The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
AID TO ITALIAN EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yesterday the House leader (Mr. Welch) answered a question with respect to the type of assistance which Ontario might offer the earthquake victims in northeastern Italy. I had an opportunity on Sunday of meeting briefly with some of those now working in the general Metropolitan Toronto area to collect funds for the disaster victims and yesterday, at my request, the Ministry of Health was in contact with the Italian consulate. The ministry requested and received from Dr. Nicosi of the consulate, a list of items that might provide some assistance for the disaster victims. The list supplied to the ministry includes baby foods, antibiotics, vitamins, anti-typhus, anti-tetanus inoculations and other pharmaceutical supplies.
It is my hope to have a report by the end of the week on precisely what the government has been able to arrange in this regard. We have been informed that Alitalia will ship from Toronto the goods and materials that are made available by Canadians and the government will seek to co-ordinate any initiative with the Canadian Red Cross and with the federal government.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The decision announced by the divisional court with respect to the closure of four hospitals by the Province of Ontario will be respected by the government. The government will, however, be launching an appeal against the decision of the court.
During the period of time required for the next stage of appeal to be exhausted, the hospitals will continue to operate with levels of funding that will conform to general funding principles for institutions funded by the Ministry of Health. The government recognizes that, should the appeal fail, the need to consider a legislative remedy would be apparent. To do so now, however, would be to prejudge the appeal process about which the government is, indeed, hopeful.
Mr. Lupusella: You don’t want to be a loser.
Hon. B. Stephenson: In a free society, balances between the various elements of government are critical if individual freedoms are to be protected. The right of any citizen or group of citizens to challenge the legality of a government decision, however it is reached, either through the deliberations of the cabinet or the Legislature is basic to our way of life.
Mr. Singer: That’s nice.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The government will seek to establish an appropriate funding period of not more than six months so that the hospitals affected might continue to function during the appeal process. Should the appeal process not have resulted in some clarification by that time, another six-month funding period will be considered.
The government of Ontario operated in good faith consistent with the overall public good derived from an effective, efficient, secure and affordable health care system.
Mr. Singer: Does the minister still think the judges don’t want to save money, as she said yesterday?
Mr. Reid: That’s nothing to be proud of.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: It’s a retreat.
Hon. B. Stephenson: In order further to clarify the problem of Laurentian Hospital, might I say the order in council regarding the appointment of locally nominated provincial representatives to the board of that hospital did not include the name of Mr. J-P. Lebel.
Following the explicit directions of Judge Waisberg on April 12, I wrote to Mr. Roger Gionet, then chairman of the board of Laurentian Hospital, requesting, and I quote:
“That the present directors of Laurentian Hospital submit formal resignations to the corporation and cease to exercise the functions of directors of the corporation.”
I also informed Mr. Gionet in that letter that, pursuant to Judge Waisberg’s second recommendation, a panel of directors was being appointed under section 9(11) of the Public Hospitals Act to ensure that the corporate affairs of the corporation are put into proper legal order, and to ensure that the necessary preparations are made for the valid election of a board of directors by the general members of the corporation, pursuant to the Corporations Act and the Public Hospitals Act. The term of appointment of the seven interim directors extends from April 15 to Sept. 30, 1976.
Although Mr. J-P. Lebel and Sister Claire Dupont had been original incorporators and directors of the corporation and, therefore, assumed to be validly constituted board members, the letter to Mr. Gionet encompassed the request for their resignations as well as those of the other board members.
On April 26, at the first meeting of the new board of interim appointees, it was learned by telephone that Sister Claire Dupont intended to submit her resignation effective April 26. That resignation, we are advised, has since been received. Mr. Lebel, on the other hand, has declined to submit his resignation as of this date. Neither the Ministry of Health nor the Lieutenant Governor in Council has the legal power to remove a director from office.
Thus, the ministry has followed carefully the explicit directions of the commissioner to this date and is awaiting his final report.
Mr. Singer: Are you going to let Lebel defeat you?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: In response to questions raised by the leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. S. Smith) on April 23, I would like to add to my previous response on that occasion concerning the situation with respect to the employment of graduates of nursing programmes.
My ministry estimates there will be 3,681 new nurses graduating this year from post-secondary institutions in Ontario. This figure is significantly lower than numbers recently reported by the news media. Each nurse trained in a diploma nursing programme at a college of applied arts and technology costs the province approximately $7,500.
I am certain hon. members will agree that the benefits a student receives through higher education remain with that student and are not lost immediately if employment is not obtained in the field for which the student has been trained. Graduates of programmes in psychology, philosophy, English and sociology, for example, do not lose the benefits inherent in their education simply because they do not immediately find employment in a related field. Nor do newly graduated nurses lose the educative and social values acquired in their training if nursing jobs are not immediately available. There are inevitable peaks and valleys within specific professions and classifications and the variations that occur throughout a period of years in employment opportunity.
It has been suggested that diploma nurses who are unable to find employment might pursue further training opportunities in the field of occupational health. An advisory council on occupational and environmental health, reporting to the Ministry of Health, is actively engaged in exploring this area.
Training programmes related to the field of occupational health are offered or proposed at Lambton College in Sarnia and Algonquin College in Ottawa. Lambton College offers a three-year programme in industrial hygiene technology. Algonquin College proposes a 12-week, post-diploma programme for nurses to commence this fall. The programme would be oriented toward the prevention of occupational diseases, accident prevention, safety counselling and crises intervention.
It has also been suggested that graduates of diploma nursing programmes who face unemployment may find suitable positions in other provinces or, indeed, outside Canada. I find no fault with this suggestion. I would remind the hon. members that over the last several years more than 1000 nurses a year came into Ontario to work after having been educated in other jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. members will recall that less than two years ago in this House the government was being exhorted to “alleviate the province-wide shortage of nursing staff.”
Mr. Wildman: That is planning!
Hon. Mr. Parrott: We are now challenged to reduce the supply and we are responding to this challenge.
However, hon. members must recognize that our post-secondary system, like our whole society, is not amenable to abrupt changes in direction. It takes a minimum of two years to make adjustments necessary to bring supply in line with a drastically changed demand.
As I recently informed the House, we have reduced enrolment in diploma nursing programmes by 15 per cent across the system. I believe this reduction to be adequate for the present. My ministry is monitoring the situation very carefully and the House will be advised if further adjustments are to be made in the future.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
Mr. Lewis: A question first, Mr. Speaker, to the acting Minister of Health: Given the decision she announced today on the four hospitals, will the minister extend that decision automatically to other hospitals that have not gone the divisional court route, but wish to remain open -- the classic example, of course, would be the Willett Hospital in Paris -- or is she going to force Paris to go through the courts in order to achieve a similar judgement, and then the minister will again appeal it?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that specific situation will be most carefully considered.
Mr. Singer: The Premier (Mr. Davis) was nodding his head.
Mr. Lewis: When?
Mr. Deans: Have you not considered that already?
Mr. Lewis: May I redirect to the Premier, since Paris is in kind of a category of its own in respect to the community’s hospital being closed, and an important one: Will he extend to Paris the same rights, since presumably they could achieve a similar divisional court decision had they chosen that route and they were waiting to see what the law would decree?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think there will have to be discussions with the Paris hospital. The decision of the government and the ministry was to have the Paris hospital become involved in the provision of chronic care with the utilization of a good portion of that facility. I think it would be wise for the ministry to discuss with the board and with the administration at the Paris hospital the question of whether or not there still remains, in their view -- and it may not -- a reasonable longer-term solution. I think that should be discussed.
If the board of the hospital in Paris determines that it wishes to take this, if it is not satisfied with that sort of approach to the courts, then quite obviously, in that that has already been determined by the divisional court -- which, as the minister said, the government will be appealing -- there would be no need for the Paris hospital to go through that procedure.
I think it is also fair to state, though, that the hospital in the discussions should recognize that if the decision on appeal happens to reverse the divisional court, perhaps there is some merit in exploring the suggested solution to the situation in Paris before any decision is made.
Mr. Nixon: Am I to understand and therefore convey to the board of the Willett Hospital, which is in my constituency, that if it is its decision that it wishes to continue as an active treatment hospital it may do so without going through the court procedure? Did I detect -- I wouldn’t use the word “threat” -- at least the position expressed by the Premier is that perhaps they had better consider that rather carefully in view of the possibility of the decision of the divisional court being reversed upon appeal?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I’m trying to be as helpful to the people in Paris as I can. I’m pointing out --
Mr. S. Smith: You have already been very helpful.
Mr. Reid: What are you closing next?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’ve always attempted to be helpful to the people in Paris.
Mr. Reid: A good Samaritan you ain’t.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I had a very friendly chat with the mayor of that great municipality on Saturday last, as a matter of fact. A very reasonable gentleman, I might add.
Mr. Peterson: It was nice of him to speak to you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What I was trying to suggest was that if it makes sense and if the board in its wisdom recognizes the merit of moving toward a chronic care institution, that should, I think, form the basis of some discussion before the board makes a decision. If it makes a decision that it would go the route of an appeal to the divisional court, I see no purpose to be served in that. We have the decision of the divisional court and I don’t think any useful purpose would be served.
Mr. Nixon: That would give them six months.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes.
Mr. Bullbrook: Supplementary: Aside from Paris Willett, do I understand the response of the Premier to be that he regards the decision -- the instant decision -- of the divisional court to be universal in its application with respect to all orders in council passed which have now been found to be illegal and invalid?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, Mr. Speaker. I think the hon. member for Sarnia would have to be more specific and refer to a specific order in council. I think that in terms of the appeal, obviously it relates to the specific cases or group of cases heard by the divisional court. This doesn’t automatically extend, although I honestly don’t know to which hospital the member for Sarnia would be referring that wouldn’t be in that category.
Mr. Bullbrook: May I refer specifically to the Chesley hospital? Further, by supplementary, so that we understand this fully -- I must say perhaps I’m unduly obtuse -- I understood the instant response of the Premier to be that he regarded the decision of the divisional court to be applicable to Paris Willett; notwithstanding the technical aspects of individual orders in council, I understand them all to be pursuant to the same statute and do I not therefore understand they would be universal in their application?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the only other one I can recall would be Chesley and I think the member for Sarnia, being very learned in the law, will recognize that Chesley is now closed and was closed prior to the decision of the court and that during the appeal process the traditional approach is that the status quo is maintained. I can’t think to advise the board of Chesley as to what it may or may not decide to do, but I don’t think it falls in the same category as those hospitals that have been ordered to close but for which the order was not to take effect until whatever date in June.
Mr. Bullbrook: If you would indulge me just for a moment, may --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: I will indulge you happily; it is up to the Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: This will be the final supplementary on this at this time.
Mr. Bullbrook: I just want to say for the people of Chesley, are we given to understand that where the situation extant is a fait accompli, the Premier will not, as they wish the division court judgement to be, make it retroactive to what it was prior to the order in council? I’d really like to understand that on their behalf, and mine also.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think, once again before making any commitment, because it does not fall into exactly the same category as the others there would have to be discussions between the people of Chesley and the Ministry of Health. I recognize it would be helpful from the standpoint of the member for Sarnia -- on behalf of his colleague, who is not with us this afternoon, again -- to see if he could not sweep them in --
Mr. Roy: Are you trying to say something?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, I say that very objectively. I know he is asking on behalf of his colleague that there should be discussions with the ministry before, certainly, the government could make any determination.
Mr. Roy: We talked nicely about you when you were not here.
Mr. Lewis: I have another question for the acting Minister of Health, if I may. While appreciating and valuing the process of judicial review and appeal, does it not strike the minister as a trifle ludicrous, in the name of restraint, now to face a situation where the hospital budgets for these hospitals will effectively be applied through this entire fiscal year, when the amounts of money originally conceived to be saved were over-inflated anyway, and when the minister learned in the interim that she could save a lot more from private labs alone? Why not leave the hospitals alone and stop harassing them?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, obviously my sense of humour is not exactly the same as that of the Leader of the Opposition. I do not think it has been a ludicrous exercise at all, nor has the Ministry of Health been harassing any institution.
Mr. Deans: Oh, you have.
Hon. B. Stephenson: If, in fact, the hon. Leader of the Opposition listened carefully to what I said, I suggested that the budgets of the hospitals for the next period of six months during the appeal process would, in fact, be discussed with those hospitals by the Ministry of Health on the same basis that all the other hospitals in the Province of Ontario are presently funded.
Mr. Shore: How do you like your job, now?
Mr. Lewis: I won’t assume that’s a threat. I’ll go to another question to the acting Minister of Health: Why did she not tell us in the Legislature, when we were questioning her about the Laurentian Hospital, of the subsequent directive from Commissioner Waisberg, her letter requesting the resignation and the things which occurred thereafter, rather than simply talking about the Waisberg report which directly contravened Lebel’s presence on the board? Why didn’t she just tell us about all of that?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my ability I did tell the members what we had done within the Ministry of Health in order to comply with the recommendations made by Judge Waisberg in his interim report. I did not announce the second letter because it simply confirmed the first, and we had already carried out the first directive.
Mr. Singer: Oh, come on.
Mr. Deans: You didn’t tell us he was being asked to resign.
Mr. Lewis: By way of a supplementary, if I may very quickly: Given the consternation in the Sudbury area of J-P. Lebel still being on the board, why was it not possible for the minister simply to ask her colleague to revoke the charter of the hospital and reconstitute it with the sew board so that Lebel is effectively off? Secondly, how wide is the minister going to open the membership in Sudbury that will elect the new board? How broad will the community representation he?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as with any corporation, and particularly a hospital corporation, the membership of the corporation usually depends upon a financial donation to that institution. The financial donation is usually relatively small, so that the membership of the corporation could be very broad. In fact, we are awaiting the final report --
Mr. Martel: Accept the interim.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- of Judge Waisberg’s investigation. It seemed to be inappropriate to do other than to follow the directions Judge Waisberg very explicitly gave to us regarding the interim appointees to a board that he felt should be appointed to function on behalf of that hospital until the annual meeting of the corporation could be held.
Mr. Singer: Supplementary: Wouldn’t the minister agree with me that, in view of the character of the evidence that came out at that commission conducted by Judge Waisberg, one must look askance and wonder how a man like Lebel, about whom those things have been said, is allowed to defy Judge Waisberg’s recommendation and the minister’s request? Has the minister not sought appropriate legal advice to figure out how to get rid of Lebel immediately, pending receipt of the final report from Waisberg?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is quite possible for any member of that corporation, or any interested citizen in Sudbury in fact, to take this matter before the courts in Sudbury to a judge, as to whether, in fact --
Mr. Lewis: Why?
Mr. Singer: But the government can do it. The minister is allowing herself to be defied.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- Mr. Lebel is an appropriate member of the board or not.
Mr. Deans: How long are you going to wait?
Hon. B. Stephenson: We are awaiting the resignation of Mr. Lebel. He has been asked to submit it and there is no legal power --
Mr. Lewis: You can revoke the charter and get rid of the director.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- within the Ministry of Health nor within the Lieutenant Governor in Council to revoke a director of a corporation.
Mr. Warner: But you can close the hospital.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Singer: You have covered the thing up all the way through, including the nomination -- the nonsense of the nomination.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Wilson Heights, order.
Mr. Lewis: Why is the minister pointing at Vernon? Now, listen to Donald.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Has the acting Minister of Health considered action parallel to that of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) a few weeks ago when he had certain undesirable members on a board? He exercised his power by eliminating the board and reappointing the desirable ones.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Unfortunately, there is some difference in the nature of appointments to the board of a hospital because they are elected by members of the corporation.
Mr. MacDonald: Cancel the charter.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: Is it because, as Mr. Lebel indicates, he has the Ministry of Health in his hip pocket, that the minster can’t get rid of him?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come on.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think that is the most ludicrous suggestion I have heard today.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We cannot hear the next question.
DENTAL CARE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Lewis: Now that we have learned, I think for the first time, that we can’t have dental care because of the shortage of northern dentists, can the minister explain why it is that the government of Ontario has never followed the request of Dr. Feasby, the senior dental consultant to the Ministry of Health, who asked for 30 additional mobile units through northern Ontario, which he believes, in conjunction with the OMA, can be appropriately manned by dentists, rather than the two mobile units that the ministry now has in order to speak to the problem she describes?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of all the background information regarding that specific question but I shall attempt to find out why it has not been complied with and report to the House.
Mr. Reid: Is the minister aware of the number of communities in northern Ontario -- two-thirds of the land mass of the province -- which aren’t covered by any dental care at all? Would she not agree that two mobile units cannot possibly service those areas?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would agree it would be very much better, I would think, for the people of the north if we could persuade dental students to practise within the northern area. We have had some success with the designated area programme. The success, however, is not great enough and I would submit that is only one of the reasons for which we cannot, at this present time, probably nor possibly include a dental care programme.
Mr. Lewis: But it doesn’t work.
Mr. Stokes: Is the minister aware that it costs the taxpayers of the Province of Ontario collectively approximately $250,000 to train a dentist? Since residents in northern Ontario are also taxpayers and since we have communities in the north that haven’t had a visit from a dentist in seven years, doesn’t she think it is time the Ontario Dental Association and the Ontario Ministry of Health took the initiative to provide enough mobile clinics and enough visiting or rotating dentists to serve at least the emergency and the basic needs of people who need this service so badly in northern Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member from the north will be happy to know that --
Mr. Deans: You have been doing that for years --
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Dental Association are presently discussing and negotiating for improved service in the north. I would remind the hon. members that while it may cost that amount to produce a dentist in the Province of Ontario -- I am not sure of that figure -- it costs an equal amount of money to produce a physician, a lawyer, a teacher or an accountant and perhaps we should persuade all of those to practise at least for a period of time in the north as well.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for Port Arthur.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the acting Minister of Health: If her colleague, the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott), can so blithely direct nurses, as he did earlier today, to go to Manitoba or Timbuktu for that matter, cannot her ministry direct dentists to northern Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: We can indeed hope to persuade and encourage dentists to do just that. That is what I was attempting to do yesterday.
SUPPLEMENTARY FUNDS FOR EDUCATION GRANTS
Mr. Lewis: I have a very quick final question for the Minister of Education. In view of the crisis which is emerging in a number of rural counties in Ontario -- Renfrew, Lanark and Dufferin come to mind -- over the increased costs of education assumed by the local taxpayers, is there something he might do to revise the subsidy for rural bus transportation, since that seems to be the single most vexing part of the budget and the single most difficult part for them to handle?
Mr. Deans: Maybe you can get more rumps in one bus.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would reject the use of the word “crisis” as developing in rural Ontario. There is no crisis developing. I think, as my friend knows, there is a logical concern about mill rates and charges for education across this province. They are concerned. There have been changes in the grant regulations. The restraint programme of this government, the commitment to give nine per cent more money for education this year, has caused certain belt-tightening to occur, and it has been explained to all the boards across this province. When they look at what’s actually happened to mill rates over the last five years, a lot of them find that the increase on the local level is not that horrendous, although it’s coming in one year. As to the fact of these substantial resources that this government has put in over a long time, the record’s there for all to see.
I appreciate there are problems with transportation. We are happy to hear from boards about what those problems are. They will all be taken into consideration in the kind of grant regulations that will be devised for next year. But I cannot assure any of them there will be any change in the moneys available this year. The grant rates are set and the money we have got is set. They have been informed about it and there’s no way that we have any more money. It has all been distributed.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Does the minister not now realize that, having implemented the grant structure he did this year in response to a Liberal policy, he has created a disparity between rural boards and urban boards, and that the equality of education he likes to talk about and has talked about for the last 10 years will be destroyed if this trend is continued?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, I don’t accept that at all. First of all, the policy that we adopted was not because of a Liberal platform policy plank. It was an ongoing policy of this government well before the Liberals even thought about it.
Mr. Peterson: Be charitable.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Take that, Mr. President.
Hon. Mr. Wells: As my friend knows, the policy of concern and restraint in spending in the educational field -- and I will deal with that -- has been a policy of this government for the last five years. We have had educational spending ceilings. Members opposite have criticized those. We now have a different form of accountability and responsibility in educational spending which allows for local involvement, local payment and local accountability.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am concerned. If there is developing a sense of disparity between the rural areas and the urban areas, then that would be looked at very carefully. But I do not believe that is developing as some would have one believe. I hear more complaints from the urban areas in Metropolitan Toronto than I do from the rural areas, that Metropolitan Toronto is not being --
Mr. Lewis: You’re listening to the Metro politicians.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- given enough money, which we reject. But over the long run we certainly are concerned about the differences and the equality of educational opportunity. These things will be considered as we look at the ongoing situation.
CANCELLATION OF SCHOLARSHIP TESTS
Mr. S. Smith: I will question the Minister of Education while he’s warmed up. Could he explain to the House please why it is that his department has so little regard for excellence in education and for standards in education that it felt compelled to have York University cancel a biology test designed for grade 13 students for scholarship purposes? Is it not a fact that there is, as reported, a similar chemistry test at the University of Waterloo without such a fuss?
Hon. Mr. Wells: As I recall that particular test, we were asked our opinions about it and I think the deputy minister responded on my behalf to York University. I think what we were pointing out was that we were worried that the school programme would be directed toward the passing of that test rather than the assimilation of knowledge in that particular area.
I will be glad to look into it a little further and give the member a more detailed answer on it. But certainly I would have to reject the preamble to the question that we are not concerned about standards and excellence because that is what we are very basically concerned about -- standards, excellence and quality for every student in this province; not some students, but every student.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: I appreciate the statement of the minister that he’s in favour of excellence and standards, but would he not agree with me that by cancelling such opportunities as may exist to measure both standards and excellence, in point of fact he makes it virtually impossible for such standards to be meaningfully implemented by school boards, parents, students, teachers and universities?
Hon. Mr. Wells: If my friend thinks that a biology test which York University wants to run will establish standards in the province of Ontario, and in the long run will benefit all the students of this province, I think he’s wrong.
Mr. S. Smith: It would establish them for York University. That would be a start.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. S. Smith: I can appreciate the sensitivity of those people who have had traumatic episodes with examinations --
Mr. Speaker: Is this a further question?
Mr. S. Smith: -- but still the fact remains that there are some people --
Mr. Yakabuski: Question, question.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Would the hon. member ask the question? Thank you.
Mr. S. Smith: Could the minister please explain on what basis York University --
Mr. Speaker: Order. We can’t hear the hon. member.
Mr. Cassidy: Get him to read his transcript, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The hon. member for Hamilton West was asking a question.
Mr. S. Smith: Could the minister explain on what basis York University is in fact to decide which are the outstanding students of great potential in the field of biology, or are they simply to forget about that possible decision? Has the minister consulted at all with the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott) about this particular matter?
Mr. Yakabuski: How do you feel about it, Albert?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m going from memory on the York University test, and I’d like to refresh my memory before I respond to it, but let me just say that if York University wants to conduct some tests on its own time, with its own money, and asks students to write them, I don’t have any objection to that. But if they expect the secondary school system of this province to do their work in selecting and deciding which students should go to York University, and therefore stream every student and develop the whole secondary programme so that York University’s needs can be served, then I don’t support that kind of a programme.
Mr. S. Smith: Why don’t you send some more straw men?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I support a programme that educates every young person in the best way possible with a quality education to achieve his greatest potential --
Mr. Smith: But not to measure it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Not to measure who York University might want or not want; that’s up to York University.
Mr. S. Smith: By which standard will you measure it?
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Premier: I would like to follow up on the question that was asked by my colleague, the member for Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook). Could the Premier please explain to me very carefully, so that all of us who do not have fine legal minds can understand it --
Mr. Deans: He can’t.
Mr. Cassidy: You’re abandoning your potential.
Mr. S. Smith: -- precisely how it happened that the board of governors of the Chesley Hospital are to be forced back into the court situation to try to get exactly the same redress for the illegal way in which they were closed, that the other hospitals have been able to get? Why are they being singled out simply because of the difference in the calendar and the fact that the government managed to make it a fait accompli? How is the legal situation any different for them than what it has been for the other hospitals that the government has closed in this province? Why is the government picking on them?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’ll try to explain this in other than a legal approach, because I know the leader of the Liberal Party is very modest in his assessment of his own capacities; this has been a characteristic that he’s demonstrated since coming into the House.
Mr. S. Smith: You’re right, you are absolutely right.
Mr. Cassidy: And he still exaggerates.
Mr. S. Smith: Let’s get to the point.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wouldn’t want him to go through any traumatic experience like the students who aren’t taking the test at York. I can give the hon. member an even longer answer on that one; he should just consult with the former leader of his party about the time we were discussing the whole question of external examinations and grade 13; it makes interesting reading.
Mr. Reid: He still wouldn’t know what you’re talking about.
Mr. S. Smith: The Premier is going to run on his record -- not the former leader’s or Mr. Trudeau’s.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, Mr. Speaker, I’ll try to go through it again if I can -- and I’m not giving a legal opinion --
Mr. Roy: No. I wouldn’t want your legal opinion.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wouldn’t advise the member for Ottawa East.
Mr. Roy: I would like the divisional court’s opinion on your legal opinion.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He certainly wouldn’t want a legal opinion from me, and I wouldn’t give it to him. I wouldn’t give one to the member for Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook); his marks were always better than mine.
Mr. Reid: The courts have told you what they think of your legal expertise.
Mr. S. Smith: What about Chesley?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, what I tried to explain to the member for Sarnia, who I think asked the same question, was that there were some hospitals --
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is the same question; I think it’s the same and I’ll try to give the same answer -- close to the same.
Mr. S. Smith: Why are you picking on Chesley?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not picking on anybody, not even the leader of the Liberal Party. Although the temptation is great, I do not intend to do so.
An hon. member: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Davis: What I tried to explain to the member for Sarnia was that there were some hospitals which made an appeal to the divisional court. They made a decision. I was then asked by the Leader of the Opposition, I think with respect to Paris where the hospital was under that same order in council, where the order was to take effect at some date in the future -- some months from now, whenever -- where the divisional court said with respect to the other hospitals that in their view -- and I emphasize, in their view -- the cabinet did not have the legal right to pass such an order in council.
Mr. S. Smith: For Chesley too.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I suggested that after consultation with the Paris hospital, where we have made a suggestion that a chronic care type of institution would be in the better interests of the health needs of that community, we would not suggest that they go through the process of referring it to the divisional court. I also suggested to the member for Sarnia that we would be prepared to talk to Chesley, but the order has been in effect, the institution has closed, and I am suggesting that during the course of the appeal there might be some merit in maintaining the status quo there until the appeal is heard and a decision is made. I am just trying to be as helpful as possible.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: What difference does it make? If the order in council was illegal for Durham and for Clinton, then the same order in council, by the same statute, was illegal for Chesley. Does the Premier not agree? And does he not agree, therefore, that it is unfair to put Chesley to the trouble of going to court about this when he is not insisting that all the other hospitals go to court over it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, all I am saying is that there is a difference, the ministry would be quite prepared to discuss it with Chesley hospital, and that in the light of the fact that they have closed -- and this is a fact, they have done so -- there might be some merit on their part in awaiting the determination of the appeal.
Mr. Reid: How do you open a hospital after that?
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Since there may also be merit in trying to retain the staff which is now being dispersed, and the medical practitioners who are looking elsewhere, and the heart and soul of the community which is kind of poised at the moment on it, would the Premier not also be willing to consider with Chesley, given the findings of court in their specific case, that they might also be allowed to continue open over the few months? In other words, I trust he will consider the option, given what is at stake for the community?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, we are quite prepared to discuss any alternative in the light of the divisional court’s decision, but I do point out that I am not giving a commitment at this stage until those discussions take place, that there is a difference. In a further answer to the leader of the Liberal Party, if memory serves me correctly, and I am going by press reports, at one time he went publicly on record as saying that Chesley Hospital is one of those that should close. That is my recollection.
Mr. Lewis: That’s right.
Mr. Shore: That’s not the issue.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s not a fact, and it is not the issue.
Mr. Speaker: Order please, we will have one more supplementary. The member for Wilson Heights with a final supplementary.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, would the Premier not agree that it is not a matter of discretion, or kindness, or exercising your beneficence, but that Chesley should have the same rights which the other hospitals were given by the divisional court yesterday, and that they have a perfect right to open if they choose; and that therefore they should get the same funding the acting Minister of Health talked about earlier this afternoon?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will not go through the whole exercise again. I have never said that they would not.
Mr. S. Smith: Thank you.
DUST PROBLEMS AT FORT FRANCES PAPER MILL
Mr. S. Smith: One last question of the acting Minister of Health: Is she aware of the dust problem in the Fort Frances paper mill; and can she tell us something about why the ministry’s procedure for inspection is such that, in fact, it can’t get its inspectors there at some point during a three-day run when they are running through the TV Guide-type paper?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of that specific problem, but I shall investigate it and report to the House.
Mr. Lewis: Are you going to make a cause célèbre like Chesley again? Do we have to have an emergency debate on this?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Government Services has the answer to a question asked previously.
Mr. Bullbrook: Is this a question from Bob Eaton?
EXPENDITURE ON PARKING LOT
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, this is a reply to a question asked in the Legislature last week by the member for Thunder Bay.
Mr. Lewis: There is no member for Thunder Bay.
Mr. Foulds: Fort William.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: There are presently 210 paved parking spaces at the Consolidated Building location in Thunder Bay, about which the member inquired.
Not only are these facilities filled each day, but many additional vehicles are parked on the surrounding streets, especially on James St. This has led to a hazardous traffic condition, and it is apparent that the problem will only be solved by the provision of additional off-street parking at this location.
The Ministry of Government Services has been able to obtain an additional 2.8 acres adjacent to the existing lot, and it is expected that accommodation for further 190-200 cars will be provided in the expanded lot.
The existing asphalt surface will not be resurfaced as part of this project.
Mr. Angus: Is the minister now saying that the mini-Queen’s Park at Thunder Bay was not adequately planned to meet the needs of the community and that, in fact, she had to acquire additional land, even though the former Minister of Government Services assured the people of Thunder Bay that was all the land that was needed for eternity and that was the right place to put it. Do you now agree that was not the right place to put the government complex?
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, this is not so.
DEATH OF DOMINIC GORERI
Mr. di Santo: I have a question of the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister tell us how it is it took six months for a report to reach the coroner, Dr. Margaret Milton, from the inspectors of the Labour Ministry on the death of Dominic Goreri; as was reported to the minister last week? And also why it took four months for the Workmen’s Compensation Board to compensate his widow?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the recommendations of the coroner’s court were examined carefully by the various branches of the Ministry of Labour and did require some time for particular response. I can’t tell you at this point why it took four months for the Workmen’s Compensation Board to respond or to provide funding for the widow in that case, but I shall most certainly explore that to give you the information.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While the minister is reporting to the House, will she also provide an answer for the House on the question of the coroner in relation to the testimony of Joseph Yorke of the construction safety branch of the Ministry of Labour who said that the ministry can charge only the companies in weak financial position; which has prompted the coroner to ask whether the government has two ways of applying the law, one for the rich and one for the poor?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, of course that statement is entirely erroneous in its content; but I shall attempt to find out where it was made and why it was made.
LAKESHORE PSYCHIATRIC UNIT
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the acting Minister of Health. Can the minister tell us what steps she has taken to guarantee that the internal staff strife, the conflict between the ministry and the staff, and the threatened mass resignation of staff at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital will not severely jeopardize the health care of the 25 in-patient adolescents and the 315 outpatient children?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the threat was made on the basis of a potential resignation of the chief of the adolescent unit at Lakeshore Psychiatric Institution. I know of no other reason for that threat at this time. I am informed that Dr. Marcillio did verbally submit a resignation to the administrator of that institution. I can assure this House that resignation has not been accepted by the Ministry of Health, nor will it be accepted until the problem of the potential relocation of the Lakeshore Psychiatric facility for adolescents and children is in fact settled by the joint discussions which are going on right now.
Mr. Stong: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the medical director acting on instructions of the Health Ministry in not renewing the contract of the director of child and adolescent care?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, most assuredly he is acting upon his own volition in this area. I said specifically that the resignation was verbal. It has not been accepted and in fact will not be accepted until the problem is settled and it can be considered in the light of the new location.
Mr. Grossman: I have a question of the acting Minister of Health, just on a point of clarification. The simple question being asked by staff and doctors of the Doctors Hospital is whether or not there is going to be an assured period of time in which they will be getting funding. Do I understand the minister’s statement to say, in other words, that they can be sure that, regardless of when the appeal is heard or what further steps result, they will receive funding for six months; or can you at least give them a shorter but definite period so they can plan their future? In other words, will there be funding for six months if you can work out a funding arrangement? Is there a definite six months?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the funding of the Doctors Hospital as an institution will be continued for six months. If the appeal is not in fact finalized by that time, extension will be considered at that time.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, don’t take it personally, but as the cameras are now out of the gallery, I wonder if the lights could be dimmed for us?
PORT ARTHUR CLINIC DISPUTE
Mr. Foulds: A question of the Minister of Labour: Could the Minister of Labour inform us how she responded to a letter of April 15 from Lenore Lang and 22 other employees at the Port Arthur clinic? And can the minister account for the failure of the Ministry of Labour to achieve a contract at the Port Arthur clinic as the first term of that agreement, if it had been achieved, would have expired on April 30?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Port Arthur knows very well the amount of effort and energy which has been expended in the attempt of the Ministry of Labour of this province to achieve a negotiated agreement between the members of the staff of the Port Arthur clinic and the clinic group itself. We have, in fact, employed some new mechanisms in order to achieve such an agreement.
We have not been successful. We have had discussions with the leaders on both sides and we have not, I regret to say, been able to resolve the differences.
Mr. Foulds: If I might, Mr. Speaker, very quickly; Has this particular tragic case given the minister any thoughts for revision of the Labour Relations Act that would ensure that in these circumstances bargaining in good faith takes place and an honourable contract could be achieved?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Almost every difficult negotiating situation does give us ideas about potential modifications to the Labour Relations Act. This one is not excepted.
SAFETY OF HYDRO LINES
Mr. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Would the minister please advise us if he is satisfied that 500 kV electrical corridors are safe to work under with agricultural equipment, considering some recent information from people who have experienced voltage buildup on rubber-tired equipment insulated from the ground?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I think that question should be more properly directed to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell), but I do --
Mr. Reed: Could the minister answer in the Minister of Energy’s absence?
Hon. W. Newman: -- know that while most farmers do work underneath those Hydro lines there is a height limitation on the kind of equipment which Hydro says is safe to go under those lines.
Mr. Reed: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: We will allow a supplementary.
Mr. Reed: Is the minister aware of some cases that are now on record of voltage buildup on equipment which is insulated from the ground?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’ve heard a lot of stories, but I haven’t seen any actual instances of it.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, a question to the acting Minister of Health. Is there a vaccine against encephalitis? If not, is it possible to have a vaccine of this nature developed; and is there any progress in this direction? Is it feasible?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, thus far there has been no vaccine developed against the St. Louis encephalitis, which I believe is the variety --
Mr. Reid: Can’t you do something about that? Do something about the common cold while you are at it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- that the member is speaking of -- the one which is transmitted by mosquitoes?
Mr. Kennedy: Yes.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes. Although several attempts have been made to develop a vaccine against this virus, they have been thus far totally unsuccessful, so at the present time we must rely on destroying the vector, which is the mosquito.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General; I’d like to know on what basis he arrived at the following position on dealing with organized crime -- this is from the Solicitor General’s annual report for 1975:
“Our current assessment of organized crime is that it constitutes a highly profitable business. Our efforts to contain it must therefore be designed to accomplish two distinct objectives: First, to increase their operating overhead; and secondly, to decrease their profit margin.”
Could I ask how the minister arrived at that imaginative conclusion and how does he intend to implement this new crime-fighting technique that he’s got?
Mr. Shore: Increase taxes.
Mr. Peterson: More competition.
Mr. Reid: The government’s going into the business.
Mr. S. Smith: Nationalize them.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I read that statement with some amazement myself. It did make sense to me in that if one can cut down their profits perhaps they wouldn’t be as successful as they are.
Mr. Breaugh: Or charge more.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: We’ll have more to say about it when my estimates come up shortly, sir.
Mr. Breaugh: I have a supplementary on that one, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Is it a very short supplementary?
Mr. Breaugh: Yes, it’s a short one. I want to know if he’s prepared to transfer that to Consumer and Commercial Relations?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: They’re trying to work in reverse, Mr. Speaker.
TILE DRAINAGE LOANS
Mr. Riddell: I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Mr. Speaker. Assuming he has received replies to the letters he sent out to the various municipalities across Ontario asking for their commitments to the applicants for tile drainage loans; assuming he has received replies indicating most of the municipalities have over-committed themselves; and assuming that farmers have put in tile already on the strength of approvals being given to them for tile drainage loans, what is he going to do to assist those farmers and those municipalities out of their present dilemma?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’m glad the member knows what tile drainage is.
Mr. S. Smith: If it comes from that side of the House the minister has got to know about all kinds of drainage, believe me.
Hon. W. Newman: I know; the member is good at spreading it, too.
Mr. Ruston: They have got a big drain, too.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re just about out of time. Let’s get on with the question period. Thank you.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, as I said last week, we have sent out letters to all the municipalities in the Province of Ontario asking what commitments they had made up to April 1. We have not got all those answers back. We anticipate we will have them all back within 10 days and then we’ll have to reassess the whole situation on the commitments actually made.
Mr. Riddell: A supplementary: Assuming the minister has received some letters back and they have been indicating to him, as they certainly have been to me, that they have over-committed themselves, does he foresee some financial assistance forthcoming for those farmers even if he has to go to his cabinet colleagues to get more money in order to step up the budget for these tile drainage loans?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I can’t assume anything until I get all the facts and figures in.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Introduction of bills.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, this bill is of a housekeeping nature, which includes an updating of the titles of ministry officials authorized to sign plans registered in land registry offices, corrects legal descriptions and documents, and confirms that orders in council designating controlled access highways are registerable in the same manner as those that designate King’s highways.
It corrects the drafting defect that had the result of making the ministry’s control of construction by permit apply within specified distances from the limits of King’s highways but not within the right of way itself. The bill also further implements the government’s policy of delegating authority for local matters to municipalities, by removing the requirement for ministerial approval of designations of municipally controlled access roads and agreements between municipalities to widen roads.
FAMILY BENEFITS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Martel moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Family Benefits Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment is to remove any reference to the sex of the parent, thereby enabling either the mother or the father of the child to be eligible for family benefits.
JUDICIAL REVIEW PROCEDURE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Judicial Review Procedure Act, 1971.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, this is a housekeeping amendment requested by the Chief Justice of the High Court, Province of Ontario. Section 6, subsection 2 of the Judicial Review Procedure Act allows an application for judicial review to be heard by a single judge of the High Court in cases of urgency where the time involved in an application to the divisional court is likely to result in a failure of justice. However, subsection 4 of section 6 as presently worded can have the effect of delaying rather than expediting the matter for permits and appeal to the divisional court from the final order of the High Court. This amendment remedies the defect by making the disposition by the High Court appealable only to the court of appeal, with leave of that court in the same manner as an appeal from the divisional court.
SUCCESSION LAW REFORM ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to Reform the Law respecting Succession to the Estates of Deceased Persons.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Lewis: This is too complicated to deal with. It should not be brought before the House.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce for first reading a bill that will bear the short title, the Succession Law Reform Act, 1976. This bill represents the second stage of a comprehensive reform of family law begun with the Family Law Reform Act, 1975. The Family Law Reform Act equalized the legal status and capacity of men and women. The present bill extends the equality of the sexes into the law of succession.
This fundamental theme of equality will be further reflected in a future bill that the government hopes to bring forward for first reading this session to effect a comprehensive reform of matrimonial property and support law. By removing the consequences of illegitimacy in inheritance matters, the bill before the House introduces the additional principle of equality between children of a deceased person whether those children were born within or outside marriage. It removes matrimonial misconduct as an absolute defence to a widow’s claims to property or support from her husband’s estate. It will equalize the role of conduct and claims by both widows and widowers.
The bill, Mr. Speaker, consists of five distinct parts: Part I, testate succession, replaces the existing Wills Act; part II, intestate succession, replaces those sections of the Devolution of Estates Act dealing with the rules for distributing the property of a person who dies without a will.
Part III, survivorship, replaces the existing Survivorship Act and provides new rules for distributing the property of two or more persons, such as a husband and wife, who die in a common disaster; part IV, support of dependants, replaces the existing Dependants’ Relief Act; part V provides for consequential amendments to three statutes administered by my ministry.
The provisions of part I, relating to wills, are largely technical in nature. They are substantially identical to the provisions of the uniform Wills Act adopted by the Conference on Uniformity of Legislation in Canada with the modifications recommended by the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Canadian Bar Association, wills and trust subsection.
The new sections recognize two new kinds of wills: Firstly, the holograph will, which is a will written wholly in the testator’s handwriting without the signature of any witnesses; and, secondly, the international will which is virtually the same as our existing form of will. The international will was created by an international convention as a device to make it easier to administer estates of persons domiciled in one jurisdiction who own property located in another jurisdiction.
Part II of the bill contains the rules for distributing the property of a person who died partially or wholly intestate. The surviving spouse’s preferential share of the deceased’s property is to be increased from $50,000 to $75,000 and the spouse will receive part of the preferential share in the case of partial intestacy. The widow’s election under the existing legislation will be reversed so that she will automatically receive her share of the estate under part II unless she specifically chooses to take her dower.
Matrimonial misconduct will no longer operate as an automatic bar to a widow’s rights on an intestacy. The distributive share of the estate for widows and widowers will be equalized, and when there are no children the surviving spouse will take all of the estate to the exclusion of next of kin.
Part III of the bill adopts the basic principle of the uniform Survivorship Act. Where two or more persons die at the same time or in circumstances where it is difficult to tell which survived the other, the property of each will be distributed separately. This reverses the existing rule which can result in all of the married couple’s property going to only one side of the family.
Part IV contains most of the provisions of the uniform Dependants’ Relief Act. The principal change under this part is that family members who are not adequately provided for after the deceased’s death will be able to make a claim against the estate whether or not the deceased left a will. The class of persons entitled to claim will be expanded to include children born outside marriage, a common-law spouse, a former spouse receiving support from the deceased under a separation agreement or court order, parents, brothers and sisters.
Matrimonial misconduct will not automatically defeat a widow’s claim for support but conduct will be one of some 14 factors taken into account by a court in assessing claims against the estate by both widows and widowers. Certain property over which the deceased retained control before his death but which does not form part of his estate, such as a gift mortis causa, will be deemed to be part of his estate for the purposes of a claim for support.
Part V contains amendments to the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, 1971, the Fatal Accidents Act and the Perpetuities Act, which will standardize the definitions of child and common-law spouse used in those Acts with the definitions in this bill. The Fatal Accidents Act will be broadened to permit claims by common-law spouses, children born outside marriage, brothers and sisters of the deceased.
This bill is obviously an extremely important piece of legislation. It replaces all of the existing statutes relating to the rules of succession and claims of support on the estate of a deceased person, some of which are well over a century old. The government will welcome discussion and suggestions for improvements from the general public and from professionals who deal with these areas of the law. We are prepared to consider amendments where it is felt that changes in the bill would better meet the needs of today’s society.
In proposing changes, however, one must keep in mind the underlying philosophy of the bill. That philosophy may be summarized under four headings:
1. The removal of the consequences of illegitimacy in estate mailers by equalizing the treatment of children born within or outside marriage.
2. The introduction of a consistent approach towards the rights of the common-law spouse to make a claim for an allowance in succession law matters in accordance with the limited rights which have for years been accorded to the common-law spouse under a number of Ontario statutes.
3. The removal of matrimonial misconduct as a complete defence to property and support claims by widows and equalization of the role of conduct in considering the claims of both men and women.
4. A general modernization of the law to bring it more in tune with the values and expectations of today’s society.
As I mentioned, this is the second step in the government’s continuing programme of family law reform. We hope to bring forward further legislation for first reading this session which will carry the basic principles of this bill into the matrimonial property and support obligations.
An hon. member: Are you making it retroactive?
Mr. Roy: Why don’t you do away with the dower? Are you doing away with the dower?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Pretty well.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, while we appreciate the Attorney General’s extensive statement on first reading, I hope you recognized that you established a precedent that would give private members an equal right for such an extensive explanation of a bill on first reading.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The rule and the order and the privilege are to explain the principle of the bill. This is a fairly thick bill, so I can understand the length. No debating went on and this is the point we have to abide by. The statement may include what the bill is about.
Mr. Foulds: To the point of order though, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the same would apply to a private member submitting an equally complex bill, because the minister could otherwise have made the explanation, as many ministers do, during ministerial statements before the introduction of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Each case will be judged on its own merit.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, with consent, I would like to revert to motions.
Mr. Speaker: Do we have the consent of the House?
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that when the House adjourns on Thursday, May 13, it stands adjourned until Monday, May 17.
An hon. member: You didn’t do that for us.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, with your permission may we also revert to reports?
Mr. Speaker: Permission granted.
Hon. Mr. Bernier presented the 1975 fiscal review of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the annual report of the minister for 1975.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The third order, committee of the whole House.
CITY OF THUNDER BAY AMENDMENT ACT
House in committee on Bill 78, an Act to amend the City of Thunder Bay Act.
Mr. Chairman: Are there any comments on any section of this bill? The hon. member for Port Arthur.
Mr. Foulds: I have three questions of the parliamentary assistant on the bill, all on clause 1. I talked with him over the ensuing 24 hours since second reading.
Mr. Chairman: What section are you dealing with?
Mr. Foulds: Section 1, Mr. Chairman. Could the parliamentary assistant explain for the record why the ministry decided to proceed with an addition, i.e., with adding subsection 5(c) to the City of Thunder Bay Act, instead of the wording that was in one of the ministry’s previous drafts which would have substituted a new subsection for subsection 5(a), presently in the bill? As I understand it the ministry had been previously thinking about wording to the effect that subsection 5(a) of section 8 of the City of Thunder Bay Act, 1968-1969, would be repealed and the following substituted therefor:
Notwithstanding subsection 5 of the Municipal Elections Act, 1972, the minister may by order provide for all such acts and things as may be necessary for the election of persons to the council of the city in the year 1976.
Perhaps I can just pause there, because that’s one matter the parliamentary assistant can respond to. Why did the ministry shift to the wording that we presently see in the bill from the wording that was in one of the draft copies of the bill?
Mr. Norton: I’d be pleased to respond to that. At the time of writing of the original draft, to which the hon. member refers, it was contemplated that this particular piece of legislation would include the additional section to which he referred yesterday, relating to other matters involving the city of Thunder Bay.
At the time that was drafted, if I recall correctly, the Ontario Municipal Board had convened their hearing, but it had not yet terminated. We were not in a position to know what the outcome of that hearing would be. We had been advised by the assessment commissioner that should the decision be one providing for a 12-ward system, as opposed to the seven-ward system, he might well be faced with difficulty in preparing the necessary electoral information for this year because of the much greater number of changes that would be required in electoral boundaries. Fearing at the worst, if it were a 12-ward system, that it might not be possible for him to meet the deadline this year in order to be prepared for a December election on the basis of a 12-ward system, and that it might be necessary for that reason to prolong the present system for one further election, the original draft included a greater flexibility to allow the minister to respond to whatever the situation was in Thunder Bay at that time in order to make it possible for them to have a valid municipal election in 1976.
Waiting, as we did, in the hope that the legislation could be more inclusive and include a resolution of the dispute between the Hydro commission and the city, meant that by the time we got around to presenting it to the House, the OMB had rendered their decision and the appeal period had expired’. Therefore, it allowed us to be more specific and to simply extend the time for the commissioner to comply with the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act. That’s why it is in a more specific form now than it was earlier; the possibilities were much narrowed by the finality of the decision.
Mr. Foulds: That’s all I have to say on that question, because I think the explanation is an adequate one, unless any of the other members have anything to say on that question.
My second question -- and once again I have given the parliamentary assistant notice of this -- concerns the phrase in the second line of the subsection, 5(c), which we are adding: “for the purposes of the municipal elections to be held in 1976.” Does that mean we revert to the normal procedure under section 17 of the Municipal Elections Act for future elections? Or does it mean that this procedure is implemented only for 1976 and we revert to the procedures outlined in the City of Thunder Bay Act? I want that clarified for the record. Mr. Norton: Yes, I think that clearly the intent of the legislation -- I think it’s clear on the face of it -- is that it would apply only for the year 1976. It states, as you have pointed out that it is for the purposes of the municipal elections to be held in 1976. Further, the fourth line from the end of that section states that the information shall be presented not later than May 15, 1976.
I don’t see how that could be interpreted to apply to subsequent elections, for example, in 1978 or 1980. Clearly it’s not the intent. I have sought the opinion of our legal staff and they concur with my opinion that it is not open to that alternative interpretation. It is clearly for one year only that this exception is being made.
Mr. Foulds: If I could pursue that for a moment, Mr. Chairman. That is the exception as it applies strictly to the extension of the deadline. That’s the understanding, is it?
All right; one final technical question and it’s just a matter of my own curiosity: In dealing with legislation of this kind, when you make reference to the Municipal Elections Act, 1972, why is there not a reference to that as amended by chapter 32 of the Municipal Elections Act, 1974, when you make those references about amendments to the City of Thunder Bay Act, for example? Could you explain that?
Mr. Norton: I am not an expert in drafting legislation but it’s my understanding that with any piece of legislation amending a particular bill, when you are making reference to the bill which is the subject of the amendment, it is proper drafting practice to make reference to that bill as amended. If you are making a cross-reference to another piece of legislation altogether, the designation of that legislation does not require the terminology “as amended.” It is assumed that it is the most up-to-date version of the other piece of legislation which exists which would include any amendments.
Mr. Foulds: The assumption is that the cross-reference, in this case to the Municipal Elections Act refers to that Act as it exists at the time of the passage of this particular amendment. Is that correct?
Mr. Norton: Yes, that’s correct.
Mr. Foulds: Fine. Thank you very much.
Mr. Angus: Just a short point, Mr. Chairman. My concern is it’s May 11 now and the date established by this amendment is May 15. I assume there is no real problem anticipated in ensuring that everything is before the proper authorities --
Mr. Good: If you guys stop talking, we will get it through.
Mr. Angus: That’s fine. We will give you an opportunity on your bills.
Mr. Shore: If you talk until the 16th, there will be a little difficulty.
Mr. Angus: Okay. I assume, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, that we will have this thing through in time for the 15th and that everything will go on as planned?
Mr. Norton: Yes, I am assured that is possible. I was a little concerned, I must say, yesterday afternoon when we reached the end of the afternoon session and didn’t get back on. It was for that reason that we were given priority to finish it this afternoon. I expect, if it is passed this afternoon through third reading, it would receive royal assent perhaps on Thursday.
Mr. Angus: You anticipate third reading today on the bill?
Mr. Norton: Yes, I would anticipate third reading. I don’t know of any reason not to.
Mr. Angus: One last point -- I would like to compliment my colleague, the member for Port Arthur, for his presentation yesterday. I think it’s appropriate, at the time we are finishing this discussion in committee of the whole, that a number of students from Thunder Bay who have actually studied the whole ward system -- the students from St. Elizabeth’s School -- are here to watch the proceedings. I know they will report back to their parents and friends about how our parliamentary procedures work.
Mr. Chairman: Shall the bill be reported?
Bill 78 reported.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the committee rise and report.
Motion agreed to.
The House resumed, Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report one bill without amendment and asks for leave to sit again.
Report agreed to.
The following bills were given third reading upon motion:
Bill 78, An Act to amend the City of Thunder Bay Act, 1968-69.
Bill 45, An Act to amend the Corporation Tax Act, 1972.
Clerk of the House: The third order, House in committee of the whole.
ONTARIO GUARANTEED ANNUAL INCOME AMENDMENT ACT (CONCLUDED)
House in committee on Bill 47, An Act to amend the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income Act, 1974.
On section 3:
Mr. Chairman: I believe the hon. minister had an amendment to section 3, and I believe we have completed any discussion of the bill up to that point.
Hon. Mr. Meen moves that subsection 1 of section 4 of the Act, as re-enacted by section 3 of the bill, be amended by inserting at the commencement thereof, “subject to section 2 and.” And that section 3 of the bill be further amended by deleting therefrom the proposed re-enactment of subsection 2 of section 4 of the Act.
Any comments? The hon. member for Perth.
Mr. Edighoffer: Mr. Chairman, it sounds like a very simple amendment. I just wonder if the minister could really explain what it means.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I would be pleased to, Mr. Chairman. I guess it’s fair to say that right at the end of the debate yesterday, before the vote was taken, the hon. member for Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) asked whether the proposed section 3 would cut off applicants who, on April 6, 1976, qualified as to age and as to residency, but did not qualify because their income happened to exceed the present guaranteed annual income level of $269.30.
My answer to that was, yes, it did. But, to tell you the truth, I was not happy with that provision, because I don’t believe that it should. I believe that it should not cut off those who have failed to apply within the year following April 6, 1976, if on that date they were qualified. If the GAINS level should rise, or if their income should drop, I don’t think that they should be cut off three or four years down the road.
In the intervening period last evening, and particularly this morning, I’ve had a chance to review this with the staff, and what I’m doing is to remove the requirement What this amendment does, in effect, is remove the requirement that there be an application Bled with the ministry within the year following April 6, 1976.
So, should it happen that two or three years further down the road some gentleman then 68 or so, who had never applied -- and he hadn’t applied because his income at this time exceeded the guaranteed level of $269.30 -- but he was at this time, on April 6, 65 years of age or over, and he had met the residency requirement of five years or more, but hadn’t met the 10, of course, he would then be entitled to file his application. He will only be paid for a maximum of a year retroactively. It would go back to the date when he did qualify as to income or it would go back to one year, whichever was the shorter period. That is the limitation built into section 2 of the bill and of the Act.
So far as the qualification goes, with this amendment those people would not be cut off. They would be entitled to make their application at any time during the five-year period that will have begun on April 7.
Mr. Edighoffer: I just wonder why the minister wanted to add the section 5 -- that’s the regulation section -- allowing him to reduce or eliminate any period of residence therein specified.
Hon. Mr. Meen: This section was built into the amending bill at a time when we didn’t know what the position of the federal government was going to be with respect to OASGIS. As I indicated yesterday, Hon. March Lalonde has now indicated that the federal position will stay at a qualification period of 10 years. This section would allow the minister by regulation to reduce the qualification period under this Act in step with qualification period reductions under OAS-GIS, should that ever come about; in other words, to keep them in step.
We would not want our period under the GAINS legislation to be longer than the OAS-GIS period. Since we spell it out as 10 years and they spell theirs out as 10 years, if they should reduce theirs we would want to be able to move swiftly to keep ours in step with theirs. That is the reason for the provision here that gives the minister the power to prescribe a shorter period, any period of residence therein specified, altering the provisions by reducing or eliminating any period of residence.
Mr. Chairman: Any comment on any other section of the bill?
Bill 47, as amended, reported.
NIAGARA ESCARPMENT PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AMENDMENT ACT
House in committee on Bill 9, an Act to amend the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, 1973.
Mr. Chairman: The parliamentary assistant has an amendment to section 2. Any comment on section 1 of the bill? If not, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has an amendment.
Mr. Norton moves that section 2 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
(1) Subsection 5 of section 5 of the said Act is amended by adding at the end thereof, “and may designate the chairman as an employee and the commission as an employer for the purposes of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Act,”
And that the present section 2 of the bill be renumbered as subsection 2 of section 2.
Any comments? The hon. member for Waterloo North.
On section 2:
Mr. Good: This amendment causes me some concern. I will tell you why, Mr. Chairman, and maybe we can discuss it further after the parliamentary assistant has given an explanation.
What this bill is asking is that the chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission be eligible to participate in OMERS. We must recognize that the chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission is an appointee of the government to the commission; he is neither an elected official nor an administrator hired by the Niagara Escarpment Commission. He is an appointed person; appointed by order in council to serve as chairman of the commission. As nearly as I can ascertain, there is no other circumstance in which an appointed official on a board or commission participates in OMERS.
If we look at the regional chairmen of the regional governments, they do not participate in OMERS, as I understand it, until such time as their appointed term of office expires and they are reappointed, if such be the case, by the regional council. In other words, when they enjoy appointed status from the government, they are not considered to be eligible for OMERS as are elected officials or hired administrative staff. I have great reservations on whether we should be including former appointed members of the commission. This gentleman happened to be a former reeve of one of the townships. This has nothing personal to do with Mr. McMullin; it is just the principle involved that I would question.
We have increased the eligibility of persons under OMERS to include elected officials in the municipalities. We have recently included under OMERS persons who work for boards and commissions, such as the secretaries of the Firefighters’ Association and things like that, but in no case have we broadened this to allow in appointed people filling positions. We know what the general pattern of events is when people are appointed by cabinet to serve on these various boards and commissions.
Furthermore, it is somewhat hard for me to understand why they would want to have the chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission participate in OMERS when theoretically the work of the commission should be completed in three years. Then the whole carrying on of the Niagara Escarpment plan developed by the commission will be turned back to the municipalities and administered by the municipalities.
I don’t know -- maybe the commission will be an ongoing thing. If it is, I would like to know what purpose it will serve. I certainly think, before we can support this amendment, we should have an explanation of why there is this departure from former principles. We haven’t allowed regional chairmen to participate in OMERS and I don’t think they should when they are appointed as the Queen’s Park delegate to the region. In this case, we have the Queen’s Park appointee as chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and I think we should have an explanation before we proceed with this particular amendment.
Mr. Norton: I appreciate the concern raised by the hon. member but I would point out it is my understanding of this particular amendment that it is an attempt to respond to a situation in which a person has been appointed to a position serving the province and the community on a full-time basis. It’s an appointment that would cause him to relinquish other employment, which is quite different from the other members, for example, of the commission who are appointed on a basis whereby, as I understand it, they are paid a per diem rate for serving approximately one day per week.
To appoint someone to such a position in which they become a full-time employee without benefit of the opportunity to participate in any retirement programme would, it seems to me, be asking a great deal. In the present situation, it is also my understanding that the particular gentleman who now is in that position has been a participant in OMERS and in fact has made contributions to that scheme in the past.
I would also point out that the members of the commission, whether they are part-time or full-time, are not governed by the Public Service Act; therefore, the alternatives were limited. I believe that what the hon. member has pointed out with respect to regional chairmen is correct, but again I would point out that although they do have appointed positions subsequently -- and they are not appointed by the province but by their regional governments --
Mr. Good: They’re elected by the regional councils.
Mr. Norton: -- they are then eligible for participation in OMERS.
However the hon. member wishes to construe it, I think that what we have here is a genuine effort to respond to a situation where someone is being asked to serve the community on a full-time basis. The intent of this is to make provision for the fact that they may be permitted -- and it is not mandatory; it is permissive -- to participate in a retirement programme so that those years of public service do not result in their being unable to continue to provide for their retirement years.
Mr. Good: I think the member perhaps has missed the point. My point is simply that a person who has earned the right by being elected, or who has sought a job and got it, deserves the right to participate in the pension plan; but should every political appointment by the cabinet have a pension plan with it once these people get on to boards and commissions? Up to now, they haven’t. As far as I could find out -- I could be wrong -- this is the first case where a person appointed by the government to a commission is also guaranteed a pension plan when he gets on there. My gosh, you’ll never get all these Tories off these boards and commissions if you invest them with a pension plan.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Not a bad result, though.
Mr. Good: I don’t know; maybe not.
I can understand the dilemma of the person, who I think was previously a councillor and who could have enjoyed the benefits of OMERS had he so chosen, suddenly being approached by the cabinet and asked: “How would you like to be chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission?”
“Oh, well, what’s the pay? That’s great. Okay, I’ll take the job.”
But he didn’t know he was not eligible to be covered by OMERS. Now we’re asked to pass an amendment that is establishing a precedent that I’m not quite sure we should support.
Mr. Swart: I hadn’t intended to speak on this, because I didn’t think it was really a matter of great consequence; and although the member for Waterloo North makes a good point, in this particular instance I think we will support the amendment to this bill.
I would point out that it’s a case of the chairman having a full-time appointment. It’s apparently a full-time job for an indeterminate period of time. Most chairmen of boards and commissions appointed by the government, or by this House, have a much more limited period of time. I have some real concern that this appointment may continue for a far longer period of time than has been intimated originally in the Act.
But regardless of that situation, since it involves a substantial number of years during the earning period of a person’s life, and even though there may be some danger of setting a precedent, I think we should not deprive this person of the right to pension contributions and to a pension for that period of time when he is serving as the chairman. Therefore, I would recommend that we support this amendment.
Mr. Shore: it is unfortunate when we are debating this concept and this principle and this issue that we place in its way the fact that we happen to know there is a personality specifically designed and assigned to this task, because I think it inhibits the proper assessment of the issue and the proper discussion of the area concerned. Therefore, it becomes partially an emotional issue or, as the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands specifies, one that this particular person has served the community and has participated in an essential programme.
To me, the important issue here is truly, what are we getting into, and the setting of a precedent. I have seen too many instances where the areas of concern and the issues have been debated on the personality aspect and not on the issue. I must tell the House that it is my opinion there are plenty of people who would be prepared to serve from the community on any boards and commissions available without necessarily having OMERS available to them. I am sure within the Province of Ontario there are people prepared to serve the community on any board or commission.
I therefore suggest strongly that although you have a personality situation, a specific and unique situation here, it is too bad that factor wasn’t considered. In my opinion, that is the mistake in the situation. If the member, whoever is appointed, can’t serve under the conditions and terms upon which he was retained, so be it. But I am satisfied that the issue should be: “Do you believe these people should be eligible for the pension programme?”
I submit it is not essential and I submit further that there are capable people available without having this type of situation. Therefore, the precedent becomes all-important and I suggest and urge strongly that we consider that point.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, it seems to me -- and I first perhaps ought to say -- that by making a specific reference to the circumstances of an individual who holds that position at the present time, I did not wish nor intend to introduce personalities, but rather use that to point out perhaps why OMERS in particular was under consideration at this particular time.
I can assure you that I personally don’t know, and I don’t know that I have ever met, the individual who is involved but I think that if you look at the matter in principle it becomes even perhaps more meaningful or more imperative than if you try to look at it in the specifics.
As has been pointed out by the hon. member for Welland-Thorold, what we do have here is a situation where an individual in the community has been asked, by whatever means, to serve the community on a full-time basis for a period of time; something which -- regardless of the specific circumstances of the individual holding that position now -- would inevitably require that person to forgo other employment during that period of time and perhaps forgo the opportunity to participate in a retirement programme during that time, or interrupt an existing retirement programme.
The matter becomes more imperative if you can imagine there are many individuals in the community who might very well be prepared to serve on such a commission, but I don’t know how many individuals of limited means would be able to serve on a full-time basis, giving up what one is asked to give up in a situation like this, if there is no provision for continuing to provide for one’s retirement.
Whether it is for a period of one year or three years or five years or whatever it is, I don’t think there are many people -- if they are employed by others as opposed to being self-employed, or if their resources are limited as opposed to being, perhaps, better off economically -- who would not be very hard-pressed to offer themselves in any kind of public service where there was no such provision for them or no opportunity for them to continue to participate in some such plan.
I realize this is a situation different from the example I am about to use, but it was my understanding from the comments of the hon. member for Waterloo North that he could not think of a situation where people might be appointed to an office and have the benefit of the retirement programme.
I would point out that it seems to me there are probably innumerable such situations in our society. One that comes to mind immediately -- and, as I say, it is a different situation, but nevertheless -- for example, the judiciary in our society hold appointed positions for which, as I understand it, there are quite generous retirement programmes. So this is not, in that sense, a precedent. Perhaps it is in the sense that it is a more limited term of office than is true of the judiciary, but the principle of an appointed position carrying with it the opportunity to provide for one’s retirement years is not in itself a precedent
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Waterloo North.
Mr. Good: I have nothing against Mr. McMullin in getting a retirement benefit, but I have against the principle of government political appointees having retirement benefits under OMERS. That’s a new concept and don’t bring that into this House again and expect us not to raise more fuss than we are raising about this.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Sudbury.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Chairman, it is inconceivable to expect that a person gives up certain security in a job to take on a temporary position and jeopardizes his security in his contribution to his future in the form of a pension plan.
To some degree I support the position of the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart). What I am disturbed about is that this is a piece of legislation aimed at one specific individual in the whole Province of Ontario. We do know there are better than 300 boards and commissions in the Province of Ontario and each and every board and commission does have a chairman. While I am not aware of how many of those board and commission chairmen are full-time, I know that some of them are.
I make specific reference to the 32 chairmen who are on the Conservation Authorities. These particular people, as far as I know -- in fact, in my area they are full-time -- draw a full-time salary and work at this job on a full-time basis. Some of them are there for extended periods of time. I know one particular person who has been on the job for probably 10 or 15 years, and while I have no sympathy for the patronage system as enunciated by this government, knowing full well who all these people are, who all these chairmen are, that they form part of the patronage system, I think that if the government is going to be consistent, you should not bring in legislation relieving the problem as it relates to one specific person.
If it is a good principle that a person serving the community should not suffer a loss of security, if it is a good principle for this particular person, then it is a good principle right across the board. I think that is specifically what the members of the third party are addressing themselves to. This has a much wider scope than this particular person, who is chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. I would ask the parliamentary assistant if this has been taken into consideration; and is this going to be a continuing process, that each chairman who is appointed, providing he has certain influence with the government, his problem will be relieved, whereas someone else who doesn’t have the sympathy of the government is just left out in the cold?
Mr. Shore: I don’t want to prolong the debate on this issue, but I think I must make two points clear. Unfortunately, in debating an issue where you feel strongly on a specific situation, you sometimes miss the point -- which this honourable gentleman brought up again and which we have brought up -- that you have to take it in total perspective. I am convinced that the two areas that we have not addressed ourselves to totally and properly are the concept of political appointments and the concept of the overall vast number of boards and commissions that you haven’t even thought of here; and if you believe in the principle of this thing you should. What I am worried about is that one little precedent is going to open up a whole issue and it may have a very serious bearing on an objective look at the issue. I really want to leave that on the record. That is what I want to do, because I have been through too many of these instances where we vote on one little issue and then all of a sudden it comes back and we suddenly decide to face up to the total perspective of the situation.
Mr. Chairman: Does anybody else wish to speak to this amendment? If not, the member for Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. Renwick: Let’s stack it.
Mr. Norton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I’ll be very brief in my response. To my knowledge it is not the case at all that chairmen of conservation authorities are full-time. Any within my experience are not but there might well be exceptions to that. I will confess I don’t know how many full-time chairmen of commissions there are in the province. I don’t know individually what arrangements, if any, exist for them to participate in a retirement programme.
Mr. Shore: You should know it before we vote.
Mr. Norton: Yes, I probably should. I would point out that perhaps all good things start at some point.
Mr. Shore: And some of the bad ones too.
Mr. Norton: If, in principle, as has been suggested, we are going to look at those people who have given up a period of years from other employment in order to serve the community, I think it might well be something that ought to be examined as to what provision is made for them. This is not a statement of government policy which I am making but I will say that I will undertake to check into the circumstances with respect to other commissioners in such situations and see what type of provisions have been made for them.
Mr. Chairman: Shall the amendment carry?
Mr. Renwick: No.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Norton’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “nays” have it.
Mr. Renwick: Shall we stack this?
Mr. Chairman: Do you wish to stack it? It is agreed then that it will be stacked.
Mr. Norton moves that clause (a) of subsection 2 of section 22 of the Act as set out in section 3 of the bill be struck out and the following inserted in lieu thereof:
(a) providing that where an area of development control is designated, such zoning bylaws and orders of the minister made under section 32 of the Planning Act, or any part thereof, as are designated in the regulation, cease to have effect in the area or in any defined part thereof, provided that where land is removed from an area of development control such land is thereupon subject again to the aforementioned bylaws or orders or parts thereof as the case may be unless, in the meantime, such bylaws or orders or parts thereof have been repealed or revoked.
Mr. Good: I have one question. Would this mean that, if there is a change in the boundaries of the Niagara Escarpment area of development control, that would be the instance when this would come into play where the area is taken out of the Niagara development control area, and that it would then be subject to bylaws which had previously been revoked when they went in? Is that basically what it’s about?
Mr. Norton: I think I heard the whole of what you said and I will attempt to comment. If I didn’t, please correct me.
As I understand it, the situation is that where an area has been subject to development control under the present legislation there is uncertainty -- lack of clarity perhaps is a better term -- as to what happens if the control is removed. There has been some concern expressed by some people that if it is taken out from under development control there may be no land-use control governing it whatsoever. This would merely provide that if it is removed from development control, in the absence of anything else the prior existing zoning bylaws or orders would come back into effect. It would be constantly under some form of land-use control.
Mr. Chairman: Is there further comment on Mr. Norton’s amendment?
All those in favour of Mr. Norton’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the “ayes” have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Is there any further discussion on any other section of the bill?
On section 4:
Mr. Renwick: We spoke about this during the course of the debate on second reading and on balance we adhere to the view that the permit for development should run with both the land and the person to whom it is issued. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant will recall the somewhat extreme ideological argument he made at the time that it was somehow or other a selection between persons whereas land is totally neutral and doesn’t have any political bias.
It still seems to us that what we are really talking about is development permits which are issued to corporate bodies. We’re not making invidious distinctions between citizens of the province. What we are saying is that a particular corporate body which may have obtained a development permit may have entirely different characteristics with respect to its financial stability, its technical knowhow and skills in order to carry out the development for which the development permit was issued than the body to which it may be transferred.
What this amendment does is simply say it doesn’t matter; once the permit is issued the person may transfer the land, subject to that development permit, to another body corporate, which is what it would be. The resources, the skills and the capacity of that transferee body may not be consistent with the kind or quality of the development for which the development permit was issued. Because of those comments we have discussed the matter again and we feel it would be wise for us to vote against section 4 of this bill when it is called.
I don’t think my remarks need further elaboration by me.
Mr. Norton: I must state that I still fail to understand the thrust of the argument of the hon. member for Riverdale. I think that what is being proposed here -- and I’m sure it’s not necessary for me to reiterate it -- is that when a development permit has been issued for a specific development -- it is my understanding, first of all, the proposal must be set out in detail before the permit is issued and the permit is issued for that specific proposal -- that would be something which runs with the land as opposed to a specific individual, corporate or otherwise.
The other thing that perhaps is not being borne in mind is, it is my understanding also, that these permits have a very short life, something, I believe, in the nature of one year.
So there are two controls over this that would still exist and I would hope that to some extent they might alleviate the concerns of the hon. member for Riverdale. They are not something that would run with the land in perpetuity to allow for long-term delays and changes in ownership of the land a number of times, and also the specifics of the proposed development for which it was issued would be part of the permit itself.
Thus the opportunity would not be there for the issuance of a general permit to allow development without specification to a very responsible corporate body -- then have that land change hands and go to what I believe in the hon. member’s mind would be a somewhat less desirable owner who could then go ahead with development of a very different nature.
I think that the permit itself would tie down not only the present owner but any subsequent owner to the specific conditions and requirements of the permit. It’s not a wide-open situation as I think he might be contemplating. I don’t know how it can go both with the individual and the land.
If the land, for example, were to change hands out of necessity, it may not be a situation where the owner is a corporate entity. If it were an individual and financial circumstances, for example, or health or a matter of life and death in the family might cause the decision to be made to transfer that land to someone else. If the work and effort has gone into a specific proposal for which a permit has been issued, and the land is to be sold to someone else under circumstances of necessity, then to say it would be necessary for the new owner to start back at square one and to make an entirely new application would seem to me to create a very difficult situation and perhaps one of undue hardship.
But I don’t understand at this point how it can both run with the individual and the land. It seems to me that it would have to be one or the other. What we have opted for in this particular proposal is more equitable, more reasonable, given the controls that are attendant upon part of that permit -- that it run with the land for the period of the life of the permit, which I believe is one year.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think all the eventualities have been covered and I do want to make some comments on this issue. I’m in opposition to clause 4, because to some extent -- perhaps not too great an extent -- it will permit trafficking in permits. To that extent at least it will provide for some greater degree of development on the Escarpment than if the permits are tied to the owner rather than to the land. I think the purpose of the Niagara Escarpment Act should be to preserve the Escarpment, and I’m against the clause for that reason.
However, those of us who are familiar with the granting of permits, or for that matter the granting of land division, know that one of the major considerations of the land division committee or of the Escarpment Commission is the situation of the person who applies for that permit. Very frequently in the Escarpment Commission it may be the case of a son or a daughter of the owner of the property who applies for the permit. The permit is granted simply because of this relationship. Then, if you have it going with the land rather than with the individual a year or so after -- perhaps there is no intent in the first place, really, of the son or daughter using it -- it can be put up for sale.
With the restrictions that should be on the Escarpment land, this could make any development permit very valuable. It would encourage this sort of -- I guess I can use the word -- dishonesty in applying for a development permit. If it is tied to the individual, then it will be reconsidered. If it is tied to the owner, it can be reconsidered, it can be given again. But at least it has to go through the whole process once again, including the relationship of that individual to the owner -- all the factors can be taken into consideration. The simple facts are that if it is tied to the land, the end owner who gets it may not ever have been granted the permit if his situation had been the one that had been determining the granting of the permit.
Therefore, I think there is merit in leaving it with the individual with the option to have it reconsidered if the ownership changes, rather than making it automatic; then the considerations which granted it in the first place may have changed, but the permit can still be used.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I would like to just comment again about it, because I get the sensation that perhaps the parliamentary system is receptive to the suggestion to a degree. It may well be that because of this problem and the problem which occurred on the preceding section with respect to section 2, it may be wise to stand the bill down until we get sorted out on both of them.
The point I would like the parliamentary assistant to consider, at the time when it is appropriate, is when the proposal is made for the development upon the basis of which the permit is issued. It is not just a proposal as such. It is that the persons who make the proposal have the capacity to perform financially, and in all other respects, to carry out the proposal. Because when that permit is issued, they have in front of them the proposal of a particular person, be it an individual or a body corporate, and when that is being considered that affects the decision as to whether the permit would be issued.
I am not suggesting, and I don’t think my colleague is suggesting, that if the land should change hands the proposal disappear. But if the development permit is to carry on, the persons who issue the permit should be satisfied that, within broad limits, the transferee of the land has the same capacity and commitment to carry out the development as the person to whom the permit was originally granted. That is all we are saying. I don’t think we are saying anything else.
We just want to make sure that they are not either trafficked in and find their way into the hands of persons who don’t have the skills and capacity and the commitment to carry them out as was originally intended when the permit was first granted.
It seems to me that there are two aspects of it, and it is not necessary to go back to square one. It is simply a question of deciding that the transferee is a person who is capable of doing the job which was originally applied for when the permit was originally granted.
It seems to me that it should be possible devise language which is not going to hamstring the question, but at the same time in some way is going to be a damper upon anybody who might want to traffic in them. It would also be a protection both to the commission or to the particular municipality which may be interested in the development -- some protection that, yes, the transferee is going to be a person who can carry this project out the way it was first envisaged.
If that is acceptable -- and I understand it may well be that the committee will rise and report before this bill is reported, because of the problem with section 2 and this section -- it may be possible to amend section 4 to take into account the arguments which we have addressed to the parliamentary assistant. In any event, I would suggest to him that perhaps the words “in respect to the development” should be added at the very end of the clause as a matter of draftsmanship. It appears in the one place, and it appears to me that it should also qualify the second part of the issuing part of the paragraph.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the committee rise and report.
Motion agreed to.
The House resumed, Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report one bill with one amendment and asks for leave to sit again.
Motion agreed to.
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. McEwen: Mr. Speaker, my colleagues said they didn’t think I’d ever get on again, and I was beginning to agree with them; but thank you very much for the opportunity to be here once again to finish the few words that I have to say.
I was commenting in summary, on the Ministry of Health when we adjourned last Tuesday. There’s very little left to say about the ministry, except to comment that the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Health is not only strangling health care, but the decision-making process in this field is costing too much. This use of the health care dollar must be stopped before the bureaucrats outnumber the patients. Thus, by developing a regional plan of health care, with responsibility for health care delegated to professionals, and thereby reducing the desk jobs in the system, a 30 per cent to 40 per cent saving possibly could be effected -- and we wouldn’t have a reduction in beds, such as has happened in Perth and Napenee and in other areas of hospital operation.
In the same ministry, a good many of the employees have been discharged from their positions with just a brief form letter that usually ends like this: “I regret that your release has become necessary and trust that you will soon be able to find other suitable employment.” It is really a hardship for an employee to find such a letter in his mailbox. In questioning the Ministry of Health about this, the reply I received was something along this line: “Following layoff, all employees will be notified of vacancies in the Ministry of Heath for a period of one year.”
I just want to point out to the acting Minister of Health (B. Stephenson) that this doesn’t happen in some instances. I have information on a good many instances where this didn’t happen; their services were just dispensed with.
When we’re speaking about restraints in this health operation, I question why we would proceed in the health unit system with new programmes that are paid for 100 per cent by the province. I am speaking about one such venture in the Kingston area in the health unit where family planning counselling has been brought into being. It is illustrated in numerous letters that it is free, that it has a full-time position for a public health nurse and that it goes on from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day for six days. Birth control pills are supplied and other facilities that are supplied are paid for 100 per cent by the province.
I’m really not questioning the programme, I’m questioning the programme at this time and the expenditure in this area which may amount to considerable funds being considered when we’re looking at cutbacks in hospital beds and hospital care. I believe that what I said previously is a fact and is true, that organizational committees should have been set up to discuss and to bring in a report on how we could save considerable funds in the operation of our health system. It doesn’t appear that this was done.
I just want to dwell briefly on the Industry and Tourism area. I see that the minister is not here but I don’t intend to dwell a great deal of time on this ministry. I see the minister is very pleased he is the Minister of Industry and Tourism and doesn’t have irate ratepayers picketing his office against expressways or landlords and tenants or hospital administrators trying to sue him He feels that in his ministry he has been able to operate smoothly.
I noted that the Minister of Industry and Tourism was very pleased that the Minister of Labour had agreed not to increase the minimum wage to $2.65 an hour for those sewing alcoholic beverages. I have made some notes here that I would like to read directly re the minister’s statements.
He has stated he believes that people should be very pleased they are contributing to this worthwhile way of spending one’s time. What this really means is sewing alcoholic beverages at a rate much less than the minimum wage.
I question why one group is considered for a minimum wage of $2.65 and why a minister of this government would work very hard, as he has indicated he has for some time, to have the minimum wage for those serving alcoholic beverages at a lesser rate than others. I believe that it is our way of life that a good many people are compensated in tips for the courtesy and for the service they render to anyone making a purchase. I believe it’s the purchasers’ right whether they tip those who are serving or not.
I believe that the Minister of Labour should take a serious look at applying the minimum wage to all of our people and that all of our people should be treated equally. I personally take exception to this matter and I bring it to your attention, Mr. Speaker.
In the area of tourism, a few years ago we had approximately 32 tourist associations. This was reduced to about 11 or 12 and great large areas -- regions, I suppose you could call them, Mr. Speaker -- were created. What happened in one area and was brought to my attention was that in the north, Frontenac-Hastings, part of Hastings, and Addington, the Land-o’-Lakes Tourist Association members found it was too far to travel to meetings. They weren’t able to attend and the executive of these associations became so large that those who really wanted to could outvote a smaller former regional operation.
The Land-o’-Lakes proceeded to spend money on behalf of the tourist industry of the Province of Ontario in 1975 and its share from the province would have been, I believe, $2,591. Due to the change in the ministry’s policy and legislation for tourist areas and the government’s contributions to these tourist areas, Land-o’-Lakes was deprived of this contribution of $2,591.
I attended several meetings along with the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. Taylor) to discuss this problem. The moneys had been spent by the Land-o’-Lakes Tourist Association, in good faith and a good job was done with the advertising purchased. It was done in the belief that the moneys would be forthcoming from the province but within the ministry they were sidetracked and deprived of these rightful funds.
There was an amount of $1,400 or so in addition to that owing to them, and through the meetings I attended along with the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, the $1,400 and some was paid over to the Land-o’-Lakes Tourist Association.
We are looking at tourist operations and at ways to assist in attracting tourist business to the Province of Ontario and to Canada. I believe we read some time ago that the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett) had stated it was more reasonable to travel to the United States than to tour in Canada. Possibly this is one of the reasons it’s becoming a very costly operation in the regional system. Those in the immediate area who feel the effect of the tourist business in the north of our ridings are feeling the pinch very seriously and they’re deprived of the assistance they have had in the past.
Reluctantly, today I want to speak on a subject which is possibly very controversial. It is a little bit personal and it also affects one of the other members on the opposite side of the House to some extent. That is the conflict of interest legislation. I have prepared my notes here and although I see in Hansard that I was criticized for reading some of my speech, I believe in this instance in particular it is necessary to have prepared what I want to say. I want to be quite definite about it.
Today, I would like to touch briefly on conflict of interest and especially conflict of interest charges being made in the House. A few weeks ago one of my colleagues, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), asked if there was a possible conflict of interest re the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) because he and his wife jointly owned a 17-bed private hospital for clinic care in health in Perth. This brought to my mind immediate concern regarding myself, as soon as that comment was made, for the reason I have had considerable experience of having people decide to reduce my public standing in the community, interfering with my political position as reeve of the township of Kingston and attempting to interfere with my living in general.
I speak about this today especially with the thought in mind of eliminating the frustration of those who are named in what possibly could be considered at some time as a conspiracy by those making the statements.
In the beginning, I would like to make it absolutely clear that at no time have I ever bought or sold subdivision lots in a municipality that I represented, and this is what I was partly charged with. My wife and family and myself have worked many years in our own private business and I have always considered that to be my main source of income. However, in particular, four people in the township of Kingston, headed by a Prof. Bennett, a brother of the member for Ottawa South, and two other university associates of the professor, appeared to continually harass my personal way of life. When it was impossible to accomplish what they set out to do, they and their friends drew up a petition and had 61 people sign their names asking for an investigation of my association with the municipality, and of the municipal operation.
The 61 names included two or three members of some families, so it really only added up to about 20 or 30 families involved. However, this was submitted to the cabinet and those who were in official positions here at that time -- including the present opposition leader, and I believe a Mr. Shulman was also involved -- started a witch hunt and went on to discuss it on the floor of the House. It was also picked up by the Liberal leader at that time.
The petition I wish to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, was stamped with the signature of W. J. Nuttall and submitted by him. He was the sitting member for Frontenac-Addington at that time. The former Treasurer, without discussion with our municipality or myself in any way, announced he would appoint a justice to have an inquiry. Just prior to that, I heard the rumour of what might take place and I called the Premier (Mr. Davis) with the thought in mind of asking for permission to discuss my side of the issue. A Mr. Macaulay, who wasn’t an elected member, advised me that wasn’t possible, and that I wouldn’t be allowed to speak to the Premier.
Within about a week or so from that time, Mr. John White, the Treasurer, appointed a Judge Shortt to conduct the investigation. The only notification I received at any time was when I received notice that the investigation would take place. At no time was I ever given the opportunity to plead my case, either to any member or to the cabinet. My case was very different from that of the member for Lanark. He had the opportunity of standing in the House and declaring his innocence, but I, as a private citizen and reeve of a municipality, had no rights according to the Conservative government. I say that dictatorship at that time ran supreme here.
I now refer back to the election which took place in 1971 in Frontenac-Addington. The member elected at that time was a Mr. Wilmer Nuttall and his south riding campaign manager was the same Prof. Bennett, who was one of the investigators of the so-called investigation. In addition to the interference with my own welfare, this investigation held up a water system in the township of Kingston. A contract had been called and tenders received, but the government of this province would not allow the municipality to proceed, and that was caused by the same Mr. White. Because of that, it cost the township of Kingston exactly $1 million more for the same contract 11 months later.
Who is going to pay the $1 million? It will be the taxpayers of the township of Kingston. They are the scapegoats for this government. It was found that the township did not operate its system any differently from any other township in the Province of Ontario. It possibly wasn’t the best system, but it was the same system that they had been taught to use for 20, 30, 40 years rand it had been successful all that time.
I want to go back now to my own case. It was necessary for me to obtain legal advice and to be put in the position of spending considerable funds to protect myself, my wife and my family.
If I had been guilty, I certainly would have resigned and taken my medicine, whatever it was. However, since I knew I was not guilty there was no way I would give in. But had it been someone who didn’t have access to any funds that were necessary -- to use the law facilities as protection -- that person would have had to resign. He would have had to walk down the street with his head toward the ground and have people say forever and ever to his family and children that that person was a crook.
This was only caused by the cabinet; this was only caused by arrogance, and it shouldn’t happen to anyone. It was only caused by jealousy.
We went through a long period of time listening to some of the accusations, and the learned judge did not bear the majority of them because there was no bearing whatever and no substantiation to them. They were just snide remarks made by those who wanted to be in a position to hurt me politically. Even after the investigation had been completed it took almost a year before the decision was handed down.
All during the investigation Judge Shortt took into consideration every word that was brought in by the opposition as evidence, and he also listened to all the defence. When the decision was handed down, all I received was the decision of the hon. judge. I did not receive a letter from those who had, I feel, possibly conspired against me. I did not receive one from the sitting member who was defeated in the last election and who helped bring the action. I did not receive a letter from the cabinet of the Province of Ontario, nor did I receive one from John White who used his office in arrogance and dictatorship. In other words, I did not receive one word of apology from any of those people.
I believe this is a terrible thing to have happen to anyone regardless of political affiliation. It is a dreadful experience for anyone to have to go through. Those who made the charges, and those government officials who assisted them, were allowed to drop the issue without any penalty being imposed on them.
At that time I suggested there was a possible conflict of interest between the member for Ottawa South and his brother the professor. He admitted arranging one of the meetings for him and his remark was that he had stated any interest he had with his brother to the cabinet. Either the same day or the following day the Premier was asked by the press about this, and the statement he made was that he didn’t know the member for Ottawa South had a brother involved in it.
What I am saying here today is something I am not proud to have printed in Hansard. Rut I believe it is time for a serious change to be made in the legislation that allows four people like those mentioned previously from the township of Kingston, like the sitting member and the cabinet and a person such as the past Treasurer, to be allowed to act against a person in this manner. I feel it is certainly time for a change in that legislation so that this will never happen to anyone again.
Let us go back to the member for Lanark. When the suggestion was made that he might have a conflict of interest -- he had previously been appointed parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health and this certainly gave him an inside position as to what was happening in the health field by way of closing down the hospitals etc., in Perth as well, and the financial position of the ministry -- I am very pleased he had the opportunity to stand up in the House and state his case, and receive consideration from all in this House. But at the same time, I would suggest he should not have been appointed in the beginning to that position because of the fact that he and his family had an interest in health care.
Again, I am sympathetic to the member. I was at that time and I still am. I wouldn’t have spoken about it except for what happened here in the questioning of the member for Lanark -- whether he had a possible conflict or not. That is why I am mentioning it today. But why should he be any different from anyone else? Why should his be any different from my case? How many others have been persecuted in the past and how many more will be persecuted in the future, unless some consideration is given to the facts before an investigation such as this takes place?
I am very proud to be able to stand in this House as an elected member -- to be elevated from the position of reeve -- and state that Ii have a clean bill of health physically from my doctor and a clean bill of health politically from Judge Shortt. I am very pleased about that. I am very pleased also --
Mr. Renwick: Not a bad bill of health from your voters either.
Mr. McEwen: Thank you very much. I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity of speaking. I apologize to those who wished to have time to speak. I’m very sorry that I took up approximately three and a half hours of this House’s time. But I have a very deep feeling for those that need a home and haven’t the funds for a high down payment and haven’t income to pay the high interest rate. What I’ve been attempting to bring out in my possibly rough, inexperienced way is the need for more housing, the need to eliminate the inflation in the cost of building materials and the need for a reduction in the interest rates that apply to those who are buying a home but have limited funds.
I’ve also attempted to bring out the fact that I believe, through the Wintario funds especially, we need this money to be spent on recreation centres because in my experience those buildings that have been erected in the Province of Ontario are bulging at the seams and have contributed greatly to all our people, especially our youth.
I’ve also attempted to bring out the delays in the planning branch of this government and the delays in recognizing honourable plans that have been submitted by those all through the riding of Frontenac-Addington, in particular. They have been deprived of even discussing the plan and they’ve been deprived of their rights that those plans should be distributed to the agencies to answer the questions either favourably or suggesting changes.
I have continued to attempt to bring out matters for those who are not in a position to speak for themselves. Again, I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity of speaking here and I hope in the future that I can add some contribution to all of our people in the province.
Mr. Lane: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to take part in this budget debate. I listened with very mixed feelings to the Treasurer of the province (Mr. McKeough) present the 1976 budget. I realize it was a very difficult budget to put together because of the very real need for restraints in spending. If we are to turn our economy around and prevent a recession from turning into a depression we must beat inflation. To do this, we must have restraints in spending at all levels of government.
I greatly appreciate that priorities have been reordered for 1976-1977, the tighter government controls on expenditures that have been introduced, the Ontario cost-cutting measures that have been recommended, the substantial reduction in the civil service and the substantial cutback of the capital spending of Ontario Hydro. All this I can support at this time. I could even agree that the Ontario drinker and smoker should pay more for their pleasures, but I have a very difficult time to agree with the substantial increase in the OHIP premiums.
Our party realized that something had to be done to control health costs. However, I cannot agree that this is the best way to do it, that is, by increasing the premiums. Even with the increase, the premiums collected will still pay for less than one-third of the health care delivered in this province. There must be a better way and a fairer way to do this. It will be suggested, that we introduce a deterrent fee to eliminate misuse of health. For healthy families that would be just fine. But for families that need health care on a weekly or a more-frequent basis this would not be fair. I think we want health care in this province and not wealth care. I find a deterrent would not solve the problem.
I personally feel, if we had a triple OHIP claim form or credit card type of a claim form so that the OHIP card holder would receive a copy of all the claims submitted to OHIP on behalf of the cardholder’s family in any one period of time, many people would be so shocked to learn of what their families are costing the health care programme they would give a great deal more consideration to the need of medical services before seeking the same.
While most doctors are completely honest and make no effort at all to pad their OHIP claims or to encourage patients to make more office calls than are necessary, we do know there have been cases where it has been found that doctors have done this. If the person receiving the service had to sign a claim slip at the time he or she received the medical service, then any temptation to pad the account would be removed. I really think we could cut the cost of our health care system tremendously if we introduced some kind of a triple form or credit card system whereby the family would be aware of what they were costing OHIP; also, the doctors would not be padding any of their accounts.
The reason I speak about this in particular is that many of the people in my riding pay the premium on a direct basis, and they’re going to find this a real hardship. I’m sure this is the case right across the province. And even when an employer does pay a large portion of the premiums, the individual eventually will feel the effects because it will work down through the system to him.
I do think that OHIP services have been misused. However, in my riding, doctors are few and far between, and a trip to the doctor involves many miles of driving; in most cases, people only go to a doctor when they must. These people are not misusing the system and yet they are the people who have been hurt by the increase in the OHIP premium.
At this time, I’d like to return to a topic I spoke about in the Throne Speech debate; that is, the need for a Ministry of Northern Ontario. While the 1976 special support grant for northern Ontario has been increased by $3 million over 1975, we are still being shortchanged in many ways. This is not by intention, as many of the inequities in northern Ontario are created by isolation factors, one-town industries, etc.
However, I think one of the major problems in northern Ontario is that we’re still being considered as a pioneer territory. Many of our youths are not really interested in being pioneers and are not ready to wait for years for some worthwhile development to happen in the north; of course, as a result of this, they head for the heavily populated centres where the action is. If we continue to export our youths, we are still going to be considered a pioneer territory 50 years from now.
While many of our own people often leave the north for the lack of opportunity, many people from other parts of the province, or out of the province, see northern Ontario as a place to make a quick bundle of cash by tapping into the resource industries. Often this works out well for all concerned because they start a company, hire people and improve the economy. But there are cases where our northern resources are being raped by those who wish to make a fast dollar and leave nothing worthwhile behind. This type of thing must stop.
We must provide more incentive for the full treatment of ore in the parts of Ontario where it is mined. It really bothers me to see ore being shipped out of the province, and shipped out of the north especially, for smelting and other processing purposes. These extra lobs would provide a faster population growth and demand for other goods and services, in addition to making the north much more attractive to our young people.
Having been in the insurance business for many years, I am concerned about the small number of companies willing to do business in northern Ontario, compared with the total number of companies licensed to do business in the province. I am also concerned that the large transport operators make good profits on trucking in the heavy industrial area of southern Ontario and then use some of these profits to operate a break-even or a loss operation in the north so that they can probably squeeze our small northern transport operators out of business. Of course, if this happens, then the big companies can zero in on us and make big profits by trucking in the north.
I’m also concerned about the lack of mortgage money available in the small areas of the north. I repeat my concerns about the lack of input to government by our native people and by the people living in the various areas of the north with no local government to speak for them.
I’m concerned that we pay a double penalty for living in the north. The first penalty is choice. We want to be northerners. We want to live there. We know we must accept certain penalties.
Mr. Reid: Why should we have to? Why should we have to pay for certain benefits?
Mr. Lane: Well, because we have to travel farther from point A to point B to do business. We know that when we decide to reside there. We know we have to heat our home more months each winter because the weather is colder. I am not objecting to those penalties, because I choose to be a northerner. I am proud to be northerner.
Mr. Reid: And the Ontario government makes you pay for being a northerner.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lane: It is a matter of choice where we live, and I personally chose to live in the north. But on the other side of the coin, if Ontario is going to continue to be the wealthiest province in Canada, many people must live in the north to harvest the rich resources found there.
The unfair penalty I find is that we have to continue to pay more for the basic commodities of life. I am concerned that legislation often is passed in this province that does not fit northern Ontario. It really needs a different application than other areas of the province. I might say that some of this legislation is land separations and subdivision approvals, and such like that. What makes good sense down south, doesn’t make any sense at all in the north.
I could carry on for another hour or so expressing my concerns regarding the lack of service and other related problems in the north, but --
Mr. Reid: Go ahead, list some; we may be here all night.
Mr. Lane: As I have already said, the lack of attention to the north is not intentional. It is just that the multitudes from the heavily populated areas are demanding much more attention from the various ministries and there is just not sufficient time to give the time to the complicated problems of the north that they deserve. After being here for nearly five years and watching the process, I cannot see matters improving.
Mr. Reid: Hear, hear. Are you going to cross the floor?
Mr. Lane: For this reason I projected the idea of a Ministry of Northern Ontario; something for those people in the north to relate to.
Mr. Reid: That’s a Liberal programme. You are stealing our programmes now.
Mr. Lane: The member can support me. I’ll be glad of his support. I think it is a good idea.
Mr. Reid: We have been saying that for five or six years.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue without interruption.
Mr. Reid: I just want him to know someone is listening.
Mr. Wiseman: Are you recommending him for the ministry?
Mr. Lane: It would be something that the people of the north can relate to, that we can really hang our hat on. It would be a vehicle that will take government to those vast areas of the north which make up a large portion of this province. It would be a vehicle that will research and investigate and relate to the people and their problems; a vehicle which would help develop the north as never before.
I think every member of this House representing a northern riding knows the problems and the concerns about which I speak. The only difference is that I want to do something about the situation now, because it has been let go too long. Unfortunately, members of the NDP seem only interested in making critical remarks in the north and talking about the problems and not supporting me in my efforts to offer a solution to the problem.
Mr. Samis: Why did you lose those seats in the north then? Tell us about Algoma.
Mr. Lane: Mr. Speaker, I say and I have always said that our first concern should be for the well-being of the people we represent, not for personal gain or the lack of it.
It is in the best interests of the entire province to stimulate the growth of northern Ontario. The people who live in the north should be entitled, as far as possible, to the same opportunities and standards of living found elsewhere in this province.
Mr. Lane: I am glad the members opposite are going to support me at last.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might move the adjournment of the debate for the purpose of the private members’ hour, simply because my colleague who is to speak next didn’t expect to be in until 8 o’clock.
Mr. Deans moved that adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ HOUR: PUBLIC HEALTH AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Leluk moved second reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Public Health Act.
Mr. Leluk: I would just like to mention again that the purpose of the bill is to ensure that prescription drugs in liquid form, certain over-the-counter drugs, patent medicines and household substances including chemicals, that are for sale in Ontario, will be packaged in child-resistant packages.
This is the second time I have risen in this House to speak on this very important matter. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, that in March, 1972, I introduced a private member’s bill which, at that time as well, was an Act to amend the Public Health Act. The purpose of that bill was to ensure that prescription drugs dispensed in solid form -- that is, in tablet and capsule form -- would be dispensed in child-resistant containers, as well at patent medicines in solid form.
At that time I didn’t include liquid medications because we didn’t have a suitable child-resistant container available on the Ontario market for this purpose. Dr. Potter, who was the then Minister of Health, supported this legislation or bill as did the three parties who spoke on it in the House during the private members’ hour. I was very pleased that on July 19, 1972, the cabinet passed Ontario Regulation 362 under the Pharmacy Act, making it mandatory that prescription drugs be dispensed in child-resistant containers, certified and designated by the Canadian Standards Association.
There were some initial setbacks. We had no standards; they had to be devised. Then, with the oil crisis shortly thereafter, there was a shortage of plastics for a period: of time and there were not adequate supplies of these child-resistant containers for the pharmacies in the province. Therefore, it wasn’t until Jan. 1, 1974, that the regulation actually came into force.
I have always prided myself on the fact that Ontario has been a leader in many areas with respect to progressive legislation. So it was in this instance. I believe we were, at the time, the first jurisdiction in North America to enact this type of legislation although there were other jurisdictions looking at it. We certainly were the first province in Canada. Shortly after, I believe British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Great Britain enacted similar legislation. I believe also that the Province of Quebec has either enacted similar legislation or is in the process of doing so. Our neighbour to the south has also followed suit in this matter.
I am disappointed, though, and ashamed to say that we have been bypassed by several jurisdictions in this regard and are now the followers. It was right here in Ontario that the Ontario Association for the Control of Accidental Poisoning was established in 1963 and pioneered the invention or design of the childproof safety closure for the control of accidental poisoning.
In 1965, there appeared the first practical, effective and inexpensive child-resistant container for solid medications, the Palm-N-Turn vial. It was invented, developed, produced and marketed in Ontario. In 1966, at the annual convention of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, they unanimously voted that all prescription medications henceforth be dispensed in child-resistant containers. It was eight years later that this became a reality through legislation, with the making of Ontario Regulation 362.
Legislation progressed apace in the United States and I believe on May 11, 1970, the United States Senate passed the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. In a Senate speech following the passage of the bill, Senator Moss of Utah, one of its proponents, spoke of communications from British officials suggesting the bill might form the basis for similar legislation in England. I believe this took place in 1975.
“The legislation was all-encompassing, dealing with prescription drugs and what we call in the pharmaceutical trade over-the-counter drugs -- these are drugs purchased without prescription -- and household substances or chemicals. The provinces in Canada have jurisdiction over health in the field of drugs and therapeutics whereas the federal government, through the ministries of National Health and Welfare and Consumer and Corporate Affairs, has a good measure of responsibility in the control of over-the-counter products and no-prescription household chemicals.
“The ideal situation would have been for the federal Minister of Health to enact similar legislation to that of Ontario or that which is found in the United States with its Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. However, the federal government of Canada continues to procrastinate in this regard while the lives of our young children are imperilled.”
In Ontario with 7.8 million residents, surely these are not all accident prone, but what segment of the population are we really talking about here? It’s from birth to six years, or the “poisoning years” as we know them to be -- the years of greatest risk, the peak years for about 95 per cent of all ingestions. It is the pre-school child, the child who is curious, adventurous, the taster. These are the children who are like vacuum cleaners and who eat everything in sight.
I have to apologize to the House that I go back to 1971, but I have tried for the past year to obtain updated statistics from Ottawa and have been unable to find any published statistics in this area since 1972. Based on these 1971 figures, Ontario had then approximately 781,000 youngsters in the vulnerable years under six. This means that over three-quarters of a million children are in jeopardy and potential victims of accidental drug ingestion.
If each of the 7.8 million people in this province average four prescriptions per year, we are talking of 31 million plus prescriptions. Three out of four will be for solid drugs. This means 31 million prescriptions in unsafe containers before the child-resistant containers came into effect. I’d like to ask whether we would allow 31 million loaded firearms into our homes, each one a potential killer.
Mr. Deans: It’s not a good question.
Mr. Leluk: The magnitude is even greater when you think of the thousands’ of over-the-counter preparations and household substances available on the market and found in many households today, such as bleaches, corrosive chemicals, petroleum distillates, cleaning solvents, paint thinners, polishes, turpentine, wood alcohol, lemon oil, etc.
Prescription drugs were the first target. Statistics of the Windsor poison control centre had incriminated approximately 20 to 25 per cent of all prescriptions dispensed in the province; ASA, better known as Aspirin, and other over-the-counter items, about 25 per cent plus; household products accounted for about 50 per cent. At present, we have no protection in this province through legislation -- nor in Canada for that matter -- for approximately 75 per cent of the products mentioned. These are the household products and drugs which can be purchased without prescription.
How prevalent is the incidence of accidental poisoning in Canada and in this province? A review of the statistics gathered by the National Health and Welfare poison control programme shows that in 1971 in Canada there were a total of 32,576 poisonings from drugs, 7,591 attributable to Aspirin. The recorded number of poisonings by other drugs has not increased rapidly but its percentage of the total is up by 35 per cent, to 47 per cent. The number of reported poisonings from 1965 to 1971 increased from 27,033 to 52,751 -- a 95 per cent increase. The number of reported cases rose to 53,531 in 1972. In Ontario, in 1972, 22,458 cases were reported; there were 2,057 hospital admissions; and 132 deaths of the 319 for Canada.
The number of deaths in 1966 was only 16, but steadily has increased to 132 in 1972. The bulk of the poisonings in 1971 occurred in the birth-to-four age group, which accounted for 30,932. This group still comprises the largest portion and accounted for 63 per cent of the total number of accidental poisonings in 1971.
Dr. Henri Breault, president of the Ontario Association for the Control of Accidental Poisonings and a pioneer in the prevention of childhood poisonings, stated that one must be naive to believe that this is the total picture. Workers in the poison control centres across Canada know that only a small fraction of accidental poisonings are reported. A figure triple the amount of known cases would be quite realistic and probably closer to the actual figures. This would means, then, 160,000 cases for Canada in 1972 and 67,000 cases in Ontario for that year.
How effective are those child-resistant containers as a deterrent to childhood poisoning? I believe that we have ample evidence to show that they are quite effective. Dr. Henri Breault stated that the earliest endeavours were based on the theory of accident prevention. They stressed education to the public -- parents, children, physicians, everyone was cautioned against poison hazards.
During the nine years of intensive and extensive educational efforts they found that the poisoning situation in Windsor, in the Essex county area, had increased. The number of over-the-phone patients and those treated in person at the Windsor poison control centre rose from an initial 800 in 1957 to an approximate 1,000 in 1966.
Protection then has to be the keystone of a successful programme for the prevention of the poisoning of pre-school children. Labels bearing the words “Keep out of reach of children” have no meaning to the poison-prone illiterate pre-schooler. Inaccessibility is not in his vocabulary. Containers cannot be kept out of the child’s reach but its contents can be kept out of the child’s mouth.
Caveat emptor -- let the buyer beware -- is longer an acceptable merchandising practice in the marketplace. We live in a child-centred, safety-oriented society. Pilot studies have established beyond any doubt that childhood poisonings are preventable.
In Essex county we had the first extensive use of the child-resistant container which began back on Jan. 1, 1967. This was a four-year pilot project in an area with a population of 300,000 people. The child-resistant container used in this particular project was the Palm-N’-Turn vial and it was dispensed through 60 pharmacies in that area over the four-year period. There were some 3.3 million of these vials dispensed in that time period. There was a reduction in prescription drug poisonings of 88.6 per cent -- which is very significant -- and an overall reduction in poisonings of 64 per cent.
Another separate clinical study was conducted in the Fort-Lewis-McCord air force base complex and the Madigan General Hospital in Tacoma, Wash., from May 1, 1967 to Dec. 1, 1970, involving a population of 120,000 people. This programme covered a three-year period and 1.07 million child-resistant containers were dispensed. The poisoning rates were reduced by 87 per cent. Similarly there has been a reduction in ingestion rates of some 95 per cent regarding children’s 1¼-grain flavoured Aspirin, which were also tested during this period.
During the period from 1966 to 1972, the percentage of poisoning cases due to Aspirin declined in Canada from 24 per cent to 11 per cent. A report from Health and Welfare Canada indicated this decline is due in part to education and to use of safety packaging. But I want to stress here, the packaging was not child-resistant containers but what we call strip packaging. Labelling changes and restrictions as to the numbers of Aspirins to be found in a container also were credited.
In the March 27, 1975, Ontario Hospital Association bulletin, entitled “For Your Information” under the heading of “Child Accidents Decrease”:
The Hospital for Sick Children [here in Toronto reported a 30 per cent reduction in the number of victims of accidental drug ingestion, which could be attributed to new regulations for bottling and capping medicine containers.
In the Toronto Star, dated April 14 this year, an article appeared and I’d like to quote from that article, titled “Pill Bottle Safety Caps Are Working, Senator Says:” “The number of small children dying from overdoses of Aspirin has dropped dramatically in recent years because of safety caps on pill bottles, Sen. Frank Moss reported yesterday.”
Sen. Moss, as I mentioned earlier, was one of the prime proponents or movers of the safety packaging bill which the United States Senate passed in May, 1970. The Utah Democrat chairman of the US Senate consumer subcommittee said that Aspirin poisoning deaths among children under the age of five had dropped 48 per cent since 1972. Moss also said that an army study -- which I have referred to -- showed an 88 per cent drop in poisoning among children from other drugs since 1974.
What is the public attitude toward this type of protection? In February, 1972, I mailed out some 20,500 questionnaires to my constituents asking their views on whether legislation should be enacted to ensure that all prescription drugs and other potentially dangerous drugs be dispensed or sold in child-proof containers to prevent accidental poisoning of children. I received a 21.2 per cent return -- 4,353 questionnaires -- with 83 per cent favouring such legislation, totalling 3,635.
Professional associations like the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association -- recently I received a letter from John Turnbull, who is the executive director of this association. He wrote me on Dec. 5 last year thanking me for sending him a copy of my bill. He assured me that the principle of the bill was in keeping with policy statements of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association at an annual convention in 1966 supported the use of child-resistant containers and requested such legislation. The Ontario Association for the Control of Accidental Poisoning, in the president’s report in 1971, petitioned for government legislation in this regard.
In June, 1971, the Canadian Pediatric Society --
Mr. Speaker: Will members of the New Democratic Party keep their voices down, please? It is very disconcerting to the speaker.
Mr. Leluk: In June, 1971, the Canadian Pediatric Society pressed for legislation for these child-resistant containers for all potentially hazardous substances and requested the federal Minister of Health and Welfare to act at once toward implementation of this objective, through a safety packaging Act, for the protection of the children of Canada.
Almost five years later, we are still waiting for this legislation.
On April 16 this year -- I want to quote from Paul Kidd’s statements made on Opinion. This is a commentary after the 11 o’clock news on CHCH-TV in Hamilton. He was referring to my bill and he said, “It seems to me that such an amendment to the Public Health Act is long overdue for surely this is the type of private members’ bill which should be passed without delay.”
The president of PAC, the manufacturers of non-prescription medicines, Mr. Donald Harper, wrote me on March 24 this year stating that the member companies of PAC are pleased to work with me in this endeavour.
I believe this legislation is of public importance and in the public interest. If Ottawa does not want to enact this legislation nationally, Ontario should act to protect the children of this province. This is not likely to happen on a voluntary basis. Child-resistant packaging and mandatory child-resistant containers on prescriptions and for, say, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs, and for household substances, must be legislated. This is the only measure which will ensure the safety for our youngsters.
I have spoken to the acting Minister of Health (B. Stephenson), and have spoken to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) as well about this bill. I expressed to them the urgent need to have cabinet enact regulations passing this legislation for the Province of Ontario.
Mr. Deans: I might tell the member for York West (Mr. Leluk) that as always we support the concept that he has put forward on this occasion. The member for York West and I have shared the concern for this particular matter since he came into the House in 1971. Prior to that I shared it with others, and I think that this is a natural extension of the existing regulations that we have in the Province of Ontario.
I think the unfortunate part about the majority of the statistics available in Canada with regard to poisonings is that they are somewhat outdated. It is very difficult to find published statistics for any period beyond 1972 for all of Canada. That obviously makes it difficult to determine whether the legislation that was introduced in the Legislature some two years ago or more has had the desired effect.
There is some body of opinion which seems to think that it was as much the public awareness that arose out of a public education programme as it was the introduction of childproof drug containers that has resulted in the reductions of child poisoning. I don’t share that view. I think that the introduction of childproof containers was a fairly major step forward in child safety in the Province of Ontario. And I think that the government should not do what it did previously and sit idly by waiting for some bolt of lightning to hit them to get them to understand that it would make sense to extend what currently exists to liquid prescriptions, liquid over-the-counter drugs, and also to containers of household chemicals.
There are some problems with this unfortunately, as there are with everything. They are the same kinds of problems that I remember raising in 1968 and 1969 and 1970, prior to the member for York West being elected, and I raise them again because they are important.
The problem is that there are adults in our society who, because of arthritic conditions or otherwise, have some considerable difficulty manipulating the childproof container top. For that reason it makes sense that in any provision within the Public Health Act or any other Act we make sure that there are alternative containers and tops available.
I think, for example, that many elderly people who have no children in the household, and who obviously run little if any risk of having a child take poison or drugs inadvertently, ought to be able to ask the druggist to obtain from another source a container that doesn’t have the childproof qualities about it. I think we have to understand that because it happens to be a fairly major problem.
I know also of people who are crippled -- I can think of a number that I met fairly recently while taking part in a Participation House telethon -- who would not be able to open the childproof drug containers. I was speaking to my colleague, the member for Durham West (Mr. Godfrey), who’s a doctor very much involved in arthritic conditions and the like, and he and I agree that for a great number of his patients it would be virtually impossible to manipulate the child-proof container.
I think, as we give approval to this, we also have to be sure that if the government were to implement it that it pay recognition to the problems those people would have and make sure that the regulations are written in such a way as to guarantee that it would not be unlawful for a vendor to provide a container other than the container prescribed by these regulations to be drafted by the Lieutenant Governor in council, in the event that the purchaser expressly requested that that be done for reasons of inability to manipulate the top.
The whole field of child safety is one that a number of people in this Legislature have raised over the years and this is but one aspect of it. I don’t think we carry on a sufficiently broad or forceful educational programme in the Province of Ontario with regard to child safety. That’s not necessarily the responsibility of this government alone. I think this falls on school boards and other levels of government equally heavily.
I think, in looking at the whole field of child safety, we have to have considerable concern for the fact that a well-educated youngster -- I don’t mean well educated in the sense of having a good education -- a child who is educated properly with regard to the use or whatever of drugs would stand a much better chance of surviving than some poor child who’s never had the opportunity to understand the penalties of taking something they don’t know much about.
I think that what we’re saying is this -- I don’t understand, I’ve never quite understood, why this needed to be a private members’ bill. I didn’t understand it in 1968 and I don’t understand t in 1976. I didn’t understand in 1968, when I first introduced it, why we needed to have private members’ bills on such obvious things. I don’t understand in 1976, after a number of debates and after the government has taken some rather tentative steps, why we need have yet another private members’ bill before us. I would have hoped that by now the Ministry of Health, together with other ministries, would have understood that this made abundant good sense in the Province of Ontario. The work undertaken by Dr. Breault in Windsor was work from which there flowed a wealth of information which ought to have enabled us to come to clear decisions about the value of doing this.
I would suggest this ought to be the last time we ever have to rise in the Legislature and debate the simple, obvious matter of ensuring safety in the use or sale of corrosives, household chemicals of all kinds, and liquid drugs. This should be the last time we ever have to stand in the House and debate the value of ensuring that they are contained for public use in childproof containers, given the caveat I put in previously.
I think, as the member for York West said, one of the difficulties in the 1968, 1969 and 1970 period was, of course, the common complaint that no container had been developed which was satisfactory for liquids. That’s all behind us now. I think many of us didn’t believe it then and it turns out it is certainly no longer true. There are containers available. They’re not all of the same type but there certainly are containers available now which could be used.
I think while we’re doing it the member might give some thought to something else which could be easily incorporated. Let’s go to standard containers when we do it. Let’s go to a standard container -- standard size, standard colours, everything. Then if a person has a brown bottle, for example, containing something that is harmful, that can be easily identified -- there can be no question about it. Let’s go to standardizing containers in at least that way. Let’s go to standard sizes so that we can have two or three sizes of containers and no more -- so that we would not have a great multitude of containers and variety of sizes available. It’s got to be more costly, for one thing. Secondly, it’s obviously more difficult for parents to maintain some kind of control over them.
So with those few comments and without belabouring the point, I just want to suggest that the government ought to pay attention this time. The member for York West and I say -- I think we have said it often enough and needn’t say it over and over again -- it is time for the government to do something. With all of the cabinet ministers present today, I say to each and every one of them that it’s time that they pay heed.
Mr. Samis: Even the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Henderson).
Mr. Deans: Now I know. I wondered what the Minister without Portfolio does, and now I know.
Mr. Samis: Right.
Mr. Deans: He comes in and listens to private members’ hour so that he can report to cabinet what it is we’re saying. Is that what it’s all about? That’s what he’s assigned to do by the Premier (Mr. Davis)?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Deans: My time has expired. Anyhow, I support the concept with those two or three additional suggestions, and hope that this is the last time we have to do it.
Mr. B. Newman: I rise in support of the bill as introduced by the member for York West (Mr. Leluk) and commend him for its introduction. At the same time I am very critical of his cabinet colleagues who have had all the opportunity in the world to introduce such legislation years back. Had legislation such as this been implemented, the lives of many children might have been saved and they would not have paid that supreme sacrifice, so to speak.
The member for York West naturally, as a pharmacist, is especially interested in such legislation. But I must credit him for giving real credit to the two individuals from the city of Windsor. It was their dedicated devotion, hard work and efforts to convince those who refused to be convinced that child-resistant containers were one of the answers to accidental poisoning. Not the only answer. Education is part of the answer, but it isn’t a complete answer. It takes a combination of elements to eliminate almost completely accidental poisonings, especially in children and especially in those under the age of six.
It was Dr. Henri Breault and a pharmacist by the name of Bill Wilkinson, who -- if I’m not mistaken I had the pleasure of attending school with him in days gone by -- pioneered this whole approach. Actually, the organization for the control of accidental poisoning was set up by Dr. Breault and Mr. Wilkinson back in 1962 and the association called the Ontario Association for the Control of Accidental Poisoning was chartered in 1963.
Despite government reluctance, Mr. Speaker, the founders, Dr. Henri Breault, who was a local pediatrician, and Bill Wilkinson, a pharmacist, proceeded undaunted in their attempt to provide a solution to child poisoning. They were drawn together by a mutual belief that the number of child poisoning accidents in Windsor and thus across Canada and other parts of the world could be substantially reduced. They never wavered in the belief that they could reduce those poisonings.
While their Ontario Association for Control of Accidental Poisonings never hit the pharmaceutical manufacturing industries with the same type of attention as did Ralph Nader when he pioneered -- I shouldn’t say pioneered -- brought to public attention the weaknesses in the automotive industry. These two individuals, Dr. Breault and Mr. Wilkinson, continued their devoted work of convincing others that there was a solution to the accidental poisoning of children.
It was in 1973 that legislation was first introduced but it took many years for the two gentlemen to convince governments of the merits of their suggestions. It was back on Oct. 15, 1968, that Dr. Breault, who was president and medical director of the Ontario association, first wrote me and presented to me a brief headed: Poisonings are Preventable; An Experience with One Million Child-Resistant Containers.
This was presented at the Canadian Pediatrics Society’s annual meeting in Saskatoon, Sask., on June 26, 1968. I don’t intend to read the brief at all as the previous member or the member for York West read excerpts from the brief. He did mention the situation in Windsor and the experimentation in the Madigan General Hospital and the McCord air force base, both situated in Tacoma, Wash. As a result of these control procedures they certainly were able to arrive at the conclusion that the only answer to child poisoning was some type of safety closure. One can try to keep the containers out of the children’s reach but it’s almost impossible. Rather than trying to keep the container out of the child’s reach if you had a type of safety closure at least, if the child got the container, the child had difficulty opening the container.
In my own community there is an individual who is an unusual man; a fellow by the name of Peter Hedgewick. I grew up with Mr. Hedgewick and I can recall him in his early days building his own aircraft and flying it on the vacant fields close to where he lived. Pete took a machine shop programme in a vocational school, conducted his own orchestra, and had a very inventive mind. When he was approached by Dr. Breault, in the community, he sat down in an attempt to find an answer to the development of a child-proof or a child-resistant container. The Palm-N’-Turn safety cap was the result of Mr. Hedgewick’s ingenuity and assistance from both Dr. Breault and Mr. Wilkinson. Really, a debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. Breault first; to Mr. Wilkinson who worked with him; and then Mr. Hedgewick who developed the Palm-N’-Turn bottle cap. All of this in the great riding of Windsor-Walkerville, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: You have 30 seconds left.
Mr. Spence: That is a great riding.
Mr. B. Newman: The information I have dates back to 1968. Also, some of it can be found in a brief presented by Dr. Breault to the 15th annual meeting of the American Association of Poison Control Centres on Oct. 16, 1972, in New York city. In the brief they mentioned that the poison control centre in the city of Windsor first began operations in 1957. In the first year they found out that there were two poisonings a day, approximately, or close to 800 in the course of a year.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. B. Newman: If I may, Mr. Speaker, simply mention then that we heartily support the bill as presented by the member. We hope the development of a new container doesn’t substantially increase the charges levied by the dispenser or the selling agent to the individual. We heartily endorse this because the elimination of this type of poisoning could substantially save funds as far as health costs are concerned.
Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, presumably like all the other speakers, including those who will follow me, I’m obviously going to support this bill. May I echo the comments of the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) and those of my own colleague from York West (Mr. Leluk) -- I certainly hope this is the last time this issue has to be raised in a public forum.
The three previous speakers have demonstrated the need for such legislation, if there needed to be a demonstration of the need for it. They have raised the spectre of many of the tragedies, whether they are in the form of death, lasting injury or permanent impairment. I would like to take a look at some of the reasons that the federal government, this provincial government and nine other provincial governments have been sadly lacking in what to me should be their public duty.
I suppose the first point is that it might be better if there were a national stand. Frankly, I think that we in this province -- I think this spans the provincial legislatures across this country -- have become far too reliant on the comfortable optimism that if a need is demonstrated and the need is apparently nationwide, in the fullness of time the federal government will accept its responsibilities and produce the legislation. Certainly, in a number of areas in the province, in terms of consumer protection, in terms of controlling loan sharks and institutions posing as financial houses, I think we’ve waited far too long for the federal government to act.
Mr. Haggerty: How did housing get into this?
Mr. Drea: I was coming to housing. I have spent two very long years, let me tell the member, as did eight other provinces but an absolute stonewall by the federal government has set back housing warranty programmes 24 months in this country.
Mr. Warner: It’s a bad lot.
Mr. Drea: Not only is it in this field but certainly in the field of automobile safety; we could go on endlessly. I don’t want to blame the federal government for this because if one has a lackadaisical institution one is relying upon to meet the needs I suggest there is some fault with oneself.
The ability of the federal government to move into these fields, particularly in the last few years, is not only virtually nonexistent but the public that is asking for protection now knows abundantly well that it is non-existent. I think the time has come for us to disregard the optimism that the federal government will introduce a simple, nationwide code so there will not be difficulties for manufacturers, distributors, pharmacists, what have you, because of different standards in different provinces. When we have lives at stake I think the time has come for us to force the issue.
Mr. Warner: There is no effective opposition in Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Drea: The hon. members opposite had their opportunity a couple of years ago when they could have done it like this, and I didn’t see it being done.
Mr. Samis: There were 107 Tories then.
Mr. Drea: As a matter of fact, in the spirit of the private members’ hour, I suggest to my friends that the current government in Ottawa is so arrogant there isn’t an opposition yet invented or made that can make it do anything.
Mr. Foulds: Just like the Tories in the last session.
Mr. Drea: They seem to be far more interested in doing silly things like raiding newspapers on Friday afternoon so they can get their picture in the paper, than they are in meeting some very real needs.
But I want to come back to some of these questions that we must ask. I suggest that as the foremost province in Canada, the province with the most administrative resources and the province that is the biggest market, we can not only take legislation like the Public Health Amendment Act of the member for York West and make it practical, but the rest of Canada can follow us.
I suggest that part of the problem that may be holding people back was raised by the House leader of the New Democratic Party, that there is not a regulations committee that couldn’t sit down and draft exemptions or certificates whereby people could buy containers that aren’t foolproof simply by certifying they have no young children in the house and that they have an arthritic condition. That, to me, seems extremely simple; any legislative committee can set up exemptions like that.
First of all, products have already been labelled on a national scale as hazardous or what have you. If I recall correctly, before that was done, every manufacturer of metal or plastic packages screamed that this was going to throw an exorbitant burden on the consumer. But they are still here today. Another problem that everybody was so concerned about at that time was unlabelled products and what would happen to them on the shelf. After a certain period of time they had to be thrown in the garbage or sold at reduced price; so there was no problem.
Again, the federal government, which we are waiting for in this regard, has already introduced compulsory packaging legislation that the package, whether it is imported from the United States or wherever, must be in two languages. They have demonstrated that if they want to do it, they can do it. Obviously in this field they have no intention of doing anything.
I suggest that, after a very careful look at the member’s bill, and probably because so many other bills have been debated, it is far above the usual standard of a private member’s bill, which is generally to introduce discussion, to stimulate debate and to produce dialogue in the hope that people will become interested enough to translate the ideas of the private bill into government legislation.
I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, the time has come that this bill should provide the framework for government policy. I suggest we should not wait for the federal government; we should consult with other provinces. If we do it, the other provinces will consult, because they will be very interested to see that this is a practical reality that doesn’t dislocate the business system, does protect the infant child and does alleviate all of the problems that have been raised today.
As a matter of fact, the only thing that will happen if we do it by ourselves is that there will be a bit of expense in Ontario that there probably won’t be in the other provinces, and I suggest that we can well afford it in this province.
Mr. Foulds: Even in this time of restraint?
Mr. Drea: To have a government that is concerned about putting skulls and crossbones, “Children Beware” and “Hazardous,” etc., on labels, is all very well. But the obligation of government is not to produce legislation that is philosophically acceptable; it is to produce legislation where the delivery mechanism meets the need. In this matter, I suggest we are really flying in the face of all the practical realities when we suggest that labelling, cautions, colours and this type of thing are going to be preventive. The real preventive is a foolproof container. They are on the market; there is no reason to wait any longer.
The final thing I would like to say in this regard, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: In one minute.
Mr. Drea: -- is that for those of us in the House who have participated in Workmen’s Compensation Board hearings, it has always been very disturbing to find out that the worst place for accidents, the worst place for tragedies, is the home, because people tend to be much more careless there than they would be in a place where they know there is danger. Surely, it is time for a government to begin turning back the time when an individual’s home and the safety of his children are one of the worst hazards he meets, simply because of a bit of protocol that perhaps Ottawa or somebody else should do it first.
Mr. Speaker, in this regard, the province should lead. I certainly hope that this is the last time such a bill has to be debated in this form in this Legislature.
Mr. Davidson: Talk to them, Frank. Talk to your front bench.
Mr. Dukszta: I support the bill. It is a bill which is long overdue -- a good bill -- and I congratulate once more the member for York West for bringing it in. I have valued his services to the health field from the point of view of pharmacy for some time. But before the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea) leaves, I’ll not remark on what he said except for his comments about the federal government and the provincial government. He has produced a sophisticated apologia for the inaction of the provincial government and before he leaves, why doesn’t he listen?
Mr. Samis: Camouflaging inaction. He’s running away.
Mr. Wildman: He is hiding.
Mr. Dukszta: Mr. Speaker, may I give a message to the member who is departing. After all, he is a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman). He should be able to take the message that he so ably delivered here to the federal government, to his own government of which he’s a member.
Mr. Deans: I don’t think they would listen to him.
Mr. Dukszta: I don’t believe they ever listen, particularly to him, but nevertheless it’s his responsibility, just as much as it is a responsibility of the member for York West to deliver the same message to the caucus.
Mr. Warner: Take it to the cabinet.
Mr. Dukszta: After all, he is a member, though a back-bencher -- but, nevertheless, a member of the government.
Mr. Foulds: He is a parliamentary assistant, too.
Mr. Dukszta: This type of action should be taken by the government introducing this bill. The best I can hope is that this is some kind of a floater which you are trying for its effect on everyone to see whether this will be accepted by people here, and then, in turn, the government will introduce it. I sincerely hope so.
Mr. Warner: We expect to see legislation here next week.
Mr. Dukszta: But the government has tried it so often that I suspect nobody up there is listening to the member for York West; but I am. Nevertheless, the bill is good and should be brought in by this government, which should not be concerned whether or not other provinces have introduced it. This province is large enough to introduce it itself and insist that the manufacturers produce a container which is safe for children and other people to use.
The problem itself is not just the container or its use in the home. The problem is much larger. It is quite true that most accidents occur at home. They occur at home not only because the containers are opened, because poison is available, but because quite often the parents and the guardians are unable to provide enough supervision for children. Sometimes they do not know themselves -- they have not been taught. Sometimes the medicines are not well marked. Or, sometimes adults are not at home, or there is no supervision at all for the children.
There are a number of solutions which could be achieved. This is only a minor bill which says that we have solved all our problems by making a container for medicines and for chemicals that is child-resistant. This can only be a partial solution.
I would suggest very strongly to this assembly, straying slightly from the bill, that if we provided more daycare centres, we would probably reduce the child mortality rate as much as almost anything else. The need of the working class families for some kind of help in taking care of their children, especially if both parents are working, is such that it is essential for our province to provide day care.
I don’t want to say much more except that, within the limitations, the Act is good and it should be supported. I am supporting it and I sincerely hope that the member for Scarborough Centre is bringing it to the notice of the government.
Mr. R. S. Smith: It’s about the fifth or sixth time that I’ve spoken on a similar type of bill in the same way that the member for Wentworth has indicated. I believe that he introduced bills in 1967, 1968, 1969, or in that period. I had a bill at that time as well in regard particularly to solid medication. It was based on the results of the research done by the people in Windsor and in Tacoma, Wash. We did evolve the type of safety container that’s now used for those types of medication.
It’s getting rather difficult to put the same thing through the wringer five or six times.
I know when this bill came on the order paper and was called for first reading all of the speakers here today went back and looked at what they said five or six years ago. I could read back to the first speaker what he said today. In 1972, he said exactly the same thing. We’re getting pretty repetitious, but the fact is that it does deal with a somewhat different type of substance in that it indicates that we should have a childproof container for those over-the-counter medications, patent medicines and household chemicals that are in a liquid form and that are considered dangerous as set out in the Act.
The problem, however, is to set the regulations. would just like to advise the House, and I don’t think anybody has indicated this in their earlier remarks, that at the present time the Canadian Standards Association has a committee established that is attempting to set standards. It is to be hoped that as soon as those standards are set in the very near future this government will accept them and put them as regulations to a bill such as this Bill 38. We would then have the protection we need.
At the same time, however, there is now being used for certain caustic materials and poisonous materials, especially cleaners and that type of thing, a type of safety cap and container that is working very well. It’s a totally plastic container with a screw cap that has to be pressed down before it can catch the threads and be released. That is available at the present time and is in use, although not in general use.
The fad of the matter is that there is sufficient technical knowledge available now and there will be a report shortly from the Canadian Standards Association setting up the standards of that technical knowledge that will allow us to go ahead and produce the regulations that would be required under this bill. I don’t think there is any question that whether it is the federal government or the provincial government, and it doesn’t really matter to me who goes ahead and does it, the information will be available to have it done in the very near future.
I would just like to point out, however, that although some members opposite may claim that this is primarily a federal responsibility, I don’t believe they all think that way. It was a previous Minister of Health who as a backbencher spoke on one of these bills in 1969 and said that it is our responsibility here. He then became minister, but when he was a minister, in 1972, three years later, we still didn’t have any legislation presented in regard to the solid medication.
It’s a question of procrastination by government, whether it be at this level or the other, it doesn’t really matter. Both have not only the responsibility but the right to go ahead with the proper type of legislation. I’m hopeful, as well as the other members in this House, that this is the last time we’ll have to speak on this because it is getting repetitive and also because of the necessity for this type of legislation to protect the young children in our country and perhaps across the world which would follow a lead that were given by this province or the federal government.
To these few remarks I would just add that there are some statistics presently available. The Hospital for Sick Children still has over 100 admissions per month passing through their poison control centre, which are caused mainly by the type of things that are outlined in this bill that should be in proper packaging. There are those statistics available to show the need for the bill and for the packaging that it calls for.
I would also like to point out that there is continual regulation being put forward in some of the western states in regard to this matter, and although we may feel that we may be the first, I believe there is, in the State of Washington, a bill that has been passed providing for some type of control in the same manner.
Mr. Worton: Lock the doors and call the vote.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to speak to this bill?
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you move third reading? We will support you.
Mr. Speaker: This motion is now discharged from the order paper.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you challenge it?
The House recessed at 6 p.m.