The House resumed at 8 p.m.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Speaker: When the House rose at 6 o’clock, the hon. member for Nickel Belt was taking part in the Throne Speech debate.
Mr. Laughren: I shall begin to continue with my remarks, although I must say that with three Conservative members in the Legislature, I am not inclined to continue.
Mr. Hodgson: There are five listening to you.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, that’s correct. Which party forms the government in this House?
Mr. Hodgson: I thought you’d have more members to hear what you had to say.
Mr. Laughren: I see. Maybe if the Conservative government in this province listened to the opposition more they wouldn’t be in the predicament they’re in today.
Mr. Warner: Sound advice.
Mr. Laughren: And we happen to outnumber the members of the Conservative Party in this Legislature at this time as well.
Mr. Nixon: The Boy Scouts in the gallery are listening anyway.
An hon. member: Don’t bawl him out, Floyd, he’s here.
Mr. Young: He’s here.
Mr. Laughren: We outnumber you seven to six at this point.
Mr. Nixon: We outnumber them every day.
Mr. Bain: Let’s form the government.
Mr. Wildman: It will be on Monday.
Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the hon. member would continue his remarks on the Throne Speech debate.
Mr. Hodgson: He hasn’t got any more.
Mr. Nixon: Good old Rene. Good old faithful Rene.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, it’s difficult with provocative interjections.
When I concluded my remarks before the supper hour, I was talking about the problems of the unorganized communities and I’d like to move from the general to the specific and talk about some of the problems of one particular community in Nickel Belt. That community is called Gogama. I’ve talked about Gogama many times in the Legislature but as long as the government continues to ignore the rather serious problems there I shall, of course, be obligated to continue to talk about it.
Gogama is a community of about 800 people, approximately 120 miles north of Sudbury, just off Highway 144, which runs to Timmins. A few years ago when the government built a new highway to Timmins, they did not take the highway into the town. They bypassed it by two miles, gave an Esso station permission to build a service centre at the corner and effectively cut off any tourist potential for the town of Gogama. That’s one thing they did.
In 1962 there was a train wreck in Gogama and there was a chemical spill as a result of that train wreck. Those chemicals seeped into the water table in Gogama and polluted the water supply. Since that time the water table has become polluted even further by a gasoline leakage of an underground storage tank and as well, more seriously, by nitrates which come from the open bottom septic systems prevalent in the town.
Mr. Nixon: What systems?
Mr. Laughren: Sewage systems, septic systems. The people in the town -- it’s a railway town --
Mr. Nixon: We don’t have open bottoms in Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Laughren: -- and a lot of the septic systems they’ve built are built with railway ties and have open bottoms.
Mr. Nixon: They give a lot less trouble, I understand.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, that’s right. And there have been a lot of problems with the water supply since it is very badly polluted. In June of 1975, the Ministry of the Environment conducted a survey of the water supply in the town. I should first tell you that there are three kinds of water supply in Gogama: There is the communal supply provided by CNR because of that chemical spill I mentioned. There is the communal supply provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources to their employees only. And there is the supply provided by wells, either sand point or drilled wells. It is the latter that are so badly polluted.
In the report of June 1975, the Ministry of the Environment had some comments to make in their summary. They said:
“1. The private water supplies in Gogama are in general contaminated by nitrate. Both sand points and drill wells were found to be contaminated.”
In case you didn’t know, nitrates are injurious to pregnant women and to infants and should not be drunk.
“2. From the map prepared at the time of the 1973 survey, it is evident that the nitrate is spreading and increasing in concentration. It appears that the contaminated ground water is moving radially away from the centre of the town towards the lake and in doing so is moving into areas which were previously free of contamination.”
So, it’s obvious that the contamination problem is getting worse and it may eventually affect the lake from which the communal water supplies are drawn.
“3. In total 57 water supplies recorded excessive nitrate levels; 10 were bacteriologically contaminated, two showed phenolic contamination, and 23 had excessive levels of sodium. High levels of chlorides and free ammonia were also noted in several systems.”
So there is no question about the contamination of the area; that’s been well known.
The response of the government, a year or so ago, was to agree to install a community water-tap. They extended the water supply system of the Ministry of Natural Resource underneath the tracks to the other part of the town so that people could go to the tap and draw themselves some unpolluted water. It is a continuing tribute to the then Minister of the Environment (Mr. W. Newman) that he saw fit to put in a community tap in a community of 800 people where the temperature in the wintertime often drops to -20F or -30F. During the last winter the tap, I might add, has frozen on a number of occasions, not surprisingly. I still think --
Mr. Bain: Better watch it, the former minister will flavour it and make it into an ice machine to show how much compassion he has.
Mr. Laughren: I still think that he missed a grand opportunity for publicity when he didn’t incorporate the tap into a statue of himself.
An hon. member: It’s not too late.
Mr. Laughren: I think he could have done it. When the survey was being taken in June, 1975, this is one of the observations made by those people who did the survey, and I quote:
“Some citizens were highly concerned with the quality of their water, even to the point of being brutally hostile. Many felt that no action would be taken no matter what results were obtained. Of the concerned citizens many complained that their children were sick more than normal, which necessitated finding an alternative source of supply. This means carrying water with a great deal of inconvenience.”
Well, it’s a little hard to accept in this day and age, 1976, that a community of that size has to carry its own water year-round. In the survey, 64 of the dwellings surveyed relied on sand point and a large number of these supplies were contaminated by nitrates.
Thirty of the supplies tested had nitrate levels exceeding 1 part per million. Eighteen supplies had nitrate levels greater than 10 parts per million, which is where the Ontario government draws the line for health purposes. In total, 47, or 73 per cent, of those sand points tested had elevated nitrate levels. And then they concluded:
“It would appear from the results that water obtained from wells in the Gogama area is no less contaminated than that from sand points, because a lot of people in the community thought that if they drilled wells of a considerable depth, they would avoid the contamination of the water table which is only 12 or 15 feet down. But that just does not work and it’s getting worse.”
The conclusion of the summary was as follows:
“Many private supplies are contaminated by nitrates in quantities as high as 25 parts per million. Contamination has increased as many areas free of nitrate two years ago now have levels exceeding the permissible level. Contamination is moving down the hydraulic gradient following the slope of the land, away from the centre of the community to the lake. With the continued use of cesspools and septic tanks in Gogama, and the trend towards increasing water consumption, it seems evident that nitrate levels will continue to be high in the areas presently suffering from high levels, and that other areas will become contaminated as the water moves slowly to the lake.”
And finally the report makes two recommendations; very simple, very straightforward. They are as follows:
“1. In Gogama, water from ground water supplies should not be used by pregnant women or infants.
“2. A communal water supply system utilizing a source that is free from contamination should be developed for the community. There are no interim measures that can be taken to correct the existing problems on an individual basis.”
Mr. Speaker, that report was made by the Ministry of the Environment last June. That the ministry still has not acted upon it is an indication of their attitude towards small communities in Ontario. They simply must put in communal water supplies in communities like that.
That was what I was talking about earlier -- the failure of the government to bring in legislation for the small unorganized communities -- and Gogama is a classic example. When a problem does occur, they have no choice about altering the priorities of the community. They have no say in the priorities of the community. They have no tax base. Unless the provincial government, through the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr), moves in and says, “Look, this is ridiculous, we don’t think that you should have a communal tap in 1976 and years beyond. We will put in a communal water supply,” then nothing would change. But it simply must be done; their own ministry tells them that it has to be done and yet they seem to neglect it.
I hope that as the years go by and the people in places like Gogama continue to live under these inadequate conditions, slowly but surely the government will get the message that that simply is not acceptable. I cannot imagine a community south of the French River existing with those kinds of facilities. It just would not be tolerated. The media would blow it sky high. The public would be so incensed, they would simply demand it be changed. It would be raised in the Legislature and it just wouldn’t continue. But here we have a community in the north that’s small, it’s unorganized, no municipal structure whatsoever, and the government feels they can ignore it. Well, that simply is no longer good enough. I do hope that we’ll reach the point where government realizes those problems are serious.
There is one final issue I would like to deal with, Mr. Speaker, and that has to do with the whole question of sex discrimination in the Province of Ontario. The one area that bothers me most in the whole question of discrimination against women, is that of sex stereotyping in our schools. I think that is where a lot of the problems begin.
I’m assuming, Mr. Speaker, that you wouldn’t accept the Marxist analysis -- the requirement that there be a low-paid pool of unemployed or potentially unemployed labour in the province and that women fulfill that role adequately. Assuming you wouldn’t accept that, I’m going to say that sex discrimination is an area that should be dealt with by this government.
There is still no serious attempt by the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) to remove sex stereotyping from the texts in our schools. Until we do so, we’re going to have a continuation of the kind of expectations that have been held in the past on the roles that women should play in our society. Those stereotypes are no longer valid. We know what the statistics are in terms of the jobs that women are doing. We know also that they are not being paid as well for the jobs that they are doing. That’s the second point that is so very important and that’s the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
I stress to you, Mr. Speaker, I am not saying equal pay for equal work, I am saying equal pay for work of equal value, because the principle of equal pay for equal work is already enshrined in Ontario legislation. But employers, both in the private and public sector, are allowed to merely classify jobs as being different and pay them at different rates, and that’s not acceptable. There must be some kind of commission or task force struck by the Ministry of Labour to determine what jobs are of equal value. It’s a tough task and a very difficult thing to do, but if we’re serious about equity and we’re serious about removing sex discrimination in the workplace, it’s simply got to be done.
Just ignoring it or saying, as the present Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. MacBeth) said about a year ago, that “society is not ready for that kind of legislation yet,” means it never will be accomplished with that kind of attitude. The government should be prepared to take the lead -- start in the public sector and show how it could be done.
The third terribly important issue is day care. Until we have a system of universal day care in Ontario there never will be equal opportunities for women in the workplace. I know it’s considered expensive. There’s a danger that if it was to be complemented by this government it would be done on a cost basis in which only low income people would be allowed to utilize it through a means test.
That’s the wrong way. All women with families in the Province of Ontario should have access to day care. The sociological and educational benefits are enormous. At the present time it’s just not available to people.
The constraint programme announced by the various ministries is discriminating against these kinds of services. It’s discrimination against women as well. Four or five years ago, the whole question of sex discrimination was very popular. It was appropriate to talk about the whole problem four or five years ago. Since then it seems to have died as an issue in Ontario, probably not just Ontario but other jurisdictions as well.
The death blow was probably International Women’s Year in Canada which was a farce in which the various efforts of governments were pitiful. Very little meaningful legislation came out of International Women’s Year. It allowed the various governments of different jurisdictions to make token gestures to women but really do nothing at all.
There is a great temptation in Ontario now to put it on the back burner and say “Ah, let it simmer for a while. It’s really not an issue any more.” I assure you, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to allow the government of this province to put the whole question of sex discrimination on a back burner and ignore it as an issue in Ontario.
I see the member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton) with a rather supercilious sneer on his face. I can assure him that it is a continuing issue in Ontario and it’s time he realized it.
Mr. Nixon: How can he say that about you?
Mr. Roy: Keep your cool. Go get him, Bob.
Mr. Laughren: I’d like to quote from Statistics Canada if I might, I know that you have a great respect for that agency.
Mr. Nixon: We have a choice?
Mr. Laughren: We’re talking about the whole question of how equality for women has moved backward in the last few years. Despite all the efforts of a very large number of people there really has been no progress made in fact. I quote:
“The wage gap between full-time male and full-time female workers is growing. Figures in Statistics Canada show that in 1971 the average man earned 44 per cent more than the average woman. By 1973, the average man earned 45.1 per cent more.
“In 1973, more women were working in traditional female occupations than there had been in a decade earlier. In 1963, 30 in every 100 Canadian working women held clerical jobs. In 1974, 36 out of every 100 Canadian working women held clerical jobs. Although women hold more than 70 per cent of all clerical jobs, men in the same field still make more money.”
The argument that is used, Mr. Speaker, and I’m sure you’ve heard it sitting in the chair as long as you have, is that if women would only improve themselves, get more education, then of course they could earn equal money. Perhaps you’ve heard that argument. Actually, the Canadian female labour force is slightly better educated than the male labour force:
“In 1972, 26 per cent of all women entered the labour force with a high school diploma compared with only 18.3 per cent of the men.”
Here is the one that really you would appreciate, Mr. Speaker. I extracted this from Statistics Canada just for you because I knew you would appreciate it.
“In 1970, the last year for which figures are available, the average employment earnings of full-time male babysitters were more than twice those of full-time female babysitters.”
Mr. Laughren: The whole question of sex discrimination pervades all areas of employment and very little is being done. The reason I think this government should be chastised is that it can do something about it. Do members know what it did? It appointed the Ontario Council on the Status of Women; it has a co-ordinator of women’s programmes in Ontario dealing with women crown employees. That organization tabled a report on Oct. 29, 1975, and there are some very interesting statistics in that report. It provides some statistics.
It’s a good report. The organization provides some recommendations, very specific, and it is going to be very interesting to see just what the government does with those recommendations.
I extracted, arbitrarily, some of the statistics from that report. In the report the authors took a look at the various ministries and organizations within the government to determine what kind of salaries women were earning in the public sector. I would like to look first at the Management Board secretariat. It’s a very interesting one because it wields a lot of power in the Ontario government.
For men in the Management Board secretariat: Under $11,000, zero people. Zero men earned under $11,000 in the Management Board secretariat, while for women, there were 11 or 46 per cent. Earning over $23,000, there were zero women but there were 56 per cent of the men in the Management Board secretariat earning over $23,000.
To summarize, Mr. Speaker, zero percentage of men in the Management Board secretariat earned under $11,000; 56 per cent earned over $23,000. For women, 46 per cent earned less than $11,000 and zero per cent earned over $23,000.
For the Ministry of Natural Resources; earning under $15,000 were 69.5 per cent of the men and 98.2 per cent of the women. Over $15,000, were 35.5 per cent of the men and 1.8 per cent of the women. Those are two examples I extracted -- a couple of the worst examples -- and it is going to be very interesting to see to what extent the government responds to those recommendations.
I assume there will be another annual report sometime in 1976 and at that point it is going to be very interesting to see to what extent the government took seriously the recommendations of the committee.
I would warn the government that unless it does take it seriously, it has truly created a token organization and that would simply not be tolerated by the civil service. I might add that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union is starting to make very serious noises about this problem as well. The government does have an obligation to look after its own employees and to lead the way in removing sex discrimination from the Province of Ontario.
Finally, I would like to give members a gentle reminder, as I conclude my remarks in the Throne Speech debate, as to what our amendment to the Throne Speech says. I ask members to think about it, and I ask them to consider who but an incurable Tory could not agree with it. I would like to repeat it.
“Mr. Lewis moved that the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Hon. the Lieutenant Governor now before the Legislature be amended by adding thereto the following words:
“But this Legislature regrets the inability of this government to meet its responsibility for a necessary programme as a result of the deterioration of the fiscal capacity of the province during successive Progressive Conservative governments.
“And, further, this Legislature regrets the failure of the government to provide in the Speech from the Throne any significant proposals to deal with the present problems of: (a) occupational health and the lack of adequate safeguards for the health and safety of workers; (b) need to preserve agricultural land; (c) move for a more equitable distribution of economic opportunity throughout the province and in particular to northern and eastern Ontario; (d) need for job creation to offset rising unemployment; (c) inadequate housing supply and rising mortgage interest rates.
“And this Legislature moreover regrets the mismanagement of the government’s restraint programme leading to (a) the failure to develop an overall policy for the delivery of health care services, especially as exemplified by the closing of small community hospitals and public laboratories; (b) the failure to respond adequately to financial needs for vital social services, particularly as exemplified in the inadequate funding arrangements offered to Children’s Aid Societies.
“And further still, this Legislature is opposed to the endless burdening of Ontario taxpayers, exemplified both by the excessive increase in the municipal property taxes which will result directly from this government’s policy, and by the additional concessions to the mining industry, specifically set out in the speech of the Hon. the Lieutenant Governor.
“Therefore, the government has lost the confidence of this House.”
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to be able to participate in this debate, because it is one of those rare occasions when the opposition can express both personal and party philosophies.
Until I have reason to believe otherwise I am prepared to accept the fact that the men and women opposite are, taken singly, of good will and good reputation in their dealings with children. I assume, with reason I am sure, that they have the best interests of their own children at heart, that they are protective of their neighbours’ youngsters and that in some abstract way each thinks of himself or herself as a friend to children generally.
It is, therefore, the more baffling to understand what happens to those sentiments when these people combine to become the government; because a description of their treatment of the young, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the needy, would give Dickens pause; because their philosophy in regard to the helpless has more in common with John D. Rockefeller than with Dr. Spock or with any known set of ethical values.
Mr. Nixon: How true.
Mr. Laughren: You are against capitalism too?
Mrs. Campbell: I believe that at a time like this it behoves each of us not to shirk from a description, however uncool, that tells the truth. Not now, not when we are talking about what is happening to desperate men and women, to frightened and needful children; not when we are looking at a government whose sets of values and priorities is beyond the belief of rational people.
Let us examine some of these priorities. We have been able to wrench from this most secretive of governments the information that $67,500 was spent for refurbishing the vice-regal suite, including $50,000 for two powder rooms.
Mr. Laughren: Albert, did you know that?
Mrs. Campbell: We have learned, too, that the government has also expended $19,000 to purchase 329 plants which are to grace or are gracing the regional offices of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; and that an additional $30,000 contract has been let for the care and seeding of these tender vines.
Mr. Nixon: What, to water the plants?
Mrs. Campbell: Oh, they are being fed too.
Mr. Gaunt: And they are being talked to, don’t forget that. They talk to them.
Mrs. Campbell: That figure is, of course, only for two years, with more to come later we assume, on the basis that nothing is too good for a split-leaf philodendron.
Mr. Nixon: Or a dieffenbachia.
Mrs. Campbell: We have already heard of the $9,500 car which is given the deputy in a ministry which is closing facilities to treat the sick.
We wonder how many more of these vehicles that guzzle gas at an astounding rate are secreted in various garages around the province --
Mr. Nixon: They ought to all be auctioned.
Mrs. Campbell: -- multiplied by how many other cars and luxurious parks only God and this government, the latter tending to think it is the former, know.
The government sometimes shows a heartwarming concern for the hygiene and comfort of certain segments of the population. I shall, in time -- and over a period of time because the answer won’t come easily -- be asking the Minister of Government Services (Mrs. Scrivener) to tell us all more about a certain bathroom -- not a powder room this time -- which has been installed in an expensive building at Bloor and Avenue Rd. to save one person of the election expenses committee the ugly necessity of stepping across the hall to share the facilities used by the other male tenants of that floor, fewer than 10 in number.
Mr. Nixon: Why doesn’t he go before he leaves home?
Mrs. Campbell: A question you might ask him.
Mrs. Campbell: All of that is understandable in a government which has husbanded its resources as this one has not. Luxurious plumbing, expensive green thumbs, may all have their place, but that place, as any sensible government would know, is way down the list of a very large number of priorities.
Mr. Worton: Give him a Johnny-on-the-Spot.
Mr. Cunningham: Sounds like a royal flush.
Mrs. Campbell: I thank my colleague for that very interesting remark.
Let us look now at that part of the population which is being used by this government in a shocking and careless effort to shore up its sagging fortunes resulting from their own bad management and their own profligacy during at least the last five years.
We turned, first, to the sick and we considered the effect of hospital closings on them -- an effect that government patently did not consider. Playing the most outrageous numbers game, the government has swaggered into hospitals, ordered them cut and then, as an afterthought, told them that if they could come up with alternatives the government might allow them to live in some form or another.
Were these cuts made in consultation with individual communities on the basis of reports and research the government always claims it needs? No indeed. It seems, on examination, that the cuts were made on the basis of little more than pulling names out of a hat. In fact, the ministry has had to climb down on some of the more foolish moves it made with such fanfare.
I wonder, when I read of what the minister said about reasons for some of the closings, whether indeed even the population figures that they’re talking about are back in the 1971 period. In any event, there is little of confidence in any of the reasons given for the government actions.
I find it difficult in one respect because I have not suffered, specifically, a hospital closing. However, in the riding of St. George, there are over 1,000 people who are accustomed to using the facilities of Doctors Hospital. This government has threatened to close that hospital in Toronto, which isn’t unique in the efficiency, in the budget-mindedness of its care. In view of certain developments which have now taken place, one is left to conclude that there is a possibility that this hospital will remain as a medical centre.
One of the things that I can’t understand about that is that when the hospital was asked to produce a model to incorporate a medical centre and to incorporate various stages of care, that was to be at the cost of $11 million. That figure was then bandied around by the minister to explain that this was the reason for closing the hospital, because they should not expend this sum of money. I wonder if there is still in this ministry, the person or persons who recommended the expenditure of $1 million for this hospital for renovations last September. That is planning?
That is what, of course, is so disgraceful about the way in which this government has been functioning. They are still repairing and renovating air conditioning and the rest at that hospital with that million dollars. They may have stopped doing it now, but they were still doing it up to a short time ago.
What are we talking about? I say to you, Mr. Speaker, it is a sorry business. In this case, this government is playing fast and loose with the truth and with reason. It is doing so on the calculated gamble that the ethnic community served by the Doctors Hospital will be too stunned to vote against it. It is a sorry business, not worthy of any citizen of Ontario, let alone of the people who pretend to govern it.
I was interested in hearing the acting minister discussing the approach which she said had been made over the past decade to governors of hospitals to come forward with some suggestions, lest something serious happen to them. I don’t understand it. What suggestions were made to the people of Durham in this last decade, when they were permitted to add an extension to that hospital in 1972? This is planning? This is a government with some kind of management?
Also, the acting minister today sought to explain this question of the $16-million shortfall. Just imagine a government, having approved the budgets of hospitals, coming along and saying: “Gee, we’re sorry, we have run out of money. Sorry about that.”
The minister explained that the problem was that the hospitals are on a calendar year and the ministry on a fiscal year, which is different. I would have thought that the ministry would have known that; surely they have known it for a long time. Yet they have the audacity to come to us for $85 million in supplementary estimates and they don’t know that they should have added that additional $16 million.
I would say that I think the acting minister herself was deeply embarrassed by the position in which she found herself today, and one does not blame her in any way for the predicament in which she finds herself. As a matter of fact, I had occasion to call the acting minister to ask her if she didn’t think she needed some help, having taken on this ministry along with that of Labour and, if she did, I knew a good psychiatrist.
I won’t say that she said she was thinking about taking me up on the offer, but in any event she did find she was deeply involved.
Mrs. Campbell: One reason the minister gave for the cut was that the province had invested in non-acute beds, including those in nursing homes. The truth is a little less rosy, as usual with this government.
This year the nursing home operators asked for increases of $3.26 per diem and, according to the ministry itself, justified increases of $3 per diem. Having said that, the ministry then gave them $1 per day on the basis if they didn’t like it they could lump it. And what of the men and women, many of them helpless and a large number alone? Yes, it is corny to talk of old people, cast off by society and in many cases waiting only to die. But in the name of a merciful God, that is what is happening in this province today.
The elderly I know do not frequent your clubs and your posh dining rooms. These sick people are often not amusing and they may not feel specially interested in whatever book or movie or fad you people consider worthy of your attention on any given afternoon. But they did have hopes and dreams. The ones you treat the worst are the ones who are least able to give substance to those hopes and dreams. Punished by life or simply overlooked by it, under your disdainful treatment of them they die without any sense of justice or respect. Only one thing can be said for your treatment of the elderly. You certainly make the alternative to life seem more attractive than most of us who are alive want it to be.
You may have read in the evening paper, Mr. Speaker, the story of a woman who was in a nursing home and had to go into hospital. Her bed in her nursing home was lost. One understands that a nursing home can’t hold beds forever and one doesn’t know how long such a person may be ill. But there ought to be a provision of care for that woman now that she is able to leave the hospital.
If only by your own Tory thinking that only money is important, it would save dollars to get her out of the hospital and into a nursing home. But there isn’t that kind of provision, and so many of us are hunting around for a nursing home that can take her.
But even more than that, that woman in that hospital was worried because she didn’t know what happened to her possessions and there was nobody to tell her. They may not have seemed important possessions to people in the government side, but they were all she had.
But who cares about her concerns? If those older people had anything in this life to which they cling, it is their homes. Corporation lawyers, heirs to nice fortunes, may have forgotten, but the old have not forgotten what home ownership means and meant to the people of Ontario. To have a place of one’s own has meant independence, security and a sense of one’s goals made manifest. A government which blatantly used tax money to buy homes for the young, some of those homes being very costly homes, is back at its old pre-election stance threatening homeowners, especially the most vulnerable of them, the elderly.
Let’s face it, we do not have a restraint programme. We have a programme whereby this government hopes to bring forward a budget that is not too ghastly at the expense of the municipalities. So you have shown your complete lack of concern for these people who own their homes and who have little else.
On top of this we must never forget that the government still hasn’t announced its decision as to what it proposes to do about market value assessment and the protection of the residential homeowner. I must at this point, Mr. Speaker, pay tribute to the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen). He does answer my letters and does seek to keep me up to date on the ongoing discussions relevant to this problem of the factor. We hope that this will be announced before the full force of this year’s thrust to the municipalities, and next year’s very possible switch of the onus from commercial/industrial to the residential homeowner, takes place.
We come now, Mr. Speaker, to the question of women and children in this community. You know if this province were a lifeboat, it is not too much to say that the government’s motto would be women and children first, and would dump them into the sea.
Take, for example, the deserted wife living in Ontario Housing with her children, All of this is under the name of removing discrimination. We have got to keep that in mind because it is one of the most perverse things this government ever has done. If they are in Ontario Housing and the husband deserts, they want to be perfectly fair with the husband and wife. He must pay half of the arrears and so must she. What you forget in this table is that she has the children with her and so you punish the children, I suppose in an old religious tradition, for the sins of the parents.
We have seen the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) and I do wish, Mr. Speaker, we would go back to calling it the Ministry of Welfare because that’s what it is -- the old fashioned welfare, and not community and social services which has perhaps a certain dignity in its implications.
So the minister says that we are going to have civil servants telling these women that they have to go to work. Of course we are not going to tell all of them, but we are not quite sure who we are going to tell. I guess it is going to be a secret to us.
The interesting thing is that when I asked the minister what he proposed to do about the deserting fathers, he said we are going to teach them a thing or two. He doesn’t even know that the deserting fathers basically have nothing to do with his ministry, and he obviously doesn’t know what happens in the courts and their inability to do anything to enforce their orders adequately. But that’s all right, we’re going to make those women go to work because we don’t want any discrimination. That’s the name of the game.
There are places in this city -- one is Interval House, the other is Women in Transition -- and these two operations are showing some concern for that traumatic experience of a woman who has been deserted, often at a very late hour at night, and they take her and her children in to help her over this particular traumatic experience.
And there is the Y programme which is called Focus on Change. This is a programme to help mothers on welfare, to get some help to enable them to get out of the welfare scene, to give them skills. All of these programmes are waiting to find out whether in fact they’re going to get any money, all in the name of no discrimination.
Many of these women in the past have sought retraining programmes but they have been advised, “Your place is in the home.” So they have been discouraged. But now government policy has changed; now we mustn’t show discrimination. Now we must make them get out and work like men.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Working on an Oscar?
Mrs. Campbell: Well, you know it’s a funny thing, back in 1959 we had welfare problems in the city of Toronto.
Mr. Nixon: The minister was the solicitor for Scarborough that year, wasn’t he?
Mrs. Campbell: Our commissioner of welfare was one Miss Morris. She is known to you, highly respected and I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate you, as I believe she has had a three-year renewal of her contract. But we were discussing some of these problems and, of course, we were discussing it largely with the father of the family in the hope of trying to encourage him to get back into the labour force. This very wise lady said to me, “You know, the basic problem is that the penalties in welfare are too severe to be tolerated.” I leave that with you and perhaps you might discuss her experience with her in detail.
Because, of course, even with the father, if they don’t work what are you going to do? Starve the children? With this government it wouldn’t be beyond belief but I don’t see how you’re going to really bring yourself to do that.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You will say we will anyway.
Mrs. Campbell: I’m glad that the minister interjected because, you know, he says time and again how misquoted he has been and yet, by all that is righteous, here he comes out in the paper saying exactly by regulation what he says he didn’t say. So, if I say that, it is understandable.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s not right, you know. What I have been saying is manifested in the regulations. It’s just a matter of which came first.
Mrs. Campbell: You weren’t going to separate women from their children but you are going to separate children from their mothers. I guess that’s the difference. The government thinks that --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Have you read the regulations?
Mrs. Campbell: I have asked to see them and I have not seen them yet.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: If you haven’t read the regulations, what are you talking about?
Mrs. Campbell: Well, do you know what you are talking about, because I don’t think you do?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I sure do.
Mrs. Campbell: I have been listening and you have fudged every single solitary answer because you haven’t known the answers. You don’t have to stand up in this House and ask your colleague, the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), about this. You don’t have to stand up and give long-winded answers unless you don’t know the answer. That is the trouble with you.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I am just trying to explain.
Mr. Speaker: I think if the hon. member would address her remarks to the Chair it would be more appropriate.
Mr. Roy: She is being heckled by the minister.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It is just your own fabrication.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for St. George.
Mr. Roy: He is being provocative here.
Mr. Warner: The minister is being provocative.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I am supposedly uninformed as to the regulations.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: What do you mean, supposedly?
Mrs. Campbell: But I didn’t draft them.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You didn’t draft them?
Mrs. Campbell: No.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Thank God.
Mr. Roy: No, they would have some heart in them if she drafted them. There is no heart in your regulations.
Mr. Nixon: No brains either.
Mr. Roy: Just cold hard law.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for St. George.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You wouldn’t be able to interpret them.
Mr. Roy: I wouldn’t want to interpret them either.
Mrs. Campbell: I would like to go back to the matter of deserted wives. From the experience I have had in this, Mr. Speaker, I don’t think the minister will challenge my knowledge and information. In the matter of deserted wives, let me give you a few examples and then we talk about no discrimination. What of the women who have worked to give their husbands an education in law or in medicine? These women and their husbands have produced children but --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Well, you are an expert on that.
Mrs. Campbell: -- once the husband has his education he chooses to leave.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Oh, it is unfair, you are bitter.
Mr. Warner: Only because you are here.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, there are plenty of these cases and so in the name of no discrimination we then say to these women, “You must get out of the home and work,” because frankly there is no way really effectively of enforcing the judgement of the family court, save sending the husband to jail. What a great progressive province we have.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Is that your answer, sending the husbands to jail?
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I thought my friend across the way was a lawyer. I am sorry, I must have been mistaken. He has to know that the courts can only operate within the law that his government brought into being.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You have sat on the bench. Surely you should know something about enforcement of maintenance grants.
Mrs. Campbell: I do indeed and I know that in these cases the only real answer in the family courts is to send husbands to jail for contempt and there isn’t a family court judge that isn’t very angry about that kind of treatment because it doesn’t help anybody.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: So you know nothing about collections?
Mr. Roy: Are you going to control him, Mr. Speaker, or not?
Mrs. Campbell: He doesn’t even know what a show-cause court is, I’m afraid.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You know it?
Mr. Bain: He wasn’t a very good lawyer either.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: We have to improve further on collection too.
Mrs. Campbell: Oh I know you’ve got automatic enforcement. I’m just waiting to see how much automatic enforcement there is. In the case of women trying to get out of welfare, and I think it has to be said, since the minister has implied that there are all these very lazy welfare mothers who go back to bed when their children go to school, and that there are all these great jobs available to them if only they would get out of bed, get dressed and get out and get them.
Mr. Wildman: Become hospital workers.
Mr. Warner: Where are the jobs?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That is your fabrication.
Mrs. Campbell: All right, Mr. Speaker. Do you think for a moment that you could restrain the minister?
Mr. B. Newman: It is you we are worried about.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It was.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, what of those women who do take the very gallant step of determining to get off welfare? As you may have recalled, it was the philosophy of the Liberal Party that there should be incentives to assist these women. As I recall, a motion was made by our member from North Bay to that effect, only we thought there should be an allowance of $100 a month for six months to give some stability to this effort.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That was the philosophy. What is your philosophy now?
Mrs. Campbell: The minister knows that instead, we have $100 a month plus $50 for each of the next two months. Let me give you a case history of what happens.
A mother, living in Ontario Housing with five children, decided she would take this step. She did get a job having, of course, duly informed the ministry.
In taking the job, Mr. Speaker, she dropped $100 a month in revenue. I don’t know how many over there would do it, while they criticize her, but that’s what happened.
And, of course, she had to pay her own OHIP. She had to pay dental care, and Ontario Housing reduced her rent by $10 a month. So, it left a shortfall.
Do you know what happened? Somebody informed the ministry that she was working and cheating on welfare. So what happens in this maze of bureaucracy? They pull her file, put it under 02 or something and won’t pay her this money because she has to be investigated, although they must have known she had declared she was about to work.
Well anyway, one only has to know the way in which the government treats women around the more menial occupations of this place to understand that this government is saying to these women, “You have no skills.” In some cases they do not, and maybe they should come and work by contract to clean this place the way the Portuguese women have been cleaning, only to know that there is discrimination against women in this area.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You don’t believe that?
Mrs. Campbell: There isn’t any question; there is no ability for them to even apply for any job other than the most menial, notwithstanding the fact of seniority in some cases.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: My deputy minister is a woman and a very capable one.
Mrs. Campbell: If we have a government that lets contracts to people who discriminate and does nothing about it when it is drawn to its attention; if the government enters into contracts and doesn’t demand at least the minimum of what the law requires in terms of employment standards, then how can we expect better of the government in dealing with women on welfare or in any other case?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You don’t believe that?
Mr. Moffatt: It’s called exploitation.
Mrs. Campbell: Then we come to the matter of day care. Surely, if the mother is to go out to work, her child is to be cared for. But the government acts as if day care is something it gives to mothers who are, in its lexicon, usually undeserving. I have news for the government: Day care is what this society does for children, and not for bankers, accountants or real estate speculators. Can the minister understand that? Day care is for children.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Not necessarily --
Mr. Warner: No, he doesn’t understand.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: There is day care for adults. They have all kinds of day care. You should know that too.
Mrs. Campbell: Perhaps the minister could repeat that to himself every morning. It is a very simple statement. Let him try it; he may like it!
Hon. Mr. Taylor: There are different kinds of day care; you know that. You should know that.
Mrs. Campbell: Day care is for children; it gives children a secure, organized learning experience, with the supervision of trained men and women.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Some day care does!
Mrs. Campbell: It is not a bingo palace for welfare mothers, whose sins seem to haunt the minister, although their needs do not. The most serious game of chance is hopscotch. The only people who sleep are two-, three- and four-year-olds at their naps. Milk is guzzled -- not gin.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Who wrote that stuff for you?
Mrs. Campbell: John Dewey, the great educator, said that society should want for all of its children what the wise parent wants for his own child. Presumably, this does not mean using children as gimmicks or cutting back on programmes that most affect their lives.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: What do you know about that kind of thing?
Mr. Warner: The minister doesn’t care.
Mrs. Campbell: Let us go on to consider such matters as the Children’s Aid Societies’ budget. We have only to look at the newspaper today -- I suppose the minister has read it, but when we hear that minister say, “No child in need shall suffer,” this should be on the record -- and read that the lack of services in Toronto for children who have more than one handicap is pushing the Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto increasingly into an area of children’s care for which it wasn’t originally intended. The newspaper article goes on to discuss the problems. They are caught between two provincial ministries, Health and Community and Social Services, neither has anything for them and parents often turn to the Children’s Aid Society because they have no other recourse.
Mr. Warner: The minister doesn’t care.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: What do you know about that kind of thing?
Mrs. Campbell: And this no child in need will want.
Mr. Warner: Do you really like children?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Do you have any children?
Mr. Warner: Yes.
Mrs. Campbell: The answers -- I wonder, Mr. Speaker --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You do? I wouldn’t have expected it from you with your attitude. You surprise me.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for St. George is talking to the Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: Are you speaking next, Jim?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, I’m speaking now.
Mr. Roy: That’s obvious.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s about the regular level of contribution by you.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I’m waiting to hear the member for St. George.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: And the individual programme, that is necessary --
Mrs. Campbell: I would hate to ask you to name the minister, Mr. Speaker, but that may be the only way we can get a little order.
An hon. member: Throw him out.
Mr. Roy: You should get up and apologize that you’re such a right winger.
Mr. B. Newman: Name him, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, the semantics of this ministry will not solve the problems. We have asked for programmes to help in the matter of child abuse. Surely that is not something which can be swept aside under a restraint programme? But yes, indeed it can.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It’s not true. It won’t be and you know it.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I’m not clairvoyant --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s true. That’s the most accurate thing you have said tonight.
Mrs. Campbell: -- I can only go on what facts there are. Mr. Speaker, I have such pity for this minister. He is so inadequate for his job.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Don’t pity me.
Mr. Cassidy: You should resign.
Mr. B. Newman: You should resign.
Mr. Cassidy: Why don’t you resign now, then Margaret can finish her speech?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Don’t you wish I would?
Mr. Roy: You’re lucky; the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) makes you look good.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It goes to show the talent we have on this side.
Mr. Bain: It sure does show the talent.
An hon. member: Shows the level of talent.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You are envious.
Mrs. Campbell: I referred to this before but, surely, when we know of the numbers of children -- young children -- who are either attempting suicide or are committing suicide, there should be an honouring of what was an undertaking -- although I don’t think in fairness I could say it went so far as being a commitment -- of the former minister. If a society can’t be concerned for the welfare of its children it is unworthy of the name of a society at all. There isn’t anyone in this province who would oppose services to children; no one.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s right and this government manifests that.
Mr. Cassidy: Except for the minister.
Mr. Good: Except one.
Mr. Roy: When things are tough, you’ve got to have compassion and you don’t have it.
Mrs. Campbell: I am not going to refer in detail at all to the horrible insensitivity --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Watch the extravagance now.
Mrs. Campbell: -- of the programme for the mentally retarded, although everyone knows how insensitive it is.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You don’t believe that.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: If you did your homework --
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I have never spoken without belief in what I say.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Then I overestimated your intelligence and your knowledge.
Mr. Good: You didn’t even show up the other morning for the breakfast.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I can’t be everywhere.
Mrs. Campbell: It is interesting --
Mr. Good: You made sure you didn’t go there.
Mr. Roy: If you keep up the way we are going, we are going to find out sooner than ever.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for St. George, I am awaiting her words.
Mrs. Campbell: I am just wondering, Mr. Speaker, if we couldn’t let me move into the middle here so I could be a party to the cross-fire.
Mr. Speaker: I assure you the Speaker is listening to you very intently.
Mrs. Campbell: He is interrupting, I know that.
Mr. Roy: He is being provocative too.
Mrs. Campbell: Part and parcel, of course, of this government’s consideration for children is its proposed cutback -- not cutback, all right; an increase which doesn’t begin to match the increasing cost, in my view, is a cutback.
We get a ministry which decides that for family services we will not increase by more than 5.5 per cent, and that means that very possibly a function such as Illahee Lodge, a place for disabled children to enjoy summer activities, may have to be closed.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: But not likely.
Mr. Reid: Do you guarantee to help them out?
Mrs. Campbell: We do not have anything from the ministry to give us any assurance, other than idle chatter.
Mr. Roy: She’s right, you should resign.
Mrs. Campbell: Then, of course, we turn to the closing of the child unit of the Lakeshore Hospital -- again, part and parcel of the fact that we have a government which has been in office so long and has never yet been able to develop a bill of rights for children.
Mr. Warner: Right on. It is called hereditary ineptitude.
Mrs. Campbell: So these children will be chucked around like laundry. They, after all, are not voters; nor are they, I assume, heavy contributors to the campaign.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Not only are you bitter, but you are cynical.
Mrs. Campbell: They are not owners of advertising agencies who can smooth over the callousness and sheer stupidity of the government opposite. Let’s add it all up so far. The welfare mother unable to feed herself and her family decently finds that there are disincentives to working provided by the very government that is now proposing that she go to work.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I don’t know how you sleep at night.
Mrs. Campbell: One of the other things that happens in this kind of a case -- and I have seen this happen through the years -- is that when there are family debts and judgements flowing from them the creditors, like government, don’t bother to try to find the husband -- it costs too much money for that exercise -- they lie in wait for the time when the mother gets into the work force and then enforce their judgements against her. Don’t tell me if he’s a lawyer, knowing something about collections, he doesn’t know that?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You have a persecution complex.
Mr. Wildman: You have contributed to it.
Mr. Cassidy: You are a disgrace, you know. I wish the assistance recipients could see you laughing and chortling over their misfortune. You are an absolute disgrace to this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: Order please, order please. The hon. member for St. George has the floor.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I just have a few more points. We have problems in housing. We’ve been talking about them for a long time. I’m not trying to dwell on any one aspect, but here again is a case history about a woman living outside of Metropolitan Toronto.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: How you can regurgitate nonsense like that, I don’t know. You are expert at it.
Mrs. Campbell: The minister is going to get his turn, but I’m going to have my say. It may be the last time I get in at all, around here.
This woman, with three children, is living in a small home outside of Metro and is separated from her husband who owes her $5,000 in support payments. She was working to support her family. After four and a half months she became ill and was discharged by the plant.
Her welfare allowance was $370 a month. Her rent was $197.50, her food $160, her telephone $12. Her expenses were $369.50 for rent, food and telephone, and I’m sure, she had to clothe three children.
This is a case where rent supplement is the only answer because there is no Ontario Housing where she lives. But the municipality, and I regret the fact this has been a decision of theirs, but I can understand it, they have a one year residency requirement, the municipality says there is no rent supplement for her.
This is a government that cares, a government that cares for children?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s right, I hope you are serious about that.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I never was more serious in my life.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Good.
Mrs. Campbell: I have one further case. I have tried to get some action from this government for a long period of time. I tried to be polite about it. Tonight I’m not going to be.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s a novelty.
Mrs. Campbell: I have begged to have something done for those children who are victims of contributing to juvenile delinquency. Mr. Speaker, there is no way to move this government.
I did try to go through the official guardian; and I think that’s an awful misnomer. The official guardian is simply, and solely, an administrative official who really has nothing to do with the welfare of children.
I tried, Mr. Speaker, to get the press involved at one time. Since I did all of the proceedings for awhile in the family courts, I asked one of the two columnists who came to see me at the court to come in. I put it to two of them.
One of them accepted. That man was Ken Bagnell, a columnist whom I trusted implicitly as to his discretion and concern. He came in and he wrote a lead article on the subject of the child in a contributing action and he came back the following week.
Fortunately in these cases, Mr. Speaker, if you have a good Crown attorney, and in Mr. Hoffman we had the very best in that court, a child is not before a court. The evidence is produced from other sources, and of course this is something to be desired. But unfortunately what happens is that the child is then a forgotten factor and becomes invisible in the total picture.
In any event, when Mr. Bagnell returned the next time, we had to take what was a particularly difficult case. It was a case, quite frankly, of one copulation; not pretty at all. But Mr. Bagnell wrote the story and, unfortunately, the paper would not permit it to be published on the basis that it was an obscenity and so the whole matter was lost. But none of those children get to the criminal compensation board. None of those children get any help with the problems which are created by the kinds of activities to which they’re subjected. So I asked I don’t know how many Attorneys General -- three I guess it says here --
Mr. Nixon: They had three in one year.
Mrs. Campbell: -- if they would do something to assist these children. I particularly asked that we have the official guardian give him staff to watch these cases. The Children’s Aid Society with this ministry, obviously, have no officers to work in their courts except on the specific cases for which they have special responsibility -- child welfare, and in some cases, juvenile delinquency.
One of the law officers of the present Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) advised me that they were going to advise the Crown attorneys across the province to ensure that these children would, at least, be brought before that board where there could be developed a procedure for them which could be helpful for their futures. I didn’t like that approach. I don’t think a Crown attorney who is prosecuting in the one case should then become more or less an informer about the child, but that is what they offered.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: How about a friend of the court?
Mrs. Campbell: I wouldn’t think you could be a friend of the court in the circumstances of having been the prosecutor in the case involving the parents or the adults. The other problem is that if he only informs the parent and if the parent is the one who is at fault it doesn’t get anywhere.
However, it ended up that I said I would accept that as a first step if they would start it, and then I asked some of the Crowns and they had no such instruction.
Mr. Speaker, I would honestly believe that an Attorney General who is concerned about violence in hockey might be equally concerned about the violation of children in these circumstances.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You can rest assured he is.
Mrs. Campbell: It is proper to come to grips with this kind of a situation. I hope that he will do something.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, may I just say that almost a year ago, on April 28, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett), speaking to the Lions’ Club of Credit Valley in Port Credit, outlined the philosophy of this government. I feel very guilty because I never did take him very seriously. Suddenly I realized that in fact he was philosophizing for government and he talked about a return to values and said that we must deal with the old values. Then he goes on to say that many of us haven’t the right values and he said: “Don’t think for a minute that I am excluding governments. They are just as guilty of waste and greed as unions, corporations and the little old lady down the street,” and the only one who is being restrained is the little old lady down the street.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I would like to express today my full support for the Speech from the Throne. In particular, I want to address my comments to the government’s commitment. I found it interesting in reviewing the Speech from the Throne and the commitment is set forth in a number of spots. Let me quote:
“Profit restrictions and wage limitations imposed on the public should be reflected in similar limitations on government spending at all levels. [In another spot:] For its part, Ontario will continue to curtail its costs and to reorder its priorities in the provincial and in the national interests.”
This is a major initiative and I believe it is unparalleled in any other jurisdiction to say something in support of national policy actions to combat inflation. In this fight, public attention has focused on actions taken by the government to curtail the growth of major spending programmes.
I think we are all aware of four of those examples that come immediately to mind: The Ministry of Health, for example, with its hospital closings, its cutbacks in beds and its budget restraints; the Ministry of Education with its local boards’ requirements to absorb increases; the Ministry of Transportation and Communications with its restrictions in local building programmes, the postponements -- in some cases, the cancellation -- of some programmes; and the general eight per cent ceiling on the growth of government grants on municipalities.
But, Mr. Speaker, to date it has not been at all well recognized that the government’s constraint programme affects all ministries along the lines of the quotations I have just taken from the Throne Speech itself. It affects all ministries --
Mr. Bain: Are you going to cut back in the Ministry of Revenue in what you collect from the taxpayers?
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- and it is designed to cut administrative costs, improve internal productivity and absorb greater work loads with decreased resources in some cases.
Mr. Shore: Only got 69,000 people there.
Hon. Mr. Meen: In the thrust of constraint and reordered priorities, I believe the experience of my Ministry of Revenue offers a particularly interesting case study.
We have been traditionally one of the less visible ministries, while nevertheless performing an essential function without which no government programmes could exist at all. For example, we have the revenue through taxes for our own purposes and in my ministry the other, rather more visible, side, the assessment of all real property in Ontario for the purpose of municipal taxation. It is therefore important that the application of these restraints does not impede the flow of revenues to the Treasury, particularly at this time when we are all bending every effort to reducing the deficit. And, of course, it is also essential to ensure that the --
Mr. Bain: Why don’t you restrain yourselves in collecting taxes?
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- taxing statutes continue to be administered fairly and equitably and properly in the interests of all taxpayers.
Now, I want to tell you that constraints have been met in the Ministry of Revenue. Like all ministries we have taken cuts in two different quarters, the first of those in complement. We reduced our complement by 153 positions during the last fiscal year, 1975-1976, and we will be held constant at that reduced figure for the current year 1976-1977. The resultant saving in the 1975-1976 year is somewhat in excess of $1 million. In extrapolating that saving into the current fiscal year, 1976-1977 -- it is hard to estimate it accurately at this time, but it looks as if it could be in the order of $1.5 million to $2 million for a full fiscal year with that constant reduced figure.
Mr. Good: I hope so.
Mr. Shore: What service is going to be affected by it?
Hon. Mr. Meen: If we reduce 153 positions in an even fashion over the whole year then you would say the average reduction was 77½. Then you would simply multiply that by two and say we would save $2 million in a full year. But we can’t expect that because it may well have been that in the earlier part of the year positions carrying lesser salaries were terminated and the saving of $1 million reflects the total effect. So as a rough estimate, and perhaps a relatively conservative estimate, it would look as if we were able to save $1.5 million. That is on the complement side.
On the direct operating expenses, or DOE as we are inclined to call it, the cutback in 1975-1976 was $1.8 million, which works out to a pretty healthy limitation. We will have no growth in DOE, as we estimate it now, for the current year 1976-1977, and our DOE will be in the order of $12 million.
The implications of this are, I guess, pretty obvious. We are just going to have to absorb inflation in my ministry like the others. And we are going to have to absorb workload increases that occurred in 1975 and we are going to have to absorb them again in 1976.
But I think we should put Revenue constraint in perspective. These cuts don’t seem particularly large, I suppose, against the total government cutbacks in some of the more visible ministries, but restraint in the Ministry of Revenue is indeed significant. I shall demonstrate in a moment why the application of constraint in full measure was so difficult and indeed, Mr. Speaker, a real challenge to achieve.
The Ministry of Revenue has traditionally been what I choose to call a lean ministry. The complement has been essentially stable over the last few years. For example, across the ministry on April 1, 1972, we had 4,074 positions. In April, 1975, three years later, that had increased by all of 41 positions to 4,115 -- a one per cent increase in three years. The increase in total government positions in the same period was three per cent.
Direct operating expenses have always been kept in line. In 1970-1971 the DOE assessment was all of $6.296 million. In 1975-1976, the fiscal year just ended, the total was $6.633 million, an increase of just $437,000. That’s a five per cent total increase over five years, to answer the member for Waterloo North.
Mr. Shore: How will you survive?
Hon. Mr. Meen: A five per cent increase in DOE in five years -- even with inflation built into it and even, for that matter, with the tremendous increase in workload and heightened activity over this same period.
Mr. Roy: As taxes keep going up you need more people.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Throughout the ministry we have combined our traditional practice of restraint with greater workloads to bring about continued increases in productivity and continued increases in efficiency in all the programmes. Let me give you some of the indicators we have established to gauge our divisional performance.
Look for example at the revenue division. Revenue collected in the 1972-1973 fiscal year, Mr. Speaker, was $2.14 billion. That revenue in 1975-1976, collected by the revenue section of the ministry, rose to $3.3 billion, an increase of 54 per cent. The cost per $100 of revenue collected in the 1972-1973 fiscal year was 71 cents. In 1975-1976, the year just ended, our estimated cost is 62 cents for every $100 collected, a reduction in the cost of 13 per cent.
The number of accounts per employee is another interesting yardstick to look at. In 1972-1973, there were 349 accounts for each employee in the ministry in the revenue section. That number has increased from 349 to 463 accounts per employee, an increase of 33 per cent.
Mr. Shore: Don’t know how you do it.
Hon. Mr. Meen: If you want to take a look at the assessment division, I will get to the question of the hon. member for London North. He wants to know how we did it.
Mr. Good: Explain how your total expenditures went up 300 per cent in three years.
Hon. Mr. Meen: For the number of properties under the assessment division, if you want to take a look at that, in 1970-1971, when we took over assessment from the municipalities, there were 1.6 million properties. By 1975-1976, with the activities in subdivisions and the like, that number has increased to 2.8 million properties, an increase of 75 per cent. The number of properties per assessor has increased from 663 in 1970-1971 to 1,149, an increase of 73 per cent.
Mr. Shore: Slave labour.
Mr. Good: You don’t reassess them every year --
Hon. Mr. Meen: In the Province of Ontario Savings Office the public moneys on deposit in 1971-1972 were $138 million; in the fiscal year just ended, the moneys on deposit have increased to $240 million, an increase of 74 per cent.
Deposits per dollar of cost a unit used in determining the efficiency of operation, have increased from the 1971-1972 fiscal year from $78.95 to, in the current year, 1975-1976, $91.53 --
Mr. Shore: You could have had five less if you didn’t have these statistics.
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- an increase of 16 per cent.
Mr. Roy: And the sales tax increased 40 per cent.
Mr. Good: Reduce the sales tax, and you would have --
Hon. Mr. Meen: In time/motion studies and efficiency studies there is a term called work unit. Work units per hour per person in the Province of Ontario Savings Office in 1971-1972 were 13.1; they increased to 16.9 in the last fiscal year, an increase of 29 per cent.
Mr. Roy: We are convinced here --
Hon. Mr. Meen: In addition to this increasing efficiency in operation, we have accepted --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is my understanding the member for Ottawa East will be participating in this debate later on.
Mr. Roy: I thought I should warm up, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Meen: He is trying to do so now, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure he will have his opportunity in due course.
Its addition to all of this, we have accepted new responsibilities without additional resources -- the introduction of the land speculation tax and the land transfer tax, non-resident aspects.
Mr. Shore: Your job is secure.
Hon. Mr. Meen: There are important instruments in the government’s socio-economic policies of controlling foreign ownership in Ontario, and they were taken on and administered by my staff without any increase in personnel.
We assumed a major role in the area of income redistribution, involving close co-operation with Ottawa on the Ontario tax credit programme and, of course, direct administration of the Ontario GAINS programme; which at the end of the last fiscal year, for the month of March, 1976, was benefiting some 282,000 elderly citizens in Ontario.
We’ve also been responsible for administering a series of fiscal policy actions, the temporary retail sales tax car rebate programmes, the temporary home buyer grant programmes and the various investment credits and incentives for production machinery that have been built into the various budgets, particularly into last year’s and the year before that.
We managed to take on these additional responsibilities, almost entirely without staff increases. We can’t do that by some form of legerdemain. It’s imperative that we have some tools at hand, of course, and there were a couple of devices that we used for this purpose. One was that we were able to employ some temporary staff, where necessary, to avoid permanent cost increases.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, sir.
Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Waterloo North have a point of order?
Mr. Good: Yes, on a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I’m sure the minister would not want to knowingly mislead the House, so perhaps he would explain to us how the 1975 budget shows the Minister of Revenue’s estimates have increased by over 300 per cent from 1973 to 1975-1976; that is, from $54 million to $168 million?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would care to look he will notice that that contains the GAINS programme and, obviously --
Mr. Good: All right. You are telling us you are doing the same thing with the same amount of money.
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- those are transfer payments, Mr. Speaker. We are not talking about that one. I’m talking about the efficiency of operations of the ministry, and the hon. member knows it full well.
Mr. Reid: That’s how you are going to rationalize it?
Mr. Good: You don’t want to talk about the increase.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Maybe he would like to sit back and listen to some of the efficiencies that we have been able to accomplish in the Ministry of Revenue.
Mr. Roy: And here I thought you were a success story. I thought you were a success.
Hon. Mr. Meen: If you want to talk about transfer payments, that’s something else again, obviously.
Mr. Roy: I’m disappointed in you, Art.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Oh, I am sure.
The first method, Mr. Speaker, I’ve mentioned. The second was that we redeployed permanent staff from other areas to provide experienced supervision and control when we took on some of these temporary programmes. That kind of flexibility and ability to meet our new demands was particularly demonstrated in actions like that. And of course the one we remember rather well from last fall, the mail strike, where we had centres for GAINS cheque pickups established all over Ontario; the St. Lawrence Hall here in Toronto; the regional assessment offices in the 31 branches around Ontario.
Mr. Reid: That’s what they’ve been doing.
Hon. Mr. Meen: The district retail sales tax offices. As a result of that activity, and the co-operation that we got from many of the municipal clerks around the province to whom we were also able to deliver cheques, over 85 per cent of the GAINS cheques were picked up during the mail strike. I think that speaks rather well for the way in which people were able to co-operate with us on this and, indeed, the way in which we were able to provide that service.
Mrs. Campbell: I thought Lorne Henderson delivered the cheques personally.
Mr. Roy: That was good, Art.
Hon. Mr. Meen: During that same period we maintained tax collection, and it’s essential for the ongoing programmes of the province that the tax collection methods work and that the money continues to flow in. During that same period some 84 per cent of our normal revenues were recovered on time.
To recap for a moment, in the period before the constraint -- and this is what I’ve been talking about up to now -- we’ve grown in a pretty lean manner. We’ve assumed the increased workloads I’ve talked about. We’ve achieved, across the ministry, high standards indeed of performance. Further, I want to cite two significant items in support of my contention that we’re already a lean ministry and an efficient one.
The first of those is that the government, in its ongoing search for further cuts through the special programme review that was set up, understood just what we would confront if we were to have further cuts and relieved us from the obligation of any further cuts for the current year, 1976-1977. They understood, and fully appreciated that to do so would be to jeopardize our revenue collection and would hamper the equity and effectiveness of our efforts from the standpoint of the taxpayer; and neither of those is, of course, attractive to anybody.
The second item is that in comparison with other tax administrations, I think we come off very favourably indeed. A study was done by the University of Illinois a couple of years ago. It studied all the taxing jurisdictions in the United States and, I understand, all the taxing jurisdictions in Canada, at the federal level and our sister provinces. That study ranked Ontario with California as the most effective and equitable taxing jurisdictions in North America.
They had a very sophisticated way to work all this out on a scoring system. I am told that California came in at 83 points; Ontario came in at 82 points; and the next one down the list was somewhere in the 60s. We did our own little study just looking at some of the taxing jurisdictions around Canada.
Mr. Roy: Did it give any marks for the minister?
Hon. Mr. Meen: I can tell members that we ranked at the top of the list for efficiency. Without getting into comparisons with some of the other provinces -- and I might tell you, Mr. Speaker, that comparisons, as in that old expression, are odious --
Mr. Roy: Did they rate the ministers?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Total revenues collected in the 1974-1975 fiscal year, Ontario collected $3.268 billion, with each employee handling $2.85 million of that --
Mr. Roy: In millions?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, in millions. That is the highest figure of any. There are others of our sisters ranking at $1.28 million, $1.09 million, $1.52 million and so on.
It is pretty clear that we have a pretty efficient and, I think, a pretty effective taxing operation. Members might ask how did we achieve this?
Mr. Roy: When the sales tax was reduced, did you reduce your staff.
Hon. Mr. Meen: We have achieved this in two ways --
Mr. Warner: Does that include the temporary sales staff?
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- new technology and a very flexible approach to the managing of talent.
With respect to new technology, wherever possible we have gone to computerized records -- corporations tax, for example. Under corporations tax, the computerization brings us now from a formerly completely manual operation to a computerized system with a net accumulated savings to date of some $8 million.
In the assessment division, since we took over the function in 1970, we converted some 800-odd -- and members can interpret odd anyway they like -- some 800 manual and automatic record systems to one standardized and fully automated system. This system also processes and issues about eight million enumeration notices each year. We have introduced a computerized valuation system to process quickly the masses of revisions which must be incorporated each year into the assessment rolls.
As to the flexible management approach, the ministry makes utmost use of existing staff and resources without duplication of functions. The homebuyers’ grant is an illustration, Mr. Speaker. Instead of setting up separate audit functions for the homebuyers’ grant, we turned that audit function over to the retail sales tax auditors and their district offices. This enables them to apply existing professional expertise to the new area and eliminated unnecessary duplication for Ontario homebuyer grant applications.
Another illustration is gas tax. Occasionally, the gas tax branch borrows audit staff from other branches to supplement seasonal work loads. For example, the recent survey of usage of all fuels in eastern Ontario. In that case we supplemented the branch’s staff by taking auditors on from regional sales tax offices to do the job rather than expanding the staff in the gas tax branch.
Assessment staff: As I mentioned, they process land speculation tax lien and clearing certificates and they do this in the registry offices. In many instances they would be there anyway taking off the other information when working on transfers of real estate. So we have been able to combine that operation as well. They perform valuations for succession duty as well so that there again there’s a combination of expertise to keep the number of staff at a minimum. In short, we use a sort of task force approach to establish new programmes and implement policy objectives.
In our continued support of the constraint measures, we are determined to maintain this record of efficiency. It is going to require redoubled effort toward flexible use of our resources but we are going to continue the utilization of the most up-to-date technology available to reinforce efficiency and to reinforce efficiency under constraint.
Let me return to the new technology for a moment, if I may. We’re currently looking at the creation of an on-line, computerized, common-data-based information retrieval system, which would function throughout the whole of the revenue division. This would expand the existing data base in corporation sales tax and gas tax -- and, for that matter, succession duty -- to other parts of the branch as well. It would include businesses as well as individuals; for example, the GAINS and the home buyer grants. It would be linked to the companies branch at the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. Cassidy: You have been seduced, you know. You’ve been seduced by your bureaucrats.
Mr. Roy: Carry on, Art. I enjoy that. Very interesting.
Hon. Mr. Meen: The tax filer would be able, if we’re able to put this into effect -- and I think we can --
Mr. Cassidy: Does this turn them on in your riding?
Hon. Mr. Meen: The tax filer should then be able, with one inquiry or notification, to change his address, to notify us of the creation or demise of a company and, for that matter, to be potentially able to pay all taxes with one cheque or to transfer an overpayment of one cheque to an underpayment of another.
Mr. Cassidy: You’re making a big mistake. The art of taxation is to hit them often and to hit them strong.
Hon. Mr. Meen: This retrieval system will allow the taxpayer to find current status of obligation to all taxes as quickly as we can currently check up on our savings account balances at our local banks.
Mr. Cassidy: When they see how much they have to pay, they will really vote you out.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Meen: For the ministry, the common data base means economies in record keeping, less duplication of effort and considerable savings in staff and time. As well, I might add, it would permit more effective and easier compliance procedures and, for that matter, enforcement.
Mr. Cassidy: Does it also mean more speeches like this one?
Hon. Mr. Meen: And we hope, frankly, to act on independent consultants’ recommendations, which I got some short while ago, to establish an on-line posting and clearing system for the major branches in the Province of Ontario Savings Office, a matter we talked about last year during my estimates.
New technology costs money. Since we’re committed to constraint on the fiscal side and zero growth on the complement side, funds for these projects will have to come from existing programmes. That’s not going to be easy, but I’m optimistic that we can accomplish this.
Mr. Roy: I am sure you can, Art.
Mr. Cassidy: Good for you.
Hon. Mr. Meen: A final word, perhaps, on the flexible use of management talents in all of this. We shall continue consolidation and reorganization of staff resources --
Mr. Cassidy: How is this making Ontario a better place to live?
Hon. Mr. Meen: I might point out that there are three different, distinct areas of activity or fronts on which we are moving. Literally, by a move to 77 Bloor St. W., by September of this year, the ministry head office, which is presently spread around in four different locations will be consolidated into one.
Mr. Edighoffer: Will you have a royal flush there?
Hon. Mr. Meen: The resultant saving is obvious: support services and the elimination of wasted man-hours in travel between the various parts of the head office. As a result of a management study we’ve done, we are consolidating two former branches, the financial services and the administrative services branches, under one director. We hope to achieve greater efficiency and some staff reduction in that quarter, too.
Thirdly, as stated in the 1975 budget, we have placed a priority on a wide-ranging tax simplification system. We have established a task force of existing specialists from a number of branches to draw up a comprehensive tax simplification programme. These efforts are already evidenced by amendments to the Succession Duty Act, which I tabled here in the House two or three weeks ago, whereby we’ve raised exemption levels and granted more immediate access by family to an estate; and, very shortly, I expect to be releasing a comprehensive report on the topic of tax simplification itself.
Mr. Roy: I can’t wait for that.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Like the common data base, simpler tax procedures will benefit the tax filer and the administrators at Revenue as well. Overall, we’re going to be explaining the legislation in comprehensive language, redoubling our efforts to simplify our regulations and our procedures, and outlining what the taxpayer’s obligations may be. I hope to produce simpler forms, to be able to instruct the tax filer by regular bulletins and notices that are couched in precise, straightforward language that don’t require a Philadelphia lawyer to interpret them.
Mrs. Campbell: Hear, hear.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I hope to remove many existing areas of uncertainty such as --
Mr. Roy: I would like to have a translation of your speech.
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- the area of tangible personal property: We design our instructions for individual groups and not just lawyers and accountants, for specific trades, retail outlets or specific types of corporations or contractors. We will aim at them but we will also aim at the individuals so that everyone will be better able to understand just what we are trying to do and just what their obligations are. In that way I trust that there will be a pretty significant reduction in the present complexity of our taxing structure.
Mr. Cassidy: You know, if you send this speech around York East, you will come third.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I hope I’ve established beyond doubt that we at the Ministry of Revenue have always been efficient although, frankly, I don’t think we’ve ever been complacent.
Mr. Reid: You’ve got to be kidding.
Hon. Mr. Meen: We’ve met our obligations under constraint --
Mr. Reid: You should get rid of that speechwriter.
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- and even more importantly, we’re directing all our efforts to sustaining these constraints in the year ahead.
I personally want to be on record as one of the strongest proponents of the controls on the growth of government expenditure as set down in the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Roy: All right, we’re with you there.
Mr. Ruston: Good idea.
Mr. Roy: Great speech, Art.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Peterborough.
Mr. Roy: She is going to have a hard act to follow.
Ms. Sandeman: Yes. Impossible.
Like the previous speaker, I’d like to address my remarks on the Speech from the Throne to the opening paragraphs of that speech. I don’t quite have the previous speaker’s confidence in those opening paragraphs. I was delighted, however, to hear that the Ministry of Revenue is looking after our affairs with efficiency and simplicity and flexibility and all those other things. I had always naively assumed that it was the business of the Ministry of Revenue to look after our business with efficiency and that government shouldn’t have to tell us it was doing that -- we should be able to take it for granted.
Mr. Makarchuk: It would become noticeable if they were doing it.
Ms. Sandeman: It would, yes. The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) read some opening paragraphs from the Speech from the Throne. The next paragraph is the one that I would like to comment on. The paragraph which says that:
“Such restraint will allow consolidation and security of essential services in Ontario. We now enjoy one of the finest and most complete social service systems in the world. To maintain and preserve what Ontarians have worked to achieve in this field, it is necessary to streamline government programmes regularly to prune out redundancies or wastes that might arise.”
I would like to address my remarks, not to wastes and redundancies that have arisen but programmes which haven’t arisen -- necessary programmes which the government itself seems to believe are necessary and which have not yet materialized and which may well be yet another victim of this constraint programme.
The first area which I’d like to discuss is the whole problem -- and it shouldn’t indeed be a problem, we should have had a solution by now -- the problem arising from the excellent decision which this Legislature made last May to remove section 8 from the Training Schools Act -- and I’m glad the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) is here this evening. When I read of that decision by the Legislature, working as I was at that time for that ministry, like all other employees of the ministry I think I can honestly say that we were all delighted that the Legislature had taken that action. But it’s been a sorry story.
We’ve now nearly reached a year since that decision was made and we do not yet have in place programmes to replace training schools for the so-called unmanageable children who come before juvenile courts.
The timetable of procedures and lack of procedures around section 8 of the Training Schools Act has been very interesting. In May, we saw the amendment to the Act. By the fall, Children’s Aid Societies and municipalities across the province were appealing to the ministries involved to give them some clarification as to where the funding was to come from for the children who were going to come into their care as a result of the deletion of section 8.
Children’s Aid Societies, for instance, were pointing out that in order to provide for children who are now in the training school system and those who would come to the Children’s Aid in the future as an alternative to training school, Children’s Aid Societies would have to develop such services as short-term lockup facilities for youngsters. Those are not presently covered under the Child Welfare Act and there are some children who need to be locked up for their own protection or for the protection of others for a short term, but not in a training school. Local Children’s Aid Societies would also need to have assessment facilities, where youngsters can stay for a couple of weeks while the staff get to know them and assess how best they can be helped.
Many local Children’s Aid Societies in smaller centres don’t have group homes with trained staff to care for youngsters who need special care. There is a great need too for specially trained foster parents for these teenage children, special foster homes and a training programme for foster parents who would be dealing with difficult teenage children. There’s generally a crying need for foster homes for teenage youngsters across the province and a need for an increased staff in Children’s Aid Societies to deal with these extra children on the case load, and their parents, at the time that they are under their care, maybe in a residential setting and when they are able to return home.
The municipalities, and my own municipality of Peterborough was one of them, were involved in a series of meetings with the various ministries and expressed their concern about where funding was to come from for these children.
Last fall, Mr. Turner, the executive director of the Department of Social and Family Services in Peterborough, wrote to the liaison committee of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association expressing the concern felt by our municipality and, I’m sure, by many others across the province. He commented:
“A meeting was held in late September in Oshawa, involving representatives of the inter-ministry committee established to develop plans for the implementation of section 8, representatives of local Children’s Aid Societies and both elected and appointed officials from the city of Peterborough. Our impression was that most of the committee’s work to date involved the transfer of responsibility from one ministry to another and very little interest or concern in what effect the change will have on municipal budgets.
“I should point out that the city is not objecting to the proposed changes or their intent. We, in fact, support them. We do, however, request full and adequate consultation with municipal officials before the changes are implemented, and that consideration be given by the province to finding a financial arrangement to help offset expected increases in municipal funding to Children’s Aid Societies resulting from these changes.”
With a naive faith, I think, in the belief that the government, if they were transferring about 1,000 children from the Ministry of Correctional Services to the care of the Children’s Aid Society, and to a shared care with the municipality, would also transfer the funding for those children, the municipalities and the Children’s Aid Societies continue to ask the government: “Where is the funding coming from? What are you going to do to assure we can provide the alternate services needed?” Obviously the agencies and the municipalities are willing to care for these children. Reasonably, they ask for help and guidance.
It’s too facile, I think, to say that a straight transfer of funds from Correctional Services to Community and Social Services is the answer, and I hope that we will not see, over the next few weeks when the committee finally presents its report, that that is what is suggested. I would suggest that if the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) allows a large chunk of his funds to leave his ministry to go to Community and Social Services, he is doing a great disservice to the community-based services for which his ministry is responsible. The community-based services of the Ministry of Correctional Services are already drastically under-funded. Probation Officers have case loads which are so ridiculously high that -- well, I’m just rendered speechless by the size of the case load which I had as a probation officer when I left the service.
When I took my leave of absence to run for the last election I had 120 people on my case load as a probation officer in the adult service. When I hear the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) speak of increasing efficiency and his tax men handling double the case load, I do hope that the Minister of Correctional Services doesn’t believe that increased efficiency in community services in corrections is achieved by doubling case loads. Probation officers at the adult and juvenile levels are already not able to give the service they should to their clients and other backup services are desperately lacking in funds and staff.
As I say, in the fall the Children’s Aid Societies in the municipalities were awaiting an answer of how they were to cope with this added burden. The answer came to them in December. It came loud and clear when the announcement was made of the level of transfer of funds to municipalities and to the social services for the fiscal year, 1976-1977. It became immediately obvious to those concerned with children now under section 8, that the new and necessary services could not be provided at that level of funding. The result of these financial decisions, the decisions that were announced in December, have been particularly disastrous for the Children’s Aid Society.
I could give you some examples, perhaps, of what has happened to planning around the so-called section 8 children, again from the local Children’s Aid Society in my riding, the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society. In January they were asking help again, desperately, from the minister, commenting that they were confronted with several serious difficulties which they needed help in resolving. Their comment was that the cost of children in institutions had gone up from the beginning of 1975 when they had one child in an institution at an annual cost of $4,500; they now have five children in institutions at an annual cost of $34,675.
“These are children for whom we have no alternative way of providing care. The additional cost of providing care for these youngsters is about five per cent of our 1975 estimates. Our current total cost [they say] for children in institutions is $95 a day. We need to know very quickly whether or not we will have the funds to continue to provide this care. Two of these youngsters whose care now costs $60 per day might very well have gone to a training school under the provisions of the Training Schools Act. They are now getting the care they need, but at a cost we cannot carry. We are proposing to care for them and four other youngsters in a group home provided for in these estimates.”
The estimated budget that the Children’s Aid Society provided for the Ministry of Community and Social Services represented an increase of 8.5 per cent over last year. That budget just allowed for them to care for children with special needs in a group home -- and these are children who would otherwise have been in a training school.
The ministry refused to accept the 8.5 per cent budget and told the Children’s Aid Society that they must cut back to a 5.5 per cent increase, with the result that the Children’s Aid Society in Peterborough looked at their budget and decided that the difference between 5.5 per cent and 8.4 per cent must be made up by removing the funds allocated for a group home.
This means, in effect, that that society now has the capacity to provide care outside their own homes only for those children able to adjust to foster care and that they have no funds to purchase special care for children with special needs. They have no accommodation; they have no money for other children. They have passed this message on to the juvenile and family court judge who has responded by saving: “In that case, section 8 children will have to continue to be admitted to training schools.”
It seems to me a very sad cycle to have come in less than a year; from last May, when we were bravely saying that no unmanageable child in Ontario should be sent to a training school, to the situation in April of this year, when there seems to be, for many family court judges, no alternative available because of the level of funding given to the local Children’s Aid Society.
Duplication of this kind of disaster is happening across the province. In Renfrew we find, for instance, that when the local Viking Home billed the Children’s Aid Society for a child in their care, the Children’s Aid Society wrote back:
“We are in receipt of your invoice of Jan. 31 for the month of January at $49 a day. Because of the ministry’s cutback to 5.5 per cent over 1975 estimates we are in desperate financial straits. The maximum amount that we could pay you at this time would be $35 per day and we are enclosing a cheque for this amount. The only other alternative would be to remove Amy completely.
“Should we get fairer consideration on our budget with respect to children in institutions, we could look at this rate later. Should you feel that you cannot continue with Amy for this per diem then you would have to reach your decision.”
To which the National Children’s Foundation, which now runs Viking Home, responded by sending a copy of that letter from the Children’s Aid Society to the Minister of Community and Social Services and commented to the minister that:
“There is no doubt that Amy needs to be in Viking; yet we are placed in this most invidious position by her agency due to government cutbacks. We cannot now at the beginning of March decide to pay our staff two-thirds of their salary for January. We are left with two choices: Either we sue the Children’s Aid Society for this money; and/or we discharge this most needy child. This is a further glaring example that government cutbacks are hurting the old, the young and the poor.
“We await urgently your response and assistance.”
Though the juvenile court in Peterborough has decided that section 8 children will have to go to training school, other juvenile courts across the province have made exactly the opposite decision. Juvenile court judges are saying to Children’s Aid Societies in their localities “If we place a child in your care, that is a decision of the court; if you refuse to follow we shall be forced to hold you in contempt of court”.
This is a tough and admirable position on the part of the judge who, together with the courts and all the agencies concerned with that child’s welfare, has decided what is best for the child. But it puts the Children’s Aid Society in an intolerable financial position. They know if they accept the care of that child and have to place them in an expensive institutional setting or group home setting -- sometimes with per diems of up to $60 a day -- they may have run through their annual budget by August or September of this year and the minister has made it very clear that there would be no supplementary payment. They are put in the intolerable situation of supporting desperately needy adolescents who are very vulnerable and very much at risk, or refusing to -- and knowing that there is nowhere else for that child to go, and also running the risk of being held in contempt of court.
So in 10 months we have come full cycle from those brave words in May, 1975, to the situation where judges in juvenile courts, who have been delighted at the opportunity not to have to send deeply disturbed children to that most inappropriate resort, the Ontario training school, are now put in an untenable and intolerable position.
In fact, of course, many judges haven’t been sending those unmanageable children to training schools since last May. Most juvenile court judges in the province have been acting as though the section deleting section 8 had already been proclaimed. The result across the province now is that the Children’s Aid Society have the highest-ever percentage of teenagers in their care.
Over 50 per cent of the children in Children’s Aid care at the moment across the province are over 13 years of age. It is relatively easy for a Children’s Aid Society to find a foster home for a younger child. It becomes increasingly difficult to find a foster home or a good group home for a sexually acting-out teenage girl, an unmanageable boy and all the many children with behaviour patterns which many of us find intolerable in teenagers, with whom one copes only with special care and special skills.
On February 23 of this year the Ministry of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) assured me in a letter that it would be a matter merely of weeks before the Council for Emotionally Disturbed Children and Youth brought down their report about proclamation of the date of the amendment of the Training Schools Act. Several weeks have gone, and now I understand the report is being rewritten, and that a meeting is planned for the Association of Children’s Aid Societies in April, which means a further delay in the provision of these very necessary services. We are back in the syndrome of everyone talking, everyone studying, and the children who need the care being the pawns in the game.
If I may say, in parentheses, the delay in handling the problem of section 8 children is mirrored in the delay in striking final budgets for Children’s Aid Societies across the province. We are now into April; most of the Children’s Aid Societies have not yet been able to come up with a final dollar figure for their budgets for this year. Their fiscal year starts in January and the discussions and the negotiations are still going on. Many of them are afraid that when they do get that final budget figure, what they have already spent will turn out to have been far too much.
If I may break my remarks there, Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue tomorrow on another topic.
Ms. Sandeman moved the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Tomorrow we will continue with the Throne Speech debate.
Hon. Mr. Auld moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.