The House resumed at 8 p.m.
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT (CONCLUDED)
Mr. Speaker: When we rose at 6 o’clock we were considering second reading of Bill 11.
Mr. Edighoffer: I know the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) wanted to adjourn the debate. Mr. Speaker, I’ll just make a few comments on the amendment to the Income Tax Act. It appears to me that this tidies up some of the problems that have shown up in connection with the federal Act.
Section 1, as I read it, adds two sections to the foregoing tax credit section, as it is necessary to make changes due to the federal Act, and I see it is retroactive to Jan. 1, 1974. As I understand it, it avoids double taxation for the citizens of Ontario and permits the individual to compute his foreign tax credit as though the foreign dividend remains part of his income in the year in which it is received.
In section 2, after listening to the budget that was brought down the other night, that amount of $1,534 sounds very familiar. Basically, all this does is it changes the calculation of tax from the tax payable to the taxable income, which, of course, is the $1,534.
Section 3, as I see it, repeals and re-enacts subsection 10 of section 6(b) of the Act and is again tied in with the federal Act as it refers to deductions for political contributions and tax credits. It appears that there have been some cases where some individuals have two taxation years in one calendar year and this will, I hope, clarify the relevant taxation year to claim those credits. Basically, it disallows individual claiming of political contribution and tax credits twice in the same calendar year. This, as I say, ties in with the federal Act and we in this party support it.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I have only one comment and I hope the minister will respond, particularly on this aspect of it, to the comments made by my colleague, the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), with respect to the political contribution tax credit. I relate my remarks particularly to section 3 of the bill which is before us for approval, and I refer specifically to the Ontario tax credit guide issued by the minister for the guidance of persons computing their taxation for the year 1975.
Very briefly, it simply states that the political contribution tax credit can only be claimed by persons who have provincial tax payable in excess of any property, sales or pensioner tax credits to which they may be entitled. Then it goes on to state, a little later in the document: “The total tax credit under the Ontario tax credit system is the sum of the property tax credit, sales tax credit and the pensioner tax credit less two per cent of taxable income, subject to a maximum of $500 plus allowable political contribution tax credit.”
The net effect, as my colleague has pointed out to the minister, is that those persons in the lower income levels of the Province of Ontario, if they make a political contribution out of very limited funds in order to support the party of their choice, usually the Conservative Party, don’t have the benefit of that contribution and are not allowed to add it in.
I can sense what the anomaly will be that the minister will produce to me, that because a person has made a contribution to a political campaign, the person shouldn’t get a credit for that unless he’s got some tax which would otherwise be payable; and that he shouldn’t get a refund from the government of an amount which includes, amongst the other credits to which he’s entitled, the amount which he contributed subject to the maximum for a political contribution.
But if one looks at it in a rather wider sense of the ability of individuals in lower income levels to feel that they have a sense of participation in the process of the democratic system by making a political contribution, it does seem to me that it is not an unnecessary burden on the consolidated revenue fund of the Province of Ontario to say that those persons should be able to take into account that political contribution for the purpose of the tax credit system.
It seems to me that, on balance, it would do more for the democratic process to be able to have that kind of contribution made by persons in those circumstances and that that would far outweigh the public interest of whether or not a few extra dollars did or did not flow into the revenues of the Province of Ontario. We’re not talking about very large amounts. We are talking about the participation by people at lower income levels in the political process by being able to make their contributions.
I would ask the minister both to comment upon it now and perhaps give it serious consideration in the future.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up the remarks that were just made and draw to the minister’s attention that there is one group of supporters, at least in the most recent election, who I think were hurt rather financially by this, and that’s the students.
There were a number of students who contributed $10, $15 or $20 to my own particular campaign with the understanding, granted incorrectly, that in fact they would get a rebate. But because of their financial income level, the fact they’re still going to school, it ended up that none of them did. I would most certainly concur with the remarks that were just made by my colleague in the NDP.
I would like the minister, if he could, to speak to that particular group as well.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the minister’s attention the comments I made in the debate on the Speech from the Throne. I don’t intend to read them out now, unless the minister wants me to do so.
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. B. Newman: They are very brief. They are not lengthy like some of the comments made by members to my right but they are at least meaty. The comment was made by Mr. Herbert Swanson --
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. B. Newman: -- that one cent of difference in income between $1,400 and $1,401 could adversely affect the individual to the extent of $28 as far as Ontario’s tax credits are concerned. Would the minister mind, if he doesn’t reply now, at least reading on page 972 the comments published in one of the senior citizens’ bulletins in my own community?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, perhaps directing my comments to the latter observations first, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) refers to the problem of the students. I think it is fair to say -- and I think they would concur too -- that if they looked at the material made available last year it was made quite clear that contributions made to political parties or candidates were deductible from tax. If they had taxable income they would know it; if they didn’t have taxable income presumably they would know it. Perhaps they did not realize quite how all this worked when considering the Ontario tax credit programme as well.
The member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) raises the problem -- I don’t think I have the table with me -- of the $61 notch provision, one might say -- or the $200 notch provision the federal tax Act has where it scales from last year’s rate of $1,400. I don’t know whether the hon. member for Windsor-Walkerville is listening but I think he might just indicate if he was speaking in terms of the federal notch provision?
Mr. B. Newman: Yes, I am.
Hon. Mr. Meen: At, say, $1,401 the federal notch provision would relieve against a sudden burden of $201 of tax, shall we say, or $202, somewhere in that category and would assess only a $2 provision for tax.
I have just received a copy of the table. At $1,400 to $1,410 the tax under the federal scheme is $2. Under our own, we have a relief against the amount of relative tax at 30.5 per cent of that figure which comes out at $61; when you then go to $1,400 to $1,410 the tax becomes $61.60. It isn’t $1.60; it is $61.60.
We have not built a notch provision into our Act. I don’t know whether it is practical. It may be if they have this kind of scheme. I had this drawn to my attention just the other day and it could be that it stems from the same article to which the hon. member referred. I would like to take a look at that.
It is possible that we could have, in effect, the equivalent of a notch provision -- a tapering effect, not quite the notch provision lawyers talk about in taxing statutes but something analogous to it so that we don’t develop that abrupt assessment when you just drop over the line.
Mr. B. Newman: On page 972 of Hansard, I read the comments that were published in the senior citizens’ bulletin so the minister can see them just as they were published.
Hon. Mr. Meen: My staff had brought this to my attention and we will take a look at it in conjunction with Treasury to see if there is something of a practical standpoint which can be developed.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine raised three points and I think they were pretty articulately underscored by the member for Riverdale. I would like to dwell on those if I might for a moment or so.
As I understood her question, she wants political contributions to be deductible from the Ontario tax payable before the reduction of the tax payable by any amount of the Ontario tax credits that might be forthcoming. That’s sort of the point she is making. The thing that concerns me, and I had the opportunity over the dinner hour to reflect on this, is that in effect -- and I think the member for Riverdale anticipated this -- the province would wind up returning to the taxpayer the total amount or maybe 75 per cent of the amount the taxpayer had made by way of political contribution, over and above the tax credits that taxpayer recovered.
We haven’t seen fit to go that far because it seemed to us that the taxpayer would make a political contribution roughly in line with his net tax payable after these various credits that are made available to him under the Ontario tax credit programme. One must recognize that this is the first year this has been in effect and obviously we have to look at a year of results and see how it works. We had to work this out with the federal government.
We have followed in our section 4(a), introduced into the Income Tax Act last year, with any mutatis mutandis as might be required, the federal provision along the same lines, and on that basis the federal government was prepared to administer that part of it for us. It certainly is not something we would cast aside without some further look, but to tell the truth, I do see some inherent weaknesses in trying to do this. I could imagine for one thing that one would have to put a top limit on the amount of any such contribution, relative to tax payable, in order to avoid any significant abuse of that system. But that’s the sort of thing where I think we would have to take a look at it, talk to the federal government and see how it felt about administering the system on that basis.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine also asked about interspousal transfers of receipts for things such as political contributions where the receipt is in the name of the wife but it’s the husband who is the taxpayer filing the return. She indicated that she thought the federal Act was being administered differently from ours. Ours is being administered by the federal people, and so I suppose implicitly she’s saying that both our Acts, which read essentially the same way, are being administered differently from the way in which they read.
That’s not my understanding. I had a chance to check this out over the dinner hour as well. As I understand it, they do follow the Act though, I am told, there’s a certain amount of flexibility and a certain amount of latitude particularly -- one might call it tolerance. I am advised engineers would call this a form of manufacturing or operational tolerance, in this case, if amounts were small it is possible that, rather than try to go back and disallow and have all the correspondence inherent in a disallowance and the advice of the re-assessment, it’s probably simpler and a whale of a lot cheaper simply to wink at a small variance of that sort. But in anything of substance, I am advised by my staff that the Act is followed. Again we have had to be consistent with the federal section in this application.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine also asked me if my ministry does communicate with the federal government in connection with general vigilance, I suppose, over the accounts, their post-audits and general checking. The answer is “yes.” We have our auditors in the retail sales tax field, the gasoline tax field and the Ontario corporation tax audit field. Our field auditors and inspectors not infrequently turn up items that might lead us to believe there was some reason for taking a look at the income tax return for that taxpayer, and so we do have an exchange of information when something of that sort shows up. In the federal scene with an income tax return, we would hear about it so that we might then be prompted to take a look at some corporation that that taxpayer was involved with or some other activities that might look to be interesting. There is a mutual exchange between our administrations at the federal and at the provincial level.
Mr. Renwick: Under legal authority, I trust.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, there is legal authority for that. I think the hon. members have covered the basic points in this bill and I don’t need to labour it. I must say it doesn’t exactly take a Philadelphia lawyer to understand the explanatory material, but almost.
Mr. Renwick: A lot of people in Riverdale will be pleased with section 1. They have a lot of foreign income, a lot of foreign tax credit.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I am pleased to hear that. In any event, I was pleased to hear that the opposition parties support the principles of this bill and I think I might wind up my comments on that note.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading upon motion: Bill 11, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
EMERGENCY MEASURES REPEAL ACT
Hon. Mr. MacBeth moved second reading of Bill 12, An Act to repeal the Emergency Measures Act.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: If I may, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to say a few words first by way of introduction.
Mr. Deans: You ought to be ashamed; I think you should defend yourself.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: The hon. member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) suggests I should be ashamed of myself in connection with this bill. No, I’m not ashamed of myself but it is with some misgivings that I move the demise of what I think has been a good organization, one that has perhaps given better service than some members of the public realize.
Mr. Deans: Why are you burying it?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: In fact, the purpose of this bill is to bring the law into step with what is actual fact. And, as the hon. members know, there was limited funding for this EMO to the end of 1975 from provincial sources and, as was announced last spring, that financing would be terminated at the end of 1975.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: It’s something that the House already knows about, and the purpose of taking the bill off the statute books --
Mr. Lawlor: You’re not safe any more. You haven’t got a bunker to go to.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: That was one of the problems: The people of this province really didn’t think bunkers were very practical. As you recall, Mr. Speaker, some years ago the federal government urged the citizens of the country to establish their own bunkers and take some precautions in case of atomic attack.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you talk about what the EMO really did?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member may enter the debate later. Thank you.
Mr. Deans: I intend to.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I should not be distracted so easily. I started off on one venture, then I tried to answer the member for Wentworth, and then I tried to answer the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) --
Mr. Ruston: You’re not supposed to listen to interjections.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: As the one in charge of emergency measures, I shouldn’t be so easily put off course; so I’ll come back to what I was saying, sir, and say that we know that the funding of this was terminated at the end of the year and we’re simply bringing the law into step with facts.
The reason, of course, for doing that is the original Emergency Measures Act required municipalities to do certain things; they had to have a plan -- or that was the suggestion -- and certain responsibilities were put on the municipalities’ shoulders. Therefore, when we removed our funding, it was thought that we should also remove the responsibility we had placed on their shoulders. That is the purpose of what we’re doing today in taking the bill off the statute books.
I started to say that I had some misgivings, simply because in 1963 and 1964 I was a member of the Metropolitan Toronto EMO committee and I was always amazed at the work that they were able to do in cases where they got very little support from the public.
Mr. Deans: That’s why I asked, aren’t you ashamed of yourself?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: No, because, as I say, it got very little support from the public of this province and from the public of this country.
Mr. Deans: It doesn’t need support.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I was amazed at the esprit de corps that so many of the Emergency Measures Organizations had during a time when they were ridiculed by so many of the press and so many of the public. They found useful jobs to do; I know the Metropolitan Toronto people were the ones who did a good job on the emergency ambulance service. I know that the Hamilton group also served in a very commendable way, as did many of the other organizations across the province -- but with very little support from the public and, I might say, really with very little support from the opposition members of this House.
Mr. Deans: Not so.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: There may be individual exceptions but for a number of years I remember there used to be an annual motion that the funds allotted to EMO should be reduced to $1.
Mr. Deans: That was before your time.
Mr. Nixon: Supported by the NDP. They all voted for it.
Mr. Martel: No.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I think that in most cases the NDP supported that motion which didn’t originate with them. This is the kind of lack of support that it got from the public in general. Recognizing that there were --
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: When the opposition has decided whether its members were for or against EMO, I will carry on.
Recognizing that there was very little support, the Treasurer of this province (Mr. McKeough) and the government decided the money could best be spent in some other way where it would have the support of the public.
It’s not that the services are not now available; they are there in one form or another. But the real gist of what we have done is, instead of having people stand by for emergencies which a lot of people didn’t think would happen, such as atomic warfare or something of that nature, we have put them into positions where they are serving in active capacities where emergencies do take place on a daily basis. Many of these people are presently being used in ambulance services on a day-by-day basis where, I think, there is more satisfaction from the job, and in fire departments and in various services of this nature --
Mr. Wildman: There are no capital grants for equipment for volunteer fire departments.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: -- where they are still giving an emergency service on a day-by-day basis instead of sitting by waiting for something which the majority of the public felt there was really little point in providing for.
I think most members of the public thought there was little point in making provision for atomic warfare and so much of the atmosphere around EMO seemed to focus on this purpose. I suppose it was the reason for their original being but certainly, subsequent to that, many other purposes evolved which I think were worthwhile but which did not catch the support of the general public. I say the work that EMO used to do is still being provided for, under the lead ministry concept and the OPP is doing the co-ordination of emergency work.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: They will if necessary and there are many volunteers across this province who will do just the same thing.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member may enter the debate later.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I say the services are still there. The OPP is coordinating them; the various ministries are responsible for them under what we call the lead ministry concept.
Environment is to look after spills of chemicals, oil or other contaminations of toxics or toxic agents; gas or oil pipeline breaks. Health is responsible for epidemics; nuclear reactor accidents with off-site effects; heavy water plant accidents with off-site effects. Natural Resources is looking after floods and forest fires. The Solicitor General is responsible for major air crashes or other peacetime emergencies or war emergencies.
Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs is responsible, of course, for the coordination of the funding of all of these various projects. Chief Inspector Fullerton of the OPP is co-ordinating it at that level.
I say the people of the province are still protected in case of emergency. Although it is with some regret that I see the passing of EMO, and I pay tribute to all of those who served in it, I think it is necessary to update the law and bring it in step with facts as they presently exist.
Mr. Davidson: You don’t believe that.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, we will not be supporting this particular bill.
Mr. Nixon: That’s a change in your position from the last time it was raised.
Mr. Breaugh: Members for Oshawa, I have just been informed, have a great tradition of being in support of the Emergency Measures Organization and never in this House have they voted against it.
Mr. Martel: We will always be in support of it.
Mr. Breaugh: I am trying to maintain that kind of tradition, among others.
Mr. Deans: Now we have some influence around here.
Mr. Breaugh: I suppose, as the minister has just put it to us, this is not much more than an obituary notice. According to the minister and, I suppose, some people, this organization has ceased to function. In his ministry, the branch rather dissolved in itself in December last year and, I suppose, many people regard this as being an unnecessary organization. I suppose we are all aware too of some shortcomings and the kind of references to bomb shelter brigades that were made, and that there really was not at any time the kind of financial support for this organization that it probably should have had.
Recognizing some shortcomings that were there, let’s ask ourselves a rather interesting question, and I think an important one: What’s in its place? That really is not known, apart from a rather swift list that the minister just read out to us, and something called a lead ministry concept which I’m not terribly sure that I understand, and some reference to the OPP making certain decisions and, of course, the fact that in certain municipalities the Emergency Measures Organization still does exist and still does operate supported by the municipality. I think there are some shortcomings there. Let me run through some of those very quickly.
In terms of public plans, I’m not terribly sure the province is covered by that kind of scheme at all, and certainly if they are supposed to be public plans I’m well aware that the public doesn’t know about them. If there are areas in Ontario, and there seem to be more and more these days, where a flood occurs, who looks after that? Supposedly Natural Resources has a master plan, but in the floods that we have seen in the last few years that doesn’t exactly work all that smoothly. There really isn’t that great an organization, and since I spent some time working with conservation authorities, I certainly know they don’t have the staff to implement it and they don’t really have that kind of thoroughness of planning one would like.
In terms of electrical shortages -- and we’ve seen a number of occasions where that has happened in many areas, with wind storms and various other problems in electrical supply systems which sometimes cause rather drastic situations -- who looks after that particular one? In my area there is an interesting angle to that, because there is a nuclear station at Pickering. We are told there is an emergency plan for Pickering station, but no one in the area really knows about it and the Ontario Hydro personnel who run the nuclear station at Pickering really don’t want to discuss that in particular.
In terms of road accidents, I suppose one might make the argument that the OPP would be able to cover that or the local municipal police force would do that, except that there are certainly occasions when we have had rather massive accidents in Ontario, closing down roads, and I’m not terribly sure I’m all that pleased that there really was a sufficient organization to deal with that as an emergency. It took some time to clear it up. There were some difficulties. I’m not terribly sure that we’re all that well covered.
Let me move to an area I think a few years ago probably would have been an area which would have caused a little guffawing around the place, and that is a radioactive scare. I would tend to think that even in this House there might have been the odd chuckle when people representing the kind of things that Emergency Measures Organizations did raised that question in the House. People would say: “That’s not going to happen in Ontario. That never happens in Canada. It’s never been known to happen.”
Let’s take a look at what happened in Port Hope. Perhaps it doesn’t reach an emergency scale, but it certainly did for a while when there were a number of federal agencies and provincial agencies all scurrying around trying to cover their tracks rather nicely. Nobody was particularly geared to look after the situation at all. Whether that constitutes an emergency or not, I suppose, is open to some discussion, but certainly what isn’t open to discussion is that there was no mechanism in place to deal with that particular situation.
Even in a simple thing like carrying a load of dirt in that area, which was later identified in the public press as being radioactive, when the dirt fell off the truck on to the road action was required. It really wasn’t much. The OPP were there, it’s true; and they closed off the road, it’s true; and after about 18 hours they managed to clean it up and move it out. The point is there was no mechanism in place to look after that kind of situation.
I think we could probably say that, in terms of fire or an explosion in an urban centre, there probably are mechanisms there now, through the fire department in co-operation with the police department, to look after that particular situation; but there are many places in Ontario where that kind of service is not available, and we don’t have to go into the far north, although that’s perhaps the classic case. One can move two miles from where I live and find a municipality in the region of Durham that really doesn’t have that sophisticated firefighting system, with emergency equipment, that’s in the city of Oshawa.
Although there are some agreements to move back and forth, they are for very specific things and I’m sure if there were an emergency the people wouldn’t run out to get into some kind of agreement signed for starters, but the fact is that in many places in Ontario there just is not the equipment in place, nor the people trained; nor, perhaps what’s even more important, the people to make decisions.
I want to go to a very simple idea, that is how does the public deal with all of this? What do they do when an emergency erupts? Who do they call? In Ontario we haven’t even moved yet to that very simple system of phoning one telephone number, 911, when an emergency occurs.
Many people simply do not have in their wallet or on the front of their phone book, or written on their kitchen wall, the number of the police station, the fire station or the local hospital. They spend some time fumbling around and looking that up. There are difficulties in this. There is no one number to call when there is an emergency. The whole problem about informing the public of what to do in an emergency hasn’t really been looked at at all.
For example, how many people in the public at large are aware of the lead ministry concept? I suspect the members of this House couldn’t give us much of an explanation as to what that is and how it works in each particular area and whom they would call to get something done. I don’t think the public at large knows that at all. In terms of supplies and materials, which traditionally have been a problem with the Emergency Measures Organization because they didn’t have much money of their own, they had to rely on other agencies -- and that sometimes posed a problem -- I suspect that problem is still there. I still suspect in cases of emergency there are difficulties in obtaining supplies, and in getting them to the site on time, quickly and efficiently. I really suspect that is a major problem.
The reason I keep using the word “suspect” is that we do not know, as members of the public, or even as members of this House. We don’t have that written down. We don’t have that information at our fingertips. I suppose the minister can supply us with some of the detail, but that would do none of us any good if we were in an emergency anywhere, because it is rather awkward to have to call the Solicitor General first to get that kind of information, and then find what to do about it locally.
In terms of manpower, one of the interesting things I saw recently was an indication of some flooding in the Ottawa area. I suppose one of the arguments that would be used is that in the final analysis one would always call out the army. What I thought was very nice about this particular example is that the flooding occurred overnight. In the morning the people all got together, got the boats out and sorted themselves out. In the afternoon, after everybody was safe and sound, up rolled the Canadian Army with their trucks, their boats and their equipment. Everybody was safe and the emergency was handled at that point. So they spent the afternoon paddling around, watching the dogs and seeing what was going on.
Mr. Martel: Pierre was there.
Mr. Breaugh: They then packed up and went home because they had to be back at the base that night. They had no place to stay.
Mr. Nixon: They are very good at apprehended insurrection.
Mr. Martel: Pierre was there, with his helicopter.
Mr. Samis: What did they apprehend?
Mr. Breaugh: That is not an emergency, that is a disaster; we’ll make that distinction now.
Mr. Martel: One of these days they are coming to your place, to the barbecue.
Mr. Nixon: Like the Prime Minister, in fine style.
Mr. Breaugh: One of the things that has happened is that the whole cost of this particular operation in many instances has been shifted to the municipal level. And frankly, it’s one more thing they don’t need. It’s one more expense they really can’t stand. I find some difficulty in trying to justify to them that they should share the cost of that particular operation.
Let me move very quickly to this idea of a lead ministry concept and what it will do in a case of an emergency. First of all, I doubt the public at large in Ontario knows which are the lead ministries, or where they are or how to get hold of them; what the telephone numbers are or whom to call when one gets there. Certainly if an emergency occurred and you had to go through the kind of rigmarole and buck-passing that any member of this House goes through in contacting any one of the ministries to get an answer about anything, if you had to go through that same process when an emergency occurred you could kiss us all goodbye.
Ask any member of the public about trying to deal with the bureaucracy here at Queen’s Park; whether it’s here, physically, around this area, or whether it happens to have been physically moved out to some other area of the province. I think you will find they are not too happy with that kind of a communication system. That poses some rather difficult problems for them.
One simple thing that I suppose is constantly difficult when one is trying to organize on a large scale, as the ministry was, is to keep the information updated.
For example, when I was on the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority someone put my name on a list that I think is used for a thing called the flood emergency plan. If I recall correctly -- and this is the extent of it -- one day there arrived in the mail a list of all the people in Ontario who were chairmen or vice-chairmen or held some position in the conservation authorities. It said at the top of it that in case of a flood this is the communication system they will use. That’s all it said. That’s all the work that was done, simply a list circulated around Ontario.
Interestingly enough, though I am not sure whether it is still there, last year when I was no longer on the conservation authority, my telephone number was still one of the emergency numbers to call. That kind of updating of information on a large scale, such as you’re suggesting through the ministries, is going to be a continuing problem. It was not a problem when Emergency Measures Organizations functioned in local municipalities; at least there was one person to know, and they knew one another in their various agencies locally, that’s the key point.
So what I’m trying to say is that the replacement of that agency is not there, but the need is still there. Perhaps it should have been refined, perhaps it should have been financed in a different way and perhaps they should have been given all kinds of different directions; but they had a function in the community and that function is a necessary one. We frankly do not see how it will be carried out in an emergency these days.
We recognize that in the financing -- particularly if municipalities want to carry this through on their own, and they either do that through maintaining some kind of Emergency Measures Organization or doing it through a local firefighting service or through a local policing service -- they still bear the cost of that. Ontario is not helping very much with that particular kind of specialized service other than the normal grants they would give as general-purpose grants in a municipality or for police costs.
Are they really using all of the resources that are available? By that I mean the human resources as well as sandbags and ladders and rubber boots. I don’t think they really are. I think the information flow is there in terms of a community relating to itself in some kind of a disaster situation. I really can’t see that.
I think the credibility of the ministries, all of them, is certainly at a rather low ebb in the Province of Ontario. Certainly in a disaster situation or an emergency situation of any kind, I would hate to have to call on the ministries to provide me with some kind of service. I frankly don’t see them moving that well or that swiftly; or the ones that are working in the field are a little on the short side these days because of the budget cutbacks.
The last point I want to make is that these little organizations, despite their many faults, really were one of the mainstays in Ontario in terms of the role that volunteers play in serving the public. I admit, quite frankly, that perhaps they were a little on the slim side when it came to organizational power or financial power, but they did give a great many volunteer agencies in a community a chance to play a role and it was a reciprocal agreement.
I want to mention a couple of them. There are in my riding, and I suspect it’s true across Ontario, a number of little amateur radio clubs, some of which are rather large in nature and some are just a very few people. However they performed a service, and they were brought together and identified by the Emergency Measures Organization. In return for that they got some small area for storage and for meetings and things like that. Not very much, certainly not very costly, but in terms of providing a service to the public there was no question that they did.
They are still there, but I would imagine they would have some difficulty relating to any ministry or to any police force, as opposed to working with local organizations, where in many cases they sat on the executive or they at least knew the one person was in charge or the co-ordinator of the Emergency Measures Organization.
There are a number of other groups, like St. John Ambulance, with which I imagine we are all familiar. In my riding they worked very closely with Emergency Measures as well, and in return for that they got some storage space, for trucks and equipment, and some areas they could use to train personnel and to conduct courses and work out. They are having difficulty surviving on their own, because there really is no longer much funding for them as a local unit. Emergency Measures was one last little touchstone they had to work in that community.
One of the things I think is going to happen -- the minister made reference to volunteer groups -- I think when emergencies happen -- and they will happen; they may not be atomic bombs but there will be a number of other things happen -- you will find that many of the volunteer agencies that you wanted, and traditionally used, may find themselves hard pressed to give you that service. In fact a number of them may be out of business because that Emergency Measures Organization is no longer there to co-ordinate, to give a little financial support, in some cases just to give a little moral support to that particular specialized group of people.
Mr. Speaker, in the interest of public safety, if you like, but frankly because we don’t see any viable replacement for that service at all; and recognizing there were some shortcomings in the Emergency Measures Organizations, but not seeing any viable replacement, and certainly as members of this House and as members of the public at large not being able to identify what that replacement is, we cannot support this bill.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a few comments to Bill 12, An Act to dissolve the Emergency Measures Organizations in the Province of Ontario; and unlike the minister, I have some misgivings about it too. I was a member of the Emergency Measures Organization in the former county of Welland and I can recall, in my days in the county council, I wasn’t too happy with the system and the setup of the emergency measures group. I couldn’t quite understand the purpose of it, but after I was appointed to the committee I found out the purpose of such an organization, and that was to act in case of any emergency. It was not just a matter of dealing with a national disaster or national warning system throughout Canada. To this day, I don’t know whether that alarm system is workable or not. I haven’t heard the siren go off in any community. I believe it did happen on one occasion; and that caused same commotion throughout the community but many of the citizens couldn’t quite understand what the sirens were all about.
As I said, I have misgivings about it and I’m surprised the minister hasn’t given more consideration to this. I don’t know if he has any plan now in case of a disaster. I think of just a couple of weeks ago in the Erie riding, along the lakeshore of Lake Erie, when they had that severe ice storm. It was almost complete chaos. Emergency Measures was there, still in the region, but there was no direction on an emergency plan or a disaster plan in that area. I can say this much, they had a good plan there at one time. They had somebody there to give direction to it.
You can go back to that area, Mr. Speaker, and look at it. It took them about a week to 10 days to get back to normal functioning in the area, for hydro and telephone service. I can say this much, when we lose those two services there we even lose fire protection services too, because many of these areas depend on radio communications.
I can recall a place where a home was burned completely to the ground and there was no way of getting the alarm into the fire department. When we have this lack of communications and a power failure like that, you know, it’s hard to understand why the minister would be moving in this direction at this time.
Emergency Measures had a good warning system in the Niagara district. They had their own portable power unit there, and standby units for electricity, that could send out the warning throughout the different communities in the region. I don’t know what they’re going to do with all this equipment. Who’s going to man it now? I think almost every municipality had a system whereby they could be in contact at all times, whether there was a power failure or not; I just don’t know what they’re going to do with all this equipment.
For example, take flooding. The minister says we can refer it to the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the good Lord knows what type of a programme they have. I’m not too happy with some of the action that has been taken in the past in the Province of Ontario. There’s been serious flooding in the Brantford area along the Grand River, and in the Galt area. If we have a plan, where is it? The minister mentions the Ontario Provincial Police providing services in a disaster plan. I think the Ontario Provincial Police have perhaps a more important job, and that is to get on with the crime problem in the Province of Ontario, not to deal with emergency measures. When I look at the Ontario Provincial Police, when I find that it’s phasing out certain facilities in the Erie riding, and I can think of the one in Fort Erie, moving them some 25 or 30 miles from that particular area, I wouldn’t want to depend upon it for emergency aid at any time.
The previous speaker mentioned the fire departments in the area, and I think the fire services in the Niagara Peninsula are perhaps among the best. They do have what they call mutual aid services, whereby they can call from one department to the other, and one municipality to the other municipality; it works very well. I say this much of the fire services, they have good and capable personnel. In case of any emergency, the first place the citizen turns to is the fire department. I don’t care if it’s an accident on a highway, the fire department is called first in any emergency.
An hon. member: We don’t need an EMO.
Mr. Haggerty: Somebody says we don’t need an EMO. That’s quite right.
Mr. Deans: Who said that?
Mr. Haggerty: Perhaps we don’t, but we do need a master emergency plan in the Province of Ontario. Whether or not it is regionalized, it should be set up by regions; and I suggest that there must be funding from the provincial government to make sure that this plan is maintained throughout a region.
I can cite other areas that perhaps could come under a disaster plan. I cited two areas, the floods and the ice storm, and perhaps there are others too. But to depend upon four or five different branches of the government -- you can go back and find this was one of the failures of the Emergency Measures Organization. If you wanted to take a piece of equipment outside of that hall, you had to call somebody here in Toronto before you could do it.
I will tell you this much, Mr. Speaker, that equipment could have been used on many occasions throughout the regional municipality of Niagara. Not in large disasters but in certain areas that require special equipment. There were a number of persons who were concerned and took an interest in emergency measures; they were citizens who perhaps were well qualified by training for a disaster and they could have been used almost any place in the region. There are a number of good persons there who are qualified to provide assistance in a disaster and I think in a sense the government is discouraging this type of citizen involvement.
To go back and say that we are going to depend upon the OPP, I think their job is to fight crime in the Province of Ontario. I think the Minister of Natural Resources has all he can do at the present time, and when it comes to flood programmes I don’t think they have one here. I suggest to the minister if he is serious about withdrawing these services that he should contact in particular the former director of emergency measures in the Niagara Peninsula, Major Rhodes, who is very capable, and get hold of the plan he has for that area, because it is an exceptionally good plan for any disaster.
The previous member spoke about the possibility of a nuclear disaster here in the Province of Ontario, and when we do have such nuclear hydro plants, there is a high risk. An accident could happen almost any time. It’s like he says, there are provisions within that particular plant, but outside of that area who knows what programme is available if the disaster does occur? There is nothing.
I suggest to the minister, and to the members of the House, that I just wouldn’t want to see the services pulled out just like that without further consideration being given to a plan to provide some assistance to the citizens of the Province of Ontario in any disaster. When you have pipelines that are buried in the ground, particularly those for gas that’s under high pressure, I suppose one of those lines could blow up and that could blow up almost the Province of Ontario with it. There may be safety regulators there but these things can fail too.
I want to direct a question to the minister at this time. What’s he going to do with the cabinet quarters up at Camp Borden? Are we going to have all the hot lines going to that area again? I don’t know if the minister has ever attended that facility up there at Camp Borden, I don’t think he or any of the cabinet has, but I understand it is still a --
Mr. B. Newman: That’s where they hold their meetings regularly.
Mr. Haggerty: George; you have, have you?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Morty’s hideaway?
Mr. Nixon: They’ve moved it to the Burlington golf club.
Mr. Haggerty: Well, the facilities are still there and I was just wondering perhaps --
Mr. Deans: What good would you be in a disaster, George?
Mr. Haggerty: -- if the minister had been up in that area to see what is available through that central control centre -- and perhaps --
Mr. Haggerty: Maybe the minister, as close as he lives to Toronto --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I can’t hear the hon. member for Erie.
Mr. Deans: I can hear him.
Mr. Haggerty: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is another control centre, I believe, located at Oakville; whether that is going to be the quarters the minister is going to operate out of, I don’t know. That is manned by the federal government, by the armed forces; and whether that will be part of it or not I don’t know.
I think there is much to be considered in this particular bill. Although it may be a savings of -- what? -- $3 million or $4 million, it’s peanuts, I guess, in the long run. Hopefully the minister will give consideration to having a disaster plan in the Province of Ontario and we will have some direction from the minister and from the staff that is going to be appointed to be in charge of this thing; so that people are not going to be running around looking for help when there is nobody there to answer anything. I suggest the minister should be looking to set up regions throughout the Province of Ontario where somebody in that particular area is going to give some direction to all the communities so there is going to be a head to take orders, and give orders in a particular disaster situation in that particular area.
That is about all I have to say to this particular bill, but I have some reservations about withdrawing this particular service.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am sure you recognize the problem I am going to speak about with respect to unorganized townships, as you and I suffer this problem in many of the areas we represent, where there are unorganized townships without anyone to provide any type of assistance at any time.
First of all, let me make it abundantly clear that I opposed the EMO for some time, based on the traditional lines and tasks which had been allocated to EMO, and that was fighting nuclear wars or preparing for nuclear wars. In the area I come from, within the last two years I have spent some time with the EMO officer seeing what in fact he was trying to do. Being an old Tory, he came to Toronto and met with the ministers responsible for this Act to indicate that changes had to be made in the direction that EMO was going.
One of his major concerns, and certainly a major concern to all of us in the north, is the unorganized township and who looks after it in the event of fire, whether it be in a home or in the unorganized community. We have Natural Resources, which is prepared at this time to fight bush fires. But for those many communities in northern Ontario which do not have any type of government, there is nothing, even to this date, to assist in providing some force with which to fight fires. There is no grant structure allowed for those municipalities to purchase equipment to fight fires. Despite repeated letters to this government, from members on this side of the House at least, and I am sure from the members representing the other political parties in northern Ontario, this government has not moved one jot to help those unorganized communities.
I can recall watching a number of houses burning in northern Ontario without any possibility of salvaging anything. In fact I can recall a school catching fire, and if it hadn’t been for the city of Sudbury firefighting equipment getting down to that school in a little township called Broder-Dill, the school would have been destroyed. This is not unnatural.
I can take you, Mr. Speaker, into the riding which I represent, where even today if a fire were to occur in such small municipalities as Estaire, Awrey township or Alban-Bigwood, you would watch a school disappear before your eyes with no potential, no possibility, of even trying to save anything with respect to that facility into which government has pumped considerable money in the school plant itself.
Despite repeated petitions, the closest we got to any assistance was two years ago when the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs introduced Bill 102 respecting the unorganized townships. It was an ill-conceived piece of legislation, and when the various unorganized communities came to meet with ministry officials the ministry then realized what kind of monster it had turned loose in that bill and withdrew the bill.
Again, like EMO, the government has not put anything in place of Bill 102 so that we can in fact protect those communities from any type of emergency. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fire; it could well be flooding. There is nothing there, nothing in any piece of legislation to protect those municipalities, and in particular the lives of the people in those municipalities.
When the minister makes reference to some lead group in some ministry, I don’t know what in God’s name he’s talking about. I want to tell the minister that as lately as last week I got a phone call from the municipality of Wahnapitae, which is part of the regional municipality of Sudbury, about flooding in that great plain area about which I had warned the ministry when they allowed houses to be built in a development called Rockview Estates. I tried to get the ministry to stop them. But, as I say, there was flooding there last week, and the people immediately started to phone. They phoned Nickel Centre, which this previously unorganized community is now in. The staff at Nickel Centre didn’t know what to do, so they phoned the regional municipality of Sudbury. The regional municipality of Sudbury couldn’t tell them what to do, so they turned around and ultimately phoned me and I gave them a list of names of people to start with.
Mr. Deans: You told them what to do, didn’t you, Elie?
Mr. Martel: I told them what they had to do -- to check with the Sudbury and district health unit and so on -- but the point is there was nothing there for that organized community. They don’t know where to go in the event of an emergency. I ask the minister, can he imagine what it’s like if you’re in an unorganized township, where you don’t have a council, you don’t have any type of municipal government, you don’t have anybody who has any type of influence to make any decision?
Mr. Haggerty: They promised that two years ago, though, Elie.
Mr. Martel: Two years ago, and now they’ve withdrawn the bill.
What do those communities do in the event of a fire? What do they do in the event of flooding? What do they do in the event of any type of emergency?
If there’s a fire, the Ministry of Natural Resources has told me: “Well, if we have equipment available, we’ll send it in.” But, unfortunately, all of the equipment is tied up in winter; it’s being repaired for the following season. So they stand by and watch a home, a store or a business community being destroyed.
The government has no plans, and the closest it came was two years ago. The only thing that might have helped would have been if the minister had accepted some of the proposals put forward by the EMO officer from Sudbury as it represents my area. My colleague knows him well --
Mr. Germa: He was a good Tory.
Mr. Martel: He came here and proposed a whole series of ideas. He knew where boats were in the event of floods. He knew where radios were in the event of some type of disaster.
I tell the minister there was a hurricane about a year and a half ago; it hit a little community called Alban. Six months of exchange of correspondence between the Premier (Mr. Davis) and myself did not lead to any resolution of their difficulties. There was no one in Alban who could even help those people, because there is no type of government there and this government has no plan to put anything into effect.
When the minister rises to answer tonight, I don’t think he can simply slough it off, as this government has done for lo these many years with unorganized townships. The day of reckoning is coming. We simply cannot allow one ministry, the Ministry of Natural Resources, to sell Crown land, where ultimately small settlements develop. We can no longer allow the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to provide access to highways and then say we have no responsibility except to collect taxes. That’s the sole responsibility the government has in these unorganized townships -- and the north has hundreds of them, some very small, some not so small.
I remind the minister that when we brought the regional municipality of Sudbury into being, that bill took in one unorganized township which had about 3,000 people in it. A place like Bigwood-Alban has maybe 800 or 900 people.
My colleague, the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), has places like Gogama, and this government stands well condemned there. On one side of the track we have the Ministry of Natural Resources with water with which to fight a fire, and where the ministry people live; on the other side of the track they don’t even have drinking water. Well I shouldn’t say that, the former Minister of the Environment provided one tap for the whole municipality of Gogama. What?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Next is the communal system.
Mr. Martel: That’s right, the communal system, yes; one tap for the whole community. But they pay their tax. The water in that community has been ravaged by a couple of gasoline stations which had leaks.
We can go right across the north; I am sure my friend, the Deputy Speaker, could, if he were in my position, indicate a great number of these communities.
Mr. Speaker: I must remind the hon. member that this Bill 12 is an Act to repeal the Emergency Measures Organization, which was never responsible for any of the things you are mentioning. So if you would address yourself to the principle of this bill, it would be appreciated.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect, any bill allows me to speak not only to what’s in the bill, but what, in fact, is lacking from the bill.
Mr. Speaker: That is not so.
Mr. Martel: That is right.
Mr. Roy: It is not so.
Mr. Martel: I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that those communities which you represent, which do not have services with which to combat natural emergencies, will not in fact have anything to take the place of what might have been there.
Mr. Good: We never had EMO either.
Mr. Martel: If you didn’t have EMO I guess it’s because you come from northwestern Ontario. That’s distinct from the rest of northern Ontario, as you westerners like to draw to our attention.
I simply say to the minister that somehow his government must now come up with some type of procedure with which to protect people in those areas where, in fact, it has withdrawn the only service they had available to them.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Wentworth.
Mr. Deans: Not interested in this, eh?
Mr. Renwick: They are. They want to wait us out, so they will be the last speakers.
Mr. Deans: They want to wait us out? They will never wait us out.
I was interested in the comments of the minister, who indicated that one of the reasons the Act was being repealed was because it didn’t have public support. I want to tell this government that its recent OHIP increase doesn’t have public support.
Mr. Martel: Right on.
Mr. Deans: And I want to tell it that its implementation of regional government across this province didn’t have public support.
Mr. Mancini: You guys supported it.
Mr. Deans: We did not. No, we did not, my friend; and when you have been here long enough to remember, you will understand that.
Mr. Norton: The voice of experience.
Mr. Deans: If you last that long. The interesting thing about the government is that public support is only a consideration when it happens to be in its favour. The government never seems to address itself to the need. I want to tell them more, while we have the acting Minister of Health (B. Stephenson) sitting here -- the hospital cuts don’t have public support.
Mr. Norton: Oh yes they have.
Mr. Deans: So don’t tell me that one of the reasons they are withdrawing this particular piece of legislation is because this whole operation, the Emergency Measures Organization, didn’t have public support; because that’s a lot of nonsense.
It’s whether or not it performed a useful service that matters to the people of the Province of Ontario.
Mr. Norton: You don’t even have your poll results yet on that one. You don’t know whether it has public support or not.
Mr. Deans: I don’t require poll results. I don’t hold elections on the basis of whether people want them or not.
Mr. Norton: How do you get your information about who is supporting what?
Mr. Martel: The Premier (Mr. Davis) will call an election when he wants it.
Mr. Deans: I will tell you tomorrow, okay?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member for Wentworth direct his remarks through the Chair and ignore the interjections.
Mr. Deans: How can I ignore him; it is the first time he has spoken.
Mr. Speaker: Well, you try.
Mr. Deans: Anyway, I want to suggest something --
Mr. Martel: He’s being provocative.
Mr. Deans: He’s trying to be anyway. I want to suggest to the House that the measure of the EMO ought surely to be whether or not it did anything useful in the province -- something that either was not being done or could not be done realistically by any other organization already in place. I think it is fair to say that at the inception of EMO much of what was being discussed was far outside the imagination of the majority of people. Not many people ever believed, rightly or wrongly, that there would ever be a major atomic bomb dropped in the middle of Ontario and that we would require emergency measures to cope with it.
Mr. Nixon: Or maybe just a minor one.
Mr. Deans: That’s an interesting point. Yes, that’s a good contribution.
Not many people ever have thought that the EMO personnel would be sufficiently well trained to cope with it anyway. I want to tell members about some personal experiences I have had with them because I’ve had quite a number.
During the period when I was with the fire department in the city of Hamilton, we worked with the Emergency Measures Organization on numerous occasions. It’s not whether or not they are well staffed that matters. It’s whether or not they are capable of drawing on the community for support when that support is required.
I say to the minister that during the most recent floods on Lake Ontario had it not been for the Emergency Measures Organization the damage and loss which would have been suffered by so many of the people, the residents of the area, would have been far more severe than they actually did have to incur. I don’t understand why, given the overall cost, the government decided to move to some other form of providing this same care.
Let me give an example of what happened during those floods I am talking about. We needed sand to put in sandbags in order to hold the water back from flooding the properties of a number of residents. I tried the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and asked them if maybe they could provide a truck filled with sand in order to help those people out. There wasn’t even a hope; not even a chance. No sand, no support, nothing from that ministry.
I think that is what worries me about the direction the government is taking. By the time we find someone in one of the ministries who has the responsibility, the authority to make the decision whether or not this is indeed a real emergency; and find someone else who has the authority to bring in a truck driver; and find someone else who has the authority to allocate one load of sand; and find someone else who has the authority to spend a few dollars buying some sandbags, we won’t have to worry about the emergency.
Mr. Roy: The EMO isn’t doing it. It is useless.
Mr. Deans: My friend from Ottawa East, who speaks so much and knows so little, doesn’t appreciate that the EMO was doing it. Had it not been for the EMO and its efforts in that particular disaster, there would have been no one to provide the necessary assistance to safeguard those properties and those people. If the member for Ottawa East thinks they were useless he can, of course, stand up at any time and make a speech. He is very good at it -- making speeches -- though not much of it ever makes sense.
Mr. Norton: He is not so good at sandbagging.
Mr. Deans: I want to tell the House that the government is making a mistake. There is no co-ordination of emergency services across the Province of Ontario at the moment and the relationship between full-time and volunteer fire services is, to say the least, not the most cordial. Therefore the effort that might be made at any given time to try to co-ordinate all of their efforts causes a number of problems. It was easier, more efficient and operated better, if you will, when there was an outside agency which had some authority to deal with it.
How do my constituents find out who to call when they live in an area served by a volunteer fire department and they have a flood and they want to get someone in to help them hold back that particular flooding? Who do they dial to get this done and who pays for it? That is one of the key points.
Mr. Eakins: The local member.
Mr. Deans: When you call the local fire department, they don’t have either the facilities, the manpower or the money to provide the necessary equipment to do the job. There’s a great deal of difficulty --
Mr. Mancini: Join the fire department.
Mr. Deans: The Liberals are funny about this. They think it’s a big joke. My friend should have been there when the water was pouring in and tearing people’s houses from the foundations. Then let him tell me that he liked it.
Mr. Roy: We don’t think that’s a joke, but you are a joke. All we said was that EMO was useless.
Mr. Norton: It wasn’t the tragedy you described.
Mr. Deans: Wasn’t it?
Mr. Norton: You misunderstand me.
Mr. Deans: Wasn’t it? You should have been there and seen it.
Mr. Norton: You don’t understand me.
Mr. Deans: I don’t misunderstand you. I understand you very well. I didn’t write the letter to the minister. I wasn’t stupid enough.
Mr. Roy: You are going to vote against this bill.
Mr. Deans: At least when I support something, I stand up in my place and say so.
Mr. Roy: You are not afraid of your convictions.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member direct his remarks through the Chair, please?
Mr. Mancini: Where were you on the vote today, Elie?
Mr. Martel: You guys are always changing your mind.
Mr. Roy: And you fellows are always consistent.
Mr. Deans: Inconsistency is one of those things my friend would know most about.
What I am suggesting is that if the minister takes an honest look around the Province of Ontario at the variety of minor and major disasters that have occurred over the last few years, he will find that in the greatest number of cases, the EMOs were very much involved in the coordination of all of the efforts that were made to try to resolve them. They spent a great deal of time and effort, and the money they spent was tiny compared to the amount of volunteer effort that was able to be generated because of their contacts and because of their continuous efforts.
I suggest to the minister that the government is making a big mistake. I said at the time it was announced that the government was going to abolish it, that it was making a mistake then; and, by doing what it is doing tonight, the government is simply compounding the mistake.
Mr. Roy: You are consistent.
Mr. Deans: We have to find some alternative way of dealing with it, because the majority of people do not have the ready access to the various ministries that the minister calls lead ministries. They don’t know how to contact them. They don’t have any conception of whether this government is prepared, not only to act but to pay for the actions of the others who have to act when there is no emergency assistance available.
I think that is where the government is falling down. The difficulty we have had all the way through the thing is that, even though you try to get some help when it is desperately needed, it is hard to tell who is going to pay for it and therefore the municipalities are not able or willing to take the risk. I think the minister is making a mistake.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, it was with great interest that I listened to the comments by various hon. members about the debate on this particular bill. Some of the members talked about the question of what happens to the equipment; that, I think, is a valid point. When we phase down an institution where we were spending $3 million a year, I think it’s a valid question to ask what is going to happen to the equipment.
I can see the concern of one of my colleagues from Sudbury when he talks about certain communities that do not have certain facilities --
Mr. Martel: Sudbury East.
Mr. Roy: Sudbury East; but I call him the fellow from Sudbury, because he is known there. The concern of the member was about some of the unorganized communities in his area; but the problem, of course, is that EMO was not going in that direction.
Mr. Martel: In Sudbury they were.
Mr. Roy: If we felt on this side of the House that EMO was something that could have fulfilled the role that he was talking about, then we would have some concern about voting with the government on this bill. But, in fact, what EMO was doing was not what the hon. member was talking about. It was not even going in that direction.
Mr. Renwick: Of course it was.
Mr. Deans: That’s exactly what they were doing.
Mr. Roy: We are saying, why keep an institution which is not serving you and, in fact, an institution which over a number of years has been consistently criticized by members.
Mr. Martel: You’re wrong again.
Mr. Roy: I would say to the member for Wentworth, who has given me an awful lot of abuse here, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Nixon: He has even said he was inconsistent.
Hon. B. Stephenson: He is leaving.
Mr. Roy: I’d love that member to stick around because I want to talk about some of the things he’s had to say and about the consistency of that particular member.
Mr. Nixon: A shame he is going.
Mr. Reid: If we would just have mirrors brought into the chamber he would stay.
Mr. Roy: The minister mentioned in his opening comments about members from all sides who, for a number of years, had sort of ridiculed the role of EMO, and with proper reason when we are talking about fallout shelters here and signs saying, “This is the way out of Toronto. In emergency, head in this direction,” and all this. I think there was a touch of 1984 or Dr. Strangelove in the whole approach of EMO. Members have talked strongly about it -- members on all sides of the House.
I thought I should look in Hansard and see what the members have had to say, and whether the minister was right that over a number of years members had ridiculed, had talked against EMO, and had proposed when the Attorney General was talking about it, to reduce the vote to nothing. I found it most interesting in following the member for Wentworth who talked about consistency and said to my colleagues on this side that we didn’t know what we are talking about. I thought I should look at some of the things he had to say over the years about EMO. In opening the legislative debate on July 4, 1968, I’m reading from Hansard on page 5196 --
Mr. Martel: Don’t take it out of context.
Mr. Roy: -- and I come back to the consistency that the member for Wentworth talked about; how consistent he was always in his approach. I read from page 5196 and here’s what he had to say: “I have no little experience in this matter, having been at the fire department and having taken part in some of what was termed to be emergency measures activities. I can truthfully say that this is indeed $1,633,000 being wasted.”
Mr. Nixon: And he has experience as a fireman to support it.
Mr. Reid: That’s what one calls NDP consistency. They can talk out of both sides of their mouths and chew gum at the same time.
An hon. member: Tell us more.
Mr. Roy: His anger did not limit itself; he went on, if I may assist the members of the House. He said: “If the Attorney General is looking for additional funds for forensic services, then perhaps this might have been the place to get it. [From EMO] He could have taken it right out of this vote and used it for something of much greater concern, and of much more value to this community.”
That’s what he said.
Mr. Ruston: That’s the NDP policy.
Mr. Reid: He is very flexible.
An hon. member: Where did he go?
Mr. Reid: He is out looking in the mirror.
Mr. Roy: He went on to say: “The emergency measures organization does not fulfil any useful purpose in this province.”
Mr. Roy: I wish he was here because he’s given me a lot of abuse here. He said I didn’t know what I was talking about; I was inconsistent. Mr. Speaker, I must read on.
An hon. member: He is out getting his hair curled.
Mr. Kennedy: What is the date of that Hansard?
Mr. Roy: The member did not limit himself to that. He went on: “It is being run by people who are mostly out of date, out of touch, and basically a haven for people who enjoy playing soldier, fireman and policeman.”
An hon. member: You said that?
Mr. Roy: No, that’s the member for Went- worth.
Mr. Reid: The member who just spoke.
Mr. Roy: The member who was going to vote against this bill.
Mr. Eakins: He has changed his mind.
Mr. Roy: He went on and said: “I really suggest that this entire portion of the estimates be removed voluntarily rather than have us vote on it. It would show the Attorney General to be a man of foresight and ability, if he would just take it upon himself to tear that part off the bottom of the page and forget it.”
Tear EMO out of the estimates: “take it out” he said.
Mr. Reid: That’s typical of the NDP policy.
Mr. Roy: He went on: “And then delegate the money over to the Minister of Trade and Development and use it for housing.”
That’s what he said. That was back in 1968.
Mr. Mancini: Did he say that?
Mr. Roy: I was interested in being fair to the member for Wentworth because I’m interested in people who are being consistent as he said that I was not.
So I looked in 1970. I thought I’ll look at the debates in 1970 --
Mr. Eakins: And he changed his mind.
Mr. Roy: -- to see what the members had to say about it then. I looked at what the member for Wentworth had to say at page 4363 on June 23, 1970, and here’s what he said -- and this is important because he wants to be consistent and he says it here: “Mr. Chairman, to be consistent with my views of the EMO I wanted to say that I am disappointed to see this contained in this Act. I am convinced, and I spent some time trying to convince the Attorney General (Mr. Wishart) [He was consistent there, yes] that this whole thing is totally unnecessary and to allow for expenditures of funds in this municipality to perpetuate what I consider to be a useless operation -- ”
That’s what he said.
Mr. Reid: That’s typical of the NDP policy.
Mr. Roy: He says: “ -- I consider to be a useless operation seems to me to be ridiculous. I just cannot, for the life of me, see why we would continue it.” That’s what he said.
Mr. Mancini: Did he say that?
Mr. Roy: Yes, that’s what the man said. And then he went on. The Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) would enjoy this, because he participated in the debate with the member at that time. If I may read on, Mr. Speaker, and I’m very close to being finished, because I want to be consistent in my approach -- he went on: “I would rather see the money that might be spent here spent in providing a more adequate fire service, or spent in providing some other service that would be available to people on a full-time basis rather than spent on people doing what they think may well be useful, but in fact something that may never, hopefully, be used; and even if it were to be used, to be totally inadequate when the time came to use it.”
That’s what he said.
Mr. Nixon: He is consistent all right.
Mr. Roy: And then the minister -- back in 1970 the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. McKeough) was minister of -- what was he minister of?
Mr. Nixon: Municipal Affairs?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Municipal Affairs.
Mr. Roy: Municipal Affairs -- said to the member for Wentworth: “I am sure the member would agree that if the job is to be done it had better be done at a regional level rather than at a local area level -- ”
Mr. Nixon: Even then Darcy was regionalized.
Mr. Roy: And the member for Wentworth interjected and said: “Better not to be done at all.”
That’s what he said.
Mr. Roy: So I say to you, Mr. Speaker, having suffered the slings and arrows from that member saying we were inconsistent here, I just want to say to the member he should be consistent. And maybe before he takes a position on the next piece of legislation in this House, he should read his own speeches in Hansard.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Brantford.
An hon. member: Is the member for Brantford in favour of this bill?
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, roused to get involved in this particular debate, and sort of listening to the chortling and the heckling and the inaccuracies and inconsistencies over there, I’d like to join the member in this debate, and I speak here as an individual --
Mr. Haggerty: Oh, as an individual now.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- who originally had been very reluctant and has opposed the idea of an Emergency Measures Organization. The reason I opposed it in those years was simply because the organization was designed to convey the idea that war is thinkable -- that an atomic war can be fought and, after the atomic war, we will all crawl out of our shelters and we’ll survive and we’ll all be happy and we’ll live for ever after.
Mr. Reid: If we get an NDP government, we will all be living in bomb shelters.
Mr. Makarchuk: That was the intent of that original organization, Mr. Speaker. And let me tell the members of this House that when the bunker over here, at the corner of University and College St. --
Mr. Reid: That’s the Hydro building.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- when that bunker was built, I was one of the individuals who organized the first protest around that bunker. I may have had something to say about the right to defence in this country, because at that time we were attacked by the local police who came from across the street and used force to try and break up that particular demonstration --
Mr. Nixon: You weren’t carrying an NDP sign then. You were carrying another sign.
Mr. Martel: That’s scurrilous. How could you, Bob?
Mr. Makarchuk: -- but that is beside the point, and, Mr. Speaker, I join in this debate as an individual, as I said earlier, who was quite reluctant to support the idea, but I’ve also had the opportunity since that time to look at the role of the Emergency Measures Organization, to be one of the people in a local municipality who sat on the emergency measures board and participated in the events related to the Emergency Measures Organization. I have changed my mind on the basis of the fact that the Emergency Measures Organization in Ontario has also changed its mind. It has redefined its role.
The people at the local level in every municipality looked at it differently. They looked at their world as being one of support to the municipal services, to the police, to the fire department, to be able to confront and act in a reasonable and sensible way to overcome some of the disasters that can and do develop at a municipal level.
One of the things I want to stress to the minister right now, and this seems to be still the case as we discussed lab closings and discussed hospital closings, is the arbitrary and the cavalier manner that that government insists on dealing with agencies that are partially municipal or partially governmental. They still refuse to discuss their programmes. They still refuse to discuss what they intend to do with the municipality.
When the word came down to the municipality at the time I was a member of council telling them the government was going to cut out the Emergency Measures Organization, there was absolutely no consultation and there was no discussion. In other words, the people out there, out of this House, the people in the province have nothing to say about what goes on in the province.
I have said this before and I am saying this again that the minister should be listening to what is happening and to what the people of Ontario have to say. I think that is one of the major mistakes at this time regarding the Emergency Measures Organization.
What really convinced me about the benefits of the EMO was the 1974 flood in Brantford. At that time I was, as I said earlier, on city council, and about 3 o’clock in the morning the flood knocked out the waterworks in the city. There were a few phone calls and we congregated. There was an Emergency Measures Organization and the emergency measures co-ordinator was active. He was on top of the situation, he got the elected officials together, he got the engineering people together, he got the fire people together, he got the police together and we started some action to see what we could do to try to cope with a situation that developed overnight.
When you have a city of about 70,000 population and your water service is cut off, that could be a major catastrophe; in fact it is. The emergency measures people at that time provided us with communication facilities and they provided us with contacts with other agencies in government. They knew where we could go, whom we could phone and where we could get water tankers. They had an inventory of the equipment that was available at that time. This is the kind of thing that can still happen and will happen in Ontario. As an example, there was the ice storm in Fort Erie, as mentioned by the member for Erie. This is a situation which can still persist and will persist in the province. At this time there is nothing within the municipal organization to take care of these problems.
This is why I feel that the government’s desire to eliminate this organization is blind. It is not aware of what is happening out there and it does not really care about what may happen. The minister states that the services are out there. Nobody in the municipality knows that the services are out there. They really don’t have anybody to turn to. They know there are so many policemen on duty. When an emergency arises one finds out that the policemen on duty and even the extra ones who can be called in are tied up. The police department is not really involved in co-ordinating and ensuring that the other extra services that are needed in an emergency situation will be there.
The Ontario Provincial Police really is irrelevant in the major communities. In the small communities it may have a role to play but in the larger communities it is really irrelevant. There is very little contact between the two police forces. There is certainly almost no contact between the OPP and the municipalities. So, what happens? Whom do you turn to when you have a serious situation? Those are the kinds of things that concern me and those are the kind of things that concern a lot of other people.
I would like the minister to realize that in addition to what may have happened, is the fact that we are in the position these days to have disasters. There is the matter of industrial disasters that can develop, the matter of chemical spills that can develop and the matter of gases than can be released over communities. It may not happen in some communities but certainly other communities are prone to these kinds of phenomena. Again, there is nobody in the communities at this time sitting, analysing, looking at the possibilities that can develop in the area.
I feel those are some of the roles that can be assigned to a continuing Emergency Measures Organization. One of its responsibilities would be to sit and analyse and find out what can happen, what possible disasters can occur, how they can be coped with if they happen, whom we call on, what equipment we need, where is it located, who has to be contacted, and all the things that have to be done to ensure that people are not injured.
In conclusion, all I can say is that the minister and the government are making a very serious mistake in this case. The federal government is still, I think, providing certain financing. It is not that expensive in relation to the whole budget, in terms of the potential damage that can result in a community because proper precautions are not taken. Under those circumstances I would suggest that the minister withdraw this bill, proceed to the extent of sitting down with the people he has in Emergency Measures Organizations and sitting down with the municipalities, and get away from this idea of planning for the nuclear war which we think we are going to win, or somebody thinks he is going to win.
Get away from showing those films in which, if a bomb goes off, one is supposed to get out of the car and slide into the ditch or climb behind a stone fence or something of this nature. Start looking at the realities of life in Ontario. We have floods, we have disasters, we have fires, we have storms. The Emergency Measures Organization -- a small group of people; a nucleus in every community -- can sit there, analyse the possibilities and provide the solutions should these things hit the community. It is on that basis that I oppose the bill, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the bill. I am quite interested that the debate for the abolition of EMO is even more vehement than the debates used to be against government policy when it persisted in budgeting for EMO year after year. In those days, of course, the vote was always on an amendment in the estimates put forward either by the member for, now, Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) from the Liberals --
Mr. Deans: Oh, please; no. He’s gone.
Mr. Nixon: -- or could it have been the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) from the NDP? to reduce the allocation of funds to $1. Now that the government is deciding to abolish this particular organization, there will evidently be a division again to keep it going.
I fail to see the consistency in this although I must say that the argument that has been put forward by a number of members, including my colleague from Erie, which calls for some kind of a co-ordinated organization in the event of disaster, is one that I am sure the Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth) must concern himself with. The flood in the Grand River has been mentioned by the member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) and I know the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), if he hasn’t spoken about it, would be certainly prepared to give information in that vein.
In my own constituency, I can remember being very much impressed indeed at the way the community of Paris turned out to fill the sandbags, and at the way Consolidated Sand and Gravel brought the loads of sand down and dumped them appropriately and the mayor himself was out there directing the operation and working his head off. Of course, the provincial member was supervising. But talk about a community affair!
Mr. Samis: That’s leadership.
Mr. Nixon: It’s a great thing when, in the face of a real threat and a very clear threat and the water is rising, the community turns out to save its own property and for its own welfare. A programme that can co-ordinate that has to be a valuable one and one that must certainly concern us all and, very specifically, the Solicitor General, in whose ambit comes this specific responsibility.
The conservation authority was severely criticized for inadequate warnings in that case and not having a sufficiently well-planned programme in the event of a flood, but I believe we have organizations in the field now that, with proper co-ordination, can accomplish this sort of assistance for us.
Mr. Speaker, you may call me to order on this, but I feel I should register a bit of an objection when I hear the various members talk about the tremendous danger from our atomic facilities here in this province. I think there is a very real danger of us confusing the kind of facilities we have with the ones we read about in the United States. The programme is basically different, and I don’t think we serve our own community as well as we might when we talk about the very real chance of atomic accidents in that sense. I hope I’m not being unrealistic in this, but it’s a matter that has concerned me over a number of years and I just want to register a counter opinion in that regard. Nothing is impossible, but the chances of an atomic accident that might, in fact, spread poison and pollution over the Pickering community or even in a larger area are extremely remote indeed.
Mr. Breaugh: But we do have a plan.
Mr. Nixon: Extremely remote indeed. I just want to put that forward, sir. I personally am very much in favour of the repeal of the statute which established this organization. I don’t want to spend the time talking about their decisions in the early days when there were people, and not all of them irrational, who were deeply concerned about the possibility of what we would do in the event of an atomic attack. It was discussed by rational people and there were very real fears felt.
It did seem a bit ridiculous here in this House, particularly when we read about the elaborate preparations for the governing of the Province of Ontario by the cabinet, who would be taken by special secret routes out of this city to Base Borden, into a bunker which was well equipped with everything -- except we found out they didn’t have a women’s washroom, Margaret, and perhaps you should know about that in case you’re continuing to be a bit concerned about what we will do in any particular eventuality. That’s one eventuality that they had not prepared for.
Mr. Roy: They were all male chauvinists. They haven’t changed, they’re all male chauvinists.
Mr. Nixon: I won’t refer to the ingenuity of the minister in that possibility, but there really were some ridiculous expenditures of money at that time which, I think, put the whole EMO organization under a cloud from which it has not yet been able to escape. The federal government did reduce its support. I was interested when the member for Brantford indicated there still was federal support. I thought it had been all but terminated, because at the time when the reduction of the EMO support provincially was announced, as usual the blame was put on a federal initiative.
I thought at the time the federal initiative was a very proper one indeed, just as I believe now that giving a gentle coup de grace to the EMO is a very proper thing for this Legislature to do. This, of course, does not mean that our responsibility is at an end to see that there are adequate organizations, involving the provincial police, municipal police, the conservation authority and other organizations which can be co-ordinated with -- what it that phrase? The minister might help me -- lead ministry?
Mr. Renwick: Lead ministry, yes.
Mr. Nixon: Through the lead ministry process, the minister might explain more fully --
Mr. Renwick: The Premier (Mr. Davis) understands it.
Mr. Nixon: If in fact the Solicitor General is sort of the point of the flying wedge to protect the province, I must express a certain degree of concern. Perhaps he can allay my fears in that connection.
Mr. Martel: Lorne Henderson. He’s the anchor man.
Mr. Nixon: All right. As the man responsible for the police there is no doubt some responsibility that devolves upon him, as it would undoubtedly devolve upon the police forces in the event of these disasters that undoubtedly will happen to us from time to time.
I look forward to voting for the repeal of the statute and perhaps we will get to it later tonight.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker: I would like to speak very briefly on the bill. I want to speak particularly about an ancillary but important matter related to the winding up of the EMO programme because I am extremely concerned about whether or not I can, as a member of the opposition, speaking in opposition and speaking in a debate with the former acting Solicitor General, rely on the undertakings of the government given in the House.
I want the minister to listen very carefully to the questions which I put to the former member for Niagara Falls, Mr. Clement, who was, at the time of the estimates last year, dealing with the whole question of the cessation of the funding of the Emergency Measures Organization programme.
I refer to page 2019 of the Hansard of May 20, 1975, when I said to the minister, the acting minister at that time: “On this particular vote, as the branch is going to be phased out of existence, how many jobs are going to be displaced and what is going to happen to the people who are presently holding those jobs?”
The acting minister at that time replied: “Insofar as individuals are concerned, I believe there are 33 provincial civil servants who will be affected by the phasing out of the programme. They are being assigned to other duties right now, within the government service, and with the cooperation of the Civil Service Commission. Some of them must, through necessity, stay on, in effect, for a week or two past Dec. 31, 1975, but the majority of them are being phased out over the next eight or nine months -- between now and the end of the year.”
I came back at the acting minister: “Mr. Chairman, on that point, may I simply have the assurance of the minister that no person in the employ of this branch is going to lose his position or his employment, or suffer a stepdown in his employment, because of the phasing out or change in policy of the government about this branch?”
The acting minister then replied: “Your hoped-for understanding is correctly stated, Mr. Chairman.”
I want to specifically ask the minister and, if necessary, if the answers aren’t forthcoming on this second reading debate, it may be necessary, strange as it may sound, to put the bill into committee -- assuming, as I now feel it will, that it will pass with the support, the ambiguous support albeit, of the Liberal Party --
Mr. Roy: Ambiguous? Consistent.
Mr. Renwick: I’d like to know what has happened to the director; what has happened to the two programme managers; what has happened to the one purchasing officer; what has happened to the one communications officer; the one communications technician; the one radiological defence officer; the six field officers, together with the secretarial and supporting staff, which together made up the 33 persons to whom the minister’s predecessor referred at the time of the questions which I put to him. I want to know specifically what jobs they are in. What salary classification are they in? Where have they been relocated within the civil service? And has there been any depreciation in the value of their services in monetary terms as a result of the winding-up of the branch?
This is a matter of immense concern to me because of the pride which the government now takes in its budgetary statement about the reduction in the complement of the Civil Service, indicating, of course, that it’s been reduced substantially but that nobody ever gets hurt. We doubt it; we just don’t believe it. I want the assurance from this minister, responsible at this time for the complete winding-up and the so-called burial of EMO, to tell me that the undertaking of his predecessor has been carried out to the letter, in the unequivocal way in which it was given to me at the time of those debates.
I’m not going to repeat a number of the arguments that have been put by my colleagues about the reasons for our concern. The distinction is quite clear. The origin of the Emergency Measures Organization was in the days of the sputnik and the overall sense of fear and apprehension which pervaded the North American continent after that particular night in June, 1953. The aftermath and the fall-out influenced so much of what then took place almost for the rest of that particular decade.
We, along with everyone else, realized that the initial impulse and motivation for the Emergency Measures Organization became quite ridiculous over a period of time. We agreed and we spoke about and we voted against on a number of occasions the perpetuation of a federally directed and supported Emergency Measures Organization whose sole and immediate concern was with respect to national defence disasters.
But we have noted over a period of time that this government has never had an adequate public safety programme -- a public safety programme that will take into account the immediate response which must be made by people on the spot when a natural disaster occurs or when a man-made type of disaster occurs, such as an environmental disaster or accident of one kind or another.
That has been the thrust of the comments which we have made for some considerable period of time. It culminated in the debates which took place last year when the minister’s predecessor announced the cessation of the federal funding and the cessation of the provincial funding, and said it was now up to the municipalities and this beautiful concept of the lead ministry was evolved as a method of response.
We are dissatisfied with the concept of the lead ministry as we understand it. What that means is that after the event has taken place, after the actual emergency has reached its peak, then somebody is going to say, what can the provincial government now do? It will have been too late to have called in aid the services of the particular lead ministries of the government in response to the immediate emergency which may have occurred.
We are dissatisfied because the people on the spot have no way of knowing. There has been no publicity campaign, there is no coordinator available and there is no communications network available where people on the spot can be in instantaneous communication with the government at Queen’s Park to say: “We need help, we need it now and we need it immediately.” Time and time again, a disaster occurs in the Province of Ontario and we’re fortunate. We have what in disaster terms in other parts of the world can be considered only minor. But when they strike in the Province of Ontario, they are equally as horrendous to the people who are involved as any disaster anywhere.
It’s that instantaneous sense of response to which my colleague, the member for Wentworth, was speaking in particular tonight. I mention him only because of the ludicrous attack made upon him by the member for Ottawa East. If there is one thing that the member for Wentworth has the capacity to do, which the member for Ottawa East does not, it is to learn.
Mr. Nixon: There is a great defence. What is your excuse?
Mr. Reid: If he changes his mind tomorrow, he will have learned a lot more.
Mr. Roy: It only took him six years; that is not bad.
Mr. Reid: That is the best line in nine years.
Mr. Ruston: It will go down in history.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Deans: Would you mind quoting from my wonderful speech of 1975?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Renwick: It is only the rules of the House that require me to respond in defence of my colleague, the member for Wentworth. Having spoken, he can’t speak again.
Mr. Ruston: Hansard doesn’t show your smile.
Mr. Renwick: If I may repeat, because I don’t think the member for Ottawa East quite caught what I said, I said that the capacity of the member for Wentworth that distinguishes him from the member for Ottawa East is his capacity to learn and the member for Ottawa East’s incapacity to learn.
Mr. Roy: It is getting better all the time.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Renwick: Given another occupation --
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member will return to the principle of the bill.
Mr. Ruston: He’s never been on it.
Mr. Roy: It is a personal attack, is what it is. But I take it in good part.
Mr. Renwick: My colleague, the member for Wentworth, spoke in the same estimates debate last year on May 22, 1975, with respect to the question of his experience, which is far greater than the member for Ottawa East’s or mine in the field with which we are concerned.
Mr. Roy: We weren’t talking about that. We were talking about inconsistency.
Mr. Renwick: We are talking about his experience and his ability to learn from experience.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: I am sure he learned tonight. He will be more careful.
Mr. Ruston: He has not learned much yet.
Mr. Renwick: My colleague, the member for Wentworth, said to the predecessor of the present Solicitor General of the province: “I want to ask you about two things: One, now that you have disbanded EMO, and I realize -- how do you propose that the work it had previously done could be undertaken, as it will undoubtedly have to be undertaken, by the volunteer and professional firefighters in most of the areas where there are emergency conditions that arise from time to time?”
Then he went on to give the example of the flooding of the shoreline along the shore of Lake Ontario. “A year ago we had extensive flooding in the Hamilton area and down through my riding along Lake Ontario. It would have been impossible for the police or the fire service, whether professional or volunteer, to have undertaken the responsibilities for the work that had to be done and much of that work was done by the EMO.”
Mr. Roy: What year was that?
Mr. Renwick: That was a little less than a year ago.
Mr. Roy: We can see the trend starting to develop.
Mr. Renwick: In June, 1975; I doubt if you were in the House at the time.
Mr. Roy: It started to develop from 1968.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Renwick: He went on again, a little later on -- there were various exchanges between himself and the acting minister at the time. He said: “I look back on it, it is a wonder the whole damn place wasn’t washed away before anybody moved. The EMO people were the only ones I could get to go down right away and begin the process.”
Somewhat further on, after a further exchange, my colleague from Wentworth said: “I want to tell you the difference between what you were doing and what you once had. You are talking about people whose primary function is other than in emergency situations. [He was talking about the police and so on.] They don’t have a great list of volunteer people. They know who will come out at a moment’s notice, in the middle of the night and do the work. That was the one thing the EMO were able to do. They were able to co-ordinate those people who had a great deal of civic pride and who had a great sense of their responsibility to other people. They were able to mobilize them very quickly and to get work done. There’s a voluntary radio service -- ”And so on and so forth.
Mr. Martel: You should apologize now.
Mr. Renwick: That’s what my colleague’s contribution was a little over a year ago when the cessation of the funding was announced,
Mr. Martel: You only gave half the story.
An hon. member: Typical Albert.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Renwick: That expresses what my colleague, the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) has said; what my colleague, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) has said in very dramatic terms with respect to the unorganized territories of the province --
Mr. Nixon: He was opposed to EMO, too.
Mr. Renwick: -- what my colleague, the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans), has said; what the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) has said, lacking as he always does the support of his colleagues in the Liberal Party for any statement which he may make which is of considerable sense and weight for those of us who know him.
Mr. Renwick: That is what we said time and time again.
Mr. Nixon: Once more into the breach.
Mr. Renwick: There is no adequate public safety programme in effect in the Province of Ontario and we think it is wrong for the minister to have disbanded the one available service without having remodelled it and remade it into an adequate public safety programme. Mark my words, the minister is going to have to remodel and remake it. He is going to have to put it together because he is not going to be able to stumble along as he did through March of this year and as he has done on other occasions when these disasters strike without paying a political price in this province, because he has no conception of natural disasters and man-made disasters and he always passes them off, as the judge had to pass off the one in the area of Cambridge, that it was an act of God, as though that absolved the government of any fault or any responsibility.
By the dismantling of the Emergency Measures Organization, the cessation of its funding at a provincial level, the thrusting of the responsibilities on to the municipalities to look after it, and the failure to provide an adequate overall co-ordinating mechanism for the public safety programmes in the Province of Ontario, this government will reap the whirlwind when it happens. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, there is an immense feeling about this kind of disaster, and there’s nothing that we know of that this government is prepared to institute to maintain that kind of active enterprise which will permit the co-ordination of the civic virtues of people when disaster strikes a particular area.
There’s nothing more difficult or awkward than to be able and willing to respond and to find that there is no adequate leadership or mechanism by which a response can be made, because when disaster strikes everybody starts to look after themselves since they realize that there is no way, by joining together, that they can effectively bring about an adequate response to these severe emergencies which they face.
Because it is a matter of immense concern to me, I revert to the remarks I first made: What has happened to the 33 people? Were they protected, in what way were they protected and what positions do they now have?
Mr. Martel: Are you going to apologize, Albert?
Mr. Roy: You fellows make St. Paul look like an amateur.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Kitchener-Wilmot has the floor.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize that during the very severe flooding in 1974 along the Grand River, the EMO personnel in the Waterloo region, particularly in that part of it in Bridgeport and Cambridge, did perform very heroic and much-needed service, very significant service. That’s something, as I say, that needs to be recognized and pointed out.
Mr. Deans: Unlike your colleagues, I paid tribute to them.
Mr. Sweeney: However, one of the difficulties, even at that time and certainly more recently, was that the personnel had a very difficult time in recognizing just who their boss was and just where they got their funds and their supplies from.
Mr. Martel: They couldn’t find any atomic bombs.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Sweeney: One of the changes which has now taken place, and which in my area in particular is definitely a change for the better -- and I have confirmed this with the people back in that area -- is that the same personnel now are members of the local municipal and regional governments --
Mr. Wildman: Are you in favour of regional government?
Mr. Sweeney: They are still there, able to perform the services that need to be done, but there is a recognized line of authority at the present time. For that reason, I believe the change that is taking place is, in fact, a change for the better. Going back and repeating what I said, I recognize the excellent, needed and very meritorious work that was done by the EMO people when they were in place. But the time has come to accept the changes and to recognize that the organization which is now in place is in fact a better one.
Mr. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, I suspect I can stand here as a new member and not be quoted out of old Hansards.
Mr. Martel: Albert will try. He’ll look at your campaign speeches.
Mr. Davidson: I suspect I can say things which I have very deep feeling for without being contradicted either by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) or the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney).
Mr. Samis: Don’t count on the member for Ottawa East, though.
Mr. Davidson: I can say these things, because I am going to discuss some of the areas that they themselves have brought to light, namely and primarily the 1974 flood of the Grand Valley watershed -- or the Grand River watershed, whichever you care to call it -- and who in fact it was that brought some semblance of reality in putting emergency measures into effect.
Mr. Nixon: Your problem is that you are regionalized and the regionalized people don’t know which way to turn. They didn’t know whether it was the regional people or the police force. You were really screwed up.
Mr. Davidson: In Cambridge it certainly was not the local municipality and it was not the local police force. I say this in all honesty to my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, it was as you say the people from the Emergency Measures Organizations --
Mr. Nixon: It was the municipality that was all screwed up.
Mr. Davidson: -- who really dug in, found out what was taking place and applied themselves to the task of making sure that what could have been a far worse disaster than what it was did not occur. It was a disaster resulting in over $5 million damage alone to the city of Cambridge, but it could have been far worse than that and, gratefully, because of the work they did, there was in fact no loss of life.
Mr. Roy: Did you read the old speeches of the member for Wentworth?
Mr. Samis: Also our wage and price controls.
Mr. Davidson: No, but I will suggest to my friend from Ottawa East that it’s far better to change one’s mind from 1970 to 1976 --
Mr. Nixon: That is called learning.
Mr. Davidson: -- than to change it from Monday to Wednesday in one period of a week.
Mr. Samis: From Tuesday to Thursday with tennis in between.
Mr. Nixon: Whatever do you mean?
Mr. Roy: We are a lot more flexible than you.
Mr. Speaker: Order:
Mr. Davidson: I’d like to convey to the minister just a couple of words of wisdom if I may and I don’t intend to take too long in speaking.
Mr. Davidson: A lot of what I would have liked to have said has already been said.
Mr. Samis: What tennis does to some people!
Mr. Davidson: I cannot agree with the so-called lead ministry profile or whatever it is the minister cares to call it. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, of a little incident that has happened, and I’m quite at odds to wonder as to why my friend from Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) didn’t raise this.
In 1974, following the flood, the Grand River Conservation Authority through the Minister of Natural Resources said to everyone around that watershed, including Brantford and the Kitchener area, the Bridgeport area, Cambridge, that never again would such a situation occur without adequate warning being provided to the municipalities along the Grand River.
Well, Mr. Speaker, let me suggest this to you, that approximately three weeks ago without warning the municipalities of New Hamburg and Ayr were flooded. Questions were raised by the mayors of both communities, by the mayor of the city of Cambridge and by the regional councillors and officials as to how such a thing could possibly happen. The answer they got after two years following the flood was that they haven’t as yet hooked up the so-called warning system.
I would like to suggest if that is the speed under which the ministries of the government operate, then if it does away with this organization and we are faced with the same situation in which we were faced in 1974, we may not again have the opportunity of coming out of a situation without loss of life and we might certainly have far more of a loss -- at least in one community -- than $5 million.
Mr. Wildman: I rise in opposition to the repeal of the Emergency Measures Act but not in support of the Emergency Measures Organization as an anachronism set up to fight the straw man of nuclear attack or whatever, but basically because I’m opposed to or have a lot of questions about the concept of lead ministries.
In my area there is a large number of unorganized townships as was referred to by the member for Sudbury East. There isn’t even any municipal organization to coordinate any kind of approach to an emergency situation. I think back to Nov. 11 last fall when there was a severe storm all around the Great Lakes. There were large areas which were damaged along the eastern shore of Lake Superior and the north shore of Lake Huron. Along the eastern shore of Lake Superior where there are very few organized municipalities there was a lot of damage done. When people appealed to me for help I contacted the Minister of Natural Resources, who I believe is in one of the lead ministries that the Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth) referred to, and he replied to me after quite a long time to the effect that the municipality in the area must apply to the minister to find out what kind of aid they can receive in a disaster. I then pointed out to the minister that there is no municipality in the area to apply, and in that case he said unless the government itself in Toronto -- here, in Toronto -- decided to declare the area a disaster area then nothing could be done.
I submit that that is going to take a little bit of time and really is not the kind of response that is necessary when people are facing large losses because of flood or storm. In that case there were areas along the shoreline where large amounts of soil were eroded away at a great loss to the property owners. Commercial fishermen lost their boats and so on, and to this day nothing has been done for those people; not one thing. Despite repeated letters to the Minister of Natural Resources on my part, there has just been nothing done.
I question whether lead ministries are really a way of handling an emergency in an unorganized territory. I can also point out many other examples, but there is one other example that comes immediately to mind. A few years ago in an unorganized township near Sturgeon Falls, just outside of the organized municipality, there was a fire. The fire department from Sturgeon Falls went to the border of the organized municipality but did not go across, because they didn’t want to set a precedent. Natural Resources wasn’t available to fight that fire so the fire burned the house down. Natural Resources has fire equipment but its main responsibility, obviously, is to protect against forest fires and if the equipment is occupied in fighting a forest fire then the people living in an unorganized municipality are not protected. They just have to get out of the house and let it burn.
Also, even if we look at areas that are not unorganized, if we look at small municipalities -- and there are a large number in Algoma -- which have a low tax base, they just don’t have the kind of money which is necessary to provide the equipment and the expertise necessary in an emergency.
For instance, volunteer fire departments in small municipalities cannot receive any grant at all from the provincial government for fire equipment. They have to debenture and they have to pay for it out of the tax revenue, and if they don’t have the tax base necessary they just go without.
I understand that last fall the Ontario Fire Marshal was studying the problem and was prepared to recommend that the government institute grants through the Solicitor General’s ministry for small municipalities for fire equipment, but because of the restraint programme that has gone by the wayside.
Mr. Haggerty: In 1965 that was available.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right. What are the small municipalities to do? They haven’t been able to get grants since the early 1960s. They can’t provide the protection that’s taken for granted in large municipalities, and with the withdrawal of the Emergency Measures Organization there isn’t any organization at all which might be expanded or developed or moved into these areas which might coordinate the equipment necessary and the personnel necessary to cover large areas to face emergencies in time of disaster. I just question the whole concept of lead ministries and the idea that other agencies can handle it.
Even if we look at the OPP, in my area in the north there are large numbers of people who get lost during the hunting season and the Ontario Provincial Police, of course, are responsible along with other agencies -- volunteer agencies usually, and the federal government’s air rescue -- to search for these people in the bush. They just don’t have the personnel but at the same time they don’t have the right, or apparently are not given the right, to train local agencies to do that. The local agency has to be organized and request aid from the OPP.
I wonder if perhaps the Emergency Measures or some other organization like that, instead of being abolished, might be expanded to handle those kinds of emergencies and to provide for the needs that are obviously there and which are not being met right now. The MNR just doesn’t seem equipped to handle the emergencies as suggested by the minister, and the other agencies, especially in small municipalities, just do not have the personnel, the capital or the expertise. For that reason I will be voting against the bill.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I will keep my remarks rather brief considering most of the arguments have been made on this subject. I think most of us over on this side realize that the basic reasons for the EMO have changed over the years. We accept that the whole nuclear threat and the scare which probably developed at that time and accelerated the growth and development of the EMO has probably subsided to the extent that if we judge it purely on that basis it wouldn’t be justified. I think there still is a limited role for the EMO to justify its continuance, possibly in a reorganized, possibly even in a more limited role.
My colleague from Algoma has already outlined, in terms of unorganized communities, the value it could serve and my colleague from Oshawa used the example of what happened on the Ottawa River recently. They relied on the army and if anyone is familiar with that particular incident, obviously it was useless because of the instantaneous nature of the disaster and the implicit unpredictability of the whole thing.
I think the whole question of lead ministries leaves a lot of people in small communities in great doubt as to the appropriate channels and the quickness and the responsiveness of a bureaucracy in this particular situation.
I would almost be willing to accept the government’s bill in the context of restraint if we had the restraint equally applied across the province. When I see a government closing down hospitals, restricting social services and dissolving the EMO, I can accept that if the restraints were applied equally; but when I see the giveaway to the big corporations, the $400 million tax and how that is still being continued even this year when we see the OHIP premiums going up -- the big boys, many of whom are American, are still getting their tax giveaway -- obviously there is an inequity in this whole restraint policy. I think, for the amount of money involved, the security and the limited role in the case of an emergency still justify the existence of the EMO. On that basis, I would oppose the bill.
Mr. Godfrey: Mr. Speaker, I view this bill as another example of fanfare and foul-up which characterizes the action of the party across the floor. It was announced with a great fanfare, trumpeted as being the answer to all of our problems, and now ends in a typical foul-up which characterizes what went with Krauss-Maffei, the Niagara Escarpment, the Toronto-centred plan and the North Pickering development. All of them were highly bruited, only to be pulled back into the kennel after a suitable period of time.
The minister says the actions of the EMO will be substituted for by the OPP. I ask where is the budget by which the OPP can take over the duties the EMO is carrying out? I point out to him that at present in my riding we have 18,000 acres of land which is a federal enclave in the midst of Ontario. This land is not policed by the Mounties as normally federal land is. Barns are burned. We have difficulty getting fire protection. We are second-class or third-class when the firereels go out. Houses are destroyed. We are unable to call on aid in emergencies in which the EMO would be a factor.
The railroad crossings are even marked as private. When one drives down the road, one comes to a sign which does not say, “Careful. Railroad crossing.” It says, “Private. Railroad crossing. Cross at your own risk.” Surely here is an area where emergencies can happen at any time and where the EMO can be fitted in.
There is a serious question as to whether automobile or other types of insurance apply when one rides on these federally owned lands which are no longer under the jurisdiction of anyone in the area. Indeed, this is a time of disaster out in that area and I submit we do need the Emergency Measures Organization in a new and fuller role to help us.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for York South.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I had no intention of entering substantively or at all into this debate, but there was one comment of the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) which intrigued me. He rather sotto voce, in his support of this bill to eliminate EMO, conceded that there was need for some sort of a co-ordinating body. Then he said to the Solicitor General, “I hope he will address himself to this problem.”
Now, I’m rather cheesed with the consistency of a position in which he concedes that there is need for co-ordination, he acknowledged that in its new approach of recent years EMO has emerged into that co-ordinating role --
Mr. MacDonald: Oh, you won’t, eh? Well, others have. And indeed that it has the capacity to provide that co-ordinating role; and the consistency of the hon. member in asking for the Solicitor General to give some thought to this matter of concern, when in fact he’s going to create a vacuum, rather intrigues me.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Waterloo North.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, I rise only for one purpose and that is to set the record straight on some of the fabrications that have been put forth here tonight by members of the NDP. The member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) had indicated that the first warning given to the city of Brantford was by the EMO at 3 in the morning. Let me read from the “Report of the Royal Commission Inquiry into the Grand River Flood, 1974”: “Mr. Middleton, the city engineer of Brantford, received the first call from Mr. Stevens of the Grand River Conservation Authority at approximately 10 p.m. on May 16. Mr. Stevens advised that in Brantford there would be no serious risk during the night but that there would be flooding the next day.”
Mr. Stevens advised that he would call back in the morning --
Mr. Roy: What’s wrong with your research over there?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Makarchuk: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Brantford rises on a point of order.
Mr. Roy: What’s wrong with your research?
Mr. Makarchuk: At no time, Mr. Speaker, did I discuss the times that the engineer, the city police or anybody in Brantford received the warning from the Grand River Conservation Authority. I’m not sure what the member is talking about.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Waterloo North will continue.
Mr. Good: I would like to proceed. If Hansard proves that I am wrong I will retract what I said, but I distinctly remember the member for Brantford stating that it was 3 in the morning when EMO first warned the city officials in Brantford.
Mr. Makarchuk: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Roy: That’s what I heard.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member rises on a point of order.
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, once again I reiterate what I said, that at no time did I discuss any of the times or warnings that were received by the city of Brantford in my speech this evening. I would suggest to the member, once again, that he either retracts the statement or talks about something he knows something about.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue.
Mr. Good: I will proceed to read from the report.
Mr. Roy: We’ll look at Hansard tomorrow.
Mr. Makarchuk: Do that.
Mr. Deans: Read it all.
Mr. Good: It says: “Following the call from Mr. Stevens, Mr. Middleton took action. He testified he took all flood warning as a serious matter. He immediately called his work superintendent to arrange for the night duty men to check the river level. At 9 a.m. the next morning, Mr. Middleton, the city engineer, met with Mayor Bowen and the chief of police and advised them that flooding was to be expected. At 9:30 a.m. the Grand River Conservation called again and advised Mr. Middleton -- ”
Mr. Martel: You have convinced us you can read. Now what are you trying to prove?
Mr. Good: I continue: “Mr. Middleton, at 10 a.m., called the Grand River Conservation Authority and was advised by Mr. Kao that the flooding would be severe and the river would rise 17 ft, more or less.”
The point I want to make, Mr. Speaker, is simply this: That the NDP can fabricate and get emotional about any subject to suit their own purposes. I’m not discounting for one minute that the EMO did not play a part in the flooding along the Grand River, but I do want to make this one point: It was 10 o’clock the next morning --
Mr. Davidson: Does the member agree fully with that report?
Mr. Good: -- that during the same period the Brantford police received a message from Mr. Roberts of the EMO, stating “Probable flood expected Brantford.” Now, the report goes on to show and to explain that the advance warning in the city of Brantford was taken seriously by the city officials. The advance warning given to the city of Cambridge was not taken seriously by the city officials and no one was notified.
The point I really want to make is simply this, the member for Brantford clearly stated that it was the EMO who first warned the officials in the city of Brantford --
Mr. Makarchuk: On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, tonight in the House, as I said earlier -- and I thought the member had the decency to accept my explanation -- at no time did I discuss the hours, the appearance or anything about the warning that was received from the Grand River Conservation Authority by the city of Brantford. I am well acquainted with the circumstances of that case, and what the member is reading in Judge Leach’s report is probably accurate, although I question some of Judge Leach’s findings. But the point the member attributed to me is something that I did not say, and I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the member retract those comments.
Mr. Renwick: Withdraw or resign.
Mr. Roy: We will wait for Hansard.
Mr. Ferrier: Mr. Speaker, I only want to say a brief word about EMO. I remember back in the days --
Mr. Nixon: This will be good.
Mr. Ferrier: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Ferrier: Let the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk take notice.
Mr. Reid: Which side are you on?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Ferrier: There was a motion in this House to abolish the EMO, and at that time I got up and spoke in favour of the work that EMO had done in the Chapleau fire.
Mr. Nixon: And Deans spoke against it.
Mr. Ferrier: It had had a very beneficial effect and had co-ordinated activities in the city of Timmins and environs to provide emergency assistance for those people. Very great work was done in those days.
Having spoken at that time of the great work that EMO had done and then to vote against it was something which was very unusual, I suppose, and I had to do some fancy footwork in the election.
Tonight, I would say to my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk that I think that EMO did fulfil a function, even though a lot of Tories seem to be the ones who were the personnel in charge. That being as it may, I think it did fulfil a useful role back in 1970 or whenever it was I said it was good; now I am going to vote in favour of its retention, and I might bring about some redemption of the fall I made back there in those days.
Mr. Nixon: Never give up on that redemption.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to take part in the debate?
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I rise to bring to your attention that while it’s true what the member for Ottawa East said with regard to --
Mr. Reid: No point of order.
Mr. Speaker: The Chair will listen to the hon. member and then decide on the point of order.
Mr. Deans: Thank you. While it’s true what the member for Ottawa East quotes as having been attributed to me in the years 1967, 1968, 1969 and, I believe, in 1970, I decided on the basis of the work that was then being done by the EMO in 1973, 1974 and 1975 that they were worthwhile.
Mr. Reid: Very generous of you.
Mr. Nixon: Very good.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to take part in the debate? The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I hardly thought that such a simple little death notice would bring about this kind of debate. I think it deserves more than a half a minute reply.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth moved the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, may I indicate that tomorrow we will carry on with this discussion and then we will have a more positive point of view expressed tomorrow by the Solicitor General. Following that, we will carry on with the legislation as set out in the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.