The House met at 2 p.m.
POINT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. On May 31, the hon. Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) reported to this House as follows:
“Mr. Speaker, I have further information in connection with a question asked in this House on May 20 by the hon. member for Niagara Falls, who I see isn’t with us this afternoon.”
Mr. Speaker, I was in my place when the hon. minister got up to make this report. In fact, he sent me a copy of the report by a page. I would have the record show that he wasn’t correct. It’s strange that he is not in his place today so that I can direct this comment toward him.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I think the hon. member has made his point.
Statements by the ministry.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH PROTECTION BRANCH
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House about the measures we’ve taken in the past while to strengthen the Health Ministry’s occupational health protection branch. These actions have to do with organization, management and staffing and will provide increased support to the branch. This branch is involved in the planning and implementing of preventive measures, effective follow-up of defined hazards, comprehensive and rapid communications and handling urgent situations.
As of May 2, 1976, the occupational health laboratory and the radiation laboratory have been transferred to the control of the occupational health branch. Previously, these two laboratories reported to the assistant deputy minister of institutional services. These moves are particularly appropriate for communication and for the defining and responding to priorities for action by the labs.
Appropriate elements of the x-ray inspection service and the industrial chest disease service -- the latter presently under the clinic services branch -- are being transferred to the occupational health protection branch. By gathering together these vital components of occupational health service, their co-ordination will be more easily achieved. This is essential, because large numbers of both well-known and new chemicals are coming into increasing use and preventing or minimizing exposure to health hazards is essential.
To speed communication, the occupational health protection branch, through its director, now reports directly to the assistant deputy minister, community health services.
Dr. Max Fitch has been appointed acting director of the branch and recruitment for 10 additional positions for the branch, mainly scientific and professional personnel, has also been authorized.
An intensive provincial, national and international search, then, will be made for various categories of occupational health personnel, such as those in occupational-health nursing, engineering and health physics, but I must advise the members that such personnel are not easy to find.
There is a severe shortage of occupational health manpower and of facilities for training them. The planning and implementation of preventive measures, the definition and follow-up of new hazards, and the expeditious handling of potential health risks requires first and foremost the production of adequate occupational health professional and technical manpower for deployment. This is required not only in this ministry, but in other provincial and federal ministries and departments, as well as in industry.
The occupational health protection branch is offering short courses now for Ministry of Labour personnel and others. The types of short courses being given are: Principles of industrial hygiene; ventilation; monitoring air sampling; and noise control.
We expect the Advisory Council on Occupational and Environmental Health to make recommendations in this area. We will also be contacting universities and other educational institutions, as well as government and non-government agencies, both provincial and federal, during the next several weeks. We will encourage and advance as quickly as possible a co-ordinated, province-wide response to the needs for occupational health manpower.
The initiatives I have outlined above still form only part of the necessary action. The problems and hazards in the expanding field of occupational and environmental health have boon the subject of considerable research. Much more research is required. We are looking for a combined industry/government approach to the mechanisms and funding requirements of both training and research.
I have described, then, a number of specific measures that have been implemented where it is in the power of this ministry to do so. Other measures I have outlined, which require the agreement and action of other agencies, we are pursuing vigorously.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, in view of the importance to the Province of Ontario of the forest industry in northwestern Ontario, I wonder if the Minister of Natural Resources could make a brief statement about the fire conditions in northwestern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, at the present time we have 65 fires burning in the Province of Ontario; 21 new ones as of last night. Our total extra firefighters in the Province of Ontario range about 850 at the present moment. Fire No. 7 -- we refer to Ignace as No. 7 -- is in fairly good shape. The west side of the fire is giving us some concern but the east side and the north side are surrounded with hoses and pumps. We think we can contain it to about the 75 square miles that it has gone now.
The fire at Minaki is under control and I would say, in view of the lightning that swept across northwestern Ontario last night that caused I think 17 out of 21 of those particular fires -- they are relatively small and we feel relatively comfortable at this point in time.
The indications for the next few days are not encouraging. We don’t expect any precipitation at all and the humidity should remain just about the same, at about 40 per cent.
Mr. Reid: No towns are in danger?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No towns are in danger.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Oral questions.
GRASSY NARROWS RESERVE
Mr. Lewis: I have a question first to the Minister of Health. Is it possible for the Minister of Health to table now the two reports in which Dr. Prichard of the Sick Children’s Hospital was a direct participant, the one on the actual results of the testing at Grassy Narrows a couple of months ago and the other on the visit to Japan which I gather has been with the minister or the ministry for almost two months?
Hon. F. S. Miller: The latter part is not correct. In fact, I share the anxiety of the Leader of the Opposition for that report. I have seen drafts of the report and I have been pressing and pressing for a final copy of it, so that it may be released.
I have talked about it as recently as this morning. I know Dr. Stobo Prichard, although he is naturally contributing to the report, has expressed his concern, I believe publicly, about the slowness of the report. It is not being prepared within my ministry, and therein lies one of the problems. We’re depending upon people who were on the trip, some of whom were government employees and some of whom were not. It is being summarized, I believe, tomorrow night and I hope that a finalized draft will be given to me. I will do my best to see the report is then made public as quickly as possible after that.
Insofar as the tests go, I don’t have the detailed tests on the individuals. I have with me for the information of the Leader of the Opposition, and I’ll be glad to pass them to him, copies of a number of letters passing back and forth between Dr. Stobo Prichard and certain members of the bands and members of the federal government too in the period between March and May. I would suggest he read some of them because these will give him an indication of how hard Dr. Prichard has worked to try to establish a rapport and how unhappy he was at the need to use relatively brief letters for his results. Also, and I think this is perhaps very nice, on May 27 there was a letter from Joseph Quoquat, who is the chief of the Grassy Narrows band, which perhaps I’d be allowed to quote in part. He says:
“First of all, I would like to thank you again for writing to me and the council regarding your position as head of the clinical part of the mercury study in our reservation.
“Let me assure you that we, the band council of Grassy Narrows, feel that you should remain as the head of the clinical part of the mercury study as we feel you have the best qualifications to fill that position.”
And they go on. Quite honestly, I believe the gentleman has done his best to explain in advance what he was doing. There were some communications breakdowns which I think this correspondence will show were not his fault. He, in turn, is determined that he must work properly with the people up there and have their co-operation or all his work will be of no avail. If I may, I will pass these over for your scrutiny.
Mr. Lewis: I guess he didn’t feel they were guilty of sabotage.
Can I ask the minister, by way of a supplementary, how many examples of neurological disorders were identified on the Grassy Narrows reserve? How many cases?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I think Dr. Stobo Prichard put them in two very simple categories, no abnormalities of any kind and some abnormality. As I recall on the one reserve -- and the member has the data on his desk -- he’ll find it’s about 25-25 on one reserve. It’s almost an exact split. There are just about as many showing none as showing some. On the other reserve, there were about half as many showing no symptoms of any neurological disturbance as showed some symptoms. He then put them in three categories, no disturbance, a disturbance that in his opinion was not related to mercury, and a disturbance that could be related to mercury.
Mr. Lewis: Given that he found 31 people on Grassy Narrows and Whitedog, I must say this is higher than even the Japanese scientists who could be --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Could you frame your remarks in the form of a question please?
Mr. Singer: It is about time.
Mr. Lewis: Sorry. Since he found 31 residents of the reserve who could have their symptoms attributable to mercury poisoning, what follow-up is the ministry doing?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I’ve kept very close to this particular issue. They have symptoms. If one studies the symptoms the neurologist will consider as being abnormal -- I may get into some incorrect medical terminology in the course of all this -- there’d be restricted vision, No. 1. There’d be some tremors, No. 2. There will be paresthesia all right -- that’s the problem around here, isn’t it? Around one’s mouth where there is a feeling of pins and needles or something to that effect? All of which can be related to ether problems but which we shouldn’t assume are related to ether problems. I think as long as we take that approach we’re not trying to hide a problem; we’re trying to define it.
I’ve had the opportunity to read the draft reports. I’ve had an opportunity to see, in other words, the bulk of what’s going to come out of this. I’m both partly relieved and partly concerned and I’m sure the hon. member is going to be when he sees it, too. I think one of the key problems we will face is that we will have to work with the Indian people to decide what form of co-operation we can get from them that they can live with as we explore this problem further.
POSSIBLE CLOSURE OF WHITEDOG TOURIST ROAD
Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may -- thank you for calling me to order, Mr. Speaker -- to the Chairman of Cabinet: Does he not feel that we may be heading for an unhappy confrontation on June 10 when the Whitedog reserve closes the road leading to the tourist camps? Is it therefore possible for the minister or a member of cabinet or the government in whatever form to meet with the hand in order to indicate what the government intends to do about the possible closing of fishing on the Wabigoon system or, if the government’s not going to close it, what the rationale is so that we can avoid the confrontation?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, we’re certainly prepared to do that if necessary but I’d like to say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, after listening to him yesterday, that there is some very positive action being taken. For instance, we have a replacement -- Mr. Perkins was replaced by Mr. Martin who’s giving special attention to that area. Also, the two Indian bands wrote to me about two weeks ago asking if we would fund a special community consultant, a Mr. Bruce Crofts, who’s been very active for the last number of months and we have agreed to this. Those gentlemen are on site and, if necessary, we’re certainly willing to go there.
Mr. Lewis: He’s leaving.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: There have been some very positive steps taken and, if necessary, we’re prepared to go there and to assist in preventing this confrontation on June 10.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you.
REED PAPER AGREEMENT
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Natural Resources, if I may: In the expansion proposals which are under negotiation with Reed Paper, what exactly was the nature of the participation of Treaty No. 9, I guess it would be, in these preliminary negotiations which have covered an entire year, or in any individual bands within Treaty No. 9? How has the government involved them?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, at the time of the announcement or shortly after I met with the president, Andy Rickard, and gave him a map outlining the area we were discussing with the Reed Paper Co. In the period of time since then my staff have met with Mr. Rickard and brought him up to date in a verbal way. Also, members of my staff have visited such places as Cat Lake, Pikangikum and Deer Lake to inform the local people as to what approach will be taken and to inform them that before any final agreement is settled there would be a public meeting held in that particular area at which the Reed Paper Co. would reveal and unveil to the general public what its plans are with regard to the resources, the plant itself and the environmental conditions, and to answer, of course, any questions the people might want to put forward.
Mr. Lewis: Since this is a $400 million project we’re discussing, is it possible for the minister to insist as a quid pro quo, if he’s determined to conclude the negotiation with an agreement, that Reed should contribute a certain amount of money designated fairly by government to help with the compensation for and problems on the Whitedog and Grassy Narrows reserves?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, we have been dealing solely with the vast timber tracts north of Red Lake and Pickle Lake, about 18,000 square miles. We’re making sure that any development which goes in there, of course, meets all the environmental requirements of this province and all other jurisdictions. We have not undertaken to tie the two plants together, the existing plant and the future one.
Mr. Lewis: Does the minister not think this would be an opportunity for him, short of a legal suit, to exact from the Reed Paper Co. some kind of legitimate compensation for what they were engaged in?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I don’t know, Mr. Speaker, if we can take that route. No legal jurisdiction has ever pointed at the Reed Paper Co. As you know --
Mr. Nixon: The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr) said the polluter has to pay.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, but it has to be proved that they are responsible and have polluted to that extent.
Mr. Lewis: Oh, come on. Is that what is holding everything up?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that while our paper mills in this province have been recognized --
Mr. Breithaupt: There couldn’t be that many broken thermometers.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- as one of the largest polluters that we have, and certainly there is a background count as it relates to the mercury, so I don’t feel it is my position at this point in time, in these early discussions to get development going, to interject that other aspect of it.
Mr. Kerrio: Let’s declare war on them.
Mr. Mancini: Put them in jail.
Mr. Roy: Has the minister sought a legal opinion on this? If he has, from whom has he sought this legal opinion and may we have access to it to see what his position is, or the reason why he is posturing in this fashion, as there is no legal precedent for repayment by the one who contributed to the pollution?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, I have not sought legal opinion, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, how does the minister establish proof without seeking legal opinion? And is he aware that the government of Manitoba has just filed suit against the Reed Paper Co. to seek $2 million in order to compensate fishermen, including native peoples, for the loss of their commercial livelihood?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I wasn’t aware of that particular suit, Mr. Speaker, but I understand there was an earlier one which they lost, or something, I wasn’t aware of the new one.
Mr. Lewis: That’s abandoned.
Mr. Singer: Could the minister not seek the advice of his colleague, who has had such great experience in suing polluters, and get his advice about how a suit like how is being handled? Perhaps he could use that as a precedent.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Roy: What you are expressing is your own personal opinion, isn’t it?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I think there have been enough supplementaries. The hon. Leader of the Opposition with a new question.
DUST PROBLEMS AT FORT FRANCES PAPER MILL
Mr. Lewis: A question to the Minister of Labour, if I may: Why didn’t the inspectors from the Ministry of Labour visit the Fort Frances pulp and paper mill, as they indicated in writing they would do at the end of May, when there was a TV Guide run?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge when the Ministry of Labour was informed that there would be a TV Guide run, they asked the health protection branch inspectors specifically to go to that plant at that time. Unfortunately, another inspection took precedence -- the Match Plate plant in Hamilton -- and the inspectors were in Hamilton instead of in Fort Frances on that date.
Mr. Deans: What’s the matter, have you only got two inspectors?
Hon. B. Stephenson: However, we have asked the plant at Fort Frances to please let us know as soon as there is another TV Guide run so that we can have inspectors there.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, you will forgive the gratuitous comment that I hope we never need two inspections at one time in this province in any area.
May I ask the minister, by way of supplementary: Did the Ministry of Labour inspectors ever inform her that the major problems seem to be the simple coagulation of dust throughout the plant in the normal processes of operation, and that if there were vacuum sweepers the irritation for the employees would largely be eliminated and she could solve the problem fairly simply in that way?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure we have been specifically informed about the need for vacuums in this plant. This is one of the reasons, however, that I have been pressing for female industrial safety inspectors, because it seems to me that females are a little more sensitive to housekeeping conditions than perhaps some males are -- and I would hope that within our ministry we will be able to increase the female enrolment of staff to do just that.
Mr. Lewis: That’s a lovely sexist observation that if they need to vacuum --
Mr. Reid: A little female chauvinism there, I think.
Mr. Lewis: It is male chauvinism.
Mr. Reid: Can the minister give us a guarantee that those people from her ministry and the Ministry of Health will, in fact, carry out the inspection in the next run of TV Guide paper?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can.
Mr. Deans: Unless something happens.
NIAGARA CENTRE FOR YOUTH CARE FUNDING
Mr. Breithaupt: A question of the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that the proposal for a teenage service system operated by the Niagara Centre for Youth Care cannot be implemented due to financial restraints in the children’s mental health services division?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes, I am, Mr. Speaker. I have spoken to that group two or three times. It has a high priority, and we are trying to find funds. They will not be for this year, but it is one of those programmes we wish to finance.
Mr. Breithaupt: Would the minister not agree that if he was able to avoid the payment of the nearly 1 million to Browndale (Ontario) for management services he might well have the funds therein to fund this very programme?
Hon. F. S. Miller: That makes an assumption that may not necessarily be correct.
Mr. Breithaupt: Is the minister prepared at least to look into the situation to find out what those management fees are and to report to the House about them?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I have already done so.
MALVERN HOME PROGRAMME
Mr. Breithaupt: A question of the Minister of Housing with respect to the HOME programme at Malvern: Will the minister inform the House of the market value assigned to lots leased to home buyers under the HOME programme, particularly for those who purchased toward the end of 1973 and in 1974?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, I will make that information available.
Mr. Breithaupt: Can the minister give us an idea as to when it might be available, since the homeowners involved will need it to assess their present position with respect to whether or not to enter into an agreement of sale with Ontario Housing?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I don’t think that should take too long to get. I should have it very shortly for the hon. member.
ALLEGED ASSAULT BY PEEL DETECTIVES
Mr. Breithaupt: Finally, a question of the Solicitor General: Does the Solicitor General have a response with respect to the request by Judge Langdon, as reported over the weekend, for an inquiry into an alleged assault of an accused person by two detectives in the Peel regional force?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I didn’t hear the start of that question. Did the hon. member ask if I had a request?
Mr. Breithaupt: Does the minister have any response to the comments made by Judge Langdon with respect to the situation?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: No. I understood he was going to get in touch with the Solicitor General and make a request, but I have had no request from him. I am just going from what the newspaper said. I have also had some evidence that he may have had some wrong information himself, but I have not yet received that request -- and maybe I will not receive it.
LAYOFF OF CGE WORKERS
Hon. B. Stephenson: On May 27, the member for Dovercourt (Mr. Lupusella) asked a question about the Canadian General Electric Davenport plant in Toronto, regarding the possible violation of the Employment Standards Act.
The employment standards branch of the ministry has investigated this particular layoff and there has been no violation of the Act. The legislation does allow an employer to put employees on temporary layoff for an extended period of time when the employer maintains all benefits. The fact that the employer has not named a particular date of recall does not necessarily mean that this is an indefinite layoff, and in fact it apparently is not.
A number of employees of Canadian General Electric, Davenport, have been placed on temporary layoff over the last few months, and at present 251 remain on the recall list. Apparently the method which is used is one that has been used for the past several years by that specific company and is very well known to the union and its members.
Mr. Lupusella: Supplementary: Can the minister tell the House if there is any indication of when all of those 300 employees will be back to work?
Hon. B. Stephenson: There are 251 remaining on the recall list at the moment and I don’t have the specific dates for all of them.
SUSPENSION OF STELCO WORKER
Mr. Mackenzie: A question of the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that a Stelco employee was disciplined and sent home from work on April 26 for refusing an order of his foreman to operate a 60-ton crane, which both he and his foreman agreed was unsafe? Is the minister further aware that an appeal by the union to Mr. Earle May and inspector Bergie of the Hamilton office of the industrial safety branch brought a ruling by inspector Bergie that under section 34(1) of the Industrial Safety Act a foreman has the right to order an employee to work in an unsafe operation in a “controlled situation”?
Given the minister’s remarks in the Globe that workers are urged to refuse unsafe work and to set up their own safety watch, what does this do to her credibility if this situation is allowed?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am not aware of that particular situation, but I shall most certainly investigate it.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: Can we get an interpretation of section 34(1) that lets us know whether or not one of the inspectors can instruct or authorize a foreman to allow an employee to work in an unsafe operation in a controlled situation?
Mr. Bullbrook: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour but, if I might interject, your conduct supports the position that I have had for many years, that a permanent Speaker would be a meritorious idea for this assembly.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That was not a question, I take it?
Mr. Bullbrook: As a matter of fact, it was entirely out of order.
Mr. Roy: Yes, you should have ruled him out of order.
Mr. Singer: Make him sit down.
CCH CANADIAN LTD.
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to direct a question to the Minister of Labour. In view of the fact that a memorandum forming the basis of settlement between the Toronto Typographical Union No. 91 and CCH Canadian Ltd. had been executed on the ministry’s stationery on behalf of the union by its president, Mr. Buller, and others and on behalf of the company purportedly by one James Heather. and that that memorandum says, inter alia: “The undersigned representatives of the parties agree to unanimously recommend acceptance to their respective principals”: and in view of the reported comments in this morning’s Globe of Mr. Heather, and I quote: “Yesterday company counsel” -- that’s wrong, he’s not counsel, he’s a corporate executive -- “James Heather said he would recommend against ratification of the terms of the settlement he signed on behalf of the company,” could the minister personally consider intervention into this case to see what exactly is going on?
And, by way of supplementary, to get it out of the way, could she call upon the Ontario Labour Relations Board to expedite immediately, if not sooner, the resolution of the section 19 application in connection with bad-faith bargaining?
Hon. B. Stephenson: There have been a number of interventions in this specific dispute by the Ministry of Labour, both personally and indirectly. It is unfortunate that apparently the representative of the employer has made some rather peculiar statements, in view of the fact that he signed the memorandum of agreement. There can be no doubt about that fact that we shall be urging both parties to ratify this agreement. The Labour Relations Board has specifically stated it will not resume its hearings until the decision regarding possible ratification is made known to it. Then they will make the decision about whether they will resume the hearing or not.
Mr. Bullbrook: Then am I correct in assuming, by way of supplementary, that the board has set a date for June 15, two weeks hence, in this connection? Would the minister not agree in the circumstances, since she is obviously privy to them, as am I, that perhaps she could use the weight of her office to ask the Ontario Labour Relations Board to consider bringing it before them more quickly?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The Labour Relations Board is a quasi-judicial body and I think that might almost be tantamount to phoning a judge. I’m not quite sure. If it is possible to persuade them to adjust the date that they have decided upon, we shall try to do so.
Mr. Kennedy: A question of the Minister of Health: Would the minister advise on the present status of the availability of influenza vaccine? Would he enlarge on that as to how much is available, who is to receive the treatment and when this would be carried out?
Hon. F. S. Miller: My understanding is that while I was away the federal government arranged to buy about 1.5 million doses of flu vaccine. If my memory is correct it’s buying it in two categories, monovalent and bivalent. It’s buying about 1.5 million doses of the bivalent category for use for people over 65, if I’m not wrong. I may have the numbers reversed, but that’s the figure I recall, They are distributing them to the provinces on a priority basis for use with those people at greatest risk, like me, that is, people who have had heart trouble or some other disease or people over 65.
Mr. Reid: You get it on both counts.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Thanks a lot. I hope I can someday say that.
Mr. Reid: You will.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the hon. minister ignore the interjections and answer directly the question?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Interjections, Mr. Speaker, from the north always have to be listened to.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Not always, I might say.
Hon. F. S. Miller: In any case, we will be giving these doses of serum to the health units of the Province of Ontario for free distribution to those people at risk and that will start in September.
Mr. Kennedy: Supplementary: Will the actual injections be conducted by government personnel or MOH personnel or one’s own physician?
Hon. F. S. Miller: We are leaving the responsibility with the MOH. The MOHs may have trouble mustering enough staff -- although I don’t think they should have -- to carry this out with their own staff. The Ontario Medical Association at one time had offered to provide the service free and I would think that if the MOHs had trouble they might work with sonic local doctors.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) asked me a question yesterday about the Etobicoke Board of Education and the pupils in grade 9 and 10 physical and health education courses being required to take a course on abortion, or being subjected to abortion being taught in the health education programme. I would like to read into the record a statement issued this morning by Mr. J. D. Baker, the director of education for the Board of Education for Etobicoke. He said:
“In the grade 9 and 10 physical and health education courses there is a health education component. It makes up about one-fifth of the total course, amounting to usually one period a week. In this, many subjects are discussed, including nutrition, human values, the family, the physiological and sociological aspects of adolescence and the communicable diseases.
“Birth control and abortion are discussed as matters having wide religious and social implications for modern society. Abortion is certainly not advocated or encouraged.
“Any student whose parents object to this or any topic of discussion within the physical and health education curriculum may arrange to remain absent from the particular class or classes where the topic is discussed, The student could take the remainder of the physical and health education courses without prejudice to his or her position. No student would have to drop out of the entire course to avoid any discussion of a particular topic.”
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. As the minister knows, on top of everything else, the wild rice crop harvested by both Grassy Narrows and Whitedog reserves has been virtually wiped out for each of the past two years as a result of flooding by Ontario Hydro, representing a crop loss of approximately $1 million a year; will the minister give this House his absolute assurance that he will act to prevent a similar destruction of the 1976 wild rice crop, regardless of the timetable for construction of flood control dams?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, as the member, I am sure, well knows the control of flood waters in that particular area is managed by the Lake of the Woods Control Board, made up of officials from Minnesota, Manitoba, Ontario and the federal government. I have, along with my federal counterpart, pressed the Lake of the Woods Control Board to exercise as much care and caution as they can in the dumping of that water at specific periods of time.
Mr. McClellan: With what results?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am told that the priority lies with the development of hydro power. I am also told, and I know, having lived in that country all my life and having dealt with the wild rice problem, that there are so many other factors relating to a good wild rice crop such as wind or rain at a very crucial time, because it only lasts --
Mr. McClellan: That’s not what I am after.
Mr. Lewis: Come on.
Mr. Renwick: The flooding didn’t have anything to do with it?
Mr. Lewis: Your ministry permits the flooding.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- for a short period of time. I have to say that not all the wild rice is harvested in that particular area and the $1 million figure is extreme because it takes in the whole of northwestern Ontario; that’s where we get 1 million. For some unknown reason, we cannot predict which will be a good year or which will be a bad year, we have to wrest with nature.
Mr. Lewis: You are kidding.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am not, with all due respect.
Mr. Reid: One trip to the north and he is an expert.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: With all due respect, sir, we have conditions -- certainly the water levels do exacerbate and aggravate the situation.
Mr. Renwick: Everybody knows that that is not the point, and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We cannot rely on a regular crop each and every year because of the weather conditions and other factors.
Mr. Lewis: You can’t rely on any crop in that sense.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s right. Certainly I will give the member my assurance and will continue to give him my assurance that I will press the Lake of the Woods Control Board and Ontario Hydro not to dump large quantities of water at crucial periods of time. If they can phase this dumping over a long period of time, then the water levels are maintained at a very stable level, which will not have an adverse effect on the overall wild rice crop.
Mr. McClellan: By way of supplementary -- and I hope the minister is more effective than he has been in the last two years --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That’s not a question.
Mr. McClellan: -- let me ask if he will give us his absolute commitment that all expansion of wild rice growing areas in the region be exclusively set aside for the benefit of native people?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: If I may add to the earlier part of the question before I answer the second part of the other question, I would point out to the hon. member that in recent discussions with the Whitedog and Grassy Narrows area, particularly the Whitedog area, we have offered the engineering services of my ministry to assist them in putting up a dam which would --
Mr. Lewis: You mean to repair a dam.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Repair a dam. That’s right.
Mr. Lewis: That was broken by virtue of government.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, not by virtue of government, with all due respect.
Mr. Lewis: How does the minister account for the drop in water?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. minister ignore the interjections and respond directly to the supplementary by the member for Bellwoods?
Mr. Nixon: He was very nearly misleading us on that one.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The $25,000 will be given by the federal government. We will provide the engineering services because these are waters off the fluctuating levels of the English and Wabigoon river system. We hope by this action and by this dam construction that we can reactivate wild rice crops in that particular area.
Getting back to the last part of the question, with regard to setting aside a certain resource for a specific group, we have indicated to those people in that area, in the Kenora area, that those areas licensed to them that is, their traditional harvesting areas, the area where they have been harvesting wild rice over the last number of years which are now licensed to them, will remain with them. What we are saying is that there are thousands of lakes in northern Ontario that can support additional wild rice crops if cultivated. We’re allowing these to go to Indian bands and to other people who may be interested in planting their own wild rice, controlling those water levels and encouraging the wild rice crop, because we are down on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to developing that particular product.
Minnesota has done much better than we have, as has the Province of Manitoba. I would say to you, sir, that we’re working very closely with the University of Manitoba, which has excelled in the research of wild rice production in that part of Ontario and that part of Canada.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I think we have spent enough time on that question.
CARE OF ADULT RETARDED
Mr. R. S. Smith: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Would the minister tell me how many people are in the psychiatric hospitals under his administration who have been designated as adult retardeds and actually come under the administration of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor)?
Secondly, what negotiations are taking place between the two ministries in regard to the care of these people, and is he aware that in some of the psychiatric hospitals, because of the lack of negotiations and the lack of fruition of those negotiations, there are untrained and understaffed areas of people looking after those people who have been designated as adult retarded?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I’m not sure I understand the question completely. I’m not sure whether the member is implying that people are in our mental hospitals who suffer only from mental retardation.
Mr. R. S. Smith: That’s right.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I know certainly that we have a number of people in our hospitals who are retarded but suffer from mental and emotional problems in addition to their retardation.
Mr. R. S. Smith: No, I’m referring to the first group.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Then I would have to look into the file to see what numbers there are, because I don’t have them at my fingertips. I would rather take the question as notice than reply.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Supplementary: Could the minister also indicate to me why or how an administrator of a psychiatric hospital can remove retarded people from homes for special care or give them 24 hours’ notice that they must either come back to the hospital or stay out on their own and be completely cut off from the services of the hospital? In fact, how did this happen last Friday at North Bay? There were five people in the home for special care who were under the administration of the psychiatric hospital and were given that alternative and chose to remain outside of the care of the hospital, and with no financial assistance provided to them.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I’d want to know the details in case there were some problems of a specific home for special care. There may have been. It may well be, also, that these people had reached a state where they were almost ready to survive in the community on their own, and I think I’d need to have details about the specific people. One of the objectives, of course, of some of these programmes is hopefully to rehabilitate some people well enough to survive, not necessarily without “protection” but with less than rigid supervision, in the community, sometimes earning their own living. That, of course, is what we want to do.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Of course, in that case you wouldn’t ask them to go back into the institution?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Only if it was in their own interests on a short-term basis.
CONTROL OF TRAIL BIKES
Mr. di Santo: I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications, Mr. Speaker, and it’s on the control of trail bikes in urban areas, and on the current controversy in North York over trail bike use around areas between Queens Dr. and Lawrence Ave. and Don Mills and Leslie. I’d like to ask the minister what kind of action he’s going to take in order to reassure the citizens who have been complaining that the use of trail bikes in these areas has disrupted the peace of their neighbourhoods, and also I’d like to ask the minister if he will consider allowing the municipalities to pass restricting legislation on trail bikes?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, due to the length of that question and due to the fact that I’m not quite sure I got the full content of it, I will take it as notice and I’ll get the member the answer.
PCB LEVELS IN FISH
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources: Is the minister aware of a report by the federal environment researchers that could quite possibly close the Great Lakes fishery -- a report that’s before the Environment Minister Jean Marchand, Health Minister Marc Lalonde, and Fisheries Minister Romeo LeBlanc? Is be aware of that report?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Kerrio: A supplementary then: Is the minister aware that the report shows the PCB levels are the highest in Lake Ontario, possibly 10 times the 2.5 parts per million that’s accepted as safe, and does he recall reporting to this House not too long ago that the fish that were caught in Lake Ontario were reasonably safe?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker, this is entirely incorrect. I believe I indicated to the House that my deputy, in a speech to the outdoor writers about two or three weeks ago at Dorset, indicated at that time that commercial fishing was being closed in Ontario for cohoe and chinook salmon, for catfish and for eels, and that there was no danger with regard to rainbow trout because they are out caught commercially. We’ve already taken action to stop commercial fishing of those species in Lake Ontario.
Mr. Deans: This all flows from some questions asked two weeks ago by myself and other people. Is the minister prepared to issue a statement which clearly sets out the PCB levels in all of the various types of fish available in the Great Lakes, and in particular Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, in order that those people, commercial or otherwise, who fish in the area are able to determine whether or not what they are catching is edible?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I think the confusion lies in the fact that one of the hon. members asked me about the PCB levels of smelt, and we did take some further tests and we found that --
Mr. Deans: I asked that earlier.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- the levels were below the danger point and I so announced this to this Legislature. The suggestion that we give broad information on all the species, on all the contaminants is a good one and I’ll certainly take it under consideration.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: Is the minister aware that there is no question in the minds of the federal environment people that the tests show the levels in Lake Ontario are 10 times the acceptable levels?
LAYOFF OF TEACHERS AT TRAINING SCHOOL
Ms. Sandeman: I have a question of the Minister of Correctional Services. In reference to the question which I asked last week about the apparent unwillingness of the ministry to implement the contract signed by the Provincial Schools Authority with the Federation of Provincial Schools Authorities Teachers -- a question which hasn’t yet been answered -- I’d further like to ask the minister if he could explain why the ministry has not made available advertisements of positions available in the development schools under the Ministry of Education for the teachers in Correctional Services, particularly the teachers at Grandview School who will be without jobs very soon?
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would first like to reply to the questions which were asked earlier by the member for Peterborough (Ms. Sandeman) and the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds).
Mr. Bill Tilden, assistant adviser in education, did not state that the Ministry of Correctional Services would fight implementation of the collective agreement for the teachers. Interpretation of such an agreement is rather the issue, and a structure has been established to help with this interpretation.
The provision for the establishment of a joint relations committee of federation and ministry personnel was established in the collective agreement. The purpose of this was to deal with matters arising out of the agreement. The committee met for the first time on May 27 and then on May 31 and will meet again on June 10 and June 24.
The issue of the federation representing Grandview school teachers during transfer discussions was considered yesterday. There is no clause in the agreement which states that the federation representative may preside directly with a teacher and a ministry official in such discussions.
Mr. Tilden of my ministry was not notified by the Provincial Schools Authority that a federation representative should be involved. Furthermore, no teacher asked Mr. Tilden for this kind of representation in any of the discussions. Therefore, the Ministry of Correctional Services sent out, on May 27, to all the teachers in the ministry, the $500 retroactive pay due them as a result of the agreement.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Keep your private conversations down, please. It’s difficult to hear.
Hon. J. B. Smith: This plan was carried out as prearranged co-operatively with the Ministry of Education.
In response to today’s question from the hon. member for Peterborough, I must say that we work in full co-operation with the Provincial Schools Authority and I will see to it that all the teachers at Grandview and other schools are made aware of job opportunities within the system.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN FORT ERIE
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Labour. The minister is aware of the high unemployment rate in the town of Fort Erie which is estimated at about 22 per cent. Is she also aware of the present difficulties Lockheed Aircraft as having in meeting the financial conditions to complete an agreement with the federal government to construct the long-range aircraft, Orion, in Canadian plants, resulting in unemployment in the aircraft industry in Ontario? Will she now, with these present difficulties of high unemployment in Fort Erie, implement a community employment strategy programme for job creation in this municipality?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think the situation in Fort Erie is indicative of similar situations in the aircraft industry throughout Canada. The impact, I’m sure, is much more severe on an area with the population of the size of Fort Erie. We will be making an announcement, hopefully within the next few days, about the agreement which has been reached with the federal government upon those areas selected for community employment strategy.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Mr. McNeil, from the standing resources development committee, reported the following resolution:
Resolved: That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Housing be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977:
MINISTRY OF HOUSING
programme ..................................$ 4,641,000
programme .................................. 35,102,000
Housing action programme............... 60,571,000
programme ................................. 347,903,000
Home buyers grant
programme .................................. 23,567,000
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF DURHAM AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Godfrey moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Durham Act, 1978.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Godfrey: This Act involves a change in the geography of the region, sir, and provides that the regional council be reconstituted, that there be a redirection of the supervision of public works and that planning arrangements in the area be changed.
ANSWER TO WRITTEN QUESTION
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answer to question 81 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Orders of the day.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved second reading of Bill 87, An Act to amend the Education Act, 1974.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I would have liked about another three minutes to pull my thoughts together. However, I have been through the bill twice --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Could we have sonic order, please? Could you keep your private conversations down? When we have some order, the hon. member for Port Arthur can proceed.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I profoundly appreciate that.
It is difficult to oppose a bill such as this because it is truly a grab-bag bill.
Mr. Roy: I’m sure you’ll find a way.
Mr. Foulds: However, there are a number of individual clauses in the bill that give our caucus considerable concern.
Mr. Peterson: And a sense of déjà vu.
Mr. Foulds: Some time ago in this House, when we were debating what is now called the Education Act, 1974, I remember arguing that what was wrong with the bill at the time was what was not in it; it was simply a consolidation. That was the argument the minister used throughout to avoid debating education in principle and to avoid debating where education was going in 1974. The very same thing applies to this bill.
This bill is the first series of substantial amendments to the Education Act, 1974, and it covers a whole range of topics from French-language instruction to French immersion programmes, and the very real distinction between those two.
It has two very controversial and, I would say, political thrusts -- those that the minister underlined when he introduced the bill; that is, putting into a trust fund the moneys that a board saves as a result of an employee strike so that in some way that money is seen as a rebate to the taxpayer. In fact, that doesn’t happen and it won’t happen. The minister has created in the bill a kind of bureaucratic process to make it look as if that happens, but it doesn’t really accomplish anything substantial around the whole question that the minister is trying to tackle there. It deals with the question of charging fees to foreign students. I have some very considerable reservations about that because it makes the charging of those fees mandatory by the board, whereas there is already a section or an amendment that gives the board that discretionary power should it wish to do so.
It seems to me this hardline approach is simply playing into the hands of an anti-immigrant reaction that is unnecessary and unhealthy in our society today. There are arguments to be made on both sides of that question, I know, and we shall be putting those arguments in the clause-by-clause debit. The most important thing about this bill is that we have a thorough and detailed debate during the committee or clause-by-clause stage and I don’t think any of the members of the Legislature should underestimate the amount of scrutiny and the amount of time that the bill may take in committee.
We do not intend, and I want to say this very clearly, to be obstructionists, but we have thoroughly gone through the bill. Like all bills that are entitled housekeeping, unless very straight and definitive answers are given, there can always be a hooker in one of the clauses, as there was when the then Minister of Education, the Premier (Mr. Davis) brought in as a housekeeping amendment the whole range of powers that gave him the authority to impose ceilings. I suspect that there are one or two in this bill.
There are, for example, some things in the bill that not only should we in this House encourage and approve of but which I would like to see taken a step further. There is a reference and a section to improving -- I think it’s the transportation conditions for come handicapped children. That’s one small step. What we should have in this bill is a principle guaranteeing universal access to all handicapped children of compulsory school age, whether that handicap is physical or mental retardation or whether it’s that grab-bag that is now entitled learning disability.
There are some questions that arise in the bill that have to do with the structure of Indian representation on some school boards. We intend to question very vigorously that section so that we can get satisfactory answers to the questions that we outline. I think the bill is an omnibus bill, not a housekeeping bill; that is, it is a bill that does introduce some genuine changes in the Education Act of 1974. It doesn’t just clean it up. There are only three sections that do that. The others are genuine changes and are changes that are indicative of the sort of condition of education in 1976.
It’s like the game of “may I” that we used to play, as I’m sure you did Mr. Speaker, and as I did as a child. May I take one step forward? May I take two steps sideways? You may take one giant step in these directions. I think what we have in this bill is about four or five tiny steps forward, a couple of giant steps backward, and two or three political shuffle steps to the side, giving great indication of movement and motion, but nothing advancing.
Mr. Ferris: My initial comment on the bill is that I don’t think that there’s any justification for opposing it, as the member from the NDP has stated. It is consolidation, and housekeeping, and an omnibus all put together.
There are probably a couple of thrusts that I might add some concern in, and that would be in the general direction that, once again, we’re probably putting too many things into, quote, “regulations.” And regulations are, unfortunately, one of those things that we don’t see until after the legislation has been passed. If we, in fact, knew what the regulations were going to be, it might be easier to discuss some of these things.
For one point, on the French language position, as was mentioned, I have incurred the wrath of some of the local taxpayers in connection with that. While I have some concerns about the abilities to provide adequately for these kinds of problems, I think it is probably going to cause considerable concern to the boards that become involved, because there will undoubtedly be fairly heavy local pressure in a great many areas. I do think the bill does, though, at least clarify where the distinction is as to what an immersion school is, so they do not have to hide behind the clauses of the French language portion of the bill, or of the Education Act.
The comments generally that we’ll make should be made during the clause-by-clause, and they’re more for clarification as we go to the individual items. I think the minister at that time could properly address them, rather than in a general statement now.
Mr. Renwick: I want to lend my small voice to a profound objection, which I personally have. It is shared by our caucus, but I’m speaking in a very personal sense about the direction which the government of the Province of Ontario is taking on the whole question for fees for foreign students.
We listened in the assembly on May 4 to a lengthy statement by the minister’s colleague, the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott), about the policy of the government of the Province of Ontario with respect to very substantial increases in the fees to be paid by foreign students without any classificatory system of need or purpose, or any other indication of the criteria upon which that imposition was to be made.
At a later date, but only in response to a question raised by the member for Wellington South (Mr. Worton), and supplementary questions by other members, the Minister of Colleges and Universities on May 3 made a supplementary statement indicating that the Province of Ontario has no programmes and no participation in any educational programme to assist in worthy situations the education in the universities and colleges of the Province of Ontario of foreign students.
Now we find an omnibus bill dealing with amendments to the Education Act. And the minister, in his opening remarks, says that he’s now going in take away what at the present time is a discretion -- a very clear discretion -- in the individual boards, and he’s going to make it obligatory that the boards throughout the Province of Ontario impose the maximum, or whatever the gross fee established by the regulations is, on foreign students other than exchange students after those who are presently enrolled in the system.
I can’t understand what the government is about. I don’t know whether they’re creating some form of “Fortress Ontario.” I don’t know whether they’re implementing in their own way their joint legislative authority over immigration with the federal government so it’s aiding and abetting the federal policy of the Liberal Party to impose very stringent concertina-like obstacles to persons coming to this country.
I can’t understand this, and I have not heard in the area in which my riding is situate, any objection whatsoever by any of the boards, or any of the wards to persons who are foreign students and in many of the areas of the city of Toronto, the board of education in Toronto doesn’t mind picking up the fees. The minister’s indication is that there is a growing concern among the residents of the Province of Ontario of the cost of assistance to students entering our system legitimately under visas under the Immigration Act and leaving aside the exchange provision.
Surely the time has passed when a province such as the Province of Ontario can only deal on a quid pro quo basis on an exchange basis to assist persons who are legitimately in the country as students, particularly in the primary and secondary schools of the province.
I simply want to say to the minister that I think it is a very retrograde, very petty, very small-minded attitude on the part of the minister and I, for one, have a very deep and profound personal objection to the removal of the discretion from the boards and whatever the motivations of the minister may be, the feeling that he as the minister must lay down the fiat that regardless of the legitimacy of the person’s need in every case the foreign student must pay the gross amount.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I thought I should make a few comments about certain aspects of this bill which are of particular interest not only to myself, I am sure, but to all members and to all students and parents across the province. I think there are certain aspects of this bill which certainly are of interest and which can have some long-term consequences.
I would like, first of all, to address myself to the question of certain clauses in the opening part of the bill dealing with permitting the establishment for English speaking pupils of programmes involving the use of French, which basically are French immersion courses.
I would like to say very bluntly to the minister that we can pass all the legislation we want here but it is not going to do much good to anyone unless we have funds. We require funds and there has got to be a position taken, not only by this government, but with the help of the federal government, but this government has a certain amount of responsibility.
This minister has, over a number of years, as Minister of Education, shown a certain amount of interest, a certain amount of sympathy and a certain amount of understanding. I give him full marks for that. This minister seemed to have in-depth knowledge of his ministry, in-depth knowledge of the problems across the province, and in fact it is no secret that people from various areas of the province discussing certain aspects of education -- be it immersion or French language education for French-speaking pupils -- have found that this minister was receptive and has understood the problem. But I say to you, Mr. Speaker, there has been far too much procrastination in two areas.
First of all, for French language education for French speaking students, it was fine when there were sufficient numbers of French-speaking students so that the French Canadians were a sufficient proportion of the population in one local area -- for instance, Ottawa and Sudbury -- there was no problem. Where the real crunch comes in is in the area where the minority is too small and sometimes there is a backlash created in the community. We have seen, unfortunately, some disputes in those communities, and I mention Sturgeon Falls and Cornwall as two examples, and I could go on.
I say this is where there has been a lack of leadership on the part of the government and where there has been a lack of intestinal fortitude to come down hard in those areas. I don’t mean to say that overnight, in one fell swoop, you just pass legislation saying you are going to have a French school. I don’t think you can do that, but I think we have passed legislation here which really had no power, no teeth in it, which in certain areas of the province has not been of any use at all. So I say in that area we require more leadership.
The other aspect of this bill is the French immersion programme, or French language education for English-speaking students. This is not a recent problem. I think I have said this 15 times in this House, if one reads the last part of the report of Tom Symons, the Symons report of 1971-1972. In such an eloquent fashion he stated the deficiencies in French-language education for English-speaking students in this province. It was a small wonder that the country was still together considering the type of French being taught at that time. It was uninteresting; it was taught like a dead language. Very often French was taught by teachers who couldn’t even understand French themselves and I could go on and on.
He felt it was an important problem and that a commission should be set up to look at the inadequacy of this type of education for English-speaking students across the province. It took this government about two years to set up the commission which he said should have been set up right away. Once the commission was set up, of course, it then took a while to get a report but finally we have a report. The commission members have made certain recommendations and basically the recommendations are what everybody knew anyway -- that that type of education in this province was not adequate -- and suggesting ways to remedy the inadequacies of that type of education. But, really, nothing much has been done.
What is most frustrating is to see how well the programme has worked in the Ottawa area where the federal government has given funds. It has tried it in the Ottawa area and the programme has been so successful that there is universal acclaim and a lot of press. For instance, Keith Spicer looked at the programme and said more emphasis should be put on education at that level rather than the feds spending their money and trying to educate or Frenchise or to bilingualize, I suppose, civil servants who are 40 and 50 years of age. He said there were tremendous costs at that level and the effects of it, the total results, were really completely inadequate in relationship to the cost
The programme and the experiment in Ottawa has been tremendously successful but I say it’s patently unfair to other students across this province who don’t have that same opportunity. Civil servants working at the federal level or in federal agencies should not be limited; their source should not only be Ottawa. All people across this province should be afforded that opportunity. I know there are funds involved -- sure there’s money involved -- but parents who have wanted to give their children this type of opportunity have been frustrated because we have had report after report and then we are going to study it some more. The minister says “We have to look at the cost and we would like to set it up;” but there is this frustration that we spend too much time studying the thing.
It seems to me that the experiment has gone forth in Ottawa. It has been successful so let’s get on with it. I know it will require funds and I know that the priorities of this minister and the Treasurer may not be the same but I say this is an important aspect of full education in this province.
It’s something that is going to require leadership and you are not going to get overwhelming support overnight from everybody in the province. You are probably going to lose votes in some areas in proposing this type of programme -- but it’s there; it has worked and I say that the future of this country is dependent on it. I say to the minister that we can pass legislation and that’s great -- we are going to support it and all of this -- but without the funds to back up this type of programme, we are just talking and unfortunately we have been doing too much talking.
There has not been sufficient action and there have not been sufficient programmes, especially for students in other parts of the province than Ottawa. I tell members that once the programme has been established and once the English-speaking parents have given their children that opportunity, there is resentment when there is talk of cancelling the programme after the success has been so overwhelming. They tried it in Ottawa -- there was talk of it in Ottawa -- I tell members, if they want to see spontaneous reaction to the withdrawal of a programme, they should come to Ottawa, to some of those meetings, and listen to the parents. I say that the support is there.
The evidence is there but it’s not fair to English-speaking students in parts of this province apart from Ottawa. I say we require leadership and it is in the minister’s hands. It is up to him to get tough and talk with the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough). I am convinced it is not all that easy but the fact remains that I think it’s pretty important. It’s pretty important and I say to him just lay the cards on the table -- the funds are there; the federal government will pay, I think, 50 per cent of it. Is it 50 per cent of it?
Mr. Moffatt: That was yesterday.
Mr. Roy: They won’t? I read a statement the other day that they would pay 50 per cent of it. There seems to be again a lack of communication there.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You read that in the Ottawa Citizen.
Mr. Roy: It seemed to come from the minister, even if it was in the Ottawa Citizen. We’re looking at reports in the newspaper all the time. Maybe it’s not so. Maybe the minister can tell us what they are.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Special projects.
Mr. Roy: Where are the special projects, apart from Ottawa? I think the minister has got to get a bit more hard-nosed in that area.
The other point I wanted to talk about just briefly is that I’ve had complaints -- and part of this legislation talked about this -- about what they call teaching materials in French-language education and in the French-language schools in this province and in the French-language boards. I’ve received an awful lot of complaints that they have difficulty in relation to funds and having adequate learning materials. Possibly we could get a few comments from the minister at the time that we discuss the respective legislation on what the problem really is.
I can recall -- and this was three or four years ago -- having discussions with the trustees about the difficulty. I think you can understand, Mr. Speaker, that in North America it’s easier to get hold of English-speaking teaching material than it is French-speaking teaching material. Again, there’s a lack of funds. If we’re going to teach French, we’ve got to teach it completely and adequately and it’s going to be tough if we don’t have the proper materials. This is one area that is lacking.
The final thing I want to say is to echo the comments of my colleague from London South (Mr. Ferris) when he mentioned that he’s concerned that sometimes more and more powers are being transferred by way of regulations. I suppose if I repeat myself 50 times on this I’ll never say it often enough. One of the problems with government is that, as more and more powers are transferred by way of regulation, there is very little opportunity for public scrutiny of regulations. On this side and in the opposition the only time we ever find out about regulations or the effect of regulations is when somebody is hurt, somebody suffers unduly, somebody who feels that his rights are being in some ways prejudiced by legislation which we never heard about.
I could go on, but one only has to look at the tremendous amount of regulations. Just look at the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1970, and see how many more regulations there are than legislation. I personally feel sometimes that legislation even in here doesn’t receive adequate scrutiny, never mind regulations which we never see.
It comes back to our point; that phoney committee that’s set up called the regulations committee, as we’ve said for the past five years is a waste of time. That committee never gives any regulations any scrutiny.
I’m told we now have the chairman of it; so we’ll probably try to make it work for a change.
Mr. Moffatt: That sounds like a flip-flop.
Mr. Roy: That’s not a flip-flop at all. It’s obvious that with the calibre of chairmanship and leadership emanating from this caucus that it will obviously work. But I say, even if we had 10 regulations committees they wouldn’t be enough to look at all the regulations that have been passed and have received no scrutiny for all these years. It’s always one of our concerns that we are transferring power or giving power through legislation to be enacted by way of regulations which sometimes do not receive what we consider to be adequate scrutiny.
These are a few of the comments and the concerns that we have about this legislation, and, hopefully, we’ll get some answers and some comments from the minister.
Mr. Moffatt: I’d like to agree with some of the remarks made by the previous speaker, particularly those in which he discussed the impact of French immersion. I want to address my comments to that particular section of the Act because it seems to me that what is finally being done is that some credence is being given to French immersion as a process, and we may well get to consideration of the entire business of the money which we have wasted in this province over the past several years in providing French classes of some other nature.
It seems to me that what has happened with the money provided to teach French is that school boards have been led into the trap of providing a teacher who will circulate among various classes, eight, nine or 10 classes a day, and give each child a 20-minute exposure to something called oral French; at the end of that oral French period any connection between the child and the learning of French is ended and immediately forgotten.
It seems that in order for a board to run a French programme, if they do that, each child who gets 20 minutes of French per day counts as a full instruction cost, for which the grant is supplied. What happens, in fact, is that a school board can make a bit of money by running that kind of programme, because they can programme about 300 children a day through that sort of thing; whereas if they run a French immersion class, they only get the per pupil grant per day for the number of pupils they might have in a French immersion programme.
In my own municipality a French immersion programme has been established for the past couple of years. They started it in kindergarten, they extended it to grade 1, they opened another kindergarten, and then another one; it is optional, and the people are taking advantage of it. But as was pointed out by the member for Ottawa East, if those programmes are taken away or changed in some fashion, the parents are immediately upset. That’s the case in my riding right now.
The board has no choice. They can’t run the thing at a loss, because everything else is going up in price. They are really running into difficulty on that score. The board is forced to go to the poorer method, which involves the shotgun approach of teaching French to 300 pupils for 20 minutes a day, for which they get one teacher. As for the immersion programme, what has happened is that the board has set a minimum class size of 24 in its grade 1 class for next year. That is because if they don’t do that, they are going to wind up not having any programme at all; they won’t be able to afford to keep the teacher on. That certainly seems to be working counter to the kind of pronouncements the minister and his officials are making and have made over the past several years.
When we get into this particular section, I hope the minister can respond to the remarks of the previous speakers and myself by giving us some kind of indication of the kind of programme we are going to see from his ministry in putting French immersion into a kind of viable formula which will enable it to continue and to be an operative way to teach French in Ontario. I don’t think any person who has been involved with that kind of programme would find that there is any comparison between the 20-minute-a-day programme and the French immersion programme. It just does not make sense that we encourage the poorer kind of teaching that we get in one programme, as opposed to the immersion programme.
I also want to ask -- and perhaps the minister can respond -- about a change in this Act which makes the calculation of the ADE a function of the regulations and removes it from the Act. I wonder if that means we are not going to have any way of finding out how grants are going to be calculated for those boards in the future. While that seems to be a good bookkeeping or housekeeping move, it looks to me as though it is going to be one of those areas, such as the ceilings at one time, where all of a sudden some information we have had is not going to be available to us. I think that is a very important thing for us to watch. I suspect the minister may not even have wanted that himself; it may have been collected and put in here.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I put it in.
Mr. Foulds: No, he put it in all right.
Mr. Moffatt: I won’t get into the centralist as opposed to -- well, I won’t go into that.
Section 8 of this particular Act is also one of the areas where a tremendous hidden cost can accrue to a school board if the changes to section 8 of the Training Schools Act changes are ever proclaimed and the people who are now wards of various institutions wind up being in a school for some length of time and then being removed from a school. I’ve had some boards express to me the fact that that makes it very difficult for those people to calculate the amount of grant they would have as they have a sort of floating student population. From the way the grants have been calculated in the past, if you have a high enrolment on a given day, you may wind up making a dollar on your enrolment. If your enrolment is a way down and you get an influx for a month or two, this may be a problem. I hope that the minister can clarify just what will happen and what is the costing involved in those two parts under section 8 of this particular Act.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to get involved?
Mr. Warner: Perhaps because my expectations are a little higher than those of the government, perhaps because in some sense I demand a little higher standard for a lot of things, I cannot find in here a real principle to hang my hat on. I’m very disappointed by the legislation I see in front of me. Quite frankly, I would like to say to the minister that I would appreciate it if he just withdrew it and started over again. There are a lot of things missing from here.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You don’t understand how it works.
Mr. Warner: There are more things about it that it is not than that which it is.
Mr. Ferris: It is not an education bill.
Mr. Warner: I’m particularly concerned with first, the comments that were made by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) about French immersion. He is right on. Similar comments were made by the member for Durham East (Mr. Moffatt). What’s in here is not really a statement of principle about bilingualism in the Province of Ontario. Unless I’m mistaken I don’t think that I have seen that anywhere in the Education Act. It is about time the government made a statement. It certainly isn’t included here.
The government missed a golden opportunity in my view when it began to deal with special education students by not finally and for once saying that every child in the Province of Ontario who is of school age shall be guaranteed an education suitable to his or her needs. That principle isn’t stated in here and I think it should be. It may be a little radical but it’s what I want to see in here. In particular, the minister is well aware that mentally retarded children still do not have the guarantee of an education to meet their needs.
Mr. Foulds: It is positively shameful.
Mr. Warner: It is shameful.
The other principle that isn’t stated in here, and one which the minister alluded to in dealing with the fees to foreign students, is how does he view those students from other countries? There is no principle in here that says he is going to protect the educational opportunities for those students. If he’s going to be consistent, then he will be presenting this material without any information or background, because that’s what the Minister of Colleges and Universities did.
He couldn’t give us information as to the exact cost involved for students from other countries who are attending post-secondary institutions and he didn’t bother to ask for advice on it from his advisory council. Maybe this minister is being consistent with that; I don’t know. At any rate, I’m disappointed that there isn’t a principle involved here at all in that regard.
The minister knows full well that many boards, including the Scarborough Board of Education, have in fact been levying fees where they have seen fit to do so. As far as they’re concerned, everything is working fine. They have the ability to do that and they’re doing so when they see fit. The minister doesn’t need to make it obligatory for every board in this province.
Perhaps what the government really should be saying is that it will enter into an agreement with the federal government or will take the burden upon its own shoulders to make financial arrangements with each individual board, when requested, to supplement the amounts of money that are needed when a foreign student is enrolled in the school. That would be a statement of principle but it’s not here in this bill.
In summary, I’m very disappointed with what I see in front of me. I think the government had an opportunity to present some statements of principle and some changes in the Education Act that would be of benefit to a lot of people in this province, including every child who comes under the heading of “special education”, but the government hasn’t firmly grasped that opportunity and done something with it.
In the face of a very weak piece of legislation, I am forced to do nothing else but vote against it, and I would hope that in the meantime the minister could reconsider and perhaps put a little force behind some of the thoughts that are in here and actually produce some principles that we can all grasp onto and firmly support.
If he’s willing to do that, if he’s willing to come back with some of the things that I’ve already mentioned with respect to special education students, or foreign students, or French immersion programmes, I’d be quite happy to reconsider my position. Right now I’m not satisfied at all with what I’ve seen and I must oppose it.
Mr. Sweeney: Just a question of clarification on the remarks that were just expressed. It is my understanding that this bill is an amendment to the existing Education Act, and that the particular sections of it are the minister’s intention as far as changing the existing Act is concerned. If any of us wishes to change some other section of the Act, I don’t believe we have power to do so under this bill. Could someone please clarify that for me?
Mr. Foulds: Just those sections he has decided to amend.
Mr. Sweeney: That’s what I’m asking for. In other words, if there is a reference to some other section of the Act that is not included in any one of these amendments, no one in this Legislature has the right to introduce them. Is that correct?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That’s correct.
Mr. Deans: I want to make just a couple of comments about the bill, particularly that section dealing with the obligation which will now fall on boards to charge persons from out of the country who come in and who may, for one or another reason, want to attend a school within the jurisdiction in which they’re living.
It seems to me that the existing legislation quite adequately deals with the matter. The discretion that is given to the board to take into consideration any number of factors in determining whether or not it ought to charge, or what amount it ought to charge, is the kind of legislation which I think this House should be supporting rather than undermining. I would have thought that we would be saying to trustees that’s a responsibility that you have to look at each individual case on its merit, to make judgements as to whether or not that individual person can afford to pay the entire shot, whether they should be in attendance at school for whatever reason, then to make some calculation as to what, if anything, can be undertaken by them.
I think also, and perhaps more important from my point of view, for the purposes of equity, for the purposes of not overburdening the municipal taxpayer -- and we have done that over the years and we’re doing it even more today than before, because of the reductions in the percentage that the Ministry of Education and the provincial government are now assuming over and against the total cost of education -- for the purposes of providing some equity, if it is the decision of the federal Immigration department and the provincial ministry, or both together, that an individual entering the country should be entitled to come in here for the purposes of educating him or herself further, taking advantage of the excellent system that we have, then the province and the federal government should be prepared to assume a substantial portion of the cost.
If the federal government is of a mind to have the city of Hamilton, for example, provide from within its educational system an education for some child or some young person coming in from some other country in the world, then of course that federal government ought to be participating more fully in the funding of the total educational programme, but particularly participating in the funding for that individual person.
I think the minister is moving in the wrong direction. I don’t think that it satisfies any of the objectives. Why would we be requiring a municipal board of education, which may well have decided on the merit of the case, that one, two, three or more individuals coming in within their jurisdiction should, for whatever reason, be afforded the opportunity to study within the system, but recognizing all of their background and capacities to pay, are unable to make the necessary payment -- why should we deprive them of the right to make that kind of a decision at the local level? Why do we have to assume that from Queen’s Park must flow all of the direction, all of the legislation? I’ve a feeling that what will happen in the long run is that the only people who will be able to come into this country and take advantage of the educational system, for our benefit and for their benefit, will be those who are of substantial means -- those who may well have substantial financial backing in their own country. Others, by virtue of a family or a relative in the country, may be able to be brought here on temporary basis to benefit both us and themselves, because we benefit from their attendance just as much as they would. But those people who perhaps don’t have a substantial financial backing in their own country, and whose relatives here may be ordinary working people paying their taxes as all of us pay our taxes, those people may well be deprived of the opportunity to study English, for example, in the school system.
So, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, I don’t see it as very good legislation. Perhaps I understand what motivates the minister; I’m not sure about that. It may be that he thinks that the municipal taxpayer is paying as much as he or she can reasonably carry within the present property tax base. But if that be the case, then let us, from the overall tax base of the Province of Ontario, assume a larger portion of the responsibility. Let’s make representation to Ottawa to ask that they assume some share of the responsibility for the educating of those people. But let’s not deprive the poorer -- not necessarily the very poor, but the poorer -- of those in the world who might like to come to Canada and visit for a short period of time, and at the same time take advantage of our excellent educational system to further their knowledge of the world and improve their English, or whatever. Let’s not make the burden so onerous on them individually that they will not be able to come. Because, while they will lack in the opportunity to benefit, we too as citizens won’t benefit from the knowledge that they will bring with them and bring into this system.
I don’t think we have to be quite as rigid as the minister is being in this legislation. I think if the minister leaves it up to the discretion of the local board, if he agrees to assume a greater proportion of the overall cost on behalf of this person, if he makes his argument with Ottawa that they should, on balance, be prepared to accept some of the responsibility financially for the people who are coming in under their authority, then I think we would have fulfilled our obligation in that regard.
I urge the minister to give that some serious consideration, because I’m not at all satisfied that what he is now doing is in their best interests. But more importantly, I’m not at all satisfied that what he is now doing is necessarily in our best interests either.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I don’t intend to make many comments, or maybe even any comments on the bill, seeing that the bill will be referred to the committee of the whole House. I think it would be better at that time to speak to individual portions of the bill and amendments made, if necessary. I understand that any legislation in the House would always have to be amended, and we’re looking forward to the discussion of the bill in the committee of the whole House.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased today that my friend from Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) and the rest of the official opposition have seen fit to oppose this bill. I was beginning to think that perhaps I was turning a little socialistic, because they support so many of the things that this government does, and I certainly am not socialistic. I’m socially conscious, but not socialistic --
Mr. Deans: We are not talking about socialism.
Mr. Warner: This is disappointing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: With the kind of baloney that he was saying, I think it’s fitting that the member for Kitchener-Wilmot at least drew to his attention that the rules of this House -- and the elementary rules of legislation and civics in government in this province, if he knew them -- concern debating what’s in the bill, not what’s not in the bill -- and he’ll have lots of chances to do that when we get to the estimates.
Mr. Warner: Everything I spoke to was in the bill.
Mr. Foulds: You will find it in the bill.
Mr. Warner: Everything is there -- do you want me to read the section?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me first make some comments about the proposal concerning foreign students. There is a real attempt on the part of the official opposition to twist this around and make it look as though we are against immigrants --
Mr. Deans: No.
Hon. Mr. Wells: What do you mean, no? You are talking about the sons and daughters of relatives here. Those members are trying to make it look as though we are somehow inhuman, not interested in the educational opportunities for these people --
Mr. Foulds: That’s true.
Mr. Deans: I think you are a little sensitive, my friend.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- but let me tell the member he hit it right on the head. We are concerned about the municipal taxpayer.
Mr. Deans: That’s right, of course you are. If you are concerned, why did you use the percentage?
Hon. Mr. Wells: At this point in time, there is no reason any municipal taxpayer in this province should have to pay out of his property tax share for a person who is here in this country as a foreign student, purely and simply for education, in the elementary or secondary schools of this province, who then returns to his country.
Mr. Renwick: Let them decide it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I agree completely that the federal government, if it wishes, can make resources available for these people. That’s the channel. That’s where the money should come from.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We talked to the federal government. We have invited it -- and that’s the way we have invited it -- to offer financial help in the elementary, secondary and university fields. If this country of Canada, through the federal government which is responsible for external affairs, wishes to make help available to students as part of our foreign assistance programme through providing and paying for their fees in our educational institutions, that’s the way it should be done, not by devious routes like the municipal taxpayer being asked to pay for foreign students who are in the schools of Hamilton or Toronto or Ottawa or London.
Mr. Deans: Why?
Mr. Renwick: Why?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We believe that discretionary right should be removed --
Mr. Renwick: Why?
Mr. Deans: Why?
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- in order that the people, both the provincial taxpayers and the municipal taxpayers of this province are not paying for students here on student visas in the school of this province.
I know I will never get through to the opposition on that particular point, but it’s very clear to me and it’s very clear to our caucus. It is very clear and I think it’s a point which is well supported.
Mr. Deans: Yes, it is clear.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is a point which is very well supported.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Foulds: It is politically popular.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is not necessarily politically popular but it’s politically right and it is morally right.
Mr. Deans: It is morally wrong.
Mr. Renwick: It is politically wrong and morally wrong and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is morally right. To some degree it is also closing a loophole which now exists and which makes it very difficult for boards which wish to collect that fee and are now being deprived of it because of certain loopholes. This now makes it mandatory for them to collect the gross fee.
Mr. Renwick: You could fix that problem.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t know whether my friend even knows how many students are involved. There are probably between 4,000 and 5,000 foreign students in this country at the present time taking elementary or secondary education.
Mr. Makarchuk: How many are in private schools?
Hon. Mr. Wells: About 80 per cent are in private schools. They are paying the full tuition fees so why shouldn’t the rest pay the full tuition fees?
Mr. Renwick: Because they have come for the public school system.
Hon. Mr. Wells: If my friend knew, a lot of them come over here, see they have to pay a very high fee in the private schools and that it’s possible to get education completely free in the public schools of this province, paid for by the taxpayers of this province. They switch out of the private schools into the public schools.
Mr. Foulds: How many cases?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. members have had an opportunity to express their views on second reading and they will have another opportunity during committee.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There are about 1,000 such students in the public schools of this province. I think as a matter of principle -- as I say, the opposition will never understand why we are doing it -- but as a matter of principle, I think it should be done and if they want to stand up and vote against it, they are welcome to stand up and vote against it.
Let me continue. I am sure we will have an opportunity in committee to talk further about it and perhaps I can give members some more statistics. I want to make it very clear that this applies only to those people who are here on student visas, which generally they get in their home countries before they come to Canada, naming an educational institution they will attend in this country. They intend to return to the country from whence they came after they have had their education. It in no way affects immigrants to this country; it in no way affects new Canadians. It in no way affects students here on educational exchanges and it in no way affects the sons and daughters of diplomats or business people who come here for short lengths of time or varying lengths of time. It affects solely and only students here on students’ visas, and I as far as I’m concerned, Mr. Speaker, it’s a logical thing to do and that’s why it’s in these Education Act amendments.
In regard to the matter of French language programmes, this section is being put into this Act to really mandate what is already happening in a number of boards across this province. It gives boards the authority to undertake French immersion programmes and it differentiates between immersion programmes for Anglophones and the French language education section. It has come to our attention that actually boards were operating under the French language sections of the Act to really get their mandate to establish immersion programmes for Anglophones. This is plainly, purely and simply giving those boards that are now carrying out programmes the authority to operate English immersion programmes and also telling any other boards that it will perhaps lead them to get into this type of programme.
The whole matter of grants is being sorted out and perhaps I can deal with that in a more detailed way when we get into the committee discussion. Let me say at this point in time there are inconsistencies in the grants, I agree. The member for Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) indicated one of the inconsistencies. You can get as much extra money above the grant ceiling for the 20-minutes-a-day per pupil as you can for a pupil in an immersion programme. That isn’t equitable and that will be corrected next year.
At the same time, we want to have the federal government mesh its grants assistance to us with our grant programme. Mr. Faulkner has agreed with me on this and has guaranteed us that his studies which are going on at the present time along with ours hopefully will mesh together and provide a unified approach that will encourage, in the next fiscal year, better arrangements for immersion programmes.
I have to say, however, that we all recognize that immersion programmes are very beneficial for those students who wish to become fluently bilingual, but I think we also have to make it clear that they are not programmes that we should mandate for every student in this province. I think that, given the choice, it’s better to have a 20-minute-a-day programme or some better variable that a board can work out in order that students can at least have their appetites whetted about French and the French fact and what it all means about having these two languages and two races in Canada. It’s better than having nothing.
Mr. Bain: Twenty minutes will only dampen it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The 20 minutes will not dampen it because there’s no way that we’re going to have French immersion programmes for every student in this province. There’s no way that’s going to happen, certainly not in the time that the member and I are around this Legislature, I can guarantee him that.
We’re going to have and what we have to have is French immersion for every student or parent who wishes the student to have it. That’s what we have to encourage and that’s what we’re working toward; but, you see, by degrading the 20-minute programme we’re going to get to the point where boards are going to say: “Let’s wash that out completely,” so that those students who do not take the immersion or the more enriched programmes that will be offered, will get nothing.
I submit that, given the kind of feeling that we’re trying to build up in this country, the appreciation of the French fact in Canada, we need that 20-minute programme even if it doesn’t produce anywhere near fluency in French. We need it for that kind of spirit that it will build up in the school system. I think that some members do a disservice by completely running down that programme.
Certainly, we all agree that it’s not effective if we are looking for it to produce a fluently bilingual young person. It won’t do that, but there are other things that the presence of that programme in a school system can do. I think it’s good that the majority of young people in our elementary schools at some point have at least a beginning into French in those programmes.
The school boards are trying to develop those programmes so that they will be more effective, and I’m sure they will. Some of them are grouping them in 40 minutes every second day. There are other variations that are coming about. I think that’s good, but I think what we need is every board jurisdiction in this province having immersion French available for those who want it; not mandatory for every student but available for those who want it.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you just legislate?
Hon. Mr. Wells: There are a lot of boards doing it now. They’re doing it now within the financial resources they’ve got. There’s nothing that prevents them from doing that. This piece of legislation merely puts into the legislation and highlights for them that it is one of the things that a board can carry out.
Actually there are other matters that were touched upon. There is some other information that I will get for discussions in the committee stages of this bill when we can deal with each of the various subjects in greater details and in greater depth. I think that really there’s nothing more I can say in the second reading.
Mr. Warner: On a point of personal privilege, the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells) suggested that I either did not understand parliamentary procedures or that I ignored parliamentary procedures. In fact, all of my remarks, if checked with Hansard, would show that I contained my remarks --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I listened to the exchange very carefully. I heard what the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere said, I heard what the hon. minister said and I fail to see any point of privilege in it.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, the point of privilege is that he was suggesting that I was not adhering --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That has been my ruling. I don’t think that your privileges as a member have been encroached upon.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 27, the hon. member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) has given notice to the Chair that he is dissatisfied with the answer given by the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Miller) on May 27 to his question respecting the Towland-Hewitson asphalt plant in Thunder Bay and the cabinet reversal of the Ontario Municipal Board’s decision respecting that installation.
Also the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong) has filed notice that he is dissatisfied with the answers given on May 27 and May 31 by the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) to his question concerning the need for schools in German Mills. These matters will be debated at 10:30 and 10:40 tonight respectively.
What is the disposition of Bill 87? Committee of the whole House? So ordered.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 55, the Regional Municipalities Amendment Act.
Mr. Norton: I might, very briefly, at the opening indicate at the conclusion of second reading I propose to request that this bill go to committee of the whole House. At that time I will propose three motions, one of which will have the effect of correcting a minor typographical error in the legislation. The other two will have the effect, in one case, of removing the proposed provisions with respect to increasing interim levies to 75 per cent and, in the other, of removing the provisions with respect to sections 35a and 35b of the Planning Act.
I thought it would be preferable to mention that at this point so that the hon. members across who have been advised of this would not feel it’s necessary to deal with them.
Mr. Breithaupt: There may be some comments on it anyway.
Mr. Norton: There might very well be but it may not be necessary to deal with it to the extent that they might have otherwise intended.
Mr. Renwick: The parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer was good enough in conversation with me yesterday, to indicate that it was the intention of the government to withdraw the controversial sections to which the minister has referred in his statement at the point in time when the matter comes before committee.
May I say that shortly after Bill 5 was introduced in the assembly, as was the case with Bill 54, we in this caucus -- through the various members representing constituencies falling within the various regional governments and, in those where we don’t have members, the members contiguous to those regional government areas -- wrote to each of the chairmen of the regional governments and each of the heads of the area municipalities, asking them if they had any comments with respect to Bill 55.
We immediately found that there was substantial concern, based mainly upon the fact that none of them knew that there was a bill going to be introduced into the assembly dealing with the regional governments and amending various provisions with respect to them and altering, as every such bill does, the relative strengths of the area municipalities as opposed to the central or regional government in the particular area.
I think it is fair to say, whatever the government may have done, and without taking any undue credit for it, that it was that letter from various members of our caucus to each of the various regional governments --
Mr. Breithaupt: Oh, come off it! You weren’t even aware of it on second reading.
Mr. Renwick: -- that alerted the regional governments and the area municipalities to the existence of the bill, let alone any knowledge about the contents of the bill. As a result of that, and particularly as a result of the letter which was addressed by my colleague, the member for Cambridge (Mr. Davidson), to the regional municipality, we began to get responses in connection with this bill. We then had further communications with other regional governments about the Cambridge response and we found, of course, considerable disenchantment with certain provisions of the bill. We continued to get responses over a period of time, not from every area municipality and not from every regional government, but sufficient to indicate a very real and major concern about the provisions of the bill that the minister has now indicated he’s going to withdraw, namely the ones related to the extension of the planning authority of the regional governments within the 150-foot area of the regional road system and with respect to the right of the region to levy 75 per cent of the previous year’s amount of levy against the constituent municipalities raising it from 50 per cent.
In any event, we are delighted that those particular provisions are going to be removed from the bill, because it shows that there obviously was merit in the concern about the lack of consultation that had taken place and the implications of it. But we in this caucus want to put very dearly to the parliamentary assistant, and through him to the minister, our very great concern that there had been no adequate consultation. I think it is fair to say that one of the resolutions, which we received just within the last couple of days from the corporation of the town of Stoney Creek, accurately reflects the concern felt throughout the regional governments in the Province of Ontario about the inability of this government to understand what consultation means.
I want to read this resolution, which was passed by the council of the town of Stoney Creek on May 25, because it does reflect our impression of the feelings of the regional governments throughout Ontario about this very question.
“Whereas Bill 55, the Regional Municipalities Amendment Act, contains provisions of great importance and concern to the area municipalities which constitute the regions;
“and whereas the government of Ontario has not consulted with the municipalities concerning the desirability or equity of the proposed amendments; and whereas this council would not have been aware of the proposed amendments if it had not been so advised by a member of the opposition;
“and whereas the government of Ontario has been urged frequently and earnestly by municipalities and municipal associations in the province to establish clear and adequate procedures for the review by municipalities of legislative purposes which affect them;
“now therefore be it resolved that the council of the town of Stoney Creek hereby expresses its grave concern that the government of Ontario has not informed this council of its intention to introduce legislation, nor has it asked for comments upon the proposals which will have significant implications for the people of the town and of other municipalities covered by the proposed legislation;
“and further, that the council requests the government of Ontario henceforth to consult according to clear and adequate procedures with any and all municipalities and their associations when they will be affected by general or special legislative proposals in order to avoid the passage of unsatisfactory or inequitable legislation.”
With the consensus of our caucus that for practical purposes that resolution reflects a dissatisfaction with the government about its failure to consult, we in this caucus decided we would oppose the bill on second reading. I propose to move a hoist motion for that purpose and I now want to deal with the second question.
Having discussed this matter at some length both personally, by telephone and otherwise, through the various members of the caucus, with their colleagues in the regional governments and the municipal governments within those regions, there is every indication from a number of those regional governments and area municipalities within them that if this bill were out to a standing committee there would be significant representations made to that standing committee about the contents of the bill -- not just about the failure to consult, although undoubtedly the members of the government at such a standing committee would hear that concern expressed, but in order to deal with the other elements of the bill which are still in the bill. One never can tell during the course of that kind of consultation whether certain items or certain passages in the bill -- perhaps not of the same significance as those which the parliamentary assistant has agreed to withdraw -- will nevertheless have attention focused upon them in a way in which the government would want to listen to and pay attention to the concerns which are expressed.
There are two or three others left in the bill -- perhaps four or five -- which will deserve comment when the bill is in committee but we ask -- we have no authority to direct -- we specifically request that the parliamentary assistant direct that this bill go out to a standing committee in order that representations can be heard from the constituent municipalities within the regional governments and from the regional governments themselves about the contents of the bill and the general always uneasy concern that such bills as this represent shifts in the balance of power between the constituent municipalities and the regional governments.
Therefore, we oppose the second reading of the bill simply to give emphasis to the sense which we have that the government is sadly in default in failing to consult over the provisions of the bill.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Mr. Renwick moves that Bill 55, being the Regional Municipalities Amendment Act, 1976, be not now read a second time but be read this day four months hence.
Mr. Renwick: That would be Oct. 1.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, it’s not my intention to read the various communications which our caucus received and the letters sent out stating that we did, very emphatically, oppose various sections of this bill. The major ones we opposed have now been removed.
But I think that it’s important that we put on the record some of the things that are in this bill and, especially, that we clarify for members of the House and the public at large the two sections that we’re dealing with in the bill which, subsequently, according to the words of the parliamentary assistant, will be withdrawn. Briefly, I’d like to go through the bill and point out some of the highlights of the various sections.
Most regional bills were drafted so that the minister had power to first divide the various area governments into wards as he saw fit. This power having expired, it can now be done by the Ontario Municipal Board on application of the area government. Only the region of York had authority -- under section 13 of the Municipal Act, as I was able to find out -- to deal with the setting up of wards in a manner whereby 75 people or more could petition the OMB for a hearing. My colleague from York Centre (Mr. Stong) will have more to say on that particular section of the bill.
I think another change which is worth mentioning is that an auditor, for instance, acting as a consultant in an area government, would not now be disqualified from acting as an auditor for the region. This, I understand, was in most regional government bills originally, and a study of the matter has shown that a conflict of interests would not result.
I am a little concerned, Mr. Speaker, regarding the repeal by the region of area government bylaws on the simple forwarding of a registered letter. As you know, Mr. Speaker, area government bylaws, except certain parking bylaws, require approval of the regional government. That approval can be withdrawn now under this amendment, with the forwarding of a registered letter. I would think either a little more time or some consultation between the two levels of government as to the merits of having the bylaw remain, or the merits of having it withdrawn, would be more satisfactory.
The most controversial section in the bill, of course, was that relating to the inclusion of powers under 35a and 35b of the Planning Act, that they would be given to the regional government on all lands lying within 150 ft of a regional road.
Many municipalities, including most area governments that I contacted, have not seen fit to use section 35a and 35b of the Planning Act and, consequently, have not passed bylaws designating areas within their municipalities for this use.
Our contention is, in this caucus, that if an area government has not seen fit to impose these restrictions on its own people in its own municipality, the regional government should not be able to come in and superimpose these restrictions along 150 ft of the roadway.
I think that this makes good sense when we look at the provisions of 35a and 35b. In particular, Mr. Speaker, 35a gives very wide powers to the municipality which passes a bylaw and has it approved by the OMB. These powers will permit the municipality to demand development agreements wherever any development, or redevelopment, goes on within a designated area, even though that use is permitted under existing zoning in that section.
I would like to read this section, Mr. Speaker, if I may. I think it gives us all a little better understanding of what is at stake here:
“Through the passing of a bylaw under section 35 of the Planning Act and its subsequent approval by the Ontario Municipal Board, a municipality may obtain the power under section 35a to require, in addition to the normal zoning provisions which apply to the land, the provision of additional features such as highway widening, location of off-street parking, grading of land, landscaping features, site plans and other drawings. The bylaw may also require the owner of the land to enter into an agreement to provide the specific features requested by the municipality. Once such agreement has been entered into, it may be registered against the land so that it becomes enforceable upon the owner and all subsequent land owners.”
That means that if I own a house properly zoned for a duplex or a triplex and I wish to convert that property, I could not do so if it is lying within 150 ft of a regional road without a development agreement with the regional municipality.
I am not asking for a zone change; the municipalities already have that power under section 35. Rightly or wrongly, the regional government has that power now. Even though I am properly zoned I am restricted from doing what I want with my property until I have reached a development agreement. When we look at the list of the things that the municipality can require of that property, I would like to list a few criteria for the application of section 35 -- I am sorry, that’s 35b.
The matters that can be imposed on that particular piece of property, if the municipality has a bylaw, would be these:
They could require widening of the highways that abut to the land that is being developed or redeveloped. Then there are transportation requirements that can be imposed. Off-street vehicle parking and loading areas and access driveways, including the surfacing of such areas and driveways. Walkways and all other means of pedestrian access. Removal of snow from access ramps, and the list goes on and on, including floodlighting, walls, fences and everything, and this is on land which is properly zoned for that particular use.
The point is simply this, if the area government has not seen fit to impose these restrictions on its own people then I say there is no need for the regional government to come in and impose these restrictions as well.
We find that many municipalities did object to this and consequently -- although this has not happened as yet -- we have word that this particular section of the bill will be withdrawn. That withdrawal promise removes one of our major objections to this particular piece of legislation. The other offensive part of this legislation was in allowing a regional municipality to levy 75 per cent of its last year’s taxes as an interim levy before the setting of the mill rate. Presently a municipality may levy 50 per cent. This is done, as we know, usually with one or two interim levies prior to the setting of the mill rate and then the additional levies after.
Good financial practices in municipalities usually dictate two interim levies before the mill rate is set -- of 25 per cent each of last year’s levy -- and two after the mill rate is set. This is now done by the region on the area government and then follows down by the area government on the assessment within its boundaries or merging municipalities.
I can see no reason for increasing this from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for the following reasons: First of all, I would think it would make for more procrastination and poor budgeting practices when it comes to studying the mill rate. Municipal council and their administrative staff could say, “Well, we can get 75 per cent of our taxes in before we set the mill rate, so why rush into it?” Whoever proposed this must have been away out somewhere without any idea of what the real world is like.
Mr. Roy: Must have been way out there with the Tories.
Mr. Good: In my view the acceleration of taxes is one of the oldest tricks of government, and I say that for every level of government, including the provincial and the federal government. If they can get more money in, live on other people’s money, that is the way to operate in this day and age, and government, believe me, has refined this practice to its ultimate.
With regional government accelerating its payments from the area governments, and the area governments collecting 75 per cent from the taxpayers, you know who is going to get hit: the taxpayer, right down on the bottom rung. All the way up, the money comes in faster. I think this could very well have originated from the province itself, which would feel that if the regions can get more money in earlier in the year, they won’t be pushing it for their transfer payments from the province and the province will have the pressure taken off it. Perhaps that’s how this idea first originated. We are opposed to that.
Mr. Hodgson: You’re dreaming, you’re dreaming.
Mr. Good: We are glad to see that particular -- .
Mr. Deans: He’s not dreaming, you obviously know it.
Mr. Roy: It’s just the type of insidious practice you guys opposite would think up.
Mr. Hodgson: That’s a scheme the Liberals would think up.
Mr. Good: We’re very happy to see that that section will be withdrawn as well.
There is another very practical application that must be considered here. It’s the same thing that happened back when we had the residential property tax shelter legislation. That is, a large percentage of people pay their taxes with their mortgage payments, and that would mean an acceleration of taxes into the mortgage companies who themselves would accumulate more tax money to pay the taxes at an earlier date. It boggles the imagination to figure out what hardships could result if this section were not withdrawn.
So much on that section. We are glad that that great objection to the bill is going to be withdrawn.
Mr. Roy: Thank God this party is watching what you fellows are doing.
Mr. Good: There are other sections on the temporary borrowing powers for the region when there is money coming at a later date from the Ministry of the Environment for water and sewer works. There are broader powers now given to the municipalities regarding grants to any group that is interested in municipal activities; broadened investment powers for the municipalities for sinking fund moneys, which can now be invested in securities backed by the US government; various other minor provisions dealing with Ottawa-Carleton; a few provisions in the Hamilton bill, and also incidental provisions I feel relate to certain townships such as Glanford, I believe it is, and Markham township, for which I think these municipalities should not have to wait four months.
I think the move to hoist this for four months would create a hardship with certain sections of this bill. We will support the bill, the major objections having been removed, but I think we would be creating some other hardships if we hoisted this bill for four months to be dealt with later. If the parliamentary assistant comes through and puts in these amendments, copies of which he has given us, we will support this bill on second reading.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, the first thing that I would like to do would be to invite the party to the left to support us on the hoist of this bill. I suggest to them that they should, for two or three reasons.
First of all, it doesn’t necessarily mean a four-month hoist. If the parliamentary assistant recommends to the minister and he approves of it, it could mean it would be put out of the House very shortly to a standing committee, which could consider this and the matter could be dealt with expeditiously. But it won’t come about unless the other opposition party is prepared to support us in this hoist.
The second reason I suggest they should take this kind of step is for the reason mentioned by my colleague from Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), that there has been a real failure on the part of the provincial government to consult with the municipalities on a very substantial bill. There have been commitments given over the years -- I myself was in municipal government for many years -- year after year that they were going to consult the municipalities before they brought in any substantive changes. This has not been done in this case and I think there is plenty of evidence to prove that it has not been done.
The third reason for thinking they should support this is that this bill does provide a real thrust in a certain direction. The thrust provided by this bill is, first of all, a thrust away from citizens’ rights; and, secondly, a thrust away from the jurisdiction of the local municipalities to a higher level. In support of this contention, I would like to point out that the very first section of the bill -- which provides that the Ontario Municipal Board, on application by the municipality, can divide or subdivide a municipality into wards -- removes the right of the citizens to petition, which they have in other municipalities. If the municipal council fails to deal with a petition to divide a municipality into wards, the citizens have the right of appeal directly to the Ontario Municipal Board.
This is not provided in here so the bill is taking away that right from the citizens of these municipalities and I suggest this is a right which citizens should have. There are many councils which may have a vested interest in wanting to ensure that the municipality is not divided into wards. Its members may come from one section of the municipality -- the populated section -- at a given time and they would stand some chance of losing their seats. Therefore, they are reluctant to divide it into wards although, in the best interests of the public, there should be wards within that municipality.
Perhaps it is not the intention of the legislation to take this right away but certainly, from my reading of it, it is taken away. I object to this right being taken away.
The section which the minister is going to withdraw which gives the regional government authority over regional roads, back to a distance of 150 ft, of course, would have transferred more power to the region from the local municipality. This apparently is going to be withdrawn but still it was a thrust of the bill.
It is also proposed in this bill -- perhaps not anything new in the sense that it is passing more power to the regional government -- to remove the authority of the province or the need for it to approve traffic bylaws within the local municipality. Instead of transferring that power back to the local municipalities themselves to deal with the streets and the highways over which they have complete jurisdiction, it’s going to leave it with the region and, I suggest, cause a great deal of conflict there.
There is a general broadening of the powers of regions with regard to making grants, etc. Many of us who have sat on local councils, county councils or regional councils know there is always a tendency to pass up to the higher levels of government requests for grants and payments made out of funds because they won’t have to pay the whole thing. One gets this pressure and this trend to move all this up to a higher level of government which, I suggest again, removes much of the accountability from the local municipality and from the people in the local municipality.
For these three reasons I think the motion put forward by the member for Riverdale is very appropriate. I think these principles should be considered by a standing committee of this House and the municipalities and the public should have some input into the decision-making process from here on.
Therefore, I would hope that the other opposition party might reconsider its stand and join us in this vote.
Mr. Breithaupt: I suppose I should first of all disabuse the member for Welland-Thorold of any possibility that we will be supporting the hoist motion and that we will be voting against the bill. We intend to vote for the bill on second reading, now that the two sections of which we have complained are to be withdrawn.
The point I would like to raise particularly is to remind the House that here again we have an example of the inability of this government to bring in legislation after proper consultation with the people who are affected.
This has been a rather embarrassing month for the Conservative government of Ontario. They have had the matter of proper notice dealt with by the courts in the Niagara Escarpment situation. There was the matter of their failure to deal with the people involved in the hospital closings, by the court’s recent decision.
Mr. Roy: Shame.
Mr. Breithaupt: At the present time they are arguing the situation with respect to the Anti-Inflation Board of Ontario’s involvement in that procedure, which again comes as an embarrassment. And here we have the fourth one, the proposal of legislation under Bill 55, with these two sections, to which my colleague from Waterloo North has referred, and the embarrassment of having to withdraw them now simply because they had no consultation with the people who were involved.
I suggest that is shown as clearly in one item as any other, by a letter which some of us received from the mayor of Cambridge, who wrote as follows:
“On Thursday, May 20, a group of regional councillors, representing certain area municipalities within the region of Durham, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara, Sudbury and Waterloo, met to discuss implementations of Bill 55...”
The group met at Ottawa, they reviewed the bill, and this is what they came up with -- and I quote:
“1. Concern that an amending Act of this importance to local municipalities within regions of Ontario could have proceeded to this stage without the knowledge of the municipalities so affected;
“2. Unalterable opposition to the addition of section 35a and 35b of the Planning Act to the powers of a regional municipality with respect to regional roads;
“3. Opposition to the increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of the portion of the preceding year’s levy that a regional council may levy against an area municipality and that an area municipality may levy against each of its merged areas;
“4. A request that we be permitted to present our concerns before a committee of the Legislature prior to its third reading.”
Those were the four particular items that Mayor Robert Kerr wrote to us about. He set out in another paragraph a rather interesting approach, the kind of approach that this government invariably and stupidly takes when it attempts to force legislation for the convenience of certain areas without the involvement of the municipalities actually concerned. This is what he says:
“No notification was received by any area municipality, except for a cryptic one line under ‘First Readings’ in the Ontario Statutes Citator for the week ending April 16, 1976. It simply stated: ‘Regional Municipalities Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 55).’ Certainly there was nothing to indicate the importance of the bill. The May 7 issue of ‘Background,’ issued by the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, under item 3, ‘Reviewing 1976 Legislation,’ deals with several aspects of Bill 55; however, this issue was not circulated in Cambridge until May 21, long after Bill 55 was to have been processed.”
Mayor Kerr is quite correct. This bill was to have been proceeded with some weeks ago. In fact, unless the correspondence and the response had not been made from, I agree, both opposition parties, in dealing with these particular subjects, the bill might well have been pushed through in the ordinary guise of housekeeping legislation.
It is rather sad that this has been the approach of the government, but I do suggest, in commenting on this debate, that it is important for us to realize that once again we have got the usual kind of embarrassment that seems to be plaguing this ministry and has done so over the last several months.
Certainly, in the initial comments with respect to Bill 54 for the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, we did not approve of this same kind of an approach, and it was agreed that the matter would be discussed further in committee of the whole. That bill, of course, was not proceeded with either; however, we expect that it will be proceeded with as this bill is dealt with in committee.
Certainly the opposition which has been suggested from this group of regional councillors with respect to the second and third items, to which I had referred in the letter of Mayor Kerr, are entirely within the approach that we have taken on this matter. And as a result, because of the deletion of those two sections, we agree with the processing of this bill on second reading in order that these other items may eventually be attended to that are in the bill, and the loss of which would somewhat prejudice the particular communities involved.
We do share the view that was expressed so clearly that the local municipalities were ignored in the presentation of this legislation, and the sense of wonderment which these mayors of middling size cities and councillors on regional council should have when legislation like this has been brought forward completely in their ignorance.
Mr. Speaker, if you’re not discussing this kind of legislation with people, such as the mayors of Waterloo or Durham or Niagara or Sudbury, if you’re not dealing with the mayor of Cambridge as you try to build in a framework of legislation and dividing duties between the various tiers of government, one almost has to ask just with whom are you discussing these matters? And I suppose one would have to be naive to think that it was anyone else except the top level, the regional chairmen, the alternate cabinet within this province, who, as a result, have more input in most of these things than any minister or any member of the Legislature. And this certainly isn’t good enough.
I hope that this approach will have been a sufficient embarrassment that the member for Kingston and the Islands won’t have to go through this particular situation again. We are prepared to give him one chance, and presumably he will make sure that the municipalities who are involved will have been consulted before this kind of legislation comes before us again.
The matter with respect to the York situation will be dealt with particularly by my colleague from York Centre. I think that at this point I would again simply review our approach, which will be to approve the bill for second reading on the undertaking that these clauses are to be deleted.
The matter with respect to the presentation of the concerns of these municipalities to a committee of the Legislature is something which, of course, should be encouraged at all times in order that we have as good legislation as possible. The two particular things against which regional councillors, or mayors in their own right have objected to are going to be deleted. So it may well be that the other particular things dealt with in this bill will not have to have that kind of input.
But, surely, again we would want to encourage legislation such as this, if it were otherwise to have proceeded with, to have gone before a standing committee of the Legislature. That is the best place to make laws, where you’re able to deal not only with the councillors, or mayors in this instance, who are most particularly involved, but also with the senior civil servants and the legal advisers to the ministry who can be spoken to across the table as these various things are discussed and as the particular details which they may not have thought of are ironed out.
That’s the best way to make legislation, and it certainly would be the way to proceed if there was any intention on the part of the ministry to, in fact, go ahead with these particular sections.
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a few minutes on this bill as far as it pertains to the region of York. There has been a lot of concern created in the region of York. I have visited most of the councils represented in my riding and there was a lot of concern expressed in regard to the 150 ft that the regions will have control over or be able to regulate.
This is nothing new in the region of York. When the bill for the region of York came in in 1970, it was part of the bill that there would be control to regulate development within 150 ft.
Mr. Good: Section 35, but not 35a and 35b.
Mr. Hodgson: Prior to that, we used to have the Toronto and York Roads Commission in the region of York and the Toronto and York Roads Commission had the same power through the Highway Improvement Act. To my knowledge and to the knowledge of all those who have been on council in the region of York this power has never been abused.
I think it is good planning for the future of the region of York. They do have controls to regulate that 150 ft. We are a fast-growing region, next to a large metropolitan area. We don’t know whether we’ll need four-lane or six-lane highways or what we’ll need in the future,
To allow development without being able to regulate and control it in the region of York is wrong. I have to go along with the 150 ft proposed in the bill. I understand now that it has been partially withdrawn.
Mr. Good: No, they will still have that for zoning purposes.
Mr. Hodgson: As a matter of fact, it is only twice as much as the local municipalities have. Most of the local municipalities in the region of York have controls to regulate all development within 75 ft of their township roads.
I’m very happy to see our parliamentary assistant has taken the advice of caucus and has withdrawn the part of the bill on 75 per cent of the levy. I felt very strongly about this.
Mr. Good: You passed it before it came in. That bill was in your caucus before it was given first reading.
Mr. Hodgson: I don’t know how it got in. We just look at it after it gets in.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Hodgson: As caucus members we look at it after it gets in.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for York North has the floor.
Mr. Hodgson: I think the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) gave very good reasons why it should be left at the 50 per cent for most of the farming communities, particularly in the area of York and particularly for the agricultural farmers most of whom have gone to cash crop farming. There are a few dairy farmers left who get monthly cheques. The cash crop farmer spends all of his money in the spring to plant his crop and he doesn’t get any return until as early as September the following year. I’m very happy that’s been withdrawn.
There is one thing I would like to see in a future bill. I think it’s for the good of the region of York and perhaps some other regions. I don’t know of any other region which has only one representative from a municipality. In the region of York, we have 16 members of council but there are five municipalities represented only by the mayor, not that the mayor is not capable of representing them but it’s impossible for any elected representative to have 100 per cent attendance with all his other duties to perform.
I would like to see this reviewed so there would be a minimum of two representatives from every municipality in the region of York to the York regional council. Somebody will say it should be representation by population but with a fast-developing municipality to the south I don’t know how that can be handled at the present time. I haven’t given too much thought to representation by population but I do think that every municipality is entitled to at least two representatives.
With those few remarks I hope the hon. member for Riverdale will rethink his resolution to hoist this bill for four months and let’s get on with the legislation. It has a lot of good features and it will benefit the local municipalities as well as the region. Thank you very much.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, it has been said already that we’re going to oppose the bill but I want to run down some of the reasons for that. There are some 10 regional municipalities in this and the term usually used for this kind of bill is an omnibus bill. We stick them all in the back of the bus and roll them through. There are also countless local municipalities where people are elected to do a particular job and, in most instances, it involves doing some kind of local business or doing sonic kind of regional business. It becomes rather complicated and expensive, as we know, after a while.
I am really confounded as to why the government, with all its civil servants and all its power, can’t do simple things like tell people what kind of legislation is going through this House, particularly when that legislation deals directly with how their municipality is governed. Is it so difficult to pick up a phone and call the clerk and explain the Act to him or to mail it to him? Obviously, in this instance, members of the opposition parties, in particular the member for Cambridge (Mr. Davidson), managed to get copies to local councils without any problem. So did I and so did a number of other members of this particular opposition party. It didn’t seem to be an expensive process or even anything that was difficult to accomplish yet the government seems unable to accomplish that. It seems to have great difficulty getting that through.
I want to read into the record as well another letter from another mayor of one of these municipalities. This one is from the mayor of Oshawa who hosted the meeting which had representatives from regional governments across the province. By and large, in their resolution they are stating the same thing as was stated in a previous resolution read into the record:
“The following resolution was adopted unanimously by elected representatives of local area municipalities in the Province of Ontario at a meeting held in the city of Oshawa in the region of Durham on Thursday, May 20, 1976, to discuss the Regional Municipalities Amendment Act.
“The elected representatives in attendance at the meeting wish to make it known that we are very disturbed that the provincial government introduced Bill 55 in the Legislature without first consulting all municipalities within the framework of regional governments in Ontario, particularly when such legislation directly affects the authority of all local area municipalities. We therefore request that in future any future legislation proposed by the provincial government, which affects municipalities within regional government boundaries, be submitted to the respective councils for opinions.
“The representation wishes to express its strongest opposition to the extension of planning controls under section 35a and 35b of the Planning Act to the regional municipalities. We further wish to express our opposition to extension of maximum amounts that can be levied as an interim tax levy as proposed in Bill 55. We urgently request that our committee be permitted to appear before the committee of the provincial government studying Bill 55 prior to its return to the Legislature for third reading.”
There seems to be a consensus on that matter. One other point I found very interesting, too, was that this is not the first time the municipalities have asked, in a formal way, to review this legislation. According to the TEIGA publication Background -- this is the May 7 issue -- the government met on April 13 with the PMLC. That, of course, is the official organization of the municipalities; it is supposedly a liaison committee.
The question was asked directly of the member for Kingston and the Islands. It was Mr. Coolican who requested that the PMLC be advised in advance and said the PMLC will review the legislation and advise. Then the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) said that a bill to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act and an omnibus bill on regional municipalities had not yet been introduced in the Legislature. It included items primarily as a result of requests from the respective municipalities.
I’m certainly not aware of any formal requests from the municipalities to include this kind of legislation affecting them. I think it has been documented now that at least the mayors of the municipalities, as a group; those people who attended the meeting in Oshawa, which represented most of the municipalities involved, as another group; and thirdly, those people who are on the council of the region of Durham as formal group had never made that request. Certainly of those three identifiable groups -- all distinct and all somewhat different in their own rights but all dealing with the same kind of business -- none saw this bill. None of them had the chance to review and make comments on the legislation before it was introduced into the House.
As a matter of fact, although the government might cop out and say, “First, we would like to introduce the bill,” even subsequent to the introduction of the bill they haven’t seen it, nor have they been given an opportunity, in a formal way, by the government of Ontario to review this legislation.
Yet the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) is always at the PMLC meetings and, in this case, the parliamentary assistant was there as well. I take it that, as they usually do, they said, “Yes. The reason for the PMLC is to establish that liaison between the government of Ontario and those people who work in municipal governments in Ontario and to let you look at legislation and to solicit your opinions in a very formal way.”
Sometimes, there are chat sessions which are a bit more informal, but the fact is there is in place in Ontario a formal structure to do that kind of liaison. The government didn’t use it and still hasn’t used it. Aside from that particular point, even the informal courtesy aspect of informing them, of providing them with a copy of the bill, which is surely not too much to ask, hasn’t been done as yet.
In my municipality, either at the city of Oshawa council or at the region of Durham council, they have just not received any correspondence or any telephone calls from the government of Ontario informing them this legislation is before the House; in fact they got it the way the mayor of Cambridge got it, from the sitting member who provided them with copies and took the time and trouble to go and discuss the matter with them.
Of course this is not new in that area. They are quite accustomed to having the government of Ontario function in this way and they are getting quite accustomed to calling emergency meetings; for different purposes, it seems, but it’s always the same crowd of people, from the various regions around Ontario, who come together to discuss common problems they are having with the government of Ontario, not the least of which is this problem of trying to communicate or liaise or discuss or inform, or even being shown the courtesy of being told that some legislation pertaining to their municipality is before the House.
I find that an atrocious way to do business in the Province of Ontario and certainly one that doesn’t befit this government. This government has been in power a long time. I think it is generally assumed in Ontario that one of its bases is that it is very strong in terms of municipal government. For crying out loud, they are your own people; are you so deaf that you can’t even hear their cries?
I recall when I was on the regional council, and the city council in Oshawa, we took some exception to having the regional chairman invited to lunch every once in a while with the Treasurer to have little discussions. Now perhaps that is the basis of the request; but I point out to you that is not a very satisfactory way to run a government, to have informal requests floating back and forth.
There are all kinds of elected people out there; they are quite prepared to make representation to the government, and to have legislation that governs that particular municipality amended on a regular basis. I have participated in that process.
It is difficult to do that. It seems that every time the city of Oshawa, as an example, wants to amend its legislation it gets turned down, and yet when the government wants to do something like this it doesn’t even see fit to inform, let alone consult or discuss.
I think the basic reason we want to oppose this bill is that at some point in time this entire process has got to be stopped, without question. This is not the 1890s, you cannot send a group of people to Queen’s Park who sit around and decide what will happen all over Ontario, who make phone calls to one particular person who happens to be on a regional council, or perhaps occupies the position of chairman of a regional council, and put that kind of responsibility on his head.
The councils are the place to represent those people; you do them a disservice and you do yourself a disservice when you refuse to even consult, inform -- whatever you would like to call that particular process.
I want to finish by saying that one of the things that is very difficult in municipal government is to get the municipalities to act together. As you know there are a number of municipal organizations involved, they have sprung from tradition rather than from clear logic, but nevertheless they are there and they are functioning, they are trying to become effective voices for municipal government in Ontario; they haven’t quite achieved that yet, obviously, because the very simple point of having them participate in this kind of legislation has not yet been made.
I want to differentiate between having the Treasurer of Ontario sit in your midst and tell you what he is going to do -- or maybe not tell you what he is going to do, just sit there -- and try to pass that off as being some kind of consultative process; it’s not.
There are formal means available to you; there are very informal means available to you. You seem determined to use none of them, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why, it seems to me to be a particularly dumb approach to politics. I don’t understand, although perhaps if I stay around here much longer I will understand, why the Tory party of Ontario continues to show that kind of fundamental discourtesy to its own people. It seems to me ironic that the people you are probably affecting most of all are local Tories sitting on municipal councils.
But they too are getting fed up, and perhaps the malaise that, really the Premier (Mr. Davis) is having difficulty identifying, is that he is turning off his own people. I think he has to learn that lesson at some point in time and it might just as well be now; I am certainly not prepared to support this particular legislation.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson) when he spoke to this bill this afternoon. Although he is gone now, it reminded me a lot of the letter, a copy of which I received this morning, from the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman). This letter represents a snow job, a real snow job, on the people of Ontario, with respect to this bill. May I quote this letter for the record: Over the signature of the Minister of Agriculture and Food it reads:
“Under section 82 of the Regional Municipality of York Act the region now has the right to pass bylaws to control land within 150 ft of regional roads but is now asking the additional authority to attach conditions, if deemed necessary, before granting approvals to zoning changes.”
I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food whether sections 35a and 35b of the Planning Act are mere conditions? This letter is to the secretary of the York County Federation of Agriculture and it goes on to say:
“In 1973 the Legislature amended the Planning Act to give municipalities the right to impose certain conditions pertaining to zoning of properties adjacent to roads under their jurisdiction. An example of this would be to give approval to the number and size of access to a particular property. In drafting the amendment at that time, the regional government’s responsibilities were overlooked. The bill before the Legislature at this time will take care of this oversight.”
It certainly will take care of this oversight and it leads me to conclude that that letter represents an attitude which prevails in a party which has been in power for 32 years and has lost all --
Mr. Samis: Thirty-three.
Mr. Stong: -- conception of a sense --
Mr. Hodgson: Not while you are around, Al.
Mr. Stong: -- responsibility to the voters. It also led to the passing of a resolution by the council of a very forward thinking town in my riding. If I may quote from the resolution passed with respect to Bill 55 -- I may say I agree with the previous speakers on this bill who indicated that one of the problems is that no one got any notice. In the riding of York Centre and the regional municipality of York it wasn’t until I distributed 70 copies of Bill 55 to the local elected representatives that they became aware of this particular bill. As a result of that, the town of Richmond Hill passed a resolution which reads as follows:
“Whereas throughout Ontario for many decades local municipalities have existed and continue to exist as functioning and accepted jurisdictional creatures of the province, and the province has not explicitly informed the citizens of those municipalities of its intention to obliterate those local municipalities as entitles;
“and whereas the formation of regional government has already eroded the local functioning, especially in creation of regional roads and increased local taxation burdens and the imposition of regional land division committees and has further removed local responsiveness and accountability;
“Therefore be it resolved that the council of this municipality requests that the provincial government state clearly and explicitly to the citizens of the province if it is the intention of the government of the Province of Ontario to move to a single tier of municipal government, that tier to be the regional one, with the eventual obliteration of local municipalities from any significant administrative, fiscal, planning or legislative function.”
Bill 55 is just another example, in my respectful submission to this House, of the intention that prevails, through the Treasurer of Ontario, with respect to the establishment of a single-tier system of government in the region of York and the obliteration and complete erosion of local municipal autonomy. That view is shared by the municipally-elected councillors in the region of York.
The suggestion made by the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), supported by the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), makes eminent sense to me: that is, that this matter be hoisted. However, I cannot vote for a hoisting or support a hoisting in this case, simply because there are sections of Bill 55 pertaining to the region of York --
Mr. Bain: Some pretty good mental gymnastics.
Mr. Stong: -- which are imminent and must be passed immediately. And I will refer, Mr. Speaker, to sections 31 and 32 of Bill 55.
Mr. McClellan: He must be a Liberal deep down.
Mr. Stong: If I just may refer first, Mr. Speaker, to section 31 as it applies to the regional municipality of York.
Mr. Mackenzie: Why worry? The Liberals said they should have it dismantled anyway.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I will be moving that section 35 he struck out of Bill 55 before its third reading.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. I would suggest that before going into the detail, that should be left to when the bill is referred to committee, assuming that it will be.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I will not make the motion at this point, but I will be moving that for the following reason. In my view on reading of the Act, which sets up other regional municipal councils throughout Ontario, the electorate lost the power to make a petition for the change of ward boundaries. This power was retained by the regional municipality of York, probably by an oversight.
In 1972, Mr. Speaker, in RSO, chapter 78, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of York Act, it was reinstated by section 2. And section 2 of that Act left in operation section 13 of the Municipal Act.
Section 13 of the Municipal Act, among other things, gives the right to 75 electors to petition a local municipal council. The local municipal council can then make ward changes. If the local municipal council elects not to make those ward changes, 75 electors may then appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. That right, which is non-existent in the other regional municipal councils, is at the present time a right in the regional municipality of York, and must not be taken away. That right has been protected since 1972, and this Act intends to delete it. It is my respectful submission, Mr. Speaker, that that must not be deleted from this Act.
Section 32 is the section that must be passed immediately because, for the purposes of the municipal elections in 1976, it creates a new ward in the town of Markham. Four years ago, 75 electors petitioned the town of Markham for a change of boundaries. The town failed to act on the petition. Nothing was done. Now the town has increased in size, and the town must look to this legislative assembly to create that ward, and that is done in section 32. So section 32 must be passed immediately with respect to the town of Markham.
Mr. Speaker, I also refer to section 32, subsection (d).
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The Chair assumes that the hon. member has made his point as to why we should give the bill second reading at this time. It would seem that the clause-by-clause analysis of the bill should take place in committee, rather than at second reading.
Mr. Stong: With respect, Mr. Speaker, the principle of this clause, section 32 -- and I would direct the attention of the minister and his assistant to the fact that for the purpose of discussion in committee, that this section does not allow the Ontario Municipal Board to change the representation of area municipalities on the regional council. That may be an oversight and perhaps it should be deleted and changed before third reading of this Act.
Again, Mr. Speaker -- very briefly; I will have mere to say on third reading of this -- section 35 of the bill proposes an amendment to section 77(1) of the Regional Municipality of York Act by deleting the requirement for the approval of local traffic bylaws by the Minister of Transportation and Communications. This again takes away power that is available to the local municipalities; it may be an oversight, but it just may be intentional. I will be making more comments on that at a later stage.
I am also delighted with respect to the fact that the section 36 will be deleted. In the event that section 36 was not deleted as it pertains to the regional municipality of York, I would be moving that it consider an agreement in the operation of that section, an agreement as between the local municipalities and the regional council, before the powers under section 35 are exercised. My colleague from Waterloo North spoke on that section. He also spoke on the 75 per cent levy section. We are in favour of the removal of those from the Act for the reasons stated. Those basically are my submissions on this bill at this time with respect to our support thereof.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Is there any further discussion on second reading?
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest to the parliamentary assistant that he give some thought to some form of delay, whether he accepts the hoist motion of my colleague or whether he accepts some other delay which allows us even a couple of weeks, taking it into the final week for passage, in order that we can give municipalities and municipal leaders an opportunity to express their opinion to the Legislature rather than simply in the way that those of us who are interested have sought their opinions.
I was always under the impression that the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee dealt with these kinds of things. I get a little report every week or so from the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee, and they tell me of all the great things that they are doing. One would have thought that they might be looking at legislation that the government is proposing or changes that would affect them that the government is proposing. It is becoming evident that perhaps they are not doing that. Maybe they are just listening to speeches from the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) as he talks about how great it is to live in Ontario.
I wonder whether it wouldn’t make sense for the parliamentary assistant simply to agree that this could go to the standing committee of his choice. If he were to say that now, and save us the problem of going on and on, we could then inform the various municipalities very quickly that the opportunity would be there for them to appear before the standing committee a week on Wednesday, which would be a very suitable time. They could, if they wished, come in and make any representation that they wanted with regard to the proposed changes, perhaps making some other suggestions along the way as to other things the government could consider in its wisdom for future changes, and we could yet deal with this bill before the House rises. I don’t see that as being a problem that we couldn’t overcome.
I won’t go on at length: I think it is evident that there are matters within the bill, which as the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong) indicated, may be necessary to be passed, but at the same time I think that many of us and many people outside of this chamber are a bit peeved, if that is the right choice of word, about the way the government went about this. They can’t talk about local autonomy and the need to involve people and the partnership between the municipal and provincial governments if they are not prepared to go that extra step to make sure that all of the people concerned and affected are both made aware of the changes contemplated and given ample opportunity to respond directly to them.
I don’t think that it is really the responsibility of the opposition, no matter how dedicated it is -- and God knows is it dedicated here -- to go out and seek that kind of information any more than it’s the responsibility of the government to do likewise. I think it’s a joint responsibility of the Legislature and we have to find other ways of making sure that whatever changes are proposed they’re circulated throughout the community at large to make sure the community most affected is knowledgeable and up to date.
If the parliamentary assistant would be prepared to say simply that he would send it out to committee and that there would be the opportunity to inform and invite the local municipal leaders to make their representations we could schedule that, I’m sure, for a week on Wednesday which would allow us to have the bill back in the House in time for that bill to be dealt with. I don’t see how that would create any great hardship for him or for anyone else.
Mr. Mackenzie: The suggestion of my colleague, that we hoist the bill for the time being and allow for some additional input, being a good idea, I’m going to support it, not oppose it, unlike the member for York Centre. I want to tell the House that one of the interesting things in dealing with this bill has been the reaction of some of the many Tory councillors we have -- there are still a few of them left even in my area when we consulted them about the bill. We sent them copies of it and forwarded copies of some of the observations made by some of the other regional councils, both thanking us for the bill and grumbling as to why they weren’t consulted or weren’t part of their own government’s bill, in effect, or their own people’s bill.
Our problems with regional government -- I want to speak very briefly on it -- are, in my opinion, to a large extent the result of a real lack of understood and soundly supported ground rules. Two obvious areas which come to me time and again are the questions of financing the region, the long-term financing of the various regions, and where was the authority so that we didn’t duplicate our efforts? I think the tragedy, even of the amendments suggested here, is that when they’re not brought about with some real consultation with the people involved, it compounds a growing feeling of a lot of people that there’s something wrong with regional government. It takes a good idea -- I think regional government is a good, sound idea -- and in the public’s mind it starts losing its credibility.
I get the feeling that we have difficulty not only in consulting with this present government but in having it listen as well. I think the suggestion of my colleague from Riverdale that we delay this bill and allow for some input into it is a sound one and it seems to me that it should commend itself to the Tories if for no other reason than to try to recoup some of their errors by not consulting in the first place on this bill. The changes which have been made, the deletions from the bill, are largely as a result -- it may not be admitted across the way -- of the flak, I guess, or the feedback from the people whom the opposition, largely, have consulted in the communities involved.
It’s meant they’ve had to make some changes. I want to say that, unlike the Liberal leader, at least, who is quoted as saying he’d dismantle regional governments if he was elected, I think it’s a good idea. I think it should be made to work. If we’re going to make changes and if we’re going to make it work, I think we’re going to have to do it with the involvement and participation of the municipal councils. It makes real sense to me that this bill should be delayed and we do have some input from some of the regional councils involved.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, perhaps at the outset, I could address myself to the evident concern on the part of the members on the opposite side of the House about the question of consultation which has dominated the debate on second reading.
I think that’s clearly something which is and must always be of concern to us as members of this Legislature, seeking constantly to try to improve the methods of communication; to look for new approaches, perhaps, to improving that communication with the people throughout the province and those at other levels of government. It appears, though, that there is some, either misunderstanding or some misinformation with respect to the process we did engage in with respect to this bill. If I may I would like, although it may not go to the principle of the bill perhaps just for clarification, to indicate some of the areas where I think there is some misinformation.
First of all, perhaps, I think I should point out that there are -- for the sake of those who may not recall the precise number -- some 535 municipalities in the Province of Ontario. Not all of them are involved in this particular piece of legislation but all of them are affected by at least the next two or three pieces of legislation which will be before this House.
So that raises, I think, an important question as to how one effectively consults with and responds, on any individualized basis, to 835 municipalities across the province. I’m just putting that in the context, not of this bill alone but of the three that are presently under consideration.
In addition to that, I think the government must always be mindful of the fact it is responsible to the Legislature of the Province of Ontario that sits here, in this chamber. I think there is sometimes a difficult decision to be made between going away from this Legislature, and consulting, advising, presenting to other bodies throughout this province, information which is not yet available or is not yet before the Legislature.
I think there is danger that a government might turn its back upon the very body to which it is primarily responsible, made up as it is of those of you who are elected to represent the people of the Province of Ontario. We have heard criticisms leveled at representatives and governments at other levels in this province and in this country for that very kind of conduct.
So I think one must be mindful of one’s responsibility to the Legislature. And that raises a question as to whether you consult upon the introduction and presentation of a bill to the Legislature; or do you ignore the Legislature and do it prior to the formal step being taken of presenting your proposals to the people to whom you bear responsibility?
Mr. Deans: You do both.
Mr. Moffatt: You don’t believe that?
Mr. Norton: That is precisely what we have done in this case.
Now may I give you a rundown of the sequence. April 13 I believe is the date -- there was a change of the date for that meeting in my diary, but I believe it was April 13 -- I met with the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee, at which time this piece of legislation and the Metropolitan Toronto Amendment Act were discussed. Now this one, because of the fact there were so many similarities in terms of the amendments, one or the other may have got less detailed discussion because --
Mr. Deans: This one got less.
Mr. Norton: Yes; but bear in mind, please, that there was a great deal of duplication in terms of the amendments; they were, in many ways, precisely the same.
So there was discussion, and that was prior to the presentation to the House; and I had great reservations about how much detail or how much concrete information I should be giving to the people before that bill was presented to the House.
The following day, if my recollection is correct, the bill was presented to the House for first reading. I had indicated to the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee that there would be delay so we could discuss their responses to the proposed legislation; and in fact the bill has, I believe, been on the order paper now for some six weeks.
That was not the full extent of the consultation and communication with municipal representatives around the province. I am very cognizant of the fact that the members of the opposition were in contact with the municipal representatives in the province, but I hope they don’t assume that I wasn’t. This six weeks has been a very active six weeks of consultation. It has involved meetings with municipal representatives, it has involved telephone conversations, it has involved extensive correspondence.
I think it has been a very helpful and a very worthwhile process. If that is not a consultative process, then perhaps I was wrong. But if you feel that I ought to take a different approach at another time or perhaps if the PMLC meetings had not been scheduled, as they were, that there might have been a greater lag between that and the presentation to the House --
Mr. Mackenzie: Somebody just lost half of your list, that’s all.
Mr. Norton: I am sorry: I don’t understand what the hon. member is saying.
Mr. Deans: Did you speak to other than the chairmen of the various regions?
Mr. Mackenzie: You didn’t get in touch with them and you should have.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Norton: On the PMLC, I can think immediately of only one regional chairman who was in regular attendance -- and I hope I am not omitting someone -- sorry, two. Three? Okay --
Mr. Norton: There are two that I remember offhand. In addition to that, I have not had direct conversation with regional chairmen around the province. Most of my communication over the six-week period has been with one regional chairman and other representatives -- mayors and members of councils -- from across the province. If the hon. members are suggesting or have any suspicion that the communication has been primarily with the appointed as opposed to the elected people, then that is simply not true.
The point I wish to make is that the concern about the consultative process is something which I am sure is shared generally here. I think we have done an effective job in terms of responding to the communications we have received, and the two proposed amendments that I have indicated I will introduce in committee of the whole are designed primarily to relieve what I think must be at least 99 per cent of the concerns that have been expressed to us during that six-week period of consultation.
The proposal that we now delay the matter further, whether it be for two weeks, which strikes me as being perhaps impractically short for that type of process --
Mr. Deans: Do it for longer.
Mr. Norton: -- or whether it be for four months, as the hon. member for Riverdale suggested, seems to me to be unnecessary. The hon. members opposite have heard, and we have heard, the concerns expressed by the municipal representatives throughout the province. It seems to me that we have very good reading of what the concerns are. I think some of them were based upon a perhaps unjustified concern, but nevertheless a very deeply felt concern.
Those concerns were communicated, not only by them directly but through representatives on the other side of the House and certainly very strongly by members of our own caucus, about things like the 75 per cent levy. I don’t wish to get into a discussion of the merits of it, but that was essentially a permissive provision. If we are concerned about local autonomy, then surely this could very well be seen as the transmittal of additional authority to the local levels of government. However, given the responses and the fact that we have been asked to reconsider it, I am not embarrassed to say, as someone else has suggested I ought to be, that we reconsidered it. It seems to me that is part of the consultative process and part of being responsive. Surely we don’t simply go through the act of listening and then ignore it when we have heard. So I am not embarrassed to say that we are introducing these amendments.
I think the process has been successful and productive, and I trust we will be able to improve and smooth out the process of consultation in the future. The very fact that there has been response, I think, indicates success in the effort.
I would urge the members of the opposition, particularly the official opposition, to reconsider their position with respect to delaying the matter further. I think they have a clear reading now, and I believe we have a clear reading now, of the position of the municipalities. There has been a period of consultation. I have not been able to confirm precisely when the copies of the bill were sent out. It was my understanding that they were to be sent out the day or the day after it was introduced; apparently there was a delay in the posting of them. I might also indicate that there was consultation at the staff level before the thing was introduced and that information could have been made available by the staff of the municipalities following introduction. That is not to cast any responsibility for this situation upon municipal employees but there were fairly extensive efforts made to make municipalities aware -- or give them the resources to be aware -- of the intent of the legislation to be introduced.
In conclusion I would ask the members of the opposition to permit this to be proceeded with now. As has been indicated, the provisions which would remain in it, if the amendments are accepted, are not by and large sections which have resulted in any negative response from the municipalities in the province. Some of the sections would be very helpful to the municipalities if they were now available to them. I think we would be doing an injustice to them if we delayed the process further. Six weeks of consultation, I think, have been productive. I see no need to extend it further.
Mr. Deans: It depends how you interpret the word consultation, doesn’t it?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Mr. Renwick has moved that Bill 55, being the Regional Municipalities Amendment Act, 1976, be not now read a second time but be read this day four months hence.
The question before the House at the present time is shall this bill now be read a second time?
Mr. Kennedy: On a point of clarification, can this be dealt with when the hon. member who has moved the motion is not present?
Mr. Deans: Of course it can.
Mr. Kennedy: I was asking him, not you.
Mr. Acting Speaker: It is not necessary for the mover of a motion or amendment to be present when it is dealt with by the House or committee.
The House divided on the question whether Bill 55 be now read the second time, which was approved on the following the vote:
Newman (Durham North)
Reid (Rainy River)
Wiseman -- 50.
Davison (Hamilton Centre)
Ziemba -- 24.
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, “ayes” are 50, the “nays” 24.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for committee of the whole House?
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the bill has now had second reading and can be now directed to either standing committee or committee of the whole House, would the parliamentary assistant reconsider his decision and send the bill to standing committee, so that there could be municipal input?
Mr. Reid: Right.
Mr. Bain: That’s what we were asking for.
Mr. Good: You are trying to kill it; that’s what you are trying to do.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has the floor.
Mr. Martel: You don’t know what you are doing. Why don’t you find out what is going on once in a while?
Mr. Warner: You guys don’t even know how the system really works.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as I think was very fully discussed this afternoon during the debate, the consultative process has taken now some six weeks, and I think the members on both sides of the House have had ample time to consult with the municipal officials throughout the Province of Ontario. I see no reason for this bill now going to a standing committee. I think the House is quite able to deal with it in committee of the whole.
Clerk of the House: The first order, resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.