The House resumed at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
NEW CANADA DAIRY POLICY
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, as members are aware, the federal Minister of Agriculture announced yesterday the new Canada dairy policy for the coming dairy year. The immediate effects will be visible to everyone because the retail price of butter will rise five cents a pound and the price of a pound of skim milk powder will rise four cents.
To review the federal announcement briefly, the new support price for butter will be $1.08 a pound, up five cents. The support price for skim milk powder will rise four cents to 68 cents a pound. The subsidy on industrial milk will be $2.66 per hundredweight.
To control overproduction, special levies have been placed on milk and butterfat shipped over the national requirements of 95 million hundredweights of milk. For milk the levy is $8.60 per hundredweight and for butterfat it is $1 per pound. These rates will effectively cut back production, as the farmer would receive only a few cents per unit of milk or butterfat shipped over quota. These special levies are in line with the federal policy to cut production which began some months ago with the reduction of industrial milk subsidies and, more recently, with the 15 per cent reduction in Ontario’s market share quota.
Members will recall that three years ago the federal government called for increased milk production to make Canada, as nearly as possible, self-sufficient. To assist Ontario dairy farmers in raising their output as requested by the federal government, the government of Ontario introduced a two-year industrial milk production incentive programme in July, 1973. Under this programme producers were eligible for five-year loans. They were not required to repay any principal in the first year and if they succeed in raising production to an agreed-upon level, they qualify for a refund of up to 20 per cent of their yearly principal payments.
To accommodate the 15 per cent reduction in milk quota announced by the federal government, which came into effect April 1, the provincial government, on application from individual producers, may reduce by up to 15 per cent the amount of increased milk production required in the 1976-1977 dairy year for a dairy farmer to qualify for the refund under our industrial milk loan programme. This means an Ontario dairy farmer under the IMPIP programme will not necessarily have to increase his milk production to qualify for the IMPIP refund.
I should point out here that the staff of my ministry is always ready to discuss with dairymen any problems they may be having with their IMPIP loans. Staff in the district and county offices and the provincial IMPIP review committee will review requests from individual fanners regarding the amount of refunds and the repayment of IMPIP loans to those who need assistance.
I am concerned too with the situation for new producers who have been in production less than a year. With the federal cutbacks in quota, many of these people are finding themselves severely limited as to the amount of milk they will be allowed to produce. Their quotas have been set according to their production for only part of a year, and to increase or maintain their production now perhaps they will have to buy additional quota. I will be having discussions with the Ontario Milk Marketing Board to see if some arrangements can be made to case their situation.
THOUSAND ISLANDS REGION PLANNING REPORT
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I wish to table in the House for the information of the members a report prepared by the school of urban and regional planning at Queen’s University. It is an independent report, an exploratory study compiled with input from those who live in the Thousand Islands region and with financial help from the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs. It is my hope that “Perspectives on the Thousand Islands Region” will be useful to the people of the Thousand Islands area in their local discussions concerning the economic and social development of the region.
While this 113-page report will take some time for us to digest, I am pleased to note that it stresses the co-operative nature of the planning process, thus reinforcing what the Premier (Mr. Davis) said in the House last week, that it is basic to Ontario’s way of life that local levels of government and citizens at all levels be given the opportunity for participation and influence in the provinces growth and development.
I would also point out to members that the report cautions against unilateral planning by senior governments. I can only stress that this government fully agrees with this principle and hopes that the federal government will take this principle into account in its proposals for the region.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
HOME WARRANTY PROGRAMME
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Can the minister indicate when he intends to put before the Legislature the exact proposal he has in mind for home warranty programmes, and can he further tell the Legislature how he intends to maintain checks on the workmanship, since the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) has decided to give over the responsibility for inspection to the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: In reply to the first part of the question, the answer is very soon. In reply to the second part of the question, I would have to ask the hon. member to wait for the legislation in which it will be spelled out exactly how inspections are to be handled.
Mr. Deans: Can the minister indicate whether the inspections will be handled by people in the Province of Ontario responsible to the government of Ontario or handled by some private group or some other level of government?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I can’t indicate that until the legislation has been tabled.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister is giving consideration to the industry having its own warranty programme, as in fact is working out, I understand, very successfully in Alberta?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: We have no legislation which would prevent any industry from having its own warranty programme. I wish them all the luck in the world.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary on that: Since the minister obviously understands that the industry will not compete with his own legislation, that it’s one or the other, doesn’t he feel that maybe he should give the industry a chance to see if its programme will work before bringing in his legislation?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I don’t believe we can have a plan in the Province of Ontario which is not fully compulsory. If the industry plan is voluntary, as it is in Alberta, we don’t feel that that kind of plan can work, but we are not preventing the industry from carrying on with its plans to bring in a warranty programme of its own.
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Can the minister indicate, given the deep feeling of the board of governors of the Paris Willett Hospital and many others that the ministry’s actions and the actions of the government are just simply not appropriate, whether there are yet steps available for further discussion which might bring about a satisfactory resolution of the differences that exist and that might enable those municipalities to have a sense that they are involved in the provision of health care delivery for the people who live within their jurisdiction?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I believe very firmly that the alternatives which have been suggested to those specific hospitals should give the hospital boards a feeling of input and participation in the delivers of health care services in those areas. There are, as I said yesterday, committees of the ministry in Paris today discussing with the Paris board and some people within the community the suggestions which have been made. There will be a committee in Durham tomorrow and one in Clinton on Tuesday, as a matter of fact. It is our sincere hope that the groups within the community will seize this opportunity to participate in the development of an alternative health care programme in that area.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: Is it simply a matter of sending these groups out to tell them what the government has decided, or are they in fact going to enter into discussions from which might flow some further suggestions that the government would be prepared to implement as an alternative to what it has now proposed?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the groups have not been sent out; they have gone to those areas and will be going to those areas upon request --
Mr. Deans: Oh, they have not been sent out?
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- of the groups within the community in Durham, Clinton and Paris. There will most certainly be discussions which I hope will be fruitful. If the hon. member is asking whether we will reconsider the possibility of re-establishing active treatment beds or active acute general hospitals in those areas, I would have to say that at the moment, no, we would not reconsider that. What we are considering is a proposal to ensure that there is a focus of health care services within that community which will meet the needs of that community.
Mr. Germa: Supplementary: Can the minister bring us up to date on the negotiations going on at the Copper Cliff Hospital in bringing this structure into shape to serve as a clinic in that area?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that discussions are going on that proposal was made quite a while ago to that hospital and it was accepted with alacrity by the community -- and, in fact, the ministry is assisting the community group to develop the facility in Copper Cliff.
Mrs. Campbell: Supplementary: Can the acting Minister of Health tell us, with reference to each of these hospitals, having the committee established to assist the medical profession to relocate, what steps are being taken to assist with the relocation of other staff, most of whom are female?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the committee -- made up of members of the OHA, of the Ministry of Health and of the Ministry of Labour -- has, in fact, been holding meetings and has been exploring the job opportunity market for those individuals. I can’t give a report as of their activities today, but I know they are holding a seminar for personnel directors either this week or next week in order to assist them to help the staff who are going to be dislocated by the programme.
Mrs. Campbell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, if I may.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary for this member.
Mrs. Campbell: Thank you. Is the minister aware of the fact that there have been no jobs offered for nurses in this province over quite a period of time and that the only work that appears to be available for Doctors Hospital personnel is from those people coming here from the Maritimes seeking nurses for their functions?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that there has been a lesser number of job opportunities for nurses in this province over the last several years. I am also aware that there are a number of provinces advertising for nursing staff, not simply the Maritimes; also the western provinces of Canada, But there are some nursing jobs available.
Mr. Speaker: We’ll have a final supplementary. The member for Wentworth North has been on his feet for quite some time.
Mr. Cunningham: Given the fact that the rationale for shutting the hospitals was given as being a cost saving measure, would the minister be inclined to reconsider that decision should it not be proved that the Province of Ontario is enjoying some savings?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it will take a considerable period of time to develop all of the figures which will prove one way or the other. I am confident that it will prove to be a cost saving to the Province of Ontario. I would estimate that over the next five years it will prove to be a cost saving of something in the order of $500 million.
Mr. Roy: It took you five years to make a mess of it.
Mr. Roy: What -- $500 million?
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s right. In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, I would reemphasize that it was not only for the purpose of cost saving --
Mr. Singer: That’s almost as much as you took off before the last election.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- but, in effect, to develop increased initiatives in the area of primary care services where, in this province, increased emphasis needs to be placed in the provision of health care services.
Mr. Deans: That’s great.
STERILIZATION OF EMPLOYEES
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Does the Minister of Health have any comment to make with regard to the questions raised by my colleague from Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) some three months ago -- in December of last year -- in which he pointed out that women working in certain General Motors’ operations were, of necessity, having to make a choice between losing their jobs or being sterilized? Is she able to indicate whether this government is at any point in the near future going to have a policy brought forward with regard to this despicable practice?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the health care hazard to which we were alerted at the Oshawa plant of General Motors, the battery plant, is one which has not been entirely documented as yet but certainly it has aroused some suspicions. Of the cases which were brought up by that initial reaction at the Oshawa battery plant, four at least are presently before the Human Rights Commission, and there are inquiries going on.
Five of the women apparently decided to move to other areas of employment when they realized that the potential health hazard was to the foetus -- not to the woman but to the foetus. One woman has apparently voluntarily decided that she will undergo sterilization.
Mr. Deans: A supplementary question: I appreciate what the minister is saying; can she tell me whether the government of Ontario believes a person should be put in that position or whether she is prepared to bring in legislation which will protect women against having to indicate whether or not they have been sterilized and protect them against hazards in the places of employment?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would again emphasize that the hazard is not to the female. It is to the growing foetus.
Mr. Bain: Answer the question.
Mr. Swart: I suppose that doesn’t matter.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Secondly, I would think it would be entirely inappropriate to develop any kind of governmental action until we have heard the results of the inquiries which are being conducted by the Human Rights Commission on this matter.
Mr. Deans: Why? What has the Human Rights Commission to do with it? Why does the ministry not have a policy that states clearly that --
Ms. Gigantes: Give us an answer on this one.
Mr. Deans: -- if there is a health hazard the health hazard either be eliminated or appropriate steps be taken? Why should we wait for the Human Rights Commission to decide whether that’s an appropriate step when we all know, in the Legislature, it isn’t.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would again emphasize that the health hazard is not to the worker per se.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t say that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The health hazard is to a potential foetus.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t say that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is a different ball game from that which is involved in most occupational health situations.
FARM INCOME STABILIZATION PLAN
Mr. Deans: Can the Minister of Agriculture and Food indicate whether he is in a position to accept the proposals of the OFA particularly with regard to the farm income stabilization programme as the OFA put it forward? In particular, is he prepared to accept the suggestion its members have made that some meaningful negotiation role for farmers should be made part of the legislation?
Hon. W. Newman: I think we assured the Ontario Federation of Agriculture this morning when we met with them -- the Premier (Mr. Davis) and I -- that we would be bringing forth an income stabilization bill --
Mr. Deans: A long time.
Hon. W. Newman: -- and introducing it in the House very soon.
Hon. W. Newman: As far as having any negotiations with us is concerned I have met with the federation on many occasions. We are prepared to talk to them any time we are bringing forth a programme. On a particular programme we are quite prepared to discuss it with them.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Did the minister say he is willing to give farm organizations a meaningful role in negotiations or did he not?
Hon. W. Newman: I am not exactly sure what you mean by that, but I know what I mean.
Mr. MacDonald: You know what I mean.
Hon. W. Newman: Don’t get yourself upset now; just take it easy.
Mr. Cassidy: You are the one who gets upset.
Mr. Moffatt: You are controlling yourself very well.
Hon. W. Newman: I am saying that any farm organization -- and we have a lot of good farm organizations in this province -- is welcome to have open dialogue with me or with my staff at any time on the various programmes we have in the ministry. That was what part of the dialogue was about this morning.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: The minister was so upset that I didn’t really get the import of his answer. Without getting into an argument on farm organization, is he willing to permit the appropriate farm organization to engage in meaningful negotiations for purposes of deciding on the price of a commodity for any given year?
Hon. W. Newman: Now the member is making a little addition to what I thought he meant in the first place. Would he spell it out? Is he saying that one particular farm organization should be in negotiation?
Mr. MacDonald: I said the appropriate farm organization.
Mr. Speaker: Order please, the hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. W. Newman: If that was his question, the answer to that question is no. The answer to the other part of the question is yes, we will have meaningful discussions with them at any time.
Mr. MacDonald: Negotiations or discussion?
Hon. W. Newman: We are prepared to discuss --
Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Kitchener have a supplementary?
Mr. Breithaupt: No, I would just like to ask a question.
Mr. Speaker: This will be a final supplementary. The member for Timiskaming.
Mr. Bain: I would like to ask a supplementary of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In this province, it comes as a matter of fact that working people are guaranteed rights of collective bargaining. Why does he refuse these rights to farmers? Why does he refuse to negotiate with the farm organizations to establish the price support base?
Hon. W. Newman: We do have 22 marketing boards in this province. We do have several farm organizations which all have an input and the marketing boards do a great deal of negotiating. In case the member doesn’t know, each year they go down and discuss and negotiate prices for their products through the various marketing board agencies, and I think they do a very fine job.
Mr. Breithaupt: A question to the Solicitor General: With respect to the further unfortunate situation involving the police chase and the deaths of two men in the Corunna area, can the Solicitor General advise if the constable and his superiors were familiar with the guidelines for chases that have been discussed earlier in the House as a result of the last time this happened?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I can only assume they were. They are OPP officers. I had a report on that, if you would like me to read it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Breithaupt: If we could revert to statements.
Mr. Speaker: It depends on the length of the statement. If it is fairly brief it will be taken as an answer to the question.
Mr. Singer: What is he going to do? Is he going to read it?
Mr. Speaker: Is it a lengthy statement, Mr. Minister?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: About a page and a half, sir.
Mr. Roy: Let’s revert to statements.
Mr. Breithaupt: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, since this is a particularly important area, if the minister could give his statement, you might then decide if a few minutes could be added to the question period.
Mr. Speaker: Do we have agreement to revert to statements momentarily?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: In the early morning hours last Friday, two men were killed when their car collided with another during pursuit by an Ontario Provincial Police constable near Corunna. I am very concerned about another incident of this nature and have already received a preliminary report which I requested from the OPP. I am informed that the details of the accident are as follows:
While the constable had a vehicle stopped by the side of the highway, a group of cars passed him proceeding at normal speed. However, a vehicle near the end of the line was travelling too close to the one ahead and weaving from side to side. The constable made a U-turn in order to follow the vehicle he had observed weaving. He passed several vehicles and then observed two vehicles ahead. When the front one increased speed greatly, the officer put on his roof lights and notified the Petrolia OPP detachment by radio of the situation.
The pursued vehicle proceeded into Corunna, skidded out of control and came to a stop. As the officer approached, it accelerated sharply and proceeded through the town. The driver again skidded out of control and the officer was able to block his path momentarily. The car then reversed sharply and, despite the officer’s efforts to block the vehicle, it got away again. The car was then travelling between 70 and 80 miles per hour with the officer in pursuit.
The car passed over a railway crossing and momentarily disappeared from the officer’s view. When the officer arrived at the railway crossing, he saw the car strike another vehicle head on. The driver who was being pursued and his passenger were killed instantly. The driver of the other vehicle was hurt and hospitalized.
The OPP are continuing their investigation of this accident and a coroner’s inquest will also be held.
As I have already indicated, the Ontario Police Commission is working on a set of guidelines to be used in situations such as this. I hope to have them distributed to all police forces in the province as quickly as possible. The Ontario Provincial Police do have a set of guidelines and they have been distributed. Of course they are part of the course they take at Aylmer, so I can only assume that the officers did have the instructions involved.
But as I said before, these have to be individual decisions and no amount of instruction will necessarily stop police trying to catch people who are suspected of some crime in the manner that took place here.
Mr. Speaker: We will add two minutes to the question period.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: Recognizing this is a very serious and unfortunate area, and that it may be necessary from time to time, is the Solicitor General satisfied that police forces are sufficiently well trained to handle these particular problems so that we are not placing constables who are insufficiently trained to be involved with these matters, as drivers or otherwise, in positions which are possibly unfair to them, as well as unfair to the public who may unfortunately get involved in the results of those tragic crashes?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kitchener is asking me if they are sufficiently well trained, and I have to say no; I think the answer to that is that nobody can ever get all the training one would like him to have. Some of them may be, but looking at the entire forces across the province I am not sure anybody is ever sufficiently trained.
But even if they did have all the training that time and money would permit, the point I am trying to make is I don’t think all the training in the world is going to stop this kind of unfortunate accident from happening. I don’t think the member for Kitchener would want me to issue some kind of order that no police chases should take place. All I can say is that I want to improve the training, and obviously this is what we hope to do with these reports I have asked for. Subsequent to the reports, the information will be put into the hands of the individual officers. I want to improve the situation, but I can’t give guarantees that as long as we have police forces and members of the public ready to disobey the laws this sort of thing will stop.
Mr. Singer: Supplementary: Could the Solicitor General tell us what he is going to do when he reads about or hears about the police firing on an impaired driving suspect in Metropolitan Toronto? Doesn’t he feel there has to be some active intervention by his department from time to time as these items take place? One took place, as I say, in Metropolitan Toronto over the last weekend. Shouldn’t the Solicitor General do something about this?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have the details on that report but I understand, there again, that the police had actually stopped and had been talking to the driver of the vehicle involved. So unless we are, again, going to issue some instructions to police that they shall not use their guns when pursuing --
Mr. Singer: Oh, come on!
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: That’s what the member is asking.
Mr. Singer: No it is not.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Well then, what are you asking?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Singer: He wants to know what I am asking. Let me tell him what I am asking.
Mr. Speaker: In the form of a question.
Mr. Singer: I am asking him if he believes he has the responsibility to keep these matters under control, and when unfortunate incidents such as talked about by my colleague the member for Kitchener or the possibility of one such as happened in Toronto last weekend take place, if he should be the first one to rise in his place in this House and explain them? If he can’t then he should get out of the portfolio.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, certainly I have a responsibility to do all I can --
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: -- to keep these things from happening. But I say when you are dealing with a criminal element in this province and we have a police force we expect to arrest them. I can’t guarantee that it won’t happen.
Mr. Yakabuski: Sounds like the member is on the side of the bad guys.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: We are doing everything we possibly and reasonably can, and we will heighten our efforts in that regard.
Mr. Breithaupt: A question of the acting Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister advise us who in the ministry instructed the Chesley Hospital to keep five employees on stall after the hospital was to close so that fewer than 50 people would be laid off, which would effectively deny all employees but three their right to eight weeks’ severance pay?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I gather that was a telephone order or a telephone direction which was certainly not authorized by the ministry. The ministry had sent instructions to the hospitals to issue termination notices to all the members of staff. I really have not found out as yet why this happened, but I am attempting to. At any rate, it was corrected and all the members of the staff have had their termination notices given to them.
ACCIDENT SPOT ON QEW
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I have answers to two questions that were asked previously.
The hon. member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) asked a question on Apr. 8, regarding highway conditions at Sand Plant Hill on the Queen Elizabeth Way. I wish to report to the hon. member the ministry engineers are working on and reviewing this particular section of the Queen Elizabeth Way with a view to installing a median barrier and providing suitable protection at the bridge pier and abutment. It is expected the work In the Sand Plant Hill area will be completed before the end of this year.
AUTO LICENSING AGENCIES
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, on Mar. 18, I answered a question of the hon. member for Rainy River (Mr. Reid) with respect to money owed to the ministry by motor vehicle licence issuers. At that time I stated there were matters under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police at the request of my ministry relating to the handling of funds in two motor vehicle licence issuing offices. In order to keep the House informed, Mr. Speaker, I can report that an investigation in northern Ontario has been completed and the former issuer has been charged with criminal breath of trust and theft by conversion.
In the other case, which involves an issuing officer in the Metropolitan Toronto area, the investigation continues. However, an employee of the ministry has been charged with fraud pursuant to section 338, sub 1, of the Criminal Code of Canada. Because the investigation into this latter situation still continues, I will undertake to report further to the House on this matter as soon as it is possible to do so.
LOANS TO MILK PRODUCERS
Mr. MacDonald: A question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food: Would the minister indicate what guidelines the ministry has given to ag reps for their discussions with farmers with regard to IMPIP loans? Specifically, is more money available for new loans to those farmers who are desirous of more capital in order to purchase MSQ to market their milk? And with regard to existing IMPIP loans, what are the guidelines or the criteria for rescheduling the payments in view of the difficulties that many dairy farmers are now facing?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, there are some problems. In the IMPIP programme which we have brought forward, many fluid shippers in the Province of Ontario, who had a fairly large fluid base, were given a market share quota as well as their fluid base. By and large, most of these people don’t have a major problem in paying back their loan, because they have a fairly large fluid base.
There are others, who for instance may be classified as fluid shippers, but they’d be only 10 per cent fluid and 90 per cent industrial. They may have a particular problem in paying the loan back.
There are others who are 50-50 -- who may have 50 per cent fluid and 50 per cent industrial. There may be those who are completely industrial. There are those new producers who came on stream who have not had a chance to build up their quota as yet.
What we are saving, in effect, is that on an individual basis if they have a problem, they go to an ag rep. We have a special committee within the ministry to deal with it. If they want to extend their loan or work out something on an individual basis, we’re quite prepared to do that.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Is it correct that in some instances the rescheduling of repayments is being spread over 10 years, and in other instances it is being denied? If so, what are the criteria for coming to that kind of a decision?
Hon. W. Newman: I just tried to explain that there are different circumstances in each case. One farmer may have a much heavier output, may have a bigger loan than another. Another may have some fluid base that he can build on and has been able to meet his payments. Many of the farmers have paid off their loans already. Each situation can be quite different and that’s why we’re doing it on an individual basis.
OHC TENANT LOCKOUT CHARGE
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Housing concerning the charging of Ontario Housing tenants a fee simply because they may inadvertently lock themselves out of their units after 5 o’clock in the evening. Is the minister aware of the letter sent by the Windsor Housing Authority advising that all tenants locked out of their units will be charged up to $25 simply to have the door opened after 5 o’clock?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I’m aware that this situation occurred in Windsor some time back --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- and that it created some publicity. I have had the Ontario Housing officials discuss this matter with the local authority. Again, as the local authority, they were setting what they thought were their own rules. We have asked them to consider just what they were doing in this area. At the same time, the fact that a fee is being charged was related, as I understand it, to the cost of having persons called out to open apartments that had been locked when people had just inadvertently left their keys in their apartment or lost their keys, and it was adding up to a considerable amount of money, according to the information from the authority.
We don’t condone it, nor do we think it should be carried on to the extent related in that particular letter.
Mr. B. Newman: Would the minister look at the letter and see the threatening content of the letter; so threatening that a 70-year-old lady, rather than pay the $25 fee, stayed out in the hall of her apartment all night?
Mr. Yakabuski: I would too.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the contents of the letter. I am also aware of the incident he’s referring to. My understanding is that the lady did not stay in the hallway outside of her apartment, but actually stayed in the lounge -- not that that makes it any better --
Mr. Singer: Is it a nicely furnished lounge?
Hon Mr. Rhodes: -- and I’m not suggesting it does.
Mr. Singer: One chesterfield or two?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: But I have seen the letter. I do think it was not a very diplomatic letter and should not have been sent in its form.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Is the minister prepared to either repeal the charge, renegotiate the contract, or make arrangements with the tenants so that they can handle lockout problems and the staff doesn’t have to be called out after hours?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I understand that in most of those complexes there are tenant associations, and I’m sure that no one would object to them arranging to have the tenants handle that particular problem.
Mr. Cassidy: Hear, hear! Hear, hear!
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: We’ll have the original questioner with a supplementary, and one more.
Mr. Yakabuski: Is this a debate over keys?
Mr. B. Newman: May I suggest to the minister that he look into the possibility of changing the locking system so that an individual has to use a key to lock the door, rather than simply have the door slam and then have himself or herself locked out?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I really dent believe we would be going to the extent of changing all of the locks in all of the Ontario Housing units in this province, because of, I would have to believe, not a great number of people surely --
Mr. Deans: That doesn’t solve the problem.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- who lose their keys or leave them locked up.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for Carleton East.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, if the minister is trying to relate the charge that has been exacted of people who have lost their key to the cost of having somebody called out, does this indicate that supervisory staff of OHC projects are now getting paid $25 an hour?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I have at no time suggested that the $25 charge was a fair and equitable charge at all. If the hon. member thinks so, she may say so. It is not the supervisory staff of OHC but rather employees of the maintenance staff who are employees of the Ontario Housing Corp. and who are paid callout fees, a minimum of which is three hours. On these indiscriminate callouts by people who simply forget their keys, we think there should be some way --
Mr. Deans: Not a very good system.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- of reminding people to keep their hands on their keys and make sure that they can get into their apartments.
HOSPITAL OCCUPANCY IN OTTAWA, PEMBROKE
Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the acting Minister of Health, and it’s in a number of parts.
Mr. Foulds: None of which is related.
Mr. Yakabuski: One, is the acting minister aware that a constituent of mine from Beachburg has been told by a doctor in the town of Pembroke that he cannot be admitted to a hospital there because a good part of the beds are taken up by residents of the Province of Quebec?
Mr. Cassidy: You are at it again.
Mr. Yakabuski: Two, is the acting minister aware --
Mr. Cassidy: You know, you and Claude Bennett never stop, do you?
Mr. Yakabuski: -- that a similar situation exists in the Ottawa Valley --
Mr. Cassidy: You will find a French Canadian under every bed.
Mr. Yakabuski: -- where residents of the Province of Ontario are told they must wait four, five and six months to get a bed --
Mr. Cassidy: Why don’t you get up and say it in public?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Yakabuski: -- for very serious surgery that’s to take place in the city of Ottawa and there are no beds available?
Mr. Roy: Where were you last fall?
Mr. Cassidy: This is a real copout. You and Claude Bennett never stop, do you?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Yakabuski: Three, what percentage -- I have a question of the ministry here.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Cassidy: You are blaming Ontario’s problems on French Canadians.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You moved out of Ottawa.
Mr. Yakabuski: What percentage of the hospital beds in the city of Pembroke and the city of Ottawa are occupied by residents of other provinces?
Mr. Cassidy: Why do you ask a stupid question?
Mr. Singer: And your fourth part?
Mr. Yakabuski: And, four, what cost --
Mr. Yakabuski: -- does this mean the Ontario taxpayer must foot, because we realize that any reciprocal arrangement with another province certainly isn’t going to cover the cost of hospital beds?
Mr. Sweeney: This is supposed to be a question period. He is wasting the question period.
Mr. Yakabuski: And, five --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Yakabuski: Just a minute. Does the province --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Speaker: There have been some objections, but if you recall there were four supplementaries to the last question; but I hope this is the last question from the hon. member.
Mr. Cassidy: They were supplementaries.
Mr. Yakabuski: I am asking the acting minister if the Province of Quebec contributes to any of the capital cost of new hospital construction or the equipping of new hospitals in the Pembroke or Ottawa areas.
An hon. member: Don’t you and Bette speak to each other?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that any patient who requires urgent attention or hospitalization in any part of this province must wait for five or six weeks. That, it seems to me, is entirely unnecessary and unsupportable.
Even with the numbers of beds which have been closed, we have more beds per thousand in this province in active treatment hospitals than in any other jurisdiction in Canada and in almost all other developed jurisdictions throughout the western world.
There are a certain number of beds in the Ottawa Valley, both in Pembroke and in the city of Ottawa, which are used on a fairly regular basis as a matter of fact by citizens of the Province of Quebec. I think it amounts to something in the order of 20 beds in Pembroke and about 250 in Ottawa. This constitutes only about 10 per cent of the bed capacity in either of those areas.
There is, of course, no contribution by the Province of Quebec to capital costs in the construction of hospitals but, in fact, the billing for those patients is submitted to the Quebec plan and we are reimbursed at the same level we would be in the Province of Ontario for both hospital care and physician services.
Mr. Speaker: The member for --
An hon. member: How many supplementaries are you going to allow?
Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary.
Mr. Yakabuski: In view of the --
Mrs. Campbell: Six supplementaries?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I’ll remind the House that the Speaker doesn’t ask the supplementaries. There are far too many of them as a matter of fact; there are too many supplementary questions o let’s keep that in mind. I will allow a final supplementary from this member.
Mr. Yakabuski: Will the acting Minister of Health assure me and my constituents, if I provide the names of the people who are having these problems in being admitted to those hospitals, that she will ensure they get immediate attention?
Mr. Eakins: Oh sure.
Mr. Breithaupt: So it is a five-part question.
Mr. Roy: He asked a five-part question to start with.
Hon. B. Stephenson: With the details of the situation available, Mr. Speaker, I am sure we could investigate to see precisely what has been happening.
Mr. Roy: You are about eight months behind, Paul.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Durham West, I presume.
We will allow a final supplementary over here.
Mr. Godfrey: With regard to the fact that the reimbursement to the Province of Ontario is on the per diem rate as charged in the hospitals now, and in view of the fact we are spending considerable capital funds in Ottawa at present, which is coming out of our general budget, to provide these beds, does it not seem that there should be a supplement on top of the per diem rate for residents from outside of the province so that they can carry their fair share of the freight?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It might, how about that?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Let’s hear the answer now. We are waiting for the answer. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Can we have order in the House by the hon. member for Cambridge?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would remind the hon. member for Durham West that in fact there are patients from the southern part of this province, on the Ottawa River, who use hospitals in Montreal as well. There is reciprocity as there is the same kind of reciprocity between Manitoba and Ontario in terms of Winnipeg hospitals.
Mr. Davidson: A question to the acting Minister of Health; it must be her day. While I fully applaud the decision of her ministry to restore the full budget to the South Waterloo Memorial Hospital -- I think that was a very nice thing to do on behalf of the ministry -- I would like to know, first of all, how did such a miscalculation take place in the first place -- a miscalculation of some $432,000 -- which resulted in much anguish to both the administration and the staff of that hospital? Secondly, if that miscalculation took place there, is it also possible these same miscalculations could be applied to other hospital budgets throughout the province?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I don’t know the exact details of the South Waterloo Hospital budget restoration.
I can tell the hon. member that in the one or two instances I know of in which there was a miscalculation, it was based upon the fact that last year the hospitals had voluntarily withdrawn from service a number of beds which they had neglected to tell the insurance programme about. The calculation was based upon the old number of beds rather than the new number, which was a projected figure with the decrease in figures subtracted from it. In those instances in which that correction was made, of course there was restoration of budget because it worked out on a more equitable basis when we were given full information by the institutions.
I shall find out what happened in South Waterloo and inform the hon. member.
Mr. Swart: Is the acting Minister of Health aware that in the city of Welland there was a cutback which was restored because the --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. As some of the questions were asked earlier by the party that is making the most noise right now, I will hear this supplementary.
Mr. Swart: Is she aware that there was a cutback in allowance made to the hospital in Welland because the ministry did not know that the chronic wing was operated in a separate building and the cutback was restored afterwards?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, Mr. Speaker, I did not know that
STATUS OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Correctional Services: I would like to ask the minister about the status of two correctional officers at the Mimico Correctional Centre who were in the process of purchasing meat from one of the inmates; what disciplinary action has been taken against these guards? Secondly, are there more than two guards involved in this purchasing of meat?
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I was anticipating this arising from the Global TV story last evening.
Mr. Roy: You watch TV, do you?
Hon. J. R. Smith: The two correctional officers at Mimico Correctional Centre will appear before an internal hearing in regard to allegations they have been dealing with an inmate contrary to section 22 of the Ministry of Correctional Services Act. It is not alleged that the correctional officers committed a criminal offence.
The question to be determined is whether they contravened the Ministry of Correctional Services Act and thereby compromised themselves in their relationship with this inmate. In other words, the hearing will be to ascertain whether the officers used poor judgement; and if so; whether this had a detrimental effect on the performance of their duties. If the officers are found to have contravened the Ministry of Correctional Services Act, they could be subjected to a reprimand, a fine, removal from duty for a period of time without pay or dismissal from the service.
If the officers are not satisfied with any of the action taken as a result of the bearing they may appeal through the Public Service Grievance Board. I believe any further comment at this time could prejudice a fair, impartial hearing for these officers.
The Global Television report suggested that as many as seven correctional officers could be involved in allegedly purchasing meat from an inmate who was working on TAP in the community at the time. No evidence was found to substantiate allegations that this number of officers were involved in such a situation. Whether two officers were involved will be determined at that hearing.
The Global report made reference to house painting by inmates and I can only conclude they were referring to a number of community projects on which inmate volunteers were assisting the government or non-profit organizations at cost or with no cost to either.
Mr. Roy: A supplementary: All he was doing was watching television on Global last night.
An hon. member: I was at church; where were you?
Mr. Roy: I would ask the minister, in view of the concern about this situation, first of all, has he referred this matter to the chief law officer for the Crown to determine whether there is not only a breach of the Ministry of Correctional Services Act but a breach of the Criminal Code, specifically section 110 of the code? Secondly, in view of the evidence in this case, has the minister investigated the other rumours about inmates and guards being involved in the paving of driveways, house painting and so on?
Hon. J. R. Smith: There has been a full investigation. I don’t know whether it involved the local police or not. The inmate is no longer on TAP, awaiting the outcome of this hearing. As far as we know, there is nothing to substantiate the allegations made regarding the house painting or the paving of driveways.
Mr. Roy: What about referring it to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry)?
Hon. J. R. Smith: I’m only too pleased to have the Attorney General or the Solicitor General fully investigate this; we have full co-operation from both those ministries.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The hon. member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. Davison) questioned me concerning the operation of an industrial waste disposal plant by Interflow Systems Ltd. in Hamilton. I am advised there are problems with this operation with respect to off-property owners and stack emissions. Discussions have taken place with the company to identify the sources and to determine what abatement measures are necessary to bring the operation under control.
Consideration has been given to prosecuting the company but it was decided that in order to achieve compliance as quickly as possible a control order would be served instead. In the meantime, my staff are meeting with the company officials to determine the interim measures that can be taken to deal with the emission problem. If violation occurs again we would, therefore, consider prosecution.
Mr. Speaker: We’ll allow one supplementary.
Mr. Davison: Is the minister still going to give me the series of correspondence that his ministry has had with the company which he promised to give me?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I’m not sure from the hon. member’s original question just what correspondence or documentation he has been referring to. We have been dealing with our office in Hamilton mainly by phone. If the hon. member is referring to correspondence between the company and the ministry, I would have to get the company’s approval for that.
REALLOCATION OF JUVENILE INSTITUTION RESOURCES
Ms. Sandeman: A question for the Minister of Correctional Services: With reference to the minister’s statement yesterday and the devotion stated in that statement to community-based programmes, I wonder if the minister could give us some timetables for phasing out the remaining 1,100 beds in the training schools?
Hon. J. R. Smith: We have no immediate plans for such a move.
Ms. Sandeman: Supplementary: Part of that statement said the capacity of 1,100 would meet any foreseeable peak requirements under existing legislation. I understand the minister was looking at potential federal legislation but I think the minister should tell the House, more important, what is happening to the provincial legislation. When can we expect to see the proclamation of deletion of section 8 of the Training Schools Act, given his ministry’s devotion to the community-based programme?
Hon. J. R. Smith: I’d like to make it very clear to the hon. member that the bed capacity is 1,100. In fact, there are approximately 750 juveniles in the training school facilities at present and their numbers are diminishing on a regular basis. We thought we had hit a new low last fall that and I’m pleased to say admissions are continuing to diminish. The whole matter of the proclamation of section 8 is before the policy field of cabinet and I just don’t know when that section of the Act will be proclaimed.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition against the closing of Doctors Hospital from residents of my riding Beaches-Woodbine; 1,500 people in my riding signed this petition.
Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports.
Hon. Mr. Meen moved that estimates be referred to standing committees as follows:
To miscellaneous estimates committee -- Office of the Assembly and Government Services; to administration of justice committee -- Office of the Ombudsman, Justice Policy, Attorney General, Consumer and Commercial Relations, Correctional Services and Solicitor General; to resources development committee -- Housing, Resources Development Policy, Agriculture and Food, Energy, Environment, Industry and Tourism, Labour, Natural Resources and Transportation and Communications; and that the committees be authorized to sit concurrently with the House for consideration of the estimates.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills.
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Municipality of Toronto Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Some of this is essentially a housekeeping bill, but there are some notes on it. Several provisions in this bill are designed to modify the financial administration of Metropolitan Toronto in keeping with current and recent trends in the financial marketplace through such measures as an increase in the maximum rate of interest for default payment and a broadening of the range of investment targets which the Metro government is allowed.
More specifically the provisions in this bill are as follows: interest on overdue payments between Metro and the area municipalities is increased from a maximum of half of one per cent per month to a maximum of 12 per cent per annum.
Metre assumes the power to invest money not immediately required in promissory notes guaranteed by a bank, and in promissory notes of municipalities and conservation authorities.
Metro is empowered to issue term debentures to establish and administer a retirement fund for term debentures and to issue debentures refundable after 10 years. Both of these types of debentures are now authorized under the Municipal Act. All debentures issued by Metro are to be ranked equally. This spells out what is now in fact the present law and in doing so it will facilitate the placing of debentures in foreign markets.
Another amendment removes the requirement of a three-quarter vote for expenditures for diffusing information about Metropolitan Toronto’s advantages and attractions as a centre for industrial, commercial and tourism activities. Metro’s granting power is broadened through repeal of the relevant section and the substitution of the comparable section contained in the Municipal Act. Metro Toronto will thus assume the broader granting powers now enjoyed by municipalities under the Municipal Act.
A municipality which reassumes responsibility for a Metro road automatically reassumes responsibility as well for any debenture liabilities in respect of that road.
Another provision deals with interim levies. Under the existing Act, Metro is empowered to issue interim levies to area municipalities in amounts not exceeding 50 per cent of the preceding year’s total levy. Under the proposed amendment the limitation on these interim levies is increased to 75 per cent of the preceding year’s total levy.
Metro is not now empowered to hire persons to act as auditors if they have served as consultants to Metro during the year being audited. This amendment provides Metro with the same power municipalities now have under the Municipal Act to have auditors act in other capacities.
Outside the area of financial administration, the bill contains the following provisions: The time for filling vacancies on the Metropolitan council is extended from 15 to 60 days. Metro is empowered to restrict the use of lanes on Metro roads not only to TTC vehicles as now, but also to taxicabs and to private automobiles carrying four or more persons. Metro Toronto is empowered to delegate to the area municipalities the control of sidewalks along Metro roads in those municipalities.
Finally, there is an amendment dealing with the status of an institution known as Lambert Lodge. Under the present Act, Lambert Lodge reverts to the city of Toronto and Metro ceases to use it as a home for the aged. Now, with a joint request of Metro and the city, this provision is repealed.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved first reading of bill intituled, the Regional Municipalities Amendment Act, 1976.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the amendments to this bill duplicate to some extent the amendment I have just outlined for the Municipality of Toronto Act. The highlights are the same. As in the previous Act, provision is made to increase from 50 to up to 75 per cent towards the portion of the preceding year’s levy that the regions may impose against area municipalities in any year before the estimates for that year are adopted.
As well, the area municipalities may impose interim levies of up to 75 per cent on the prior year’s residential mill rate on residential real property and up to 75 per cent of the prior year’s commercial mill rate on commercial real property and on business assessment.
The regional municipalities also have their granting powers broadened -- their borrowing powers brought in line with the Municipal Act and, similarly, their method of determining interest on late payments is standardized. As in Metro, auditors may serve in other professional capacities and the time limit for filling a vacancy on a regional council is extended to 60 days so that the area municipality has enough time to hold an election.
Finally, like Metro council, regional councils are being empowered to control development and redevelopment on land within 150 ft of a regional road and empowered to require dedication of land for park purposes as a condition of such development or redevelopment.
Of the amendments that pertain specifically to regional municipalities, one will bring the provisions of the regional Act into line with recent amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, doing away with requirements that municipalities obtain provincial approval for certain kinds of traffic bylaws. Another amendment will allow regional municipalities to borrow for construction of water and sewer projects while awaiting money to be advanced tinder an agreement with the Ministry of the Environment.
Provision is made in the bill to provide for the determination of wards and area council composition, which shall be undertaken by the OMB in the future.
Other amendments are included in the bill at the request of regional municipalities.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills.
The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Food.
DEAD ANIMAL DISPOSAL AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. W. Newman moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Dead Animal Disposal Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Good: Is that the cat and dog bill?
Mr. Eakins: It is a dead issue.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, it is just a very minor amendment, just to tighten up the bill a bit.
Mr. Speaker: Any further bills?
ANSWER TO A WRITTEN QUESTION
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answer to question 25, standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The first order, resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Shore: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to take this opportunity, through you, to thank our leader for giving me this opportunity of leading off in this budget debate. I would like particularly to thank my colleagues for also giving me this opportunity to lead off and particularly for their confidence --
Hon. Mr. Meen: Where is your leader, now that you mention it?
Mr. Shore: -- and for their particular help in helping me prepare this. I would like at this time to extend my deepest appreciation to the staff in the Liberal caucus and the Liberal Party for helping me. I think, probably most importantly, I would also like to thank the many people in industry and business and labour, small businesses, throughout this community, and the economists and professionals who have helped us in developing this critique.
I would also like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, through you, to thank the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) for being here and I hope that all members of this House will accept the comments I make as a sincere intention to help develop a better province.
I would like to start, by just quoting the first section of the 1976 budget statement by the Treasurer of Ontario, wherein he stated:
“The 1976 Budget I am presenting tonight reflects the determination of this government to keep the province’s finances in good order. It sticks to our plan for slashing the growth in provincial spending. It reorders priorities, trims government costs and reduces the number of civil servants.
“[He also stated:] Ontario will achieve a large reduction in its cash requirements, maintain its financial integrity, and set an example for others to follow in the fight against inflation.”
He goes on to state that he is addressing himself to five or six budget papers; namely, the economy, health financing, expenditure restraint, the labour market, property tax reform and the auto pact. During my comments I will be alluding to most of these and hoping to get some input into them.
Mr. Speaker, as a neophyte member of this Legislature but I stress to you not necessarily a neophyte in understanding fiscal financial matters, I could not help but admire the Treasurer’s presentation of the provincial budget just over a week ago. His self-assurance, slick presentation of the so-called facts, the smug satisfaction at the reduction of the deficit, the proud statement that no public borrowing would be required, all were quite impressive. As a theatrical performance it was well done indeed.
Unfortunately for the people of this province the Treasurer is a much better actor than he is a producer. This new budget is obviously and specifically designed to conceal more than it reveals.
Mr. Good: That’s the whole point.
Mr. Shore: It is a masterly presentation of warped statistics and semantics, woven together with the consummate skill of a professional financial artist. Had the Treasurer and his officials spent as much time, I submit, in their effort in sincerely attempting to exercise some degree of financial responsibility, the people of this province would have been much better served.
The Treasurer makes much of the fact that the government’s restraint programme is keeping budgetary expenditures down to 11.7 per cent. Even if this were accurate it wouldn’t be a major achievement when we see that at least four or five other provinces this year will be under that figure.
In any event, the real increase in government expenditure, I submit, is something like 13.2 per cent, and the only thing that is being achieved is that we have been transferring the burden onto the municipalities and, ultimately, the property owners through the property taxes.
Mr. Good: Exactly; there’s the crux of the whole thing.
Mr. Shore: One can place less confidence in the Treasurer’s forecasts in view of the historical evidence which shows that the provincial government makes a practice of underestimating expenditures and, I must submit, in many instances overestimating revenue. For the last two years, the projected net cash requirements were underestimated each year by more than $200 million. For all our sakes, we can only hope that this year’s figure will stand the test of time better than the previous government forecasts.
The basic economic assumptions on which the budget is based are tied to a very optimistic forecast for exports in the coming year. Even though the level of exports revealed no growth whatsoever in 1975, the Treasurer expects us to accept his assessment that the 1976 level will rise by 20 per cent. I venture to suggest that the Treasurer is placing excessive dependence on this source of strength, even though the United States economy is improving, and I hope he’s right.
However, just to make absolutely sure that export statistics were presented in their best possible light, the Treasurer changed the basis upon which they had been calculated in the past. This came out, as you know, Mr. Speaker, in the House in the last day or so. The 1976 budget for the first time included services -- and I stress “services” -- in the Treasurer’s calculation of exports, and the figures were adjusted on the new basis for 1974 and 1975. All very confusing when one opens up the 1975 budget to compare the estimates. But confusion is the name of the game -- and it’s a game the Treasurer plays with considerable skill.
Exports now include -- Mr. Speaker, would you listen to this? Exports now include services and -- to use the Treasure’s own words -- “tourism, banking and financial services rendered abroad, freight and shipping, and international consultation.”
What really puzzles me is the item “tourism” being included as an export. Are we exporting tourists? If we are, surely that will show up on the wrong side of the ledger. It’s all very confusing. Are tourists who come here considered imports then? Perhaps not, for that wouldn’t help the Treasurer’s case at all.
I sympathize with the Treasurer. We all sympathize with the Treasurer. He certainly has a problem. But the Treasurer is equal to the task: Tourists and exports are now one and the same.
Experts agree that the domestic economy remains weak, but it’s improving, and yet the Treasurer projects an increase of 116,000 new jobs during 1976. This figure is 30,000 higher than the forecast made by the Conference Board and leading economic research agencies. Nor can we overlook the fact that, typically, the budget overestimated job creation last year by 20,000.
In this connection, one cannot help but question the accuracy of the 24 per cent increase in revenue from personal income tax without any adjustment in rates. Is this increase of about $2 billion accurate and consistent with the forecast that employment will rise by only 3.2 per cent? Are we supposed to applaud the Treasurer and his ability to avoid the threatened $2-billion deficit? We are still facing the second largest deficit in Ontario’s history, at about $1.25 billion: and this may well prove to be a low estimate since it’s dependent upon a real growth in the Ontario economy of 5.3 per cent and a growth in exports of 20 per cent. I submit, it could be closer to $1.5 billion without any difficulty.
Mr. Roy: You are probably right.
Mr. Shore: A clever strategy last year rescued the government from net cash requirements of $2 billion. How was this sleight-of-hand achieved? First of all, the date for filing corporate tax returns was advanced, so that the date fell before the end of the 1975-1976 fiscal year. The amount of money this brought into the treasury was well over $100 million -- just enough to rescue the Treasurer from a position of extreme embarrassment, a position to be avoided at all costs. If we look at the revenue section, we can see the indications of this.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Except that that was in the budget last year. It was a one-time saving, which we acknowledge.
Mr. Shore: On budget night, the Treasurer announced with pride that net cash requirements for 1975-1976 reached $1889 billion. But acid to that the amount $100 million plus and the Treasurer’s worst fears, his recurring nightmare, would have come to pass. I’m not so sure we’re over with it yet.
The Treasurer saved himself another $124 million by placing an embargo on ministries accelerating their spending toward the end of the fiscal year, but not soon enough. This iniquitous practice has been allowed to continue far too long. Incidentally, I find it interesting that both the Ministry of Housing, with a surplus of $57.3 million, and the Ministry of Government Services, with a surplus of $9.9 million, as the result of the Treasurer’s embargo, had supplementary estimates last year. A further example of strange financial planning on the part of this government.
With an air of judicious wisdom, the Treasurer informed us: “Clearly, Canadian energy policy must be highly sensitive to broader industrial priorities and not further hinder our export efforts at this crucial time.”
Yet his government’s main measure in this connection is to remove the tax from insulation materials for existing houses. Is this the government’s entire energy policy? What about the escalating hydro rates and their effects on our manufacturing industries and the Ontario economy?
Mr. S. Smith: That’s it.
Mr. Shore: The government delights in warning of possible consequences of increase in oil prices, over which Ontario has little control. Hydro, on the other hand, falls within the jurisdiction of this provincial government and the corporation is allowed to plan enormous expansion projects, frequently in the face of enormous public opposition to the hydro corridors.
In his contribution to the Throne debate the Premier (Mr. Davis) said his government was prepared to face “the fundamental choices and issues,” and accused some in this House of insisting on running away from them. I stress there is little evidence in this budget of any facing up on the part of this government. Rather there is a policy of shifting the responsibility to other levels of government and to the private sector.
Mr. Roy: They’re all talk.
Mr. Shore: The Premier referred to the “fundamental public responsibility we all share in the House to serve the economic well-being of future generations of Ontarians.” Is the Treasurer showing concern for future economic well-being when he persists in financial stratagems which will inevitably mean that the taxpayers d the future will be forced to foot the bill for past extravagance on the part of this government? Everyone’s economic well-being is placed in jeopardy by the government’s provincial debt, which last year increased to $708 on the shoulders of every man, woman and child.
Mr. Roy: Shameful.
Mr. Shore: Interestingly enough, for a family of four that amounts to approximately $3,000 and it will cost them in excess of $300 a year in interest.
The Premier accused the opposition of “lack of faith in the people of this province and their ability to separate their wants from their needs, and to separate inconvenience from lack of service.” Does he really expect people to believe that losing a community hospital is merely an inconvenience? I ask you, Mr. Speaker, does he really believe that?
Mr. Roy: Yes, he does.
Mr. Shore: Does he himself honestly believe that social services for our densely populated urban areas are only wanted rather than desperately needed? Taking a “holier than thou” attitude, the Premier accused the opposition parties of irresponsibility in risking an election “that would cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.” An election would cost something in the region of $12 million. What about the $9 million in taxpayers’ money that this government threw away because of its irresponsible and amateurish sortie into the international money market a few years ago?
Mr. S. Smith: The German market.
Mr. Shore: There were overtones of comedy to this scene, tragic somewhat, as the Premier said:
“We may stand alone in this House in our defence of a bright and economically viable future. We may stand alone in wanting to provide the people with secure and comprehensive medical care by streamlining the system.”
The government only defends its own internal bookkeeping, I submit, with the present budget.
Mr. Roy: Right on. Right on.
Mr. Shore: Clearly, the taxpayers of this province are going to get little help with their personal budgets from a government which forces municipalities to raise property taxes, which increases OHIP premiums upwards of 50 per cent, which makes no attempt to generate employment opportunities, and as for the secure and comprehensive medical care system, some of the province’s hospitals aren’t so secure thanks to this government. Any streamlining of the Ministry of Health’s administrative expenses is negligible.
The Premier spoke of maintaining “A healthy climate for the growth of the private sector.” The Treasurer on the other hand says he leaves it lip to the private sector to stimulate the economy.
The Premier talks of generating “greater wealth for all our citizens. If there is any real attempt to do this in this budget I stress it is not immediately apparent to me.
If the opposition parties force an election [he aecuec1l they would he depriving the people of Ontario of a programme by the Ministry of Labour to reduce labour unrest in the province through greater analysis and study and initiatives.
When can we expect this magnum opus or has this problem been contracted out to consultants who will produce a slough of books like those tabled in this House recently?
Mr. S. Smith: They are waiting for the churches to support it.
Mr. Shore: Incidentally, they will pay probably $8,000, as they did, to find some public relations person to write the opening remarks, perhaps.
Mr. S. Smith: Late at night.
Mr. Shore: As a matter of fact, I found it interesting that the word “people” was used so many times I really couldn’t believe it was a government member writing that article.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: You wouldn’t recognize it.
Mr. Roy: You started choking on the word after a while yourself.
Mr. Shore: I quote, “An election would deprive us of government initiatives to return to the taxpayer unused funds due to the strikes of employees of school boards.” That’s a great initiative.
An hon. member: Big deal.
Mr. Shore: It may even encourage further strikes so that we will have more to come back to the Treasury. Ask some of the Metropolitan members about that point. All this government has done for Metro recently is to ignore its frantic pleas for help in keeping down municipal taxes. The Premier said, “The opposition would deprive the farmer of an income stabilization programme.” Where is the provision in the budget, I stress to the Treasurer, for such a programme, which it has been estimated will cost upwards of $100 million?
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary estimates.
Mr. Shore: Talking of the restraint programme for a moment, the Premier said. “I think the municipalities and the school boards are going to be able to do it in spite of the observations you people across the floor make.”
Never mind our observations for a moment. Listen to the municipalities and the education boards, and particularly listen to Judy White, budget chairman of the London Board of Education, past chairman of that same board, who said recently that the board had had great difficulty with its new budget and realized “the hardships borne by the local taxpayer due to the withdrawal of support from the Ministry of Education.” She said the board’s main problem this year was the cutback in provincial grants and the lack of lead time from the ministry to allow boards to curtail spending.
I am sure the Treasurer will say he lets them know a month or two in advance. That’s very charitable. I want him to know that this same Mrs. White is a strong Tory and, in fact, was a candidate in the last Conservative nomination at London, Ont.
Mr. Gaunt: That explains it.
Mr. Riddell: Isn’t that embarrassing?
Mr. Roy: You’d better get rid of that seat for her on the other side.
Mr. Good: They’ll get her a job somewhere.
Mr. Shore: Mr. Speaker, I could hardly believe my ears when the Premier stated:
“They would wish this province with no goals, no development strategy and no capacity to protect its future.” I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the Premier -- without being provocative as he often states we are -- that clearly this government has no goals except for the single political goal of remaining in power. If there is a development strategy it certainly is being kept well under wraps.
Mr. Roy: That’s it.
Mr. Shore: The only future the Premier and the Treasurer appear to be interested in protecting is their own.
Mr. Roy: That’s it. They should resign.
Mr. Shore: At the beginning of this session the key word of the Throne Speech was the necessity to come to grips with inflation. After a somewhat specious reference to this -- incidentally, I have read budget speeches since 1972 and the opening remarks are almost the same.
Mr. Roy: They are all this Treasurer’s.
Mr. Shore: No, they are not all his. He had relief for two years.
Mr. Roy: The same speech writer.
Mr. S. Smith: They are all written by Lorne Henderson.
Mr. Shore: After a somewhat specious reference to this being a time of optimism about Ontario’s ability to maintain the quality of life of its citizens the government admitted that we face some critical economic realities and must adjust our priorities.
Reference was also made to the need to streamline government programmes. One might have been forgiven for wondering if a piece of the Liberal Party’s campaign literature had inadvertently been included in the Throne Speech, because this last fall Liberal candidates across this province stressed time and time again the urgency of adjusting our priorities, of exercising financial responsibility, of streamlining government programmes and cutting down on waste and extravagance.
Mr. S. Smith: And we were told there wasn’t any.
Mr. Makarchuk: Throw him out.
Mr. Shore: Undoubtedly some of our present financial problems can be attributed to the world-wide inflationary trends, but the government of Ontario has paid little or no attention in the last four or five years to the concept of financial responsibility. When the provincial Treasurer introduced the budget last year he said that it reflected, and I quote: “The integrity and sound financial management of some 30 years of Progressive Conservative rule.”
I found the claim of sound financial management extraordinary, to put it mildly. Let’s consider the record. The member for Chatham-Kent was provincial Treasurer in 1971, as he is today, and when he brought down the budget he stated that it was his intention: “To maintain firm control over public spending in order to contain tax levels and the generation of inflationary pressures.”
Perhaps his interpretation of firm control, Mr. Speaker, is vastly different from yours or mine, because provincial government expenditures increased by 15.5 per cent that year, almost $1 billion. There was a deficit of $1 billion because at the end of the year’s spending estimates were more than $1 billion higher than the budgetary estimates.
In 1972 the Treasurer promised: “Rigorous restraints on spending to curb inflationary forces as the economy moves back to full performance.” But what he delivered was an expenditure increase of almost $400 million; and that’s when we were moving back to full performance. Government spending increased 50 per cent more than the cost of living that year. If the Treasurer followed the policy of restraint -- rigorous or otherwise -- it was not very effective, because by the end of the fiscal year total government spending was over $1 billion higher than the original estimates.
The 1973 budget was presented by a different provincial Treasurer, the former member for London South, Mr. White. He said it was vital: “To exercise maximum restraint in provincial spending. Nevertheless, he proposed a spending increase of $760 million, an increase of 11.7 per cent over the previous year.
An hon. member: Where is he now?
Mr. Shore: Presenting the 1974 budget, the Treasurer informed the people -- as if they didn’t know by now -- that: “The most important problem facing us today is inflation.” Now we have only heard that for a number of ears. “Spending in the public sector must be controlled,” he said; and promptly called for an increase in government spending of 14.9 per cent while predicting the inflation rate for the general economy would be 7.7 per cent by the end of the fiscal year. It was obvious that the government had yet again underestimated its spending requirements for the fourth consecutive year --
Mr. S. Smith: It is no accident.
Mr. Shore: -- because the predicted increase of 14.2 per cent had jumped to 20 per cent plus. The budget was overspent by approximately $385 million.
Mr. Speaker, deficit financing has become almost a matter of government policy. In the 1910-1971 fiscal year, Ontario’s budgetary and non-budgetary deficit was $566 million.
Mr. S. Smith: Robarts knew better than that.
Mr. Shore: The following year, an election “ear incidentally, it was more than $1 billion. In 1972-1973 it was $744 million and in 1973-1974 it was $708 million. Last April when the provincial budget was brought down for the fiscal year 1975-1976, we learned that the government was going into debt $1.7 billion and the expenditures were increasing 16.8 per cent. A mini-budget was subsequently produced and updated to December of last year. The increase in government spending had jumped from 16.8 to 21 per cent. The budgetary and non-budgetary deficit figure updated to December was $1,976.000.000, almost 82 billion; and I submit, when we get finished playing with the figures, it will be $2 billion.
In the four years from 1970 to 1974 the province’s accumulated net debt more than doubled -- from $1.4 billion to $2.9 billion. By March, 1975, this provincial net debt had risen to $3.5 billion. Does this sound like a record of sound financial management? It does not to me.
Mr. Haggerty: It is a record.
Mr. S. Smith: Just sound, that’s all; pure sound.
Mr. Roy: We’ll give you full marks for consistency, Darcy.
Mr. Shore: Year after year, the provincial government has talked about restraining expenditures and about the dangers of inflation, and yet government programmes were expanded. No attempt was made to improve efficiency in the various ministries by streamlining the programmes or cutting back on duplication. As recently as last year, the government introduced programmes that were blatantly aimed at vote-catching. Surely with the thousands of staff available to a very capable Treasurer, he would know back in September some of the problems we face today. Surely we could count on that. Well we wouldn’t know it by that mini-budget.
There will be an additional $45 million over the next two years in connection with the home ownership grants. You know, we talk about their giving away money on the automobile rebates and on the housing gimmicks. I say to the Treasurer, though he may challenge -- and we will too -- the effectiveness of that on the economy; but one thing he can’t challenge, I submit, is that the beneficiaries of most of those moneys were not the people who really needed it in the Province of Ontario.
During the election campaign, the Premier promised that a system of tax credits would be introduced which would effectively lower high mortgage interest rates. I didn’t hear him say that himself, but I heard one of his candidates say it. He has now abandoned this plan, which would have given a yearly allowance of up to $500 to reduce interest charges on residential mortgages above 10¼ per cent. Families were enticed into the market with that promise. People who have over-extended themselves financially to buy a house because of that first-time homeowner’s grant will have no assistance with their mortgage rates. And now they face greatly inflated property taxes because the province has reduced the rate of provincial assistance to municipalities. The real problem is to get more housing built at least cost.
To some extent, the automobile sales tax may have stimulated sales but, as I stated, the wrong people were the beneficiaries.
The Treasurer, in his great wisdom, has decided that “the Ontario economy does not require government stimulation at this time.” He and his colleagues have decided, having shifted the responsibility for raising increased revenues to the municipal level, that they expect the private sector will be able to pick up the slack and stimulate the economy. However, he hastened to reassure us that “this does not imply a purely passive role for the government.”
Are the insignificant tax cuts to small businesses the only measure the Treasurer is capable of bringing forward? While we are fully aware that, with this government, we must at all times be thankful for small mercies, I fear some people -- those whom the Treasurer would doubtless consider misguided in their tendency to be less than charitable towards government policies -- some people might say the government is following a policy of absolute neglect in this connection.
The Treasurer tells us he is providing stronger incentives to Ontario’s small businesses. He is doing nothing more than eliminating some of the burdensome paperwork involved in the government’s tax credit scheme for these companies. I appreciate that and I thank him for it. Incidentally, the independent businessmen’s associations have been lobbying the government to simplify this system for the last several years. The number of companies to benefit has increased to 50,000 from 20,000 it’s true; but by reducing the tax rate from 12 per cent to nine per cent, the Treasurer is not providing one extra penny to small businessmen in Ontario. He admits himself that the $30 million cost of this reduction is identical to the cost of the tax credit scheme which it replaces, with the exception of some minor adjustments during the adjustment period.
The net result is that a larger number of businesses must divide the same size pie into smaller pieces. In addition, the small businessman will be forced to pay increased OHIP premiums, thanks to the Treasurer.
We cannot help but be concerned about the government’s restraint programmes. There is little evidence the Treasurer is really interested in restraint. No attempt has been made to reduce unnecessary extravagance on non-essentials. The government’s priorities in respect to cutbacks are strange, if not actually warped.
The government closed down the public health laboratory in Kenora to save $12,700, yet spent $9,500 on a car for the Deputy Minister of Health. Let’s not forget the $67,000 for the renovating of the vice-regal suite here at Queen’s Park and the $4,000 for a new ministerial lounge. That may be petty cash and nickels and dimes and so on, and I have heard that even $450,000 is nickels and dimes. I submit until we start looking at nickels and dimes we will not be saving dollars.
There is another $500,000 on a study commissioned by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to ascertain if high school students can read and write when they graduate -- surely an indictment of the Conservative government’s educational system. And what about the $19,000 to buy plants to decorate the new Transportation and Communications building on Highway 135 in London, not to mention their upkeep over the next few years, for a total of $30,000.
Mr. Mancini: It grows on you.
Mr. Shore: This is interesting. When my colleague, the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) questioned the Minister of Government Services (Mrs. Scrivener), that talented, capable minister, in this House about this latter extravagance in relation to small hospital closings, she dismissed the matter with a contemptuous comment that it was like comparing apples and oranges. Would you believe that to be an intelligent answer to a real, responsible question? I wouldn’t.
Mr. Roy: Typical of that government.
Mr. Sweeney: Wormy apples.
Mr. Shore: It sounds a little like Marie Antoinette telling the peasants to eat cake when they couldn’t afford bread, doesn’t it? It really does.
Last November the report of the special programme review committee was tabled in this Legislature. It contained a clear warning that public spending was out of control and made some 184 specific recommendations for restraint and review. Norman Webster, Queen’s Park columnist for the Globe and Mail, commented:
“The message has come through starkly and painfully to the Davis government in the past year or so.”
I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, it must have come through very quickly because in September they weren’t aware of it. In November they suddenly became starkly aware of it. To continue to quote from Mr. Webster:
“The buoyant days when anything that seemed worthwhile could be paid for, have ended with a crunch. It all adds up to a significant moral victory for the Liberal leader, Robert Nixon, who has been preaching precisely this for years.”
Maybe Mr. Claire Hoy would like to read that.
Mr. Roy: Why doesn’t the Treasurer admit it?
Mr. Shore: Since that time Maxwell Henderson, the Conservator mentor, I must suggest has warned the provincial government that it should have put its own house in order by cutting fat from government spending before implementing some of the other cutbacks recommended in his committee’s report. He said:
“In my opinion, our present political leaders are downright irresponsible to think they can spend our hard-earned dollars so recklessly. All it does is fuel our domestic inflation still further.”
That is coming from the mentor.
Mr. Roy: That’s the Treasurer.
Mr. Shore: Incidentally, through the Treasurer, back in the early months of October and November during my early neophyte days, I have asked the government to allow debate on that Henderson report to be put forward in this Legislature. I have asked that the members of this Legislature be taken into the government’s confidence with respect to our financial situation so that we may make a contribution through debate to the solutions to the problem.
The Treasurer makes a pretence of inviting public discussion, yet makes no attempt to discuss these important matters with the elected representatives of the people. In my opinion, the government should not make unilateral decisions in relation to establishing priorities for the province, without at least bringing before this House the rationale for taking decisions such as the implementation of the restraint programme.
The government of Ontario is supposed to be accountable to the people through this Ontario Legislature, yet this is not the case. Consider, for instance, the position taken by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor). He has announced that municipal welfare departments, Children’s Aid Societies, homes for the aged and other agencies, must live within increases of either 5.5 per cent or, in some instances, 7.5 per cent. In spite of the constant questioning in this House -- and I say to you, constant questioning -- he refuses to give a simple answer as to how this can be done. I submit he was either withholding it or he doesn’t know it and either one of them is irresponsible.
Of the $230 million in additional funds which the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. McKeough) says will be going to municipalities this coming year, some $140 million more is purportedly going for education. I stress that word “purportedly,” because as this debate will develop, perhaps our education critic and others may find some very serious questions to ask in that regard.
However, very few of the major boards in Ontario appear to be getting any of this money. I would like to know who is. In view of the large salary increases which have occurred, for which this provincial government is at least partially responsible, how can the government justify forcing the municipalities to become responsible for paying the increased educational expenditures out of the property tax? I will illustrate that in a moment.
With some of my Liberal caucus colleagues, I have been visiting various municipalities to discuss the entire question of the provincial-municipal relationships and the effects of the government’s restraint programme. In recent years, the province has transferred payment of up to 16 per cent increases to the municipalities. Now they are only prepared to transfer 7.8 per cent. This change of policy is, of course, creating real difficulties for the municipalities, and I cannot help but question the morality and good business sense of making drastic policy changes of this kind without proper notice and proper planning.
Obviously, we must evolve some better approach to this provincial-municipal relationship if we are to expect municipalities to be reasonably autonomous and to plan intelligently. In my opinion, the provincial government and the municipalities should establish budgets on a multi-year basis rather than basing their calculations simply on a 12-month period. This would be more efficient and enable the municipalities to establish priorities and make long-range plans, and I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the Treasurer, these municipalities want to do it. They are dying to do it. Give them a chance. It is vital to municipalities and school boards across this province, essential for effective planning and the solution of serious problems, that we have budgetary information available which will facilitate the establishment of new and changing priorities.
The municipalities are very concerned over the province’s overnight decision to reduce transfer payments. Before anyone jumps up and says it wasn’t overnight, as far as I am concerned it was. Maybe it was a month earlier but it is still overnight. The most noteworthy complaint has been that the programmes which municipalities must finance were predominantly initiated by the province and the standards were set by the province also. They ask how they can be expected to keep these provincially established standards when the provincial funds available for the programmes are reduced.
Some municipalities have expenditure increases of only seven or eight per cent, but need a 15 or 20 per cent increase in revenues, which are coming from the property tax base, because of the changes in the transfer payments. Obviously, the municipalities are going to be seen as the villains of the piece when they are forced either to cut back programmes or raise property taxes.
I would just like to refer you, Mr. Speaker, to one little observation, and I will say something on this in a moment, but the London Board of Education -- and believe me, I’ve served on the board and I know that some chastisings are sometimes essential -- the London Board of Education’s current budget, now completed, will increase approximately 10.7 per cent. I submit to you that despite all the things you want to say about it, it is probably less than the Province of Ontario’s budget will be. That 10.7 per cent will mean, to the taxpayers of the city of London, a mill rate increase of 31 per cent. If that isn’t transferring back on to the property-taxpayers, you tell me what is, Mr. Speaker. This is the same government that said the property tax base is very regressive.
Mr. S. Smith: In 1943 they ran on that platform.
Mr. Shore: The province’s astronomical overspending over the last four of five years has been passed on to the property-tax payer who, in many instances, will not be aware of this until the next tax bill is received. Municipalities had no choice since they are locked into so many programmes of a long-term nature.
The Treasurer’s ambivalent attitude to municipalities is typified by the fact that one day he congratulates the Metro people on efforts to reduce spending and another day he practically calls Metro council cry-babies because of their protests about the effects of increased OHIP payments on the municipal budgets because of the payroll setup. First, he says, “I am gratified to notice that Metro is rising to the challenge.” Then he says, “If it would do what others are doing and look facts in the face, it could find room for efficiency and belt tightening.”
He even said -- I am not sure I am quoting him accurately but it was something to this effect -- at a public meeting which I attended, “Get rid of the paintings in the subway.” But he puts plants in the Ministry of Natural Resources buildings in the Province of Ontario.
Maxwell Henderson is not alone in his criticism of the present provincial government. Someone else, it seems, has joined the ranks of Tory critics -- the former Conservative member of the Legislature for London North, Mr. Gordon Walker. He has recently written to the Premier (Mr. Davis), with a very private, confidential and exceptionally large public circulation list, chastising the government for its many deficiencies.
This dyed-in-the-wool Tory has called upon the Premier to eliminate government bureaucracy. He has asked that government departments, ministries and programmes be reassessed to determine if we could get along without them, and that the government get rid of policies like land banking which has the effect of driving up prices of new homes. He has suddenly realized that. Would you believe this, Mr. Speaker -- I am sorry the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) is not here; I would suggest this to the rural members -- he even suggested that we get rid of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Riddell: Nobody likes food better than the Treasurer.
Mr. Shore: He also suggested strongly in a public statement that Westminster Hospital in London was going to be transferred from the federal government to the Province of Ontario and the move was virtually in place. I want members to know he said this right in the middle of the election campaign, of course. Only recently, the deputy minister of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs said publicly that disapproval of the transfer was a great surprise to him. It appears either his credibility is in question or he finds it much easier to criticize as a former member than he did as a member. I submit it is probably both.
Borrowing from pension funds is another interesting economic and mathematical game which is being stressed. One could almost admire the Treasurer for the manner in which he so proudly announced -- this is probably one of his most significant announcements -- the government of Ontario will not, I stress, require any public borrowing in 1976-1977.” I say to you, Mr. Speaker, it takes a lot of nerve to make a statement like that to a Legislature which is fully aware of the true situation.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right.
Mr. Shore: Of course, no matter how we look at it, the province has indeed borrowed and has increased the debt by another $1,241 billion or another $150 for every person in Ontario this year. It must be paid at some time. It is sheer hypocrisy to attempt to disguise the true facts by stating the province will not have to borrow from public funds when again, as in years prior to last year’s budget, the government has spent an amount equal to revenue plus the amount of in-house borrowing available from the pension funds.
The government is, as usual, relying on these pension funds of the Canada Pension Plan, the Teachers’ Superannuation and Municipal Employees Retirement funds. We all know that these funds will not necessarily be available as future borrowing sources.
Pension funds are, to a certain extent, non-renewable and as a source of funds definitely have a limit. Estimates are that disbursements will exceed revenue in the early 1960s and this effect will be heightened as benefits rise through indexing. I would just like to observe, as my good friend from Waterloo North (Mr. Good) indicated to me, that of the $150 million that is being borrowed this year an interesting observation -- $425 million will be used just to pay the interest on the borrowing from the Canada Pension Plan. That’s not good financial management -- not in my books.
Mr. S. Smith: Be honest about this. Get it out in the open.
Mr. Shore: Borrowing from non-public funds is a type of “crowding out” -- as otherwise funds would he invested elsewhere. So there is a definite opportunity cost involved. The Canada Pension Plan will run out around 1982. I haven’t all the advisers the Treasurer has, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was earlier.
The Treasurer has recently proposed doubling the contribution rate in order to keep a borrowing surplus available. In other words, not only does he expect the municipalities to accept the responsibilities to raise increased revenues, and the private sector to stimulate the economy, he would also like the individual taxpayer to help him out in another way -- by paying more into the Canada Pension Plan so then he and his colleagues can continue on their merry spending way.
Mr. Good: Shame on you -- and that’s what you want to do.
Mr. Shore: Surely the government realizes it is becoming increasingly more important in the long run, in view of inflationary forces, that we ask that these pension fund, be invested so that they can earn the highest possible rate of return for the future recipients, and not the average seven to eight per cent currently being received from Ontario debentures -- and maybe even nine per cent in some instances.
Mr. S. Smith: Money is money wherever you borrow it.
Mr. Shore: A joint study group looking into the investment policies of the Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement Systems (OMERS) has concluded that the funds should be invested in a broader range of Canadian securities to obtain a higher rate of return than the Province of Ontario debentures are yielding. This is becoming increasingly necessary with inflation forcing the indexing of pensions.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right; robbing pensioners.
Mr. Shore: The Teachers’ Superannuation Fund will in all likelihood broaden its investment portfolio and the province will be able to borrow less from these sources.
The province used pension funds to finance $1.2 billion of its deficit last year. Again, this year there is no incentive to balance the budget any closer than whatever amount is available from these in-house funds.
The problem with relying on these pension funds, I submit, is that the government is building a certain level of expenditures. When these sources are no longer available, or grossly reduced, the expenditure pattern will have to be drastically altered. The government would have to take drastic measures to decrease spending if it did not have access to these pension funds. Maybe it’s the type of discipline we should have.
There are certain inherent weaknesses in the government’s policy of in-house borrowing. The discipline of the open market is not applicable, and it also forces the pension funds to accept an artificially low return for their investment. Of course, we cannot overlook the fact that as Ontario would be considered the employer of the pension recipients, the government would in the event have to make up any deficit in the future anyway. So that unless these pension funds are maintained at a sufficient level, it is simply a matter of putting off the day of reckoning.
Incidentally, it is interesting that of the Sd.42 billion lent to the provinces from the fund in recent years, Ontario -- one of the wealthiest provinces -- has borrowed $5.2 billion, mostly for the construction of colleges, universities and hospitals during the Sixties and Seventies -- some of which now are being talked about in terms of closing.
Mr. Good: That’s terrible.
Mr. Shore: I would like to take this opportunity to ask the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) what happened in connection with the indication in the financial statement of 1975 where he stated that an actuarial study on the pensions funds, and specifically the public service superannuation fund as at Dec. 31, 1973, was being prepared. Is this actuarial study available, and what exactly does it show?
On the subject of this government’s educational policies, I don’t think this is an appropriate time to discuss the many shortcomings of the system. However, I would like to spend a few minutes on some financial matters in connection with the respective responsibilities of the ministry and the boards of education.
When the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) announced school board grant levels back in December; he made it appear that the province was being very generous. School boards would receive, he said, eight per cent increases in elementary and secondary school grants, with an additional $80 at the elementary level. Very generous, it would appear.
The minister was less boastful, however, 3 out two other actions which, for many ho a-ds, totally or partially eradicate the province’s supposed generosity. One was the removal of the declining enrolment factor -- a partial grant given in recognition of continuing costs the veer after the enrolment declines. This especially hurt large urban boards at the elementary level.
The other action was the shift of provincial support for the cost of education in general -- from 62 per cent to 60 per cent on the average. The Toronto board members protested against what they considered a “con job” foisted on the public -- the government’s bragging about its supposed eight per cent increase -- at the road show meeting in Toronto. And I stress it was a road show, because it seems to me it’s irresponsible for senior ministers -- and there were many of them, including the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) the Treasurer and the Minister of Education -- to be travelling throughout this province, giving big speeches to hundreds of people from the municipal councils and boards of education, who felt they were providing input, only to be told: “Here is the statement. My ministry officials are here. I’m now going to a press conference.” That’s an insult to intelligent planning.
An hon. member: Right.
Mr. Shore: The Toronto board continues to assert their claim in spite of the Minister of Education’s contention that Toronto is inflating the amount of money its claims it will lose, compared with last year’s grant.
London school board trustees have accused the ministry of “gross deception and dishonesty and chicanery” -- and I mentioned some of the facts a minute ago -- in his presentation of provincial financial support to school boards in 1976. The London board’s officials have calculated that in spite of the minister’s announcement of an eight per cent increase in grants at the secondary level, because of the cutbacks in the rate of grant their grants from the province are actually going down by five to six per cent in 1976.
I am not here to defend boards of Education, because in many instances they deserve to be chastised. I am here to say that perhaps if they as a group were more aggressive and less passive in their relationship with this government -- and I think this is also true of municipalities -- they would have more of an opportunity to get that authority to be accountable. However, let me say this with respect to the problems facing municipalities today: The responsibility must be laid substantially at the door of the government of Ontario. Boards of education and municipal councils have become, to a great extent, dartboards for the government and the public to blame for matters which are out of their control to a great extent.
Let’s look for a moment at the ceilings on education. Several years ago, when I was on the board of education, I said that they were really not effective. History has proven this to be true. The ceilings on spending became the floor on spending by many boards. To a great extent this was because the boards did not have to account to the local taxpayers to any great extent.
Look at what happened to education costs during this period. According to the Henderson report, working on a basis of 100 in the ear 1970, spending went up from 108 in 1971 to 118 in 1972 and to a projected 205 in 1976. And this was with the approval of the government of Ontario through its saving process.
During that period, the ministry constantly said how great everything was and kept referring to statistics which did not recognize that enrolments were dropping. The other observation I have is that instead of boards concerning themselves with the quality of education, too much attention had to be given to economic matters and teacher negotiations. Ask any trustee, any administrator or principal what percentage of time is spent on truly examining the education system and improving its quality for the benefit of the consumers, namely the students, and they will tell you not nearly enough because they are trying to fight for a balanced budget and play the game with the Ministry of Education and the Treasurer.
Again, the fault lies to a great extent with the provincial government, because municipalities and boards have little control over their destinies and this situation is aggravated by the fact that planning and transfer payment decisions are made from year to year. In this connection, we have only to look at the extremes of the percentage of transfer payments this year, compared with last year. For example, an increase of more than $500 million was transferred last year, compared with the previous year, and only a little over $200 million has been $transferred this year. I think we would all agree that these extremes make it impossible for anyone to plan intelligently. Let me say that perhaps there was much too much transferred before. I submit it is a waste of talent and a strategy for the student that the educators and boards and municipalities cannot spend -- and have not spent -- more time attending to educational matters and municipal matters.
Obviously, this will not change sufficiently until this province really changes its attitude toward the relationship between itself and its municipalities. I submit that will only happen when the government changes its own attitude, its belief in planning for more than one year at a time, and make the basic essential change to multi-year financial planning.
I submit in many instances municipally elected people are receiving “danger pay as their salary to stave off the criticism caused by the actions of the provincial government. I say this not only because of this year but also -- on the other side of the coin -- because there were many years when the provincial government transferred too much without any real plan.
A typical example of the poor planning concept is the statement made by the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) in London. Local taxpayers were, and I quote, “understandably perturbed at the announced 31 per cent increase in education tax rate for this year.”
However, the minister felt this was not unreasonable in view of the fact -- and this is not a quote, this was just a statement he made in a speech -- that over the past five years tax increases have not got out of hand. But this is no comfort to these taxpayers who are faced with an enormous increase because of the typically poor planning this government has done.
Surely, even the Minister of Education knows we are not dealing with the same taxpayer this year as we were last year, or the year before, or the year before. And surely the same Minister of Education must know, and hopefully he does, that the circumstances have also changed.
Mr. Breithaupt: I hope the cabinet will read this.
Mr. Shore: Possibly we should have seen the writing on the wall with respect to the increases in OHIP premiums during the last election campaign, when Conservative candidates proudly boasted that despite inflation these OHIP rates had not increased in five years.
It is true that premiums had not gone up since 1972. But surely the present increase is excessive under any circumstances. The government maintains the increase will not create real hardships for Ontario taxpayers because most people are involved in group plans with considerable employer contributions -- and employers, for the purpose of the budget, are equated for the most part with corporations, able to write off these increases on their taxes. In fact, the budget estimates that employers will recoup some $50 million through these write-offs.
What about the non-corporate OHIP groups? What about municipal workers, school board employees, hospital workers and government employees? Mr. Speaker, I would just like to refer you to a statement that we have received, from the municipal liaison committee, which states more or loss that preliminary figures indicate that Metro, the city of Toronto, the region of Waterloo and the region of Peel will have to pay in excess of $1 million -- just those four communities alone -- because of this decision.
Typical of the devious methods followed by the Treasurer in this year’s budget is the fact that with the OHIP increase he has once again managed to have his cake and eat it. Not only will the province have increased revenues because of the higher OHIP premiums, but as the premiums are a standard fringe benefit in many contracts and therefore a taxable benefit, personal income tax revenue will increase accordingly. Yet one more example of the provincial government winkling a little more money out of the individual taxpayer without getting the blame for it.
Following the budget announcement that rate for semi-private hospital accommodations are increased from $7.50 to $11, and from $12 to $22 per day, Blue Cross announced that it would be forced to more than triple non-group subscribers’ premiums. It seems to me that that is also irresponsible.
Over the last few years a number of commissions and groups have recommended methods by which the health care delivery system could be restructured to operate more effectively and to accomplish its function more directly. The current need for financial stringency would have provided an excellent opportunity to launch a realignment of the system. Instead, we have patchwork and harmful adjustments to the existing system, rather than the fundamental changes which are so badly needed.
Anyone who doesn’t think that such fundamental changes are necessary has only to look at the government’s recent activities in closing down community hospitals and the developments which we have witnessed in other areas. The alleged abuses of the system by private laboratories and certain doctors, for example; the recent revelation that some 800 doctors are earning $100,000 annually or more through OHIP; and the unique position of oral surgeons, one third of whom are earning over $80,000 a year.
In the Legislature recently, my leader asked the Minister of Health about a claim made by the Ontario Hospital Association that some 816 million had been withheld from Ontario hospitals during these months -- an amount, which, incidentally, is in addition to the $85 million voted in supplementary estimates. This $16 million was supposed to have been spent in the fiscal year. Has any provision been made for this amount in this year’s budget?
One cannot but be shocked at the attitudes of the government to the hospitals concerned. The ministry has taken the view that while it knows the hospitals have spent within their approved budgets for the few months in question, the government is just not in a position to give the hospitals the money which they had been promised.
Rather interestingly, just yesterday or the day before, in the question period, a question was asked several times -- with no answer that I am satisfied with -- of the acting Minister of Health (B. Stephenson). Could they tell us how much more or how much less, or what is saved as a result of the waffling on the hospital closings in these four major centres? Could they tell us how much they have saved by this changeover, and how they arrived at that decision? I submit it was a typical answer we received -- they don’t know the answer, or they don’t want to tell us, or it’s too early. Surely when they are making major decisions like that it is not unreasonable to expect that they should have the answers?
Mr. Conway: Don’t ask the cabinet now. There are not too many of them around.
An hon. member: They have all disappeared.
Mr. Conway: Where have they gone?
Mr. B. Newman: Not a single one.
Mr. Sneaker: Order, please.
Mr. Shore: It might well be that the Treasurer is helping the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) deliver some of these documents that got out a little earlier.
Mr. Conway: Must be a Lenten fast.
Mr. Shore: Typical of the haphazard handling of the restraint programme in the health field is the fact that Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, was advised late in February that about $1.9 million was to be cut from its budget allocation, but it has now been told that this reduction will be less significant, that further funds will lie available for the 1976 operating budget. Incidentally, the original cutback order was by far the largest handed out to any hospital in the province. Naturally, I am delighted for that for Victoria Hospital. However, I ask the question: What happened in its original planning? Where did it go wrong, and are these funds in the budget?
I am also disappointed in the projected housing starts for 1976-1977, numbering 82,000. Is the Treasurer not concerned that 82,000 starts this year will put us further behind in producing sufficient housing for our population? While the Maxwell Henderson report previews a target change from 100,000 to 80,000 annually, even the economy-minded Mr. Henderson was not so bold as to set 80,000 as a target but suggested that further population trend studies were necessary. I have seen nothing to convince me that the target of 100,000 starts, which has been accepted as the reasonable expectation of performance in this province over the past few years, should be so drastically modified.
Why is it that this province, this great wealthy province -- and I use the Treasurer’s own words, “the dynamic economy of this province of opportunity” -- consistently produces proportionately fewer starts than the rest of Canada? The upturn here is always slower and the downturn always swifter. I do not wish to bore this House with statistics, but I would just like to place these on the record:
Cumulative figures for January and February, 1976, show for single detached starts in urban Canada an increase of 75 per cent over the same period last year. For all other starts there is an increase of 113 per cent over the same period last year, but for urban Ontario the upswing has been weaker. Single detached starts have increased by 57 per cent and all other categories have increased by 71 per cent over the same period.
While I and my party are very disappointed with this projected level of starts, we are very much more disappointed that neither the budget nor the budget statement indicate a priority at all for stimulating the production of housing. Let me remind this House there is no other industry that generates the multiplier effect more dramatically than the construction industry. There is no other industry that ran put more persons to work than the housing industry. There is no other commodity more needed in this province than affordable housing.
In the circumstances, it saddens me to observe further that we shall apparently be very lucky indeed to reach even the reduced production projected by the budget. At the very base of the housing problem is the municipal finance problem. Studies have shown that municipalities experience a net loss on each unit of moderate cost housing they accept. OHAP has bridged part of this gap but a large deficiency still exists. This year, with the severe constraints in municipal budgets, how will municipalities be able to shoulder their responsibility to provide housing for our people?
Information has reached us that shows clearly the problem we shall face in just a few months. Housing starts are up for the early months of 1976. However, approvals are seriously down. This will inevitably be reflected in drastically declining production as the year continues.
The revenue accruing to this province for each unit of new housing is an amount between $3,000 and $4,000, representing personal and corporate tax revenue in addition to the consumption tax revenues. A shortfall in housing starts will seriously undermine the anticipated revenue projected in this budget, which is truly cause for concern.
A few weeks ago, the Urban Development Institute came forward with a plan for developing moderate cost housing. This report demonstrates, as no report has demonstrated before, that the development industry is able to produce the types of affordable housing in demand today. The industry is aware that the main problem is affordable housing. Let me quote from this report: “The affordability of housing is one of today’s most controversial and most critically important social and economic concerns.” They go on not to merely outline the problem but to offer the solutions. That is what impresses me; here is the industry coming forward with creative solutions.
However, there is no way under the present municipal financial arrangements that communities can afford housing that represents a net drain on present property owners. This is the heart of the problem. This is at the very core of the housing problem. The municipalities are again expected to raise the funds. The taxpayers are expected to foot the bill as usual.
The government must recognize this situation as probably the most serious problem facing this province today -- the production of a stock of housing this province must be able to afford.
This budget makes it very clear that there has been no real change in the philosophy on the part of this government with respect to financial planning. There really hasn’t. It is little more than a near-fraudulent attempt to confuse people about the true situation which is that at some time in the future taxpayers will have to bear the full cost of present benefits and this government’s irresponsible, unplanned spending.
Typical of the Treasurer’s twisted priorities is the fact that while seven per cent -- seven cents of every tax dollar -- is spent on social services, a similar amount of seven cents is being spent on servicing the net provincial debt. That’s something that’s worth looking at.
Mr. Bullbrook: What a legacy you leave the next generation.
Mr. Sweeney: As much in debt as in social services.
Mr. Shore: By locking the province into the present level of debt service and future levels of amortization, the government has certainly limited options as far as new spending initiatives are concerned. Next year the borrowing load is almost bound to increase.
As for the government leading the way in exercising pending restraint, there is a strong move all over the country toward fiscal conservatism. The government has given no indication that it has any firm intention of making sure that this estimated $1.2 billion deficit will be an absolute maximum in view of the inflationary trends. Keep in mind it is also counting on $2 billion more revenue to arrive at this holding point. I’d love to agree with it.
I ask this question: Will this government guarantee to this House that before it comes back for supplementary estimates it will come to us and cay: “We are going over the budget. We want to discuss this matter with you in this open Legislature.” To me, that’s the way these things should be done. Otherwise, the government must hold itself to the $1.2 million the same as the municipalities and the same as the boards have to do.
Economists agree that while it is all very well to we deficit budgeting to get ourselves out of a recession or to generate productivity, to use deficit financing to foster continuous spending beyond one’s means is the way to fiscal disaster.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right. Buying votes it is called.
Mr. Shore: I submit and venture to suggest to the Treasurer that if he had run his hardware business back home in Chatham along similar lines -- I’m sure he doesn’t -- he would have been bankrupt long ago. I submit that.
Mr. Peterson: He has. He went into the land business.
Mr. Shore: With respect to the government’s present budget, no one is going to argue with the vital necessity of exercising financial restraint. The tragedy of this whole business is that the government of Ontario knew all the facts last year and nothing has really changed since that time. Yet during the election campaign the government made no mention of the necessity to raise taxes and so on; quite the reverse.
Possibly if one were to examine the new budget in isolation without taking into consideration past events, one might form the opinion that this is a government struggling valiantly to bring some order out of the financial chaos caused by the irresponsibility of former administrations. One might be tempted to describe the budget as a recovery budget. However, in view of the fact that the Treasurer and his colleagues are largely responsible for the overspending which has led to the province’s present financial situation, one cannot really commend them for attempting to straighten out the very problems which they themselves have created, even if one had any faith in this budget’s ability to bring about a substantial improvement.
Over the years, the provincial government has followed a bizarre financial policy of solving its problems by increasing its spending. The budget statement is preoccupied with measures which are ostensibly aimed at restraining expenditures, but it merely gives details of the administration of existing programmes. Clearly there is a total unawareness on the part of the government of the need for a fundamental readjustment of the basis and content of existing programmes in line with the assessment made by their own special programme review committee, which also provided recommendations and suggestions which the Treasurer has chosen to ignore except where it suits his purposes to act upon them.
What needs to be appreciated, but evidently is not realized yet by this Treasurer and his colleagues, is the concern of people regarding growth in government -- not only the size of government, but the intrusion of government into the affairs of people. The concern is that a whole apparatus of spending administration has been created, the rationale for whose existence has been overtaken by a desire for self-preservation on the part of those involved in it. It is out of the control of the public. it is apparently out of control of those administering it, and it is evidently out of control of the public’s elected representatives who are supposed to be acting on the public’s behalf.
Public concern about the extent of government is not to be allayed by playing around with relative priorities in numbers or salaries in the public service. Incidentally, I still have no seen the actual number of people on this payroll. It will only he allayed if there is evident recognition of the need for thoroughgoing re-examination of the purpose and the most effective manner of discharging the public responsibilities undertaken on behalf of the people.
The thrust of the special programme re’.csv was directed at precisely this broader type of question. The members of the review committee were addressing themselves to questions regarding the proper function of public expenditures, whether current levels of expenditure were warranted and whether the same results could not be achieved in alternative and better ways.
In my opinion, one of the best methods of judging a business is by its record. I believe that one of the best ways to judge a government is also by its record.
Make no mistake, I think Ontario is a great place to live, but in many respects this province has remained great in spite of the activities of successive Conservative governments, rather than because of them. What I find incredible is that any government could have made such a hash of the finances of a province as wealthy as Ontario.
For a very long time, we have prided ourselves on being financially secure compared with our sister provinces. Now Alberta and Saskatchewan are in a better budgetary position than Ontario. Nothing has changed as far as our resources are concerned, although the Treasurer will doubtless attempt to cite the other provinces’ oil and gas resources as an evaluation of their increased prosperity. All that has really happened is that all these years have had their effect on us. No one, no individual, no government can continue spending money like it’s going out of style without being called to account eventually.
Doubtless some members of this House will in their contributions to the budget debate congratulate the Treasurer on his budget. I cannot in all conscience bring myself to do this with great authority or great enthusiasm for I cannot condone the deliberate attempt to twist the financial facts to suit political purposes. The budget is truly a remarkable collection of hypocrisy and hypothesis. I have no doubt that as we continue to examine it in more detail during the budget discussions and during debate on the various estimates, we shall discover many half-truths, many instances of misdirection and many adjustments in the basis of calculation.
I hoped to be able to congratulate the Treasurer on at least making a sincere attempt to come to grips with the problems of inflation, but he has done very little. According to the Treasurer and his colleagues, they have been doing a great job. The problems we are experiencing are the fault of Ottawa, the fault of the municipalities, extravagance, of increased demands from the people of Ontario for more better services and I would just like to comment on that.
We have here a speech made by the Minister of Government Services (Mrs. Scrivener) and I read this to you, Mr. Speaker:
“The public is partly to blame for all these provincial budgets or deficits that have been too large and taxes that are too high. [This is what she said] When the public demands a new service, a sensible government provides it or is replaced by a government that will.”
Mr. S. Smith: Bribery.
Mr. Shore: Now, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and in relation to that speech, through you I would like to ask the minister, who were the people who forced regional government in the Hamilton area, in the Niagara area and in the Waterloo area? I’m not suggesting for a moment that they do not have some benefits, but who were the people who forced that, as she suggests?
I ask her also, who were the people who forced the opening across this province of all the universities, the colleges and the hospitals, and many schools, some of which she is now closing?
Mr. S. Smith: Government largesse.
Mr. Shore: Who were the people who forced the communities to close small hospitals? That’s what she is referring to in there. That’s an irresponsible statement. I submit. If one were to believe the government spokesmen, everyone is out of step except the Treasurer.
The Treasurer concludes his remarks in the budget statement with the following words -- I quote:
“My budget statement is a declaration of confidence. Confidence in the dynamic economy of this province of opportunity. Confidence in Ontario’s workers, farmers, enterprises and institutions. And confidence in the solid record of achievement of this government.”
I share the Treasurer’s confidence in the people and the province. The record of achievement of this government is, however, another matter entirely -- a matter in which I find cause for real concern.
Despite our disappointment in this budget, I would just like to make a few comments on what the Premier of this province (Mr. Davis) stated in his Throne debate address. He several times stated, and I quote: “A minority Legislature could have worked in this province.” This was when we were talking about the debate matters. He wanted a minority government to work. And he goes on to say, “and I can live with my conscience because I know I want this minority government to work.” Then he goes on further to say he wants it to be given a chance to work.
Throughout these criticisms that I’ve made and despite there being strong criticisms, we are going to keep open our option to make an amendment in this debate. However, we believe strongly, and very strongly, that we should at least let the government have the opportunity to see if the Premier truly means what he says, that he wants this government to work. We are going to leave our options open as to whether it will. Just to conclude, I am reminded of one little statement I would like to go on record. A man endangered his own life to rescue a small boy from drowning. The boy said, “Thank you, sir, for saving me.” The man replied, “That’s all right son, just be sure you’re worth saving.” And we’re going to keep our options open to see if it is worth saving.
Hon. Mr. Meen moved the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to.
Clerk of the House: The second order, House in committee of the whole.
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
House in committee on Bill 46, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
On section 1:
Mr. Chairman: On Bill 46, the minister has introduced an amendment to section 1, subsections 1 and 2.
Mr. Edighoffer: Mr. Chairman, I don’t know whether it relates to this or not; however while adjourned I took the opportunity to review these amendments, I see that what was contained in the first amendment relating to furniture and appliances has now been moved back to another amendment. I just wanted to get it on record, though, and ask the minister how far this would take items eligible for exemption? Would it mean such items as the stove and the fridge and the dishwasher, if they are attached, are exempt or not?
Hon. Mr. Meen: I believe that in this arrangement, with the mobile home that you are speaking of, if they are firmly affixed, they are part of the mobile home. If they are installed at the factory and part of the entire unit, then they are part of it and the price is based on that total. It’s when things are not fully affixed within it, if you were buying it complete with kettles and other things of a strictly personality nature, that is the sort of thing that would not be included in the discount and the total price would have to be calculated -- let me put it another way, the tax would have to be calculated before the value of those items was added in.
There is a second amendment to the same section 1, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Just one moment then. Shall the amendment to section 1, subsections 1 and 2, carry?
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Meen: The further amendment is at the end there are six subsections in section 1 as amended now.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Meen moves that section 1 be further amended by adding the following subsection:
“7. That the said section 1 is further amended by adding thereto the following paragraph:
“17 (a) taxable value means: (a) In the case of a mobile home one-half of the sale price thereof is charged to the person acquiring a mobile home as a residence if such price is determined by including therein all charges for delivery of the mobile home in accordance with the terms of such sale; by excluding therefrom the retail sales prices of any furniture or appliance that is not permanently attached to and part of the interior structure of the mobile home; and by excluding therefrom any charges for the installation or connection of the mobile home on the site to which it is delivered; or (b), in the case of a modular home, an amount equal to 55 per cent of the sale price of such modular home on the sale thereof by its manufacturer to a builder; or where the manufacturer is the consumer of such modular home, 55 per cent of the sale price normally charged by the manufacturer on the sale thereof to a builder, but such taxable value applies only with the first retail sale of a mobile home or a modular home after April 6, 1976.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: The minister has a further amendment to section 3, subsection 4. Anything in the bill prior to that section? If not, the hon. minister.
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Meen moves that subsection 4 of section 3 of the bill be deleted and that sections 5 to S be renumbered respectively as 4 to 8.
Shall the amendment carry?
Mr. Good: Wait a minute, what does it mean?
Hon. Mr. Meen: I had explained at the beginning, that is the newspaper section, Mr. Chairman.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: The minister has a further amendment to section 13. Is there anything prior to section 13 of the bill? The hon. member for Perth.
Mr. Edighoffer: I haven’t an amendment or anything, I just wondered, for clarification, why the word “Canadian” was taken out of sub. 6 of section 3? What’s the purpose of that change regarding postage stamps?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Chairman, the intention here is to apply a tax to any un-cancelled postage stamps. Various philatelic organizations arrange for sales of stamps, and some countries arrange for special issues of stamps and their sale, cancelled or un-cancelled -- and particularly un-cancelled -- is what we are talking about here; their sale in various countries. They can’t be used in this country; they can’t he used for the purpose of the delivery or the payment for the delivery of mail. They can only be used in the sense of their sales.
Since this is a mutuality that’s extended in other jurisdictions, we are removing the tax on the sale of any un-cancelled stamp by any country if it’s sold at face value. Now, if it is sold above that, then tax applies.
Mr. Chairman: Any other comment on any other section of the bill, up to section 13? If not the hon. minister has an amendment.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to. Sections 4 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 13:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Meen moves that subsection 1 of section 13 of the bill be amended by deleting “nine” at the beginning of the third line and substituting therefor the number “eight”; and that subsection 3 of section 13 of the bill be amended I by deleting “nine” in the second line and substituting therefor the number “eight”.
Motion agreed to.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
Bill 46, as amended, reported.
Hon. Mr. Meen moved that the committee rise and report.
Motion agreed to.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report one bill with certain amendments and asks for leave to sit again.
Report agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill 46, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
ONTARIO LOAN ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved second reading of Bill 43, An Act to authorize the raising of money on the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister wishes to comment.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, it might help if I gave you some brief notes on this bill. It always causes a little bit of confusion, because it doesn’t really authorize all our borrowings. Some of the borrowing is covered in separate statutes.
Basically, this particular bill covers our borrowings from the Canada Pension Plan and from Central Mortgage. The borrowing from the Teachers’ Superannuation Fund and from OMERS is under separate legislation; as are, of course, the borrowings by and for Ontario Hydro. Basically, this boils down to our borrowings from the Canada Pension Plan and any public market borrowings including the short-term Treasury bill programme.
We expect to borrow from the Canada Pension Plan about $850 million and about $34 million from Central Mortgage and Housing Corp -- this is during this fiscal year -- whereas the bill authorizes borrowings of up to $1.2 billion. Members will recall, I think, that the bill carries forward, it doesn’t just apply to this fiscal year; the authority is there until we borrow to the limit. I think we will reach the limit of the previous bill, as I recall, about May, and this particular bill for $1.2 billion would carry us through for borrowings from the Canada Pension Plan and from Central Mortgage until the middle of the summer of 1977.
Members may wonder why we have drafted a bill which essentially would carry us for 15 months rather than perhaps 12. We like to have some leeway, particularly under present circumstances. One of our quandaries -- and it wasn’t all that serious -- was that had certain events taken place on April 5, we would not have had authority until the House met again. We’d have run out sometime this month and we would not have had authority to borrow money from the Canada Pension Plan. We borrow money from the Canada Pension Plan, obviously, at a favourable rate, the federal rate slightly adjusted.
By the time the House met again after an election, it probably would have been June, I suppose, at the earliest, we would have lost a couple of months of preferred interest on Canada Pension Plan borrowings. We would have had to borrow elsewhere on short-term, which is expensive. I’ve forgotten what the figure was but I think it was several thousand dollars a day.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that we might be in the same circumstances a year from now. Hence the financial people crafted the bill so that at current rate of Canada Pension Plan borrowings this will cover us until about the summer of 1977.
The $1.2 billion -- this is my point -- in this bill does not relate to the $1.23 billion cash requirements which are in the budget. The two things don’t coincide for various reasons which I’ve described.
Ms. Bryden: It would appear that the provincial Treasurer is second-guessing the date of the next election. I’m not sure what happens if there is an election and the new House has not met by the summer of 1977 and there is no borrowing authority left. I would hope, even though the extra months are being asked for, that before the end of the fiscal year he would bring in a new bill next year, if the House is sitting at the time, so that we don’t go in for this long-term authorization. But I’m prepared to go along with it at the moment.
I have a couple of questions. Is the borrowing from Central Mortgage and Housing used strictly for housing purposes or is it just another fund that we are able to get low-cost loans from? Secondly, has he any specific plans for using Treasury bills in this 15-month period since in the budget he did say that he was not going in for any public borrowing in this fiscal year?
Mr. Good: It is very interesting that the Treasurer has chosen this year -- the first time in the nine years I’ve been here -- really to confess utterly what the real implications of this particular bill are. We have had indications in other years and year by year we seem to gain a little more knowledge of what the real implications of this borrowing bill are.
As indicated by the Treasurer, permission for borrowing from OMERS, and the Teachers’ Superannuation fund -- also for Hydro -- are contained in other statutes. No permission is needed in this bill to cover borrowing in those areas.
Leaving Hydro out, there is provision outside the terms of this bill to borrow, according to the budget, almost $400 million. This bill is asking for permission to borrow another $1.2 billion. As indicated by the Treasurer, only about $850 million of that will be available from Canada Pension Plan. There will be about $34 million from CMHC used for municipal sewer systems and waterworks, etc. Then, I understand, this authority will also allow the province to borrow the rest from the public money market.
We have really established here authority for borrowing about $1.6 billion, which is somewhere between $300 million and $400 million more than the projected deficit. We are maybe a little critical of government policy in this regard. As mentioned by my colleague the member for London North (Mr. Shore) earlier in the year, the borrowing capacity of this province has seemed to stimulate expenditures. We do not agree there should be this large cushion in the borrowing capacity over and above the deficit as indicated in the budget.
I would like to know if this is an indication at this early date that the government intends to have supplementary estimates later in the year which could be covered by this additional borrowing capacity? We know it would lose the right to borrow from Canada Pension Plan if it does not exercise it when the money is available. The money then, according to the terms of Canada Pension Plan, can be used by the federal government, so this government must have this authority. The other question which I think is very pertinent is how much unused borrowing authority does the government have from previous years? I understand it can go back and pick up surpluses as far back as it cares to go as long as the statutes authorizing the borrowing have been passed. How much unused borrowing capacity is there from years gone by which has not been used?
The total borrowing capacity, as I said here, reaches almost $1.6 billion. I don’t agree that such a large cushion should be provided for. Why should the Treasurer he asking for authority to borrow beyond the 1976-1977 financial year which ends on March 31, 1977? There is no need to ask for borrowing capacity in the following fiscal year. That is simply asking for a cushion which will then allow the government to exceed its budgetary projections on the borrowing side, which will also mean it will exceed its budgetary projections on the spending side. We don’t think this is good policy.
When we look right at the hard facts of the situation it is that when the government is borrowing from Canada Pension Plan it is borrowing from the people of Ontario. Their pension funds are being used at a somewhat lower rate. Granted, the Treasurer does have the problem of the matter of recall of that money by Canada Pension Plan. Who knows what would ever happen if the Canada Pension Plan suddenly decided that the Province of Ontario must repay the $5.5 billion it has already borrowed.
I think this bill has a lot more importance to it than the Treasurer would like to indicate. As a matter of fact, included in the bill -- I think it is a fit subject to discuss here -- in section 2 it says: “The sums of moneys authorized to be raised by subsection 1 shall be in addition to those authorized under other statutes.” I am getting to the OMERS borrowing here.
I distinctly remember that the former Treasurer, John White -- and I looked it up in Hansard; it was on Dec. 3, 1974 -- indicated that up to 20 per cent of the moneys taken in annually by OMERS could be used for other than Province of Ontario debentures, that in fact that amount would be set by the OMERS board. When I questioned how he expected such a drastic increase in this OMERS borrowing from $152 million of last year to $180 million this year, in light of the fact that there is authority for 20 per cent of the OMERS borrowing to be used for other than Province of Ontario debentures, I was told that the province indeed set the figure and, I suppose, as much as told the OMERS board: “Look, we need $180 million of your money. You can do with the rest what you like.” I suppose there is really no guarantee that there is going to be five, 10, 15 or 20 per cent in excess of the $180 million, because we are talking here of an increase of some $28 million over last year when in fact the province had authority to borrow all the OMERS money.
I would like to know how much is going to be left in the OMERS fund for the board to exercise the authority given by the Treasurer previously when he said that they could invest up to 20 per cent of their fund in other than Province of Ontario debentures. Did the Treasurer sweet-talk or coerce the OMERS board into saying: “Well, we won’t do that this year; we will give you all our funds”? Or how much of their investment fund does that $180 million really represent? I understand the Treasurer has already indicated amounts for other years which would be in excess of that.
All in all, I think two things are necessary. First of all I think we need a better explanation of why the Treasurer wants that big cushion of extra borrowings. Secondly, I think we should have an explanation of why he should expect to have borrowing capacity beyond the next fiscal year, because this is an annual request for borrowing capacity and I think the government’s whole financing system is getting out of hand.
The Treasurer knows, as well as I do that the time is fast approaching when the interest on the government’s Canada Pension Plan borrowing is going to meet the amount of the annual borrowing. That’s not too far away. The government’s cash flow from borrowing Canada Pension money will reduce to zero when everything it borrows will be required to pay the interest on it. This is almost unbelievable but this is the era that is fast approaching. The government is not getting much cash flow out of the Canada Pension Plan borrowing even now -- only about 50 per cent, as was alluded to by the budget speaker earlier in the day.
I think this whole matter of borrowing is a very serious matter. I don’t think the government should be asking for such a big cushion in its borrowing capacity, nor do I think it should be asking for a cushion beyond next year.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to take part in this debate? The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, replying to several questions, the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) asked about borrowing $34 million from Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. I don’t think any of that would be directly for housing. I would want to cheek this, but I am reasonably sure that is related to amounts for sewage treatment works or perhaps water works through the Ministry of the Environment. I don’t think it’s directly for housing. I think it would all be for sewage treatment works. I am not positive of that, but I think that’s what it is.
The other question was with respect to treasury bills. We now have treasury bills outstanding of $325 million, and I doubt that we would increase them. There is no need to. In fact, we will probably be giving some thought to running the amount down. We are rolling over now. We have reached the end on the present plateau and as they come due in the 90 days, we roll them over. As, I say, we are giving some thought to simply retiring them, not renewing them; and we may do that. We haven’t made a determination on that.
Short-term rates fell rather dramatically in the last couple of weeks. The rate on the Treasury bills was over 10 per cent and is now down to 9½. Just what the trend is remains to be seen but -- and this is part of the reason why the member calls it a cushion -- we might well a month from now decide to work them down, retire them $25 million a week, and then conditions might be such that we would want to build them back up again. We have to have that if the re-borrowing by Treasury bills, say, starting three months from now -- and this just being hypothetical -- would constitute new borrowing. Hence the reason for the amount in the bill, the cushion as the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Good) has referred to it.
I stress again to the member for Waterloo North that there is no direct relationship between the budget figure and the amount in this bill. The member asked --
Mr. Good: Why the $400 million cushion?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I have just explained it, because it runs for a longer period. The member asked, first of all, how much was unused from previous bill -- it’s not previous bills, it’s the previous bill, because you use up one bill before you start on the next bill -- and in the previous bill there was enough to cover the April Canada Pension Plan borrowings of $79 million, but it does not fully cover the May Canada Pension Plan borrowings. If we didn’t have this piece of legislation, and had we then for some reason or another not been sitting, we would have lost that Canada Pension Plan money.
I think there is a possibility that we may be in the same position next spring, so even though we only anticipate borrowing from the Canada Pension Plan, I want to qualify that in a minute. At this moment we thought that it would be advisable to have it run out in the spring. I would expect, if we’re not having an election a year from now we would be back asking for a new bill. We do like to keep some sort of an amount ahead to authorize borrowing for the contingency for whatever reason, when the House isn’t sitting.
The member asked about OMERS, and I want to come back to one other point. I haven’t got those figures back, I’ll get them for the member, but the fact is that OMERS invested 20 per cent of their money last year in other than Ontario debentures. They earned less. Most of it, I understand -- I haven’t seen the breakdown, but I think most of it went into mortgages, some into stocks, some into other bonds. It must have run, I think, $30 million or $40 million.
The fact is they earned less on their investments with a very good investment committee than we are paying them. The enthusiasm is very much off, as far as the OMERS board is concerned, about putting their money into places other than the Province of Ontario debentures.
Mr. Good: Did they buy any municipal debentures?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think they bought some, but overall they earned from us -- I think the figure was 10.02 per cent last year, I can’t remember. At any rate, they didn’t do quite so well on their own. Accordingly, they came to us and said “What’s your attitude?” I said that certainly 20 per cent of this year and 20 per cent of next year. They weren’t quite as enthused about that, and I can’t give the member the precise figures, but they said “Let’s work out a deal for three years.”
We did work out a deal for three years -- this year, next year anti the year after -- and we take a fixed amount and they will invest I think it’s $180 million this year and it will be $190 million next year, I think; I’ve forgotten the precise figures. I’ll get those for the member.
They are investing the surplus, which is more than 20 per cent. It must raise to 20 per cent or 25 per cent this year, more next ear. They know, with much greater certainty, what they have to invest for the next two or three years, and they also know when they’re going to get it.
They would like to be able -- and I can’t blame them -- to invest in the market, say, when it suits them, and when it doesn’t suit them turn the money over to us. We like to have some idea of when the money is coming in as well because we start paying interest from the moment it arrives at the long rate.
The answer to your question specifically is that the OMERS total expected this year is $228.3 million, of which we will keep $180 million -- well, they will invest $180 million -- with us -- and they will invest $48.3 million.
On the final question -- and a point that I do want to make -- this bill would give us the authority to reinvest. We don’t need that authority to run down treasury bills. Then if we decided to run them up again, if we needed the money, without running down the reserves, it also would authorize other public borrowing.
The words in my budget that we would not require any new public borrowing were chosen very carefully, and we are a long way from making any sort of a decision. If we maintain the treasury bills at the amount that they are -- at the $325 million -- and the budget plan holds, which we would expect it to, we don’t require any additional public borrowing.
If we ran the treasury bills down and then increased them, that in effect would be a public borrowing. But presumably we would do that to make money on the running down and getting it back on the going up. It may be that market conditions are such that we may convert some of the treasury bills -- short-term borrowing -- into longer-term bonds, but we haven’t made a decision on that. We are not required to borrow, but we may decide to convert some of the treasury bills into longer terms. We are some distance away from making that decision.
The particular answer that I would give you as to why we have built in what you have called a cushion -- and that isn’t the worst word in the world -- is that it will carry us until the summer of 1977.
Mr. Good: It is exactly what you are doing.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s right; it will carry us to the summer of 1977.
Mr. Good: You have never done this before.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We have always done that. We have always brought in a bill which presumably would carry us a month, two months, or three months beyond the end of the fiscal year.
Mr. Good: But $400 million?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The bill last year was for $1.2 billion. I don’t know whether it’s in Hansard, but I didn’t think that would run out until June or July. I would have told the House that had I been asked. As it turned out last year, we borrowed more than we originally anticipated the fact is that the authority of the 1975 bill runs out in May.
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 43, An Act to authorize the Raising of Money on the Credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 25. An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr. Wildman: In general, we are in agreement with the principle of the bill. This is sort of an omnibus bill; it covers a lot of different matters.
Mr. Speaker: The minister has indicated that he would like to make a few points of clarification.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I thought it might just make it a little easier to do this, as I will be asking that this bill go to committee of the whole House. I believe there will be three amendments to clauses that I will be introducing when we get the bill into committee.
One amendment will refer to the requirement for headlights on motorcycles. We will establish a date of manufacture for motorcycles and motorcycles manufactured after this date will be required to be operated with their headlights on. This is because some of the older motorcycles are not capable of continuous operation with their headlights on.
There is one other minor housekeeping amendment to section 10 that really refers only to a misprint in the bill. And there will be another amendment to section 12 of the bill which relates to the shipper’s responsibility for overloading; it will limit the shipper’s responsibility to total weight, not to axle weight. Because I feel it should be the responsibility of the carrier to see that the load is properly positioned on his truck so that it is properly distributed among the axles. I don’t think the shipper who is shipping the load can be held responsible for the proper positioning of the load on the vehicle. So it will limit the shipper’s responsibility to the total gross weight basically, rather than the positioning of the load.
I really don’t know how one debates the principle of this bill, because there are so many principles in every clause of the bill.
Mr. Laughren: Like a Liberal bill.
Hon. Mr. Snow: It deals with farm vehicles, with licensing, with motorcycle beginner licences, with motorcycle lights, with clearance lights, with farm vehicles, with overloading, so --
Mr. Bullbrook: It also deals with a driver’s suspension, and the minister might want to make a comment on that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, it does. That’s one of the parts of the bill. I had hoped my colleague, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), would have been here during this debate.
The driver suspension part relates to provisions that are now within the Criminal Code of Canada and are being deleted from the Criminal Code at the federal level. The Attorney General has recommended the amendments that are within this bill which, as I understand it, are almost identical to those provisions in the federal Act, and replace them.
Mr. Bullbrook: May I just make a comment, with the indulgence of the Chair? I think that is part of the bill that’s going to generate some debate. I would be vitally interested that we don’t go into committee on that aspect today. Had that been the minister’s intention?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, this one section of the bill that relates to the suspension of licences is really the recommendation -- although it is included in my bill -- of the Attorney General. I had asked that the Attorney General be in the chamber when this part of the bill was debated. Now, we can deal with second reading of the bill -- although I would have been prepared to go on into committee. Even if we do go into committee, maybe we could leave that section until the Attorney General is here -- perhaps the next day we are on bills -- and could deal with that particular section, or leave it until he is here. I would be quite prepared to do that.
Mr. Speaker: I think we have the agreement of the House on that. The hon. member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the comments of the minister. I was going to say the only real common principle throughout the Act is that it is to increase safety on the highways. There are certainly so many different things in it that it is very difficult to talk about the principle.
I was going to question the minister regarding the suspension of licences for refusal to take a breathalyser test, but I’m glad that he will deal with that later.
I would like him to clarify for us the statement that he made that he was going to introduce an amendment regarding the date for motorcycles that will require them to use their headlights. Would that be prior to 1973? Because it is my understanding that with motorcycles manufactured prior to that date there is an electrical drain if they are required to have the headlights on all the time. I would like to know if that is correct, and if so, if that would be the date that he is considering.
In section 12 the minister mentioned regarding the responsibility of the consignor of loads for weight. I would appreciate if he could give us some clarification as to why he feels that the consignors should not have some responsibility on axle weight, that is, rather than just total weight and why the consignor should share responsibility with the driver or operator when it’s very difficult for operators to measure the weight on the axle, often because the required type of scale is not at the pit if it’s an aggregate load or whatever. The weight on those axles cannot be measured because the scales are not available at the place where the load is loaded on the truck.
It would seem to us that if the consignor were made responsible for that it would he incumbent upon him to install those kinds of scales so that it would be possible to measure weight on the axles. We would go so far, unless the ministry can give reasons why we shouldn’t, as to consider in committee moving an amendment to make the consignor responsible for that rather than leaving it as he has suggested.
I don’t think we have any other comments to make at this time, since the minister is going to leave the section dealing with suspension of licences to a later time. I hope the minister can comment on those questions I have raised.
Mr. Bullbrook: I would just record on behalf of the Liberal Party in the absence of our critic --
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Essex North indicated that he wanted to say something.
Mr. Bullbrook: I didn’t realize that.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of things in here which would be of interest to me, and I am sure, to other people in the House. One of them is drawing up regulations for transporting farm vehicles on the highways. Of course, these come under regulations but they are of great interest to many of us because of the amount of farm machinery on the highways today and the necessity for it because of the larger amount of land and the many acres that farmers are cropping now and working in other areas. It is of some concern to us. Of course, the concern we have is that they will still be able to move this machinery from one farm to another without undue hardship. That would be one area I am concerned about.
Overloading -- I brought up a few years ago -- but not too many years ago -- with regard to the consignor and I will be making some remarks on that particular item as well when we are in committee. Those are the only two areas I am concerned with and as the member for Sarnia stated he has some remarks on the other parts of it.
Mr. Bullbrook: The only remark that I wanted to make, in the absence of other people intervening, is on the whole question of the treatment under the Criminal Code and under the Highway Traffic Act of the suspension of a driver’s licence. I don’t want our support in principle of this bill to be taken as tacit or otherwise consent with respect to the treatment. I, for one, recognize that both levels of government federally and provincially -- are attempting to bring to the public attention the deep concern that governments and the public have with respect to impaired and other types of driving offences. Frankly, I do not feel that on so many occasions the amount of discretion to be exercised by the government itself rather than the courts is something which isn’t always satisfactory to me and to my constituents from the experiences I have had as their member.
Those are the only remarks I would make at this time. I am sure we are going to have a very active debate.
Mr. Worton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring officially to the minister’s attention a letter I had directed to him on April 12 in regard to correspondence I had with the Guelph school safety patrol, which expressed concern about section 17 as it applied to school crossing guards and the authority they were to receive either from the community, the council or the board of education.
Secondly, the patrol members wanted an assurance that this would not interfere with the operation of the schoolboy and girl patrols which they’ve have for some 25 years in our community. They wanted some assurance that this would be able to be maintained. I realize when the section comes up it would be the appropriate time, but I felt that if the minister can clear this now that will avoid us preparing an amendment.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I only want to speak briefly. I understand, from my colleague who has already spoken to the bill, the minister has indicated that on the whole question of the licences and suspension of licensees for offences under the Criminal Code it would be preferred by the minister that the matter be dealt with in committee, and that perhaps his colleague the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) would be present at that time.
I simply wanted to draw to the attention of the House that the amendment to the Criminal Code providing for roadside testing in particular, as well as the question of the changes in the extent and degree of the punishment to be meted out with respect to suspensions of licences, was passed by the Parliament of Canada last year, and that the section dealing with roadside testing comes into force on a date to be proclaimed in this province, presumably by the federal government, but undoubtedly with the consent of the Attorney General of Ontario.
I just wanted to make certain that at the first opportunity we had an opportunity to debate with the government what its intentions are about bringing that particular section, 234.1 of the Criminal Code, into force in Ontario, because the amendment to the Highway Traffic Act which is before us incorporates the cross reference to that section in this bill. We on this side have been awaiting for some time a statement by the government following upon the submission by the Attorney General of the committee’s report about roadside testing, and the examination that was made by that committee of the results of such legislation in other jurisdictions.
I think that is the principal comment. There are a number of other matters, of course, which we will want to deal with in committee, more by way of explanation than otherwise. I did want to comment, because of my concern about roadside testing and the extension, if I may say so, of police powers involved in it, without getting involved in any suggestion that it is of anywhere near the same qualitative significance as other very real and valid civil liberties legislation. I think we are all concerned about the extent and degree and the way in which the police power will be detailed, if and when the roadside testing section of the Criminal Code is declared to be in force, with the consequences which will then flow from the declaration or proclamation by reason of the amendments which we are making to the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask, maybe for clarification purposes if for no other reason, in that section 10 of the Act which is affecting farm machinery, it is the intent of the bill that one cannot travel on the highway without the same provision as before, which was, I believe, that a permit had to be issued for taking a wide load? Or does it mean that we’ll have to have a follow truck or some type of lead to identify the equipment being moved down the road? Maybe the minister could clarify this point, because it could create considerable extra cost to the farming industry under these conditions, and although I do realize that they do need protection, the motorist generally needs protection. I was just wondering if the minister would like to clarify that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker; I’ll try to reply to the comments that have been made, with the exception of the comments from the member for Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook) and the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) dealing with the suspension parts of the bill. As I mentioned before, they will be dealt with by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), who will be present when we deal with those sections -- I believe they are sections 3 and 4 -- of the bill in committee.
Regarding the question of the hon. member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) about the date for the motorcycle headlights, I don’t know whether any specific date can be established or if we can find any particularly good reason for picking any specific date. The date I have in mind is Jan. 1, 1970.
Mr. Breithaupt: Do you mean 1977?
Hon. Mr. Snow: People in the industry familiar with motorcycles -- I only drove a motorcycle once in my life and that was a rather sad experience, so I don’t pretend to be an expert.
Mr. Wildman: Did you say 1970?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Jan. 1, 1970, is a date that I would like to suggest.
Mr. Breithaupt: You said 1970.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I said any motorcycle manufactured since Jan. 1, 1970.
Mr. Worton: Pardon us.
Hon. Mr. Snow: As regards the older motorcycles, I’ve had discussions and meetings with representatives of the antique motorcycle association. Certainly many of their vehicles, although they still like to drive them on the road and up until now it has been quite legal to drive them on the roads providing they’re mechanically fit, they haven’t got a good enough electrical system to have constant headlights.
In other jurisdictions, there are several stoles in the United States that have had this legislation for a number of years. The Province of Quebec, I am told by my staff, has this legislation in force now and there are no exemptions; it just says every motorcycle shall have its headlights on. How they’re dealing with this particular problem of the older motorcycles, I don’t know, but I think enough goods points have been made to am by representatives of the industry that
I feel it would be fair and reasonable to pick a date. Actually, Jan. 1, 1975, has been suggested because according to the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, any motorcycle manufactured since Jan. 1, 1975, can’t he run without the lights on, since the light comes on automatically when you turn the key on and put the motorcycle in gear.
From a safety standpoint, I would like to cover more than just those brand-new motorcycles manufactured since 1975. That’s why I’m suggesting Jan. 1, 1970, unless some hon. member has a great exception to that. To the best of my knowledge, as a result of discussing it with the industry and my staff investigating it, they don’t feel there will be any hardship on anyone with that date and we’ll have a much safer system.
I believe the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) was suggesting that he would like to take the total responsibility for overloading off the carrier and put it all on the shipper. If that is what he was suggesting, I’m afraid we’re at opposite ends of this particular discussion because I don’t feel that the carrier, who has always been totally responsible for the weight of his vehicle, should be relieved of the liability. But we do believe that there’s good evidence that there should be some responsibility on the shipper, and of course this can only apply where the shipper is shipping a full load. Obviously it can’t apply to general freight, where the truck may pick up from 20 different shippers and therefore no shipper could be responsible for the weight of that load. I think the industry people I’ve talked to agree with this approach.
In most quarries dealing with aggregates, which are all sold on a weight basis -- not all, but certainly 99 per cent, I would say -- the vehicle is weighed before it leaves the yard, and if the shipper knows the vehicle is overloaded, then with this responsibility he will not let the vehicle leave. Also, shippers -- I am riot suggesting that this would be a normal case, but a shipper may have a crate of machinery to ship and there is no way of knowing what that box weighs. They may phone up a trucking company and say, “I have a crate of machinery here that weighs 24,000 pounds. Send me a truck that will carry it.” The truck that is licensed to carry 24,000 pounds may arrive; the box may which 30,000 pounds. The trucker has no way of knowing until he hits the scales on the highway and, knowingly, the shipper may have underestimated the weight of that box to save himself a few dollars in freight charges. So we think, under that type of circumstances, that it is reasonable to make the shipper responsible.
The member for Essex North mentioned the farm vehicle regulations and also the member for Haldimand-Norfolk --
Mr. Wildman: Would the minister permit a question on that point?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Perhaps we can get to the question when get to clause by clause.
Mr. Wildman: Okay, fine.
Hon. Mr. Snow: The member for Haldimand-Norfolk also mentioned the farm machinery. This legislation has been requested by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. It has been discussed with them. As a matter of fact, I think today’s brief presented to the cabinet is the first one I have seen for a number of years that didn’t have something in the brief pertaining to this particular subject.
This legislation removes the necessity of farmers to have permits for the moving of their vehicles, and it allows for regulations to be prescribed that will set the guidelines and the requirements for the moving of farm equipment on the highways.
These regulations are in draft form now. They have been set or will be sent to my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food for investigation and consultation with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture or, in fact, any other agricultural organization which may wish to see them. The federation has been very interested. They have, I believe, seen the draft regulations, and although we have not got the final regulation ready yet it will be discussed thoroughly with the federation and, as I say, if any other organizations show an interest we would be quite happy to discuss it with them also, before this section is proclaimed and the regulation is passed.
Regarding the other item, my good friend the member for Wellington South spoke to me on this earlier. I know of his concern regarding the school crossing guards. I think this amendment is specifically drafted to allow or give a “stop” sign -- providing the sign is of a prescribed size and colour; in other words, a recognizable “stop” sign, carried by a school crossing guard -- the same legal entity as if it were a normal “Stop” sign implanted on the shoulder of the highway.
We state in the legislation that a school crossing guard -- I forget the exact wording -- is employed or authorized by a municipality or a board of education. Originally we had this just “employed”, but we find cases where school crossing guards are volunteers, so they would not be employed but they would be authorized.
We also find situations where some school boards authorize their schoolboy or schoolgirl patrols actually to stop the traffic. We don’t recommend this. We are very much in favour of the school patrols, but normally the duties of the schoolboy patrol are to watch for the traffic, control the younger children, wait for an appropriate break in the traffic and then let them go across. Even though they may be more qualified or better able to cope with the situation than maybe some of the older people who are school crossing guards, we don’t encourage school boards to have their schoolboy patrols actually out on the street to stop the traffic. On the other hand, if a board has senior students it felt were capable of doing this, then this would cover those students. It certainly does nothing to eliminate the very excellent policy that many boards of education have of having the school patrol.
Those are the points that were brought up by the hon. members and I think I have answered them all.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: It is the understanding that this bill will go to committee of the whole.
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her chambers.
Clerk of the House: The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour has assented:
Bill 1, An Act to amend the Arbitrations Act.
Bill 3, An Act to amend the Representation Act, 1975.
Bill 5, An Act respecting Members of Commodity Boards.
Bill 6, An Act to amend the Drainage Act, 1975.
Bill 7, An Act to amend the Territorial Division Act.
Bill 8, An Act to amend the Local Improvement Act.
Bill 10, An Act to amend the Gift Tax Act, 1972.
Bill 11, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
Bill 12, An Act to repeal the Emergency Measures Act.
Bill 13, An Act to provide for Certain Rights for Blind Persons.
Bill 14, An Act to amend the County Judges Act.
Bill 15, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
Bill 16, An Act to amend the Evidence Act.
Bill 17, An Act to amend the Surrogate Courts Act.
Bill 18, An Act to amend the Public Authorities Protection Act.
Bill 26, An Act to amend the Succession Duty Act.
Bill 84, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act.
Bill 39, An Act to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act.
Bill 46, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Bill 48, An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act.
Bill 51, An Act respecting the Central Algoma Board of Education and Teachers Dispute.
Bill 52, An Act respecting the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Education and Teachers Dispute.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, perhaps we might clear the private bills that stand on the order paper to tidy up the order paper before the recess, if we could call orders 12 to 18.
TOWNSHIP OF WICKSTEED ACT
Mr. Wildman moved second reading of Bill Pr2, An Act respecting the Township of Wicksteed.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill Pr2, An Act respecting the Township of Wicksteed.
BOROUGH OF SCARBOROUGH ACT
Mr. Renwick, on behalf of Mr. Drea, moved second reading of Bill Pr3, An Act respecting the Borough of Scarborough.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill Pr3, An Act respecting the Borough of Scarborough.
TOWNSHIP OF NEPEAN ACT
Mr. Renwick, on behalf of Mr. Morrow, moved second reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the Township of Nepean.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the Township of Nepean.
MCMASTER UNIVERSITY ACT
Mr. Breithaupt, on behalf of Mr. Nixon, moved second reading of Bill Pr7, An Act respecting McMaster University.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill Pr7, An Act respecting McMaster University.
BOROUGH OF YORK ACT
Mr. Laughren, on behalf of Mr. MacDonald, moved second reading of Bill Pr8, an Act respecting the Borough of York.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill Pr8, an Act respecting the Borough of York.
ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH, OTTAWA, ACT
Mr. Hodgson, on behalf of Mr. Morrow, moved second reading of Bill Pr10, An Act respecting St. Andrew’s Church, Ottawa.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill Pr10, An Act respecting St. Andrew’s Church, Ottawa.
WELLAND AREA YMCA-YWCA ACT
Mr. Foulds, on behalf of Mr. Swart, moved second reading of Bill Pr22, An Act respect in Welland Area YMCA-YWCA.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
The following bill was given third reading upon motion:
Bill Pr22, An Act respecting Welland Area YMCA-YWCA.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House in this pre-Easter spirit, I thought we might add a little more time; we’ve worked hard today. I would indicate what our order of business would be for the week beginning April 20, when we return after the Easter recess. The House will not sit, of course, on Monday.
On Tuesday in the afternoon we will do the remaining legislation which stands on the order paper and in that order. Perhaps we could start with this bill we’ve just completed second reading on, in committee stage. In the evening we have budget debate. The committees, of course, meet on Wednesday and there’s no House on Wednesday. On Thursday, we take into consideration the estimates of the Ministry of Revenue and the House will sit Thursday evening as well. On Friday morning we’ll have budget debate.
Estimates outside the House: On Friday morning the standing committee on the administration of justice will take into consideration the estimates of the Ombudsman. On, I guess, Thursday evening the miscellaneous estimates committee will take into consideration the estimates of the assembly.
Mr. Breithaupt: I thought those matters upon motion: were to be put over until the beginning of the following week?
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, the only one which has been put over is Housing because housing won’t be tabled. But these other two will be tabled in time for the committees.
If by any chance the estimates of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Irvine) were tabled on Thursday, as we had first thought, that standing committee could take the Housing estimates into consideration on Friday morning. But there is some concern as to whether that would be read.
Mr. Breithaupt: It may be somewhat more practical to deal with those estimates separately, beginning in the following week, in that the resources development committee may wish to proceed and complete the bills which were referred to it.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I will be speaking to the House leaders about that. There is apparently some question as to how we might handle that legislation in a different way. Are there any questions in connection with the order of business next week?
Mr. B. Newman: In case the government decides to introduce a bill putting the students back in the classes on Tuesday, will that interfere with the normal proceedings of the House then?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Of course, Tuesday afternoon is legislation day.
Mr. Speaker: I’d like to join with the House leader in wishing everybody a happy Easter.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 5:35 p.m.