The House met at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
FIRST MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Premier (Mr. Davis), who is attending a funeral in Ottawa this morning, I am tabling the response of the government of Ontario to the proposal of the Prime Minister of Canada for two conferences of first ministers. The first meeting is proposed for early in May to discuss oil and gas pricing, and the second for mid-June to discuss shared cost programmes.
The Premier has asked that these two items be discussed at a single meeting in May and urges that these be discussions in public. In frank terms, Mr. Speaker, a brief private luncheon at Sussex Dr., as has been proposed, is not in our opinion the most appropriate form to resolve matters of such broad import to all Canadians.
In addition, it is the government’s view that the shared cost item be broadened to include other aspects of federal-provincial financial arrangements such as equalization and the revenue guarantee. This will ensure that oil and gas pricing is considered in the full and proper context of federal-provincial financial relations.
I have a second statement and documents to be tabled which can’t be done until 11 o’clock and I shall be asking that we revert to statements at that time; perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you will want to allow another five minutes of questions at that time.
Mr. Lewis: Can the Treasurer give us the subject matter?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The constitution.
SUMMER JOBS FOR STUDENTS
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, young people in the province are already discovering that the summer job market is extremely tight this year. As many as 600,000 students may be looking for work.
To assist in meeting this demand, the Youth Secretariat has coordinated the efforts of 15 ministries and agencies in offering summer employment to 7,800 young people. The Experience ‘76 programme was announced last February and since then thousands of applications -- almost double the mail at this time last year -- have poured into the Ontario government.
We recognize that government alone cannot meet all of the demands for summer jobs, but to assist in meeting some of the need, I am pleased to announce today that we are expanding the Experience ‘76 programme to provide for an additional 1,300 positions. This will bring the cost of the programme to $12.3 million from $10.3 million, and will provide about 9,100 jobs through Experience ‘76.
I would like to note that approximately another 10,000 jobs have been offered through the government’s programme of hiring students as replacements for vacationing staff and for special projects carried out during the summer months by the various ministries of the government.
As the members are already aware, the deadline for applications from post-secondary students for the Experience ‘76 programme was extended by one week to next Monday, April 12. Students in the secondary school system have until April 30.
As I have already indicated, the Ontario government alone knows that it cannot meet the student employment problem, but we do hope that the Experience ‘76 programme and the summer replacement programmes will encourage the private sector to join with us in the recognition of the desire and the needs of many of our young people to be gainfully employed this summer.
FEDERAL HOUSING GRANTS
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the hon. members of a new federal-provincial agreement that will enable Ontario municipalities to obtain federal grants designed to stimulate the production of modest-sized, medium-density housing.
Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. will provide a $1,000 grant for each unit of medium-density housing of modest size and price for which the eligible municipality has issued a building permit.
In order to be eligible for the grants, any Ontario city, town or village whose council forwards a resolution to the Ministry of Housing stating that the funds will be used to facilitate housing production, will be issued a certificate of eligibility that will qualify that municipality to apply for the federal funds.
This programme is an incentive for municipalities to permit the development of more land for medium-density housing and generally to encourage a more economic use of land.
Units eligible for the grant must be for permanent residency, self-contained, connected to municipal water and sanitary services, and on roads which have a gravel surface or better. They will range in size from 400-sq-ft bachelor suites in apartment buildings to 1,300-sq-ft, four-bedroom units in other types of structures. Mobile homes on site and ready for occupancy, and bearing CSA certification No. Z240, are eligible.
House prices must not exceed the top limit established for the community under the federally assisted home ownership programme. These maximums range from $34,000 in some municipalities to a high of $47,000 in Metro Toronto.
We are talking about two density ranges, 10 to 45 units per acre for “mature” lands and 10 to 30 units per acre for all other lands.
I should perhaps emphasize that these grants are not home buyer grants but grants made to the municipality for the specific purpose of assisting in the production of housing. Municipalities that participate in the programme will be required to provide my ministry with an annual report showing how the federal grants were spent.
We welcome the programme and view it as an opportunity to help ease the burden that housing can impose on a municipality. I invite and encourage Ontario’s municipalities to utilize this programme, which will assist us in our efforts to make more housing available at prices people can afford to pay.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
UNITED ASBESTOS PLANT
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, a question for the acting Minister of Health. Since the minister said in Hansard on April 1, about Matachewan:
“The union is most enthusiastic about the Ministry of Health’s efforts and the Ministry of Natural Resources’ efforts to clean this plant up ...
“The workers within the plant are anxious to have it function as well and they are co-operating tremendously well in the process of improving the environmental health ... “
How does the minister account for the fact that less than one week later the workers at Matachewan walked out in protest against the absence of any obvious improvements in the conditions in the plant, and have effectively closed that plant down until some intervention occurs?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the plant is not closed down. About one-third of the picketers who were picketing in this wildcat strike yesterday have, in fact, gone back to work. The plant is running --
Mr. Wildman: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and yesterday, as a result of the information which we received from the unanticipated visit -- unanticipated by either the company or the union -- of the inspectors from the health protection branch on Monday and Tuesday of this week --
Mr. MacDonald: Is that the first time?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh, no, it is not the first time. But there was a meeting yesterday in Toronto with the president of the company and ministry officials of both Health and Natural Resources. The president of the company is now much more aware of the responsibilities which the management --
Mr. Reid: How much does it take?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- has apparently not transmitted to him as fully as they should have, and we are again hopeful that as a result of his increased knowledge and increased awareness, there will be real action to clean up the plant.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary, if I may: Just by way of clarification, did the minister say there was a meeting between the president of the company -- based in Quebec -- and the ministries?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Officials of the ministries.
Mr. Lewis: Were any workers involved in the meeting?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yesterday?
Mr. Lewis: Yes.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, the workers were involved in the meetings in Matachewan yesterday.
Mr. Lewis: What kind of cozy little relationship do we have when they bring the president down to meet with the ministries, which have been unable to clean up the plant, and they do not have the workers there, who are wanting the plant cleaned up and seem to be the only people who understand what needs to I be done?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The meeting, Mr. Speaker, was held at the request of the president of the company.
Mr. Lewis: Very nice to accommodate him.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It was not “a cozy little arrangement.” It was a meeting at which --
Mr. Lewis: It certainly was.
Mr. Renwick: You ought to refuse such meetings.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- the president was very firmly informed of the intentions of this government regarding the health protection of the workers in that plant.
Mr. Reid: Supplementary: How does the minister explain, after all this time, that such a meeting should even be necessary? Is there something wrong with the communications between those two ministries and the plant and the people there? Why do we have to wait, and why do the workers have to put up with this for this length of time?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, there is certainly at this point no lack of communication between the ministries. The lack of communication was apparently between the management of the plant in Matachewan and the man who owns the company, and that’s where the problem lay.
Mr. Bain: Is the minister aware that the men claim that, in fact, conditions at the plant have worsened since the visit by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier)?
Mr. Lewis: Because of his visit.
Mr. Bain: Is she also aware that the men are ready at any time to go back into the plant if the company will shut the plant down and, with the men, clean up the mill and get the machinery in proper working condition again? The company refuses categorically to do this. What will the minister personally do to intervene and get the company to respond in a reasonable fashion?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am aware the workers say the conditions are worse. I am also aware that Mr. Rajhans, who visited the plant on Monday and Tuesday, has not reported that in his initial report. He does not have all of the monitoring test reports available to us, but his verbal report was, in fact, that conditions were not worse; that there was some slight improvement. I am not aware that the workers have said they will go back to work if they close down --
Mr. Lewis: You are such an inveterate apologist!
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- but I am aware that this suggestion has been made to both the union and to the company.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, another question along that line: I don’t understand why the partisanship in this place requires the minister to become an apologist for the company. Why is it not possible simply to do what every intelligent person wants her to do -- close down the plant, clean it up and then reintroduce the workers into the environment?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think I have not functioned as an apologist for anyone. I am trying very diligently to ensure that the standards which are set in the Province of Ontario -- and which are, I would remind the Leader of the Opposition, the most rigid in Canada -- are met by a company which is beginning a new plant and is having engineering and management problems with that plant -- which, I think, is of some vital economic resource to the people of that area. During that period we protect the workers as best we possibly can. That’s precisely what we are trying to do. An apologist I am not.
Mr. Reid: A supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: This will be the final supplementary on this question.
Mr. Reid: In view of the seriousness of the situation, instead of sending somebody in on spot checks, does the minister not consider that it might be worthwhile to have someone from either the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Natural Resources -- preferably Health -- on duty day to day until the mess is cleaned up?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting suggestion which I shall consider very seriously.
Mr. Speaker: Any further questions? No, that was the final supplementary. This is getting to be a long prolonged debate. The Leader of the Opposition with further questions.
Mr. Germa: A supplementary --
Mr. Speaker: I said that was the final supplementary.
Mr. Lewis: I would like to get back to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, our favourite adversary in the Legislature.
May I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food, following from his suggestion to me yesterday that I spend some time at Guelph and learn something about agriculture, is he aware of the land market characteristics material which Guelph is using on farm land in Ontario, dealing with Pickering, Markham and Oakville, showing that in the period from 1968 to 1971 the transactions which took place in those areas were 99 per cent speculative in Pickering; 82 per cent speculative in Markham; and 96 per cent speculative in Oakville? Has he any evidence or is there any work in his ministry to demonstrate that that trend has been reversed?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, can the member give me the dates? What were the dates when that was done?
Mr. Lewis: The period from 1968 to 1971; they went to the registry office.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I can speak from personal knowledge on that particular situation. I would like to particularly point out concerning Pickering, where I live, and land speculation, that there was a tremendous period in that period of time, actually from about 1966, I would say, until about 1972 when the land speculation tax and the land transfer tax came in. I don’t know exactly the dates they came in. Was it 1974? From that point on, whenever it came in --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It was 1974.
Hon. W. Newman: I can tell the member there have been about three farms -- actual farms -- turned over in the rural part of the municipality. It has come to a halt.
Mr. Godfrey: Three?
Mr. Lewis: You have got to be kidding. Where you represent them you mean?
Hon. W. Newman: Pardon?
Mr. Lewis: You mean in Durham North?
Hon. W. Newman: No. I was referring to the township of Pickering -- the town of Pickering, sorry.
Mr. Lewis: Town of Pickering.
Mr. Deans: Why doesn’t he speculate?
Hon. W. Newman: In the south end of the town of Pickering, where it’s zoned industrial and residential, yes, there has been a turnover of land. But, by and large, in the agricultural area the speculative thing has basically come to a halt.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, does the minister realize that the speculative transactions in those areas and other areas involved sale prices then of $2,460 an acre on the average in Pickering; $3,346 an acre on the average in Markham; $2,587 an acre on the average in Oakville?
Can I ask him what he would think of Mr. Hoffman’s comment, in his special article in 1975 for Guelph, in which he says: “Land valued at $2,000 or $3,000 or more per acre today is unlikely to be used for agriculture. Indeed, there seems to be a strong indication that currently there is little profit in growing common field crops on land with a value greater than $500 per acre”? How is the minister going to rescue all this land he is talking about if Hoffman is right?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member asked that question because I think it is a very important question. Again, I will come back to Pickering. The last farm -- I don’t know if it was sold -- was a distress sale by a certain person whose husband died. It was at about $1,400 an acre. The land down in that great county where our Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) comes from, which is some of the most productive land in the Province of Ontario is selling in the range from about $1,500 to $2,200 an acre --
Mr. Lewis: Higher than that.
Hon. W. Newman: It may be even higher in some instances --
Mr. Lewis: It is higher.
Hon. W. Newman: It is being used for agricultural purposes at this point in time.
Mr. Lewis: Is the minister feeling very confident about his facts about land around Chatham? Does he know what’s happening in that part of the province in a serious way?
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, sure.
Mr. Lewis: He really does?
Hon. W. Newman: Fairly well.
Mr. Lewis: Yes.
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, I have a --
Mr. Lewis: Maybe we will deal with that at some point.
Hon. W. Newman: Okay, fine.
CLOSING OF CHEESE FACTORIES
Mr. Lewis: One last question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food, if I may: Is he aware that the number of cheese factories across the province has declined by 60 per cent in the last four years; and that in the eastern region of Ontario itself they have declined from 45 in 1970-1971 to eight in 1975-1976; and is there anything in the world that can be done in the agricultural industry to protect these cheese factories from major absorption by the conglomerates?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I think with the quota allocations to the cheese plants in eastern Ontario now, the cheese plants are doing all right. There was a major consolidation a few years ago under the former minister when there were some problems, but now I think by and large most of the cheese plants -- as the member knows there are applications --
Mr. Lewis: No, I don’t know.
Hon. W. Newman: -- before the milk industry branch now for further plants and they are being looked at at this point in time. These are applications to build new plants.
Mr. Lewis: How many applications are before -- what body is the minister talking of -- before which board, the OMMB?
Hon. W. Newman: The milk industry branch.
Mr. Lewis: How many applications are before them?
Hon. W. Newman: I believe there are two at this point in time.
Mr. Lewis: Two applications do not represent a startling increase.
Hon. W. Newman: One is for a cheese plant and the other is for a whey utilization plant.
Mr. Lewis: One application -- in the singular -- for a cheese plant, despite the fact that the minister has lost over 60 per cent in the last four years.
Mr. Lewis: One last question: What detailed research is the ministry doing in the Province of Ontario to look at the increase in the acquisition by private companies for speculative purposes of land that is now farm land? What breakdown has the minister, county by county, of the value of the land transfers, the sales of farm land, in the last year to two years and the consequence for food production? And what information has he precisely on the acreage that is being returned on a county by county basis?
Hon. W. Newman: We do have some figures on some counties on a county to county basis on the amount of agricultural land that has come back, and the figure in the statement I gave yesterday --
Mr. MacDonald: Which one -- 7.8 per cent or 6.6 per cent?
Hon. W. Newman: At least the member is beginning to agree that the 26 acres he was talking about is a lot of nonsense.
Mr. MacDonald: Oh no, I’m not.
Hon. W. Newman: Oh, yes, he is. He is finally backing off because he knows he is wrong.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister is answering the questions.
Mr. Renwick: He is wrong.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. MacDonald: We are talking about land return. Was it 7.8 per cent or 6.6 per cent which is on the minister’s sheet?
Hon. W. Newman: We don’t have a full tab, county by county, of the actual amount out and in. We do --
Mr. MacDonald: So the minister is guessing.
Hon. W. Newman: No we aren’t. We know the figures.
Mr. Lewis: I know the difference between land return and land going out of production.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister is answering the question.
Hon. W. Newman: In the best productive land in this province we have lost very little farm land percentage-wise compared to northern Ontario where the poorer farm land is; and this comes out very loud and clear.
Mr. Lewis: Oh that’s rationalization of the worst kind.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Rainy River is leading off?
Mr. Reid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Rainy River. Order, please, by the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mr. Bain).
Mr. Speaker: There are too many interjections this morning.
The hon. member for Rainy River.
Mr. Lewis: This is the Liberal front bench asking the questions.
Mr. Reid: We figure it takes only one of us to handle the rest, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Treasurer: Can the Treasurer explain the discrepancy in the budget papers in regard to imports and exports? In the 1976 budget it shows a greater volume of exports than imports for 1975 and 1974. However, the 1975 budget shows the reverse situation, a far greater volume of imports than exports for the same year; and in his 1976 budget he shows a very marked increase in exports. Considering the fact that the Treasurer spent almost five minutes telling us about the sad state of the auto pact, which is the large part of our Ontario exports, can he explain first of all the discrepancies in those figures; and second, can he explain to the House where he expects that large increase in exports is going to come from?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Well in manufactured goods, in part; certainly we expect an increase in auto parts this year. We would expect to see a much healthier situation, for obvious reasons, in the pulp and paper industry. And there are some indications we will see greater exports of some of the base metals.
Mr. Ruston: Supplementary: When the Treasurer talks about an increase in exports and part of it being in the auto industry, is he aware of the qualms of Ford Motor Co., who are contemplating moving a motor plant to Windsor, but they’ve been advised they’ll be closed down in the United States if this move is made? How are we going to rationalize on that basis? Are we going to have to look at the auto parts industry, which would involve Canadian manufacturing, rather than, let’s say, American companies? The problem they’re going to have is that they may face a major strike in the United States because of moving an operation from Detroit to Windsor.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Nobody is suggesting moving operations either way, in my view, as a right thing to do. I’m not anxious to see people thrown out of work in Toledo simply to have more employment in Windsor. I think the thrust of the paper was and is that we are not getting our share of the growth, and these presumably are the new jobs, the add-on jobs. Inevitably, there is always some dislocation in redundant plants or old plants or because of vagaries of the marketplace. But I am not specifically aware of the Ford Motor case which the hon. member mentioned.
Mr. Reid: Supplementary, if I may: Can the Treasurer indicate why there is a difference in the figures for exports and imports in the two years of the budget? I wouldn’t ask this question but we couldn’t find anybody in the Treasurer’s offices this morning to answer it. Can he explain the discrepancy?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I assume the figures given in 1975 -- I don’t have the 1975 budget here -- were our estimate as to what would happen in 1975. Our figures in the 1976 budget are our estimate of what is going to happen in 1976.
Mr. Reid: The figures in the 1975 budget, those for 1974, when it was found what actually happened, don’t agree at all. And the figures for 1973-1974 in the 1976 budget and in the 1975 budget don’t agree.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Without being able to give any details, certainly our exports during 1975 were not as high as we had originally hoped at the time of the budget in 1975. A big part of that, of course, was pulp and paper and a more severe decline in the mining industry than we had anticipated.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. In view of the millions of dollars spent on Krauss-Maffei and the Urban Transportation Development Corp., can the minister indicate what his approach is to the Toronto Transit Commission, who indicated that they would be interested in the American proposal to standardize light rail transit and that possibly they would buy rail cars from that country? Can the minister explain why our Urban Transportation Development Corp. is not in fact in the market, designing standardized cars? And is he going to allow them to buy outside of the country?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I read something in the press that obviously was similar to what the hon. member read; and it’s as confusing to me as it is to him; I have not had an opportunity yet to look into it but I certainly will. This is certainly not my understanding as to what is taking place. In fact, I have good reason to believe that some of our manufacturers of rail cars in Canada can look forward to very considerable export orders in the very near future.
Mr. Reid: May I ask, by way of supplementary, is the minister aware whether, in fact, UTDC is designing a standardized car that can be used both in Canada and the United States?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’d like to know what type of a car the hon. member is referring to.
Mr. Reid: One that’s standardized so it can be used all across the country, with the gauges and everything being the same. Surely the minister knows something about that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Certainly all the design work that is being carried out by the Urban Transportation Development Corp. is with a view to very large export business outside of Ontario, within Canada and also all over North America, and really worldwide.
LOSS OF TREES
Mr. Reid: I have one further question if I may. I’ll have to ask this of the Resources Development Secretary in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier). Is the minister aware of the CBC programme last night, and other reports in the paper, that the Ministry off Natural Resources is killing valuable timber on some 1,200 acres of land in Bethune township in the Parry Sound district?
Would the minister be prepared to investigate to find out why an agency of this government is killing trees when they could possibly be used for salvage or given to small sawmill operators who are going without in that area?
Hon. Mr. Irvine: Mr. Speaker, I’m not aware of the report but I’ll certainly be happy to look into the matter and report to the member.
Mr. Deans: I have a question of the acting Minister of Health. This being April 9, the day on which the health council had to make its report to the Ministry of Health, and given there has been a tremendous effort put forth by a number of citizens in Hamilton to provide information to the ministry upon which a better decision might be based, is the minister now prepared to extend the period of time in order that a proper study can be conducted, in order to ensure that in fact the health care delivery system of the area will be both adequate and sufficient?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I met this morning with representatives of the district health council of Hamilton-Wentworth, who have presented a report -- a very long and well documented report -- which will be considered very seriously by the ministry, and I’m sure we’ll have a response to that district health council regarding all of the items which the member raises by early next week.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: Can the minister indicate whether she believes it is worthless continuing with the background information gathering that is currently going on? Will that information be made use of by the Ministry of Health, and will there be sufficient time made available to the people who are doing it in order to make sure that all of the pertinent information is, in fact, before the ministry prior to making another decision?
Secondly, if I may, can I send to the minister something she may probably be aware of already, but there is a message to be delivered to her on behalf of 85,000 people in the city of Hamilton, signed by their own hands, and I would be happy to send over the 85,000 signatures just for her own use.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of that petition. I think the answer is yes, that the council has done a very good job of documenting all of the information. I think the documentation is extremely comprehensive. It will take some time to explore it, and when it is thoroughly explored, the ministry will be responding to the district health council, whose responsibility it is to make the recommendations.
Mr. Lewis: We trust you will read it name by name.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I think I will ask you to do that.
Mr. Germa: You are not doing anything else, may as well do that.
ALLEGED CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Mr. Riddell: Maybe this dialogue could be carried on at some other time. I have a question of the acting Minister of Health. Would the minister give us the results of her ministry’s investigation into the possible conflict of interest on the part of a full-time staff member at the Goderich Psychiatric Hospital, who is reported by the Provincial Auditor to have billed OHIP for large amounts of money while receiving a full-time salary as a full-time staff member of the hospital?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, some preliminary study of this problem has, in fact, taken place. One of the things that we have discovered is that that psychiatrist, who did function very well as a full-time staff member in that institution, also served the community in later hours of the day and on weekends as a psychiatrist, providing direct care for certain members of the community.
The investigation is not as yet completed and when it is, I shall be happy to report.
BUDGET MESSENGER SERVICE
Mr. Young: Mr. Speaker, to the hon. Minister of Revenue: I wonder if the minister would let us know the basis upon which two score or more employees of his ministry were paid and given expenses to deliver copies of the budget to certain of his friends and my friends after 8 o’clock on budget night. My friends elicited the information that not only did the messenger resent this, he felt he was being paid by government to get information to certain friends prior to the opening of the stock market the next morning. I wonder if the minister would clear this up for us?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will look into that. Certainly I thought there were a number of people who should receive the budget quickly so they would have that; I thought that was a nice courtesy to extend to them. I will look into that and get the details for the hon. member.
Mr. Reid: At government expense?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Sure, it’s a government document.
Mr. Young: Supplementary: Might I ask the minister if this is general policy as far as the ministries of the government are concerned, and is the same privilege extended to members of the opposition?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I couldn't catch that. Would the hon. member repeat the question?
Mr. Young: Is it the general policy of other ministries in the government and is the same privilege available to members of the opposition to have this kind of messenger service?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Well, I am inclined to call that a sort of one-shot affair, in the sense that a budget comes down once a year and one has the budget documents to be got out. I think it wouldn’t apply ordinarily in other ministries -- perhaps it does in Treasury and Economics, but I couldn’t say if any other ministries besides my own would be interested. People in the financial world are interested in the budget and they have to know, in many cases very quickly, how it affects themselves, their employees and their actions.
Mr. Lewis: They find out naturally. What about the rest of us?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Reid: Is the minister trying to tell us that the government and the people of Ontario have subsidized the financial world by getting these budgets to them quickly? Is he trying to tell us that and that he thinks that is a good philosophy to follow?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of documents that go out from my ministry, and I would presume also from Treasury, at 8 o’clock on budget night, not the least of which is something like this bulletin about the retail sales tax, which went to every merchant; and of course that went out at the expense of the people of Ontario.
Mr. Reid: Were they hand-delivered?
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Would the minister on Monday table for us a list of the members of the financial or related communities to whom specific copies of the budget and budget material were sent, courtesy of the special work which was done within his ministry on Tuesday evening last? Just let us know to whom this material is sent.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Perhaps I should ‘fess up now that we made extraordinary arrangements to get a copy of the budget to the Premier of Manitoba following 8 o’clock. I would want that on the record.
Mr. Reid: Who else?
Mr. Lewis: Presumably Schreyer and Blakeney will appear on the list, but I would like the other ones as well, just out of curiosity.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I see no reason why I couldn’t get that information. I don’t know whether I can have that by Tuesday, but certainly I will undertake to get it.
Mr. MacDonald: Good. Make sure Schreyer is on it.
Mr. Reid: Will the minister also check with his other colleagues to see if they took a hand in this or did the same thing on their hook and will he present those lists if that was done?
Hon. Mr. Meen: I could, Mr. Speaker.
LIE DETECTOR TESTS
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General before he leaves the chamber. Has the minister inquired into the use of a lie detector by the city of Windsor during a recent investigation concerning missing equipment, and does the minister approve of such a use? Will the minister follow up on this and explain government policy concerning the use of lie detectors as far as municipalities are concerned?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge of any specific government policy related to the use of lie detector tests. Quite frankly, I don’t know at the moment how that is controlled. I have no hesitation in stating, though, that my own personal view is that a lie detector test should be employed only as an investigative device in relation to, and, I think, should be restricted as much as possible to criminal investigations, and that no one, particularly employees, should be obliged to take these tests.
I personally have no hesitation in expressing to the Legislature as a whole my concern with respect to the use by employers of these lie detector machines, which have been demonstrated to be most fallible, to put it mildly. If it can be demonstrated to me that there is any useful action which could be taken by this government to discourage the use of lie detector tests in relation to employer-employee situations, I would be very happy to have the advice of the members of the Legislature as it’s something I’d like to discuss with my colleagues.
Mr. Renwick: You should prohibit it by law.
Mr. B. Newman: Will the minister look into the use of the lie detector test in the city of Windsor recently and report to the House?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m not so sure, Mr. Speaker, what jurisdiction I have in relation to investigating the use of a lie detector test by the city of Windsor. There’s no suggestion that the city of Windsor has, or any of its employees have committed a criminal offence by the use of such a machine. I will make inquiries and I will be obliged if my hon. friend opposite could supply me with any information which is in his possession.
EFFECT OF FLUORESCENT LIGHT ON FOOD
Mr. Burr: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations regarding the three-year study at the University of Guelph revealing the detrimental effect of fluorescent lighting on various foods, especially milk and butter, displayed for sale in stores.
Mr. Riddell: Did you quit drinking milk?
Mr. Burr: What is the ministry doing to require light-protective packaging for these foods?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I assume that any results of a study of that nature would be reviewed in our ministry by the officials responsible for the building code. If there’s a hazardous product effect, I would remind him that a new federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, who is responsible for hazardous products, has just been named.
Mr. Burr: A supplementary: Could the minister refer me to some other minister in the cabinet with whom I might pursue this inquiry? The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) doesn’t seem concerned. The Minister of Health (B. Stephenson) doesn’t know much about it.
Mr. Burr: This minister tries to tell me it’s a building code violation.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t say it was a building code violation. I said presumably we would look at it, in the light of any comments made by the researchers, to indicate whether or not there are required changes in the building code. We’re not responsible for the inspection of lighting equipment after it has been installed. We are responsible at the time of installation.
Mr. Lewis: This is too much.
Mr. Deans: It is a health hazard.
Mr. Lewis: There is a hazard there.
Mr. Burr: The consumer’s health is being harmed by the fact that the lights are damaging the food. It is suggested in this report --
Ms. Speaker: Is there a question, please?
Mr. Burr: -- that light-protective packaging might solve the problem.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, if it’s packaging -- I just don’t follow the hon. member’s question. He says the health of the consumers of the Province of Ontario, as distinct from all other consumers in Canada, is being harmed by a special kind of fluorescent light which is being used in groceterias or supermarkets. I’d have to look at the report; I’d have to examine it.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: If it’s a health problem it’s not my intention to assume responsibilities in the area of health. If it’s a consumer protection problem in terms of price or quality then certainly we’ll take a look at it. I assure the hon. member we will look at the report.
Mr. Burr: That will be fine.
NURSING HOME RATES
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, with respect to daily rates in Ontario nursing homes: I understand that a ministry of the government is just about to approve an increase in the daily rates of nursing homes of approximately 30 per cent without a comparable increase in the incomes of these people.
Does this come under the jurisdiction of the rent review legislation? Are these people given 90 days’ notice as is required? Is the minister aware that there was an increase in January and that the nursing homes are about to ask for a further increase in the fall? Could the minister respond to this?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, within the limits of my responsibility, I can assure the hon. member it doesn’t come within the rent review legislation.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, may I redirect and ask whose ministry it does come under?
Mr. Speaker: We can’t use a scattergun approach. The member may name a minister; he’s asked a minister and it hasn’t been redirected.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I would believe that, if it is within the Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health should be asked the question. My response was for rent review, and it doesn’t come within that jurisdiction.
Mr. Speaker: You may redirect the question to the acting Minister of Health.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The question was, am I aware that an increase has in fact been approved for nursing homes? I think this is scarcely a rental situation. In nursing homes, the patients are provided with care. They may be provided with some hotel-like accommodation, if you will, but I would not believe this falls within the purview of the rent review programme at all.
I am not aware that the nursing homes intend to come back in the fall for yet another increase.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary: Could the acting Minister of Health tell us how much the increase is for, please?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I believe that it’s something of the order of $2 per day per patient.
PROPERTY TAX INQUIRY
Ms. Bryden: I have a question for the provincial Treasurer with regard to the commission which is to be set up to study property tax changes. Is he prepared to include in the terms of reference, consideration and clarification of the Edmonton commitment, so that the municipalities will know what they can expect under that commitment from year to year instead of the way it has been worked out recently, and also consideration of the allocation of some points of income and corporation tax and sales tax to local government?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The answer to both questions would be no. The commission or committee or whatever it ultimately is called is to design a new municipal tax system based on the property tax component of the expenditures and revenues of local governments. It does not include relationship to provincial transfers. It may well be that the other committee which we’ve suggested will be taking a look at the Edmonton commitment.
My answer to the second part is that municipalities and school boards effectively are sharing in 30 per cent of the personal income tax, the corporation tax, the sales tax and everything else -- every other tax. They’re getting 29 point-whatever-per cent it is. We’re not prepared to increase taxes further and pass them unilaterally to the municipalities.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary: Will the commission examine the regressivity of the property tax as part of its terms of reference?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I doubt it very much because it has been well documented that it isn’t regressive.
YOUNG FARMERS’ CREDIT PROGRAMME
Mr. Haggerty: I’d like to direct a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food about the matter of the Ontario young farmers’ credit programme. I believe it was announced some time last July or some time during the election, and it could have been an election promise. What success, if any, has this programme had in assisting young farmers to obtain loans?
Hon. W. Newman: With regard to young farmers’ credit loans in the Province of Ontario, there’s the Farm Credit Corp. As members are well aware, this is the federal agency which does most of the lending for actual purchase of land. The kinds of loans that we have are for purchasing of equipment, material, livestock, etc. I don’t know that I can give the exact figures that have gone out on loans, I just get a monthly report in the amounts of the loans that are going out to young farmers, but it’s substantial.
Mr. Lewis: God forbid you should support young farmers!
Mr. Haggerty: Is the minister aware that many farmers are having some difficulties in obtaining loans through this programme, that the banks have the final say and under the present interest rates the farmers just can’t compete with this? They are eight per cent or 8.5 per cent.
Hon. W. Newman: Our loans go out on the basis of how much they already borrowed, how much debt they have and how much mortgage they have, because we don’t want to get these people into a situation where they’re in so deep they would have difficulty in getting themselves out. Each application is viewed on its own merits by our staff. If there’s guidance needed, we are prepared to offer field guidance to that particular young farmer on things he could do.
If the member has a specific case where there’s a specific problem which he feels has been unjustly dealt with by our staff, let us know.
Mr. Makarchuk: Is the minister aware that there appears to be a direct policy by the banks at this time to deny farmers farm improvement loans for the simple reason that they can make more interest by lending that money out to somebody else?
Hon. W. Newman: No, I wouldn’t say that necessarily, because I think, by and large, a lot of the loans at the banks are guaranteed by the province and I don’t think there is any major problem there. I know that banks are making a great move to cater more to the agricultural people. I am finding that other banks are moving into the field much more so than they were just a year ago. Again, if there is any particular problem let me know about it, but as far as I am concerned I think the banks are co-operating with us.
Mr. Riddell: Will this be readily available to those farmers who are having great financial difficulties because of the cut in quotas and subsidies on industrial milk, and the fact that they have loans from the IMPIP loan in order to increase their production, and now because of the decrease in the subsidy they are finding that they are not able to pay off their loans? Will this loan be readily available, or can the minister suggest some other way that these farmers might get themselves out of that particular financial difficulty?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have said it on more than one occasion, I think I have said it in most of the current publications, I have said it when I have been speaking and I will reiterate today what I said about the IMPIP loans, as those are the loans the member is talking about: Because of the overall surplus of milk that was created throughout Canada through the policies of Ottawa -- and don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it was Mr. Whelan’s fault, I think it is the government’s fault down there -- but because of that programme we had a loan programme to build up our base in the Province of Ontario to meet the requirements that were asked of us by Ottawa, and subsequently, because of the fact they were paying 90 per cent on the base and moved it back to 60 per cent and also -- and this has been announced since yesterday -- the new policy was to be announced on Apr. 1 on the industrial milk programme. It has not been announced as yet, and the agreement was to be announced then. Unfortunately, the Province of Quebec has given notice of pulling out of the industrial milk field.
As far as our IMPIP loans are concerned, we haven’t, on a broad basis, said yes we will extend them all, because many of our shippers who have market share quotas are also fluid shippers. What I am saying is those people who have particular problems with their loans should contact their ag rep. We are dealing with them on an individual basis to try and help them through, and we are prepared to try and extend the loans where they have a particular problem. We feel that many of them who have a big fluid milk base are carrying their payments and they have paid their loans off already. We are doing it on an individual basis and where there is a problem we are looking at it and working something out for them.
ROADS CONSTRUCTION PROGRAMME
Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister aware that the construction of the Queensway West from Kanata to Highway 44 has been delayed some two years at the request of March township and the Kanata area? I saw in the roads programme tabled yesterday that this is scheduled for construction this year. Can the minister assure the people of the townships of West Carleton and the county of Renfrew that this programme will go through in this fiscal year?
Mr. Singer: So much for local autonomy.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, it’s certainly the ministry’s intention to proceed with the project this year. The jobs that are listed in our highway programme will start at varying times during the year. I do not have an exact schedule as to when that contract will get under way. As members know, I believe, there have been negotiations for the depressing of this particular section of highway. It did hold up the project, because an agreement was entered into between the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, I believe, the township of March, a development corporation and the ministry for the sharing of the costs of depressing this highway through the town centre. That agreement, I believe, has now been finalized. I believe the design has been revised and is being reviewed by all parties now. I expect the job will go to tender some time later this year.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Mr. Yakabuski: A supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: No, the oral question period expired a moment ago.
Introduction of bills.
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Leluk moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Religious Institutions Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Leluk: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to expand the Act to include the various eastern religions as set out in the bill.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Hon. Mr. Welch tabled the answers to questions 13 and 14 standing on the notice paper.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, it is also my understanding that by agreement we would revert to statements at this time.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I make it 11 o’clock and I am sure you do, too.
FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL PROPOSALS
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am tabling an exchange of correspondence between the Premier (Mr. Davis) and Mr. Trudeau on the constitution.
This matter has occupied a good deal of attention recently and we are concerned that a matter of this importance to the federation is being treated by the government of Canada in such a peremptory manner. The government of Ontario continues to be of the opinion that serious constitutional proposals should proceed on the basis of complete federal and provincial agreement.
The new proposals put forward by the federal government differ in a number of significant aspects from the Canadian constitutional charter which came out of the meeting in Victoria in 1971. They will therefore require careful consideration before any formal and substantive response can be made. Moreover, it is clear that our consideration will require, and greatly benefit from, the opinions of all Canadians and an exchange of views among their governments.
To this end, the Premier has suggested that this issue should await further action until after the provincial Premiers have had the opportunity to discuss it at their annual conference in August. Members will recall that at the 1975 Premiers’ conference it was agreed that patriation should be dealt with in the context of a more general review of such aspects of the constitution as the distribution of power, control of resources and other related matters, and that this discussion would be held at the 1976 conference.
In this regard, a copy of the letter that Premier Moores sent to Prime Minister Trudeau on Aug. 28, 1975, communicating to him the views of the Premiers, is included in the material that I am tabling.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order which I think is appropriate: The city of London has so often been abused and misrepresented in this House by Tories and Liberals alike that it will reassure everyone to know of the presence of Mayor Jane Bigelow this morning in the Speaker’s gallery.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The third order, resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 12, An Act to repeal the Emergency Measures Act.
EMERGENCY MEASURES REPEAL ACT (CONCLUDED)
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I was unable --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Had everyone spoken and was it agreed that the minister would sum up then? I wasn’t in the Chair at the time but I understand that’s the agreement. The hon. minister.
Mr. MacDonald: The member missed his chance.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t part of the agreement. Surely, I can say a word on the bill? The bill is still before the House.
Mr. Speaker: The minister had started his remarks at 10:24, I believe, last night.
Mr. Singer: If he had started them, yes, but my advice was he merely moved the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Speaker: Mine was that he did, so the hon. minister, I believe, has the floor quite properly.
Mr. Ruston: He didn’t start, though; he had a half a minute.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to have had the support last evening of my good friend whose support you have denied me today, because he at least was one who has been consistent throughout the whole matter of the Emergency Measures Organization and should, I think, be heartily in favour of the bill that we are now discussing. But, sir, it is correct that I started to speak last evening.
Regrettably, like many a politician, the Emergency Measures Organization seems to have reached the zenith of its career in its graveside eulogy. I say regrettably because EMO did accomplish many successful missions of rescue and did do many humanitarian things. But I say, sir, its detractors were legion and its supporters were few. However, those who served it so well over the years can take some comfort from the epitaph that has been given to it in the late hours of yesterday evening.
Its demise was announced a year ago. Why this simple, three-clause bill, with an intervening election during which I recall no mention of EMO at any time during the campaign, should now evoke such spirited response is, I must say, a little surprising to me; and I was surprised by the enthusiasm with which the official opposition entered into the debate last night.
However, let me comment on some of the misconceptions which seemed to exist last evening. First of all, not all municipalities established EMO committees. This bill does not disband municipal committees, which may continue; and I understand about 20 of approximately 46 will be so carrying on.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There is far too much noise in the chamber.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: The bill simply removes a responsibility which many communities did not assume with the original bill. The Emergency Measures Organization was not meant to deal with individual emergencies or to replace either fire or police forces. There were some questions by various members last night as to what people were going to do now, particularly in remote communities, for house fires and things of that nature. EMO was never envisaged to look after that type of thing.
I mentioned last night that we have established a lead ministry; that lead ministry concept took some abuse and perhaps I was at fault in not explaining it more thoroughly. But as it so happens, if there is an emergency at any time, I think the public, in the first place, think of their police force; they don’t necessarily think of EMO. But if it is an individual emergency -- and as I say, the hon. members were talking about some of those situations last night -- who do the public turn to? They think of the police; that is the body that is organized to deal with all emergencies, whether small or large, throughout the province under this lead ministry concept. If it’s some kind of environmental problem, the EMO was not equipped to do it before; it had to call in the environmental people. Now the police will immediately call in the environmental people. We envisage the lead ministry concept as actually an improvement on the work of EMO. For instance, if it is a flood that we’re concerned about, if anybody can predict a flood, who is likely to know faster than the Ministry of Natural Resources? They will probably have the information that a flood is likely to occur before it does occur.
Mr. Reid: They are called the Ministry of Natural Disasters, so that may have something to do with it.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Well, my friend may call them that in certain places in the north, but I know how often the people in the north call upon them for assistance of various sorts, and not only arising out of the type of emergency that EMO was supposed to deal with. I know they do various types of work. I had a report on my desk about them flying out the body of a hunter who had died in a remote spot. That report crossed my desk this morning. So I know they’re called upon for many types of things. As I say, the lead ministry concept should be better, should work faster and I think will be an improvement, because we have the various techniques immediately available when they are called upon.
As I say, there was some criticism last night that the public didn’t know whom Ito call. I say they now call the same people as they probably would have called all the way along and that is, their local police. If the public don’t know, certainly the police forces in the communities across the country have been well notified and, as I said before, it is all being co-ordinated under the OPP. Chief Inspector Fullerton is the one who is doing that work, and I understand he has been in contact with all of the various police forces across the province and they know exactly what the procedure is.
It surprised me last evening how many of the people praised EMO and then went on to criticize its work in past emergencies, and gave a number of bad examples. That’s the type of thing I think the lead ministry will avoid; that is, if there is an answer to it, it will now be attended to faster and with more expertise than ever before.
I regret we do not have, nor did EMO have, a strategic task force all across the province that could respond to any type of emergency with such alacrity that that emergency wouldn’t happen. It seems to me that was the kind of philosophy that I was receiving from the official opposition benches last night, and I suppose that’s really why the New Democratic members take exception to taking this bill off the hooks. In their philosophy, it seems to be that an all-powerful government should be able to stem any tide, should be able, like King Canute, to tell the tides to go back, or to call off a wind storm or an ice storm or some kind of tragedy of that nature.
I regret that no emergency measures organization nor the strongest NDP government in the world can accomplish that sort of thing. In other words, there will continue, regrettably, to be disasters and emergencies of one sort or another, but the philosophy of this government is how to deal with them as best and as quickly as possible after they do occur. There is no thought that we can keep them from occurring, and anybody with any logic realizes that to be the case. As I say, we have prepared a plan that will allow us to do this as quickly as possible.
Mention was made of the ice storm that affected southwestern parts of the province about a month or so ago. The Emergency Measures Organization didn’t have trained linemen to go in and repair those lines. It had to call, of course, upon the services of Hydro and upon the Ontario Municipal Electric Association across this province which has a great and expeditious arrangement to look after the repairing of hydro lines. In other words, if there is a storm in one municipality, very quickly all the other municipalities rally to the aid of the one which is in need, and that will continue to be.
Certainly, the Emergency Measures Organization at no time had any means of stopping hydro lines from falling under ice, or repairing them in a hurry. All it could do was to ask the Hydro and its existing system to look after the matter. Under the old system or under the new, we could not have prevented the ice storm. Similarly, we don’t suggest that there is any way to prevent floods.
I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, as I know you yourself are personally concerned, about the situation in unorganized municipalities. Again, however, I say that EMO was not meant to deal with fires in these communities. I don’t know the answer to dealing with fires in small locations, where there may be four or five houses in a community and those houses widely separated one from another. We know that every farmhouse can’t have a fire pumper close by, and farmers have recognized that for years. The only protection against that sort of thing is prevention itself. Fires will continue to happen and fires do happen, even in places like the city of Toronto, where lives are taken, and no kind of government organization is going to stop them from happening. We can only do our best.
When we are speaking of unorganized municipalities, and this has nothing to do with EMO, we do have equipment on hand now for experimental pumpers in such places as Nestor Falls and Minaki, and we’re looking at one other place, sir -- and I know you’ve spoken to me about the possibility of Pickle Crow -- to put these pumpers in. There are problems in training enough people to look after them and having enough people available to man them, and also in storing the equipment. It is not an easy problem when we deal with the tragedies that fire brings about in the unorganized communities. I wish I did have an answer for it. I don’t think money itself is the answer.
Mr. Reid: EMO never did any --
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Dealing specifically with some of the questions raised by various members, I must compliment the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) on the admirable research which he did. He was a bit of a lifesaver for me last night when I thought all the winds were blowing against me. I must admit that he went further in his research than I did. I did, however, look to the question that the member for Riverdale asked when the Solicitor General’s estimates were before the House a year or so ago. He did ask me last evening to supply him with specific information as to the 33 employees in the provincial EMO organization. I have supplied that to him this morning.
Mr. Renwick: And I appreciate it.
Mr. Singer: The member for Yorkview made a lot of speeches like that, too. He made a lot of speeches over the years.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I don’t know whether or not he is satisfied with it but I think it is all complete. The only person who hasn’t yet been placed is the director himself and we are trying to find a job suitable for him, commensurate with his talents. The others all have been placed -- I shouldn’t say that; one or two have reached retirement age and I think two have, in fact, retired. I think one has died. I have given the member the information and I gather he is relatively satisfied with it.
Mr. Renwick: Would the minister permit just one question on that?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Yes, sir.
Mr. Renwick: Is their tenure in the civil service secure?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I am not sure whether they are members of the civil service or not; I assume they are. I can perhaps get that information and I think, if they are members of the civil service, certainly their tenure is as secure as any other members’.
There is only one other question I wanted to deal with and that was from the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) who seemed to be complaining that the matter of funding when a disaster of some nature took place was not being expeditiously looked after.
The old EMO was not to supply finances for individual communities in time of disaster of one nature or another. It was simply to move in and try to do its best to rectify the damage which had been done.
The matter of funding was still a matter for the Treasurer and the cabinet to deal with, as to whether the disaster was such as to warrant general public assistance. There is no change in that; that remains the same.
I think in a general way I have dealt with the matters raised last night and I will rest the debate at this point.
The House divided on the motion for second reading of Bill 12, which was approved on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, the “ayes” are 48, the “nays” are 22.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 12, An Act to repeal the Emergency Measures Act.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the House we would like to revert to introduction of bills.
CENTRAL ALGOMA BOARD OF EDUCATION AND TEACHERS DISPUTE ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act respecting the Central Algoma Board of Education and Teachers Dispute.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I think I should explain the bill just briefly, and perhaps with the indulgence of the House I can give a very brief explanation. This bill is to bring to an end a strike and a stoppage of school for the pupils in central Algoma, which has gone on some 35 days or so.
The Education Relations Commission held a hearing in the area last Tuesday evening. At that time, the teachers in that board jurisdiction -- indeed, in one school, which is all that is involved in this situation -- indicated they were prepared to go back to school immediately if the board would go to arbitration, be it voluntary arbitration or final offer selection. At that time the board refused. The Education Relations Commission has reported to me, and we are now making that report public, indicating that the pupils’ programmes are in jeopardy.
I indicated to some of the members of this House that we would introduce a bill today. That bill has been drafted and I have now introduced it. Subsequent to our drafting of this bill, I have had further discussions with the teachers and with the board, and I am happy to tell the House that the teachers in the central Algoma board jurisdiction have agreed to end their strike and will be back in school Monday morning.
At this point in time, I can’t tell the House that the board has agreed to put the matter to arbitration. The challenge now rests with the board over the weekend either to do that, and if they do not, leave it to us to put the matter to, as this bill provides for, final offer selection of those matters, and they are a very limited number, and that’s why we suggest final offer selection.
It is my intention that if events go as has been indicated to me they will go, we will remove certain sections of this bill, the back-to-work sections, which will not be necessary if, indeed, the schools are open. The bill will simply deem the parties to be in final offer selection starting the day this bill receives royal assent.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
BLIND PERSONS’ RIGHTS ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 13, An Act to provide for Certain Rights for Blind Persons.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to ensure that blind persons accompanied by dog guides are given access to all accommodation, services and facilities generally available to other members of the public without additional charge.
No doubt some proprietors of restaurants, taverns and hotels refuse to admit blind persons with their dog guides out of a misunderstanding of the present provisions of the law. The law permits those operating businesses which involve food handling to admit the dog guides without risk of penalty. Some reluctance by operators of such facilities is simply the result of a lack of knowledge concerning the extensive training of both dog guides and user. If these were the sole causes of the denial of fundamental rights to blind persons using dog guides, a programme of public education would perhaps be sufficient to rectify the situation. However, our investigation and information now available indicates that this is not the case, and that legislation is required.
This remedial legislation is consistent with various government programmes aimed at assisting handicapped individuals to live as normally as possible within the community. Approximately 40 American states and the Province of British Columbia have legislation similar to, although commonly not quite so extensive as, that contained in this bill.
Section 2 of the bill provides, in effect, that a blind person accompanied by a dog guide has the same rights, privileges and obligations with respect to places to which the public is invited or has access as a person not accompanied by a dog.
Section 2 further provides that a blind person who keeps a dog guide may not be denied the occupancy of any self-contained dwelling unit by reason of that fact. The bill provides a maximum fine of $1,000 for contravention of section 2.
The bill retains the substance of provisions which presently are included in the White Cane Act.
Subsequent to the first reading of this bill on March 10, I invited comment on the bill from various organizations representing blind individuals, including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Assuming that Bill 13 receives approval in principle, I shall be moving an amendment to section 4 in response to the comments received. The amendment would be to delete reference in the bill to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and to replace it with a reference to the Ministry of the Attorney General, which would result in my ministry being responsible for issuing identification cards to blind persons using qualified dog guides. As I indicated, this amendment is at the request of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
Mr. Speaker: Any comments on this bill?
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, I think it is worth having on the record that the general common law having to do with the rights of the blind, particularly in the area of tort law -- that is, the law of harms or injuries inflicted upon blind persons in public thoroughfares or elsewhere -- is contained in a House of Lords decision in Haley and the London Electricity Board, 1965 -- Appeal Cases 778. It’s a lengthy judgement and a terribly interesting one, because it recites the background of the law over many centuries with respect to the rights of blind people; and, a little extraordinarily perhaps, it makes reference to American decisions in this particular regard and branches out into a wide area of responsibility under doctrines of negligence within the law of tort as it has been framed under the British common law.
I think it would be worth the trouble of reading a paragraph or two of Lord Reid’s judgement in this particular regard.
“In deciding what is reasonably foreseeable one must have regard to common knowledge. We are all accustomed to meeting blind people alone with their white sticks, on city pavements. No doubt there are many places open to the public where for one reason or another one would be surprised to see a blind person walking alone, but a city pavement is not one of them. And a residential street cannot be different from any other. The blind people we meet must live somewhere and most of them probably left their homes unaccompanied.”
I will break here for a moment. One of the arguments of counsel on behalf of the respondents, that is the London Electricity Board, was that no special obligation or responsibility was to be accorded to blind people if they left their homes unaccompanied. That was thoroughly rejected out of hand; and statistics, which will appear in a moment, were given in the course of the case as to the very great number of blind people.
Mr. Singer: What kind of action was it?
Mr. Lawlor: To quote:
“The blind people we meet must live somewhere and most of them probably left their homes unaccompanied. It may seem surprising that blind people can avoid ordinary obstacles as well as they do, but we must take account of these facts. There is evidence in this case about the number of blind people in London and it appears from government publications that the proportion in the whole country is near one in 500. By no means all are sufficiently skilled or confident to venture out alone but the number who habitually do so must be very large...
“No question can arise in this case of any great difficulty in affording adequate protection for the blind. In considering what is adequate protection again one must have regard to common knowledge. One is entitled to expect of a blind person a high degree of skill and care because none but the most foolhardy would venture to go out alone without having that skill and exercising that care. We know that in fact blind people do safely avoid all ordinary obstacles on pavements; there can be no question of padding lampposts as was suggested in one case. But a moment’s reflection shows that a low obstacle in an unusual place is a grave danger; on the other hand, it is clear from the evidence in this case and also, I think, from common knowledge that quite a light fence some 2 ft high is an adequate warning. There would have been no difficulty in providing such a fence here. [And, of course, it wasn’t provided.] The evidence is that the Post Office always provide one and that the respondents have similar fences which are often used.”
I think that is enough at the moment. The American judgement given in the American restatement is a very concise and a very searching definition of what the range of obligations is in this particular head of the law. Fitting this particular legislation into that, it goes one step further and is highly beneficial from that step further.
In the case in question in Great Britain, there was no dog involved. With a dog involved, obviously many more hazards and obstacles can be readily and adequately avoided by a blind person. To give this range of rights with respect to public transportation and to liberate them into the greatest amount of freedom possible for a citizen is part of the job of the law. It isn’t always the job of the law to bring an umbrella down over people’s heads.
The law is not designed specifically, except in a particular theory which you and I were taught in the law schools, to be restrictive, to be oppressive, to keep people down, to say that human nature is of such a kind as to constantly need chaining and that man is a beast of prey type of thing. That is not what the law is about and this kind of law shows it. This law is preventive. This law is protective. This law is alleviative. It frees human beings and doesn’t bind them. And for that very purpose we should see more of it and a little less of the muscle-type or imprisoning type of legislation which is too often brought before this House and in the Parliament at Ottawa.
That being the case, I have just one other remark. The White Cane Act that is being repealed here this morning has some very antiquated and curious clauses in it. I am glad to see it go. It doesn’t provide much help to blind people in any case. I see that there is a clause in here that it doesn't apply to anyone who is not a resident of Ontario. I always thought that rather mysterious, but since it is going down the drain, we will now flush it.
Mr. Singer: My colleagues and I have no hesitation at all in saying that we will support this statute. It’s good Liberal type of legislation. It takes care of people who are not able to take care of themselves as well as most citizens of the community. This kind of legislation is probably long overdue but it is here now and it is good legislation. We will support it.
I can’t refrain from asking the Attorney General now that he is going to issue the identity card what kind of a system he is going to have for identifying the dog guide? Will he have a picture which describes them by size, by colour, by shape? It is going to be quite interesting as he sets up his canine adviser in the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Mr. B. Newman: A canine appeal board.
Mr. Singer: Will there be nose prints or paw prints maybe? It will be quite interesting.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Would you like the job?
Mr. Singer: I also wanted to mention in regard to this statute that my colleague, the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) has for many years in this House questioned the government about types of legislation which would facilitate a variety of handicapped people getting around and being able to manoeuvre and carry on as well as can be arranged by government action in the community. He has persisted in this kind of comment for most of the years that he has been here and he deserves a little credit too, I would think, for having this kind of a statute presently before us.
Mr. Germa: I would like to add my support to this legislation. It is not too often that we as members of Parliament come into contact with blind persons. I am interested in section 2, and I will pose a question to the minister. Section 2 provides that there shall be no discrimination as it pertains to accommodation as a result of a person being in control of or controlled by a guide dog.
It seems strange but I did have such a matter brought before me and it did relate to a government department, in fact, Ontario Housing Corp. in the city of Sudbury. I was contacted by a blind person who is in control of a guide dog and he was having trouble with the manager of the Sudbury Housing Authority which is a rent-geared-to-income proposition. Very many of our blind people, of course, are on pension on a very low income and they are prone to being put into this type of accommodation. There was some confusion around this person gaining accommodation as a result of his dog, and it was only after I had contacted Ontario Housing Corp. to get an opinion that we were able to circumvent the problem which was being posed by the general manager of the Sudbury Housing Authority.
The question is, is there no doubt in the minister’s mind that section 2, does in fact apply to governmental properties and agencies or boards and commissions? It seems strange that the only problem I've ever had as a result of a situation of a blind person and a guide dog was through a governmental agency. If the minister can assure me that this, in fact, is what section 2 means -- that there is no equivocation whatsoever as to whom it relates to, including all governmental boards and agencies -- then I have no doubt whatsoever that the legislation is long overdue.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think I could certainly give the assurance to the hon. member for Sudbury that he desires; namely that there would be no such qualification as it would apply to any government facility to which the public is customarily admitted, and certainly the facility described by the hon. member would fall into that category.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, doesn’t that end the debate?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m sorry.
Mr. Singer: The Attorney General has entered the debate at the beginning and presumably at the end.
Mr. Renwick: The Attorney General was answering a question.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The Attorney General was just answering a question.
Mr. Singer: I don’t think he made that clear. Perhaps the Attorney General should get a little more familiar with the rules of procedures.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We have just made it clear.
Mr. Singer: I have no objection to the debate going on, but maybe the Attorney General should --
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps we could continue with the debate by the hon. members before the Attorney General responds.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I want to express a few observations concerning the legislation. As my colleague did make mention, I’ve been very keenly interested in being of some assistance to those who suffer not only a blindness handicap, but other physical handicaps. In fact, I do have legislation on the order paper now that would eliminate discrimination because of a physical handicap, where the physical handicap does not interfere with the performance of the services needed.
I’m very pleased to see that the Attorney General has introduced this legislation. As my colleague from Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) made mention, it is overdue, but it is here and we support the legislation.
I can recall, not too many years ago, a blind lady attempting to get accommodation in one of the Windsor housing units and being denied the accommodation simply because she happened to have a leader dog. Since then she has been accommodated in the unit; the Windsor Housing Authority eventually saw the reasonableness of the young lady’s request and did provide her with accommodation. With this legislation there will be no more problem for those who may have a blindness handicap in relation to government housing accommodations.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make two comments in connection with the bill. First of all, I’m delighted that the Ministry of the Attorney General is going to assume the responsibility for the issuance of the identification cards. I think it’s important that the person holding such a card have the status of a card issued by the Attorney General, which forecloses any questions with respect to validity of the card and those who have the use of the card.
My second comment is a somewhat wider one, and that is that we, of course, as we have said, support the limited objective that this bill was designed to achieve. There is, however, the much wider objective with respect to handicapped persons of all kinds, which the Attorney General referred to very briefly in his opening remarks.
It does seem to me, and I make this suggestion to him, that at the point in time when the Ontario Human Rights Commission is holding the public hearings, which I understand are going to be held soon, with respect to receiving recommendations and briefs about possible changes and improvements in the Human Rights Code, the whole question of the non-discrimination against handicapped persons, overt or covert, be a matter which would be of significant concern. It is one of the areas in which the Ontario Human Rights Commission, when it holds those hearings, whatever its terms of reference for the hearings, should include that kind of reference.
I am particularly concerned that perhaps the government has been somewhat slow in moving on the question of access to buildings of all kinds by persons who are handicapped in the sense of having to use wheelchairs or that type of conveyance in order to get around. I would hope that the Ministry of the Attorney General, along with whoever of his colleagues are associated with those questions, would begin to make it a requirement -- an obligatory requirement -- to be complied with in a very limited period of time that all buildings -- with whatever necessary exceptions have to be made -- which in any sense can be called either multiple residential buildings, government buildings or office buildings do have access for persons who have to use wheelchairs of one kind or another.
In this particular regard, I think it would be at least symbolically wise if arrangements were made for the installation of ramps for entrance to this building.
So far as I’m aware, there is no access by way of ramp to this building either from the front entrance, the north entrance or either the east or west doors. I think, symbolically, that would at least give an indication of the government’s interest and concern in that specific area.
Mr. Kennedy: I wanted to rise to speak in support of this bill which I know will be well received in our area. We have a field chapter of the Canadian Council for the Blind which is a very active group. There are problems as outlined in this bill and which are remedied to a degree by this bill which I know will be well received by our local chapter.
Only recently, I had a visit from representatives of that chapter and one of their big problems is the need for transportation. Their visit was to see if we could work out something whereby they might be assisted in transportation. Of course, they need drivers and it’s not always convenient to arrange transportation to the many activities which they attend and have a right to attend and which make life so much more interesting for them.
The one thing we discussed -- and it hasn’t been proceeded with further -- is whether a Wintario grant might be utilized; or whether this type of assistance might be provided through a Wintario grant. I don’t know. One is the capital cost of, say, a small bus which would be suitable. The second and, I guess, major ongoing cost is the operating cost which is mainly a driver who can be on call. Of course, it wouldn’t be any 9 o’clock to 4 or 9 to 5 day; they have activities through all normal hours of the day -- evenings, mornings and afternoons -- just as many other groups and associations do.
I bring this out but I particularly wanted to say how much this measure will be appreciated by not only our own local chapter but all chapters of those who have this affliction.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the answer I gave to the hon. member for Sudbury, out of order as I may have been, in relation to any accommodation, services or facilities which are owned and operated by the Crown.
In rereading section 2, I note that the section does not specifically bind the Crown and, notwithstanding my complete confidence that the Crown agencies would comply with such legislation, I would like to announce my intention to amend that section to bind the Crown specifically so there can be no doubt at all in relation to that. I apologize to the House for my first response which, I think, was a little misleading.
I will then before third reading or on third reading be introducing that amendment as well as the amendment in relation to the identification cards. Our flanking at the present time is to have an identification card which would probably have the photograph of both the blind person and the guide dog.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Some hon. members: To committee.
Mr. Singer: Yes, it needs it.
Mr. Speaker: The committee of the whole House.
COUNTY JUDGES ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 14, An Act to amend the County Judges Act.
Mr. Singer: Can we get a preliminary statement from the minister?
Mr. Lawlor: Is the minister making a statement?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I read a preliminary statement but I am very happy to repeat what I believe I said at the introduction of the bill.
Mr. Lawlor: That’s right. He has said all he has to say.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The purpose of this amendment is to establish for each office of a judge of a county court the additional office of supernumerary judge of that court; and to complement this by amending the provisions of the Act which set out the rank and precedents of judges among themselves; and the provision permitting a judge to give judgement on a matter which he has previously heard after he has given up the regular duties of a judge of the court.
The provision allowing for supernumerary court judges was enacted in the 1973-1974 amendment of the federal Judges Act, proclaimed in force on July 4, 1975. The provision allowing for supernumerary Supreme Court justices was first enacted in 1970 and the office was created in Ontario in 1972 by the enactment of section 5(a) of the Judicature Act.
The Judges (Canada) Act states:
“Where there is provincial legislation creating the office of supernumerary judge, a county judge may elect to give up his regular judicial duties and become a supernumerary judge if he or she has attained the age of 65 and has continued in judicial office for at least 15 years; or if he or she has reached the age of 70 and has held office for at least 10 years.”
Supernumerary judges perform the functions assigned to them by the chief judge or by provincial law. Of course, the salaries of such judges continue to be paid by the federal authority. The benefits of having experienced judges to assist in adjudicating causes and to fill in for judges who are ill are too obvious to mention.
In recommending this amendment to me, His Honour Judge Colter, chief judge of the county and district courts, indicated his awareness of the potential cost this amendment might have if supernumerary judges were provided with additional office space and secretarial assistance.
The judges of the county court have been advised that if they elect to become supernumerary judges they cannot expect to have offices allocated to them or additional secretaries. The executive of the county judges’ association has accepted this principle.
Mr. Lawlor: This piece of legislation offers a twitting circumstance for asking quite serious questions of the Attorney General in the introduction of the legislation. First of all, before launching into the twit, I want to congratulate -- not the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), Lord help us -- I want to congratulate Mr. W. C. Alcombrack, QC, chief parliamentary draftsman to this assembly, with respect to the new format of this legislation. I don’t know if it has been mentioned previously. In any event, I would like to do so.
Two or three years ago the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and myself, during the estimates, did raise numerous points about clueing us in in a deeper way, when we open a piece of legislation, to direct us directly to the point. Previously, we had to go through quite an intricate process in some statutes at least to dig out what was really the intent, what was being amended, what was being changed, and then from that had to dope out the raison d’etre of that particular move.
Now, while the format isn’t precisely the same as I understand that at Westminster to be, a great improvement has been made. In other words, the section being amended is now set out in italics, on the inside cover, and underlined are the areas that are being substituted or amended or in any way altered over against the previous section or portion of the legislation. That is extremely valuable, particularly as I saw in the Income Tax Act yesterday afternoon. There was none of the explanatory notes, but the context in which that particularly complex type of legislation is set forth is highly beneficial to the members of all sides of the House now and the staff should be commended in this particular regard.
Now, down to this particular legislation. I am sure the Attorney General is aware that there is a Law Reform Commission report on the administration of the Ontario courts, and I am sure that he has perused with diligence a section of page 136 and subsequent couple of pages of part 1 of that report, which is a thorough review and possible revamping of the structure of the courts. Under that particular section D, the section talking about the number of judges -- of the Supreme Court admittedly, but the same principle is applicable here today -- there is a section on supernumerary judges. I will ask the indulgence of the House and you, Mr. Speaker, to read perhaps at a good deal greater length than is customary in the debate, because all this is wonderfully apposite to what we are doing. It says:
“A supernumerary judge is to “hold himself available to perform such special judicial duties as may be assigned him from time to time by the Chief Justice.” Existing Supreme Court judges who have reached the age of 70 and who have been in office for at least 10 years may elect to hold office as supernumerary judges by notifying the federal Minister of Justice and the provincial Attorney General of his desire to do so. The judge’s salary of $35,000 [well, that was the salary at the time] continues until the judge reaches the normal retirement age of 75 or resigns or otherwise ceases to hold office.
“Before these provisions for supernumerary judges become effective in a province, the provincial Legislature must provide enabling legislation to establish the office of supernumerary judge. The enabling legislation for Ontario is contained in Bill 242, an Act to amend the Judicature Act which received royal assent on Dec. 15, 1972.”
I am breaking from the reading and saying this chapter 159 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1972, to which the Attorney General referred when he was making his introductory statement. It’s set forth in the law, and what’s happening this morning is that, as with the applications of the Supreme Court judges, now we have similar clauses and similar wording and a similar application to the county court judges, and that’s all very well and good. I have got nothing against supernumerary judges but I have some reservations, as we will see. To continue:
“It is probable that in the future, supernumerary judges will be available for duty in the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Justice from time to time. If supernumerary judges were available, the Chief Justice of Ontario or the Chief Justice of the High Court respectively could presumably assign a supernumerary lodge where necessary to alleviate overloaded trial lists or to clear up accumulations in certain trial centres. This would give greater flexibility in the administration and management of the High Court circuit system.”
And, of course, it’s applicable here as the county court judges are the local domestic judges.
To continue with the Law Reform Commission report:
“We have had some reservations as to the present provisions for supernumerary judges and the recent amendment to the Judges Act. First, the Act does not indicate the extent to which a supernumerary judge is to ‘hold himself available.’ Does this mean that he is to be available for assignment by the Chief Justice at all reasonable times, that is, five days a week, 11 months of the year, excluding statutory holidays, in the same way as if he were a regular judge of the Supreme Court? Or does it mean that a supernumerary judge is to be available for a reduced number of weeks or months per year? If so, who is to determine which weeks or months? The Act also speaks of a supernumerary judge performing such ‘special duties as may be assigned to him from time to time.’ Under these provisions would it be open to the Chief Justice [or here in this particular piece of legislation to the chief judge of the county court] to assign a supernumerary judge to sittings in any one of -- ”
I’m sorry, it won’t apply in this particular case.
I think it’s good to get on the record the objections of the Law Reform Commission as to the operation of the matter and to the failure to spell out in terms of definitive legislation what the various responsibilities and guidelines may be. In this particular section that I’m reading now and applying not only to Supreme Court judges:
“Under these provisions would it be open to the Chief Justice to assign a supernumerary judge to sittings in any one of the 32 trial centres of the High Court, or would such special judicial duties be restricted to Toronto?
“If the purpose of these provisions is to allow a Supreme Court judge at age 70 to take advantage of a form of semi-retirement during which he can participate as a judge on a part-time basis in situations of his own choosing, their adoption may not make much contribution to the improvement of the administration of justice in the Supreme Court.”
Ditto, I say, for the county court situation here. I would like the Attorney General to address himself to this issue and say what are the plans and what are the perspectives in which we’re working. Under this rather skimpy piece of legislation a single clause seems to encompass a great deal. To continue:
“There are other considerations. Assuming that in Ontario as of July 1, 1972, the enabling legislation had been provided to take advantage of the amendments to the Judges Act, five judges of the Court of Appeal and seven judges of the High Court would have automatically qualified to elect to become supernumerary judges. If all these judges were to select and were assigned judicial duties on a regular basis, the change would be tantamount, at least for a time, to increasing the High Court by seven. And such a development is not, however, likely to occur. It is not fallible that all who qualify to elect to become supernumerary judges will so elect. Nor can it be assumed that it is the intention of the Act that they should continue to give full-time service as judges. [I’m almost finished.]
“We think the legislation should have specified the extent to which supernumerary judges are to be required to be available to perform their judicial duties. They should be available to be called on, on reasonable notice, to perform the duties assigned to them and they should remain within the jurisdiction, except for personal vacation periods, the times for which should he arranged in advance with the Chief Justice. A supernumerary judge should not be assigned -- “
I won’t read that; that’s the circuit situation of the Supreme Court judges, that they should not be assigned there on certain terms.
I would ask the Attorney General, in reviewing his legislation generally, to give some thought to this with respect to the Supreme Court judges. But we will address ourselves this morning exclusively in the field before us. Just in passing, by the way, there is another animadversion -- to use a big word -- in the Law Reform Commission reports about the use of the term “junior judges” which the Attorney General is perpetuating in the course of this legislation. They think that’s a derogatory term or at least it has some kind of connotation of putting a man down. Basically, all judges are of equality just as the minister and I and everybody in this House is of an equal status. We don’t have any precedence, one over the other at all insofar as this chamber is concerned.
Mr. Singer: Some get a little more money.
Mr. Lawlor: Yes. Well, you can see how little money counts. In our parity of members, we leave that out of account completely.
In any event, that is the basis upon which I do take some exception to the legislation. I ask if it has been given the thoroughest type of perusal with all these various concepts in mind as operating. In other words, what I seem to be saying is that the legislation might have been fleshed out a bit more, with a few more subsections saying what the intent was in this particular regard and clarifying the very points raised by the Law Reform Commission in the whole area of supernumerary judges.
We are not going to object to the legislation in principle, but it’s in detail that I am addressing these remarks to you.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting piece of legislation, but it is supplementary to federal legislation. I agree with the hon. member for Lakeshore that the questions he raises are worthy of careful consideration, but I wonder about the power of the Attorney General of Ontario to say that county judges, either regular ones or supernumerary ones, shall do such and such. I don’t think he has that power or even, if he did have it -- because they are not his judges -- that he would want to exercise it. We tread a very difficult line --
Mr. Lawlor: I would dispute that, because he has to do with the administration of the courts.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Singer: He has to do with the administration of the courts; that’s quite right. But I just wonder what right the Attorney General of Ontario has to say to anyone, “You will go where Judge X directs you to go.” I would think that perhaps the member for Lakeshore and I would be amongst the first to wonder about how that power would be exercised, and we would probably make great speeches saying not that the present Attorney General would abuse his power but that his successor might choose to.
In other words, I think the less of this kind of interference -- and this is the difficulty -- that Legislatures try to attach to judges’ duties and responsibilities, the better it is for the independence of the judicial system; and how you weigh the very legitimate question put forward by the member for Lakeshore as against the theory of independence is a very important matter.
Sometimes it causes difficulty. Perhaps if there were any such thing as a lazy judge, it might have been heard to be a problem when a judge said, “Well, I have done my work for this week. I am going off to take a rest.” Now, I don’t know that that has ever been suggested, but I have heard it whispered about, in circles that might not choose to be quoted, that some judges perhaps might not be prepared to do what their Chief Justice or senior judge has suggested. We get to the point where a judge can say, quite rightly: “I am independent. I am put here to be an independent person. I don’t want the Attorney General of Ontario to tell one of my colleagues that he has the power to tell me where to go and when to go.”
I don’t know how one weighs those two problems. I suppose one then comes back to the usefulness of this Act; and I think it is a useful Act, because it answers a number of problems that did exist. It allows us to employ older persons who sit on the bench in an extra capacity. It allows us to supplement busy court schedules, to take advantage of many years of experience and training, and to use the talent of people who may be older but still able to do a good bit of work. In that way, it is very helpful.
It also clears a spot on the bench, because the Supreme Court bench and the county court bench are fixed by numbers, although we are going to be dealing shortly with an amendment to the Judicature Act that will change the number of Supreme Court judges for Ontario. And just as an aside, where is the companion amendment to the County Judges Act? I guess we will see that later. It hasn’t been brought before us yet; I wonder why it wasn’t included in this, but we will have to see that later in accordance with the statements made earlier by the Attorney General.
But I think the idea of having supernumerary judges serves a very useful purpose. On the way by, I wonder if I could ask the Attorney General to point out to his colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), that the payments for the Supreme Court judges and the county judges are not really reflected in his colleague’s budget, which he introduced the other night. They are paid for by that terrible group of people who govern out of Ottawa. And while the Treasurer takes credit for a lot of things, I don’t think he should take credit for paying more Supreme Court judges or more county court judges. He can take credit for paying more provincial judges when they are appointed.
Mr. Lawlor: That’s the nicest word that’s been said about Ottawa for weeks.
Mr. Singer: Some of us have to look at the merits that are there and comment on them from time to time.
Mr. Swart: It’s difficult to find them.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Singer: I think that, in balance this is a good statute. I think, in balance, it is going to serve a useful purpose. I am a little concerned, though, about one remark the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) made this morning about offices and secretaries.
It is going to be very hard, recognizing that there is this independence, to say to Judge X, who has decided to take advantage of the supernumerary position: “Come on, Judge X, would you go and sit in the courthouse at Toronto because our schedule is very long? We’re not going to give you an office to hang your hat in and if you want to write a long judgement or dictate a judgement, you’re not going to have a secretary to do it or you are going to have to take your chances.”
Somewhere along the line, I think the blanket statement that they are not going to have offices and/or secretaries perhaps should be looked at. If the minister is going to expect these people to do any kind of job or work he has to provide them with some facilities.
Those facilities, at least, perhaps could be common facilities. The minister sets aside a few rooms in the courthouse or in some appropriate public building and has a secretarial pool, because if these people are going to work, they should have reasonable facilities with which to work. We’re going to call upon them for a substantial job in the administration of justice and we should be prepared to supply them with reasonable facilities to allow them to do that.
We will support the bill that is before the House now.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, in reply to some of the remarks made by my friend, the hon. member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) in relation to the function and the control of the supernumerary judges, I would like to refer my friend to the federal Judges Act. As he knows, and it has been pointed out, it is the enabling legislation so far as creating the position of a supernumerary judge is concerned.
I’m referring to section 20, subsection 2, of the Judges Act which creates the position, subject, of course, to the provincial legislation which must follow. It indicates, and I’m referring to subsection 3:
“A judge who is elected to hold the office of supernumerary judge of a county court in any province shall hold himself available to perform such special judicial duties within such one or more territorial divisions or other areas of the province as may be assigned to him from time to time (a) by the Chief Judge of the court if the court is presided over by a chief judge; or (b) pursuant to provincial law in any other case.”
A week or so ago I did indicate, in my own contribution to the Throne debate, a problem which I think is underlined once again by remarks from my friends opposite. That is, we still are having some difficulty in establishing a mutually acceptable definition of the respective roles of government and the judiciary in the courts’ administration. This, of course, is particularly true when it comes to the problems related to cash-flow management.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s the great conundrum of our time.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I want to indicate to my friends that I’m very much aware of the problems to which they have made reference and that at the present time we are exploring very carefully various vehicles which might be made available for more effective court administration. We are simply not satisfied with the present system and I hope that I will have something to announce in the not too distant future which would indicate we are making some progress in respect to this very difficult challenge.
In relation to the matter of the offices, I would hope that adequate facilities would be provided for these members of the judiciary. As quite properly pointed out by the hon. member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer), they do provide a very essential service. Some of them are more available than others, and I think the only impression I intended to convey was that an office didn’t automatically come with the job. Perhaps I could have stated it better, more accurately.
Quite frankly, I agree with my friend’s remarks in relation to the term “senior” and “junior” judges. I would much prefer to leave the term “judge” and “senior judge.” I must confess I don’t totally appreciate the historical significance that might be related to the term “junior judge,” but I intend to explore an avenue of just eliminating that term because, certainly expressing a personal preference or bias, it doesn’t seem to be of much value.
In relation to the matter of the additional judges who will hopefully be appointed by the federal government in the county court, my belief at this point is that no legislation is necessary, provincially, to provide for these additional judges. It’s not as if there was a specific number set out in the Judicature Act. My understanding is that we simply request the federal government to make the appointments and no provincial legislation is necessary.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the Attorney General a question? He may be entirely correct in his last remarks, but I seem to recollect a number of times where we have statutes saying that there shall be X number of judges in this county and Y number of judges in that county. I think there are such statutes that exist, and from time to time, as it has been determined that we need more judges in a particular area the Attorney General of the day has brought in an amendment. It may be that my memory is faulty, but I would appreciate the result of the Attorney General’s further research into this, because I think there are some precedents relating to this question in this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I certainly will make absolutely certain before the day is out that I am correct in my assumption.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is for second reading of Bill 14. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr. Lawlor: Committee of the whole House. The minister hasn’t answered my questions.
Mr. Speaker: Committee of the whole House.
JUDICATURE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 15, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
Mr. Lawlor: This bill contains three points; it’s not a bill which will engender any great acrimony or even any particular eloquence. It is a housekeeping measure, and what it does is increase the number of high court judges by five, from 31 to 36. There are further certain provisions made with respect that the judgement of a divisional court -- as is presently the case as I understand in the court of appeal -- if a judge gets sick or is absent or resigns, then the judgements may be given by the other two judges; and that interlocutory motions of all kinds may be heard by a judge. I don’t think I have a great deal to say about the legislation. It’s fine.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Wilson-Heights.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, we will support this bill.
Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on second reading? Does the hon. minister wish to comment?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No. I have no further comments, thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is for second reading of Bill 15. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 15, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
EVIDENCE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 16, An Act to amend the Evidence Act.
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, it’s a very short clause. Up to the present, when preparing an affidavit on a motion or affidavits affecting judicial proceedings, it is the normal practice to take it down the hall or to go down the street to another solicitor -- the client usually takes it down and has himself sworn -- which creates a sense of distance thing or an arm’s-length situation with respect to the affidavit. As I understand this bill, it says that’s a lot of malarkey, that we have a considerable measure of confidence in the integrity of the bar and in lawyers drawing their affidavits, and there is no reason why a partner next door can’t do this, and alleviate all the inconvenience and fuss about having it sworn in a particular way. It must have risen out of some proceedings, etc., when somebody questioned the validity of the affidavit since it was probably taken in the office. Now we are trying to obviate that difficulty, and I see no harm in the legislation at all.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I’m glad to see us slowly doing away with some of these old ideas of what is proper and what is improper. I’ve never really been able to understand why it was deemed to be such a heinous sin if one appearing in court happened to introduce an affidavit sworn in one’s own office. It really was a throwback to the darkest ages, I guess, when lawyers didn’t trust each other, and if you had a matter in your office you couldn’t be deemed to appropriately swear an affidavit if it came out of your own office. I’ve never been able to understand that.
Slowly, we whip away some of these ancient superstitions. This is another one that should go. I have no hesitation in saying we’ll support this bill.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to take part in the debate? Does the hon. minister wish to respond?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Only to say that I heartily concur in the remarks of my friends opposite.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be referred for third reading?
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 16, An Act to amend the Evidence Act.
SURROGATE COURTS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 17, An Act to amend the Surrogate Courts Act.
Mr. Lawlor: Briefly, Mr. Speaker, there is a wonderful bill called C-47 in the Parliament of Canada -- I suppose it’s through by now -- which alleviates this province and provinces generally with respect to the payment of county court judges who are, as the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) has pointed out, paid through the federal government, and not provincially, for their work in the surrogate court.
I would like to say just one word about the surrogate court in this regard. There is very little in the Law Reform Commission report about the restructuring and definition of that court as to its continued operations, but I suppose that sort of remark is for another day. I think this is the way it should be; now, if the Attorney General will begin to move in on the Extra-Judicial Services Act and confine the judges to the courts, we can get that volume rolling and streamline the operation a little bit, apart from what Mr. Williston may tell us about it, and take away the blockages and backlogs that are accumulating.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, this statute makes good sense. It has been indicated for a number of years that judges’ salaries should come only from one source. I never could understand why we always had an extra bit of legislation and an extra substantial expenditure of money which gave the judges a little bit more for being surrogate court judges; why the municipalities could give them something for being on police commissions and that sort of thing.
If they’re going to serve on police commissions they’re going to have to do it for free and for the love of the job. They’re not going to get any extra money. That marvellous newspaper, the Globe and Mail, wrote a fascinating editorial suggesting that by a reverse process we might get the judges off the police commissions. If we take their pay away, which Ottawa has done, perhaps they wouldn’t be so anxious to serve.
I would hope the Attorney General will grasp this problem firmly and say: “Off the police commissions come you county court judges, particularly since you’re not going to get any more money for it.”
Surrogate courts, fine. I underline the additional comment made by the hon. member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) that some very good look should be taken at the whole surrogate court procedure. There is a gentleman in Toronto, Mr. Ridout, the registrar of the surrogate court for the judicial district of York, who has many years of experience and who, I know, has a great number of ideas about simplifying procedures within that court. The paper war continues and mounts in the surrogate court office and in the registry office and so on. The more pieces of paper lawyers have to hurl around on behalf of their clients, the more complicated and the more expensive the judicial system becomes.
Maybe, arising out of this, the Attorney General could commission somebody to have a look at surrogate court procedures and perhaps ask Mr. Ridout what views he has -- and others as well; I’m sure there are other persons throughout the province, registrars of surrogate courts, who have a lot of good suggestions to make. We could streamline that procedure and make it of greater benefit and greater simplicity for the people of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am interested in my hon. friend’s remarks in relation to a review of the surrogate procedure but as we both appreciate it is not the subject matter of the bill before the Legislature. I certainly will explore that; it seems to me to be a very worthwhile suggestion.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 17, An Act to amend the Surrogate Courts Act.
PUBLIC AUTHORITIES PROTECTION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 18, An Act to amend the Public Authorities Protection Act.
Mr. Lawlor: Now Roy, when are you going to pull up your socks?
Mr. Reid: Is that parliamentary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Maybe we can speak to the principle of the bill rather than the minister’s wearing apparel.
Mr. Lawlor: I thought this was a bill having to do with haberdashery. All right.
He has not been there long enough yet and there’s no use being harsh. The whole business of statutes of limitations has been before us since 1969. A massive report was presented and the various defects and anomalies which are written into ancient and hoary statutes with respect to limitation with hardly any rationalization, having taken place for centuries, are just a bonanza for a young, aspiring, dancing Attorney General; it’s a tempting, succulent pie he can bite into. He hasn’t done anything yet and I’m waiting. That’s why I said my first sentence.
This is a niggling move. It’s been plastered and in a flibbertigibbet kind of way touched here and there in the past two or three years. This is another instance of making an amendment and it’s all to the good.
The fact is that it has to be attacked frontally, systematically and in one overall statute. That’s not all that difficult and my contention is there has been time enough. Succeeding Attorneys General have promised it and succeeding Attorneys General have chopped by the wayside and gone up to the cultural people -- their hair has got slightly longer -- and they have left it sitting in abeyance. So the limbo of limitations is what the situation in Ontario is at the moment.
The first section has to do with extending the period of six months with respect to tort causes against public authorities from the time when the act was done to the time when the cause of action arose. In other words, the injury may not show up, or whatever is the difficulty may not come to the surface, for some time afterwards. When that happens then that’s the time to start the time running, and it does great benefit to people in this particular regard.
I think this is retroactive in some of its features. The role of the sheriff and land registrar on a six-year limitation is preserved in the statute, and we certainly have no objection to the law.
I am simply saying it’s a piecemeal business. I do find that objectionable and I would ask, since this is a splendid opportunity and since the Attorney General has the role, to seize his function in a full way, that would be to see the beginning again of the flow of the rather massive mountain of documentation we have before us, ready to be passed into law and needing to be passed into law, so that these lots of human ills can be alleviated.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Wilson Heights.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, the whole question of limitation periods has been subject to debate in this Legislature on many, many occasions, and it is set out so well in the report of the Law Reform Commission along with recommendations. It continues to haunt us and the province continues to neglect to have a uniform approach to the whole idea of limitation periods. It shows up regularly in medical negligence matters and hospital negligence matters. Sometimes if one wants to claim against a municipality for damage in the road he must send them a notice and at other times he doesn’t have to.
It goes on and on, and the complications are so obtuse that hardly anyone can work his way through these various problems. Why can we not make these things simple and why can we not have uniform limitation periods? When there are great complaints the Attorney General of the day rises in his place and says: “Well I am going to extend the limitation period for such and such a cause of action from one year to two years.” In the Highway Traffic Act recently there was an extension. If they were made uniform that would be a great service indeed to the community.
The other thing about the Public Authorities Protection Act -- and every time one of these statutes is brought forward it raises a number of questions -- there is a complaint that I have been receiving recently, and I understand the member for Lakeshore is familiar with this too, from justices of the peace -- or from at least one person who was a justice of the peace -- who came to the conclusion there is no protection at all for justices of the peace under this statute or apparently any other statute. So, rather unlike many other people who are public authorities, justices of the peace don’t seem to be. When we come to that section of the Attorney General’s estimates, I dare say he is going to hear a word or two about the justice of the peace situation as it exists in the Province of Ontario and the many complaints that arise in regard to it.
There’s nothing wrong with this statute. It should be supported, but surely when a statute of this limited kind of application comes before us, the Attorney General and his advisers should begin to wonder and worry about the broad implication of the limitation period; of who should be protected and so on. He achieves a little bit, but he is really not affecting any important law reform when he brings this statute before us.
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. minister wish to respond?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, briefly, Mr. Speaker. I think it is a little bit of law reform, but I concede that it’s on a piecemeal basis. I would agree that limitation periods generally have been the bane of the existence of most practising lawyers. As some of my friends opposite are so determined to return me to the practise of law as soon as possible, I naturally have a great interest in seeing a complete reform of these problems of limitation periods.
The report from the Ontario Law Reform Commission is a very important document. The statute of limitations which will incorporate all these limitation periods is presently being drafted and, I would hope, will be introduced into this House in the reasonably near future. I think my friends do appreciate that it is a matter of some complexity, but I intend to do everything within my power to provide the necessary momentum to get this statute to the House as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is for second reading of Bill 18.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 18, An Act to amend the Public Authorities Protection Act.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before moving the adjournment of the House, may I indicate the order of --
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, if the House Leader would allow me to interrupt, we would be quite prepared to have somebody move Bill 20 in the absence of the minister.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) isn’t ready to proceed with that yet.
Mr. Renwick: They have no comment to make on the bill?
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, the minister had spoken to me about that. I think there was something he wanted to raise, but thank you very much for the offer. It has been a very productive morning even without that.
Mr. Lawlor: It should all be productive legislation such as this.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Well in legislation such as this from the Ministry of the Attorney General, that can’t be otherwise.
Mr. Singer: Beware of offers from the member for Riverdale.
Hon. Mr. Welch: May I interrupt the exchanges, then, to indicate what the programme for next week will be? On Monday we would proceed with the teachers’ legislation, if it is required, and then we will turn to Bills 26, 46, 47 and 48. If there is still some time, we will then go back to the order paper for other legislation.
There will be the private members’ hour on Monday at 5 and the House rises on Monday at 6.
On Tuesday of next week there will be the budget reply of the official opposition, following which we will return to legislation; and on Tuesday we rise at 10:30.
On Wednesday there will be the budget reply of the Liberal Party followed by legislation; and on Wednesday we rise at 6.
Are there any questions at all on that? The House then will stand adjourned from 6 o’clock Wednesday until 2 o’clock on the following Tuesday.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 12:55 p.m.