The House met at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
Mr. Sweeney: Question who?
Mr. Reid: Who is running the store over there this morning?
Mr. Sweeney: Try the backbenchers.
Mr. Lewis: I am just stalling, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: You have no questions; we have no answers. Why don’t we just dispense?
Mr. Lewis: I saw the Minister of Natural Resources approaching. Is he anywhere in the chamber?
An hon. member: He’s skulking.
Mr. Renwick: He probably saw you coming.
Mr. Lewis: Just give me 30 seconds, Mr. Speaker, while I look through the questions I have to see --
Mr. Bain: To see who is here.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
REED PAPER AGREEMENT
Mr. Lewis: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Natural Resources, who is moving into the chamber. I will ask the minister, as he approaches his seat, can he report to the House the state of negotiations with the Reed paper company for the 18,000-square-mile tract of land which has been much discussed over the last few months in northwestern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: As the Leader of the Opposition is aware, this was following a statement the Premier (Mr. Davis) made in the Legislature that we would look at this possibility. We entered into discussions with the Reed paper company, I would say about a year ago, on an agreement, an agreement which would set aside about 18,000 square miles of virgin timberland north of the Red Lake area, from Pickle Lake to Red Lake. That agreement, in essence, just gives the Reed paper company the right, when it is signed, and it has not been signed as yet, to do any inventory and further feasibility studies.
The agreement has not been signed yet. We have been meeting with the company on a very regular basis and have been in discussion with Treaty No. 9 also. They have been informed as to the direction we’re going.
I don’t know when we will finalize all the details of the agreement, but I am hopeful it will be soon in order that the public hearing may commence because we have insisted that, once the agreement is in place, the Reed paper company go to northwest Ontario and reveal to the public and to the native peoples in particular just what their plans are. That’s the status at the present time.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, and I’m exploring; given the notorious behaviour of the Reed paper company in northwestern Ontario up until now in areas that we need not go over again in the House, why would the government enter into a signed agreement before the Environmental Protection Act regulations are tabled in the House and before all of the interested sections of the community, including Treaty No. 9, understand and are privy to what the government has in mind in advance of the actual signing of the agreement? Why would the government surrender so much before everyone has protection?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is not a surrendering of any right per se. The agreement we will sign will not give the Reed paper company the right to cut one stick. It will only set aside an area that they can look at and examine as to the feasibility of that area supporting a mill of a size they are contemplating. So I see nothing wrong with moving in that particular direction.
We don’t even know if it is going to be a go or a no-go situation yet. The agreement as I said, has not been signed as yet.
Mr. Reid: Do I understand that this is just an agreement to allow them to study the situation?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Mr. Reid: This is a new wrinkle. May I ask them what is the position of other companies in northwestern Ontario; particularly, for instance, the Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Co. Ltd. if they wanted to expand their Kenora or Fort Frances operation? Are they going to be allowed to get in on some of this action or is this 18,000 square miles in fact not blocked off for Reed and nobody else can touch it?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That in essence is the thrust of the agreement, to set aside an area that can be studied and can be looked at, because it is obvious if the Reed paper company are going to invest something like $400 million, they want to be assured that in the course of their studies, nobody within government, my own ministry, may be chipping away at the 18,000 square miles and reducing the timber area that would be supportive of that particular plant.
The Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Co. Ltd. have been in to see us with regard to the possibility of their expansion at the Kenora and at the Fort Frances plant. I had to tell them that until these studies are completed by the Reed paper company the bulk of that area is being taken up and that we have to respond to the economic needs of the communities of Ear Falls and Red Lake. As the member knows, that is a gold mining community. Just last week Madsen Red Lake mines announced it’s closing. The mine has been in operation since 1988 and produced about $90 million worth of gold bullion, employing 180 people. They have closed down. The Cochenour Willans mine has closed down. It leaves us two operating mines in the Red Lake area, Dickinson and Campbell Red Lake, and the Griffith mine near Ear Falls.
So there really is a need to utilize the forest resources in that particular area and) provide an economic base for those two communities; and this has been taken into consideration also.
Mr. Stokes: Supplementary: To what extent is the ministry going to become involved, given the idea that it takes anywhere from 150 to 200 years in many areas of that 18,000-mile tract to grow a free? Row is the minister going to make a determination unless his experts go in there and see whether it is viable to cut one stick out of there without determining whether or not the present regeneration practices will work in a fragile eco-system with a high water table?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is correct to a point, Mr. Speaker. We are very much aware of the slow growth that occurs in that particular area. Much of the forest is of an over-mature nature are regards age. Some of the trees are from 100 to 125 years of age; very low in height, stunted you might say. The diameter is not the normal size you would see in the southern parts of the province. That is why 18,000 square miles has been set aside. It is the last remaining area in this province we think would support a pulp mill and certainly -- and I assure the House and the people of this province -- the cutting practices or the silviculture programme will be very carefully scrutinized by the experts in my ministry. We will not allow -- as some of the native peoples have indicated -- a complete, clear-cutting programme. We are going into this very carefully to make sure that operation will be on a sustained yield basis.
Mr. Reid: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for Rainy River.
Mr. Reid: Has the government, or has the minister, asked the Reed paper company to post a bond or any other guarantee of good faith and so that the government and others will be recompensed for tying up these 18,000 square miles?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, Mr. Speaker, you will recall when the Premier did make the statement in the Legislature about this two years ago, he indicated that the Reed paper company would put up a $500,000 bond when an agreement was signed.
Mr. Reid: That is not very much for 18,000 square miles.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have to say it’s the largest bond that we have ever asked for. A pulpwood firm at Atikokan in the member’s own riding put up a $200,000 bond; I believe Kimberly-Clark, in the riding of the hon. member from Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), put up $250,000.
Mr. Lewis: There is something very suspect about this whole operation. The public is going to want to know about it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I can’t understand why. We are open about it. It’s there. And the agreements will be tabled.
Mr. Renwick: You have given Reed the first refusal on that property, and you know it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The Leader of the Opposition.
DISMISSAL OF DR. LAKNER
Mr. Lewis: A question of the acting Minister of Health, if I may. If the Ombudsman were called in to investigate the circumstances surrounding the dismissal or resignation or termination, or however it is described, of Dr. George Lakner, the gentleman who drew up the General Motors’ report within the occupational health branch, does she feel confident, as the acting Minister of Health, from what she has seen, that the Ministry of Health can defend its behaviour in regard to this senior civil servant?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, yes.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary: Can the minister explain to me how it is possible on Nov. 14, 1975, for Dr. Stopps to write to Dr. Tidey in this way about Dr. Lakner:
“Has tackled his work assignments with enthusiasm and understanding. Dr. Lakner has a good knowledge of his subject and can obtain information quickly from available sources. Dr. Lakner is an asset to the staff and his personality makes for a pleasant working environment.”
And then in March, without any change in work except for the one General Motors’ report, this man is effectively dismissed. How does she explain the inconsistent behaviour of the minister?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the work done by a member of the staff is assessed not simply by one other member of the staff, but by a variety of people with whom he works. The consensus did not agree with the report which Dr. Stopps had issued early in November by the time the next assessment was made in early 1976.
Mr. Speaker: Further questions?
Mr. Lewis: No further questions on that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Lewis: A further question of the acting Minister of Health: Now that she has brought in the conflict-of-interest regulations on private labs, effectively locking the door after the test tubes are gone, can she indicate what alterations will be made in the fee schedule paid to private labs in order to rescue the public from additional illegitimate expenditures?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the legislation regarding private laboratories, I might tell the House, was put into the process of drafting in late 1975 -- long before there was any announcement of any activity from the members of the opposition. In fact, the legislation has been refined, and I have quite clearly, I think, announced to this House and outside of the House that there will be a form of requisition for laboratory services; that the activities of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and of the Ministry of Health will change the situation in terms of possible conflict of interest of physicians with laboratories; and that this will almost undoubtedly resolve almost all of the difficulties which have been identified by the Ministry of Health related to the private laboratory system.
We have stated very clearly and very categorically that the laboratory committees throughout this province will be examining the scope and capacity of all of the hospital laboratories in the province with a view to increasing the work load distributed or directed towards those laboratories and will be reducing the numbers of tests which can be done by certain private laboratories in certain areas.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary, if I may: Is the minister prepared to cut the percentage paid through OHIP to the private labs to a level of 60 per cent of the fee schedule in order to save the province something in the vicinity of $20 million to $25 million, so that we can somehow recapture the outrageous amounts of money that have been paid, obviously without justification?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the mechanisms which we are using will most certainly reduce the cost of laboratory service within this province. It would be extremely difficult to single out one laboratory in one area and another laboratory in another area. There are mechanisms, already established, which we will be using and which will, in effect, reduce to a minimum the cost of providing laboratory services.
I would remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition that the services must be provided when they are requisitioned by physicians; and, unfortunately, that is one of the major problems which we have to tackle. We are also attempting to tackle that one.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Is the minister flow willing to table the reports that I asked for some weeks and months ago, which warned the ministry at least four years ago that the present system was open to abuse and recommended that such things as tenders should be asked in each region so that instead of paying the present OHIP rate, which pays for the least productive and least efficient producer, a rate could be established in each region which would be much closer to a fair rate? The minister has those reports; will she not table them?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the activity of the laboratory committees, which will be advising the ministry regarding the scope and capacity of hospital laboratories, will in fact resolve the problem which my hon. colleague raises. If there is a possibility that there was any document of that sort in the past -- and he has suggested it was four years ago -- I shall explore to see if I can find it. The hon. member did not make that request of me, and I did not know that the request had been made.
SCIENTOLOGY AND MENTAL HEALTH
Mr. Lewis: A further question of the acting Minister of Health: Did she see the press release that was issued by the Church of Scientology following our brief exchange in the Legislature? No? Could I therefore send it over to her and ask her to look at its really offensive and quite objectionable contents in terms of the description of psychiatric care in Ontario, and encourage her, on the basis of this, to take a look at these people, some of whom are obviously in need of considerable help themselves?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would be very grateful if the hon. Leader of the Opposition would give me that piece of information, because this is one of the rare occasions upon which I find myself in almost complete agreement with him.
Mr. Reid: I’ve had some calls in the last few days from people concerned about their children, their brothers or sisters, who are involved in Scientology. A couple of years ago I asked the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations if they, in fact, had looked at the Church of Scientology; and there was a study done at that time or previous to that. Is the minister aware of that? Does she know of that report? There was some investigation done a couple of years ago within Consumer and Commercial Relations, I believe. She doesn’t know about it?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No. The only investigation that I know of was that which was carried out by the special Committee on the Healing Arts, which was done in 1967-1968.
UNITED ASBESTOS PLANT
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Natural Resources: Do I gather rightly that the Unemployment Insurance Commission was unwilling to waive the waiting period for the workers at Matachewan and that the company is unwilling to pay them any money for the cleanup period? Is there not something the government of Ontario might do to persuade United Asbestos that those workers should not suffer a severe loss in income as a result of the company’s own neglect?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I’m sure that the hon. member is aware that this is the other side of the coin; this is the problem we experience when we enter into such things as we did in Matachewan. I’m sure he is aware of that. I did, as I indicated to the House, take on the responsibility of contacting the Unemployment Insurance Commission. I have not heard back from them formally, although I was told verbally that they would not consider a waiving of the two-week waiting period. I also took the matter up with the principals of the company and they certainly indicated to me, very negatively, that they would not consider any such consideration of compensation.
There is no programme within the provincial government that would allow us to assist those miners who may be temporarily off this particular project. I’m told that about 120 were at work as of yesterday. Many of them were construction crews doing some technological changes and some cleanup work. About 50 union members were involved, so there is a substantial number who are temporarily unemployed at the present time.
Mr. Bain: Supplementary: Considering that the minister himself is reported to have said in the Toronto media this week that the attitude of the company officials was “unbelievable” and that after some discussions with them this week he has been able to change some of their attitudes, and considering that those resources being used belong to the people of this province, why doesn’t he simply tell the company to pay their workers for the time that they’re going to lose because the company is having to make up for some of its own negligence?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, my remarks were to the effect that I was appalled at the attitude of the management with regard to the occupational standards and the environmental conditions in their particular plants. I think we’ve changed that attitude now, but it’s directly related to the working conditions of the plant itself.
Mr. Bullbrook: Why don’t you answer that question? That is a good question.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We’ve had to use a big stick and if we have to use it a little harder, we will; but there is no way, there is just no way, that I can force that particular company --
Mr. Bullbrook: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- to pay those particular wages.
Mr. Deans: Why not pass legislation?
Mr. Bullbrook: Why not?
Mr. Lewis: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think this is something that a responsible official opposition has to consider, in doing these things and pressing the government for these things.
Mr. Bullbrook: By way of supplementary, why does the minister tell us that there is no way he can force corporate polluters to indemnify their employees who have suffered financially? I can tell him one way. We are a legislative body. Let’s pass a statute forcing them to.
Mr. Lewis: And you can make it retroactive in this case.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They could leave. They could shut it down.
Mr. Lewis: Let them take the asbestos and go.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Hamilton West has the floor. Order.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s Friday morning, you know; you can’t help it.
FEDERAL REPORT ON WOMEN’S WAGES
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Labour: Is the Minister of Labour aware of the federal Ministry of Labour survey which showed that women in the Kitchener-Waterloo area are paid an average of $32, or 17 per cent less a week than men doing comparable work -- I would imagine she is; and would she not agree this is a violation of the Ontario Employment Standards Act?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, on the basis of the evidence which has been released by the federal Ministry of Labour, I would have to say that it is a direct violation of the Employment Standards Act which must be corrected.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, I know the minister has a lot on her plate at the moment but this does seem fairly important: Is she planning to do anything about enforcing the Act or informing the workers in Kitchener of their rights and so on?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, if I may: Since the information has been out now for some time, can the minister indicate exactly what the Ministry of Labour has done in the 10 industries surveyed, every single one of which showed a disparity in wages for the same work?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The first move, of course, Mr. Speaker, is to investigate the information to find out whether it is factual and that is what is being done.
Mr. Lewis: Good grief.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There are certain instances in which the job descriptions do not necessarily match and I think we do have to be sure that when we enforce the Act we are enforcing it properly. Thereafter the Act will most definitely be enforced.
Mr. S. Smith: Yes, a question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. In view of the problem, which I am sure we are all very worried about, of about 4,000 nurses graduating this year possibly to find no jobs at all, could I ask what the ministry is doing -- is it continuing to enroll nursing students at the same rate? Is the minister planning any postgraduate courses in occupational nursing in other areas which might have jobs available? Is he doing anything, for that matter, to alleviate the problem and this very difficult situation we are in?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, the number of new positions for undergraduate enrolment has been reduced by 15 per cent throughout the system this year. I think members might share with me the belief that a greater percentage reduction right at this moment would have a very unfortunate result. We are very concerned about the problem. We think that’s the response which should be taken at this time. Naturally, we will monitor that situation next year. We hope there will be opportunities for graduates. If there appears to be a continuation of that same pattern then, of course, there will have to be a further adjustment next year.
The number of graduate positions has been frozen for a two-year period so there is not the opportunity for the graduate nurse to go into post-graduate work unless the system, within itself, should so respond. I think I can’t add much more than that at this time.
Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary on this. The minister is probably aware that the acting Minister of Health suggested that the nurses could find occupation in a sense by taking post-graduate courses in occupational health.
Could the minister tell this House what courses in occupational health exist in the province? How many of these courses exist and how many places there are for such nurses to enrol and how many enrolment places there are for occupational health? Could he also tell us what the cost is of educating 4,500 nurses, many of whom will now have to leave the province by the acting minister’s own statement on the CBC? What is the cost, per nurse, to educate her?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I will be glad to supply that information. I don’t have all that information with me this morning but we will supply it in short period.
Mr. Warner: A supplementary to the minister. What specific plans will be brought into play in the case of St. Clair College for those graduates who are now seeking employment in the State of California and other places in the United States so that those graduates can remain here?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I think the hon. member would agree that there is a very significant exchange of trained personnel with many countries, and to zero in on one specific profession or occupation I don’t think would be logical. I would assure him that the transfer is not just in one direction; it is a two-way street. People are entering Canada -- it becomes an immigration problem, a concern -- but let me assure him that graduates are also flowing the other way. I am sure the member is well aware of that situation.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Housing. Is he prepared now to inform us about the rate at which new permits are being issued for building starts for rental accommodation, since the rent review legislation has been brought down? The minister indicated some time ago he was concerned that these starts had declined considerably and, of course, if there is no rental accommodation being built, one wonders how we are ever going to get rent review removed. So could the minister please give us now the information that we asked for some weeks ago?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have the information here. I was intending to reply today to the question asked by the hon. member for Armourdale (Mr. Givens).
Mr. S. Smith: Well, I am a mind-reader, you know.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member asked about the production of rental housing since the introduction of rent controls and suggested it had come to a virtual standstill.
Mr. Speaker, there has been a decline in apartment production in the past years, mainly as a result of the rising costs of construction, increased costs of money and, in many cases, municipal opposition. In 1973, there were 22,820 starts on private rental apartments. This declined to 13,809 in 1974 and 3,360 units in 1975. For the first two months of 1976, about 600 private rental units were started, and indications are that the first half of this year will be similar to the last half of 1975, when nearly 1,700 private rental units were started. I think it’s quite evident that there has been a continuing decline in the production of private rental units, starting in 1973.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: What is the ministry doing specifically about this problem to encourage an increase in rental accommodation building, because he knows as well as I do that with a shortage like that, when rent control comes off the rents are just going to skyrocket. It is going to be absolutely impossible ever to remove these controls under these circumstances. What is the ministry doing now to encourage rental accommodation to be built?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to encourage, if you will, construction by the private sector. They obviously do their marketing and calculate what their costs are to determine whether or not they are going to go into private rental accommodation.
Mr. Bullbrook: It’s obviously easy to discourage it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Within the ministry, we are carrying on with our particular programme of developing the housing that’s provided for rental accommodation in the public sector, but I really haven’t any answers as to what we are going to do as far as getting the private sector back into that field.
One point that I think should be made, though. is that while many have said the reason for the drop-off in starts is purely rent control, in fairness I think it must be said that there have not been very many new starts, despite the fact the legislation does say that any new accommodation coming on stream after the first of the year would not be subject to rent control.
Mr. Shore: Supplementary: The minister virtually stated it there, but in his original rationale for the reduction, he did not include rent control. Could the minister tell me what effect he thinks rent control has on these reduced starts?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I think that rent control obviously has had some effect. I don’t think it is the total cause for the decline -- I think the figures themselves show that -- but I think it has had some effect. There are those who have a feeling that they would rather go into the construction of other types of accommodation, be it single-family, detached or the ownership type of approach, particularly condominiums.
For example, the total for publicly assisted and private condominium apartment construction throughout Ontario declined from 47,858 units in 1973 to 25,544 in 1975, so there has been a general decline in rental accommodation and even in condominiums. But I think rent control has had some effect on the private sector moving away from rental accommodation and into developing units for sale.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary?
Mr. Singer: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We will allow one more supplementary. There has been 30 minutes taken up by the two leadoff questioners up to now and there are other people who wish to ask questions. The Leader of the Opposition may ask a supplementary.
Mr. Lewis: Since the minister’s figures belie that assertion -- his figures show no evidence that rent control has had any effect at all; the decline happened well in advance of rent control --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No.
Mr. Lewis: Well, the minister said it would be the same as in 1975. All right, then, why doesn’t he do what everybody has pressed him to do, which is to move in to reduce or stabilize the interest rate in order to bring more rental accommodation on to the market.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have not said here, nor have I said in the past, that rent controls were totally responsible for the reduction of apartment units. The figures don’t say that at all. I completely agree. I have said, and I will say again -- and I am entitled to an opinion, just as the hon. member is -- that I think the imposition of rent controls has had some effect on the decline. It has had some effect; there’s no question about that.
Mr. Bullbrook: No doubt about it
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re wasting valuable time here with the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: As far as subsidizing mortgage interest rates is concerned, I really question whether that’s a good move considering the fact that the federal government --
Hon. Mr. Davis: You all voted for it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You voted for it.
Mr. Speaker: That’s the final supplementary.
Mr. Bullbrook: You brought it in.
Mr. Shore: We wanted minority government to work, remember?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Does the hon. member for Hamilton West have further questions?
Mr. Singer: I have a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: I said that was the last supplementary because the time is --
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to ask another question of the Minister of Housing because I think this is an absolute disaster that we’re facing. We’re talking about the fundamentals of shelter in this province. Is he doing anything whatsoever other than just shrugging his shoulders and saying he doesn’t know the answer? Is he doing anything to encourage municipalities to service land so that rental accommodation can be built? Is he doing anything to come up with a partnership arrangement between government and private industry, where necessary, to get rental accommodation built? Is he just going to sit and wait until a disaster occurs?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member doesn’t need to repeat the question. Any answer?
Mr. Bullbrook: It’s a good question.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, as far as the municipalities are concerned we have attempted to have municipalities permit the construction of apartment buildings in their areas. As members know, there is substantial municipal opposition, both at the council level and at the neighbourhood level, certainly to the development of high-rise apartment buildings in many areas.
Mrs. Campbell: And the Treasurer makes it tougher for the municipalities.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member for St. George is not all-knowledgeable in this area. I have read some of the things she has said; let me tell her.
Mrs. Campbell: I am not totally ignorant, either.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member for St. George has contributed considerably by her insistence that her particular caucus support the rent control legislation which was brought in here on OHC units.
Mr. Singer: A supplementary to the Minister of Housing. Since such eminent gentlemen as Mr. Randall, Mr. Grossman, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) and the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Irvine), all took credit for the number of rental housing units built by this wonderful government and since a whole series of provincial Treasurers took the same credit, now that it isn’t working what kind of discredit is this minister going to accept and what kind of new plans is he going to bring forward to provide places for people to live?
Hon. Mr. Davis: You are in favour of the municipal autonomy.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, considering the fact that I have not taken any credit for any of the past performances --
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- by the same token, I don’t intend to take any of the blame either.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) just left.
Mr. S. Smith: Your big chance.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt.
Mr. Wildman: He’s back now. Here he is.
Mr. Speaker: All right, the member for Dufferin-Simcoe.
Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is it true that his officials have been instructed not to comment on severances and, if so, why?
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the agreps across this province, who have had a very close working relationship with the agricultural community and the farmers of this province for over 70 years, have been called on to comment on severances throughout this province. It was brought to my attention about three months ago and at that time I felt we should have a central or regional office commenting on a uniform basis on severances and we should not put the agreps in direct conflict with the people they we e serving and working with on a daily basis.
In our ministry we are setting up regional people who will comment on severances upon request to the land division committees throughout this province. We don’t like the agreps to be in direct conflict with the people they are working with on a daily basis. That’s not to say, as the article would indicate in the paper handed to me this morning, that we are muzzling our agreps at all. We are quite prepared to give the opportunity to them to work with the farmers but we also want to make sure that our regional people, who are qualified and can give uniform comments on severances, will be made available.
Mr. Moffatt: Is that because the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is not prepared to preserve prime farm land?
Hon. W. Newman: That’s pure -- I am sorry.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You almost said it.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, that is utter nonsense that’s about all I can say for it. All I can say is that we are very much concerned about prime agricultural land. We will have uniform comments on it.
AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT MEETING
Mr. Laughren: I have a question of the Solicitor General, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that when the American Indian Movement had a meeting in Sudbury on the weekend of April 4 the Sudbury detachment of the OPP asked a reporter if they could see his notes and listen to his recording of that meeting, would the minister indicate to this Legislature whether or not this surveillance of our native people is being done with either the blessing or the direction of the minister? Would he agree with me, and disagree therefore with his superintendent in Sudbury, that our native people do not constitute a threat to the security of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Certainly I do not think that our native people constitute any more of a threat to the security of this province than any of the rest of us -- in fact, maybe not as much as this Legislature.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Than the NDP.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I don’t know about the incident the hon. member for Nickel Belt refers to. I will try to get some information on that incident.
Mr. Laughren: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps while the minister is haying his officials check it out, he could also check out whether or not the views held by the superintendent are the views that he holds -- namely, that without the intelligence units of the OPP there would be Russian submarines in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, like the Minister of Agriculture and Food, I don’t try to muzzle my officials or censor their views.
Mr. Lewis: You could simply discuss them and solve the problem.
MUNICIPAL GOLF CLUB MEMBERSHIP FEES
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Is the minister aware that the Liquor Licence Board insists on a membership fee of $10 to individuals who may wish to play golf at various municipal golf clubs -- and other golf clubs -- yet a lot of the individuals who wish to play have no intention of using the club facilities, the club dining facilities, or care that the club may have a liquor licence?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware at all that the Liquor Licence Board had any control over the membership fees paid in golf clubs. I would be prepared to look into it and report back to the hon. member.
GUIDELINE FOR RENT REVIEW OFFICERS
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Could the minister tell us what can tenant organizations do to force landlords to present true financial statements to rent review officers rather than the whitewash they are now being allowed to present?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I don’t accept the assumption of the hon. member’s question. I won’t answer it.
Mr. Grande: Could the minister tell us what government guidelines are issued to the rent review officers which will tip them off that somehow the landlords’ financial statements are not true and correct? Could the minister also inform or instruct the rent review officers about statements such as these:
“You’ve come here to find out why your rent it going up; the financial statements are too complicated for you to understand so here is the bottom line”?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, first of all, there are no government guidelines to rent review officers other than those contained in the legislation and their own internal communications. I am not aware of that last statement being made by anyone; it’s not been attributed to anyone by the member. If he has any evidence that that statement has been made by one of our officers, I’d like to know the details.
TIMAGAMI AREA BUILDING FREEZE
Mr. R. S. Smith: In the light of the statement made by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) yesterday in regard to the caution on the 105 townships by the Bear Island Indian band, could the minister indicate to me what officials actually met with the band, as indicated by the Attorney General, what has happened in the two-year period since those officials last met with the Indian band, and where the study now stands? Apparently it has been in the works for two years and I’ve discussed it with the minister and the deputy minister on a number of occasions. When is the minister or deputy minister, or somebody with some type of authority to deal with these people, actually going to meet with them?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, as the Attorney General pointed out, it is a very complex issue, and I would be prepared to get the answers to those various questions to make sure that the hon. member is fully aware.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Supplementary: Is the minister prepared to give an undertaking to the Legislature that he or his deputy, or both of them, will meet with the Indian band in the very near future to see if there is some common ground on which they can discuss this, because the whole economy of the area is being affected?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General clearly pointed out yesterday in his statement that officials of my ministry had been in touch with the lawyers of the Indian band to try to determine in what direction they wanted to go and what they are attempting to obtain in the proceedings that are going on. Nothing was resolved in those particular meetings, but as we move down the road we would be prepared to meet with them, yes.
TRANSPORTATION COSTS IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a three-part question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications arising out of the report entitled, “Executive Summary. An Investigation of Freight Rates and Related Problems. Northern Ontario.” First, will the minister table the working papers and background documents that gave rise to that summary? Second, can the minister explain why his colleague, the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen), and he himself, is so complacent about the discriminatory sales tax as mentioned in the report that is visited upon northerners? Third, how soon will the province act to take some kind of concrete action to implement recommendation No. 20, which was that the federal government should provide needed funds for the access of northern Ontario to the Great Lakes market, and does the minister not think that should be extended to the Midwest US market? What concrete action is be taking?
Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I will investigate what working papers or documents we have. I’m sure there was a great quantity of backup information that went together in that report. I will investigate this and see whether it is feasible to table all that backup information. As to the second part of the question, I don’t think either the Minister of Revenue or myself is complacent at all regarding sales tax. Sales tax is uniform throughout the province. We did point out a situation where sales tax at the consumer level is charged on the price of the sale to the consumer, and if that price is higher because of the freight included, that consumer is paying marginally higher costs.
I’m sure we could come up with other situations where a particular product may be less in northern Ontario because of freight rates too. I’m sure we looked at this situation. I think the report says that we could see no easy way of meeting that disparity, but pointed out that through special grants to northern communities made by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), we thought this was an offsetting factor. The hon. member may or may not agree with that, but that is what was stated in the report.
Mr. Laughren: You can do better than that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I really don’t see that any way. The member may wish to question the Minister of Revenue as to whether he has any suggestions as to how this disparity can be removed.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. The question period has expired.
Mr. B. Newman: I have a petition signed by approximately 10,000 residents in the Windsor and Essex county area who have asked for the repeal of Bill 27.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Do you support it?
Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports. Motions.
Introduction of bills.
ANSWER TO A WRITTEN QUESTION
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I wish to table an answer to question No. 18 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The second 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. Speaker: The member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr. McEwen) had the floor. Is he not in the House?
In the midst of the remarks of the member for Frontenac-Addington, he indicated that he had considerably more to say and that he might not be here this morning. Do we have permission that he might resume his remarks at a later date?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Mississauga South.
Mr. Kennedy: Regarding that concurrence, this then brings the budget debate to this side of the House. I am pleased to rise and make a few remarks on some current issues.
The Treasurer brought down a very palatable and acceptable budget a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Speaker. I have had the opportunity to consult with numerous people in my riding since, and they all support it. It’s quite right. And this party, I might add, also supports it, Mr. Speaker.
Also, I might digress for a moment and say that in Mississauga they also support that great federal Progressive Conservative Party. Last night I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in our riding at which the next Prime Minister of Canada was the guest speaker.
Mr. Peterson: What a pile of guff.
Mr. Kerrio: Is that Joe McTeer?
Mr. Kennedy: I thought that would bring those fellows to life.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Kennedy: They might as well be aware of the situation. It was an excellent meeting. It was a sellout.
An hon. member: It certainly was a sellout.
Mr. Kennedy: The question now is when the weight comes down on their fellows in Ottawa they’re going to say: “Who, Joe again?” And those fellows will know it, too. He did a great job. There was such an audience there we couldn’t get them all in and they came up around on the stage behind him. They were jammed in the hallways. I’m glad the fire marshal wasn’t there. Mr. Clark was met with great enthusiasm.
Mr. Ruston: Did you sell Wintario tickets there?
Mr. Kennedy: It was a speech off-the-cuff that said more in 30 or 40 minutes than occurs in Ottawa in a week. Then he answered questions for another 20 or 30 minutes and left to catch a plane to get back to Ottawa.
Mr. Ruston: He knows as much as Bob Stanfield, I take it.
Mr. Kennedy: He had a great day in Metro Toronto and in Mississauga -- and, I might say, we had a great day. It was also a great day for Metro Toronto and for Mississauga in having that inspiring gentleman before us for several meetings and interviews.
I want to speak on a variety of subjects for a few minutes. First of all, the subject which is getting to be annual or perennial is the so-called loss of agricultural farm land. The member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) is a renowned agricultural critic for the opposition. Each year when the agricultural estimates are on, the member for York South comes forth with some very good comments about it. Knowledge of the nuts and bolts and forks and shovels of planning is perhaps lacking but he does make a constructive contribution and it is always interesting to listen to his remarks. I couldn’t quite relate whether he is in favour of freezing land or semi-freezing it, or against freezing it. As he and the Minister of Agriculture and Food engaged in some interchange across the floor of the House, he seemed to twist and turn. I thought he was for it and then against it. I have a copy here of his interesting remarks in Hansard, but I can’t understand whether the NDP is for a freeze or not for a freeze.
Mr. Shore: Both, both.
Mr. Ruston: It depends on who you are talking to.
Mr. Kennedy: I think the shadow of British Columbia hangs over that party and inhibits it to some degree.
Mr. Shore: Similar policy to you.
Mr. Kennedy: That’s right, they don’t talk about B.C. Perhaps as the issues develop we will hear more from this party. The farmers of Ontario are waiting with interest too to see just what firm position is taken.
The Liberal Party wants a semi-freeze, not a deep freeze but something between being open and frozen -- a selective freeze. I don’t quite know where they would go. I don’t think a selective freeze policy is one that would work. I don’t know how they would apply it, frankly. We will wait and hear from them how to apply it, who to freeze, who to free. I think they’ve got themselves an issue. I don’t know what they freeze. In fact, I am sure the issue has been quite distorted by this federal statistic that speaks of the 26 acres per hour going out of production.
Mr. Riddell: It’s also distorted by the NDP and the minister himself, because neither of them knows the facts.
Mr. Kennedy: Well, everybody does. It was in yesterday’s Globe about this.
Mr. Wildman: Fancy that.
Mr. Kennedy: Yes, fancy that.
Mr. Kennedy: Well, I tried to sort this out but --
Hon. W. Newman: Why don’t you look into your own country?
Mr. Riddell: They have no idea.
Mr. Moffatt: You don’t know where the land is --
Mr. Riddell: Stick around when I speak and I will tell you.
Mr. Kennedy: Nobody has come up with the answer.
Mr. Kennedy: The statistics came from Statistics Canada and I have asked them and asked them on what basis is this --
Mr. Wildman: Should we get them from the US, is that it?
Mr. Kennedy: We should have got the facts, that’s the thing. They are all very conflicting. There was no definition of improved farm land, and as this heats up, that figure of 26 acres per hour gets distorted from being improved farm land to prime farm land. The fact of the matter is we still haven’t got the facts. I asked Statistics Canada to send down the source of the information.
Mr. Moffatt: Just ask the Federation of Agriculture.
Mr. Kennedy: No, that is out of Statistics Canada. We find out that it includes laneways, fallow land, and we don’t know what else.
Mr. Wildman: Why don’t you go to your own minister?
Mr. Kennedy: The statistics aren’t from this ministry.
Mr. Wildman: I know. Why don’t you have any?
Mr. Kennedy: They are from the federal statistics branch.
Mr. Shore: They have got one or two people who could look at that.
Hon. Mr. Newman: We have some figures. I gave them the other night.
Mr. Kennedy: The problem is they don’t seem to be able to come up with a simple answer of how this two million acres has disappeared.
Mr. Riddell: The problem is we have not got the true inventory of land and we have not got an ideal classification of land.
Mr. Wildman: Now you have said something right.
Mr. Kennedy: On the contrary, I always considered our soil maps to be pretty accurate barometers.
Mr. Moffatt: The minister doesn’t agree.
Mr. Kennedy: Well, they’re as good as we’ve got.
Mr. Lewis: Most of them were done between 1928 and 1932.
Mr. Kennedy: Most, yes; there’s no question about that -- but some were done subsequent to that.
Mr. Lewis: In two counties, Haldimand and Norfolk, and a little of Durham -- and they showed the original maps were wrong.
Mr. Kennedy: I don’t claim they’re perfect but we can’t find the answer on this 26-acre disappearance. In my riding there is an interested group, the University Women’s Club, which established a subcommittee to look into this.
Mr. Shore: To look into the farm land situation.
Mr. Kennedy: Yes, they have worked very hard at it. The fact of the matter is that the impression is loose in some circles that the two million acres has been built upon or gone out of production forever. Well, at four houses per acre, on two million acres we’d have eight million houses or one for every man, woman and child in Ontario. They’d each have their own individual, single-family dwelling. So that’s just not true.
We know where some of the land has gone. The Leader of the Opposition was quoted in the paper as making reference to hydro lines, dams, freeways and growing cities; we know they take a portion of it, but nowhere near that figure. I tell you, sir, that statistic will not stand up to scrutiny, and I’m still awaiting a response from Statistics Canada as to how it was derived.
Mr. Wildman: In the north, poplar bush has taken up a lot of it.
Mr. Kennedy: I want to say this about it, though: The figures may be inaccurate or open to question which -- they most definitely are, because nobody knows where they came from; the previous Minister of Agriculture and Food tried to find this out and he wasn’t successful -- but I think the fact that it has brought the disappearance of farm land to the fore is one of the healthiest things that has happened for agriculture and for the country, because we can discount the figures and come to a realization of the problem and deal with it. This is what we are attempting to do.
In speaking to this subject last spring, I mentioned the fact that the tremendous production capacity of the agricultural sector of our economy also is overlooked. I would suggest that we could double our production, if we really had the will and the need. We saw it demonstrated during the Second World War, when the farmers were asked to produce certain commodities that were needed. I will always feel very grateful, as well as impressed and proud, of the response of the agricultural sector of our economy in Canada to produce when we were in that time of danger and food was a needed commodity. If anyone cares to go back to the statistics of those war years, they will see the tremendous increase in production -- I was going to say overnight, but within a few short months -- that demonstrated the response of the agricultural community to the needs of the nation and, of the allies for food. It’s relatively easy for the agricultural sector to change the production of any commodity to meet needs; the flexibility is just incredible.
I want to read into the record just a few statistics with reference to the overall general improvement in the agricultural community to produce crops based on improved soil science, varieties end cultural techniques. The agricultural statistics show this: winter wheat in Ontario, 1941-1945, the five-year average was 28.3 bushels per acre; in 1966-1970 it was up to 41.6 bushels per acre -- a 46 per cent increase in production per acre in that 25-year span.
Another important figure is total production. There was a drop of some two million bushels in total because the acreage dropped for wheat from 626,000 to 362,000 acres in that same period of time. It is probable this land was shifted to other crops, because this is part of that tremendous capacity to be flexible that I spoke of.
Oats per acre rose from 35.3 to 54.2 bushels per acre. I never thought we’d see the day when varieties of oats could increase so dramatically. But with this crop, total production was only down about eight per cent or nine per cent. Barley was 30.4 to 49.6 bushels per acre. The acreage for this crop stayed about the same, so production is up about 5 per cent per acre. Mixed grains rose from 35 to no less than 57 bushels per acre. Soya beans, one of our great coming crops over the last quarter century, rose from 18.9 to 29 bushels per acre -- a vast increase in acreage and yield.
There’s nearly a 10 per cent increase in corn, our other most important economic crop -- nearly 100 per cent in shelled corn -- up from 45.8 to 82.6 bushels per acre. The acreage, in addition, for corn, has increased from 238,000 to 918,000 -- almost a million acres. Grain corn has gone from 11 million bushels to almost 76 million. With silage corn the tonnage -- fodder -- has gone from 9.6 to 12.6 bushels per acre.
This isn’t as if you were selecting one year -- these are the five-year averages. The low figures, 1941-1945 during the war years; the high, 1966-1970.
Those are just a few of the crops. Another important one, too, I’ll just put on the record -- hay yield: 1.89 tons to 2.53 tons per acre. Acreage dropped from 3.5 million to 2.2 million for hay; yet the production is up from $6.7 million to $8.2 million in value.
This just gives a few figures showing the tremendous capacity of the agricultural sector of our economy to produce -- not only to produce, but to respond as the need arises under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which relates very closely to the farmers, It’s always a comfortable feeling to know the relationship between the ministry -- the agreps, their representatives -- and the farm fraternity through Ontario. I think that type of relationship and consultation is one of the reasons for the ongoing success of agriculture in Ontario.
I wanted to say, too, from my personal experience that that has been my life until, as I have been told, I took leave of my senses and ran for political office. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that some of the happiest days of my young life have been spent with farmers in most parts of Ontario, throughout most of the counties with, first, the Veterans’ Land Act which did a wonderful job in establishing returned veterans on farms and, secondly, with the Farm Credit Corp. This is among my fondest memories.
What I want to do just for a minute is to pay tribute to the immigrant farmers who came into Ontario and who didn’t look for handouts which are foreign to the farm sector of the economy anyway. They just need and want the opportunity to stand on their own feet. I think it was a great infusion, not only into agriculture but into our moral fibre, that they came in here not looking for handouts but looking for the opportunity to farm and to work.
Under the farm credit programme for which there were certain terms of eligibility or under the junior farmer loan plan that was going, assistance that was given was well used. You would go into one of their barns and you would see Holstein cows that made our milk production statistics almost take off. I don’t know what the average is. Perhaps the member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton) would have those more readily at his fingertips. But it was a real inspiration to go to those farms to do what we could to help them help themselves and to see the dedication they had to the job and how they were handling it. They were efficient.
When we speak of a declining number of farms, this bringing together of farm units for efficiency is something that I would like some feature writer perhaps to write the story of or to rewrite it. No doubt there are bits and pieces that you see about the shift in agriculture, when we compare the statistics, of which I have related a few here, to the tremendous job that’s being done in that sector of the economy --
Mr. Riddell: We will assign that job to the member after the next election. He will have lots of time on his hands.
Mr. Kennedy: I mentioned our national leader earlier. I didn’t say it last night but I will let it out within the confines of this House. We don’t all live forever but whenever I see fit to terminate my stay here or the people see fit to terminate me here -- I hope it’s the former way that I leave -- actually at that time Joe Clark will be the Prime Minister of Canada.
Mr. Ruston: You going to run for federal office then?
Mr. Kennedy: No, I am going to get a spot in the Senate.
Mr. Riddell: You will still have time to write that book.
Mr. Kennedy: Oh, yes. I would thoroughly enjoy doing that, very much so.
I want to speak on a couple of local matters. Having touched on that subject, I want to say, in closing on that particular point, that the government is concerned. We are concerned, about our capacity to produce here in Ontario. We are getting more and more efficient. We can have a shift in the lesser quality farm lands.
There are some farmlands which I would say are reasonably productive -- they’re past the point of no return -- to return to farming. I say this because they’re in urban or semi-urban areas and I can speak more knowledgeably of my area in which the Mississauga University Women’s Club have taken such an interest. Again, this is most interesting because we simply didn’t have urban people all that aware of or concerned about agriculture in Ontario. I think this is another reason that this ongoing debate is a very healthy thing. I have had an excellent meeting with them.
I want to come back to the concern we zeroed in on in my discussions with them and that was this piece of farm land -- or former farm land -- they call the hole in the doughnut in Mississauga. It’s under the westerly flight path of Malton airport and, in effect, there’s a freeze on that insofar as housing is concerned. The land has been purchased by speculators, developers, and the buildings are deteriorating to the point where they’re useless. The cost to purchase that land by developers is something astronomical based on the value it has, by and large, for urban development. The question is should we return it to agriculture? If so how and who pays? We could expropriate it, sure. Government can do anything, I guess, but not this one because this isn’t Russia. We’re not going to move in with a heavy crunch. I believe the incentive route is the one to take.
We have this land which can be leased and the former ag rep’s son, the member for --
Mr. Riddell: Huron-Middlesex.
Mr. Kennedy: -- Huron-Middlesex would be interested in it, can we take this land -- it’s frozen for urban development at the moment -- return it to agriculture, put a set of buildings on it and make it productive with an urban built-up area all around? We can. We can do anything if we want to but there’s a big price to be paid. I recall when that land was being farmed and a great deal of it, perhaps 50 per cent, is very marginal as to its viability as farmland. There is some good farm land.
We say we’re going to put a -- supposing there was a set of buildings to be put on it. We have the problem now of the environment -- the other major problem of concern to all people in Ontario, Canada, the world. Supposing we start a piggery opposite a nice subdivision; what’s going to happen?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Great idea.
Mr. Kennedy: This minister happened to hear that remark. Would that be all right?
Hon. Mr. Meen: No.
Mr. Kennedy: That wouldn’t be all right. There are these practical problems to it and I think we have to take this into consideration with the overall picture. Discount that land as being returned to agriculture because I don’t think it’s feasible or practical to do it.
There is an area in which we can put the brakes on and I see it through the use of incentives to encourage farmers to stay on the land. We’ve been in the area of acknowledging the benefits of farming but I think there’s much more to be done.
I heard an argument the other day about subsidizing farmers -- there’s criticism of subsidies to farmers -- that it’s out of hand and they should stand on the economics of farming apart from subsidies. It’s not that easy. This argument was, and I think there’s some validity to it, that when we subsidize farmers in effect we’re subsidizing ourselves because the result certainly must be reflected in the marketplace of farm commodities.
Anyway that’s my suggestion, and not that which was mentioned by the opposition. I don’t really understand if they’re for freezes or against freezes. I think the practical application of them would be a big laugh among the farm fraternity, and they’re certainly going to be interested.
There are a couple of local issues I wanted to touch on, if I can find the notes. One is a local problem with the Lorne Park truck weigh scales, located in what is now a quite built-up residential area. They’re a bother because of the noise factor. Trucks pull in to be weighed, rev up their motors and disturb those nearby. The people nearby do acknowledge that the scales were there first, before most of the present residents. However, I wanted to urge the ministry again to have a look. They’ve not totally discounted the possibility of moving the scales to a more suitable place, insofar as the residents are concerned, yet enable them to do their job of inspection.
This particular set of scales is adjacent to the eastbound traffic lanes on the Queen Elizabeth Way. It’s just a pull-off and it disrupts traffic. The traffic there is under surveillance. If the hon. members are going along the Queen Elizabeth Way, they’re on “candid camera,” which is a set of TV cameras along the Queen Elizabeth Way from Highway 10 out to Mississauga Rd. and various areas so that they can monitor traffic. It’s a great benefit because, if there’s an accident or a breakdown, even before the vehicle rolls to a stop they can have help on the way through this monitoring.
The traffic coming on and off that scale has a detrimental effect to the movement of traffic. If any members know the newer scale settings, they now pull well off the highway and there’s a boulevard and space between the shoulder of the road with some green area. The scales are well in with ample room for movement of vehicles to the point where they can pretty well accelerate before they rejoin the traffic. I think it makes for an easier traffic flow. I keep urging the ministry to have a look at this and see if we can have some hope of alleviation of this problem.
One other thing, I want to commend the Minister of Transportation and Communications on his establishment of the select committee to look into the trucking industry and freight rates. I think there are inequities in many areas and probably all members have had correspondence and calls which indicate some of the frustrations and what seem to be inequities in the trucking business and bus business.
I haven’t had an opportunity to read the background papers of that select committee but I’ve had correspondence from a manufacturer in Mississauga. This area is right adjacent to Metro. There is some figure like a dollar a hundred variation in freight rates from Mississauga to the north -- I think it was Kirkland Lake if my memory serves me right -- against a shipment coming out of Metro Toronto. I would suggest that a shipment out of east Toronto -- Scarborough -- mileage-wise, is probably much farther than from Mississauga even from the downtown centre core. I know there are tremendous complications with this and I hope this aspect of the industry is within the terms of reference of the select committee because I think it’s very interesting to go into that.
There is another area, too, and this is the consolidation of truck lines. I know there are amalgamations and perhaps there needs to be, almost at provincial level, a committee of some such thing. I don’t know whether it’s within our jurisdiction or our constitutional capacity to have a fair practices committee, a restraint of trade committee or some such thing as this to look into this to see that the public is served most economically and fairly by that industry.
I am not saying that this is occurring but I know, perhaps it’s all in the name of efficiency, that the less efficient ones are knocked out. Busing facilities is another area. As I say, I think it is very timely that the minister has brought forward this suggestion and I think it will be well received and well responded to by the people of Ontario.
There are three or four other things in the riding which, perhaps, can wait for another occasion, Mr. Speaker. After all this discussion about hospital facilities we still have the same general facilities in Mississauga as we have had for five or six years, since there last was an increase in hospital beds.
I understand Brampton has had an approval and Mississauga’s is in the wind. There has been tentative approval. It’s a matter of finding the money and then this can go ahead. If you relate the hospital beds to the population which, in all fairness, isn’t completely accurate, the population has increased tremendously but the number of beds within Mississauga has remained the same. 1vVe also have access to facilities in Metro hospitals. It takes a little study and examination to get all the facts brought into line to see where we are.
There is one overriding principle and that is with the increased population we simply do need new and more hospital beds for the general population. I wouldn’t say it has doubled but it is up a third in these few short years since the last addition. The plans are prepared. They are ready to go. I know it’s a priority for funding as it very well should be. The area around Streetsville is building very rapidly with Erin Mills and I understand there is land available there. At some point along the way we are going to have a hospital there.
In Mississauga we are also pleased that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has raised its allocation for the Lakeshore highway repaving in the Lakeview area from $100,000 to $500,000 which hopefully --
Mr. Reid: Did you have anything to do with that?
Mr. Kennedy: I was very interested. I drive over the road and it is a high priority area. The highway is not the quality of highways in the north which are excellent, I understand, under the aegis of this great government.
Mr. Reid: Why don’t you come up there and I will show you? Bring your car.
Mr. Kennedy: I have been up; it’s beautiful country up there. Highway 2, in the name of constraints, was built some years ago and it is a little narrower than is specified now so there is a risk factor. It has been on the agenda for improvement for many years. The maintenance has not been up to the standard one would normally provide, so it is a very high priority. In response to some representations by councillor Ron Searle, the mayor and several others, including three members from the great city of Mississauga, the ministry has taken a second look at this and raised the ante some, and hopefully they will be able to start this year.
Our other great need, and it is not confined to Mississauga, is improved protection at level crossings all around Metro. I can recall and I am sure -- well, I don’t see any members who might be of my vintage; maybe they can’t recall, so I will remind them; the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. MacBeth) can recall -- when there were unprotected level crossings, and I mean unprotected by virtue of the fact that all they had were the crossed signs warning of a railroad. With great pressure at the time, it was finally agreed that added protection must be provided, so they added the wig-wags and the gates and this type of thing. At the time, it was supposed to be just impossible to do this, because of the expense, and the traffic didn’t warrant it and this type of thing, but nevertheless it was done.
We can now say that all level crossings, so far as I know, around Metro are protected by more adequate means than just those cross warning signs, but now we come to the point where the traffic has built up, both rail and vehicular traffic, to the point where these aren’t adequate. There are trains going in both directions, motorists get confused and this type of thing occurs, and we have had the tragic fatalities that we are all aware of, some in Mississauga.
I had correspondence on this, because I wrote the ministry to find out just what the process is. I won’t read that into the record, there is no need, but the fact is there are three or four agencies involved -- the province, the municipality, I believe the federal government, and certainly the federal transportation agency, Crown agency or whatever -- and all those agencies have to be pulled together to fund this. It’s a big task, because each one operates within its own budget and it’s not a swift thing to get underpasses or more adequate protection on the rails -- not to make a pun -- and provide more protection.
We have bad two fatalities recently in Mississauga. At Clarkson Rd. and at Lorne Park Rd. there’s a great increase in train traffic. That, of course, is the route the GO trains go on, so there are numerous trains added right there and there is to be another added as well. This need should have a much higher priority than it has, I suggest, and I would hope that perhaps we could have a Metro area committee of some kind to review this and find out where the priorities are.
There is something in the order of 40 or 50 underpasses and overpasses, and this wouldn’t cover them all. I am told that along the lakeshore line there is something like 14 just west of Metro, and a similar number east, presumably. I think there should be some bringing together of people to see what can be done to expedite this added protection before we have more fatalities. There’s only one way to go on this and that is to provide overpasses and underpasses as quickly as we can in this built-up area.
I think now there are only two or three on the railway out to contract. They’re not many in relation to the need. If a train’s going from the Union Station either way, each crossing it comes to needs protection, one as much as the other. Some of them have been cut off in our area. There’s a limited number of roads. They’re very heavily travelled. I think this applies to the east as well as the west. So we need to set up a higher priority to move along in some orderly fashion and add that protection.
They started in 1918 in Port Credit to talk about the need for an underpass and it finally came about in the late 1950s or early 1960s. We simply can’t wait that span of time now with the rapidly accelerating population needs in and around Metro. So I make a plea that the priorities be established and that we get going on these right across Metro and beyond in the urban areas.
With those few remarks on the budget I will close. I was going to speak for an hour or two on the budget, which I can do and with great fervour and enthusiasm, but I’ll leave that for another occasion.
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to start out my remarks on the budget debate by complimenting the present Speaker of the House for the very conscientious job which he is doing on behalf of the members in ordering the business of the House and keeping in control the rambunctious members.
I’d also like to pay credit to the excellent job which the Deputy Speaker and chairman of committees, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), is doing in that capacity. It’s very interesting to see a member of our party in that position, and the member for Lake Nipigon certainly comports himself well in a way that’s suited to his capabilities. While we’re on the same topic, I might mention that the deputy chairman, who is now in the chair this morning, does an excellent job. The member for Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith) is the deputy chairman of the committees and from time to time, as this morning, serves as the Speaker.
This is the budget debate. Like most members, I don’t intend to spend much time talking about the budget per se. However, there are a couple of things which I always feel a twinge of conscience about -- that I should have some of my remarks related to budgetary matters. The budget as recently passed is still very fresh in my mind. I’d like to mention one particular aspect about the budget, and that is the increase in OHIP premiums.
I feel, and I’m sure everyone in our party feels, that this increase in OHIP premiums is utterly wrong. In a personal way, since no portion of our OHIP premiums is paid by our employer here in the House, it means another $120 directly out of my pocket -- and for most of the secretaries to the members in our NDP caucus it means that as well. There are a few of them who are single and this means another $60 out of their pockets. This is true for any and all people in Ontario who have to pay their own premiums.
In that regard may I say it’s nonsense to pretend that the employers who are paying a portion of it will be hearing the full brunt of this. Rest assured, where employers pay a percentage of those OHIP premium-, at the next negotiation time or at the next normal increase in the adjustment of their salaries in the course of the year, that increase those employers have to pay will be fully taken into account. The effect may not be felt this month or on May 1, when the first premiums need to be paid, but it will certainly be an issue impeding negotiations, and one which will be felt at some time within the next few months by most workers in the Province of Ontario if it is based on a percentage in their contract or in their agreement and their employers have had to increase that amount.
So the effect will come not immediately but it will certainly be felt. The increase which employers will have to pay most certainly will be taken by the Anti-Inflation Board to be part of the increased benefits for those workers. So what we have done is increased OHIP premiums and increased them for workers in which a portion is paid in a way in which the Anti-Inflation Board will be involved with it and will calculate that dollar amount as part of the allowed percentages allowed by that board. It is nonsense to think, as the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) has said, that this will not have much effect on people because employers in many cases are paying all or part of those premiums. It was completely unnecessary for those premiums to have been raised.
There is a very easy set-off against those premiums. The premium increases will produce in the vicinity of $228 million in revenue for the province. If we had taken off the tax exemptions on production machinery, that would have produced $220 million for the province and made completely unnecessary the OHIP premium increase. I have spoken on more than one occasion in this House on the bills which have come forward to extend that decreased tax on new production machinery in Ontario, and it is a concept to which we are opposed, because it is a move which in fact produces more unemployment in the Province of Ontario. Any new production machinery purchase and the encouragement is there to purchase that machinery -- is all in the more automated form, resulting in less employment of persons in this province. So that measure is counterproductive to employment in this province.
A point we have not had to consider, because the bill simply extends it to everybody, is that if the bill had come in with respect to production machinery, saying that there would be no sales tax only on production machinery produced in Ontario, so that in fact would stimulate the location of production machinery manufacturing in the Province of Ontario and give encouragement for other provinces and other countries to buy our production machinery produced here, that is something we would have to consider very seriously. But to give a blanket elimination of sales tax for production machinery, no matter where it is produced if purchased in the Province of Ontario, is completely counterproductive to employment opportunities in the Province of Ontario.
The figures I have shown that 80 per cent of the production machinery purchased with no sales tax in the Province of Ontario is production machinery produced and assembled outside the Province of Ontario. We are gaining virtually nothing in employment opportunities by this $220-million-a-year giveaway in which we are continuing to participate. At the same time, we are raising OHIP premiums to the tune of $228 million. There is no question in our party, as a first step, that we would simply say we would remove that sales tax exemption from production machinery as the means whereby we would get $220 million so the increase in OHIP premiums would not at all be necessary.
One topic which is of great interest to the riding of Windsor-Sandwich which I represent, and in fact to the whole of the Windsor area, is railroad relocation and railroad relocation studies. I have lived in Windsor now for only a little over 10 years. When I first arrived in Windsor I was appalled, as a newcomer to the city, to find a great number of places in the city where I was rather surprisingly held up by rail traffic. I don’t mean for short periods of time. It was not uncommon then, and it is even more common now, to be waiting 10 and 15 minutes for trains to get across a level crossing in the business and built-up areas of Windsor.
It has been an issue in Windsor that there should be railroad relocation. I can remember as far back as 10 years ago, when I was first in the city, urgings by the city council and by concerned citizens’ groups to the federal government to do something about railroad relocation. As far back as 1972, pressure was put on the federal government, mainly by the city of Windsor showing its great concern. Studies prepared then -- in fact prepared some years before that -- caused the federal government in the middle of the federal election campaign to announce there would be great news for Windsor, that it would finance railroad track relocation studies in Canadian cities, that Windsor certainly had a high priority for railroad relocation and that a bill would follow shortly after the new Parliament convened.
In April, 1974, a bill was introduced by the federal Minister for Urban Affairs which would give the federal government power to expropriate railroad rights of way and make core area urban land available for other developments. “Getting railroad tracks out of Windsor’s waterfront has been a high priority concern for several years,” according to a direct quote by Urban Affairs Minister Ron Basford.
The bill was introduced in that week of April 27, 1974, and was to provide $250 million over five years for studies involving the relocation of railroad trackage, and in some cases the relocation itself. That was April 27, 1974. Since the federal government had announced in 1972 there would be railroad relocation studies the city of Windsor with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications here, a bridge over one line of these railroad tracks having found to be unsafe, made the decision that rather than rebuilding that bridge the city would expend funds that would cause that bridge to be operable for only another five years. That was the choice the city had, whether to rebuild the bridge entirely, at great expense, or repair it in such a way -- and this was the only sort of repair that could be found as to keep it operable -- so that it would be in use for another five years, at considerably less cost; but on the hope, and really on the understanding, that in five years’ time, by late 1977 or early 1978, there would be railroad trackage relocation, assisted by the federal government and the provincial government, such that those tracks over which that particular bridge passed -- Peabody Bridge being the name of that bridge -- would no longer be necessary as those tracks would have been relocated.
The story then goes on from there. The federal government announced that it would pay, I think, the first 25 per cent -- which finally wended its way to 50 per cent -- of the cost of the studies indicating which cities should have railroad relocation and what type of railroad relocation should occur in those cities.
On June 15, 1975, the matter having been a matter of discussion between the federal and the provincial governments as to which cities and how much -- the 50 per cent by that time having been decided upon -- the then minister was quoted in the press as saying he was convinced of Windsor’s need to be among the four cities chosen in the Province of Ontario for railroad relocation. It’s not hard to understand why he would make that particular comment because of the studies which had already been done and the statistics gathered by the cities in Ontario interested at that time.
There were eight: St. Thomas, North Bay, Niagara Falls, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Brantford -- I’m not sure which was the eighth. Windsor was able to show at that time, its studies having been done and updated with ease for quite some time, that it had the greatest number of level crossings within an urban area per head of population of any city in the Province of Ontario. It was quite reasonable to assume that there would be no problem in Windsor being on that list of four.
Pardon me, that was May 16. On June 17 the then Transportation and Communications Minister, John Rhodes, said he would look with favour on including the city of Windsor’s proposal among the four pilot studies on railroad relocation which he would like to make.
I understand from people on the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee, which was charged by the Treasurer of Ontario with making the choice, that the Treasurer of Ontario submitted to the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee four cities as the cities which the government thought were those which bad the highest priority among the eight competing for it. Those four cities were Windsor, St. Thomas, North Bay and Niagara Falls. The Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee was asked to make its choices and to recommend any difference if there was one.
I have it on very good authority from members of the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee that when they received that list, they looked it over and, in essence, handed it back to the Treasurer of Ontario with the comment “We agree with your priorities.” At that point having given the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee an opportunity to comment, the Treasurer had already indicated which four it seemed to his ministry were the appropriate ones. They agreed that the list should have been St. Thomas, North Bay, Niagara Falls and Windsor, with Windsor, in essence, leading the way.
It was with quite some shock that on Aug. 15, 1975, they heard the announcement that the four cities to be the pilot project cities for the study were St. Thomas, North Bay, Niagara Falls, and not Windsor but Brantford. The number of level crossings per head of population in Brantford is considerably lower than in Windsor and the only reason Brantford was chosen at that point was to try to prop up the then cabinet minister from Brantford, Mr. Dick Beckett, who was recognized to be in a tough campaign for re-election when those re-elections would occur.
That was the only reason. It was purely political. Windsor was dropped and Brantford added not because of the need for railroad relocation but because that seat needed propping up. As it turned out, of course, it needed propping up and the seat was lost by that member of the last House. It is represented very ably now by Mac Makarchuk of our party.
Mr. Lewis: The final irony is that Dick Beckett ran third. All the railroad crossings in the world could not help him.
Mr. Bounsall: They couldn’t help him, that is right. It goes on further. As the campaign progressed the Conservatives seemed to be very desperate to gain a seat in Sudbury. The New Democratic Party holds all three seats in Sudbury. The Tories were desperate to make some sort of a breakthrough in the north, particularly in the Sudbury area.
In the early stages of the campaign, it was announced that a fifth city would be added to the railroad relocation study plan, that city being Sudbury, as they desperately tried to prep up the Tory candidate there in an effort to defeat our sitting member, Mr. Germa. That strategy worked as well as it did in Brantford. Again, our member had no trouble holding on to that seat.
Mr. Reid: I wouldn’t go quite that far.
Mr. Lewis: And with a wonderful sense of symmetry the Tory candidate ran third. Wherever you make these political interventions you ensure defeat. It is quite interesting, all in all.
Mr. Bounsall: The only very weak comment the ministry made about Windsor and its non-inclusion was that it was a border city and it and Sault Ste. Marie had some particular problems, because they were border cities, in having a study done. We know what sort of credibility we can give to that comment.
The choices were made for purely political reasons without any consideration of the needs for railroad relocation. When the Tories make political decisions of that sort, they stand third in those ridings where they make it obvious to everybody what sort of a move that is. One would think they would learn something from that.
They can still lock at the facts in the case and decide that those relocation studies should be made in the cities of this province which have the greatest need. There is not o question in my mind that Windsor has the greatest need for railroad relocation and, therefore, it should be en that study list.
In fact, in January of this year, just three months ago, it was found --
Mr. Reid: The member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) talked about that last year.
Mr. Bounsall: So did we all. It was found that two of the cities chosen for that study had yet to submit or finalize their briefs. Sudbury and Brantford, the two added in the later stages, had yet to submit their applications; and North Bay was still preparing its draft application. Those three cities out of the five now on the list certainly did not see it as a very high priority for themselves. They were still preparing their submissions as late as three months ago while Windsor’s studies and statistics have been ready for some years.
That is how this government conducts business with respect to railroad relocations; it makes its decisions in political ways. It should be reversing that decision with respect to Windsor. It is the government’s problem as to which of the other five it doesn’t select but I suspect, because of the political considerations, it will be probably either Brantford or Sudbury. Again, those submissions of those eight cities should all be made public. They should be placed side by side and, if necessary, a committee of this House should look those over, hear the arguments and make those decisions.
I gather there is some concern at the federal level that Windsor has not been included because the people at the federal level know that it was Windsor’s initiatives over the years which caused them to go ahead with the entire programme and to fund 50 per cent of it. There is some dissatisfaction in Ottawa and rightly so in this case. Often I agree with statements made in this House that there are many positions taken by the Liberal government in Ottawa which are very hard to fathom and one wonders whet rationale they use. But in this instance they are dead right in being upset about the decisions with respect to what cities get approved for railroad relocation by this Conservative government here in Ontario.
I don’t intend to go on too much longer in my address today except that I must brine to the attention of the House the situation with respect to day care in Windsor and Essex counties. When the supplementary estimate of the Ministry of Community and Social Services came up, unfortunately I was not in possession of the facts with respect to day care as they subsequently were revealed somewhat later in the city of Windsor and in Essex county. I had requested those facts from the director of municipal welfare in Windsor and subsequently met with him to discuss any and all of the problems which the effect of the cutback to 5.5 per cent by this government in social services, a cutback which I thoroughly deplored, would have upon all of the programmes.
I mentioned my concern about day care in that meeting, which went on for an hour and a quarter, and I was told that there were really no problems anywhere. It subsequently turned out that they had a plan for the municipal day care in centres in Windsor, a plan which would involve letting go completely four out of the 30 daycare centre teachers involved in the five municipal daycare centres. Of the remainder, half of them would take a substantial reduction in salary in order that they be able to comply with the budget cutback and the budget tightness which the Province of Ontario introduced in those cuts.
There were excellent briefs prepared by the concerned supporters of the Essex county daycare centres and presented by one Duane Horton with some further subcommittee members, namely, Suzanne Zakoor, Beth McGee and Dennis Norton. It was a very excellent brief that outlined the need for day care, the type of service that they are providing and some of the testimonials of the people who are involved in receiving day care in the Windsor and the Essex county area. There are some testimonials from parent, some of which I think might be interesting for the House to hear. One parent said:
“Our child was slow in speaking. The family doctor recommended a daycare centre to help improve the speech. When our child had to get along with other children, he very quickly began to use words to get his point across and his speech improved drastically.”
A separated working mother wrote:
“My son has had various babysitters and was an unhappy child. Now that he is at day care he has settled down completely and is a very happy individual; and as well he is learning in that setting and learning to be independent.”
It goes on and on. There are some 16 or 18 testimonials, all of which are very important, from parents. Here is another one:
“At first I was uncomfortable about sending my child to day care because I felt I should have been able to help him with his particular difficulty. But when I saw how quickly he improved in the daycare centre, I realized that I could not do for him at home what other children and staff in that daycare group setting were able to provide for him.
“[Another one] I feel extremely thankful that there was a daycare centre available since I think I have learned so much about what to expect of pre-school children and I think that I am a better parent and a richer person for having shared with my child in the daycare centre experience.”
“[Another one] Even though I know I have to work, I have always felt guilty about leaving my child with someone. Now because he is with loving staff and is happy in the daycare centre, I no longer feel guilty about leaving him there.”
It goes on and on. The work the daycare centres do in the Province of Ontario -- those run by the municipalities, either Windsor or Essex county -- and the trained people there are providing an excellent service in the Province of Ontario. It is one we need much more of. I tell members that the cutbacks introduced by the Minister of Community and Social Services, which resulted in staff having to be fired in the Windsor area and half of the rest of the staff having salary reductions, are just incredible and very hard to accept by any users of daycare centres.
The rates per day have had to increase by almost $2 in Windsor to the point where some parents may have to withdraw their children from the daycare centre for financial reasons. Obviously the need for that service will continue. They will have to put these children in a less congenial, less educational setting, where the staff is not nearly as well trained and where they’re not going to get the attention and the group interaction which occurs in our municipal and county daycare centres.
This is quite deplorable. There’s no doubt in my mind that the anger directed at this particular government particularly by the workers and, in no small amount, the users -- the parents of the children who are in the daycare centres -- as they pay the higher fees or have to withdraw, is going to remain. I had a meeting in February with all the daycare workers in the city of Windsor. They’re all fairly young women; there are only a few who are older; most of them are very young. They are very non-involved politically but there was no question that as a result of that particular move the government had certainly radicalized a whole group of young people, capable and heretofore not involved politically but certainly involved on a person to person basis in the city of Windsor. They are people who are very capable of getting involved politically and who, I would suspect, will be. It’s not going to be involvement on the side of this government. It’s things like that the Tories should be worrying about even if they don’t give a damn about the daycare centre programmes which they clearly don’t.
One other point I must bring up at this point is the minimum wage in the Province of Ontario. It is regrettable, to say the least, that there has been a difference introduced in the minimum wage for the persons involved in distributing alcoholic beverages in the province. There is no justification for this and it’s simply a sell-out to the tourist industry in the Province of Ontario. It’s the tourist industry which urged this on the minister and he’s been able to sell that to cabinet.
When the government was preparing to change the Employment Standards Act with its first big amendments in the fall of 1974 -- the first amendments in quite some time -- I’m glad to see that the Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth) is here today. When he was Minister of Labour at that time in preparation for that debate I read all the background papers presented to the ministry in each and every area of that Act in the Ministry of Labour library. Although the government did not make any legislative change to the minimum wage, that study was therein contained.
The study on the minimum wage was very weak on the point of whether or not to have a differential for waitresses. It indicated there was a possibility of this but it didn’t really approve or recommend it. That was the ministry study, requisitioned for this government by competent people in the field and that change was not recommended. To find this very retrogressive step taken at this point is simply that the government in its weakness is giving in to a minister who yells the hardest and is not looking at the entire principle of the thing.
The one positive thing which I’ve always been able to say about the Conservatives in Ontario -- and I’ve never hesitated to say it about the Conservatives in Ontario -- is that we may not agree with you in principle on some of the things which you do but by and large you take principled stands. I may not agree with that stand, but you take it from a principled position. This is one area where you were completely unprincipled. You just gave in to the biggest push on you and did not consider the principle therein at all.
Let me turn to another area of the minimum wage. Just on April 14 the minimum wage for harvest workers was announced by the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), assuring the Province of Ontario that the minimum wage for workers harvesting fruit, vegetables and tobacco would be $2.65 an hour, effective immediately. It’s a non-announcement because unless they were going to create yet another category at this point for harvest workers in particular, then that would be the wage that would be expected. They are included in the normal general minimum wage. Unless there was yet another announcement, as we had for waiters and waitresses and those serving alcoholic beverages, and yet another category created, this is what one would expect. This was a non-announcement; it didn’t need to have been made.
One could perhaps say it doesn’t hurt to have this propagated. But those engaged in employing the workers harvesting fruit and vegetables know that they have to pay the stated minimum wage in the Province of Ontario. Last year it was $2.50; and this year it is now $2.65.
The non-announcement in its timing was interesting. Shortly thereafter came into my possession the junior agriculturists programme run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. This was not a programme announced through the Ontario Experience 76 programme. This is a programme which has come along as a separate one on its own. It’s quite incredible. It’s going to be open to students age 16 or 17. They’ve got to be in good physical and mental health and in sound emotional condition. I don’t know how you apply that criterion to anyone, let alone students of 16 or 17 who haven’t reached maturity.
They’re going to be on farms for the period June 21 to Aug. 20 engaged in farming full-time. The farm must be a commercial operation, that is, I suppose, seriously in the business of farming to the point of filing an income tax statement at least. On the face of it so far, that doesn’t sound so bad. However, one comes down to the conditions of participation and one starts to wonder about the programme. It goes on to say as part C under the conditions of participation:
“Applicants must understand that the hours on a farm can be irregular, depending upon the current activity and the weather. However, 12 to 13 hours from the start of the activity in the morning until it is completed at night are normal.”
You’ve introduced a junior agriculturalist programme to anyone wishing to learn about agriculture who is age 16 or 17 and you tell them they’re going to work a 12- to 13-hour day normally.
It goes on to say:
“On occasion, these hours can go to 16 or 18 in a single day.”
It is all part of the same paragraph. There are the hours of work now for them. It’s going to be normally 12 or 13 hours and on occasion 16 or 18 in a single day. They’ll be expected to participate in farm activities for 12 consecutive days, then they’ll have two consecutive days off. Twelve days at a stretch is rather unusual for any employed person to work, but that’s a six-day week on average and perhaps you can’t quarrel too much with that.
However, what are they going to be paid? Each agriculturalist, junior agriculturalist, will receive a training allowance of $16 per day based on a six-day week; $96 a week is what they are going to receive for that. Six dollars of this will be provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Out of the $16, there is going to be a direct subsidy from this government. The host farmer will pay $5 per day in cash and he will supply room and board worth $5 a day.
So the total income which this person will receive is $11 a day; $6 coming from the Ontario government; $5 coming from the farmer and they are calculating room and board at $5 a day. Let me indicate just how far below the minimum wage that is for a 16- and 17-year-old in the Province of Ontario. Let’s say that person receives not $11 a day in cash, but $16 a day in cash -- you include the room and board as a cash payment. They have already, indicated that the normal activity will be 12 or 13 hours a day, and occasionally 16 or 18.
Let’s just say that for a six-day period they work only 12 hours a day. The minimum wage for anyone under 18 in the Province of Ontario is $2.15 an hour. For 12 hours a day, six days a week, this would be $154.80 a week.
The maximum allowable under the Employment Standards Act that a farmer or anyone providing room and board can deduct per week for room and board is $32. You subtract that $32 from $154.80 -- these students should be getting as a minimum $122.80 a week. They are, in fact, receiving $66 a week. The absolute minimum should be $122.80, based only on a 12-hour day. This is the minimum stated in the report directly and allowing the farmer to deduct the maximum amount for room and board. So, in cash payments per week to each and every one of these students you are only shy by $5680. You are paying them almost half what is allowable under your Employment Standards Act.
The minister is probably going to reply that with junior forest rangers they are learning as they are going along. Let’s not kid us on this. There is nothing in this programme announcement which talks about a type of programme or training which must be given. If the government had set up a true agriculturalist apprenticeship programme in which it says to the farmers employing these persons: “In order to get your $6 a day subsidy from the Province of Ontario, you have to provide training in this many areas; you must supervise the reading of this material in that particular agricultural area by the students employed there.”
In addition, once every two weeks for half a day, students should be taken to the nearest agricultural centre for courses or films on certain areas. Then the government might be able to say it has got some aspect of training in here, apart from just the slugging work which is assigned to them.
But, no, the government has done nothing of that. It is just going to let them go out there and slug away and have minimal training, except what anyone picks up on the job -- no matter what that job is.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The member doesn’t approve of the programme?
Mr. Bounsall: Pardon?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The member doesn’t approve of the programme?
Mr. Bounsall: I don’t approve of the way in which the government is indenturing people under 18 in this province and the way it is paying for them.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: It is a most successful programme; one of our most successful.
Mr. Bounsall: The ministry is really taking students under 18 and it is indenturing them in a way that should have disappeared and has disappeared in most jurisdictions years ago. The government is paying them almost half of what they should be paid -- and they are getting no training. Now, what sort of a programme is that? It is worse than a non-programme. It is a blatant ripping-off of the young students in this province who may be interested in agriculture. The government is exploiting them in a shameless way.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Not at all.
Mr. Bounsall: It has its own law as to the minimum wage for someone 16 or 17, which states, if they work on a farm, the maximum that can be deducted for room and board and when we put those together it is paying them almost half, a bit more than half, of what would be allowed. The government is breaking its own laws on the basis of the fact that it is going to say there is a training component in it. It has laid down no training programme for those persons involved in that programme at all; nothing is laid out to the farm employer as to what he must do to see that those workers are covered. It has made no attempt at all. It would be useful in Ontario to have an agriculturalist apprentice programme, junior or otherwise, but the government has not even set its mind to that at all.
It is a programme which I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone mildly interested in going into agriculture to go into, because it is certainly one which will turn them off and, believe me, 16- and 17-year-olds know the value of their labour in this province.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The same can’t be said for a lot of the members’ colleagues. They are most anxious to get students in their area into those programmes.
Mr. Bounsall: It is a programme which is indefensible and the minister should be ashamed to be participating in it.
There is one last comment I would like to make, and it is one which I will deal with in some more depth later on, but that is how abhorrent the particular part of the budget was where it dealt with the productivity of the auto industry in the Province of Ontario. For most of the plants in Ontario, certainly any of the newer ones -- it most certainly applies to some of the renovated facilities in Chrysler’s at Windsor, their new truck plant there; it occurs with the Pinto and Maverick Ford plant in the St. Thomas area, and, by and large because of the flexibility in changing from one line to another, to the Ford plant at Oakville.
The productivity in those plants, on a plant-by-plant basis, is greater than the productivity on the average of auto plants in the United States. For the Treasurer to indicate in his report that the auto industry, in terms of having our fair share of the auto pact, is losing because of the productivity in the Province of Ontario is just hiding behind the facts. For at least close to the five years I have been in this House now, this government, with more than 40 per cent of the work force in Ontario tied in some way to the auto industry, has never ever put forcibly to the federal government that it should be taking a strong stand in terms of the companies living up to the agreement in that original auto pact agreement.
I have made two very long and major speeches in this House, of almost an hour apiece, once in 1972 and once in 1974, on the auto pact and what this government should be urging the federal government to do with respect to that. I do not propose to repeat those speeches here this morning, Mr. Speaker, but I can assure you that the productivity is not as outlined in the budget. We are not lower on average in productivity than the auto plants in the States.
The whole purpose of the pact was to equalize opportunity and make it have the same percentage in dollar value of cars produced in Canada as cars sold in Canada. We still run roughly 25 to 30 per cent behind meeting that quota. It is getting worse rather than better. The whole purpose was equalization. After we make allowances for taxes and dollar rates of exchange, we still run in Ontario $200 to $300 higher on the smaller models of cars and $700 and $800 higher on the larger models of cars. They’re much more expensive in Canada and Ontario than in the States, and there is no justification for that.
All that’s occurring there is that auto companies have decided they will continue to maintain that price differential so that all the expansion which took place shortly after the auto pact was introduced would be paid for by the consumers of Canada and the consumers of Ontario. All that expansion would be paid for by the additional price we have to pay for automobiles and there is absolutely no justification for it.
At one time, four or five years ago, they fell back to the old statement, “We have some higher costs. We have the translation into French of our advertising brochures and our advertising for the media.” Taking the year 1971, which I did for purposes of calculation for my 1972 speech, the total outside cost of those additional translations would have added 10 cents per car -- 10 cents per vehicle -- not in the vicinity of $200 to $700. They simply don’t have a justifiable argument whatsoever.
This government should be urging the federal government to start being very tough with the auto-makers and to live up to the agreement of the auto pact. Or one simply uses as a threat something which the auto companies won’t want at all, the idea of removing the conditions of the pact on free transfer between countries and across the borders. This has achieved great savings in efficiency for the four companies involved and they don’t want to lose that efficiency. As I see it, we have all of the bargaining power if we choose to use it in the auto pact arrangements.
Mr. Speaker: I would like 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 27, An Act to amend the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Act.
Bill 41, An Act to amend the Public Utilities Act.
Bill 43, An Act to authorize the Raising of Money on the Credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Bill 56, An Act to amend the Dead Animal Disposal Act.
Bill Pr2, An Act respecting the Township of Wicksteed.
Bill Pr3, An Act respecting the Borough of Scarborough.
Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the Township of Nepean.
Bill Pr8, An Act respecting the Borough of York.
Bill Pr10, An Act respecting St. Andrew’s Church, Ottawa.
Bill Pr22, An Act respecting Welland Area YMCA-YWCA.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Speaker: The hen, member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Renwick: I thought he had just spoken.
Mr. Grossman: It seems like that.
Mr. Conway: Given my natural --
Mr. Renwick: It seems like no time.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Renfrew North has the floor.
Mr. Ruston: We will hear some words of wisdom now.
Mr. Grossman: We finish at 1 today -- it’s 1 o’clock now.
Mr. Renwick: Every other week.
Mr. Conway: I am at your service, Mr. Speaker, if and when the hon. gentlemen to my right decide to become more co-operative. I would, with respect to the hon. gentlemen to my right, like to continue on behalf of and in the interests of young students as was so eloquently expressed by the previous speaker from Windsor-Sandwich.
I would like to begin, Mr. Speaker, by congratulating you and your colleagues from Northumberland (Mr. Rowe) and from Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) for the efforts which you so very successfully put forward on our behalf. There are days when one has to have no little bit of sympathy for the very arduous task and position in which you find yourself, given the particular willingness of this ministry to pay special attention to the parliamentary traditions for which we all have very great respect.
I am very much impressed, I might add, by the presence of the ministry here today. I was thinking, listening to the previous speaker, that there is a certain complexion to that front bench today which is indeed impressive.
Mr. Warner: It’s a beautiful front bench. It is impressive.
Mr. Conway: One looks at it and thinks that now one has some sense of what it might be to be part of the Conservative machine. That must surely be represented by that fine and spectacular array of the front bench, as it reveals itself with all these nice blue velvet or blue-backed seats. That must be what the back seat of the “big blue machine” looks like. At least, the thought would at least enter my mind in perhaps a cynical way.
Mr. Grossman: It is the same as the front seat of the red machine.
Mr. Ruston: And the green machine.
Mr. Conway: And happy we are to have Coach Grossman from St. Andrew-St. Patrick with us today, particularly because I know that, while those of us who prepare for matters like budget speeches are busy, he must, I’m sure, be in the final draft of that long-awaited resignation which he has proffered on more than one occasion to this august assembly.
Mr. Warner: Is that a promise or a threat?
Mr. Conway: And I am sure the hon. member is still contemplating saying it.
Mr. Grossman: Will you be here to hear it, though?
Mr. Conway: The business of the budget speech is one of very particular interest. I am impressed naturally by the sharp focus and concentrated interest of the presentations made by our members. Clear it is that the budget speech, like the Throne debate, is one where one simply deals directly with matters relating to the budget and the Throne Speech. And so I will be similarly very precise and specific in my references.
I think, as a new member, one who has had opportunities now for seven months to watch the financial operations and theoretical dispositions of the McKeough-Davis team and record, the events of April 6 were not at all surprising, It is certainly impressive, I think, that we have with us a Premier and a Treasurer -- if not in presence now, certainly in spirit -- a pair of individuals who have managed with a remarkable degree of consistency to introduce a new twist to Keynesian economics, you might say, given their rather impressive and consistent tendencies towards deficit budgeting in the last four years.
I watched the hon. member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. McKeough) and he certainly puts one in mind of many things. I was talking of the good doctor from Parkdale just a few moments ago, and I was asking him for his wisdom and advice, because I was thinking that there might be some Shakespearean connection between Darcy McKeough, his budget, Hamlet, poor Yorick and John Maynard Keynes, and all of those various connections. But the good doctor informed me that that would be more than an oblique connection and one which of course I would not pursue.
But thinking of what else the Treasurer might remind me of, I am impressed by his style in this assembly, given the budget and many other presentations. He looks like R. B. Bennett, he sounds like R. B. Bennett, his heels have an iron quality not unlike R. B. Bennett, he has the unique and interesting approach to parliamentary discussion predicated on the very interesting premise of when in doubt shout. And that is not without its merits and is something which I, as a new member, am very impressed by. I would that the Treasurer would face a happier fate than the former Viscount of Calgary and whatever.
The budget in all its professions for restraint and whatever is clearly a copout operation. Quite obviously, the dictum of restraint being offered by the ministry of the present day is one which all of us accept. The question that has to be asked, I am sure, is restraint of what? It’s restraint clearly of the administration and the expenditures which this 33-year-old government has allowed to get completely out of control. I, for one, am happy to see the ways of the drunken sailor, financially at any rate, are acknowledged by this particular government and I, for one, am very happy to join with them in the consideration of a control of that particular habit.
The Treasurer is telling us that indeed we must as a government and as an assembly be sensitive to the fact that we are now running into the fifth year of deficits. He happily tells us that, given all of this, he is going to spend almost $1 billion more than he can or will collect this year. That is an interesting comment on his own attitudes. Clearly, the gentleman from Chatham-Kent is an aging conjuror quite cognizant of the fact that the rabbits have all escaped the hat and that he is now faced with the rather regrettable and regressive habit and recourse of going to people on OHIP --
Mr. Warner: And he is going to lose the hat too.
Mr. Conway: And he may very well lose the hat. They’ll be passing the hat I’m sure, among their friends in the not-too-distant future to accommodate their interests in more than administrative purposes.
The business of OHIP is one to which many speakers have addressed themselves and one on which I would like at this point in time to make a brief comment People in my particular riding have expressed their chagrin about this particular tendency. It’s one which the member for London North (Mr. Shore) took no little bit of pain to draw attention to in his fine remarks of last week.
There is the whole business of the non-corporate OHIP groups, municipal workers, school board employees, hospital workers and government employees. These employees do not have the benefits of tax write-offs to which the budget refers. This is yet another way in which the government is foisting increased expenses on the shoulders of others. While benefits might not amount to a tremendous increase in the budget of a school board, municipality or university, an additional unexpected expense of anywhere from several thousands to several hundred thousands of dollars can be a very real problem, especially in view of the reduced provincial assistance, and that’s a matter to which I’ll return very shortly.
The budget claims that on average 88 per cent of OHIP group payments are employer contributions. When the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) decided to increase OHIP premiums, was he not aware of the additional burden which this move would place on already hard-pressed municipal and hospital budgets? Was he not aware that, based on 1974 figures, 73.2 per cent of municipal agreements, covering 92.6 per cent of municipal employees, had provision for 100 per cent employer contribution towards OHIP, and that 37.6 per cent of hospital agreements covering 49.6 per cent of employees also provided for 100 per cent employer contributions?
In the case of Metro Toronto, for example, the additional added expense has been estimated at anywhere from $400,000 to $700,000. The problem is, of course, that there are over 32,000 OHIP groups, and to come up with an accurate estimate of employer-employee contributions to premiums, a review of all provincial agreements would have to be undertaken. Some of these groups might well be outside union agreements. We would be interested -- and I certainly would be interested -- to know on what basis the government’s figure of 88 per cent was estimated. Were all groups taken into consideration, or just a selected few?
What about the OHIP groups not involved in collective agreements? The budget states, “that an increase in OHIP premiums will be a point of negotiation in future collective bargaining,” and contracts could bring lower levels of employer contributions which would increase the individual taxpayers financial problems in these days of high inflation. A spokesman for an organization pointed out that many of the non-group subscribers are elderly people with special health problems who are particularly heavy users of semiprivate coverage, something on which the budget also had a great deal to say.
No doubt these same people are in many instances pay-direct subscribers to OHIP who will bear the full brunt of the increased OHIP premiums. I don’t think there is any doubt of this, based on the early returns from my constituency. Does the Treasurer honestly feel he can justify the fact that these people will be especially hard hit by his budgetary measures?
On the point earlier about what the impact of the situation is with respect to individuals and particularly institutions, I was very impressed to read the April 9, 1976, communication from the office of the executive director of the Ontario Hospital Association. This is a newsletter sent to the members, and with your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I’d just like to read one or two paragraphs from that particular newsletter. Under the title of “Hospital Tax Collectors,” the newsletter from the Ontario Hospital Association’s executive director reads:
“There was little cheer for hospitals in Tuesday’s provincial budget. On the one hand, they found themselves cast by Mr. McKeough in the role of tax gatherers required to collect stiff new surcharges from private and semi-private patients. On the other, they saw themselves being hit hard by having to pay 45 per cent higher OHIP premiums for their own employees out of budgets already severely constrained.
“Whereas hospitals have hitherto received half of the private and semi-private revenue for additional needs such as capital and renovation programmes, new equipment and repayment of loans, the government will be claiming all of the latest surcharges to offset their new OHIP standard ward costs.
“Hospitals will continue to retain half of the present rate; that is, $3.75 a day for semi-private and $6.00 for a private room. There are real concerns that the OHIP premium increase will have to be translated into still more layoffs for hospitals as with other public sector employers on rigidly-controlled staff budgets.
“One hospital, paying 90 per cent of employee OHIP premiums already has calculated that its billing will go up by $81,000 for this year, the equivalent of eight employees.”
It is clear from this newsletter where that $81,000 is going to come from. And so it is that the hon. Treasurer blithely suggested to us that, really, when you take everything into consideration institutions and individuals are certainly not going to in any real way suffer from this government’s testament to restraint as evidenced in this particular budget.
Mr. Warner: It is nonsense.
Mr. Conway: Nonsense it certainly is, says the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere; and I couldn’t concur with him more heartedly. It is interesting, on that particular point, to note that individuals are not going to suffer, according to the Treasurer’s admissions in this budget two weeks ago.
Like many members of the assembly, I took it upon myself to read the national paper this morning, and I was impressed by the headline. The Toronto Globe and Mail, Friday, April 23, 1976, has as its headline: “THE $150-A-WEEK MAN WHOSE TAX RATE IS HIGHER THAN A MILLIONAIRE’S.”
It is interesting, and I would certainly recommend this piece of literature to our illustrious, agreeable and very concerned Treasurer, because in this particular article there is, I think, no little bit of testament to the hypocrisy of his remarks two weeks ago.
Mr. Warner: We have known about it for years.
Mr. Conway: It is the Gordon Chasteau case in which we see one specific individual being processed, if you will, under the new regulations of the Ontario budget scheme.
First of all, here are some of the particulars for those hon. gentlemen who have not had a chance to read this particular article. I see and happy I am to have with us the hon. Minister of Community and Social Services, who I know shares with me a deep-seated concern for this kind of affair.
The individual about whom the article makes reference is a recent immigrant from the Caribbean, who makes $150 a week working for a service station. As a result of this very humanitarian budget, this particular gentleman faces paying $384 in OHIP premiums to obtain what I think we all agree to be, and understand to be, a very essential service in health care for himself, his wife and his two sons.
The Ontario government OHIP premiums, plus federal and other provincial taxes, will make this particular man and his family -- and other Ontarians like him -- the most heavily-taxed in their income bracket in Canada. Where now is the hon. gentleman from Chatham-Kent who has an unusual predilection and liking for comparative politics? Much to my surprise, he has not introduced some measure of comparison between himself and Idi Amin’s budget of last year. I am surprised that that hasn’t come into this assembly, because just about every other possible comparison however silly and erroneous has been made.
The article says:
“Put another way [The Treasurer’s budget has left the Chasteaus in the unenviable position of having to pay $661 of their last $1,000 income to Ottawa or Queen’s Park. That 66 per cent tax rate is higher than that faced by a millionaire, whose highest tax bracket is 62 per cent.”
Oh, Ontario, what a place to stand. And how happy we are that the hon. gentlemen opposite, particularly the member for Chatham-Kent, have appreciated that indeed it is a time for strength. It is still a time to do things for people. How those slogans now visit upon us a sense of genuine commitment to the average man of this great province.
It’s a time for strength, indeed. It’s a time for this government and this Treasurer to understand that to shout and to doubt, to posture and to carry on in his inimitable and theatrical way, is one thing; but, on the other hand, as the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) will happily appreciate, it is quite another thing to put low-income families, not only in downtown Toronto but in Renfrew North and throughout Ontario, in this extraordinary and most unenviable position. Indeed, it is a budget that hurts few in a very minor way.
The initial returns, as I said earlier, are beginning to come in, and the indictment that is beginning to pile up is one which I am sure this party, which once promised basic security from the cradle to the grave, now can take very little comfort in. The cradle, quite obviously, they have forgotten; the grave, quite obviously, they face in political terms -- if that kind of proposition is allowed to continue.
What about municipal finance? Oh, how happy the municipalities are with their great friend from Chatham-Kent, who began his illustrious cabinet ministerial career with the Municipal Affairs portfolio. He is a long-time friend of theirs. They tell me all the time, “You know, it’s good to have friends, but then there are other friends,” and the Treasurer is one quite unlike any other they have I known or hope to know. From Pembroke to Sarnia, from James Bay to Scarborough-Ellesmere, there is no little bit of unhappiness about what this government has done to help the municipalities handle the responsibilities taken away from them by the hon. gentleman from Chatham-Kent, who is understanding of what it means to share the burden, if not the wealth. Very sympathetic and very understanding is he. Yes, my good friends in eastern Ontario tell me they really are impressed by the kind of ongoing concern that the King of Kent has for their municipal finance problems.
Mr. Lewis: We used to call him the Duke of Chatham. The Duke of Chatham has become the King of Kent.
Mr. Kennedy: That is progress.
Mr. Lewis: Quite an elevation.
Mr. Conway: Quite obviously there’s a certain element of kingship vested upon that man, given, as the hon. member for Scarborough West well appreciates, the galaxy of stars within which he finds himself in cabinet terms. It’s not, I think, too much to suggest that, given that group, he could be and is in fact a king --
Mr. Lewis: Given that group, he’s not even mortal.
Mr. Conway: Such are the footnotes to the personalities of the great ministry opposite.
But I want to go on record as registering my very strong objection to the cutback in funding going to municipalities in this particular year. The reason I feel so strongly about this is because of an agreement made by the Hon. John White at the tri-level conference held in Edmonton. This, of course, has become known as the Edmonton commitment.
Mr. Reid: On which he has reneged ever since.
Mr. Conway: Rumour has it he has been spotted over at the Westbury Hotel with three jackets on.
Mr. Reid: Are revenues going up only eight per cent?
Mr. Conway: He has not only pulled in his belt, but he has decided that it’s time really to put on that extra sweater and bear the brunt of these difficult times.
It’s interesting to quote just briefly from that position paper on public finance proffered by the hon. and former member for London South who, for whatever reason, is no longer with us today:
“The Ontario government therefore gives this guarantee to its local governments. Provincial assistance in future years will grow at a rate not less than the growth rate of Ontario’s total revenues.”
From this, I certainly might infer that to pass on to the municipalities in any account to lower the provincial growth rate of revenue is clearly contrary to the plan’s basic principles.
However, in keeping with the province’s restraint programme this year whereby their expenditure increase is limited to an increase of 10 per cent, the funds to municipalities have been cut accordingly. The province is claiming that, due to an overpayment last year, it, the province, does not need to give municipalities the full growth rate of 19.4 per cent. By granting a 7.8 per cent increase, the government feels that due to the previous overpayment on a cumulative basis, the government is adhering to the Edmonton commitment.
That’s the kind of contorted logic that I expect the hon. Premier (Mr. Davis) to take to the Quebec conference, whenever it is; to redesign and repatriate the constitution and all of that. It’s a contortion, a contradiction and a confusion of the like that only that particular ministry is capable of, and I expect to see a great deal more of.
I like the reference to “overpayment” again. It says many of the new members have found that half the family benefits cases which you’re probably dealing with today relate to overpayments made here, there and for a variety of other reasons. It’s very happy to find that the higher levels of government behave in a similar fashion. There is one important factor to consider in this area of municipal financing, particularly with respect to the Edmonton commitment.
The transfers to municipalities are based on provincial revenues. Last year was, as I recall, an election year, if I recall properly. The Conservative government of Ontario in its eternal wisdom decided to stimulate the province’s economy by a number of nonpartisan administrative measures which reduced a fair level of revenue for whatever reason. These included such innocent things as the reduction in the retail sales tax from seven to five per cent, introduction of a first-time home buyers’ grant of $1,500, which the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes) has told us has been no little bit of a success, and an automobile sales tax rebate.
Mr. Warner: They’re called gimmicks.
Mr. Conway: Now that is a terrible thing to have to say and I don’t think I could ever in my most cynical hour bring myself to say such a nasty thing about such a good-meaning ministry. But I think you might leave the impression that an effort was being created to leave in the mouths of Ontario electors a good taste for a government that had problems over the past little while.
It’s interesting to see now in this year what the Treasurer is telling us about what we have to do to recoup earlier losses. It was interesting to hear the hon. member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) tell us how and why it is that certain things were done in railroad relocation in his area and in Brantford and in Sudbury, because I can well appreciate coming from the nonpartisan part of eastern Ontario that this government does things in an election year with a certain element of peculiarity which, as my hon. colleague has inferred, might leave room for cynicism which I, of course, could never bring myself to say.
The same programme, it has been said, and it’s much of the keynote of the Treasurer’s statement, has no impact really on much of the quality of life in Ontari-ari-ario. Well, it’s not Wintario anyway.
Mr. Moffatt: A place to stand.
Mr. Conway: A place to stand. It depends, I suppose, with whom you are standing and I regret that my very good friend from Lambton (Mr. Henderson) is not here to stand beside me and share with me the largesse of this marvelous jurisdiction.
In Renfrew county which, in education terms has the lowest per student assessment base in all Ontario, one practical result of the budget and the restraint programmes in Pembroke has been the discontinuance of Champlain High School’s registered nurses’ assistants programme. There has been for a number of years a very successful programme -- one, I think, of only two or three such programmes in Ontario high schools -- which has taken into its course each year, beginning in grade 9, something in the order of 22 students who, in the course of four years, are educated in such a way that they can graduate and enter the job market, as it were, without having to go to a post-secondary institution.
By all accounts, the Renfrew county Board of Education, together with officials from the ministry, have argued that this has been a most successful programme because, in an area of significant employment difficulties, it is one place where you can see within the direct operation of the educational system a direct translation between money and expenditure and effort and job opportunity.
What has happened in the Renfrew county educational situation? This programme has been discontinued in the name and honour of, and as a tribute to restraint. I can tell members in a very serious way --
Mr. Conway: -- I am happy to see here the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck) who is parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Education -- I can tell members that there is a very direct result of the restraint programme which is telling these 20 people in the Pembroke area that they are not going to have the opportunity that many of their colleagues have had for at least five to 10 years. That job opportunity has meant very much to a town, for example, which has two fairly substantial hospitals in which many of these graduates found jobs directly. They no longer have that opportunity.
The design for development in Renfrew county goes on to say, in its eloquence, that there are situations in our particular part of Ontario which are less than a tribute to this government’s efforts in the job market locally in eastern Ontario. I want to go on record as regretting this set of circumstances. It grows directly out of this restraint programme and if this is where this government feels compelled to cut back and to reduce, it must be prepared to reap the whirlwind locally because it cannot stand up and successfully endeavour to take credit for making a serious effort to provide jobs for those people in this particular area who would have had jobs almost assuredly in that registered nurses’ assistants programme.
It’s one small example of how, in my county, the restraint programme of this government, as evinced in this budget, has borne down on 22 people in the city of Pembroke.
As a man given to brevity --
Mr. Moffatt: When did that start?
Hon. Mr. Welch: You have been on the road to Damascus.
Mr. Grossman: Is that still you speaking?
Mr. Conway: -- and co-operation and agreeability and all the rest, I think, it now being almost 1 o’clock, I should perhaps be prepared to take advantage of this hiatus, if I might, in my brief remarks to suggest an adjournment of the debate for today.
Mr. Conway moved the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, I assume that the order of business for next week is understood by virtue of the arrangements that have been sent around.
As far as Tuesday afternoon is concerned, which is legislation afternoon, we will simply carry on with the consideration of legislation as it appears on the order paper. I think we have to clear up Bill 9 in committee. There has been some general agreement to bring Bill 25 back to committee, which we will accommodate on Monday, and then carry day night on with the order paper.
The estimates will proceed as they have been set out.
Mr. Reid: We are not sitting Monday night?
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, no House on Monday night.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 1 p.m.