amendment was to have it adopted by the Legislature. We had hoped that the amendment would appeal to the members of the Liberal Party, and indeed to the members of the Conservative Party, in order that a better solution could be found in a very difficult problem with which we were faced by the Metro Toronto high school teachers’ strike and the breakdown of negotiations between the boards of education and the teachers.
We wanted to place the government in the position that they would have to choose one of two courses: to accept a better solution or to dissolve this Parliament and go to the country.
Our preference would have been for the government to accept a better solution. The reality of political life is that at some point in time the Premier (Mr. Davis) will ask for a dissolution of this Parliament; and if this were the occasion that he chose to do so, we would welcome that opportunity to place our position clearly before the people throughout the Province of Ontario.
An hon. member: Don’t bet on it.
Mr. Renwick: In what some perhaps may consider a cosmic view of :the issue which is before us, we are faced in the society in which we live by an immense unsettling readjustment, which is taking place and which we must accommodate in this Legislature, and indeed in many other places throughout the country where there is a serious questioning by various groups of persons with diverse interest but with a common bond of common work as to their relative worth within the society.
I think it is evident that readjustment has to take place, and the real questions are what is the relative worth of one group of people and the services which they perform for the society, as compared with the worth of traditional groups translated in many instances into economic terms.
We tried to face up to that particular problem; and in drafting our amendment we tried to accomplish a number of purposes. Our first purpose was to support the return to school of the students and the teachers, and in that we are in agreement with each of the parties in the assembly.
We wanted to do so because the students’ well-being is a matter of concern to us, although I may express on my own behalf a certain scepticism about what is happening in the school system. If one tries to look behind the appearances and the perceptions of this particular conflict to the reality, it may well be there are serious problems mirrored in this dispute in the educational system as we know it in Metropolitan Toronto. This is not the time and the place, nor do I have the knowledge, to go into it, but I assume that there are such underlying causes of this dispute which require earnest and serious consideration, not only by the Ministry of Education but by the boards of education in Metropolitan Toronto and by the teachers, who are members of the affiliates who are employed by the school boards and who provide the professional teaching in our secondary schools.
I may say to the minister that a knowledgeable, indeed an extremely knowledgeable, community leader in my riding of Riverdale has indicated to me, by way of illustration of what I have just said, that the lack of the traumatic experience of Christmas examinations and the escalation of the tension within the school system because of those examinations was absent this year, and in the area of the riding of Riverdale, by and large the acting out, the behavioural patterns, the anti-social response which is normal in Riverdale riding at this time of year did not occur this year. I would be glad to pursue that perhaps on some other occasion, but that is the assessment made by persons who are close to the community in which I live; and it mirrors, in my view, something seriously wrong with the educational system if in other times it would produce that kind of traumatic effect in the riding of Riverdale where three of the major institutions are located -- the Eastern High School of Commerce, Riverdale Collegiate and Danforth Technical School.
I may say that the government of Ontario in fact controls the educational system at the post-secondary level as well as at the secondary level and, therefore, there is no reason why the students in the secondary school system should suffer in any way because of the layoff which has resulted from the strike and the breakdown of negotiations going on as it has to 37, 38 or 39 days of instructional time lost within the school system. All the adjustments can be made to protect those students who want to pursue post-secondary education. There would be no difficulty in having the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, set aside, on the basis of historic experience, places within the universities and places within the community colleges, consistent with former years, to accommodate those students who would move into the post-secondary educational system in the aftermath of this strike.
There is no reason to believe that an extended period of instruction will not permit those students to carry on in their post-secondary education, and it is the responsibility of this ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, to make certain that does in fact occur.
Our second purpose was to support the teachers in the Metropolitan Toronto system, very clearly to support them. We may have questions about elements of their demands, elements of the proposals which they have made, but our support was engendered mainly because we are not going to associate ourselves with an Act of the Legislature, as presented to us, which could do nothing other than to continue a sense of alienation and a sense of isolation, justified or otherwise -- and of course on occasions people can be paranoid for justified reasons. I simply say that we did not intend to support a bill which would in any way perpetuate and not ameliorate that sense of isolation and alienation which is part and parcel of the atmosphere presently in existence between the school boards and the Metropolitan Toronto high school teachers.
Our third purpose was to protect the integrity of Bill 100. We are concerned about this. We have not heard from the government or from the members of the Conservative Party any compelling reasons which would lead us to believe that the bill which is presently before us is not, in a sense, a destructive bill insofar as the continuance of Bill 100 is concerned as a method of ameliorating and settling disputes within the school system.
I think it is fair to say that as the strike developed as a protective method of ensuring progress in the collective bargaining system between management and labour and management and other groups in our society, the countermeasure traditionally adopted was to impose compulsory arbitration. That was the black and white response. If a strike for some reason could be categorized by those in control of government as relating to essential services or to the public service, or to some aspect of the industrial world that could be justified in their terms by the Conservative and Liberal governments that have imposed this kind of legislation, in a very Pavlovian, responsive way, they simply thought of compulsory arbitration as the one and only method by which that could be accomplished.
The York regional school board bill mirrored that approach. We had hoped that would be the final occasion on which the language of that bill would be required to be presented in this assembly for the purpose of settling any dispute. It is as if the government did not understand that since the bill was enacted by this assembly, the assembly has dealt with Bill 100 and has passed Bill 100 in an effort to make certain that the compulsory arbitration route would be cast aside and eliminated as a method of settling disputes.
There is no magic to the settlement of conflicts between management and various groups, whether in the industrial world or in the public service world. There is no magic to the solutions; nobody knows the solutions. I think it’s fair to say that throughout the union world, throughout the industrial world, throughout the government world, and particularly in latter years in the public sector world where government has a responsibility, there have been inquiries and a search for alternate methods. There’s no indication that anyone has yet found the alternate methods.
Bill 100 was the best effort which could be made at the time, as a result of the ongoing problems with the educational system and the struggles within that system, to meet that challenge, to provide alternative means for carrying it out and to eliminate the question of compulsory arbitration.
If one reads Bill 100 there is, of course, no reference to compulsory arbitration. It was an endeavour to provide a more flexible field of choice for those engaged. There were to be the traditional negotiations and there was to be the collective bargaining process. Obviously, an essential concomitant of that process is the right to strike, no question about that.
The bill mirrors and reflects the acceptance by government of that position. Alter- natives were provided, voluntary arbitration was provided. The Education Relations Commission was set up to assist in the mediation, on a continuing basis, of various disputes. The final offer selection opportunity was also provided within the legislation. Those were the various alternatives.
It was a very real effort; it was an effort not only by this assembly, it was an effort by those who were concerned in education -- the boards of education throughout the province, the association of trustees throughout the province, the teachers’ federation and the affiliated groups of the teachers throughout the province. The initiative, a great deal of the preparatory work and the thought that went into the bill was the work of the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) and his colleagues in the government; and then the bill was introduced into the assembly.
We have, and the government has, an immense investment of time, of energy, of intellectual contribution, of emotional involvement, in that bill. Let me reflect it in cold statistics. It was only in June, 1975, and in July, 1975, that this bill was dealt with in this assembly. Bill 100 was first read in this assembly on June 3, 1975. The second reading debate took place on June 13, 16, 17; for a total of 7½ hours’ debate in the assembly on second reading. The bill was then referred to the standing committee of the Legislature and that committee held a number of meetings -- June 19, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, July 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 15 for a total of 115½ hours in the standing committee of the Legislature dealing with Bill 100.
Mr. Drea: Is the member making a speech or delivering a doctoral thesis?
Mr. Renwick: The bill then came back into committee of the whole House and in the committee of the whole House we devoted another 4½ hours on July 17 and 18. The bill was read for the third time on July 18 and was given royal assent on that same day.
I am saying to the ministry that to introduce a replica of the York bill at this point in time, as if Bill 100 did not exist, is to us an unacceptable position.
This is not as if it were an ad hoc dispute in a very diverse and complex industrial society, such as the elevator strike, such as the transit workers’ strike, such as the Metro Toronto garbage collectors’ strike. This isn’t one of those. This is the first strike under that bill. This is the government’s response, being read by the public and perceived by the boards of education and the teachers across the province as the culmination of each strike; that Bill 100 will be disregarded and a bill similar to Bill 1 will be introduced in order to settle any strike which goes beyond a certain stated period of time in the Province of Ontario in the school system.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: That was implied in the Premier’s statement.
Mr. Renwick: That’s how it is read, that’s how it will be perceived and that is our concern about the integrity of the bill. Had the government made some real effort to adopt a reasonable alternative solution in its continuing search for a better method of settling these matters, then perhaps we could have found ourselves in support of such a bill. But to have an automatic response to the York bill and introduce again into these relationships the concept of compulsory arbitration was totally unacceptable to us.
So we worked on it and we did as we could best do to devise an alternate, and indeed an obviously better method. I may say, and I give my colleagues in the caucus immense credit, the work that went into this particular amendment is the work of the caucus, it is not the work nor is there any input to that solution either from the boards of trustees or from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation or from any other source. It is a creative contribution by the caucus of this party to the ongoing problem of how to deal with these matters.
Just stand back for a moment and look at what we have said in this amendment. We have said, basically, two things: that the terms and conditions offered by the boards to the teachers on Dec. 20, 1975, would be implemented on an interim basis; that’s the first thing we said. We did that because we felt it was necessary to give public support to a group of people in the society who feel immensely threatened by the conditions under which they conduct what to them is an important and valuable contribution to our society.
The second thing that we did was to provide simply for an instruction, an instruction of this assembly to the boards of education in Metropolitan Toronto and to the affiliates representing the teachers in Metropolitan Toronto to resume forthwith negotiations in good faith in order to resolve all matters remaining in dispute. I need not repeat that they are responsible bodies on both sides of that argument. The time has come when they should be told to resume negotiations and to find a settlement.
And as an ancillary part of our reasoned amendment to this bill we have provided specifically that the parties shall not withdraw from the negotiations until such time as an agreement has been reached.
That was the third reason, and we remain to be convinced that Bill 1 does not represent, if not an abandonment by the government of Bill 100, at least certainly a strategic retreat by the government in the course of which the bill will be abandoned. Bill 100 will cease to be an efficacious way of solving disputes, because always in the background, conditioning every dispute between boards of education and teachers throughout the Province of Ontario, will be the spectre of the kind of legislation reflected in Bill 1, and that will provide back-pressure throughout the system and will influence every continuing negotiation between boards and teachers which may take place in the future.
Our fourth reason, and indeed our major reason, the purpose for which we couched this and why we spoke of it in terms of presenting the government with a choice, had we been successful in gaining the support of other members of the House or of the Liberal Party as a whole to our proposal, would be to face the government with a clear alternative: Either adopt the amendment or dissolve this Parliament and go to the country on the question. It is that simple. It would have been our wish, being a reasoned amendment, that the wisdom of our proposal would have appealed to the government and if it were passed by this assembly, as it would appear that it will not be passed, that the government would have accepted it in good faith and tried it to see whether or not it would solve the problem.
We do not take away from any of the remarks, made either about the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) or about the Premier. We believe them both to be sincere men; we believe them both to be conscientious; we believe that they were both available as and when it was, in their view, useful to be available.
We consider them to be friendly men and we consider them to be conciliatory men, and if any of my colleagues or others can think of any other phrases that we could apply to the Minister of Education or to the Premier, we would accept them.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will use that as an election promotion.
Mr. Renwick: But that does not in any way make up for the failure of leadership which was drawn to the attention of the assembly by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis), the leader of this party, in his remarks on the bill, and as I said echoed by the leader of the Liberal Party. That failure of leadership, that failure by the government charged with the responsibility for carrying out the administration of Bill 100; that failure by the government to infuse the bill with the spirit which it was intended to have; the failure by the government to deal with Bill 100 in anything but a wooden, spiritless and unimaginative way, is what we categorize as a failure of leadership.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, may I say that the end is not justified by the means which are set out in the bill. Specifically, compulsory arbitration is not the proper concomitant of a return-to-the-school clause in the bill. We ask support for the reasoned amendment which we have put before the assembly. I have tried to outline clearly to the House the purposes we wish to achieve; the reasons why we, in this caucus, sought to find a creative solution to the problem.
By our amendment, we seek to make amends for the failure of leadership by the government I would ask, even at this late hour in the debate, for my colleagues of the Liberal Party to stand with us legislatively in this assembly and support the reasoned amendment and place the government in the position that they would accept a better solution to this problem, or reject it and go to the country. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to take part in this debate? If not, the hon. minister.
Mr. Bullbrook: On a point of order, I just want to bring to your attention the procedure with respect to the introduction of this legislation on second reading; after it was moved for second reading the minister then spoke.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: He always sums up.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Wells: On that very point, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Bullbrook: He shouldn’t have opened the debate too.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I can recall on many occasions having given an opening statement on a bill.
Mr. Bullbrook: The minister should have done it in his first remarks.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I beg to differ with my learned friend, but I think that if he searches Hansard he will find there are many precedents for a minister speaking twice.
Mr. Bullbrook: He is completely wrong.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to take the time of the House, or use the time of the House to any great length, but merely in a plain, simple and straightforward way reply to some of the comments that have been made, make a few comments, and then move this matter of urgency to the next step that it should move to in this House.
I might begin by stating that we came here yesterday with one purpose in mind, and that purpose was to open the secondary schools of Metropolitan Toronto next Monday. That was the only purpose we came here for, to do that; and coupled with it provide a proper and equitable method of settling the dispute which has caused such a long and bitter turmoil in the educational system in Metropolitan Toronto. That’s why we came here.
My hon. friend, the member for Riverdale, (Mr. Renwick) presented some very excellent remarks, as have many of the members of this House in this debate. I think it’s been a good debate. It’s been, for the most part, a reasoned debate. However, last night he did dwell on the fact that he presented his motion to defeat the government; not to open the schools of Metro Toronto but to defeat the government.
Some hon. members: Oh, no.
Mr. Reid: That’s what he said.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right, just a moment.
Mr. Singer: Certainly it is. The member for Riverdale gave us two choices.
Mr. Renwick: I put it clearly. I will let the record speak for itself.
Mr. Bullbrook: He wants to go to the country.
Mr. Singer: He said, “Either do as we say, or have an election.”
Mr. Bullbrook: You want to go to the country?
Hon. Mr. Wells: In his usual wisdom, however, he indicated to us this morning that he would not recap what he had told us last night and would begin again, or at least restate points again. I think this morning he clarified the position which I believe was put forward by his leader in the opening remarks yesterday morning, that there was not really any disagreement with the first principle of our bill that the schools of Metropolitan Toronto should open next Monday.
Mr. Deans: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Really, the reasoned amendment being put forward was being put forward as another method of achieving the same ends. I think that has been clarified this morning. But I think it needs to be drawn to the attention of the House that last night the distinctly opposite impression was left.
Let me also say that from time to time during this debate I have heard mention about the involvement of the minister and the Premier of this province, about the fact that government must show leadership and about the fact that a government must govern. I want to say, very simply and very firmly, that we over here believe we were elected last September to govern in this province. We are governing, we will govern and we will govern with firmness and with reason. That is precisely and exactly why we chose to recall the Legislature to present this bill.
We believe that, at this time and in this place, this is the necessary legislation and that this represents firm, reasonable government leadership for this province at this time. Now why do I say that? I have listened to all the talk around here about Bill 100 and the ERC and I must say that basically, while there have been some criticisms about it in this House, I am very appreciative there hasn’t been the kind of criticism that I have heard outside of this House.
As I was thinking of some of the criticisms levelled against the Education Relations Commission, an old story came back to me that one of our great Canadians, John Diefenbaker, used to tell at many meetings. I guess he was talking about himself when he used to tell it, but he used to say all you had to do was go into an orchard and look under the best apple tree and you would find the most sticks and stones. I think that perhaps could be applied to the Education Relations Commission, except in place of sticks and stones I guess they are folded Globe and Mails that are being thrown at them.
That is not to mean that the Globe and Mail isn’t entitled to disagree with the Education Relations Commission, our motivations in setting it up or anything of that nature. Certainly they are. But I think that the Education Relations Commission, Bill 100 and the kind of things that it does have to be defended in this House, and they certainly will be defended by me as the minister and as part of a government that brought in this procedure.
I want to say that, notwithstanding what I hear or read, I still think Bill 100 is a good piece of legislation. At some time in the future we will be reviewing some of its technical details, but I want to tell hon. members that basically, as far as I am concerned, the rights and responsibilities in there will remain, because it is a good piece of bargaining legislation. It’s a good piece of legislation that has served us well and will serve us well. It might have helped some of the NDP members’ colleagues in some of the other provinces, such as British Columbia or Manitoba, if they had chosen to look at it --
Mr. Deans: That wouldn’t help this dispute.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, but when I hear the kind of arguments that are put forward in this House about compulsory arbitration and so forth. I am always amazed to remember that is the way teachers’ disputes in Manitoba and British Columbia are settled -- by compulsory arbitration, by Acts of the Legislature.
Mr. Renwick: But you have an obligation to lead.
Mr. Martel: It is not the teachers; it is the --
Mr. Deans: They are wrong there. We agree.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s fine. All right.
Mr. Martel: Get the whole story.
Hon. Mr. Wells: What I am really saying to the hon. members opposite is that compulsory arbitration isn’t necessarily the great big bad boy that they always make it out to be.
Mr. Martel: They trust them out there.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It has settled disputes in the Province of Manitoba and, as my friend states, the teachers have never chosen to ask that it be removed.
Mr. Martel: They trust the government out there.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is not that they trust the government. It is the fact that the system works; it works in Manitoba.
Mr. Renwick: You have a leadership role to play in Ontario, and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Therefore, given the fact that we have these other rights in this province --
Mr. Bullbrook: He wants you to go to the country.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- this is not the kind of big bogyman that the hon. members opposite would make it out to be.
Mr. MacDonald: What about your Throne Speech amendment? What were you after?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me just say this --
Mr. Reid: I thought you had got over that self-righteous baloney.
Mr. MacDonald: At least I have, but you never will.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I thought he was mellowing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: While I am on this point I just want to remind the House, as my friend from Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) did, and I think that his words were excellent, in his comments about the Education Relations Commission because this is a group -- and members will recall during the debate on Bill 100 I mentioned the kind of people I wanted to see on that commission. I mentioned the kind of tough job they would have to do and I think that they have lived up to the kind of challenge that was placed before them.
I don’t know whether the members of this House are aware -- I am sure they are aware -- that the commission is headed by Owen Shime but it also has on it Dean Harry Arthurs of the Osgoode Hall Law School; Dr. Lita-Rose Betcherman, who was head of the women’s bureau in the Ministry of Labour here for many years; Gabrielle Levasseur from Ottawa and John Ronson from Mississauga. These five people, I think, are doing an excellent job.
The proof of that is that Bill 100 was passed in July, it set up these new procedures which had never existed in the Province of Ontario, it has had limited staff, it is only now being able to get around to advertising and bringing in some of the kind of staff complement it is going to need to do the job that I envisaged it doing and which it will do and which will further help the bargaining process in this province.
In that time, there were 27 fact-finders appointed in the elementary panel and 27 settlements were arrived at; there were 15 fact-finders appointed in the secondary school area and 15 settlements have been arrived at, and in the secondary school panel there were 32 fact-finders appointed by the commission and we now have only about eight situations that haven’t been solved.
I remember people here saying in this House that we would never be able to find the number of fact-finders and that the kind of procedures wouldn’t work. They have worked. The fact-finders have done their job, reports have been brought in and settlements have been arrived at. These are for contracts which expired on Aug. 31. The commission is now working on about 34 to 35 contracts with boards which have contracts with teachers that expire on Dec. 31. About half of these are settled already; fact-finders are involved in the others.
I think when we carry this forward and look at what has happened, Bill 100 has been working, the commission has been doing an excellent job and this legislation deserves a chance to carry on to be appraised and judged in the light of what happens when this crisis period in Metropolitan Toronto has passed. I don’t think any of us thought that when this bill was passed we would achieve Utopia. I must say though -- and I don’t think I said it in this House, but I did say it privately, because of course the spectre of a major disturbance in Metro Toronto hung over our head -- I said if that happens it will severely test Bill 100. There is no question it will test it in the minds of the public. It will test it and it will not only test it it will cause a cloud to hang over it which really doesn’t deserve to hang over that bill, which I think is a good piece of legislation.
Mr. MacDonald: We agree with your views. We wish many members of your own party agreed with you as enthusiastically.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh well, they all agree with these views.
Mr. MacDonald: Oh, we have heard about it on the hustings.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think that it also has to be stated, and I think this is an interesting point, that we heard a lot yesterday about the effects this legislation would have on other disputes. We have heard a lot about the effect that the strike might have on other disputes; the strike in Metro Toronto, and of course there is a strike in the Kent county board at the present time also. But it is interesting, and I would like to tell the House, that since the strike began in Metropolitan Toronto on Nov. 12 there have been settlements in about seven secondary school boards and seven elementary boards and a couple of separate school boards in that period. There have been settlements before the end of the contract, as I stated a few minutes ago, in 17 of the 34 areas where contracts expire on Dec. 31. Some set tentative agreements, reached as late as last week at the same time the vote was going on here in Metropolitan Toronto. So bargaining is going on in the rest of the province, settlements are being arrived at and the procedures of Bill 100 are carrying on.
In our discussion of Bill 100, in drafting the rights and responsibilities of the Education Relations Commission, one of those responsibilities which we gave to them was to advise the executive council, the Lieutenant Governor in Council, when in the opinion of the commission the educational programmes of the students in an area where a withdrawal of services or a lockout was occurring would be in jeopardy. We put that in in order to protect students’ programmes, students’ rights and students’ interests. We left it up to the commission to decide how they should discharge that responsibility.
We put it in because we felt, as I said in my opening remarks, having given the procedures under Bill 100 and having established the right of teachers to withhold their services and of boards to lock out, there may come a time in a public interest dispute in the public sector where there may have to be some other interest that takes paramountcy. In this case we felt it would be the educational programmes of the students and so we left that duty up to the Education Relations Commission. They have fulfilled that duty.
There has been criticism of the fact that they didn’t comment or make any suggestions on the particular function that they have before last Saturday. That kind of criticism has to be coupled with the other duties that they have, one of which is to attempt in any way possible to help the parties reach a negotiated settlement. I think there’s no question that all of us feel a negotiated settlement between parties is the best way to solve a dispute. I think that the commission in their wisdom felt that way too and they instituted procedures to attempt to bring that about.
Whether we agree or disagree with the procedures they established, the kind of mediation, the troika situation that they created, I don’t think matters. What really matters is that they were attempting to bring about a negotiated settlement. It was only at the point when that seemed impossible to them that they then felt that they should discharge their function of deciding whether they should recommend to us whether the educational programmes of the students were in jeopardy. They did that after they had held public hearings last Saturday in order to give the parties and, I think rightfully so, the public of this city a chance to hear the positions of various people connected with this dispute.
I would recommend to my friends -- although this certainly doesn’t justify the position that I am bringing in in this bill today but it does justify the one principle of the bill that the schools should open on Monday -- the brief presented by the secondary school teachers of Metropolitan Toronto. First of all, they acknowledge all the processes that have gone on in this dispute and all the things which have occurred. After having acknowledged all that, the Education Relations Commission, the involvement of mediators and fact-finders, they say it’s an understatement to say that the full facilities of the commission and of the government have been utilized in these protracted and difficult negotiations.
They recognize that all the processes, including the involvement of this government in some personal way, have been used in trying to bring about a negotiated settlement in this dispute but that they then further go on and make a comment. It would be very interesting for various members to read the documentation for this very simple statement which they then make:
The purpose of today’s hearing is to determine whether or not the continuation of this strike will jeopardize the successful completion by the students of the current school year. The teachers, who are and always have been deeply concerned about the welfare of their students, say that it most undoubtedly will.
Then they go on in a rather detailed way to document the various programmes and various courses of study.
That brings me to my second premise that this government is showing leadership because it allowed the processes of Bill 100 to run their course. It then accepted the advice from the Education Relations Commissions and the opinions of others, as we have read them, which was that the pupils’ programmes would be placed in jeopardy and that the government should act. At the very point when we received that advice, we decided that the course of action for this government was not to waffle, not to sit around and do nothing but to act, to take action, to ask that the Legislature be recalled and to bring in this piece of legislation so that we could prevent what the Education Relations Commission and many others say will happen if the schools of Metropolitan Toronto do not open this Monday.
Mr. MacDonald: So far, go good.
Mr. Singer: That certainly is leadership.
Mr. Shore: You don’t believe that yourself.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I do believe that myself.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Wilson Heights voted for Bill 100.
Mr. Singer: A little chaos and then some statutes, make some speeches and that’s leadership.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You voted for the bill.
Mr. Singer: Not because of the leadership, but to try to help the situation.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, you voted for Bill 100.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There’s one other piece of information and one other premise I think that I should make. That is, of course, that in bringing in this legislation and acting, we not only had to act on the advice that the commission gave and the opinions that we received concerning the pupils’ programmes being placed in jeopardy, but we then had to ask ourselves were meaningful negotiations still taking place or could they take place?
Mr. MacDonald: That’s right, and the answer is yes.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I beg to differ with my friend, but in my opinion -- and I must clarify It and say in my opinion -- in the recommendations I made to this government, I had to tell them, no, I didn’t feel meaningful negotiations could take place.
Mr. Deans: I think you were misled.
Mr. MacDonald: That’s where you began to make your mistake.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, no. That’s where it became necessary --
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right, my friend says
I began to make my mistake --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and members opposite are trying to get around the responsibility.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. MacDonald: Under our reasoned amendment presented for this legislation, they get back Monday morning.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, Donald, you can fool some people, but we know better.
Mr. Martel: Nobody tries to fool you, Bill.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, yes, you do.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Ever)body has had the opportunity to debate the matter. The hon. minister is replying. Thank you.
Mr. Singer: He’s out of order, though. There’s nothing in the bill about what he’s talking about. He’s out of order. Be firm with him, too. Threaten him.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend says that his opinion differs from mine. Well, let me stake my claim to why I made my opinion. Now, the member can disagree with that after, if he wants, but let me tell him why I arrived at that decision. Because I didn’t arrive at it out of the air; I didn’t arrive at it in isolation.
Mr. Shore: I suggest you did.
Mr. Givens: You did.
Hon. Mr. Wells: If the member suggests that I did then let him listen for a few minutes.
Mr. Singer: What section of the bill is that mentioned in?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I must say that I hesitate to recite some of these events, because I just want to say categorically that while I accept that a minister of this government, and at particular times, the Premier of this province, has a responsibility to become involved in disputes -- there’s no question about that -- the part where I differ is that I don’t think we all have to take the Bryce Mackasey approach that what really is needed is not necessarily involvement in the dispute, but whether you can get enough publicity and everybody is aware that you’re involved in the dispute. After all, I think that there is a place in some of these things to quiet down the kind of public perception that goes on about what’s happening and to handle things in a quiet manner.
Mr. Singer: And you’re certainly quieting it down.
Hon. Mr. Wells: What I’m going to say is that I have been involved over the past few days, not in a way that was attempting to get headlines or suggest that great action was happening, but merely to try and establish two things. And those two things were: Could meaningful negotiations continue? Could we get a negotiated settlement without this government having to legislate, given the fact that we knew we had to bring this dispute to an end quickly and by next Monday?
Mr. Good: You knew before Christmas you had to legislate. It’s all grandstanding.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I began last Friday by asking the parties to come in and meet with me, which they did. And I asked the parties where they stood at this particular time, knowing that a board proposal had been put forward -- a board proposal, a board offer, whatever you want to call it, had been put forward -- had been voted on and had been turned down by about a two-thirds to one- third margin last Wednesday.
I said, “Where do you stand?” The school boards told me that they were willing to sit down with the teachers and talk about any misunderstandings in the offer that was put forward, any clarifications, perhaps some readjustments within that offer, but that they stood very firmly on this one principle that there was no more money that they would put into the contract -- into the monetary matters.
Mr. Renwick: But there was more money.
Mr. Shore: We knew that three weeks ago.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Before the Education Relations Commission -- although they didn’t say this to me -- I am told that board said also that it was their position that they would put no more money into the contract. But they also agreed that they were not saying it because there was not more money, but that that was the position that they were taking as elected trustees. Now, they didn’t say there wasn’t more money, they said this --
Mr. Shore: That was three weeks ago.
Mr. MacDonald: Did they change their mind by yesterday morning?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I want to tell you that as far as I can discern from my discussion, that was a unanimous feeling of all the chairmen of all the boards in Metro Toronto; and I don’t think I am betraying any confidences on that.
Mr. Lewis: I think that’s quite fair.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I wanted to assure myself. Therefore, the position was: “We will sit down and negotiate; we will sit down and talk, if it’s within these parameters -- but there is no more money.” I then spent about 2½ hours with the full teacher negotiating team of about 18 or 20, talking the matter over with them. It became very clear to me that they were not interested in sitting down unless there was an indication that there was more money in the pot available for redistribution -- or however you want to put it -- there had to be some indication that there was more than a discussion about misunderstandings in the contract, and they said they didn’t feel there were any misunderstandings.
Mr. Good: Better call the vote before you talk us out of supporting you.
Hon. Mr. Wells: And if that indication wasn’t present, there was no use sitting down and negotiating.
Mr. Givens: You are wonderful; you are wonderful. Now, let’s vote. Come on.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Listen; all right now, we’ve --
Hon. W. Newman: Listen to who is talking.
Mr. Shore: You could have made the same speech on Dec. 17.
Mr. Givens: Let’s go; let’s go.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’ve sat -- just a minute now.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I sat here all day yesterday and listened to a number of speeches in this assembly, and I am entitled to summarize them. I think as a --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I believe, Mr. Minister, there was a point of order.
Mr. Foulds: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Wells: And this is a rational speech.
Mr. Good: Self-adulatory --
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, the member for Armourdale (Mr. Givens) spends little enough time in this Legislature as it is. I believe he should have the courtesy to listen to the minister.
Mr. Speaker: That was not really a point of order. The hon. minister will continue.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What is the member doing applauding a criticism of his colleague?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They sit side by side.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sorry to tax his attention span, but I am going to continue on a little further.
Mr. Givens: You tax everything else.
Mr. Good: You are taxing all right
Mr. Lewis: It was the only vulgar contribution to the debate. Let him speak.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I then held further meetings on Monday of this week, on Tuesday of this week, and on Wednesday of this week -- one meeting with the parties together in a smaller group, and with representatives of the parties individually at other times. At no point could I see any thread or any way that any meaningful negotiations were going to occur. So, in coming to my colleagues, I had to tell them that as far as I could see there were no meaningful negotiations possible.
I might also point out that in one of those meetings -- and I think that this is crucial to the debate and our consideration of the motion that is being put forward today -- the board negotiators also informed me that by resolution they had withdrawn their board offer and that it no longer was a viable offer, and therefore it was not available for discussion. That was their position.
I also received notification by mail that the North York Board of Education and the Scarborough Board of Education had, by resolution, repudiated that offer. It became very plain to me that that offer arrived at through the mediation process at the Royal York was something beyond which many of the trustees in Metropolitan Toronto felt they could support. Now, I say that because I think that that was the perception that I certainly got listening to what happened after.
Mr. Nixon: A little speech from the gallery at this point?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I also think that if it had been accepted by the teachers that the board negotiators would have, in a very determined manner, sold it to their trustees --
Mr. Shore: Looking for a new job.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and I think they could have sold it. But having been turned down, the credibility of that offer became very, very bad indeed.
Mr. Shore: Very interesting point.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right, so we have arrived at that point. We are now at the point where this government had to act and we then had to divide the bill to bring about a resolution of this problem. We’ve accepted the premise that everyone agrees with the first principle of this bill that the schools should open next Monday.
Mr. Lewis: One thing the minister never did was have the Premier (Mr. Davis) bring them together and ask for a settlement. That’s the one matter that never occurred.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I must say that in this government, when any minister acts, he is also acting on behalf of the Premier and this whole government.
Mr. Lewis: I respect your authority, but the Premier is wrong.
Mr. Renwick: There is a mystique surrounding this Premier.
Mr. Martel: I’m not so sure.
Mr. Lewis: Mistake or mystique?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We therefore, had to bring forward into this House a bill that would, in our estimation, cause the schools to open on Monday and bring about a settlement of this matter. We have brought in that bill. We have established the back-to-work procedures. We’ve also established in the bill a procedure whereby a finality can be brought to this situation.
Mr. Martel: A rough boot.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The way we have decided that that finality can be brought is by binding arbitration. It is a situation where, as quickly as possible upon the return to school of those teachers, we will appoint that arbitrator within 30 days.
Mr. Nixon: Who is it, by the way?
Hon. Mr. Wells: It would be presumptuous of us to have announced it until this House has approved the legislation, but we will move as quickly as possible to appoint that arbitrator. We hope that within 30 days he will have determination of this matter and that negotiations, notice of which began a year ago today, can be brought to a finality very quickly. We will appoint the arbitrator very quickly.
I might also point out, and I acknowledge this and I’m sure all members of this House acknowledge it, during that period, and particularly during the seven days provided in this bill for the giving of notice to the arbitrator of those matters agreed upon and those matters in dispute, there is ample opportunity for a negotiated settlement. We don’t have to say in a bill that the parties have to get back and negotiate. If there is, as my friend says, room for negotiation, they have the opportunity to get back and negotiate it at any time during the next 30 days, but particularly during those seven days when they sort out what is still in dispute and what has been agreed upon.
Mr. Lewis: It won’t happen. There is no incentive to negotiate.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All they have to do is present to the arbitrator the fact that they have reached an agreement, and the arbitration process will cease. That can even happen after they start their presentations to the arbitrator. So, we’re not ruling that out.
Mr. Nixon: There should be an amendment on the term of the arbitration.
Mr. Renwick: It is obviously up to the boards to make another offer, is that what you are saying?
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right. The point I’m making is we’re not ruling out negotiations. We don’t have to say in this bill, “Go back and negotiate.”
Mr. Lewis: Oh, come on! You are imposing compulsory arbitration now.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, will the minister permit a question on the point he is making? Since it is possible that the arbitration will become redundant if there is a settlement -- and this is a possibility, we now all agree, Within the next week or two -- would it not then be incumbent on the minister to accept an amendment, which I referred to in my comments yesterday, that the bill be amended so that the term of the arbitration ending in 1976 under the provisions of the bill be made more flexible? We could leave that term as the outer limit but add a phrase which would allow the arbitrator himself to end arbitration if circumstances such as this or the imposition of a six per cent level from AIB for the second year become apparent.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would be willing to discuss that when we get to the committee stage. Let me just digress and tell you why we put in the two-year term.
Mr. Nixon: Then you will have the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, in all the negotiations up to the last board offer, which was arrived at through the mediation process, they were talking about a two-year agreement. The elementary teachers have a two-year agreement. It’s practically at the end of the first year now. Negotiations should really have begun this week or last week on the next contract.
Mr. Nixon: They will get notice of it anyway.
Hon. Mr. Wells: One of the things of utter paramountcy in this dispute is that we get and re-establish a harmonious relationship. I believe we can do it. It is not going to be easy, and we’re all going to have to work, particularly the teachers, trustees, parents and students, to re-establish a harmonious relationship and to rebuild respect between all these groups in the schools. I don’t know how that’s going to be done. I have every confidence that it can be done, but I think it can also be done much better if the whole negotiating process isn’t going to start over again the minute this arbitrator makes his decision -- or even before the arbitrator makes his decision for the next contract. I think we need that period of stability.
I really think that both the parties, although they may not admit it publicly, would really welcome that kind of a contract.
I point out to you that it doesn’t have to be punitive. Some people feel that a two-year contract is punitive. As long as it is properly presented, and as long as it has the kind of protection that can be built into it, it isn’t punitive. I think there are great advantages to that particular kind of contract. However, I will be glad to discuss that with my friend during the committee stage.
Mr. Nixon: At that stage the amendment will be before you.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me just say this. In the argument about the methods that we have chosen, and the amendment put forward by the New Democratic Party --
Mr. Deans: Before the minister does that, wouldn’t he leave it up to the arbitrators to decide on the length of contract?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’ve indicated my masons for a two-year contract, and I’d be happy to discuss that in more detail --
Mr. Deans: I understand that, but if they are valid the arbitrator will accept them.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- when we get to that section in committee.
The proposition put forward by the New Democratic Party in their reasoned amendment -- which we can’t accept -- first of all suggests that an interim floor position be put in -- which is one that has been withdrawn by the trustees, which has been voted against by several boards in this area and which is, as far as I’m concerned, a totally unrealistic position.
Mr. Renwick: You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The second premise is that the bill asks that negotiations continue. I submit to you that that brings no finality to the matter. What it does is that it removes the strike right and says, “Keep on negotiating” -- but brings no finality to the matter.
Mr. Lewis: We could bring it back in February if nothing has happened.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I point out to you another of your friends in British Columbia proposed that same kind of arrangement. It has brought no finality.
Mr. Lewis: Oh yes it has. The settlement ensued a few days later.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: There was a settlement in the major areas.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In only some areas; there are still some outstanding areas where there has been no settlement achieved.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would submit that it really could be argued. It could be argued that the kind of arrangement that you’ve suggested in your reasoned amendment of putting in a board offer which has been withdrawn --
Mr. Deans: That’s negotiating --
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and putting in a continuation of negotiations with removal of the right to strike could be argued --
Mr. Lewis: That principle is a political ploy.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- as a greater impediment to collective bargaining than the kind of thing that we are suggesting.
Mr. Lewis: You don’t think that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I certainly do. I think that anybody looking at that could say: “Well, the obvious thing to do is to get the Legislature to legislate some kind of a settlement for you.”
Mr. Renwick: No, you did it on two other occasions.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor. Everybody has had the opportunity to debate the issue.
Mr. Bullbrook: Why do you provoke the member for Riverside like that?
Mr. Speaker: Order, the hon. minister only.
Mr. Lewis: Would the hon. minister accept a question?
Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. minister accept a question?
Mr. Lewis: I think he probably would He’s a reasonable person. Why did you include, specifically, a floor --
Mr. Bullbrook: He wants to go to the country on this.
Mr. Lewis: -- in the York county settlement and in the transit worker settlement, prefaced by statements by the ministers? We have them saying in Hansard: “If there is compulsory arbitration, there should be a floor below which the arbitrator cannot go.” Why was it appropriate then, but not appropriate in this legislation?
Mr. Shore: Mr. Speaker, you said this wasn’t a debate.
Mr. Lewis: He granted the right to ask a question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think that in this particular situation, given the fact that this was an offer that was rejected by the teachers --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It was withdrawn by the boards, so it certainly couldn’t be accepted as a floor in the sense of the one that we put in in the York county situation.
Mr. Deans: Will you accept another floor?
Hon. Wells: I might point out that in my mind there are no other floors, or propositions or offers that could be put in in the same context as that matter in the York county dispute.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s only 30 days.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Now, I think that the --
Mr. Bullbrook: They want to go to the country on this issue.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wish they would.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think that the proposition of having an arbitrator make his decision within 30 days can very conveniently solve this problem without a floor.
Mr. Bullbrook: Ten NDP, 12 Liberals, and all the rest Tories.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Maybe even Sarnia.
Mr. Bullbrook: Oh, perish the thought.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister will continue.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Can I also remind my friends that there are, I am told, some other precedents for this kind of legislation? One of them is in the Province of Saskatchewan where Premier Blakeney ordered the hydro workers to cease and desist a walkout and imposed compulsory arbitration with no floor, which I think indicates --
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- that there can be merit to the kind of suggestion that we are putting forward.
Mr. Speaker, I think that rather than take any further time of this House there are just two things that I would like to say. First of all I think I would just like to indicate that we are, and this is a matter of information, we are going to institute a very in-depth research study of the effects of this strike and the manner in which the pupils’ programmes are made up after the strike is over. This will be done in depth by our ministry working with the boards of education and the teachers in Metropolitan Toronto because I think that kind of factual information will be helpful to all of us and all members of this House if we, and I hope we never do, face this kind of a situation again.
Further, let me just say that I think the bill we have here today is a fair one; it’s a reasonable one; it shows that this government is exercising leadership. It shows that we are here to govern. It shows that what we feel has to be done is that the schools of Metropolitan Toronto must be open next Monday for the educational welfare of the 140,000 students. It shows that we want a quick and positive finale to the dispute that has caused bitterness and frustration among the teaching profession and the public and the trustees in Metropolitan Toronto.
I would say very plainly and simply, Mr. Speaker, that we are here today not to blame teachers, not to blame school boards, but we are here to open the schools. We are here to start back on the road to building a harmonious relationship in the classrooms of Metropolitan Toronto. And I can’t emphasize that more strongly.
We’ve got to rebuild the respect, the confidence and the sense of goodwill that is necessary for quality education and a quality learning experience in those classrooms. That is what I want. And that is what we have got to do.
We have to rekindle somehow these kinds of qualities between and among the trustees, the teachers, the parents and the students and the general public in Metropolitan Toronto. I want to tell you that I am going to do everything possible and this government is going to do everything possible to do that, and we are confident that the trustees and the teachers and the community at large will also do the same, because that is what we have got to do. And what does that mean? That means that our responsibility here today, right now, is to vote in favour of this bill. And I hope the House will do it unanimously.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Mr. Wells had moved second reading of Bill 1. Mr. Lewis then moved a reasoned amendment which stated that Bill 1 be not now read a second time and he gave the reasons therefor.
The first question, of course, in such cases is: shall the word “now” and the other words sought to be struck out stand as part of the motion?
The House divided on the motion that Bill 1 be now read a second time, which was approved on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, the “ayes” are 75, the “nays” are 32.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr. Bullbrook: No.
Mr. Speaker: Committee of the whole House?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO BOARDS OF EDUCATION AND TEACHERS DISPUTES ACT
House in committee on Bill 1, An Act respecting the Metropolitan Toronto Boards of Education and Teachers Disputes.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Chairman, before the clause-by-clause discussion I would like to indicate there has been general agreement that the committee will sit now until we finish this work. In other words, we will sit through the luncheon hour and not have a break for lunch, so members can make their own arrangements. We will stack whatever votes there may be in committee and have one bell.
On section 1:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Wells moves that clause (b) of subsection 1 of section 1 of the bill be amended by striking out “and” at the end of sub-clause v, by adding “and” at the end of sub-clause vi and by adding thereto the following sub-clause vii, the Metropolitan Toronto School Board.”
Hon. Mr. Wells: The reason for this is that, while the Metropolitan Toronto School Board doesn’t directly employ any secondary teachers, it is a signatory to the agreement and therefore should be in. We had debated this at first, that is not to put them in the bill because they didn’t employ any teachers. The Metro school board and the elementary panel do actually employ teachers in special education circumstances.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Chairman, just before the amendment is put, I want to add a thought. Of course the amendment will be passed and of course it won’t be stacked and of course there is no problem, but it is ironic that the Metro school board was left out of the legislation initially. It might have spoken to the unconscious sense in the minds of bureaucrats in the minister’s department -- I daren’t say in the mind of the minister himself -- that the whole negotiating process this time has demonstrated that there is something very wrong with the Metro board procedure and that one of the things we may be emerging toward, in Metropolitan Toronto, is negotiations with the individual boards, probably resulting in agreements rather more easily than the sad pattern of the last several months.
I know there are many individual boards thinking about that terribly seriously at the present moment. I am sure the oversight isn’t attributable to some Freudian base, but I smiled to myself last night when it as drawn to my attention because it speaks to a reality: The Metro board system is not working.
Mr. Chairman: Does the minister wish to speak?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would have to differ with my friend on his last comment. I don’t think we can categorically say that the system is not working.
I think there may be room for improvement in the negotiation area. As he knows, the metropolitan school board, as one of its functions, does not negotiate the salaries and does not employ the teachers, but the negotiations have been on a joint basis by agreement.
Mr. Lewis: Yes, I agree.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Sometimes, in generalization, people say the Metro school board is negotiating, but they really are not. It is a committee of board chairmen, made up of all the boards and the Metro chairman, who also sits as a trustee on one of the area boards. This is the body that is doing the negotiating.
I would have to say that I think that certainly, having once been head of a negotiating team for the Metro trustees, the stage at which we have arrived in Metro where we have joint negotiation of the boards and the teachers is a much better system than individual negotiations.
Mr. Chairman: Shall the minister’s amendment carry?
Are there any further comments, questions or amendments to any other section of the Bill? If so which one.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Chairman, section 3.
Mr. Chairman: Is it in agreement then that section 2 is carried?
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Deans: Dealing with an amendment I propose to make requires amendment of two subsections, subsection 4 and subsection 5. I would like to place both amendments at the same time in order that they can be considered simultaneously.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Deans moves that subsection 4 of section 3 be amended by adding after the word “parties” in the fifth line the words:
Including in the case of the written notice to the arbitrator from the boards the last offer of the boards to the branch affiliates.
Mr. Deans further moves that subsection 5 of section 3 be amended to read as follows:
(5) The arbitrator, upon receipt of a notice, shall examine the last offer of the boards to the branch affiliates and on the basis of that offer shall examine into and decide all matters that are in dispute between the parties as evidenced by the notice referred to in subsection (4) and any other matters that appear to him to be necessary to be decided in order to make a decision no less favourable to the branch affiliates than such last offer.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Chairman, the effect of what we have moved is to ensure that the arbitrator will not make a decision that is less than the offer that was before the teachers on Dec. 20, 1975.
It is not uncommon for legislation proposed by this government to contain a base from which the arbitrator has to work. We happen to feel that that is a desirable feature in a bill such as this, although we frankly don’t agree with the bill itself. We feel that it provides a certain amount of fairness in whatever decision is finally arrived at.
I listened to the minister with interest today talking about how the boards had withdrawn their offer. I want to say that we came to the conclusion that the boards’ last offer was the fairest offer to discuss.
We assumed, perhaps naively, that when the boards made the offer they actually intended to pay it. We thought that when they made the offer they were prepared to live up to it. We thought that when they put that offer before the teachers, they did so in good faith and that had it been agreed upon then they would have gone ahead and implemented it. With that in mind, we therefore decided that since the boards had offered that particular settlement, that would be the settlement upon which any floor should be based, or the lowest level that the arbitrator could determine.
We are prepared to concede that that may not be the only floor. We are prepared to concede that it may be that :there’s another base, a base more satisfactory, a base that the government can accept.
Mr. Lewis: The October offer.
Mr. Deans: The October offer, as my leader says. It may be there is another base that can be established to ensure that there be fairness in the final arbitration decision, to ensure that the teachers can go back into the classroom knowing at least that that Which they had already been offered is guaranteed. They can then turn their minds away from the dispute entirely and address themselves solely and particularly to the matter of educating the children before them; that they don’t have to now concern themselves about what goes on behind the scenes before the arbitrator.
I want to deal with one matter that worries me, before we talk any further about the amendment itself. We put this amendment because we happen to believe it to be useful. We happen to believe it to be consistent. We happen to believe it to be consistent with this government’s own philosophy about boards of arbitration and decisions that be made.
I was worried yesterday when it came to my attention that the government would consider the passage of this sort of amendment as a non-confidence matter. I walked away shaking my head and wondering just why I bother getting up in the morning and coming to the Legislature and taking part in the debates and thinking about the legislation placed before us and worrying about its impact, if I am forever going to be threatened with an election if I decide to propose something that I think might help to I strengthen the legislation. I wonder whether I might not better have stayed in bed and left them to make their own decision, because obviously they weren’t prepared to talk with us.
Maybe they are now prepared to talk with us. Maybe there is a compromise somewhere that we can achieve that will ensure that when those teachers go back into the classroom that they will be able to do so without feeling that they have been totally destroyed by this Legislature, and that their future has been threatened by the imposition of the legislation -- that at least there’s some sort of sense that there’s justice in this chamber. I think that’s really what we’re talking about.
We all agree the teachers will go back to work on Monday; we’ve always agreed on that. We made it clear right from the outset that on Monday morning at 9 o’clock, or whatever time it happens to occur, the school doors will open and the teachers will be there and the pupils will be taught. We have no disagreement oil that.
We disagreed on the method of resolving the outstanding dispute, and we thought that we had offered a reasonable method of trying to resolve it. It differed from the government’s method, but we still felt that it was as reasonable an approach as the approach of the government -- in fact, we thought it a little more reasonable, so we proposed it.
We worried more about the effect of what has gone on and the effect of what we are currently doing on the educational system. We worried a lot about trying to ensure that when those teachers finally went into the classroom the pupils could look to them with respect and understanding and the teachers could hold their heads up and feel that they had at least accomplished something as a result of the exercise that they’ve gone through.
This Legislature, to this point, hasn’t agreed that that’s valuable but we still think it is. We think that’s very valuable. We think that may well be the foundation upon which the relationship between the pupils and the teachers, and the teachers and the boards will begin to redevelop and to reassert itself, and the foundation upon which the kinds of relationships that we hope will be accomplished and know are necessary will be based.
What we’re asking the government to do is if it feels that there is another offer more acceptable than the one that we’re proposing, then tell us what it is, but don’t reject out of hand the proposition that there ought to be some floor below which the arbitrator cannot go as a result of the actions that we take.
Let me refer to the two most quoted pieces of legislation. The Toronto transit labour dispute settlement said -- and this was passed in 1974 -- in section 7:
The basic hourly rates of wages for employees to whom this Act applies are hereby increased by 12 per cent over the basic hourly wage rate in effect on the expiry date, retroactive in each case to the day immediately following the expiry date, and the decision of the arbitrator shall include such increase.
Nothing in this section prevents the arbitrator from granting increases on the basic hourly wage rate in excess of those established in this section. You recognize that in order to gain goodwill, in order to gain a sense of justice, in order to assure those employees that there would be no possibility of being victimized as a result of the actions of this Legislature, there had to be a floor below which the arbitrator couldn’t operate. That was the first point.
In the York county teachers’ dispute we did likewise -- a little more complicated perhaps -- and perhaps something similar could have been worked out in this case, though, frankly, we were unable to do it because we didn’t have all the details. In the York county dispute it was determined, and I quote from section 4:
The rates of salaries for teachers in categories 1 to 4 as set out in the schedule to this Act are effective on and after Sept. 1, 1973, until the award made by the board of arbitration under this Act becomes in operation. The decision of the board of arbitration [and this is the key] shall not provide for rates of salaries in categories 1 to 4 less than the rates of salaries as set out in the schedule for such categories.
This said that we in the Legislature were approving a floor level below which the arbiirator should not, could not, would not go. Now we’re suggesting, given that this is an unusual circumstance, given that we do want to maintain the collective bargaining system as it exists, given that Bill 100 is succeeding to whatever degree -- we all agree it’s succeeding fairly well -- there has to be an understanding of the unique circumstances in this dispute, and that it makes some sense then to, establish some kind of level below which the. arbitration can’t go.
For the government to suggest that they would hold an election on the basis of this: amendment is absolutely ludicrous. To suggest that it would even threaten to call a general election in the Province of Ontario, because we wanted to put a base level in this Act, is blackmail.
You may have succeeded with the other party but you are not succeeding with us because we think it’s worthwhile. If they are afraid to stand up and be counted on the things they say they believe in, then I want to tell you we are not.
This is consistent with government policy, and this is a guarantee to the very people who on Monday morning have to resume their teaching duties. It’s also a guarantee to the parents and it’s a guarantee to the students that the undivided attention of those teachers will be given to that, and that they won’t be worried about what is going to happen before the arbitrator. I ask you to think quite seriously of whether or not you can accept this clause or a similar clause to insert in this bill to ensure that this happens.
While I am on my feet, I want to deal with one other matter that relates directly to this clause. The minister says that the boards have now withdrawn the offer that they made on Dec. 20. I want to tell you that part of the reason for that, if not all of the reason for that, is the direct result of the cutbacks of this government in the various fields, including the field of education.
Let me tell you the reason why I say that. In one instance alone, which doesn’t touch exactly on the Metro situation but which is a parallel, in the case of the Hamilton board, as a result of the cutbacks, they will not be able to provide the same level of education that they previously provided. I assume that similar kinds of situations will prevail in Metropolitan Toronto. I assume, for example, in those areas where new housing developments have occurred, as in the case of Hamilton, and where there were clear evidences of the need to build facilities to educate the children who are living in the areas, the boards will not be able to proceed with the development in the way in which they have to in order to meet their obligations. Those things all affect the decisions that the board has to make with regard to the expenditure of funds.
The government itself has injected or interjected or whatever you want to say -- imposed, I suppose -- itself into the dispute by virtue of the cuts that were announced in the way in which education can be provided. You have to share some of the responsibility. I am not suggesting all of it, but I think that affected the decisions of many of the people involved in the negotiations.
I ask the minister to give serious consideration to putting in a clause. I ask him to stop threatening us with this nonsense. We are here to do a job. We are trying to do it to the best of our ability. You will have an election some day when you decide to have it. It will have nothing to do with anything we do. It will have something to do with what your monthly polls tell you about your popularity. It will have nothing at all to do with what happens in this Legislature. We know it, and any of you who know anything about politics over there, you know it too. The first day you think you can get a majority, we will have an election, whether the Legislature is sitting or whether we are dealing with anything. What we do here won’t affect it.
I ask the minister whether or not there is either this clause or some other clause that would be acceptable to him and to the government in order to guarantee the fairness that we think has to be in any piece of legislation where the rights of people are being taken away.
Mr. Nixon: We have considered the amendment put forward by the hon. member. I have been particularly interested in his comments about the precedents undertaken by this House where a floor controlling the arbitrator has been a part of legislation in the past.
The big difference here and the difference which will not permit my colleagues and me to support it is that the situation has changed in this one particular, important degree.
Mr. Wildman: Minority government.
Mr. Nixon: We’ll talk about that too -- and that is, whatever the arbitrator finds, his finding is subject to the approval or the rejection of the Anti-Inflation Board at Ottawa.
Mr. Deans: That’s what makes it positive; that is what makes it even more positive.
Mr. Nixon: It is quite dear that the purpose of this bill is not only to see that school is resumed on Monday, but also so that a pay settlement -- it wouldn’t be an agreement by arbitration -- will be forthcoming. If we in this Legislature were to appoint an arbitrator -- and I suppose we will soon know who it will be -- with the powers to use his best judgement to see that a settlement is imposed on both sides and to leave it subject to the rulings of the Anti-Inflation Board, which in my view are very difficult to predict, then I consider we would be acting irresponsibly in this regard.
The interjection has come here, “Well, it’s minority government that has frightened you people off.” May I assure my hon. friend that my colleagues and I had come to the decision on that matter before the tremors came down through the cobwebs in this place, that the man smoking the cigar downstairs would consider this a matter of confidence and that was supposed to frighten us all into line. I’ll tell you, that is frightening; it really is.
Mr. Makarchuk: It wasn’t in the discussion yesterday, Bob. You were going to amend it yesterday.
Mr. Nixon: Oh pipe down.
Mr. MacDonald: Read yesterday’s Hansard.
Mr. Nixon: But I would also say to you, Mr. Chairman, that if the man smoking the cigar thinks it would be a good issue to go to the province on this convoluted business, then that’s a matter of bad judgment --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It’s very unkind to refer to “the man smoking the cigar;” it’s like referring to “the third party.”
Hon. Mr. Kerr: We cigar smokers object.
Mr. Nixon: -- because surely the reasonable members of this House will see that while we are appointing an arbitrator in these circumstances, it is irresponsible for us to bind his hands in a way that he will not be able to do his job under the law of Canada.
Now we have an ambivalence here. My colleagues from Sarnia and from Wilson Heights have put before you, Mr. Chairman and the other members of the House, a strong contention, bolstered by the best legal opinion available -- even better, I suppose, than some of the members of the front bench if that is possible --
Mr. Bullbrook: Better than the “Dear Jim” letter.
Mr. Nixon: -- that the government has been acting illegally in giving this power to the Anti-Inflation Board of Canada. But whatever we think about it, they are the government and they have done so; and we are not in a position, since we have not been supported by the NDP in our efforts in the past, to have this changed.
Mr. MacDonald: You have changed your position since yesterday.
Mr. Nixon: It could have been changed. We would have had an election. If you wanted to have an election on this issue, you could have supported us.
Mr. Reid: You had your chance and you copped out.
Mr. Bullbrook: You copped out.
Mr. Martel: You wanted an election there.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, our view is that the amendment is irresponsible in the light of the facts of the Anti-Inflation Board that we must face, whether we like it or not -- and we do not like it. We cannot support the amendment.
Mr. Martel: You need a lot more backbone.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I would like to deal with the two reasons -- the one given by the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) and the one given by the leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Nixon) as to why this particular amendment cannot be accepted.
The Minister of Education, in his closing remarks on the second reading debate, gave as his reason, first of all that the offer of Dec. 20 had been withdrawn by the boards, and subsequent to its withdrawal had been rejected by two of the borough boards. He gave that as the distinguishing feature which distinguished this bill from the two previous bills. Since that last offer, in relation to what the minister has said, is not an offer which can be considered by the arbitrator, is the minister saying to us that the base under which the arbitrator will operate is the two-year collective agreement which, if my memory serves me correctly, expired on Aug. 31, 1975, and which had its origins on Sept. 1, 1973? Is that the base from which the arbitrator is going to operate?
If that’s not the base, will the minister clarify whether or not the arbitrator is going to be able to take into account the last offer of the board, despite the fact that the minister said: “It is as if it were never made”; which I take to be the import and the intent of what the Minister of Education has said? I think that is extremely important.
And ancillary only to this particular amendment, but an equally important and extremely important clarification which the minister must give to the teachers in the province: What is the salary scale and under what agreement is it that the teachers will return on Monday to the schools in the Metropolitan secondary school system? I think that’s got to be clarified. That’s my first response to the minister’s stated reason why this bill should be distinguished from the two preceding bills.
The Leader of the Opposition put a different proposition.
Mr. Nixon: No, he has not spoken on this yet.
An hon. member: He’s not the opposition; not this year.
Mr. Lewis: I am about to speak.
Mr. Renwick: I’m sorry.
Mr. Reid: It’s just part of your general confusion, Jim.
Mr. Shore: You will be all right.
Mr. Reid: You are consistent with your confusion, Jim.
Mr. Nixon: He is never very good before 5 o’clock
Mr. MacDonald: It’s just a compliment before he bows out.
Mr. Reid: That’s Stephen Lewis on your right, Jim.
Mr. Shore: Jim Renwick, Stephen Lewis.
Mr. Renwick: Stephen, forgive me.
The leader of the Liberal Party stated as his exception, as the rationale why his party will not support this -- I take from what he said that the arbitrator is to take into account what the AIB will do to this offer, because the government of Canada and the law of the government of Canada is what controls the decision of the arbitrator.
Mr. Nixon: No, if he is turned down by the AIB he has to return to them.
Mr. Renwick: The arbitrator doesn’t have to return to anyone. Let me at least try to clarify it for the minister. I’m sure the minister is not confused, but confusion was interjected into this amendment by the leader of the Liberal Party.
Mr. Shore: I think he understands what arbitration is better than you do. You have been throwing the confusion in.
Mr. Renwick: The minister stated in his opening remarks that the second purpose -- and I’m taking it as the second purpose, although he stated them together he agreed that the paramountcy was the opening of the schools. The second purpose was to achieve an equitable --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: He can hear you, go ahead.
Mr. Deans: It’s the height of bad manners to talk to the minister.
An hon. member: He can listen.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am listening.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Deans: You don’t take the time of a person who is supposed to be listening to the comments.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am listening.
Mr. Nixon: You’ve got every right to speak but you have no responsibility otherwise.
Mr. Renwick: I’m not worried about you listening, Mr. Minister, I want you to understand.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Renwick: The minister stated that the second objective of this bill was an equitable settlement between the boards and the teachers. The agreement which is to be decided by the arbitrator is the agreement between the boards and the teachers, it has nothing to do with what may happen subsequently before the Anti-Inflation Board, despite all of the reservations which anybody may have about what it’s doing and what it’s saying and the indefiniteness with which it imposes. I say to the minister categorically, and particularly to the leader of the Liberal Party, the obligation of the arbitrator as we understand it is to ignore the fact that an anti-inflation law was passed at Ottawa; to disregard it entirely and to negotiate the settlement as between the parties which will be equitable.
I say that, not in any dry-as-dust method of making a distinction which is a legalism, I say it for this reason: There will come a time, regardless of any change which is made in the decision of the arbitrator which the boards and the teachers may have to accept, and God knows nobody knows what that will be, there will come a time when it will be essential to the ongoing relationships of the Metro boards and of the teachers in the next series of negotiations, to know exactly what the agreement would have been in the absence of the anti-inflation guidelines.
Now that is essential. Otherwise there is going to be such a setback that the government will continue to exacerbate the relationship. It is essential that the minister state that the arbitrator’s obligation is to make that kind of a settlement.
Now it has to be said categorically, it can’t be just left up in the air. The arbitrator has got to know from this debate the meaning of the clause in the bill which directs him to make the settlement. He is entitled to have, and we are entitled to have, and the boards are entitled to have, and the teachers are entitled to have, a clear and unequivocal statement that the arbitrator in making his decision must disregard the decisions of the Anti-Inflation Board in Ottawa, even though the necessary consequence is that when the agreement is finally made the boards, as the employer, must take the agreement to Ottawa and make the best fist out of it that they can possibly make.
Now that distinction to us is essential, as well as the distinction which I made about the minister’s reasons for not going along with our amendment. I would appreciate the minister’s comments.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Kitchener-Wilmot.
Mr. Sweeney: Despite the number of times we have tried to place it, our colleagues in the NDP continually seem to miss an extremely essential point. There are a number in this caucus who could be persuaded to see the justice of the point they are making about a floor. We can understand the point that they are making when they refer to the transit strike and when they refer to the York county strike. But, unfortunately, there is a fatal flaw in the entire argument, notwithstanding the argument that was just given, and which I understand, by the member for Riverdale. I heard it, I understand it. Notwithstanding that, the fatal flaw is this -- and it is a fatal flaw that we were unfortunately unable to persuade them existed on Dec. 18, 1975. With respect to the transit strike, with respect to the York county strike, the government, backed by this Legislature, was able to enforce the floor which was put into those particular bills. In this particular case, the government, even with the backing of this Legislature, is not able to enforce any floor of any kind which is put into this bill.
Mr. Wildman: Are you going to move the amendment?
Mr. Sweeney: That is the essential factor that has to be considered. That is the factor which they still do not seem to have recognized as really the essential point of the amendment on Dec. 18, that this government --
Mr. Wildman: Well, move it now.
Mr. Sweeney: -- this Legislature has given up its responsibility to enforce its own regulations, its own rulings, its own Acts.
Mr. Nixon: With the NDP supporting them.
Mr. Sweeney: They cannot do it; and we are going to have series after series after series of that.
Mr. Wildman: Then why vote for the bill?
Mr. Sweeney: We placed the party on this side of the House in jeopardy when we proposed that amendment. We knew we were doing so. But we also knew, down the line, the long-range consequences. We anticipated this very kind of situation; and we are going to face it again and again.
Mr. Wildman: You would still vote for this bill?
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Wentworth.
Mr. Deans: One word about it. First of all, the amendment voted on back in December, placed some time in October, had no bearing on this. The fact of the matter was that that did not involve any legislative direction. That was simply an opinion expressed to Her Honour, which may or may not have resulted in any change. What we are talking about is a situation that in fact exists. And we all agree that it is very likely --
Mr. Nixon: With your vote we have no power to change.
Mr. Deans: You had no power to change it in December, but what you can do now is at least indicate to the arbitrator and to the Anti-Inflation Board the lowest level the members of this Legislature think ought to be acceptable.
Mr. Nixon: How do you pay them?
Mr. Deans: I want to suggest to you that if there is any use at all in trying to be part of the decision, then the only way you can guarantee the Anti-Inflation Board will understand what the elected members of the Ontario Legislature feel is the lowest acceptable level is to put this in the bill.
If you are afraid to go on record as to what you think the lowest level is, then say so if that’s the problem. If you are afraid to go on record publicly as saying you think there ought to be a floor level for any arbitrated settlement, then just say so. Don’t hide behind the Anti-Inflation Board, that is not a problem.
Mr. Shore: If anybody is hiding, you are.
Mr. Deans: As my colleague has said, and to reinforce his point, there is no question that what we are trying to do is guarantee that the system will open in such a way as to ensure there will be fairness and the sense of fairness. This is the only way to do it. We can’t make it stick; we know we can’t. We know we can’t guarantee that that will be paid. Were we the government we might be prepared to go and stand up on behalf of the settlement, but we are not. As members of the Legislature we are prepared to say that floor is the floor we think is a fair floor for any future arbitrated settlement in the province of this dispute.
Mr. Ferris: I rise to speak very briefly on one point. We will be opposing this motion.
With regard to the observations of the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) I could not agree more with him in that I would hope, and I would certainly have every belief, that the arbitrator will be going in to look at a settlement which is a just settlement and not be concerned with what the AIB is likely to say about it, even though there is the reality that it must be taken there.
The part that perhaps bothers me a little bit -- and I am sure it also bothers most of the members of the NDP with more experience in labour relations than I myself have -- is that the arbitrator’s decisions and the things he has to weigh are so numerous and such very difficult decisions that to put the constraining or the initial clause in here is just another factor that has to be taken into account and thought about constantly.
I believe there is a little bit of a side effect if you do it this way, if you let the arbitrator work with full flexibility. He also has some further pressure on him to bring in his report within the 30 days or shorter, because it is of much more significant consequence, rather than being delayed, as it probably would be if he requested it at a later point
Mr. Lewis: I know the minister wants to say something. I have no doubt he will find the amendment unacceptable, although the amendment itself can be easily altered as long as the principle of a floor is expressed. It is a curious situation that has developed where so many members of the Legislature feel that in the name of equity some floor should be placed; but some people, some in the Liberal Party, find it impossible to support that position because ultimately the Anti-Inflation Board will rule so what the devil use is it anyway? That’s the argument, that’s the fatal flaw which is expressed.
It is a curious kind of abdication. We sense the same kind of futility you sense. I think we said it yesterday on second reading. I think many members of the Liberal Party said it. We go through this whole Byzantine procedure and ultimately it is all shovelled off to Jean-Luc Pepin.
But along the way, because it is our bill in this Legislature and we are speaking to its principles and its causes, we should, as my colleague from Wentworth said, state our position. I want to put to you that that’s terribly important for the teachers in the educational system in Metropolitan Toronto. It may be that the Anti-Inflation Board will overrule, reverse or alter an arbitrated settlement, but it’s very important for the arbitrator to know that we in the Legislature feel there is a floor below which he or she should not descend.
Why is it important? It is important because these people have been negotiating in good faith for seven months or more, because Bill 100 has been complied with for seven months or more, because if you pass a piece of legislation and you defeat this amendment, therefore inviting the possibility of an arbitrator setting a level of settlement below that which the board has itself offered on some misguided assumption that the Anti-Inflation Board’s ruling should be observed rather than the contacts during the negotiations, we are really inviting a fracas in the school system and for no earthly reason whatsoever.
It is not popular these days, God knows, to take a teacher’s point of view; you risk your life. But the minister knows that nothing could be so unfair as to have an arbitration award which comes in below that which the boards from time to time have offered.
If we don’t set some kind of minimum, in the name of equity, indicating to an arbitrator what we would wish that arbitrator to render his or her judgement against, then we have also given up, we are also taking an enormous risk in the system.
It’s crazy. It is not the way the world works. You don’t ultimately go through the whole process of collective bargaining only to savage it at the eleventh hour. It makes no sense at all and there is nothing unreasonable in the world in what we are saying.
We are not saying that what we do here denies the intervention of the Anti-Inflation Board. Of course it is going to happen anyway. What we are saying is that what we do here is a signal to the teachers and the boards. They bargained in good faith. We accept that. We assume they made good-faith offers and good-faith responses. We are saying to an arbitrator, “This is the position from which you must then decide,” and afterwards it goes to Jean-Luc Pepin and that decision will be rendered.
I think the minister should think of that I don’t think there is any public opprobrium which will descend on your head if you can find a level, and if you say to us, “The last board offer is unrealistic because it has already been withdrawn,” then we say to you, “Fair game. Suggest an alternative base.”
I cannot remember -- I have tried; I have even looked at the recent federal statute and the federal statute also contains a floor -- I can’t remember a bill of compulsory arbitration which doesn’t contain some floor.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There are several.
Mr. Lewis: The signal given at the point of that compulsory arbitration bill was contained in the statement by the minister. You have just said we will leave it to the arbitrator.
All right, if that’s your position and you are going to hold to it -- and I understand the problem the Liberal Party has in supporting it -- I hope for everyone’s sake that the arbitrator, whoever he or she may be, comes down with some kind of settlement which exceeds what has been offered or mirrors what has been offered, even if it is later reversed; because if not, you will have a group of teachers on your hands so bitterly disillusioned about the process, and so rightfully disillusioned about the process, that they would be just to respond in anger.
They won’t leave the schools and they won’t quit teaching. You won’t have another strike on your hands, but you will have a whole professional group shaking their heads in bewilderment that having at least conformed to the process even though nobody likes it, when it was all over we dealt them this final blow. In the name of equity, I am asking you to change your position even though I sense the futility of the request.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, before the minister speaks, I felt that rather than leave what the hon. gentleman and the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) have put on the record, I wanted to make this clarification that we are not supporting this because we are throwing up our hands and saying it’s all going to be settled in Ottawa anyway.
I would hope that the arbitrator would look at the last proposal of the board -- they say it’s a proposal and not an offer and we’ve looked at those split hairs flying in the wind for what that means, but he would look at that.
I would agree with the comment that has been made that if the teachers had voted in favour of that proposal or offer, certainly it would have been accepted, whether or not the members of the board in Scarborough and North York and those other places, who felt that their chairman got out in front of them a little bit perhaps; whatever they would think, that would have been a settlement and an agreement. So the arbitrator will surely give a decision very close to the last board proposal or offer.
All I am saying is this: It then is transmitted to Ottawa for approval or disapproval. And I’ll tell you, there is no way of predicting what they’re going to do. You can say, well in Hamilton they accepted 23 per cent and so on. One can play that game, but there is no way of knowing what that board, in all of its mystic powers, is going to do for the teachers or do to the teachers in this city.
If it is not accepted, the board might say: “All right, the arbitrator is recommending 24 per cent” or 23.08 per cent or whatever it happens to be and whoever’s figures are being looked at; and they say, “We reject that.” They may then say: “However, we will roll it back to 21.37 per cent and that will be okay.” They may simply say: “We reject that.” The mouth of the powerful board closes and where the devil are we then? How do you pay the teachers even after 30 days? What do you do with them then?
The only rational floor would, in my view, be an insult to include in this bill, and that is a 12 per cent floor which we know the Anti-Inflation Board would accept. I would never for a moment propose that as a floor because I consider that an insult and it would obviously be misunderstood by everybody.
So when the other members sort of dismiss the views that are taken by myself and my colleagues as simply buckling under to political pressure -- that a sword is hanging over our heads and we don’t want an election and all that stuff, all right -- but I can assure them that our position has been entered into with what we consider to be responsible thought that we are going to have an arbitrator who is going to have great powers under the bill for two years -- and we want to talk about that a bit later. He has, by a decision of this House, been given the power to arbitrate this settlement. The only reason we are not in favour of a floor, whether it is one the other members suggest or some other one -- and really there is only one other one, what else are you going to pick? Stanley Hartt!
We never hear of him any more, you know. He’s gone, with half the treasury; he’s gone back to Montreal.
We don’t know where else to look. For us to say, “Ah yes, it should be 23.08 per cent”; that’s ridiculous, because we have not been taking part in the negotiations. Sure we’ve been talking to the teachers’ professional representatives, the members of the school board and lots of people who phone in, but that doesn’t mean that just because we’re members of the Legislature we ought to say, “Arbitrator, that’s what your decision should be.”
We are saying to the arbitrator that much as we dislike doing it this way, in order to get the schools open we must do it this way. Here is this cloud, much larger than a man’s hand, hanging over Ottawa, with lightning bolts that can strike right down here with a decision backed by the authority of the Parliament of Canada; and for us to set up an arbitrator who cannot accommodate himself to that would be irresponsible.
We can go on with the argument; I have nothing more to say about it. But I don’t want it to go on the record that we take that position simply because we throw up our hands and say, “It’s all in Ottawa so there’s nothing we can do.”
Mr. Deans: When the leader of the third party says that we cannot decide on an amount, that didn’t inhibit us back in 1974. We decided an amount in the TTC strike --
Mr. Nixon: There wasn’t an Anti-Inflation Board.
Mr. Deans: There was.
Mr. Lewis: You come back to that again and again. it.
Mr. Sweeney: This province could enforce
An hon. member: There was no Anti-Inflation Board.
Mr. Deans: No, but the Anti-Inflation Board is irrelevant.
Mr. Sweeney: Not that section of it.
Ms. Deans: Now, if it’s a matter of deciding, the leader --
Mr. Nixon: It is for the first proposal.
Mr. Deans: The leader of the third party says just what should we decide? Should we decide 12 per cent, should we decided 23.2 per cent? I tell him that in 1974 we decided twice on a floor level, now what --
Mr. Nixon: Well you’re dismissing the Anti-Inflation Board and it’s here whether you say it is or not.
Mr. Deans: I am dismissing it because in fact the Anti-Inflation Board does not, should not and cannot come into play until after the arbitration process has been completed.
Mr. Nixon: That’s right and if they knock it down you have got to go back to them, and under your amendment they couldn’t go back.
Mr. Deans: The situation as we see it is this, that since we chose as members of the Legislature --
Mr. Evans: Do you want to start over again?
Mr. Deans: No, I am going to wait until the Minister of Labour (Hon. B. Stephenson) is finished. I get tired of it.
Since we chose as members of the Legislature in 1974 to set levels, and we deemed it appropriate to do that then, and the arbitrator was then charged with the responsibility of deciding on his or her final decision with regard to the matter, we think it equally appropriate that the arbitrator in this case should have the same guidance in order to come to his or her final decision on this matter.
Ultimately, of course, it must go to the AIB, but let me tell you something, even in those other arbitrations there was the possibility, remote though it may be, that the arbitration could have been taken to the courts. It has happened previously, it will probably happen again, and there is no question that there was yet another step which could have been taken even in those arbitrations, though it is infrequently taken by anyone, and that was never taken into account by the leader of the third party at that time. Guidance from the Legislature is necessary.
Mr. Shore: Mr. Chairman, as we have all known, this is a very complex situation and issue. Our party, and I for one and many others, have come to a decision after giving thought to various reasons and rationales. There is not just one reason as to why you come to a decision. The Anti-Inflation Board has been one of these items. Certainly it’s not the only item. Our leader has elucidated on that a little bit, but I want to make it clear that it’s just one item. I for one, for example, place just as great an importance on the issue that this is complex, it’s serious and the more simple form of bringing these teachers back to work and getting the schools open, and having faith in the compulsory arbitration process, is the better way.
We get into debate in this House, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) has said himself, “Well, if you don’t like that particular one, choose another one.” We have not been party to the negotiation. We know it’s a serious issue. It’s not going to overcome itself overnight. Whether or not we do something here today will also add to the complexities. I think we are far smarter to say to ourselves, “Let’s get the schools open, support this legislation, and get on with the job and have faith in compulsory arbitration.” For varying reasons we are supporting that, not just because of the Anti-Inflation Board.
Mr. Foulds: I think we have come to the nub of it in the second last sentence of the last speaker, “Have faith in compulsory arbitration.”
I think the debate for the last day and a half has been over that very point. It was the purpose of this party’s reasoned’ amendment, and it is the purpose of this party in this amendment, to achieve the third objective that the minister failed to mention in his speech should be achieved in this legislation, and which I spoke about last night. That third objective must be, has to be, the rebuilding and the rehabilitation of the Metropolitan school system, and any effort that this party can make toward that end, we will make.
Mr. Shore: Your motion won’t help you.
Mr. Foulds: Let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, you do not send teachers back to the classrooms with no assurance whatsoever of any kind that they will not be receiving some improvement on an agreement that they signed two years ago.
Mr. Sweeney: You can’t give them that assurance.
Mr. Foulds: You had your chance to speak and I didn’t interrupt you.
Mr. Evans: Oh no?
Mr. Foulds: No. I raise to you, Mr. Chairman, the Liberal Party and the government argue that different circumstances prevailed in the Toronto Transit Commission dispute and in the York county dispute, but as I recall -- and I could be corrected -- one of the reasons given by the minister for including the floor and the schedule in the legislation in the York county dispute was because the board itself was threatening to withdraw that offer. So the arguments that the minister put in his speech do not apply.
What we are hoping to achieve -- and it is obvious from the speeches of the other two parties that we will fail in this clause -- is to have the teachers and the students go back to the classrooms with some confidence that they will continue to have in those classrooms teachers attracted to the profession of high quality and calibre. If we have an arbitrator who, as the Liberal Party indicates, is going to prejudge the situation and take into account the reality of the Anti-Inflation Board and, therefore, bring in a low settlement in the hope that it will be accepted we will fail because the teachers’ will begin to leave teaching altogether and in the Metropolitan Toronto system in particular. That seems to me to have very serious, tragic and sad consequences.
I plead with this Legislature that anything that we can do to assure a base level which will give the confidence to the membership of the federation to return to school in a least a somewhat less bruised frame of mind, we should do so.
Mr. Ziemba: Having listened to this debate over the last day and a half, I was particularly struck by the minister’s summing up around noon today with the declaration that we must rebuild respect, confidence and goodwill. He went on to say that it is necessary for the quality of education to continue in Metropolitan Toronto and this is what we have got to do. That was his declaration.
Being a Metro member and representing a riding that is blessed with two of Toronto’s largest secondary schools -- Western Technical School and Humberside Collegiate -- having approximately 3,000 of the 140,000 students in my riding, having a telephone that begins ringing at 6:30 a.m. and continues ringing non-stop all day in between conversations and talking to worried students, talking to worried teachers and talking to worried parents, I certainly have to agree with the minister. We must rebuild respect, confidence and goodwill and it is necessary for the quality of education to continue in Metropolitan Toronto. I certainly agree that this is what we’re got to do.
How are we going to do that? Are we going to do that by ordering the teachers back to work on Monday morning at 9 o’clock? Can you begin to share the teachers’ feelings on Monday morning? These are teachers who have taken a public clobbering almost from day one of this strike with the media hostility building every day, shielded by the newspaper editorials, to the point where yesterday our national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, featured a front-page picture showing students wearing T-shirts with anti-teacher slogans that were being sold at some schools. In fact, they were being sold right here on the Legislature steps. What a sad day? The teachers were down and now the boots are being put to them, ground hoots as my colleague -- he’s left now -- my colleague from Sudbury has described them.
The member for Armourdale (Mr. Givens) played to the press gallery last night. He is the member whom I remember from the days when he served as an alderman and then the mayor of Toronto. I remember him as a warm, compassionate man sensitive to the feelings of minority groups. This good man -- and I believe he is a good man -- couldn’t resist heaping abuse on the teachers in a most red-necked manner. Can you imagine teacher morale at this point? Could not a floor, a base below which an arbitrator would not go, be the olive branch -- that legislative gesture which, extended to the teachers of Metropolitan Toronto, could somehow return some confidence and some self-respect to these men and women who have served our communities so well over the years?
This strike has not affected all the members of this House as much as it has affected the 29 Metro members. I don’t expect the members for Rainy River (Mr. Reid) or Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook) to have the same regard for Metro Toronto teachers as the Metro members have. However, to these members let me say that voting for a floor or base is not a sign of weakness; it’s not a sign of giving in to the teachers. I would ask the members opposite and the members to my left to reconsider their position. They may find themselves in the same position that we Metro members are in today.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, after listening to the Liberal arguments I’m convinced that we should continue with the discussion of this bill until tomorrow, because at that point we’ll see another reversal and get support for our amendment. Several Liberal members yesterday spoke in favour of supplying some form of equity. However, either those members or their constructive thoughts are missing today.
I would like to relate to the minister some thoughts which perhaps relate to calls he has received. We heard yesterday about all the phone calls that members have received. Many of those I’ve pursued to some length. The callers for the most part were concerned that the schools be opened, that education continue and that the teachers be “back on the job.” I said: “Yes, I share your concern about the schools opening.” I asked them under what conditions. They weren’t too sure. Then I, at that point, explained many options which I felt the government had.
One which I suggested was -- and I’m quoting at this point my exact conversation with those callers: “The government does have the opportunity to legislate teachers back to work under compulsory arbitration at 1974 wages. I don’t think it would do that.” The caller said: “Of course not. That wouldn’t be fair.” That is an exact quote from several people I spoke to: “Of course not. We would not expect our government to do that. That would not be fair.” I then, in some naiveté obviously, dismissed it as well. “No, your government would not be that unfair,” I said. “They would provide some form of remuneration above 1974 wages. They would provide some relief, particularly to that classroom teacher who is earning $7,800 a year and, after a long strike, faces serious financial problems.”
I do not wish to prolong the debate any longer, because the sides are drawn up very plainly, with the government opinion and its right-wing support over here. But the fairness is gone, and with it the respect of the teachers certainly, and some of the respect of the community from which the minister garnered support in the last election.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I must say I cannot accept the amendment. I think the position of the government in this matter was put very clearly in my concluding remarks. I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed a few minutes ago by some of the hon. members and which I expressed in my remarks. We’ve got to rebuild a sense of respect and a harmonious relationship in the classrooms in this metropolitan area.
We are suggesting that it be done by a very speedy arbitration process, by a competent arbitrator who I am sure will take into account all the various positions, the data, the fact-finder’s report, the various positions and offers that have been put forward and will arrive at, based on these and other positions put before him, a very fair and equitable settlement. I have the confidence that he will do that. I do not believe that the arbitrator in this case should be an advocate or a proselyte of the Anti-Inflation Board. He has got to consider the matters before him and bring down a fair and equitable settlement for this matter. I think that this can be done speedily and in a very quick manner without the kind of amendment that my friends have suggested.
To say that, as the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere has said, that they are being legislated back at 1974 wages is really only half the statement. Of course, that is what they will be paid when they return to the classrooms on Monday. But once the arbitration decision has been rendered, the award will be retroactive to Sept. 1, 1974. The bill makes that very clear. It will apply for those days that those teachers worked up to and including the time when the arbitration award was rendered.
Mr. Warner: That is little comfort on Monday.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have full confidence that this can handle it in a very equitable manner --
Mr. Nixon: They get paid after they work a month, don’t they?
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and we cannot accept the amendment put forward by the opposition party.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I have one unrelated remark to make on this section of the bill. The minister, when we met before our caucus on Wednesday, indicated that he might, during the course of the hearings, be able to announce the name of the arbitrator. Has that been settled as yet?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We are still working on that. I hope to be able to announce it some time later today. But I cannot announce the name right at this point in time.
Mr. Foulds: It is not Eddie Goodman?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, it is not.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No. It is not -- I am sure to the member’s sorrow -- David Lewis, either.
Mr. Lewis: It is not, to my sorrow. He wouldn’t touch it. He could have taken your coals out of the fire four weeks ago. But not today.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Deans has moved two amendments to subsection 4 and subsection 5 of section 3 of the bill.
All those in favour of Mr. Deans’ amendments will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.” In my opinion, the “nays” have it.
Mr. Deans: We’ll stack this one, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Any other comments?
Mr. Deans: On section 4, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Wentworth on section 4, subsection 1.
Mr. Deans: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We have given a great deal of thought --
Mr. Ferris: Are we not taking turns?
Mr. Deans: Yes, we take turns. You come after me.
Mr. Ferris: You had the last one.
Mr. Bullbrook: Don’t sit down.
Mr. Deans: I don’t intend to.
Mr. Bullbrook: On the other hand, sit down.
On section 4:
Mr. Deans: I wish you would make up your mind -- typical Liberal position.
We had thought of moving an amendment to reduce the term from two years to one year, and rethinking the matter we decided that it’s best that the clause not appear in the hill at all. The arbitrator, given the arguments placed before him, should be able to decide on the merits, both of that which should be imposed and also the term for which it should be decided.
We would suggest clearly that it ought not to exceed two years; that it would be more desirable that it be one year, given the economic conditions of the country and the province and the instability that we face -- the unpredictable nature of the year 1976-1977. Therefore, the minister should consider simply deleting the clause dealing with two years and allowing the arbitrator to hear the arguments and to put forward his suggestion as to whether one or two years would be most acceptable to the parties, and then to come to a decision on the basis of that -- rather than on the basis of the direction of the Legislature.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Ferris moved that section 4, subsection 1 of the bill be amended by deleting after the word “expiring” in line six the word “on” and inserting in its place the words “on a date not later than.”
Mr. Lewis: It is exactly the same thing.
Mr. Ferris: Very briefly, just to explain, it is consistent with leaving the full power of decision to the arbitrator that if, in his wisdom as he looks at it, he wished to have a one-year settlement or a two-year settlement, that is his option and it is not bound to a two-year term; it’s up to two years.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make just one comment. I was struck by what I believe to be a significant remark made by either mediator Adams or mediator Hartt -- I am not certain which one it was -- where one of the mediators simply stated in the press, and not as a part of these proceedings or any of the negotiations, that he thought that less than a two-year agreement, because the last offer was a one-year agreement, in a sense would require the Anti- Inflation Board to take a fresh look at it and not be affected by the off-the-cuff decision that was made earlier on the first offer, and that it was kind of important that the new agreement be divorced as far as possible from the situation which obtained when the original presentation was made to the board.
I know it is difficult now to separate the collective agreement only on its terms from Jean-Luc Pepin or to insulate it from him, but it does seem to me, if there as validity in the comment that was made by the mediator, that at least that point should be drawn to the arbitrator’s attention when he is considering the period of the agreement.
The second point is that, to the extent of the second-year part of a two-year parcel, it seems to me that there is relatively grave danger in leaving that part of it subject to the whims -- if I may use that term -- of the Anti-Inflation Board.
I would therefore hope that either the amendment proposed by the member for London South or the decision to vote against the section and eliminate it entirely, would be acceptable to the ministry and perhaps we could avoid an argument about it.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I want to speak very briefly on the amendment. There was something that the minister said in his closing comments on second reading which struck my attention. He said it is quite possible, during the seven days provided in the bill, for both the board and the teachers to indicate to the arbitrator those matters which are still in dispute; it is quite possible that a settlement could be reached at that time. If that were so and if this amendment were accepted by the minister, it would be very convenient if the arbitrator could then say, “Fine, in fact, we have a negotiated settlement and my usefulness is at an end.” It may be that his usefulness, even under those circumstances, would not be at an end. I would think that he, at his decision, hearing from the teachers and the board, could decide whether his powers might be used until the date that is in the bill -- that is, for a two-year term. I believe very strongly that the decision should be in the banns of the arbitrator who would, of course, hear the arguments from the board and from the teachers as to the term required.
I am also very much aware of the fact that although this bill in fact gives a means of completion of the negotiations that have been going on for many months, that notice undoubtedly will be served by the representatives of the teachers of Metropolitan Toronto within a few days of their requirement that negotiations for the next year begin. There is a feeling that we don’t want to throw the thing back into a circumstance identical to what it was before, but the amendment put forward by my colleague from London South leaves this at the disposition of the arbitrator who can hear the points made from both sides, and I think in this way it faithfully and with some sensitivity serves the needs of both sides. I hope the minister will accept it.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I have one other comment and I believe this is the appropriate place to ask the question of the minister. In one of the original statements in this connection by the Prime Minister of Canada or, if not that, in the opening statement introducing Bill C-73, there was a statement that the Anti-Inflation Board would have public sector panels to that board and that the Province of Ontario would be invited to make appointments to the public sector panels. I would like to know the state of that particular arrangement.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, Mr. Chairman, that is exactly right and I think my friend asked that a few days ago. I pursued it. I am told that they have not been appointed yet. There still is the intention to appoint them. The problem that has arisen, as I understand, is that there has to be agreement on the personnel on these panels among the provinces and this hasn’t been arrived at yet. We are pushing for the appointment of these panels. There are two situations that I am given to understand will be undertaken. One is that there will be a public sector panel of the overall Anti-Inflation Board and they hope to have some arrangement of some kind of sub-panel within the Province of Ontario for handling Province of Ontario matters that will, to an even greater degree probably, involve public sector people. We have put forward proposals on both of those.
Mr. Renwick: You proposed names?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, we proposed names that would be representative particularly of those people who feel that their segment of the public sector should be understood.
Mr. Deans: Just one point, there is one thing that worries me and it is not a matter that you can write into the bill. It worries me that if it were a two-year settlement then they would take the entire agreement to the AIB, which would then make a decision on both years of that settlement. I would think that fairness and assurance that all of the factors that, in fact, were taken into account would necessitate that the boards should take the settlement to the AIB in two stages, to show the settlement for the year 1975-1976 and have a ruling on that, and then at some subsequent time take the settlement for the year 1976-1977 and have a ruling on that in the light of settlements being decided upon for that particular year.
I may be very crazy and not thinking too clearly, but I can imagine that in looking at the first year of the settlement, if both years were before the AIB, they would be taking the total settlement into account and would be judging the first year as much on what was coming later as they would be on its merit. So without thinking of how to amend it, because I am not too keen to do that, I would like to urge from here to whoever listens that the settlement go to the AIB, if it goes at all, year by year rather than both years to be heard simultaneously.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I have listened to the various propositions and arguments put forward about this section. I think I indicated very clearly why I felt the two-year settlement would be desirable. I think there is some merit in not getting into another protracted round of negotiations immediately in order that the kind of climate that has to be re-established, and which I am confident can be, will have a chance to take effect and perhaps by having a two-year contract this could be accomplished in a much better manner.
I think I also pointed out in the concluding remarks on second reading that the parties were actually negotiating for a two- year contract up until the involvement of the three mediators and the process that took place just before Christmas. However, I am also aware that we do want to provide a great deal of flexibility for the arbitrator and we do not want to limit him if he can come up with some innovative way that we might not have thought of in handling this dispute. I think the remarks made by my colleague about perhaps making two presentations to the AIB may be another innovative proposal that may be considered. I would have great hesitation in taking this section out, because I do again want to make it very clear -- I do not believe it has to be here, but again I want to make very clear to everyone that this contract is to begin Sept. 1, 1975, and that whatever is done will begin back then. Having stated that point, that is my reason for not wanting to take the section out. Therefore, I would be prepared to accept the amendment which I think gives a degree of flexibility to the administrator.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Ferris’s amendment.
Mr. Foulds: Just before that, can I put a question that perhaps the minister might ask his officials? Does this legislation supersede the general legislation of Bill 100? What I’m thinking of is, is it possible with this amendment for the arbitrator to bring in an 18-month contract, i.e., one that would end on Dec. 31? The officials nod yes, that’s fine.
Mr. Sweeney: The amendment says “not later than.”
Mr. Foulds: Then it supersedes that particular section of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think the answer to that is yes.
Mr. Foulds: Fine.
Motion agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Any further comment on any other section of Bill 1? We have two amendments that are stacked. I guess we’ll have to call in the members.
Mr. Deans: One amendment.
Mr. Nixon: There is just one amendment.
Mr. Chairman: There are two amendments; subsection 4 and subsection 5 of section 3.
Mr. Renwick: One is related to the other.
Mr. Deans: Well, one vote.
Hon. Mr. Wells: One vote and take it twice.
Mr. Chairman: Shall we call in the members?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Five or 10 minutes.
Mr. Chairman: Ten minutes, yes.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Ten after 2.
Mr. Chairman: Is that agreed? We will call the vote at 2:10.
The committee divided on Mr. Deans’ amendments to subsections 4 and 5 of section 3, which were negatived on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Chairman, the “ayes” are 31, the “nays” are 75.
Mr. Chairman: I declare the amendments lost.
Section 3 agreed to. Bill 1, as amended, reported.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the committee rise and report.
Motion agreed to.
The House resumed, Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report one bill with amendment and asks for leave to sit again.
Report agreed to.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO BOARDS OF EDUCATION AND TEACHERS DISPUTES ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved third reading of Bill 1, An Act respecting the Metropolitan Toronto Boards of Education and Teachers Disputes.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, I understand the time is late. I want to take only a couple of minutes to say something on third reading.
We intend to oppose third reading, obviously, consistently as we did on second, but again, obviously, since it is recorded in the annals of the House, not to divide the House. Some may feel that that’s an uncomfortable position to occupy. It’s obvious that in parts, in places, it’s unpopular and awkward and given to misinterpretation, but whatever the temporary perils, I am glad we have taken the position that we did during the course of this bill and intend to pursue it.
I am equally glad on behalf of my caucus that the schools are opening on Monday. There were --
An hon. member: We were always in favour of that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, order.
An hon. member: Can’t you read?
Mr. Lewis: It can take as long as members wish it. There were implications, not so much here. The Minister of Education I must say, Mr. Speaker, was entirely fair in his response this morning when he said exactly what I have said now, that it was clear that all three parties in the Legislature wanted the schools to reopen. What was at issue was the method. I think I can --
Mr. Reid: It is a long, long road.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. MacDonald: Do you disagree with your minister?
Mr. Speaker: Give the hon. Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to make his remarks.
Mr. MacDonald: Bill Hodgson, do you disagree with your minister?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Mr. Renwick: They weren’t in the House, that’s the problem.
Mr. MacDonald: They haven’t even heard the debate.
Mr. Lewis: I would say I have the time.
The minister indicated, I think fairly what the position was and where the area of difference existed. Look, I will agree with those who have raised some interjections -- for us to take a position in support of a back-to-work principle is a terribly difficult wrench and I conceded it to them willingly. For the members of our caucus to support the proposition that the teachers must, as a matter of law, return to the schools on Monday is a very difficult wrench, and it was not easy to incorporate it in our reasoned amendment but it was there and it was clear, and having put it, we believe in it.
We could not at the same time, and I can put this very simply to you, Mr. Speaker, bring ourselves to the additional position of supporting compulsory arbitration and I want to say to the Legislature that that wasn’t something purely because of some doctrinaire or dogmatic conviction or because of alleged lobbying by teacher groups -- not a single one of which put any such proposition to us -- but for two quite different reasons and very briefly I want to put them to the House. One was because we felt -- and this may be of no value to the government -- that there had to be some alternative emerge to compulsory arbitration as the ending of strikes, and as a matter of fact we think that that debate is a legitimate part of the process of the changing views on labour disputes.
Just as this Legislature has changed its view in a number of ways in the procedures that were embodied in Bill 100, just as I remember Donald Deacon once standing in this Legislature and putting at that time an idea which I found totally offensive and now only partially offensive -- the idea of final offer selection as a new ingredient in the settlement of them -- we felt that if society is questioning the whole rationale for strikes and the use of strikes in the public sector or elsewhere, it was legitimate to look at the means by which strikes were terminated, and we offered in good faith an alternative, clearly unacceptable to the members of this House but to us an alternative that seemed to make sense.
I think we’ve touched on something that in the long run -- and how do I know? I think in the long run -- will prove better than compulsory arbitration, because compulsory arbitration has never ended the repetition of the strike weapon. I think we may have touched on something that’s better than compulsory arbitration when we look at the number of teacher disputes which we may at some point be recalled to deal with in a similar fashion. That, very simply, was the first reason which involved our caucus.
The second reason, and I’ll tie it up, was we felt that it was worth the try for the sake of the consequences within the schools. I know that we’ve all played gratuitous homage to the proposition that the schools are in difficulty, and it’s a God-awful situation out there in Metropolitan Toronto. The teachers feel under siege and the parents are angry and the students are beleaguered, but there are no words, really, in which to put the situation. It seemed to us that if it was humanly possible to resolve it by collective bargaining rather than by an imposition, that would serve the system much better.
I agree, I concede, having heard the hon. Minister of Education today, that the collective bargaining settlement would have been terribly difficult, he is right. The evidence he gave is consistent with that. But I think it might have been possible, and with the intervention of the Premier (Mr. Davis) I feel certain it might have been possible. If it wasn’t, I admit we’re back here in February or March, and there are other alternatives. But I want to point out that this bill passes and we go back into the schools with compulsory arbitration on Monday with all the feelings that that adds to the present teacher anxiety.
I want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that never in this province have we seen such anti-teacher feeling, not just on the front page of the Globe and Mail but even expressed feelingly and deeply by members of this Legislature. If it’s that deep in the minds of members of this Legislature, what’s it like outside? In that context I want to read just one excerpt, because I think it’s appropriate. The finest document 1 saw through this entire, unhappy dispute emerged from the pen of the chairman of the Toronto Board of Education, Gordon Cressy, who put eloquently and, I thought, often movingly, a position which is worth just reading as this dispute comes to an end. He said:
Frankly, I am sick and tired of the abuse that is directed at our teachers day after day at this time. This abuse is based, it seems to me, on ignorance, bitterness and childish truculence. The media have a responsibility to report the news and to offer constructive comment on current issues, comment designed to help the people involved and the public at large achieve a wise resolution.
The sort of sneering invective which some commentators have dished up during the strike represents a failure to fulfil that responsibility. It is nothing less than poison, and if it is not designed to be destructive, it’s certainly having that effect. These commentators may delight in their ability to stir the public to contempt for teachers. I suppose they realize, because if they don’t they are fools, that this vilification of teachers is bound to rub off on students.
These commentators and members of the public who share their views may enjoy the spectacle of proud teachers reduced to bewilderment and demoralization. They should bear in mind that when this strike ends, these teachers will be back in the classroom responsible for every young person in this city.
I would have wished we could send them back by law under better circumstances. I only hope that somehow, with compulsory arbitration, the government is going to be able to aivage the harmony which the Minister of Education put so well this morning. Frankly, I doubt it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t recall in the history of this House and in my limited involvement in it that I have ever spoken on third reading. However, after listening to the Leader of the Opposition -- and I have some understanding and I will not use the word “sympathy” for the position that he has found himself in in the past two or three days -- I would only say to him that I listened attentively to his observations. I will not be controversial, except to make one or two, I think, very valid observations.
It is great, on third reading, to express concern about the students at the same time as he has opposed a bill that will put the schools back to work -- and the records of this House will indicate this very clearly.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is great for him to say to the members of his caucus --
Mr. Renwick: You know you are wrong.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and the members of the public how tough it is for him to rationalize his party’s positions, as though it wasn’t difficult for members in this party or in the Liberal Party to deal with these complicated issues.
Mr. Lewis: That is a brutally political response, and we will deal with it.
Mr. Renwick: We will deal with it, don’t worry.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, at least the members on this side of the House have on their conscience the fact that they were consistent; they didn’t have these convoluted arguments and discussions that we have been listening to.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There is one area that I will share with the Leader of the Opposition on third reading, and it’s one where I guess I have greater optimism than he does. I want to repeat what I said on second reading about the Minister of Education of this province (Mr. Wells) and the moderation that he has shown -- and he has had reason to be provoked; believe it or not, the Premier on occasion has reason to be provoked by the teaching profession --
Mr. Lewis: He has been very much less than you have.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have never attacked the quality of the teachers of this province. I have three kids being educated by the Peel board, where presently they may strike, and I say this: They are good teachers --
Mr. Lewis: Some legislators have.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They are good teachers, and if the members opposite think they are coming down on the side of being the only ones concerned about the quality of education or how this system functions in Metro, they have another thought coming to them.
Mr. Lewis: Is that what concerns you?
Hon. Mr. Davis: This government is concerned about the school system; and we are anxious to see this function well on Monday and thereafter. I will tell the member something else: I have enough confidence in the teachers of this province to say that I believe it will function well starting Monday, and the children will be the beneficiaries as a result.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is for third reading of Bill 1.
Those in favour will please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the “ayes” have it.
I declare the motion carried.
Motion agreed to; third reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I would request the consent of the House to revert to the introduction of bills.
Mr. Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent to revert to the introduction of bills?
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. This may be quite unorthodox, but the House will not mind it. I am afraid that members will leave during the course of this short debate on the rent review regulations, and I wanted to call attention -- I think everyone will share it -- to the fact that yet again, for the final occasion, the leader of the Liberal Party is in the House on his last occasion as leader unless the House is brought back again --
Mr. Nixon: Who knows? Who knows?
Mr. Lewis: Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, this time as last time, he is the best leader they have; I have no doubt.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Best in the House too.
Mr. Lewis: I just wanted to say, without intending to provoke this extraordinary display of adulation and reverence, that I hope his last nine days will be spectacularly tranquil.
Mr. Drea: That’s the nicest stab in the back there has been.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills.
RESIDENTIAL PREMISES RENT REVIEW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Rhodes moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, just very briefly, the proposed amendments to the Act will extend various time limits in the Act for applications by landlords or tenants for rent review, for rebate of rent, and for advising parties of the date and place of hearings.
The amendments also provide that a decision of the rent review officer or the rent review board will remain in force for 12 months.
The amendments arise out of our experience with the Act since its passage on Dec. 18, and will, we believe, answer the concerns that have been expressed over the time limits, and facilitate the administration of the Act for all parties concerned.
RESIDENTIAL PREMISES RENT REVIEW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Rhodes moved second reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.
Mr. Cassidy: The procedure is rather unusual, because the bill is only just in members’ hands. But, in fact, it has been exchanged between the parties over the last couple of days, and we have agreed with the government to allow the bill to go forward without putting it into committee and with only a few brief comments -- which I have been told to limit to five minutes and no more.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: You have taken two already.
Mr. Cassidy: I have taken two already. Mr. Speaker, the bill would not be necessary if the government had proceeded with dispatch in order to set up the administration for rent review. Perhaps it is a reflection of the ambivalence that they had about the rent review process that they have been so slow and therefore have necessitated the introduction of this bill.
I would just say briefly that the Conservative government’s reputation for managerial competence has got to be laid to rest with the introduction of Bill 2, and the extension of these particular time limits.
I would point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that Bill 20 received second reading on Nov. 20, 1975. At that time, it was very clear to the government that it would need to have offices across the province, it would need to hire rent review officers, and it would need to have its people in place in time for administration by the various time limits that were set out in the original bill.
That was not done, however. The bill was passed on Dec. 18, and it was not until Christmas week that the first advertisements appeared. The government decided to hire people from outside rather than seconding its own staff to fill the administrative posts that were required temporarily until the rent review process was in place.
It wasn’t until today, 16 days after the beginning of January, that the ministry has begun to even advertise for rent review officers. They will not be in place, therefore, until after the first of February, and God knows when they will be trained.
This is not a competent way of proceeding, and that’s why these extensions are needed. They should not have been required. When we come back in March, I think the ministry should defend the dilatory way in which they have put this together.
I want to comment briefly on some of the problems that we predicted would come to pass, and that are being experienced under the bill -- and which we will also see and discuss in March.
There is a great deal of intimidation by landlords. A number of landlords have refused to accept cheques from tenants for the legal rent. Many landlords are threatening eviction -- although that is illegal. There is a tremendous need by tenants and by landlords for accurate information and advice.
I would say that every time I hear somebody from the ministry or a landlord-tenant advisory bureau giving advice about the bill, it seems that they always make at least one rather grave and serious mistake. And that shortcoming in information is also caused by the ministry’s delays in getting this bill under way.
We predicted that there would be serious problems because of the government’s failure to provide for enforcement of the bill by rent review officers. I suggest that failure of the government will return to haunt us in the coming months -- although it is too early to judge.
Mr. Eaton: Three minutes are up.
Mr. Cassidy: We have refrained from an all-out attack on the way the government has been administering this bill up until now, because given the timetable that they took and given the fact that some information is available -- such as the rent review book -- it seemed the sensible thing to withhold judgement until everything is in place. If it had not been for this debate, I would not have even made these comments. We will have more to say about the shortcomings in administration in March.
The shortcomings of the government don’t change our opinion of the bill as a whole. It is not, by itself, a monster, as some columnists have maintained. If it turns out to be an administrative nightmare it will have been because of the mismanagement of the government and not because of the bill itself.
On the bill itself, I wanted to say that while we have agreed to allow it to go forward without del ate or discussion on specific clauses we would not be in favour of the first clause, which permits a further month’s appeal on rent increases in 1975. We felt that was a wrong section to bring in. It was a wrong amendment to the bill introduced by the government and, therefore, had we the time we would have opposed that particular section in committee, since we didn’t agree with it in the first place.
The need to extend deadlines for rent appeals related to the early parts of 1976 has become inevitable, given the ministry’s delays in establishing the rent review administration. We questioned the extension from 10 to 30 days in the time that the rent review officers are being given to set a time and place for a rent hearing after an appeal by a landlord. I understand that will be needed at the initial points because of the flood of appeals. However, we would hope that the ministry could bring that down to 15 or 20 days after the initial months of the bill’s operation.
I would like to say some more things, but I will postpone those until a later date. I would say, finally, that we welcome the ministry’s decision to amend the bill so that decisions of the rent officer will be effective for at least 12 months. I don’t know whether this amendment can be called technical or not, but the NDP can claim some credit for the second part of section 2, subsection 1.
One of the major problems we’re finding from tenant calls was split leases and short leases in which tenants were being told that their rent was going up by eight per cent now and they faced the prospect of another rent increase in August. This amendment doesn’t satisfy our objection that landlords should be able to make only one rent increase in any 12-month period, but it goes part way by permitting tenant to force the landlord to launch an appeal, the decision from which will be effective for a year, and thereby it increases the tenant’s bargaining power. We welcome that particular change and thank the government for the co-operative spirit in which it asked whether there were any technical amendments, so-called, that we might be able to put forward. With those comments, we subside for the time being.
Mr. Drea: That was 6½ minutes.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s pretty good for me.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, I have a few short remarks. First, we recognize the need for the extension of time limits in the bill due to the fact that the organization did not go forward as rapidly as it should have, probably because of the Christmas and New Year’s period.
I would like to draw briefly to the attention of the House the fact that one whole week was lost in dealing with this bill. It was referred to the select committee to hear public delegations for one week and to deal with it clause by clause the second week, and we were to report this bill back to the House completed by Dec. 12. Instead, for some known reason the Conservatives and the NDP conspired to bring the bill back into this House so that it would not be dealt with in committee. The second week, then, was practically wasted and instead of having 11 sessions on the bill, as we would have in committee, we dealt with it in only three sessions -- Wednesday afternoon, Thursday afternoon and Thursday evening in the week of Dec. 10 and 11. So the NDP and the Conservatives must jointly share the responsibility for this bill not getting through as quickly as it should have, or would have if we had left it in committee.
Mr. Cassidy: We were protecting the bill against Liberal obstructionism.
Mr. Good: That is really what has precipitated the extensions necessary in this bill.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is really all your fault.
Mr. Cassidy: You may be right.
Mrs. Campbell: You wanted closure.
Mr. Good: Furthermore, let me add that because of their conspiracy no public input was allowed into the clause-by-clause discussions of this bill.
Mr. McClellan: Developers are still shedding tears.
Mr. Good: We support the extensions. We think it’s fair that the extensions cover all the dates that are indicated in the bill. We would throw the whole procedure out of kilter if we accepted the idea that the NDP said we should, to grant extensions for the tenant appeals but not for the landlord appeals and refunds. I think that is ridiculous.
Mr. Cassidy: We didn’t say that.
Mr. Good: I do have one concern. Section 2 of the bill says where the determination of rent is made pursuant to applications under certain sections of the bill, the rent so determined shall remain in force for a period of not less than 12 months. We agree with that but I think it should be clarified that the 12 months is from the date of the tenancy agreement and not from the date of the decision of the rent review officers. If that point can be clarified in my mind, we have no further objections to the amendments proposed.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Very briefly, first of all, the reason the bill is here before the House is the fact that we do recognize that we have had difficulty in having the structures set up properly to administer the bill. I think even the hon. member speaking on behalf of the New Democratic Party recognizes that if the dates weren’t changed, we were making it virtually impossible for people to comply with the requirements of the Act.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right -- right now, yes.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: As for the delays that have taken place, I am not going to suggest that we were not partially responsible for some of the delays, but I think all three parties in the House share part of the reason for the delays. Why was the advertising not started sooner? Why were we not setting up our structures sooner? Quite frankly, if the bill could have gone ahead as it was originally introduced, it probably would have been possible to have the structures in place.
To deal with the many amendments and the changes that were made in the bill required us to change the location of a great many of the offices that we had originally contemplated, increase their number and increase the number of staff that would be required to handle the bill, because of the additions that were made that would be covered by this bill. All I’m saying is that it is all well and good to look around for somebody to blame for it but I think we all share in this part of the responsibility in the delay of having the bill passed in the House.
All that aside, I think what is most important is that we make the bill workable. I agree with the hon. member that it is not necessarily a monster, but it is well on the way to becoming that if we don’t make these necessary amendments --
Mr. Reid: It’s a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- and get the thing so it can be adhered to by both parties, the tenants and the landlords. With respect to the section that the hon. member referred to, section 2, subsection 1, the draftsmen of the legislation, the legal officers, indicate that this is exactly what is in the bill. It is for a 12-month period and it will be for the 12-month period that the tenant is occupying the premises. If the review of the rents takes place part way through the tenancy agreement, then it Is retroactive to the beginning and is kept in force for 12 months. It goes back to the beginning of the tenancy agreement and is in effect for 12 months.
There is just no question about that. I discussed it just before introduction of the bill with the legal officers and they say there is no question but that is what is intended. I think it was fully understood by the members of the New Democratic Party when we discussed it with them.
Mr. Cassidy: Would the minister permit one question?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes.
Mr. Cassidy: There have been statements that developers’ groups have been consulted about regulations but not tenants’ groups. Could the minister comment on that and make a commitment that if there are further consultations on regulations both tenants’ groups as well as landlords groups’ will be consulted?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am not aware who may have been consulted in the developing of the regulations. I’ll certainly discuss it with the officials because we want regulations to be in effect that will do the job well and do it equitably for all parties involved.
Mr. Cassidy: So you will consult both, if either?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I’ll discuss that matter with the officials.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 2, An Act to amend the Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the Premier (Mr. Davis) will go to escort the Lieutenant Governor. In view of the fact that the audience was a bit limited when she arrived to open the session, I hope that most of us could remain at least for prorogation.
Hon. P. M. McGibbon (Lieutenant Governor): Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the legislative assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said legislative assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
The Clerk Assistant: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 1, An Act respecting the Metropolitan Boards of Education and Teachers Disputes.
Bill 2, An Act to amend the Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was then pleased to deliver the following gracious speech:
Hon. Mrs. McGibbon: Mr. Speaker, and members of the Legislative assembly of Ontario:
It is now my duty to prorogue the second session of the 30th Parliament of Ontario, during which you have passed legislation to settle the dispute between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and the Metropolitan Toronto School Boards.
In our Sovereign’s name, I thank you.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker and hon. members of the legislative assembly, it is the will and pleasure of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor that the legislative assembly be prorogued and the legislative assembly is accordingly prorogued.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The House prorogued at 3:02 o’clock, p.m.