The House met at 2 p.m.
POINT OF PRIVILEGE
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. On Tuesday last the members of this House were given copies of their legislative expenses and I happened to notice with a great deal of interest that it was recorded that my spouse was to have taken one trip.
An hon. member: Who is she?
Mr. Mancini: If I could have order for just one moment, I’m sure you and the hon. members of this House would like to know that I’ll be getting married for the first time this coming Aug. 14.
Mr. Mancini: I would like to have the record cleared of this libellous account, as it makes it very difficult for me to go home and face my fiancée.
Mr. Speaker: I really think that time will correct that situation.
Statements by the ministry.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, the hon. member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) requested that I table the figures for employables on general welfare assistance rolls in the province, with a comparison for the same period last year. I am pleased to provide that information at this time.
As the hon. member may be aware, the basis for reporting on provincial trends regarding general welfare assistance from month to month is based on the data obtained from municipal welfare officials in 10 key cities, which represent 60 per cent of the total general welfare assistance caseload in the province. These 10 cities are: Toronto, Kingston, Waterloo, Ottawa-Carleton, Hamilton, Sudbury, London, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Windsor.
The 10 cities’ figures show that the total number of employables among general welfare assistance recipients dropped by only 385, that is from 15,741 in January, 1975, to 15,359 in April, 1975, a decline of two per cent in those four months. In January, 1976, total employables on general welfare assistance caseload stood at 16,307. As of April, 1976, they had dropped to 12,074, which is a reduction of 26 per cent in the first four months of this year.
This 2 per cent drop in employables on general welfare assistance rolls is even more significant when one compares the total caseload figures. The total general welfare assistance caseload, including employables and unemployables, stood at 40,444 in January, 1975. It remained virtually constant and stood at 40,488 in April, 1975. As of January of this year, it was 41,185 and in April of this year it had declined 10.6 per cent to 36,829.
If one compares the drop in employables with the decline in total caseload, it is apparent that the employables have been declining at over double the rate of the caseload reduction.
It has been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) that the reduction in general welfare assistance rolls was accomplished, at least in part, by transferring people from temporary welfare at the municipal level to the provincial rolls for long-term family benefits assistance. The statistics show that this is not the case. If you will compare the increase from Jan. 30 to May 30 of this year, you will find that the family benefit assistance caseload increased from 102,033 to 103,035, an increase of just one per cent. In the same period last year, the family benefit assistance caseload increased from 90,349 to 94,775, an increase of five per cent.
The data for Ottawa-Carleton is indeed different from the province-wide trend. The general welfare assistance caseload in Ottawa-Carleton dropped from 3,665 in April, 1975, to 2,821 in April, 1976, that is 23 per cent. The number of employables increased from 427 in April, 1975, to 635 in April, 1976. The number of unemployables, however, was sharply reduced from 3,238 in April 1975, to 2,186 in April 1976. The increase in employables does, of course, involve a relatively small number on which to base any local trend.
With regard to Metropolitan Toronto, the total general welfare assistance caseload dropped from 11,538 in May, 1975, to 10,748 in May, 1976 -- a decline of approximately seven per cent. While the total number of employables rose from 25,000 in May, 1975, to 26,315 in April, 1976, they had dropped again in a single month to 25,903 in May, 1976.
As I said in my address to the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association, the experience of certain municipalities may vary from the norm. However, I am sure that the figures I have detailed today graphically demonstrate the wisdom and social benefit accruing from my ministry’s programmes in the past few months, and --
Mr. Laughren: Resign.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- and that the trend to move employable people from welfare back into self-sufficient roles in the community will continue. This is our aim.
Mr. R. S. Smith: The programme has nothing to do with it.
Mr. Speaker: Any further statements by the ministry? The Minister of Colleges and Universities. I’m sorry, the Chairman of Management Board -- my mind slipped back a few months.
Mr. Moffatt: It always is.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Nothing but straight lines, Mr. Speaker.
Yesterday, Wednesday, June 9, a five-line telegram was received from Prof. G. J. Brandt, chairman of the arbitration board for the technical services category, advising that the board has awarded wage increases of $20 per week plus five per cent for the 4,900 employees in this category. He also advised that the details of the award would follow.
Until we receive the actual award and learn how the increases are to be applied, it is not possible to calculate the exact costs of the award. However, based on the limited information in the telegram, the average increase would appear to be in the neighbourhood of 14 per cent. The board rejected the union’s request for a built-in cost of living allowance.
Since the award must be submitted for consideration by the Anti-Inflation Board, the government is not in a position to implement the award until we know the extent to which it will be sanctioned by that Anti-Inflation Board. However, we are currently investigating the possibility of providing some interim payment for the employees concerned.
Wage increases for the employees in the other seven categories are still under review by the seven different boards still sitting and awards are expected over the course of the next several weeks.
TRUCK HAUL RATES IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to announce that all government ministries will include minimum truck haul rates in future contracts. They will be based on --
Mr. Moffatt: Good move.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- Ministry of Transportation and Communications contracts which have included a minimum rate clause for more than 10 years. Based on several factors, including the purchase price of the truck, overhead and maintenance, operating costs and wages, the rates are reviewed at the end of each fiscal year. Interim adjustments may be made during the year, however, if any of the factors have an adverse effect on trucking costs.
Contractors dealing with my ministry are obliged by the terms of such contracts to pay all truckers hired by them or their subcontractors at least the minimum rate contained in any particular contract.
Should the rate alter during the life of the contract, however, the contractor is not obliged to pay the new rate. He is bound only by the initial contractual rate.
The minimum rate applies only to trucks hired by the prime contractor or his subcontractor. It does not apply to trucks hired or owned by other suppliers of material to the contract. Local agreements, bylaws or the availability of trucks may cause the contractor to pay rates in excess of the prescribed minimums; under the terms of his contract with the ministry, however, he may not pay less.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
MERCURY ANALYSIS PROGRAMME
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, may I first ask a question of the Solicitor General and Provincial Secretary for Justice? Could he elaborate on the annual report -- that section which deals with the mercury analysis programme -- indicating that tissue and blood samples obtained for medical-legal post-mortem examinations are being provided for mercury testing and neurological examination whenever mercury might be considered a cause of death of any resident in the English-Wabigoon River system? Have there been such tests? Is there any comment he would have to offer on the results of this work with the Ministry of Health?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have many figures involved with it but I understand that whenever there is a death in that area which they feel might be due to mercury poisoning, they are making pathological examinations and recording them. The chief coroner is in charge of the programme and our estimates, as the member knows, are before committee at the present time. I am sure he will be glad to elaborate on the programme but it is going on.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: So far as the minister knows or so far as he has heard, no specific evidence of mercury as part of the pathological findings has been brought to his attention? Would the chief coroner normally inform him of that?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I’m not so sure what the member is getting at. I think they have found traces of mercury in some of the bodies that they have examined but as to whether they have come to any conclusion, I don’t think they have. They’re trying to establish statistics and that’s the point it’s at now, just gathering the statistics.
Mr. Angus: Supplementary: Does the examination include adults and children who have since moved away from that particular area should they happen to become deceased over the next year or so?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I don’t believe so. I think it’s just done on the bodies of people who die in that area. I don’t think they try to co-ordinate them across the country in any way. Again, more particulars of that should be obtained from the coroners.
Mr. Bain: Supplementary: Can the minister tell us if similar tests have been done on any other people who have died in other areas of the province, and if so, what areas?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: They are testing many bodies all the time. I don’t think there is any attempt to co-ordinate the material and the findings as they are attempting to do in the Kenora area.
MERCURY CONTENT OF FISH
Mr. Lewis: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Does the minister now have a target date for the tabling of the report of the doctors and scientists who visited Japan?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I have just been informed that the report is finished and that it is being typed right now. It may not be printed before the House rises; however, if I could in some fashion obtain copies prior to printing I’d be delighted to see that it was made available while the House was still sitting.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you. I have a supplementary. Does the minister know anything about the famous nutrition report which is coming from the federal government which was the centrepiece of the discussion at the May 20 meeting with federal and provincial civil servants allegedly to provide an alternative food supply? It’s now more than two weeks later. We still don’t have that report although it was promised at the meeting.
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, I honestly don’t. I haven’t seen the report at all.
PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES’ NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. Lewis: May I ask a question of the Minister of Labour? Is the minister aware that we are faced with a province-wide public health nurses’ walkout -- effectively a strike -- in 26 district health units starting Monday for an entire week? Is there no way to rescue this classic failure of labour negotiations by some kind of government intervention before the nurses are forced out?
Hon. B. Stephenson: As the hon. Leader of the Opposition knows very well, we have been attempting to provide some effective mediation in this dispute for the last two months. There will, I’m informed, be a withdrawal of service by 26 units of the public health nurses in the Province of Ontario which, I gather, will extend from Monday until Friday of next week. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that the Minister of Health and I will be meeting again with the executive committee of ONA next week. We are still attempting to persuade the boards of health to a form of action which may hopefully resolve the problem. There has been personal intervention on this occasion over the last few months but, I am sorry to tell the hon. member, thus far to no avail.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask one supplementary? Is the minister saying that she, as the minister, has tried to prevail on the boards of health and has been unable to get anywhere? Does the minister not think then that there comes a moment in time when she says publicly what she thinks of the boards of health, indicates what she’s asked them to do; and perhaps even directs them to do it, rather than to let relations wear so thin that the nurses walk out? Surely that’s destructive later on.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The problem related to the relationships between public health nurses and boards of health is one which has been of grave concern to both the Minister of Health and myself. There are a number of groups of people actively involved in studying this problem and attempting to find a resolution which will be of a permanent nature and not one which will simply solve this problem this year.
Mr. Nixon: Since the minister has indicated that she participated personally, or perhaps with the Minister of Health or representatives of the ministry, are they endeavouring to bring about some procedure whereby there will be an arbitration procedure or province-wide negotiations? What is the nature of her intervention?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The nature of the intervention, Mr. Speaker, has been to try to explore, with boards of health and with the Ontario Nurses’ Association, methods of solving this problem, as I said, on a more permanent basis.
Mr. Nixon: Are you opposed to arbitration?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, we are not opposed to an arbitration procedure. We have, in fact, proposed arbitration as well as other methods of solving the problem.
Mr. Moffatt: I would like to ask the minister if she has consulted with the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) on the long-term costs of such a short view of this whole problem as this seems to be. The cutting out of preventive care, such as the public health nurses are providing, in the long run, it would seem to me, will cost this province more. Has the minister consulted with the Treasurer as to the advisability of changing the guidelines as they apply to health units?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Well, the Treasurer did not set the guidelines in the first place. There has been much consultation regarding this entire matter and it is not a short-term provision at all. This is a matter which is obviously going to be of a long-term nature, and therefore requires a solution which will be effective, not only this year but for many years to come.
There are certain qualifications this year which make it perhaps a little more difficult, and the inactivity of certain of the boards of health in 1975 has complicated this matter tremendously. We are trying to find a reasonable solution which will be of a permanent nature rather than a short-term nature.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Surely the minister is talking about legislation, and since that would be long-term, and hopefully short-term as well, is she in a position to announce, some time before the strike takes place, that this House will be given legislation to consider which might avert the present strike and lead us to a long-term solution, which is greatly to be desired?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, I am not in a position to announce this at this time. This is certainly one of the proposals which is being examined very carefully; there are a number of routes in that direction which might be considered.
ST. LAWRENCE RESIN PRODUCTS LTD.
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of the Environment: How is the minister responding to Marshall and Thibideau, the barristers and solicitors in Cayuga, who have written to draw his attention to the unpleasant fact that the St. Lawrence Resin Products Ltd. plant in Cayuga apparently continues to emit aldehydes into the air, which the ministry has already indicated could well be damaging to human health; and that the situation has persisted with the minister’s knowledge for almost five years, even though the ministry has on one occasion moved against the company? Is the minister prepared to move in against the company now?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t seen the latest letter from Marshall and Thibideau. I’ll have to read it first and reply to the hon. member when I have done so.
Mr. Lewis: Are they right in saying that the minister indicated, as early as February, 1976, that respiratory problems will result; that the irritants range from pulmonary edema, bronchial spasms, irritation of mucous membranes, right though to abdominal cramps; and that all of this has been experienced by the residents of the area with the full knowledge of the Ministry of the Environment and nothing has been done?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I know that the ministry is aware of that problem and has been working with the plant trying to minimize it. I believe there is a control order against the plant. I am not sure if there has been any prosecution, but certainly at least three or four years ago we were aware of it and trying to do something about it.
However, I haven’t seen the latest correspondence from the solicitors. I am surprised that Mr. Marshall is one of them; but in any event when I have that information I would be happy to reply.
Mr. Nixon: Why would that surprise the minister?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I’ll tell the member later.
Mr. Cunningham: Given that the minister admits and recognizes this problem has existed for the last three or four years, when is he going to do something about this before we have some serious health problems there? Do we have to wait for some letter by a lawyer before this government can take action?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Was a specific question asked?
Mr. Nixon: What is the minister going to do?
Mr. Cunningham: The question was when is the minister going to do something? Do we have to wait, in the Province of Ontario, for some letter from some lawyer before we take action?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: No, Mr. Speaker. Sorry, I didn’t realize the supplementary was directed to me. As I indicated to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, we are aware of the problem. It’s a complex problem. We’re trying to do something about it and before I can reply to the hon. member’s question I must read that latest correspondence.
Mr. S. Smith: I’d like to ask a question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker, in view of his brief to the royal commission on corporate concentration in which he blames small business to some extent for the poor productivity record of this country. Can we take it from that brief that the Treasurer has nothing to offer to make the small business sector in Ontario a healthier, more competitive and more profitable sector, and that he has pretty well thrown in the sponge and given it all up to the large businesses with which he is so familiar?
Mr. Moffatt: Be charitable.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I am tempted, but it’s a hot day. Somebody tells me we are approaching the end of the session.
Mr. Martel: Don’t count on it.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Rather than rise to that rather feeble bait, I would simply say that I advise the leader of the third party to read that brief. I would simply advise the leader of the third party to look over the record of this government in terms of its support through the Ontario Development Corp.
Mr. Nixon: The NDP is the only one that is really interested.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In terms of taxation policy, the last being in the most recent budget --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is difficult to hear the answer.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In terms of the legislation now on the order paper for venture investment corporations, which legislation attracted notice in the budget of the federal government just a few weeks ago. Once again, they follow Ontario’s example. I would say to the leader of the third party --
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There is no point of order.
Mr. Speaker: I will hear the point of order.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, we’re continually being told that our questions must be framed, must be concise and must be short. Do we have to put up with answers as long as we get from that side? He should be brought to order as well and told to stick to the answers.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I point out two things? No. 1, the minister answers a question with whatever information or in whatever manner he wishes. No. 2, it was a very general question about “what are you going to do for small business?” or some such question as that.
Mr. Riddell: You don’t care and neither does he. Tell us what you are doing for the retailers in this province.
Mr. Speaker: We are wasting time.
Mr. Roy: He is wasting time.
Mr. Speaker: We are wasting time with all these interjections which are totally unnecessary. A general question would generally evoke a rather general answer. I would ask that the questions be as specific as possible and the answers likewise. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I accept your admonition and may I say, speaking to the point of order, that it’s great to see the member for Ottawa East trying to take his leader off the hook but it didn’t work. It really didn’t work.
Mr. Peterson: Answer the question.
Mr. Roy: I am trying to help you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Albert, you are getting ready for a byelection.
Mr. Roy: I am not worried about a byelection.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, amused as I am at the interesting teamwork which exists between the two sides of the same coin of large business -- both of whom depend only on large business and large unions -- I still want to know if the Treasurer is aware of the consternation --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Hamilton West is asking a question. The hon. member may continue.
Mr. S. Smith: I still want to know --
Mr. Lewis: The leader of the Liberal Party is an authority on both sides of the same coin.
Mr. S. Smith: The amusement is really remarkable when we consider that 55 per cent of our people work for the small enterprises in this province, my friend, and they are the people who will put --
Mr. S. Smith: Does the Treasurer realize --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Could we get on with the question period?
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. Order, please. We are wasting very valuable time. The hon. member for Hamilton West is asking a question.
Mr. S. Smith: They’re quite happy with the influence they have had on the press gallery, you understand.
Mr. Lewis: Oho!
Mr. MacDonald: Question?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Hamilton West has the floor.
Mr. S. Smith: Does the Treasurer appreciate, Mr. Speaker, the degree of consternation that he has created in the small business sector of Ontario by his brief, which apparently, from its own wording -- and I’ve had the misfortune of looking at it --
Mr. Deans: Is this the Treasurer’s opinion, too?
Mr. S. Smith: -- that this brief has pretty well written off small business as a non-productive, low-profit sector in Ontario, which makes Canada uncompetitive --
Mr. McNeil: Question.
Mr. S. Smith: -- and that this has caused considerable consternation in the small business sector of this province?
Mr. Nixon: Throw him out of the Conservative Party.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Peterson: Can you say that a little louder?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes.
Mr. Roy: That’s good. That’s good. That’s better.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer is a small man. He should be good at small business.
Mr. S. Smith: Isn’t he lucky? The Treasurer doesn’t even have to have his own people. He’s got his own cheering section right here waiting for him.
Mr. Deans: And not with you.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: How are you coming with the next election?
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, you’re the election hawk. We know how brave you are. We know how brave you are. The July election boys.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are wasting time, I say.
METRIC PAPER SIZES
Mr. S. Smith: Would the Minister of Government Services please explain to us why it is that the Ontario government is among a very small minority of enterprises that have switched to metric paper sizes?
An hon. member: Oh no!
Mr. S. Smith: Can the minister explain why this change has occurred and the financial premium? Could she give us exactly the financial premium we must pay as a result of our unusual paper sizes, what this amounts to in dollars?
An hon. member: Go get him, Margaret.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: Ask one of the boys.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We have spectators in the gallery, and I’m sure they’re judging all the interjections. Order, please.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, I have already provided this information in very considerable detail to one of the member’s colleagues, but I will be pleased to provide this information for him again.
Mr. S. Smith: No, the dollar value is not there.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Since the answer which the minister kindly provided did not contain the dollar value, would she please give us that -- and could she tell us what other metric conversion will be necessitated by this change, such matters as binders, bookcases, punches and the like, and at what cost?
Hon. J. R. Smith: Tennis balls.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: The introduction of the metric system, of course, is a federal responsibility, Mr. Speaker. This government is simply complying and co-operating with that level of government.
Mr. Peterson: About time.
An hon. member: Your friends.
Mr. S. Smith: As a final supplementary, is the minister not aware that Ontario is the only government and virtually the only enterprise in all of Canada that went over to this particular paper size? Why are we being unique in this matter?
Mr. Yakabuski: That’s terrible.
Mr. S. Smith: It certainly is.
Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Minister of Health: Can he tell us whether there has been any representation made by him within Ontario and within provincial and federal relations to have companies stop using chloroform in cough medicines, cosmetics, toothpastes and so on, especially in view of the evidence that has been recently forthcoming that chloroform causes cancer and possibly birth defects in various species?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, that may well be under discussion at the federal-provincial level. I know that the Patent Medicines Act is up for either cancellation or review shortly, and I would suspect that a complete review of those chemicals that’ll be permitted to be sold over the counter or put into prescriptions will be made shortly.
Mr. Lewis: Oh, I hadn’t read it.
Mr. S. Smith: A related question to the Minister of the Environment following my question of a few days ago regarding chloro-organic compounds and chloroform in the drinking water of Ontario: Has he anything more to report, especially in view of today’s article in the Toronto Sun indicating more recent information that US government researchers have now confirmed preliminary reports that chloroform causes cancer in test animals and the US Food and Drug Administration has insisted that companies stop using it in the medicines I referred to earlier?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The hon. member is referring again to a report from the United States. I hope to have a full answer for him on Monday as far as any problems in Ontario are concerned in any particular purification plant.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member for Hamilton West asked me to produce the names of the consultants making a study and the terms of reference of this study, particularly as they apply to Ontario Housing Corp.
The purpose of the study is to review the adequacy of the existing organization structure in relation to the ministry’s current and future responsibilities in the housing development, housing management and community planning fields. Where appropriate, it will identify alternative approaches to optimize programme effectiveness and the operating efficiency.
There are three phases within the study. Phase 1 concerns fundamental questions relating to organizational design and alternative structures for consideration by the ministry; phase 2 deals with roles and relationships of Crown corporations within the ministry; and phase 3 is an implementation planning stage involving the development of estimates of manpower and financial resources, etc., with respect to the particular organizational alternative which the ministry decides to recommend to Management Board.
Four firms responded to the invitation to submit proposals and the one submitted by Redma Consultants Ltd. was not only judged to be superior to the other three, it was also, at the price of $30,000, the lowest price. Mr. K. O. Hillyer, project director, headed up a task force of personnel seconded from the ministry to participate in the study. An interim report on findings has been submitted and is currently under consideration in the ministry.
Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary on this particular question: Could the minister explain to us what it is that prompted the study to be done of OHC, which cost $30,000, and to take into account this whole matter of Crown corporations and their relationship to the Ministry of Housing? What is the necessity for this study? Could he explain that to us and could he give us any indication as to the preliminary findings so far?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: First of all, I thought in my response I indicated that this was not a study particularly of Ontario Housing Corp. or of the relationship of corporations to the ministry but it was much broader than that. As to what brought the study on, it was as a result of attempting to reorganize, restructure and bring a little more efficiency, if you will, into the total operation. For example, in the case of Ontario Housing, we were looking at non-corporate matters, rather than having duplication of some services, to bring some of these services back into the ministry, such as accounting, payroll and personnel and this sort of thing, which can be handled out of one centre --
Mr. Nixon: We don’t need OHC at all.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- but to retain the board to carry out their corporate responsibilities in the handling of the housing development programme.
DEATH OF ZOO MONKEYS
Mr. Dukszta: I have a question of the Minister of Health. A couple of weeks ago 12 monkeys died suddenly at the Metro zoo. I want to ask the minister a three-part question about this. Does he know what the monkeys have died of? Has he isolated the virus? If not, what would he have done, if it was a Marburg virus, to isolate 20 or 30 people who were exposed who would have been in need of treatment, in view of the fact that the ministry doesn’t have any preparations and there is capacity only to isolate about three to four people?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I didn’t realize the member is expanding my field.
Mr. Dukszta: That’s health.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mind you, Mr. Speaker, I have been dealing with them across the House for some time.
Mr. Moffatt: You are the appropriate one too.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Honestly, I can’t answer because I don’t know, but I will be pleased to find out.
Mr. Roy: I have a question to the Attorney General dealing with the problem of overcrowding and the delays in our courts, especially our criminal courts of justice. Why would the minister limit what we would call, I guess, judicially supervised disclosures -- the experiment in Ottawa -- to Ottawa and not have it in Toronto where the problem is most acute, especially since the programme, the experiment, has been tried in Montreal and has been proved successful -- there has been an experiment in Montreal lasting for a year and according to the statistics we saved some 30,000 witness days and --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Shorten the question.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Question.
Mr. Riddell: Just be quiet. You will learn something, John.
Mr. Roy: Yes, I am just completing.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Are we getting to the question?
Mr. Roy: Yes, my question is: Why, in view of these statistics, would the minister want to limit the experiment to Ottawa and not have it working in other large centres, especially in Toronto where the problem is most acute? Among the --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member for Ottawa East please take his seat?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I assume from the tenor of the remarks of the hon. member for Ottawa East that he approves of the pilot project in Ottawa which, I have to say, commenced as a result of a visit I made there two months ago. We intend to do the same thing in Metropolitan Toronto as soon as possible.
We are short-staffed in Toronto but at the present time, as has been announced, we are decentralizing our Crown attorneys’ department in Metropolitan Toronto in order to establish a better liaison with both the police and the profession, particularly in relation to the serious cases before our courts. As soon as this decentralization has been implemented, we expect to proceed with a similar project to that being conducted in Ottawa at the present time.
Mr. Roy: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker, if I may: Perhaps the very reason the ministry is short-staffed in Toronto is because it doesn’t have this sort of programme.
Mr. Speaker: The question, please.
Mr. Roy: I am getting there, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: It doesn’t seem like it up to now.
Mr. Roy: Does the minister not feel -- which came first, the chicken or the egg? -- that he should have that type of programme? It would take away some of the pressure on his staff and he would have more staff. Doesn’t he feel he is going at it sort of backwards? Institute the programme and he will have sufficient staff.
Mr. Bullbrook: Will you answer that question?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: You tell me what the question is and I will attempt to answer it.
Mr. Roy: You know the question.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think we are going about it the right way, Mr. Speaker.
EFFECT OF FLUORESCENT LIGHT ON FOOD
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to a question asked of the Premier earlier by the hon. member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Burr) concerning the effects of lighting on the nutritional value of milk,
Hon. Mr. Davis: I told you we would get the answer for you.
An hon. member: He asked you as well? He has asked the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. He has asked everybody that question.
Hon. W. Newman: Milk is the freshest and the single most economical and most nourishing food we have.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Do we want to hear the answer or not?
Mr. S. Smith: When the commercials are over, could he answer the question?
Hon. W. Newman: It is the closest thing to the perfect food we know in Ontario.
Mr. Peterson: It’s not served at the Albany Club. What are you talking about?
Hon. W. Newman: This is a very serious matter I am discussing and I want members to listen.
Hon. W. Newman: Because of the high value we place on milk, the Ontario government is concerned about maintaining the high standard of freshness and quality of this product in our province.
Research in Ontario and elsewhere has documented the fact that milk, when subject to prolonged high-intensity lighting, may develop an off-flavour and suffer losses in nutritional value, particularly in ascorbic acid and riboflavin.
Mr. Nixon: There is one page.
Hon. W. Newman: The most recent significant study of this matter was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and published in 1973 by Dr. John M. de Mann of the University of Guelph in the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology Journal, Vol. 6, No. 7. Dr. de Mann’s report established that there is adequate technology now available to prevent any impairment of milk quality from exposure to light.
The speed of oxidation and the speed at which nutrients disappear increase with the intensity of light, therefore milk deteriorates faster in one store than another simply because of the differences in the showcase lighting in different retail outlets. The concerned consumer who wants maximum nutritional value would be well advised to buy fresh milk which is displayed in a cold and dark storage area.
At the same time, it takes time for light to have any detrimental effect on quality --
Mr. Roy: How about going directly to the cow?
Mr. Nixon: Why don’t you table it?
Hon. W. Newman: -- and the speed at which milk moves from the cow to the buyer’s table is one guarantee of quality. Most milk sold in Ontario just does not sit for 24 hours or longer on a shelf in intense light. The production and distribution system is that efficient.
Mr. Peterson: You’re the new Louis Pasteur.
Hon. W. Newman: The package in which milk is displayed and sold can have some effect on protecting nutritional value on the basis of its resistance to light. A clear plastic pouch or a translucent milk jug obviously will not keep out as much light as a cardboard container. Ideally, I suppose, a black container which is impervious to light would make the perfect milk container, preferably in the form of a refillable money-back jug for maximum environmental benefit.
Mr. Ferris: An Aberdeen Angus is the best container.
Hon. W. Newman: However, milk producers and processers must concern themselves with product package and sales appeal. For example, one company introduced a milk pouch with a green plastic liner about four years ago for test marketing. It turned out to be unpopular with consumers and expensive to produce so it was withdrawn from the market. Within the industry there are a number of experiments under way to reduce light transmission of containers and thereby protect their contents.
As I said, we value milk for its nutritional worth and the industry and government are both concerned about maintaining an established high standard of quality and freshness.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has the regulatory responsibility for package sizes under the Milk Act and the Ministry of the Environment has the authority to regulate packaging from an environmental standpoint; the federal Department of National Health and Welfare’s bureau of chemical safety approves container materials.
The Minister of the Environment informs me he is expecting a report on milk containers from the ministry’s waste management advisory board. This will represent a comprehensive study of both returnable and nonreturnable containers in the industry and should make a significant contribution to our knowledge of milk packaging.
Mr. S. Smith: How many chapters will this oral answer be in?
Hon. W. Newman: At least I’m saying something.
Mr. Cunningham: It is kind of like Chinese food, of no great substance.
Hon. W. Newman: Our two ministries, the Ontario Dairy Council and the Ontario Milk Marketing Board are working on the various potential concerns in milk packaging, so that as the industry converts to the metric system any outstanding issues can be resolved.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I point out that I believe an answer of that length should have been given as a ministerial statement?
Mr. Cunningham: Now you tell him.
Mr. Speaker: That’s all right. There is some delay, you know, caused by the interjections which I’m hearing now. We’ll add one minute to the question period.
Mr. Bounsall: A question of the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister or some senior representative of the Ontario government be appearing before the Anti-Inflation Board, if it’s still in existence then, in support of the arbitration award for the technical services category of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, particularly inasmuch as the arbitration board and the arbitration procedures are creations of his government?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I doubt it, Mr. Speaker, but I will wait until we have seen all the awards.
Mr. Kerrio: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Speaker. Has he investigated the sources of polychlorinated biphenyls entering our municipal water treatment plants, and is the effluent discharge monitored at all to determine what’s going into the waterways?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member may know, it’s very difficult to detect PCBs in municipal water treatment plants, particularly the end result after treatment in a purification plant. The amount is infinitesimal and we’re really having difficulty cataloguing any levels of PCBs in drinking water. The people in my ministry assure me there are no problems as far as PCBs are concerned in respect of treated water in municipal treatment plants. However, we keep a close watch on that, particularly in those municipalities on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: I wonder then if we couldn’t consider some licensing or monitoring of PCBs entering the system through dielectric fluids that are used in many areas of hydro transformers and capacitors. I wonder if those are being let into our system and if there shouldn’t be some licensing of large plants and Hydro toward controlling these PCBs at that level?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Those transformers and precipitators are some of the sources of PCBs. For example, when there is leaching from a dump containing that material, there could be problems. The problem has pretty well been eliminated because we now have only one such dump in Ontario, and it is only sort of a temporary dump. The PCBs are transported to New York State and there they are covered and contained by the manufacturer in the first place. The damage and the fact that we’re getting high readings in some species of fish have been, I think, as a result of leaching and loss over a period of time. That is why we are finding those high levels now.
I think we have contained it. We know the source and are controlling it. We are properly disposing of it. Now the question is, if we don’t have some type of improvement, possibly even that product in transformers will be prohibited from entering the country. I notice that Mr. Marchand made a statement in the last couple of days that the federal government is considering banning the use of PCBs which are being imported into the country.
Mr. Reed: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I think we have spent quite a bit of time on that. We are just about out of time. We have several more questions to be asked and answers to be given.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, on March 18, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) asked me a question relating to catalytic converters on 1976 General Motors passenger automobiles and the effect that overheating of these devices could have on people suffering from chronic bronchitis. I answered at the time that I would look into the situation and use whatever legislative remedy I had if I found it necessary.
The consumer protection bureau reports that we have had only one telephone inquiry about the alleged overheating problems of these catalytic converters, and no complaints. I have no information on file indicating that they are dangerous or hazardous, nor do I have any record of any complaints about them. We’ve asked the business practices division of our ministry to check further into the matter, but at this time I can’t see any further course of action that is open to us at the provincial level.
I would suggest to the hon. member that if he has evidence of the danger of these devices and their hazards, perhaps he could either bring that evidence to us or take his concerns to the hazardous products branch of the federal Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
SENIOR CITIZEN HOUSING
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Is the minister aware that, notwithstanding the provisions of the Residential Premises Rent Review Act and the buildings that are currently available to and under construction for senior citizens, a great number of seniors across the province are having a great deal of difficulty making ends meet, particularly with regard to the rents that are being charged? When will the government bring in a proper rent subsidy programme in order to alleviate this problem?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member knows I am very well aware of the waiting lists that there are in Ontario today for senior citizen accommodation, and I think the hon. member, as well, is aware I have stated that we in the ministry are at present looking at the very method that we can find to provide a subsidized form of rent assistance to senior citizens. I don’t know what the member would like me to respond further to. I’ve said that previously in public and on other occasions.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: Given that he has said it previously in public and nothing has happened, can the minister give us an indication of whether it is the intention --
Mr. Yakabuski: That is not right.
Mr. Deans: -- of the ministry and the government to bring in such a programme at some time during this calendar year?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Perhaps the hon. member, when he becomes mayor of Hamilton, will be able to give instant solutions to difficult problems, but I can’t do it instantly.
Mr. Deans: I might.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Is he thinking of running for mayor?
LOANS TO MILK PRODUCERS
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food: Why wouldn’t the minister consider putting a moratorium on the repayment of principal and interest on IMPIP loans for the entire dairy year, 1976-1977, to help the milk producers over this particularly difficult time?
Mr. Roy: Good question.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the member well knows how the programme works -- I hope he does --
Mr. Bullbrook: Tell him he doesn’t know anything about farming.
Hon. W. Newman: We put a stay on it until Sept. 1 for the simple reason that we are into our heavy production months, normally, in May, June, July maybe easing off a bit in August. If it is necessary to take any further action in September, we will have a look at it at that time.
I believe I have made three announcements and I announced they would not have to make their payments for four months to give them a chance to sort this matter out. Mr. Whelan made some recent announcement in Ottawa; I don’t know what the final figures are going to be or what he is going to allow but he did make an announcement about two days ago. We’re waiting to get some details of what he plans to do which I’m sure will alleviate some of the problems with some of the producers in this province.
The Ontario Milk Marketing Board is also looking at ways and means to try to help the producers of this province and is taking a very responsible attitude. The Ontario Milk Commission, as I told you the other day, and the Ontario Milk Marketing Board -- both the full commission and board -- will be meeting with me a week from tomorrow.
Mr. MacDonald: A supplementary of the minister: Since the effort of the Milk Marketing Board to reclaim quota from farmers who are going out of production, or planning to go out later, is not being effective with the incentive of three cents, is the minister giving any consideration to responding to the proposal of the government by adding an extra two cents as an incentive to get those quotas in so that they can be distributed to those who desperately need them for marketing their milk?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to say to the hon. member that we are looking at various alternatives. That’s why we are meeting with the Milk Marketing Board and the Milk Commission. Looking at the member’s suggestion to me today to add two cents to try to bring in more quota, I’m not sure it would be effective to pay the producer to get out now instead of in September; or whether we should be looking at those new producers who have a serious problem at this point in time and those other producers who came in about two years ago and were building their herds and who now have a serious problem.
There are various ways of looking at trying to help the producers in this province. I think Mr. Whelan made a step forward the other day, as I asked him to do when I asked him to reduce the 18 per cent cutback to six per cent at least until September when we will see what the weather conditions are like across Canada.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of the Environment has an answer to a question asked previously. There are just two minutes left; there are several people with questions --
Mr. Gaunt: This one is good.
Mr. Roy: The questions are a lot better than the answers.
Mr. Speaker: They are all good -- sometimes.
WATER SUPPLY IN FRANKFORD
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond further to the question of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) concerning contaminated water wells in the township of Sidney. My earlier information to the hon. member was that seepage from silage on a neighbourhood farm and black liquid spread on the road as a means to control dust were believed to be the sources of contamination. In answering the hon. member on May 21 last I indicated that we had concluded that the source of contamination was black liquid. I based this reply on earlier reports which I had received.
As a result of further investigation, I have asked for a further report which is expected to be formalized and released within the next two weeks. However, I now find that I may have over-emphasized the importance of the black liquid.
My staff at the present time are looking into the possibility of an alternative water supply in the area of the affected wells. The ministry has drilled a new municipal well for the adjacent village of Frankford which is located approximately 1,000 ft east of the affected homes.
A meeting has been held with Frankford to determine if these houses can be connected to this well. The municipality has indicated co-operation and a meeting will be held now with the township of Sidney in order to solve the problem. I hope to have a final report before the House rises.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you very much.
Mr. Speaker: The question period has expired.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I want to table a report of the Ontario Junior Farm Establishment Loan Corp. financial statements and report on the audit for the year ended March 31, 1976, and the 1975 report of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
ESTIMATES, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Mr. Lawlor from the standing administration of justice committee presented the following report:
That this committee stay further consideration of the estimates of the Ombudsman until a ruling of the law officers of the Crown, and the direction of the Legislature to establish the procedure to be followed, be forthcoming as to the jurisdiction of this committee to alter these estimates.
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the administration of justice committee, I have been directed by the committee to report to the House on the motion passed by the committee on Monday.
The committee is asking for directions from this House, but before getting into what is requested, may I say that I wish to make a number of points. The members of the committee and this House are entitled to an explanation of why it is here today and not last Tuesday.
1. A chairman has, it seems to me, the responsibility to cause a committee to work as efficiently and harmoniously as possible. This requires, from time to time, consultation with numerous responsible officials and members of the Legislature, including the House leaders, in whom one must repose not just confidence, but a spirit of solidarity, even when they are less than perfect.
2. As a result of the justice committee discussion of last Friday morning, and in order to obtain the greatest clarity in our position, I, a chairman, wrote a letter on Monday morning to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Ontario (Mr. McMurtry) requesting an opinion as to the status and range of jurisdiction of the administration of justice committee re the Ombudsman’s office, from the law officers of the Crown, and to report that opinion back before the committee reconvened on Wednesday, June 9, 1976, Tuesday being an off day. In point of fact, the reply of the hon. Attorney General was delivered to my office on Tuesday afternoon, and I first saw it after question period that day. My letter was read to the justice committee on Monday afternoon and is on record in Hansard. The Attorney General’s reply is as follows:
“Mr. Patrick Lawlor,
“MPP for Lakeshore.
“You have asked for an opinion as to whether or not the justice committee can increase the estimates of the Ombudsman as presented to the committee. It is my opinion that the committee does not have jurisdiction to increase the estimates. The committee can approve the estimates in the amount as presented and, in reporting back to the House, request a message from the Lieutenant Governor recommending a supplementary estimate in the sum which the committee has determined as appropriate for the office of the Ombudsman.
“This opinion is based on section 56 of the Legislative Assembly Act, which provides that the assembly shall not pass any vote for the appropriation of any part of the consolidated revenue fund to any purpose that has not been first recommended by a message of the Lieutenant Governor to the assembly. Section 56 is, in turn, similar to section 54 of the British North America Act, which applies the same rules to the Parliament of Canada. These provisions recognize the constitutional principle which vests in the Crown the sole responsibility for initiating expenditure and which forbids the Legislature and the Commons from increasing the sums demanded by the Crown for the service of the state. No amendment to the sum initially requested in the message from the Lieutenant Governor can therefore be proposed, whether by a minister of the Crown or by any other member, to increase the amount beyond the sum so specified in the estimate. If an increase is necessary, the supplementary estimates must be presented subsequent to a new message from the Lieutenant Governor.”
That’s signed just “Yours truly” -- not “very truly”; that disappoints me -- “Hon. Roy McMurtry, Attorney General.”
3. In the midst of our caucus on Tuesday morning I consulted with my House leader, and together we met with the government House leader (Mr. Welch) as to scheduling of debate in this House that day. But because Mr. Maloney would, in any event, be away for the rest of the week and could not reappear before the committee before Monday, June 14, 1976, and because we were waiting the reply of the Attorney General, and because the government House leader wished to consult with his peers, it was agreed not to proceed that afternoon but the next possible day, namely today.
I assume that this was communicated and agreed to by all responsible persons. Anyway, we are here. I think it fair to say that the committee was not abundantly clear as to what precise direction it is seeking.
The Ombudsman has submitted, and we have before us, his requested amount of $3.221 million, and we have legally before us the government estimate of $2.3 million. Everyone agrees that these are extraordinary and unique estimates, in that the Ombudsman’s office is a creation of, and solely beholden to, the Ontario Legislature. And, of course, the committee is an emanation of it -- and yet our hands are tied.
Under the provisions of the British North America Act, the Legislative Assembly Act, and rule 86 of the standing orders of this House, we may not increase the amount set forth in the estimates, and yet we feel that the committee, or some properly designated body, should have this authority. This is the basic problem on which we are seeking direction.
Speaking now, not as chairman of this committee, but as a member of the committee and of this House, as this may be my only opportunity, Mr. Speaker, so to do in the course of this debate, I have a few points to make under this head.
It seems to me the committee was imprecise as to what kind of direction to follow, and I thought maybe it would be helpful at some point to try to illuminate. It seems to me there may be several options, and I have four of them.
1. That this House give the administration of justice committee, through a government resolution, on proper address, the power to review the figures submitted by the Ombudsman and approve or disapprove of them in whole or in part.
2. That this House send back the government estimates to the committee, which would then approve or disapprove of them in whole or in part, and make a recommendation back to this assembly, or to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or to the government, as the committee saw fit. The committee could do this in any event, but it remains an option.
3. That this House send back the extant estimates to the justice committee, and that any excess be reviewed and determined by the Board of internal Economy.
4. That the government, by resolution or otherwise, immediately appoint, and send both its estimates and the figures of the Ombudsman to, a select committee on the Ombudsman, with the fullest review powers.
My own feeling is that it is a very great shame that the government did not act on recommendation 5 of the report of the select committee on the Ombudsman, which report was submitted, I believe, before Christmas. The recommendation is as follows:
“The committee believes that a permanent committee of the Legislature should be established immediately so that it may review from time to time the following matters; (a) the reports of the Ombudsman as they become available from time to time; (b) the estimates of the Ombudsman; (c) the actions or lack of actions taken by those persons referred to in the Ombudsman’s report, and report in connection with these matters to the Legislature from time to time.”
I say it is regrettable that wasn’t done. I think it should ultimately be done. We haven’t time now, but in the fall I think that legislation should be reviewed and this power delegated to such a committee. It would have to report back to the government. It would be, in my opinion, the final word of government, as it must be under responsible government, to make the determination. But that committee should have the power, and I think that committee should be pretty well constituted along the lines of the Ombudsman’s committee, which I think still exists in this Legislature and of which the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) is the chairman.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the lay of the land.
Mr. Nixon: Why not?
Mr. Lawlor: So it seems the other two options; and one of them is to send it back to the justice committee, and I as chairman am perfectly willing to accept it. This is what a number of the members of the committee wanted done, that we just go right ahead and review and make our recommendation to this House. We would present what would come out of those deliberations, not as a precedent for any other committee with this particular disposition of the matter. It seemed to me eminently sensible. We were voted down. So we are forced to come here.
As to the business of setting up a committee from the Board of Internal Economy, the third possible proposition, that seems to me the only feasible alternative at this time in our history.
Why? Well first of all, were the select committee on the Ombudsman to be reappointed and given these widened powers in terms of reference, we have already got a select committee on corporations going forward immediately after this House adjourns, the people who would be the natural and the obvious appointees to that select committee on the Ombudsman are already pre-empted, by and large, into this other select committee. I for one do not wish to sit on two select committees, both at the same time, in the throes of the summer.
I think that’s what should be done ultimately. I say in the interim and to get the Ombudsman -- none of us are thoroughly aware of how much the pinch is on the Ombudsman, just how critical this is for the continuance of his office, just the extent to which these financial constraints are operating to cripple what he does.
May I say, before I sit down, one final thing: It would be a very great shame indeed if these deliberations were interpreted in any way as maybe placing the Ombudsman under a shadow, much less putting him into the position of a political football. None of us can afford that, none of us want that. We have confidence in that office; we know that the Ombudsman cannot write a blank cheque on the government, we all accede to that. With that in mind I would caution the Legislature, and caution myself for that matter, not to say too much as to say anything that would be in the least questioning the dignity of that office which has an arm’s length and an independent function.
As to the Board of Internal Economy, it is a bipartisan body of this House too and it is an arm’s length body with respect to the operations of the Treasury board and to the government as a whole. The arguments seem to fall into place, it’s a logical matter in that particular context.
Let us not in any way derogate from the high status which we took so much trouble to afford to Mr. Maloney and to the office of the Ombudsman as such. That is what it tends to degenerate into and to be interpreted as. That is not the way it is, there was a simple failure in the executive legislation that brought this office into being with the consent of all members of this House, a defect of the legislation as to what the precise machinery for handling the matter was. We can rectify that; let us do so and let us still preserve the goodwill that exists on the part of the members of this assembly with the Ombudsman’s office, and clarify it once and for all.
Mr. Bullbrook: Good speech.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I have listened with substantial interest to the remarks of the hon. member for Lakeshore. I find myself in agreement with most of what he says but certainly not all of what he says.
Let me go back to the beginning. When this Legislature passed this statute, Bill 86, it was certainly in the mind of every member of the Legislature that the Ombudsman be independent of government, and be the servant of the Legislature not of the government. We said that in two sections of the statute: “Subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the Ombudsman may employ such officers and other employees as the Ombudsman considers necessary.” In section 10, it says: “The salary of the Ombudsman and the expenses required for the operation are payable” -- and I’m leaving nut the line that takes it up to the end of March, 1976 -- “out of moneys appropriated therefor by the Legislature.”
We did not talk and this Legislature did not speak about the Management Board of Cabinet on any of the financial arms of cabinet and we didn’t speak about that rather unique body that has been set up, the Board of Internal Economy, which my colleague from Lakeshore chooses to say is bipartisan -- or was it tripartisan? Some of us over here have some doubts about how partisan it is and whether it’s unipartisan, bipartisan or tripartisan. We have very grave doubts about it. Our doubts are not cleared up by the fact that we get bulletins from them periodically and that they meet in camera regularly and we really don’t know what they do. I, for one, would not be content to refer these estimates or any other estimates with any authority to this so-called Board of Internal Economy.
Mr. Renwick: Not so-called, it is established by statute.
Mr. Singer: That may well be, but I would not be content to do it, withstanding what the member for Riverdale says. I think this is the business of all of the members of the Legislature, not one or two or three. It is the business of all the members of the Legislature and it should be treated as such.
Let’s go into the history of these estimates. Somebody decided that what the Ombudsman wanted and should get was not his original figure but $2.1 million. I don’t think that was even a bipartisan effort. It was a unilateral effort by the fellows over there who inhabit the front benches and who decided that that was a better figure.
Mr. Deans: That’s not true.
Mr. Singer: Whether it’s the right figure or the wrong figure, I don’t know because I haven’t as yet had an opportunity to listen to the Ombudsman and ask him why he wants as much money as he says he wants and come to my conclusion as to whether he needs it or not.
Subsequently, when the authority of whoever dealt with it the first time was questioned, it was dealt with the second time and brought up to $2.3 million. The reasoning for that I don’t know. I’ve heard, and these rumours sort of fly around, that time was running and the documents had to be printed and something had to come before the House and so somebody said, “Let’s compromise, instead of $3.2 million we’ll make it $2.3 million,” and the documents went forward and there it was.
Mr. Deans: That’s a lot of nonsense.
Mr. Singer: In any event, the method of dealing with it, insofar as I am concerned, was not what the Legislature intended when it passed this statute. I am not prepared as one member to delegate my duties, my responsibilities and my rights to one or two or three people of the House who can speak on my behalf on all occasions insofar as budgets are concerned.
If we are going to make this Ombudsman office work and we are going to ensure the kind of independence I thought we all felt we should ensure, then we must have another system. I share with the hon. member for Lakeshore his regret which he expressed of my select committee on the Ombudsman when it recommended that a special select committee be established to deal with the estimates of the Ombudsman, but that recommendation was not taken up.
Mr. Bullbrook: It would have resolved the whole problem.
Mr. Singer: It would have resolved the whole thing. In its bumbling fashion the government, aided and abetted by some members of this House, has made this terrible mess, and it is nothing less than a terrible mess. Here we have a so-called impartial office, the budget for which is to be arranged by the Legislature and approved by the Legislature, and the whole thing is up in the air. We have this fascinating recommendation from the Attorney General who was asked for a recommendation. I don’t think he should have been asked for a recommendation. Surely the standing committee on justice should have been able to determine where it was going to go. The member for Riverdale spoke a while back about section 54 of the BNA Act.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I wasn’t asked for a recommendation.
Mr. Singer: Some of us have read the Legislative Assembly Act from time to time and can read it still. Surely it was not the function of the standing committee on justice to report to the Attorney General for a report and then to come up with a pallid recommendation saying, “Let’s come back to the House and find out what we should do.” Surely the direction has to be clear and straightforward; and surely it would make sense, since this session is rapidly drawing to a close --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I think it should be pointed out that at no time was the Attorney General asked for a recommendation as to how the matter of the estimates should he handled. The Attorney General was simply asked a question as to whether or not the standing committee as constituted had the power by itself to vary the estimates. At no time was I asked for a recommendation, nor did I seek or wish to give a recommendation. It was strictly a legal opinion.
Mr. Singer: If I have offended the Attorney General by using the word “recommendation,” let me remove the word “recommendation” and insert the word “opinion.” As long as it’s broad, Mr. Speaker, I tell you we are back into the position of being completely stymied, aided and abetted by all sorts of wonderful mechanisms that exist in this Legislature, which together have contrived to put us in the position where we don’t know which direction we are going in. The solution was reasonably obvious immediately to the justice committee.
If I was going to start again from scratch, recognizing that we are in the position where most members of the House -- perhaps exempting two or three -- would like to get on with these estimates and have the House do its job as the statute says, this is the kind of thing I would talk about at this moment. We have the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, as expressed by the Attorney General --
Mr. Roy: Which has already been asked.
Mr. Singer: We recognize that there are certain provisions in the BNA Act and reflected in the Legislative Assembly Act. This kind of a suggestion, I think, would overcome all of these and restore the independence to the members of this Legislature over the Office of the Ombudsman which we tried to express when we passed the statute in the first instance. This is paramount; no one can derogate from this.
This is the way I would suggest it might be done: The members of the standing administration of justice committee -- the members, not the committee -- should be constituted as a special committee of the Legislature. We need a vehicle thereby to do this quickly. We have an existing standing committee. It is tripartisan; there are members of all parties on it. The appointment of it was agreed on by resolution of this House, so that its members can be reasonably regarded as being tripartisan. It operates openly, not in camera; any other member of the House can come in and take the opportunity to address it. The meetings are not held in closed rooms, behind closed doors. There are Hansard reports of it available.
These people could easily be made the representatives of this Legislature as individuals -- and this is my next step -- to consider immediately what estimates the Ombudsman may bring before them; not $2.1 million, not $2.3 million, not $3.2 million, not $9.8 million, but whatever estimates the Ombudsman chooses to bring before them. Those members, being constituted by the House for this purpose, would bring back a report on the conclusions they had come to and the recommendations they might make to this House, to the legislative assembly. Then, recognizing the concern of the member for Riverdale and the Attorney General about section 54 of the BNA Act and the appropriate section of the Legislative Assembly Act, the House, after dealing therewith, shall request the Lieutenant Governor in Council to recommend to the House by message -- let the Attorney General note the wording; if it sounds familiar, he will find most of it in section 54 of the BNA Act -- the opinion of this House in relation to the said recommendations.
In my opinion, were the House to act in this way, it would have restored its own integrity and its own independence; a group of representative members of the House would be able to listen to the Ombudsman’s requests and examine him about them. It would be an expression of free opinion. It would be done in the open. It would be available to any members of this assembly who wanted to come in or out. A report would be made back to the House, the full House could then consider it, and a request could then be made to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to bring in a message. Then the true view of the members of this Legislature would be expressed.
I don’t think it’s complicated. I think it’s simple. I think it’s obvious and it would be my urgent recommendation that this kind of step be taken.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak in this debate because the matter of the Ombudsman’s estimates has been of grave concern to me for some considerable period of time. I never cease to be amazed at how the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) can fabricate situations which are known to no other person in the world. I find his interpretation of what goes on around this Legislature is inevitably and, almost without exception, wrong. Again, he’s wrong, as he was wrong the other day when we dealt with the same matter.
Mr. Singer: The resolution was torn up.
Mr. Deans: There was no resolution.
Mr. Singer: Oh, no.
An hon. member: Temper, temper.
Mr. Deans: There never was a resolution. When the member for Wilson Heights makes those kinds of statements it lowers him, not anyone else. He knows full well there was no resolution; I explained to him personally there was no resolution. If he continues to distrust what I’m saying to him, that’s his problem not mine.
Mr. Warner: He’s in a world of suspended animation.
Mr. Deans: The matters we have to concern ourselves with are, first of all, how did we get into the mess; and, secondly, how do we get out of it? I think both of those should be clearly understood by all members of the Legislature.
The Board of Internal Economy, when it was structured, had rather broad terms of reference and it was difficult to understand exactly what function it did have before it within its jurisdiction. As members of the Board of Internal Economy, we had referred to us last year the interim financial arrangements for the Ombudsman and we approved sums of money, by way of supplementary estimates, in order that the Ombudsman’s office could be established and maintained.
There was no complaint from any member of the Legislature, not even the member for Wilson Heights, when the Board of Internal Economy did that. There wasn’t even a complaint, incidentally, from the Ombudsman when the Board of Internal Economy did that.
I might say that the Board of Internal Economy is made up of representatives of each of the parties in the Legislature, including the Liberal Party. It’s not my problem if the matters the board deals with are not adequately reported to the Liberal caucus.
Mr. Martel: They’re too busy in the courts, some of them.
Mr. Deans: I want to read from the minutes of the Board of Internal Economy, which are available to any member of the Legislature. These are the minutes of March 11, 1976, and it says, “Decisions of the board.” I read from page 2 of these minutes: “The board discussed a number of questions in connection with the estimates of the Ombudsman. Subsequently, on a motion by Mr. Breithaupt, seconded by Mr. Auld and unanimously agreed to, the board passed the following motion.”
Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s the board, not the cabinet.
Mr. Deans: The board. “Agreed that the question of jurisdiction in the matter of the estimates of the Office of the Ombudsman be turned over to the law officers of the Crown.”
What we were asking for at that point, if I may stop and digress, was basically what was again asked for by the chairman of the administration of justice committee.
Mr. Haggerty: Did you get the answer from him? Where’s the answer?
Mr. Deans: We got the answer. I’ll come to that in a moment if you can just hold on.
Mr. Martel: Contain yourself.
Mr. Deans: The second point:
“Agreed that the board seek clarification from the Lieutenant Governor in Council as to how the estimates of the Office of the Ombudsman should be reviewed prior to their submission to the Legislature and subsequently. Agreed that the board recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that the authority given by section 8 of the Ombudsman Act, 1975, be examined by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and clarified with regard to the control mechanism to be employed by the Legislature in terms of establishing salaries, terms and conditions of employment, prior to the granting of approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
“Agreed that the board recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that an agency outside the government examine such matters as salary classifications and levels of the Office of the Ombudsman and that these salaries or contractual agreements be equated with those of employees of the Ontario government in the Office of the Assembly.”
[And the final point, and this is the important point:]
“Agreed that the board recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that in consideration of the facts that there appears to be no legally constituted body to exercise jurisdiction over the review of the estimates of the Ombudsman, and therefore no provision for the 1976-1977 estimates to go forward, the board recommends that an amount of $2.3 million be placed in the 1976-1977 printed estimates of the government of Ontario for the Office of the Ombudsman so that the office will continue as is the intent of the Ombudsman Act, 1975.”
Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s the board, not the cabinet.
Mr. Deans: The board recommended that that money be placed there, subject to all of those other things that I mentioned.
Mr. Roy: Yes, but that doesn’t make it right.
Mr. Deans: No, wait a minute. Wait a minute.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Then correct your colleague when he says that.
Mr. Deans: At this point I want to make it clear to the member for Wilson Heights that all moneys spent are appropriated for that purpose by the Legislature. That is all moneys -- not only moneys spent by the Ombudsman. All moneys spent by anyone here, out of necessity, must be appropriated for the purpose by the Legislature. And so there’s nothing unique about that phraseology within that particular Act. That is the case in every dollar spent. They must be appropriated by the Legislature for the purpose. So don’t tell me there’s something unusual or unique about this situation.
Mr. Haggerty: Or after it is spent.
Mr. Roy: Why are we looking at $2.3 million?
Mr. Deans: The reason we’re looking at $2.3 million -- and I’m going to come to that, now that the member has asked that.
Mr. Roy: That is for us to decide.
Mr. Deans: The reason we’re looking at $2.3 million, rather than $3.2 million, is as follows. At the time the Ombudsman presented his estimates to the Board of Internal Economy, he did so in what I considered, in all fairness, to be somewhat less than complete form. There was very little justification, in the first instance, for any of the dollars asked for. We therefore asked the Ombudsman if he would mind going back and providing to the Board of Internal Economy some further outlined detail of what the moneys were to be used for; why he required that particular sum of money. We got it. Not nearly in the detail that’s now before the committee, but we got additional details.
When we reviewed the salaries and wages that were presented to the Board of Internal Economy, we approved three of the matters that appeared before us without question. We questioned two of them. We questioned two of them, and said to the Ombudsman that we had some reservations about two matters that he had placed before us. On a subsequent day, and rather than attempt to justify the estimates, he came before the Board of Internal Economy with his legal adviser. His legal adviser was a Mr. Brian P. Goodman, who’s a director of research for the Ombudsman’s office.
Mr. Goodman proceeded on that day to point out to the Board of Internal Economy that he believed that the Board of Internal Economy did not have the legal jurisdiction to deal with the matter at all.
Mr. Haggerty: And he is right.
Mr. Deans: Thank you. You’re a big help and I appreciate the member sitting at the very far end.
Now, the board agreed with him that he was right.
Mr. Shore: And you must have been wrong.
Mr. Deans: Then the board was faced with a dilemma, because on that day the estimates were to be printed.
Mr. Deans: We then had to decide whether we were going to --
Mr. Singer: He just imagined all this, eh?
Mr. Deans: Wait a minute. We then had to decide whether we were simply not going to print any estimates for the Ombudsman at all, which would have meant that he couldn’t have met his payroll; or whether we were going to print in the estimates book that amount which we had so far been able to justify.
Mr. Peterson: Just what I suspected. The printers are running this province.
Mr. Martel: Maybe you should tell the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) that. Yes, you just might.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. Order; this is a very serious debate. Will the hon. member be allowed to continue?
Mr. Deans: Now, I want to suggest to you that we therefore wrote a letter -- the Board of Internal Economy wrote a letter -- to the cabinet office. If I can find it, I can read it into the record.
Mr. Shore: We believe you so far.
Mr. Deans: Yes, you believe me. You can believe me.
Mr. Martel: It’s too bad you wouldn’t believe Breithaupt once in a while.
Mr. Shore: Don’t you believe Breithaupt?
Mr. Nixon: A very reliable gentleman.
Mr. Deans: A letter was then written to the deputy minister and secretary of cabinet, Dr. E. E. Stewart, and I’ll quote a small portion of it.
“In consideration of the fact that there appears to be no legally constituted body to exercise jurisdiction over the review of the estimates of the Ombudsman, therefore no provisions for 1976-1977 estimates can go forward, this board would recommend that an amount of $2.3 million be placed in the 1976-1977 printed estimates of the government of Ontario, Office of the Ombudsman, pending clarification as to which committee or body should review the estimates of the Ombudsman prior to their submission to the Legislature and subsequently.”
In other words, we were saying that as a result of the deliberations we had had up to that point, we were satisfied there was justification for $2.3 million. But because the Ombudsman had chosen, quite rightly, to challenge the authority of the board to do it at all, we felt we could not proceed with any further deliberation with regard to any further justification.
Therefore, what we would recommend, pending this clarification, was that which we were satisfied was justifiable to that point and that at some future time the remainder would be reviewed by whoever it was decided had the authority. At that point the final figure would be arrived at. I hope that’s helpful.
I want to say to the member for Wilson Heights the alternative to assuming that responsibility was to leave the Ombudsman without any money. Is that what the member is suggesting? That is exactly what he is suggesting.
Mr. Deans: That is the only alternative.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Deans: I point out for the benefit of the member for Wilson Heights, that his colleague, his own House leader, took part in this discussion, approved it and, in fact, moved the motion.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Wilson Heights has had an opportunity to debate and the interjections are just confusing this very important issue.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Wentworth may continue.
Mr. Deans: I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that frankly I regret having to put this on the record in this way because I didn’t think we were ever going to get to this level in this Legislature. Unfortunately, it is dragged out of one by the member for Wilson Heights because he makes statements which have absolutely no basis in fact.
I want to go on for a moment to say there never was any doubt -- at least no doubt I am aware of -- on the part of any single member of the Board of Internal Economy that the Ombudsman would subsequently receive some amount in addition to the $2.3 million if, as and when the properly constituted body were identified and it had the opportunity to review the estimates. There never was any doubt -- not in my mind; not in the mind of the member for Kitchener; and not in the mind of any other member of the board.
I want to point out also that the procedures we have been using in Ontario are not out of line with the procedures used in other jurisdictions. In Manitoba, the Ombudsman puts his estimates through the government; in Alberta, the Leader of the Opposition introduces the estimates of the Ombudsman. There is no tripartisanship there, or any other kind of partisanship.
Mr. Deans: Let me suggest this is what we need do: First of all, we have to determine the body which should, in the first instance, review the estimates of the Ombudsman for recommendation to the Legislature. Secondly --
Mr. Singer: You spotted that?
Mr. Deans: Yes. Strangely enough, although nobody may have thought about it, many of us have been trying to accomplish it for quite some time. The second point is that we have to establish a body which will have an ongoing review of the role and function of the Ombudsman.
I want to suggest that the administration of justice committee be instructed to go back and to deal with the estimate that it has before it; that the $2.3 million, which is printed and available for perusal and discussion, should be considered by the administration of justice committee forthwith; and it should deal with that in the same way it deals with any other estimate placed before it. I want to suggest that there should be a procedure now established by the Legislature for the review not only of the Ombudsman estimates but for the initial review of the estimates of all of those bodies which are considered to be answerable to the Legislature alone, rather than ministerial responsibilities. Those bodies are as follows: The Office of the Provincial Auditor, the Office of the Assembly, the Office of the Chief Election Officer, the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, the Office of the Speaker and the Office of the Clerk.
Further, since there is no way now of properly regulating select committee operations in terms of their expenditures and approvals of budgets, and by some mystical means moneys seem to appear and are spent, that operation should be included in any review that should be undertaken. The Clerk says it should be through the Office of the Assembly. I think we should make it clear that select committees, once established, should set up a budget and that budget should contain within it the expenses they intend or anticipate incurring and there should be approval then given to them to proceed with their undertakings and that should also be done by an independent body.
I would suggest that the Board of Internal Economy is properly constituted and an adequate body to deal with this matter. I would suggest to the Board of Internal Economy, if it were dealing with all of these things, as it is now anyway, it would then have the expertise at its fingertips to make the kinds of comparisons between salaries and benefits, expenses incurred, costing of accommodations and costing of rentals that would be necessary in order to determine whether or not one budget was in keeping or within general reason of another set of budgets submitted by other groups.
I think that the Board of Internal Economy is the proper body to deal with that. It is, to the greatest extent possible in a political arena, nonpartisan. It has dealt that way almost throughout until very recently, until certain members seem to feel there are things going on that they don’t understand. It’s amazing how when you don’t inquire into something you never will understand it.
I suggest, Mr. Speaker, to you and to the House, that we should at some point give consideration to establishing these two directions. One, the Board of Internal Economy should be given by direction of the House the authority to review prior to printing and submission to the Legislature the requested estimates of the offices I have mentioned, in- eluding the Ombudsman’s office. Two, we should set up this ongoing committee that will conduct the review of the role and function of the Ombudsman on a day-to-day basis whenever called upon to do so. If we were to do that we would no longer be faced with the dilemma we are now faced with.
I want to say before I close, that there has never been any intention to downgrade the role of the Ombudsman, but there is no one in Ontario who can draw a blank cheque on the government -- not even the Ombudsman. Someone must have some responsibility for reviewing with him the expenditures that he or his office feels are necessary.
I don’t think that it is a practical proposition to place it before a standing or select committee prior to printing. I don’t think it is a practical proposition to think that the Legislature as a whole, given all of the politicking that necessarily has to go on, would be able to deal fairly with the nitty-gritty expenses of running an administrative office. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the format I set out might be one that should be considered by the House for adoption.
Mr. Roy: May I make, just briefly, some remarks pertaining to the report of the House. I will start by saying to my colleague who just spoke, the member for -- where is it again? My God, I always get mixed up in his riding.
Mr. Bain: You always get mixed up.
Mr. Roy: It is the member for Wentworth. I think all of us here agree that there is no agency and there is no individual in this government who can proceed, especially in a period of restraint, on the basis of a blank cheque. I think all of us here are concerned about expenditures and surely the members in this party -- in fact, we fought the election in 1975 on the basis of restraint -- so we are not --
Mr. Bain: And you did so well!
Mr. Roy: Yes, we did well. Compare the statistics.
Mr. Nixon: We got 200,000 more votes than you did.
Mr. Bain: If you do any better you’ll be wiped out.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: If I were you I would just keep quiet and keep my fingers crossed that I would be around here again. That’s what I would do if I were you.
Mr. Bain: For what? To listen to you?
Mr. Roy: You know, these characters really should be taking pictures of each other --
Mr. Speaker: Let’s not digress too far, please. The hon. member for Ottawa East will keep to the debate at hand. Thank you.
Mr. Roy: -- because most of them will not be back.
Mr. Bain: Those behind you won’t be back?
Mr. Roy: I think we are concerned about restraint which the member for Wentworth talked about.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t say a word about restraint.
Mr. Roy: But on the other hand, it seems to me the comments he has made about the approach taken by the Board of Internal Economy, as I think it’s called, are not exactly what we’ve been reading about over the past three or four months. I recall some comments, I think made by the member about the Office of the Ombudsman and about the fact that he did not have a blank cheque, that somebody should be looking at what he is doing, that he is setting up sort of a Taj Mahal operation out there, and this type of thing. These comments were made by various members. I hate to have to start searching --
Mr. Deans: On a point of order, I request, in fact I demand that the member for --
Mr. Shore: Start with a request and see how that works.
Mr. Deans: -- Ottawa East produce whatever document it is that he claims he is either quoting from or referring to.
Mr. Singer: He didn’t say he was quoting from anything.
Mr. Roy: I am not quoting.
Mr. Deans: Then, on a point of order, if you’re not quoting, withdraw the statements.
Mr. Roy: Oh look, I don’t need technical advice from a so-called expert on this.
Mr. Deans: If you are going to be like your colleague from Wilson Heights and just make things up as you go along, fair ball. But at least admit to it.
Mr. Shore: You made something, you made something.
Mr. Roy: I find it ironic to hear from that member about consistency. We have heard in the past in this House about his consistent approach.
Mr. Deans: It has nothing to do with consistency.
Mr. Roy: Probably if I was to look at the newspapers I would see the earlier comment.
Mr. Deans: Are you going to talk the truth or a lot of rot?
Mr. Speaker: Could we get on with the debate in question, please?
Mr. Roy: If I could get back on stream, Mr. Speaker, and --
Mr. Bain: You are never on stream.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: -- hopefully not have to suffer the interjections and the slings and arrows from the people on that side, of outrageous fortune -- shall I go on? The fact remains that there was comment made by certain members of the Legislature, and I say they included the member for Wentworth, about the operation of the Ombudsman. I say his approach today about the whole basis of the cutbacks by the Board of Internal Economy was one that was done for the very purpose of getting the thing to the printers and approving something now, so that maybe we can get back with supplementary estimates on that.
Mr. Deans: Don’t be silly.
Mr. Roy: I say his suggestion is not an appropriate one. The Ombudsman is a servant of all of us and not of three of us, and that is our concern. The suggestion made by my colleague from Wilson Heights seems to me the proper approach, that the standing justice committee be the one to look at the amount first. In my opinion, it is not up to a committee of three. As objective as they might be, as nonpartisan as they might be, it is not up to them to decide the amounts of money that the justice committee or any other agency or any other representative of this House is going to look at. I don’t think it is up to them.
The reason for it is what we say in the Act. We talk all over in the Act about how the Ombudsman is in fact the servant of the Legislature. I just look, for instance, at section 4 of the Act which says, “He is removable at any time for cause by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the address of the assembly.” Section 6(2) of the Act says that even the salary of the Ombudsman “shall not be reduced except on address of the assembly.” My colleague from Wilson Heights has talked about section 8 and has also mentioned section 10.
This is why it seems to me the suggestion made by the members of the standing administration of justice committee should be supported -- that it be constituted as a special committee of this Legislature to consider what estimates the Ombudsman may choose to bring before it and to report thereon its conclusions and recommendations to this House. Of course, the second part of the recommendation is to satisfy the requirements of section 54 of the BNA Act and probably section 56 of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Our concern is this, Mr. Speaker, if I can express it very briefly. It seems to us that it is not for three people, again -- I don’t want to attribute any motives, I don’t want to make any accusations whatsoever --
Mr. Deans: Don’t say anything to me, Albert. You don’t understand.
Mr. Roy: I’m prepared to say to you, I’m prepared to say to the member for Wentworth, that he is attempting to act in an objective fashion. He shouldn’t be so sensitive. How long have you been in politics now? Don’t be so sensitive.
Mr. Deans: I’m not sensitive. I just think your colleague is reprehensible.
Mr. Roy: I’m trying to give you a few marks and trying to tell you that you are an objective individual. But as objective as you may be, and our colleague from our caucus may be and the House leader may well be, it is not up to three people to make decisions which are not public --
Mr. Deans: The decisions are public.
Mr. Roy: -- to have discussions, to make reviews, which in fact are not public.
Are we invited to this? Is the general public invited to this? Is the press invited to this? I say not so, Mr. Speaker. I think that these original discussions about the moneys for the Ombudsman should take place openly among members of the justice committee.
The second thing that should happen, and which we’re concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that a precedent may well be created by the approach taken at this time. We’re saying that is not the proper approach. I think it is the business of all members of the Legislature to look at these estimates and not the business of three people. It is not the business of three people to say that the estimates that we’re going to look at, in fact are going to be $2.3 million instead of $3.2 million. I think it is not their business.
So I say, Mr. Speaker, that the suggestion made is a good one. It may well be that there are other ramifications, but for God’s sake let’s get on with this, let’s have something set up now and let’s proceed; and thirdly let’s not tie the hands of the Ombudsman and make his operation, or his efficiency, subject to a limited number of individuals in this House.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Before the next speaker begins, the hon. member for London North (Mr. Shore) has indicated that he would like to speak for about a minute. He has to get away on something else.
Mr. Deans: That’s his problem.
Mr. Speaker: May we allow him to speak next?
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to yield the floor to the hon. member for London North.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for London North then.
Mr. Shore: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and my thanks to the member for Riverdale.
Mr. Speaker, I’d like to put on the record that I think, in view of the timing factor that we’re facing here, I would support the recommendation of my colleague and others that it go to the standing administration of justice committee at this time. But I think I would like to put on the record that it’s not totally unbiased --
Mr. Lawlor: We haven’t got time.
Mr. Shore: -- because that committee is substantially made up of solicitors. I think it should be recognized that whether we like it or not there is an automatic bias, in my opinion, by having that committee substantially made up of counsellors or solicitors when reviewing these estimates.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: That is where the criticism is coming from, the solicitors.
Mr. Shore: Therefore, I think in the long run --
Mr. Peterson: Are you biased against us?
Mr. Shore: -- this body would be more objective, in my opinion, if it were made up of a cross-section of the Legislature as opposed to what is obviously the make-up of that standing committee as presently constituted.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, a number of things have been said and I’m going to try not to be repetitious. I would say to the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer), and to his colleagues, that whatever merit there may have been in his recommendation was certainly destroyed by the total inaccuracy of the comments made by all of the speakers, barring the last one, from the Liberal Party.
Mr. Roy: We are going to get the facts from you, are we?
Mr. Renwick: First of all, without repeating the sections verbatim, we are all operating within the framework of section 54 of the British North America Act as it is made applicable to this assembly by section 90 of the British North America Act. So within that framework, I would like, gracefully I hope, to disengage myself slightly from my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) on the question of the Camp commission. I do not agree with the recommendation of the Camp commission. I’m glad it hasn’t been implemented and my own present view is that I would not like to see it implemented.
There is no merit at all in the position put by the member for Wilson Heights when he refers to that section of the Ombudsman Act dealing with moneys appropriated by this assembly. All moneys are appropriated for government by this assembly. There is no way in which one can make a valid distinction between those words as used in the Ombudsman Act and the normal everyday procedures by which moneys are appropriated for the purposes of government by this assembly after the recommendations have been received and the estimates have been tabled by the appropriate minister or ministries of the Crown.
The third point that I would like to deal with, perhaps at some length, is the basis of the Board of Internal Economy. For some reason or other, there is a misapprehension about the nature of that board, its composition, its status, its stature and the purpose for which it was intended. I simply would like the assembly to refresh their minds by pointing out that in the Legislative Assembly Act of the Province of Ontario, which governs this assembly and by which statute the Speaker is responsible for its administration, there was established a Board of Internal Economy, composed of the Speaker, who is the chairman, three commissioners appointed by the government from amongst the ministers of the Crown and three other commissioners, one from each of the three caucuses in the assembly.
That’s a significant committee. It has statutory authority. It is chaired by the Speaker of the assembly and it is composed of representatives from all of the parties, with appropriate weight being given to the representation by the government on that committee. In fact, it is one of the few committees on which ministers of the Crown sit, and they sit there because it is important. It is one of the delights of the minority government situation that, in fact, the status of that Board of Internal Economy has been enhanced rather than detracted from during the course of the life of this particular assembly. Therefore, it seems to me that it is singularly appropriate that an office such as the Office of the Ombudsman, for the purpose of its budgetary considerations, should be dealt with by that Board of Internal Economy.
Up to the present time, the Board of Internal Economy has not sat publicly. There is certainly no statutory requirement for it to sit either in camera or in public. There is provision for it to establish its own rules and procedures. I have never had occasion to inquire whether I could go in and sit down, but I think it’s unlikely that I would be thrown out. If I wanted to go and observe what was taking place or to address myself to that committee, I am quite certain that the courtesy would be extended to me if I so requested, and I assume it would be the case with every other member of the assembly.
Mr. Roy: I suppose that’s the attitude you take when you want legislation to be discussed in public, is it? You don’t leave it up in the air though.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Renwick: It seems to me that when we have established a Board of Internal Economy under the Legislative Assembly Act to deal with the functionings of this assembly, then all of the officers and offices of the assembly are very appropriately subject, for budgetary purposes -- and I want to emphasize that; for budgetary purposes -- to the Board of Internal Economy.
I happen to be one of the people who believe that the substance of the Office of the Ombudsman is far more important than the budgetary aspects of it. I am very concerned, and I expressed my concern on Friday of last week, that in our relationship with the Ombudsman, being an office constituted by and through this assembly and for this assembly, I don’t want to be engaged in dealing in dollars with the Ombudsman. I want to be talking about the substance of his office. Is he accomplishing the purposes and objectives that we established for him? Is he, in fact, maintaining the kind of protection for the citizen in the face of a bureaucratic structure of government at the present time? Those are the kinds of things I want to talk about.
Mr. Roy: That’s a bit idealistic, isn’t it?
Mr. Renwick: I think that is quite different from dealing with the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Ministry of Government Services or any other ministry.
I think it happens to be a very significant distinction in my own mind. I don’t think there is anything secret about the estimates of the Office of Ombudsman that is taken away by it being dealt with by the Board of Internal Economy. The estimates are published; they are placed before the assembly; they will be referred by this assembly -- if the Board of Internal Economy is the board it is going to, and I hope it is -- to that board for consideration. They will come back to this assembly and will go forward to the government presumably for whatever recommendation it wants to make in accordance with the constitution of the country.
I cannot hang very much on the argument that somehow or other the Board of Internal Economy, with the nature and structure we have established for it, is some kind of cabal of two or three people who meet in private and have no sense of responsibility.
Just as I do not want to see the Office of the Ombudsman denigrated, I certainly don’t want to see the Board of Internal Economy, as a structure of this assembly, denigrated in any way. That was one of the bad things which has taken place over the last while as a result of this unfortunate confusion for which we have only ourselves to blame.
I don’t think there is any problem in our referring it to the Board of Internal Economy. I don’t think there is any prohibition against it because of the statute. I think we can refer to it whatsoever we wish to refer to it.
I think probably that’s all I have wanted to say about it. I do want to speak in a slightly broader ambit because we have discussed this matter in our caucus and we are in agreement, in our caucus, that we would be happy to see the various offices of the assembly -- the ones listed by my colleague -- go to the Board of Internal Economy. I think it would be first class that the estimates of the Auditor who, for example, is an officer of this assembly, should go there; and the ones to which my colleague has referred and which are now listed in Hansard and I need not repeat.
I do want to say that it arose out of concern expressed by the member for Wilson Heights in his capacity as chairman of the select committee dealing with the insurance business which has just recently been established that, in ruminating on it, I mentioned to the House leader of our party, the member for Wentworth, that I felt it was about time that the select committees and their budgetary requirements, their expenses and proposed expenditures and so on, should go to the Board of Internal Economy. For some reason or other this immense cloak of secrecy is hung. In all of the select committees which I have sat on during the course of my time in the House, I have never known what the fees paid to counsel were. I have never known what fees were paid to any consultants who were hired. I have never known anything about any of the travelling expenses which were incurred other than what I have seen published a year or two later in the estimates or in the public accounts when they come through.
Mr. Singer: You will on this committee.
Mr. Renwick: I think it is very wise -- the select committee on company law, the select committee on highway safety and the select committee on the trucking industry in the province, I think, will be a good starting point for us to see that the budgets of those committees are regularized and compared through the Board of Internal Economy. I think it would be most helpful.
I am not interested in going into the history -- people’s accounts have been paid; they have done their work and it is all over -- I am not interested in finding out what was the history of these various things. I do think the Board of Internal Economy can do a first-class job in comparing the budgets and making certain that the fees paid to counsel are somewhat in line; that the consultant fees are in line; that there’s real public disclosure about what the select committees should be doing. I’m pleased to understand from my colleague, the member for Wentworth, our House leader, that if and when the government introduces the motion about this matter they may well include in it the general budgetary supervision of the select committees of the assembly.
With those comments in mind, rather than not being the appropriate body or being a second best, I think the Board of Internal Economy is an eminently proper body to deal with the budgetary requirements of the Office of the Ombudsman and to deal with the other items which have been listed by my colleague, the member for Wentworth. Our caucus has come to the agreement that we would support such a motion, if put by the government House leader. The House leader of this party would be delighted and pleased to second that motion, should the government decide to proceed in that way, and I hope it will.
Mr. Singer: There is a great cabal, in secrecy.
Mr. Renwick: My last word, and I say it partly in jest, and partly in seriousness, is that if we appoint the Board of internal Economy as a watchdog, I don’t know who will watch the watchdog and the expenses which will be incurred by members of the Board of Internal Economy travelling as they must in the duties of their office as members of that board. But presumably we could perhaps appoint a special select committee to review the budgetary requirements of the members of the Board of Internal Economy.
Hon. Mr. Welch: And their budgets would be checked by the Board of Internal Economy.
Mr. Renwick: Yes, I would think so.
Mr. Singer: You could have a second body do that, with closed meetings and also authority to travel.
Mr. Renwick: I think it is extremely important that the Office of the Ombudsman have available to it a very small committee representative of all parties in the House of members who can work closely with the Ombudsman about his work -- not about his finances -- so that he will feel that he’s not just presenting an annual report or the occasional special report, but that he’s got a group of people, members of the assembly, with whom he can consult from time to time on an ongoing basis as he runs into a problem of one kind or another, as he needs to consult, to exchange views and to toss around matters which may be of concern to him in a very informal but very practical way. I think that would in some way carry out part of what I think many of us felt was the spirit with which the relationship between the Ombudsman and the members of this assembly should be imbued in order that the Ombudsman can carry out his work.
With those comments, I hope this matter will be soon and finally resolved.
Mr. Peterson: May I just address my mind to just some of the issues hit upon by my friend to the right. It seems to me it’s indicative of some of its judgements that the Board of Internal Economy has manifested already that it would have taken these judgements on itself unilaterally. We’ve ended up to a large extent in the mess that we’re in today because of the conflict, because of the power taken unilaterally by this Board of Internal Economy.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s not fair.
Mr. Deans: That’s not accurate or fair.
Mr. Peterson: I can’t see that that is their jurisdiction. Because there is no legislative provision for this particular contingency, it was taken on the Board of Internal Economy as a catch-all. It seems to me that it doesn’t necessarily fall into any categories that they’ve heretofore handled or should be handling.
Mr. Deans: That’s another matter.
Mr. Peterson: I want to express my point of view, Mr. Speaker, if I may. I think we are dealing with an absolutely, totally unique situation, a unique animal. I think we have an obligation to treat it specially and make sure it’s responsible only to the Legislature through the special committee. My understanding of that special committee report, signed by my friend from Lakeshore and the member for Riverdale, is that it at that time contemplated having a special committee to work with the Ombudsman as well as work with the estimates. I trust my facts are right on that particular matter.
I don’t understand the delicacy of my friend, the member for Riverdale, about discussing matters of money with the Ombudsman. It seems to me that that is what we are involved in on a daily basis here. We are forced daily to make judgements about the worth of programmes, and some are financial and some are of other types. Lots of them deal with civil rights or human rights, or whatever. We are always involved in those judgements, and it seems to me that that committee he has talked about that should supervise the Ombudsman is the one that would be most sensitive to the needs and to all of the kinds of things that the Ombudsman is involved in on a daily basis. I would say to him, as I say to the minister, that the committee need have no embarrassment or none of this new-found delicacy about discussing matters financial with the Ombudsman.
Having sat in committee sessions and seen some of the confusion that has developed on this particular situation, I think that we have set back the cause of creating the Ombudsman in the kind of role that we want him. I think we’ve already set that back to some degree. I think that we all have a responsibility to build his image in order to play the kind of role in the Province of Ontario that he was intended to create.
Therefore, I think that there is only one way to do that on an ongoing basis. I respectfully submit to the minister that the way to do it is to have a special all-party committee, as non-partisan as possible, to deal with the Ombudsman, and to assist in all relations with the Legislature at all times.
I can’t see that the Board of Internal Economy is the group that takes this responsibility on itself at this time. I respectfully submit that that is one of the reasons that we are into this confusion today; why we are having a debate today while we went through two or three wasted exercises because nobody knew the correct jurisdiction.
Ultimately, it seems to me that there has been a problem of bad drafting on that bill. That is something that we can solve here. And I see no problem with that. But I respectfully say that my colleague’s suggestion about how to handle the situation in the short run is the appropriate one, and is the one to which we should subscribe to at this time. I am more concerned about creating the proper vehicle on an ongoing basis to handle this in order that we don’t take up the time of the members of this House, or create any more confusion than we’ve done already.
Therefore, I would respectfully submit, Mr. Speaker, just in closing, that I think the original intention as I understand it of the Ombudsman’s committee, was to create this kind of committee to whom he would be responsible. Why the government failed to bring that in, I must confess I will never know, But I would think that we should look back at that and look to the future, and let us always avoid the situation where we are in a conflict with the Ombudsman from any legislative way.
We have seen situations arise in the last six months where there could potentially have been a conflict between the government and the Ombudsman. There are going to be serious questions of jurisdiction that are going to need everybody’s assistance and good feelings and good faith to solve. I think that anything we can do to make him totally independent, absolutely totally as independent as possible of the government, then we are serving him well -- we are serving the cause well.
That is why I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, the only solution to the situation is an independent committee, as nonpartisan as we can possibly make it, selected from the best members of this House. I would respectfully submit some of those members are ones who have spoken today, who are watching with him and working with him and trying to evolve the process into the kind of process we want to see.
That is why I have to support in the short run the suggestion of my colleague from Wilson Heights. I think that will solve the problem quickly now. I think in the long run we have to have a different solution.
Hon. Mr. Welch: This very worthwhile discussion has been prompted, of course, by the communications from the administration of justice committee, who are now looking for some direction with respect to this matter. At this hour I don’t want to repeat all of the historical material which is now on the record or, indeed, to reconsider that. It is interesting in listening to the discussion, however, that there is some general agreement on many points, and that we have an honest difference of opinion as to what the solution is.
It is obvious, if one looks at the record just to make it clear, that if one looks at Votes and Proceedings No. 21, dated for Wednesday, April 14, one would see there a record of the motion referring the estimates of the Ombudsman to the administration of justice committee. I mean there’s no question as to how the estimates got to the administration of justice committee, the Legislature sent them there.
The estimate that went to the committee was not the estimate, and I say this to correct the record once again, it was not the estimate established by the cabinet of this province but was the figure which in fact had been established, as the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) indicated, by the Board of Internal Economy which is an all-party committee. Notwithstanding, and let me be --
Mr. Singer: With three cabinet ministers.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It was unanimously agreed and the member for Wentworth explained how those calculations were arrived at. There was some question with respect to jurisdiction, one is not disputing this now. One is not disputing the fact a great deal of confusion has arisen. One can speculate as to whether that confusion would have arisen, or jurisdiction would have been questioned, had in fact the amount recommended been different. All these matters are fairly academic at this point. There is no disagreement, in anything I have heard today, with respect to the direct accountability which the Ombudsman has to the House and that he is a servant of the Legislature; and we use other offices to indicate this.
There is no question with respect to the fact that we have to regularize some procedure for the estimate of the Ombudsman to go from his office to be reviewed in some way -- and there is where there is some difference as to what way -- and ultimately to be tabled by a minister in this House in accordance with all the precedents and tradition.
I also make some reference to Votes and Proceedings for Thursday, Dec. 11 of last year, when the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) reported from the select committee which was appointed earlier to consider and set out general rules and guidelines for the guidance of the Ombudsman. The committee indicated it wanted a little more time, in fact there is some mention in this report that not later than June 15 they would be able to report more specifically with respect to some matters. There is some reference --
Mr. Singer: Oh no, no.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, that was a recommendation. That was not a continuing committee, the committee was functus as of the time it made its report. That report also was signed by the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick); he forgot about that.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I think the point I really wanted to make was there was some reference in that particular report -- to support what the member for Riverdale has just completed saying very well -- to the need for a permanent committee representative of all parties, to be available to review those matters to which reference has been made.
Now it was our opinion, notwithstanding the fact that there was some difference of opinion with respect to jurisdiction, that the simplest way to resolve all this and to get on with the work, would be for the House to ask the administration of justice standing committee to review those estimates presently before them in the amount that we are talking about, the $2.3 million or whatever -- is that the amount? -- the $2.3 million. Then for the other matters, if in the opinion of the committee and the Ombudsman there is some need to review additional requirements, the vehicle for this would be the Board of Internal Economy along the lines that have just been mentioned.
I would sense, at this stage Mr. Speaker, that the House would want to reflect upon the discussion we have had today, to provide us with opportunity to serve notice of motion, because I think, really, we would want some notice with respect to the motions that would come before the House early next week.
As far as our caucus is concerned, we would be inclined to agree with the suggestion from the official opposition that we in fact regularize the procedures as indicated in that way, referring to the Board of Internal Economy the estimates of all officials who are directly accountable to the House. Included in that, of course, would be the interesting observation which has already been made with respect to the budgets of select committees. Recognizing the objectivity of that particular board, chaired as it is by you, Mr. Speaker, we think this would help to clear up a lot of the confusion. The House would determine the jurisdiction, because that motion would be debated here, and whatever procedures are to be followed would have been established by the House as the vehicle.
Now I do remind ourselves that there doesn’t seem to be any disagreement, except on some matters of fact; but as far as the principles involved here are concerned, there is very little disagreement on what we have to accomplish. The difference of opinion seems to be with respect to the procedures -- whether it be the Board of Internal Economy or whether it be some other committee to be established.
For the immediate solution I would see that we would indeed ask the Board of Internal Economy to discharge this responsibility; that the House regularize it and I would hope to file a notice of motion so that we could proceed with that next week.
I think the debate, the discussion, has been very helpful. It helps to clear the air. I think all members of the Legislature would want to associate themselves with all comments which have been made with respect to confidence, both in the office and the incumbent. I think the incumbent, as a great student of democratic systems, would be the first to admit that there has to be some procedures; there has to be some accountability in our system of government with respect to the spending of public money, Nobody has been raising these questions to infringe in any way upon the scope of the authority which the Legislature has assigned to the Ombudsman. I would hope that we could get on, clarify this situation and get the matter regularized in some form.
Perhaps at this stage we might indeed assume that we have discussed the question that’s been referred to us. We will file our motion and we can deal with it the first part of the week.
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, we came here for directions. If it’s humanly possible I want to have that motion filed forthwith. Do we or do we not go back into session downstairs with the Ombudsman?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I’ve worked on a certain assumption that I could not get unanimous consent to proceed with the motion this afternoon referring the matter to the Board of Internal Economy. If, for instance, there was that unanimous consent, we could debate it now.
It was my assumption that on the basis of this discussion we would file such a motion and we would carry it next week, assuming that we and the official opposition caucus voted for it. In the meantime, the administration of justice committee has now started the estimates of the Solicitor General --
Mr. Lewis: We will not turn back on that commitment.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- and it will carry on with the estimates of the Solicitor General until such time as they are completed. Then, assuming that this motion will be carried, the committee will resume its consideration of the estimates of the Ombudsman along the lines that the motion would indicate.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, we are not really on second reading so I don’t think the ordinary rules apply and one should be able to speak more than once. I don’t intend to be repetitive.
If the minister was asking for unanimous consent, he will not have it. I have grave doubts about the appropriateness of allowing a committee which has three cabinet ministers on it to meet in private and determine something as important as this. I have grave doubts as to the legality of this procedure, bearing in mind what we provided in chapter 116 of the statutes of 1974.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I presume we’re not going to debate this because there’s nothing before the House to debate in that respect right now.
Mr. Singer: No. I was just commenting, Mr. Speaker, that if the minister is moved to bring in a motion along the lines he indicated he would be well advised to look at that statute, particularly section 74 of it, and find out whether he has the jurisdiction to do what he proposes to do.
Mr. Renwick: Certainly.
Mr. Singer: I don’t know who advises this mysterious board which meets in secret but they’ve already stubbed their toes several times. I’m surprised, really, that the member for Riverdale, who obviously has led this insurrection, should be among those who foremost and most vehemently --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: He is, all the time. We all know him.
Mr. Singer: -- urge that affairs of the Legislature be determined in camera. I’m very surprised and shocked at him.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I think any motion can be debated at that time if there’s a need for it.
Mr. Renwick: On a point of order, in connection with this. I think, in order to assist my colleague, the chairman of the standing committee on the administration of justice, we could break it into two parts. We would be quite happy now to entertain a motion, if unanimous consent was available, to refer the $2.3 million estimates which were originally before the standing committee --
Mr. Singer: That is the motion which didn’t exist.
Mr. Renwick: -- back to that committee for its consideration in order that those estimates could be dealt with the same as any other estimates.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, if I may speak to the point of order, I take it from the interjection of the member for Wilson Heights that we would not have unanimous consent even for that.
Mr. Singer: That is the whole point which is at issue.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I do remind the House and I’ve already put on record that this House has already referred the estimates of the Ombudsman to the administration of justice committee. The confusion seems to be whether or not it is $2.3 million or some other figure. I would remind them that as far as the estimates --
Mr. Peterson: Who has the power to initiate it?
Mr. Renwick: It is just a transposition.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I would think under the circumstances --
Mr. Singer: What difference does it make?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I will continue on the point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please, the hon. House leader.
Hon. Mr. Welch: In view of the fact that we will bring the motion in in a regular way, at the moment the administration of justice committee has started the estimates of the Solicitor General and there is no reason why it can’t continue with those estimates and the House next week can regularize the question of the Ombudsman. We will await the motion then at the first of the week.
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, may I just say a word on this as it is important?
Mr. Speaker: Very briefly.
Mr. Lawlor: As far as I am concerned, we reject that proposition. If it is sent back to our committee at $2.3 million or any other point, we will go right through the same imbroglio and rigmarole and motions in the committee to go wherever we want to go and to reach some figure and refer it to the House. I don’t think it should go back to committee until the problem, as put before us today, is resolved.
Mr. Renwick: I agree.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That is agreed.
Mr. Singer: Either $3.9 million or $9.3 million.
Mr. Renwick: It sounds very sensible.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills. The hon. Treasurer.
TOWNSHIP OF NORTH PLANTAGENET ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act respecting the Township of North Plantagenet.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The township of North Plantagenet is in the county of Prescott and Russell, so well represented in this House by the member from that area. This bill will authorize the construction and financing of certain drainage works which have been completed or are under construction in the township for which Municipal Board approval was not first obtained.
CITY OF THUNDER BAY AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the City of Thunder Bay Act, 1968-1969.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Stokes: Are those hydro bills?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: This bill clarifies the title of real property as being in the name of the city of Thunder Bay but with the control of its disposition remaining with the Thunder Bay Hydro-Electric Commission. It is the end of a disagreement, I think it might be said, which goes back to 1970; sooner or later all things are settled.
Mr. Peterson: Just legislate them out of existence.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Bounsall moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Bounsall: This bill prescribes the conditions under which a collective agreement may be reopened between the unions and the employers during the lifetime of that contract and includes the making, giving, or issuing of an order, direction or notice against an employer under any Act for health or safety reasons; the changing or proposed changing of the production standards at the place of employment; the introduction or proposed introduction of technological change at the place of employment and the contracting out to other persons work which would ordinarily be carried out by the employees of the employer.
CHILD WELFARE MUNICIPAL PAYMENTS CONTINUANCE ACT
Hon. Mr. Taylor moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to Provide for the Continuance of Certain Payments between Municipalities under the Child Welfare Act, 1965.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: This bill will confirm the validity of section 88 of the Child Welfare Act, 1965, during the period from Sept. 1, 1971, to Aug. 1, 1975 for reasons which are set out in some detail in the explanatory notes of the bill.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before the orders of the day I wish to table the answers to questions 76 and 85 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The 24th order, House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION (CONCLUDED)
On vote 2902:
Mr. Chairman: It is my understanding that the time allotted for the estimates of the Ministry of Education has expired. However we must put and carry items 11, 12 and 13 of vote 2902.
Vote 2902 agreed to.
Vote 2903 agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: This completes the estimates of the Ministry of Education.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Mr. Renwick: Shall we give consent to the minister speaking from a seat other than his own?
Mr. Chairman: That has usually been the practice. I think it is agreed to?
Does the minister have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
It’s not that I am trying to flee the member for Ottawa East but I thought it might be more convenient if I sat here and directly faced the official opposition.
Mr. Roy: Why does the minister go there? Why doesn’t he stay here?
Mr. Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Renwick: Eyeball to eyeball.
Mr. Roy: Yes, you have been in bed all day.
Mr. McClellan: Wait until the vote, Albert.
Mr. Roy: That’s it; you are just posturing.
Mr. Bain: You should know about posturing, Albert.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. minister may proceed.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I am pleased to present the proposed budget for the Ministry of Community and Social Services for the fiscal year 1976-1977.
Mr. R. S. Smith: You are starting to sound like Havrot.
Mr. Bain: Why, do you miss him?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It is the largest budget in the history of Ontario -- $985 million -- virtually $1 billion. It is nearly $100 million more than last year and please permit me to put these estimates in the proper context so that the hon. members, the people of Ontario and all those dependent upon these moneys will truly understand the need for these expenditures.
Expenditures for social services in this province have been continually expanding over the past five years. In expansionary times, expanding social services was a responsible thing to do. Certainly, without restraint now, inflationary damage would hurt most the very people who need our programme. Social services cannot expand faster than our economic ability to provide services. Our limited expansion this year is designed to impose restraint equitably on all areas of social services, while maintaining present levels of service.
Over the past five years, this government has allocated the greatest expansion to those services which are designed to increase self-sufficiency and greater participation in the lifestream of the community. In the last five years, funding for mental retardation programmes in the community has increased sixfold. Spending on vocational rehabilitation is up by 260 per cent. Spending on day care is up 560 per cent; while spending on homemakers, counselling and home nursing services has nearly tripled. Funding for senior citizens’ services has increased 250 per cent. Spending on child welfare has been doubled.
This year, my ministry’s estimates represent 8.4 per cent of all government spending in Ontario, and that is a larger share than ever before.
In addition to this priority, however, this government has also introduced in other ministries new programmes and assumed further responsibilities which directly benefit those in need, while relieving the municipalities and agencies of very substantial financial burdens.
Last year alone, this government spent $95 million on income support for the elderly through GAINS, $35 million for drug benefit assistance for the elderly; $59 million for housing rental subsidies; $119 million for OHIP premium assistance; and $404 million for the Ontario tax credit system.
The fact that more than $719 million was spent in other ministries on income support and supplementation programmes, over and above the $880 million spent by this ministry alone last year, shows this government’s high priority for programmes for the needy.
My ministry’s estimates this year provide for an overall increase of 11.8 per cent over last year’s actual spending. This includes the provision for a 5.5 per cent increase in transfer payments to all municipalities and agencies for existing services. This is an increase, and not a decrease or cutback.
In addition, provision is made for previous capital commitments, annualization of projects and services that started in mid-year, operating subsidies for newly-completed capital construction, and the development of community programmes for the retarded.
My ministry has kept its own direct operating costs well below the rate of expansion for overall ministry programmes. My ministry’s direct operating expenses this year will be just five per cent higher than last year. Internal economies have made this possible without sacrificing direct operation of social services or assistance.
In the area of expenditures for general welfare assistance, early indications show that tightening of the eligibility requirements, as well as closer liaison with Manpower, have had an appreciable effect on caseloads. At the same time, we have assured that no one in true need would be neglected.
During February and March of this year, caseloads dropped by about 2.5 per cent a month. In April, the first month under the new regulations, caseloads dropped about six per cent.
Mr. Roy: Except in Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The cumulative January-April decline in caseloads is 10.6 per cent. This represents actually a decline of 26 per cent in the “employables” category.
Mr. R. S. Smith: In all the industrial centres.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: General assistance caseloads in April, 1976, the first month of the restraint programme, are in fact nine per cent lower than caseloads in April, 1975.
It should be noted that caseloads traditionally remain steady, or increase slightly, during the first four months of the year. Because caseloads traditionally decline over the summer, we anticipate that this trend will continue. Assuming the provincial trend continues, my March estimate of a six per cent decline in welfare expenditures will likely be on the conservative side and most municipalities concur that this major programme can be provided within a 5.5 per cent increase in budget.
These estimates also provide an additional $3.2 million in the area of children’s services to provide for the exceptional cases where essential services would be jeopardized and for unanticipated costs to either the Children’s Aid Societies or local governments in 1976.
Provision is made for a $250,000 child abuse programme to assist Children’s Aid Societies and other social services, health services and related agencies in co-ordinating existing resources for the early identification, prevention and treatment of child abuse.
My estimates also provide $96.8 million for services to the aged. Over the past five years the growth in funding to services for the aged in my ministry alone has increased by 250 per cent. Priority for expansion has been in those areas which assist the elderly to live on their own including elderly persons’ centres in my ministry which provide meals on wheels and day care. In other ministries, similar priority has been given to GAINS and senior citizens’ apartments which enable the elderly to live independently.
Rate changes have been made in the homes for the aged by increasing extended care charges and the residents’ share. Early indications are that these changes will enable homes for the aged to live within the restraint guidelines without sacrificing the level of service.
Provision is also made in these estimates for $34 million in operating funds and $6 million of capital for day care. Ontario already has what is reputed to be the finest day care provision in North America, and the moneys requested for operating costs are double those of last year’s estimates.
These estimates provide $361 million for family benefits. In addition to allowances, this allocation includes provision for the employment incentives introduced last July which help those recipients who want to return to work to enter the work force on a part-time or full-time basis with assistance.
In reviewing these estimates, you will also see that funds are provided for expansion of services and new capital projects for community-based services to the mentally retarded.
With the funds provided in these estimates, we are planning to create a broad range of community programmes for the mentally retarded, including a provision for 1,000 accommodation places; 155 development day care places; 775 workshop and training places; 57 community support projects; and 62 protective service workers. These programmes are designed to serve a new client population in addition to some 7,000 people now being served in community programmes.
The district working group process, which has a total community involvement, is achieving a large measure of success. Currently, we have 137 proposals through this process consisting of 38 accommodation places; 62 work and training projects; and 37 special support projects.
By the end of this year we anticipate a reduction of 500 residents in large schedule I facilities across the province due to the development of community accommodation alternatives. All arrangements for community placements will be made with the knowledge and approval of the parents, next of kin or guardians concerned.
In these estimates we are committed to provide for the valid needs of all citizens who cannot fully support themselves.
I invite the hon. members to review with me the estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services for the fiscal year, 1976-1977.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Chairman, one feels the incredible pressure of the time constraints in this debate and, for that reason, I wanted to focus in my overview on a part of our approach to this ministry and hope that we will have time to pursue other items when we get into the item-by-item discussion.
As we start to deal with the estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, we should remember and keep present in our minds the issue that we’re trying to address, and that issue is poverty. By whatever measure of the poverty line we use, whether it’s that of Statistics Canada, the most stringent, or that of the CCSD or that of the special Senate committee on poverty, the figures all add up to the same sorry picture, a picture of the persistence of poverty for a sizable minority of the people of this province.
Perhaps the terrible reality of poverty today in Ontario is best seen in the light of the question, who are the poor of this province? The answer in stark numerical terms is that the largest group of poor in Ontario, in the overwhelming numerical majority, are children. The report of the National Council of Welfare for kids told us in 1975 that the poor children in Ontario were 400,690 in number; 17 per cent of all children in the province were children of families below the Statistics Canada poverty line, members of families which spent over 70 per cent of their income on the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing. The simple reality is that Ontario has a child poverty problem of tragic dimension.
We can identify these children in a great number of ways. Again, time constraints are with us and I want to try to focus a little bit. Some 97,637 are the children of mother-led families in this province. We should remember that fully 65 per cent of the children of mother-led families are poor. From another perspective over 100,000 poor children in this province are the children of single-parent mothers on public assistance; 84,532 are on family benefits as of September, 1975, and between 30,000 and 50,000 children on general welfare assistance. Accurate figures are impossible for us to obtain but whatever way you slice it, whatever poverty line you use -- and I’m using the lowest, that of Statistics Canada -- this government’s income maintenance programmes are below these poverty lines and condemn tens of thousands of children in this province to a life of deprivation and want.
If we look at a couple of comparisons, family benefits rates for a family of four -- a mother, a child of nine and two children between 10 and 15 -- the allowance at current rates would be $5,664. The lowest poverty line figure, that of the unrevised Statistics Canada poverty line of January, 1975, fully a year out of date, establishes a poverty line for that size of family, a family of four, at $5,877. If we look at their revised poverty line for the same year, which takes into account regional variations in cost of living in the province, we arrive at figures, according to the size of the community, of between $6,900 and $7,600. If we look at more generous definitions of a poverty line, that of the CCSD, we have a figure of $7,000 a year as a minimum necessary figure for a family of four. If we look at the figures used by the special Senate committee on poverty, updated to January, 1975, we have a poverty line for a family of four of $7,871.
The fact remains that this ministry keeps families and children in a condition of poverty. The Henderson report in one of its most ludicrous and illustrative statements proudly boasts of Ontario’s generosity as follows, referring to family benefits:
“Benefit levels have risen since 1966. Social assistance rates have been increased by 53 per cent to offset an increase of 55 per cent in the consumer price index.”
What generosity! Henderson goes on to suggest that Ontario can’t afford to eliminate poverty. In fact, no modern industrial society can afford the persistence of a poverty minority in its midst.
I lack time to deal with the financial and social costs of the child poverty syndrome, but the real cost of continued massive child poverty is well known. I could point to the Lambert study that was done for this government, which documented that it was the poor children of this province who eventually end up in our correctional system. The cost of the Tory neglect of this child poverty phenomenon is staggering in financial terms -- in terms, in fact, of the social service budget of much of the ministry that is before us today, a budget for services trying desperately to mend lives that have been twisted and damaged by the effects of childhood poverty.
Forty-seven per cent of all youth cases served by the Metro Children’s Aid Society, where the youngest child was 12 or over, came from single-parent families; 43.5 per cent of Children’s Aid Society protection services go to one-parent families, according to a 1970 study of the Vanier Institute. I could go on and on but I think the effects of poverty on childhood do not need to be dwelt upon. The effects are tragic in human terms and they are costly in dollar terms.
The continued presence of poverty, such as I have outlined, presents a special dilemma for us in the New Democratic Party. As democratic socialists, our political commitment is to a redistribution of wealth and power. That’s what we’re all about. The dilemma is about the means of dealing effectively with poverty.
After 40 or 50 years’ experience with the welfare state, and I include the experience of the northern European social democracies, we now raise questions about the reliance on income maintenance payments as an effective method of redistributing wealth. In fact, the evidence suggests that as a means of helping people escape from poverty, income maintenance schemes have been largely ineffective.
In Canada, for example, the most highly developed part of our income maintenance system -- that serving senior citizens -- had the balloon of effectiveness burst by the recent CCSD study that showed that over 50 per cent of retired Canadians over 65 years of age were still living in poverty. With all the attention and concern that’s been directed to the income needs of senior citizens in the last decade, we have yet to distribute transfer payments to a majority of this group sufficient to break them out of poverty. Being out of the labour force is itself a precipitating condition of impoverishment. This is true, also, of families.
Simple justice demands this government’s income maintenance rates be raised to adequate levels above established poverty levels. We would do that. Common sense demands an end to the hodge-podge of categorical programmes, all based on an endless series of category mistakes, nonsensical. They cry out to be rationalized and simplified. But as an anti-poverty measure, as a means of helping families and children to escape from the trap of poverty, we are not overly optimistic for income maintenance or transfer payment schemes -- even schemes like the guaranteed annual income established at an adequate level.
Our feeling, and I think our experience over the last 40 years, suggest our economic system has an intrinsic ability to restore to a substandard level those whose sole support is transfer payments, regardless of either the original benefit level or the good intentions of legislatures. I think we recognize that as a dilemma. The evidence tells us that the best hope for an escape from poverty comes through a relationship with the work force -- not through marginal steady or part-time jobs on the fringe of the economy; not your day in the scrap yard; but through a stable, career-oriented relationship with employment in the mainstream of the economy. Given that assumption and our own commitment, it follows to us that an NDP Ministry of Community and Social Services would place the highest priority upon the development of employment opportunity programmes and to social job creation.
Let me suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that there is an urgent need for a provincial manpower programme. Unlike Canada Manpower, it would serve specific, identifiable groups of disadvantaged people.
Mr. Swadron pointed out in 1971 that Canada Manpower serves an economic function, not a social function. Canada Manpower is not equipped to deal with disadvantaged minorities who are outside of a relationship with the work force and who have special difficulties entering the work force. Canada Manpower matches people who are already in the labour force with the job market.
Therefore, there is a need for a specialized provincial manpower programme that would service specifically disadvantaged minority groups. A provincial manpower programme would provide a specialized and integrated counselling, training, vocational rehabilitation and employment placement service to disadvantaged groups now excluded for various reasons from the work force.
It would not rely upon the private sector, as this government does, to solve the job problem as if by magic. We reject this government’s trickle-down approach to job creation, as Mr. Swadron did in 1971. We would assume responsibility for the creation of public sector job opportunities, and a community employment strategy would be a central component of our approach.
We would provide generous financial incentives in the form of adequate training grants, positive tax-back rates or reduction rates -- whichever you prefer to call them -- and financial cushions during transitional periods to facilitate re-entry into the work force.
We would develop a network of support services that are essential if such a programme is to succeed. Pre-eminently among such services would be sufficient daycare facilities. Unlike Swadron, we do not dismiss the single-parent mother from the employment opportunity programme.
The poverty group with the most alarming growth rate in this province is the mother-led family. A genuinely preventive social policy for mother-led families is absolutely essential if we are to avoid an enormous child welfare problem in the future. I don’t have to remind the minister that a restorative service costs up to $23,000 a year for a child. A fraction of that amount spent now in social job creation, in vocational opportunities and day care, is justified solely on economic grounds, on cost benefit grounds, let alone considering the human dimensions.
The single-parent mother in our society is faced now with a tremendous array of obstacles to a decent standard of living, and these obstacles have to be addressed. The average income in 1974 for a woman was only 43 per cent of that earned by a man; roughly $4,500 a year as opposed to $10,500 for a man. That kind of inequity has to be dealt with by your government through vigorous minimum wage legislation and through vigorous fair employment practices legislation.
But the single-parent mother is also faced too often with an absolute choice, a black and white choice between taking a job on the one hand and neglecting her child-rearing responsibilities on the other. The result is that she is unable to develop her skills to pursue a career. For example, she is doomed to work in and out of low-paid, low-skilled jobs at irregular hours which don’t conflict with home management and child-rearing responsibilities.
We have to develop employment opportunities which permit part-time, career-based employment, together with matching supportive child care facilities. A social jobs programme for single-parent mothers would provide for a continuing of part-time and full-time jobs in socially necessary work for family heads now defined as unemployable. It would combine stable part-time work and skill-training opportunities together with the type of support offered in the work activity concept. This would be in marked contrast to current strategies which provide short-term jobs, readiness support but assume that the general labour market will meet the long-term need. That’s simply not good enough and it doesn’t address itself to the problem.
Finally, this would require a significant expansion of day care facilities, both full-time and part-time, to accommodate the part-time nature of the job opportunities created. If we fail to move in this direction we continue to condemn single-parent mothers to a kind of desperate state when their childrearing responsibilities have ended in the late 30s or early 40s. They move back into the labour force and they move down to the bottom, to the fringe, of the economy and move from a condition of poverty, in some cases, on public assistance to a condition of poverty on the fringe of the labour force.
These remarks, as I said before, aren’t intended to be comprehensive. The matters I have focused on -- single-parent mothers, in particular -- are intended to be illustrative of our general approach.
I could refer you to the Swadron report of 1971, I guess, page 143 -- I might refer the minister to that page. It provides an excellent description of a sensible programme of employment opportunities for welfare recipients, totally, inconsistent with your own nonsensical welfare bashing.
Our own goal would be a restructured Ministry of Community and Social Services focused on prevention and rehabilitation rather than as now on maintenance and crisis intervention. It would function within the context of an overall provincial manpower policy and would develop specific special expertise in delivering specialized manpower services to identified disadvantaged groups. It would be as unlike the Tory Ministry of Community and Social Services as night is from day.
I won’t go on to talk about restructuring the ministry or engage in any remarks about decentralization as opposed to centralization. Perhaps we can get into some discussion of that in the item by item stage. I had hoped that we would have sufficient time to look at a number of alternative ways of running a Ministry of Community and Social Services. With seven hours obviously that’s not possible and we have tried to pick out one or two areas which are most important to us and we will try to pursue them in some depth this time.
I have to say something about the minister’s stewardship. I think I spoke at length about your cutback programme during the supplementary estimates in the spring. I haven’t changed my mind. We have a welfare minister who seems to see his job as one of attacking those who are in need, of applying his lead boots, his welfare bashing, his freeze, his constraints and his cutbacks while seeming to be indifferent to the real issues and the real problems of the disadvantaged and needy. He is a minister who trumpets the work ethic and cuts back on work activity projects; who undermines his excellent vocational rehabilitation programme; who halts the development of new daycare facilities; who wreaks havoc with our Children’s Aid Society; who is, in short, utterly incapable of serving the needs of the weak and disadvantaged of this province.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Mr. Chairman, I have a few general comments to make before we get into the votes, As the previous speaker has indicated, it’s very difficult with the restraints that we have on time, to cover what we would like to cover in our opening remarks. I would just outline some of the more general areas that we would like to look at and on which we will be questioning the minister as we go through the estimates and indicate the position that we would take in regard to them,
In the past six months the major consideration within the ministry has been the restraint programme and how it has been applied by the present minister. There’s no doubt that the basic position of employment and education is the ultimate answer, along with preventive services to the poor in this province, but obviously this ministry has placed that in a secondary position over the past years to the provision of monetary funds to the poor and to the needy, albeit that this was done in a way that kept them well below the poverty line as outlined by the previous speaker and which I will not go into.
The fact that counselling and special services and preventive service and this type of thing have not grown to the same extent in costs in this ministry as has the provision of funds for support services indicates, I believe -- and the minister has indicated this in his opening remarks -- that the ministry still considers the prime consideration for it to be the provision of support services in a monetary fashion rather than in prevention and the other areas that could assist those people who are on family benefits or general welfare assistance to enter the mainstream of life within our province when the eradication of what we term poor should be the ultimate aim of this ministry whether or not the McKeough report says that it can be done.
Obviously the McKeough report -- and I refer to it because the provincial Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) was the chairman of it -- is a biased report. It’s partially a government report because the Treasurer of this province sat as chairman of that committee. When that report says that we cannot eradicate poverty in this province, it indicates the philosophy of the government opposite, which is that it has no intention of even trying to eradicate poverty in this province.
With the programmes that they have brought in over the years, it certainly has indicated that they agree to live beside poverty. Although they’re not prepared to live with it, they live beside it. They are obviously not wishing to be a part of it themselves. As you look at the expense accounts that were tabled in this Legislature yesterday, it’s obvious that most of us in this assembly are not living in poverty. In fact, some who travel back and forth considerably are living in such a fashion that their travelling expenses for a minimum number of miles are above what this ministry is giving to a family of four to live on in this whole province for the whole year and that includes all their expenses.
I believe that is the type of thing we should be looking at very closely, in the light of the fact that preventive and other services and programmes have not and likely will not be brought in by this government to get those people the opportunity to remove themselves from the poverty rolls.
During the last few months the restraint programme has become of significant importance in this ministry because of the philosophy of the ministry over the years that support programmes were their only method by which to deal with the poor. We have no alternative today but to deal basically, primarily, with those restraint programmes because on that basis alone can we make any judgement as to what is happening to these people. The other programmes are obviously not being made available to them nor is it the intention of the ministry to do so.
The restraint programme which was announced in the fall and was followed up by each minister concerned -- or many of the ministers at least -- travelling around the province, trying to explain to the people what it would do and what it wouldn’t do to them, is now in effect. The people who are directly concerned -- particularly those at the lower income level -- are feeling the pressures.
The minister indicates that outside his ministry there are many things being done for income support and that’s true insofar as the GAINS programme, drug benefits and other things are concerned. But within his own programmes let’s look at family benefits and general welfare assistance. There has been no increase in those benefits for one year and in that one year period we have gone through an inflationary increase in the cost of living of between 10 per cent and 12 per cent. Those people are now 10 per cent behind where they were a year ago and if he believes that the manner in which the income support is structured -- either for family benefits or general welfare assistance -- has provided sufficiently in lieu of the 10 per cent increase in the cost of living -- let alone the fact that they were well behind prior to this time last year -- obviously he does not accept the fact that there are people living below the poverty line. He is prepared, and so is this government, to leave them there.
The minister says no one will suffer. The problem is that no one he knows, perhaps, will suffer, but many people will suffer. A 5.5 per cent increase is being allowed to the general welfare recipients and to other agencies which are funded directly or indirectly through municipalities and the province. At the same time the total costs of his whole ministry have increased by 11.7 per cent, and that certainly does not indicate that he is prepared even to keep up with the increasing, spiralling costs caused by inflation.
We in this party have taken the position that restraints are necessary. There is no question about that, hot it is where you restrain that is significant.
When the minister was in North Bay on his travels about the province some questions were put to him about his proposals. A number of people indicated, after he had spoken, that the causes of inflation were not those people on welfare nor any of the people being dealt with either directly or indirectly under the programmes administered by this minister. Yet these same people are the ones who, perhaps, are going to be hurt the most by the restraint programme in this province.
There is no question in my mind that a 5.5 per cent increase to the general welfare assistance for people in this province is illegal. It may turn out that we will have a third court case going on in this province in regard to actions of this government. The Act and the regulations specify that the ministry must provide 80 per cent of the cost of those services provided through the municipality. The municipality, at its discretion, has to make payments as long as they come within the terms of the Act and the regulations. Therefore, there is no way a 5.5 per cent restraint can be placed on the increased costs at the general welfare level.
If the municipalities spend the money, then it is obvious that by law in this province it is necessary for you to provide the 80 per cent, 50 per cent of which comes from the federal government. So I believe that that part of your restraint programme is not even legal, let alone realistic. I would indicate to you that perhaps for the third time in a month the province may well be in the courts when the municipalities submit to you for payment amounts that are above 5.5 per cent.
The minister’s statement today indicates there is some chop in the number of people who are on the general welfare assistance rolls across the province, but it is only based on 10 cities and those 10 cities happen to be the most industrialized centres in all the province or in each region of the province. Let’s look at them: Toronto, Kingston, Waterloo, Ottawa-Carleton, Hamilton, Sudbury, London, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Buy and Windsor.
Let’s just look at those communities that you have mentioned in northern Ontario, for example. You are basing your statistics on what’s happening in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie end Thunder Bay. Obviously they are the three major growth centres in the northern part of the province, they are the most industrialized centres of that part of the province, and with the buoyancy that has begun in the economy, those are the first places to create new employment. Obviously those people who are employable and on the welfare rolls are in positions where they will have the first opportunity at that type of employment.
You don’t take any statistics from places such as Timiskaming, Nipissing district, or Parry Sound district, to mention three districts that are represented by all sides of this House. Nor do you mention the large and vast areas in the northwest part of the province. Rather, you base your statistics on those municipalities that will react first to an upturn in the economy, and react quickly in the early spring to the construction industry boom that starts in late March and early April across this province.
There is a drastic reduction in the number of unemployed people in those areas first. The rest of the province lags behind. I would venture to say that in the other 40 per cent of the province that you have not included in your statistics, the number of employable people on general welfare assistance this year is no different from what it was last year, and that your programme has not worked one bit in those areas. In fact, I don’t see how your programme has been working even in the areas that you mentioned. Because of the upturn of the economy, I am certain that you or your programme or your ministry cannot take any credit for the removal of those people, when most of them have been removed by the upturn in the economy and the coming of the construction season.
Obviously, the statements you made are based on a great number of false assumptions, if they are to be applicable -- which you tried to make them -- across the Province of Ontario. If you just look at the 10 municipalities you mentioned, you will see those are the most industrialized centres where new job opportunities will be created quickest. Mr. Rhodes shakes his head. Could you tell me what’s n more industrialized centre in northern Ontario than those thee that were mentioned?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am saying the job opportunities aren’t increasing there either.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Well, your minister says they are.
Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Thunder Bay are the most industrialized centres in northern Ontario and they are the areas where construction does take place most quickly.
I would just like to touch on a couple of other matters. One is the question of the restraint programme again, as it’s applied to the Children’s Aid Societies and indicate to the minister that we all realize that the minister at first came out with his blanket statement of the 5.5 per cent increase for the societies and then changed that and dealt with the societies on an individual basis..
Mr. Warner: Which they should have done in the first place.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Which they should have done in the first place, yes. On the other hand, the fact of the matter is that in the case of those societies that stayed within the 5.5 per cent and gave in to the ministry at the start and maintained that position, most of their budgets have been approved, whereas those that have asked for review and have had review have at this point in time not had their budgets approved for this current year. They are well into the current year and as yet they have not had their budgets approved. There is some great difficulty in those areas to know just where they are going to be going because they don’t know yet what expenditures they can make.
I’d like to point out two or three areas of concern. One of the areas hit very hard is the societies. The minister has had to review their budgets and 15 of the 50 have been approved as submitted; 19 additional have still to be negotiated; and three are outstanding. I would like to ask the minister of those that are still to be negotiated and outstanding, are there any of them which have stayed within the 5.5 per cent? The two things go together and it becomes more obvious as the year goes on that they are being placed in a position where they may be expending funds which they will not have.
There are a number of specific instances across the province, such as the fact that the caseloads are increasing in Kingston and district and resigning staff is not being replaced and money for outside treatment is being reduced. I would say to you that that is a phenomenon that is taking place right across this province.. There are many children who should be placed in special types of homes, but are not being placed by Children’s Aid Societies simply because they don’t have the funds to place them there. That is taking place right in my area where the society accepted the 5.5 per cent restrictions, but cut back its services to the extent where the children and the people are suffering. I don’t believe this is either right on their part or the ministry’s part.
Dufferin county is having to raise $2,000 from the public for a one-day-a-week credit counselling programme. They have to have public subscription besides the funding they are obtaining from you and the ministry. I’m not against public subscriptions for certain things. But we can’t have Wintario taking money out of the people’s pockets and shoving it into other programmes and expect local people at the same time to subsidize those programmes which have been traditionally funded by yourselves and the municipalities.
The Norfolk Children’s Aid Society has had to abandon its summer camp programme and has established a fresh air outdoor fund instead or is trying to fund such an outdoor existence on a day-to-day basis rather than a summer camp programme.
Mr. Haggerty: They are trying to get a grant from Wintario.
Mr. R. S. Smith: As you can see, the people who are losing out under your programme are the poor and the children in this province. It is very difficult for us to understand why they must suffer from the restraints that have been caused by the expenditures of other people who have created the inflationary trend in this country. There is nobody that I know of who had enough resources, if they are on family benefits or under Children’s Aid Society care or in any way connected with your ministry, even to help to create in any small manner the inflationary spiral that we have. Yet they are the people who are being made to suffer the most under this restraint programme.
Mr. Warner: The small people pay for your overspending.
Mr. R. S. Smith: I’d just like to go back a bit and point out to you the attempts that have been made over the years in the Legislature itself to provide preventive programmes and services that would, in the long run, prove to be much more beneficial than the present type of financial assistance, and not much more.
Last year, a group of people made a proposal to the Minister of Community and Social Services regarding the establishment of an advisory committee to study and recommend programmes for implementing preventive provisions of the Child Welfare Act. The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell), myself, together with some other people from. the community, presented a draft proposal to the ministry. There was one meeting held on May 13 to look into this matter.
At that time the minister of the day, your predecessor, chose to bring in a panel. He had a panel discussion involving three knowledgeable people, and then it was open to the floor. There was a decision made that there would be another meeting held in June, but for some reason or other, this became impossible and was cancelled by the ministry. There was then a decision made to hold another meeting in September, but that was cancelled for reasons of the electoral process.
Mr. Martel: I have written three letters since, too.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Since that time there have been a number of questions in this House to you, as the successor to Hon. Mr. Brunelle, as to when these meetings would be held and what would be done in this regard. The member for Sudbury East indicates that he has written you three letters on the subject, and yet we are still where we were a year ago -- and that is no place and nowhere.
That section of the Child Welfare Act, under which preventive services could be provided, is still not really a part of your ministry’s programme. The funds are still not being provided in any meaningful way to the Children’s Aid Societies to increase their preventive services across the province.
There are just one or two other matters that I would like to cover quickly in my opening remarks. I would leave day care and mental retardation until the later votes under which they come specifically. But I believe that you should refer in the first vote to the changes that have been put forward by the federal government in regard to the whole social security programme in Canada. There is the question of the subsidy that the federal government has proposed for the working poor, and which has been discussed in this House each successive year during the past eight, as far as I can remember, by both the members of the party to my right and by members of my party as well. There have been some types of programmes established on a trial basis in this area. But, obviously, the minister went to Ottawa and just sat and said, “I will not take part in the discussions until after the first ministers meet in June.”
If we have a restraint programme, why the hell did we send you down there and waste the money? Why didn’t you just send a message and stay here? Obviously, you must have taken some of your other people with you to advise you. So the cost of that trip could have been saved, and, although it may be a minuscule amount in terms of your total budget, as well as the total budget of this province, it does indicate the wasteful nature of the application of funds that should be provided in other more needy areas, such as those I have mentioned and which the previous speaker mentioned as well.
I did ask you in the House a few days ago to enlighten us as to what other provisions were provided by the federal ministry in regard to the new social security programme envisaged and was asking for approval from the provincial ministry. I did not get a direct or clear answer, for example, on the whole question of the provision of assistance to volunteer agencies in the community, where I understand the federal government is now prepared to share cost with you on provision of assistance to them.
Is that part of the programme that you also refused to discuss? Or did you take part in any discussion on any other part of the programme that was provided by the federal ministry as part of the new social development programme that it envisaged at that level?
I am not indicating that we in this party provincially are in full support of what is being proposed at the federal level as the panacea for all the poor in this country. But I am indicating to you, in lieu of a proper programme, I do believe some of the proposals they were putting forward were an advancement on what we have now. I have come to believe after almost 11 years in this House that any advancement is something and that we have to take what we can get, no matter how little it is or how long it takes.
Obviously we’re trying to push this ministry even under its present programmes, which are unsatisfactory overall, to provide at least under those programmes a living allowance that is at the poverty level. We’ve yet to reach that. We’ve come close a couple of times, but then we slid back two or three years and we are now in the process of that long slide back again. We came close last June, much closer than we are now, and now we are 10 per cent behind. By next June we will be 20 or 30 per cent behind where we were a year ago. It is obvious that the ministry does not intend to do anything much about that.
The other specific question I would like to ask you is do you include in your estimates this year an increase to match the cost of living increase that has taken place over the past 12 months for those people on family benefits and on general welfare assistance? With those remarks, I will finish for now and deal with the different subjects as the votes come up.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I will respond briefly to some of the general observations because I know as the particular subject matters are reached in the vote-by-vote and item-by-item consideration we will probably be repeating some of the same. So I will deal in general terms and look forward to further discussions on these items as they are reached in the estimates.
There is no question of the concern of my ministry and the concern of the members opposite with the people who are in real need. It’s a question of how you deal with what problem. Much has been made of the technique or approach and the income support supplementation, the income security angle, is the best. My friend in the NDP indicated he is not convinced that that is the right technique. In some respects he is certainly right. It’s a position that I think we have taken.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It’s not a question of how much money you spend in terms of how much good you do. It’s the method in which you spend it, the approach, the technique -- getting at the people that you are trying to help. We can talk statistics -- and I’ve given some and I’ve heard some from you -- but I don’t think there is going to be too much gained by engaging in a statistical war because it is not a question of items in a tariff schedule. We are talking about people, people who need some help, and through no fault of their own are victims of circumstance and require assistance. This is the approach that we are taking.
I’ve been criticized for concentrating too much on the aspect of treatment or help to those who are actually in need rather than in terms of the preventive approach and, theoretically, I agree. I agree we have to concentrate as much as possible on prevention because if we’re 100 per cent successful in prevention then, of course, we don’t have a problem any more.
I’d like to point out that the thrust of my ministry has not been in terms of simply reacting to crises as they arise and transferring moneys to people because they are down and out.
Mr. Martel: Come on. It’s been four years.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: When I made my initial opening remarks I did quote some statistics. I looked at it in perspective, in terms of the five-year period, because I think you should understand where we’re trying to go. If you look at the maintenance aspect in terms of dollars, you see that the provincial allowances are up 155 per cent over that period and the municipal allowances are up 22 per cent.
When I talked about prevention and rehabilitation, that was the area I gave the figures for in terms of vocational rehabilitation -- up 260 per cent; day nurseries, 560 per cent; homemaker services and counselling, 276 per cent; mentally retarded community programmes, 595 per cent. In that area of prevention that’s where the concentration and the thrust have been.
Mr. R. S. Smith: What about dollars?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think it’s only fair to recognize that.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Anything would be a large increase.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: All right. While we’re talking about the statistics, I’ll move from one critic to the other. The statistical base of the drop in the welfare rates has been criticized. Why take 10 cities? When we take 10 cities, you say they’re loaded or you imply they’re not a true reflection of the facts.
Remember that we have historical experience in terms of taking these cities, looking at them and finally comparing that with the totals when we gather all the information in. We can’t do that on a continuing monthly statistical basis for all the communities. We have picked these and we have found that they’re accurate.
I think they’re accurate because they are a cross-section and they represent 60 per cent of the caseload as I indicated in my statement in the House earlier today. They are indicative of what is happening and I think they’ll project what does happen when we again look in retrospect at the end of the year.
Sure, we’ve heard the comment that there hasn’t been any increase in the GWA rates -- I presume you meant the family benefit rates as well -- for almost a year.
Mr. R. S. Smith: I mentioned both.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think there was last spring and then there was an increase in July, if I’m not mistaken.
Mr. R. S. Smith: July.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Yes. We’ll get into that and reasons for it when we get into the items.
I’m concerned about inflation, too, and you mentioned that the causes of inflation should not be attributed to the very people who are at the lower end of the income spectrum.
Mr. McClellan: Let us fight inflation.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: These are the people we’re trying to help. I agree 100 per cent. I have said before that it’s important that we do what we’re doing to ensure that the very people we’re trying to help are not hurt the most, because they will be with inflation. They’re the very people who are hurt the most and the quickest through inflation.
Mr. Martel: They are hurt by your restraint programme.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: There is an overall problem which we have to attack, and that’s the general problem of constraint.
Mr. Warner: Explain that to the Children’s Aid Societies.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: All right. You mention the Children’s Aid Societies and I would like to respond in a general way now and deal with these when we reach the items.
When I went around this province, I told the Children’s Aid Societies and other agencies that it was a pretty rough way of handling a budget in terms of saying, “Here is what I have got left and we will give you 5.5 per cent across the board.” I knew there would be inherent inequities in that. That’s the very reason I spoke about and recognized the extraordinary problems some of them were being confronted with because of such things as the repeal of section 8 of the Training Schools Act. I said, “I will leave the door open, and I will address those very problems that you have on an individual basis.”
Mr. Ferrier: You were asked to do that.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I said I would do that, because I said that no child in true need in this province -- as a matter of fact, no person in true need in this province -- would suffer because of this constraint programme. And I did that.
Mr. R. S. Smith: You have to do exactly that.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I undertook that and I did do that and I produced. I have examined all of these budgets, and I have addressed my problem to these budgets -- and in particular part 1; as you know they are broken into parts. Part 1 dealing with direct child care costs has been addressed and we have additional moneys. I fought and obtained additional moneys -- as a matter of fact $3.2 million in additional funds -- to address this problem.
Mr. McClellan: Is that in these estimates?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: It is here; I mentioned it in my opening remarks and we will come to it. I have accordingly examined the extraordinary burden in terms of additional caseload and costs attributable to the direct care of children. That is why, when we come to that item, I would like to produce for you the different societies and show you the percentage increases that do vary substantially to ensure that that problem is resolved.
I don’t apologize for that. You say I said 5.5 per cent and changed my mind. No, we proceeded in accordance with the spirit of the constraint programme allowing always for equity, and that’s what we have done.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Do you want me to quote you?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I am in Hansard. You can read what I have said if you can’t remember.
Mr. Warner: Only after they stood up to you.
Mr. McClellan: They had threatened to resign if the minister insisted.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Well again, I don’t respond to irresponsible comments, but the fact remains that the initial --
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Please, I don’t want to become controversial in any way or provocative.
Mr. McClellan: You are, though.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I said from the outset that we would be fair, and I think we have been. As we proceed with the estimates you will see what we have done in that regard.
I would like to comment -- again going back to the question of straight income support, and I presume income supplementation in terms of the income security package -- that sure, it may be a simplistic solution to say, “Here, we are going to give everybody this much money,” because money, as you know, isn’t the answer. We have to distinguish between income testing and needs testing. We have to look at the support services that are given.
If we talk about figures in regard to poverty lines, I think we have to remember that they are expressed in gross income terms. If you look at FBA figures, for example, you will see that they are in net terms and you have to take into consideration family allowances and that type of thing. When you take into consideration those factors, you will see there is actually very little difference in the figures that you quote in terms of poverty lines and the FBA rates.
Mr. McClellan: That’s true, you are wrong.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Well, that is again a matter of opinion. I appreciate your opinion and I don’t wish to debate it; I just wish to comment in regard to an observation that you made.
Mr. McClellan: Are you afraid to debate it?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, I am not timid of a debate.
You mentioned the question of centralization in opposed to decentralization. You did not develop it. Frankly, if you want my opinion, I feel that it is necessary to decentralize to get into close contact with the people that we are dealing with through our district offices, through our operations there. You haven’t indicated what your view is --
Mr. McClellan: I thought we would do that in programme administration.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: All right. Okay, then I will address myself to it then, but I would just like to say that of the 9,000 employees, we have got probably 90 per cent in the field.
Reference was made to Ottawa, and I am sure that matter will come up again when we deal with the items individually. It wasn’t a question of being silent in Ottawa. It was a matter, really, of looking at the individual items on the agenda as they came up.
Now, of course, I suppose the more clear-cut item was the question of the splitting of pensions. The proposition was that at the election of either spouse on marital breakup, the pension would be split right down the middle. I advanced the proposition that the election should ensure that one spouse or the other could take the whole pension, if that was their disposition and if it was better and more in their interest. Because it might be better that they settle that asset of the marriage partnership in that way. That wasn’t accepted at the conference, so Ontario went along and agreed to the automatic splitting down the middle at the option of either marriage partner on marital breakup.
The other area of income support and supplementation is a more difficult one, as you will appreciate. I think if you have looked into it and you have gone back several years through the orange papers, you would see that the overview was such that we would look at the federal programme as well as the provincial and municipal programmes to try and rationalize the whole area of income support and supplementation. There is a whole area of income security. And at the federal level I think you have to remember that we have a number of programmes, including the unemployment insurance programme -- which is more than an insurance; I think you will grant that.
We have to look at the pension programme. We have to look at the new spouse’s allowance that was introduced in the interim. We have to look at the change in terms of the family allowances; at all of ingredients in terms of income support and supplementation.
But what happened as conferences proceeded over the years was that that area of federal responsibility and jurisdiction was carved out of the discussion, so we were left with programmes that were basically provincial. I don’t have to spell them out for you. I mentioned the basic ones, such as our FBA and GWA, and supplementary assistance under those programmes. There is the GAINS programme and the whole area of tax rebate -- whether it’s property tax or whether it’s sales tax. There are other credits or assistance, such as free drugs and free hospital care and free medical care, and that type of thing. I suppose you could probably look at workmen’s compensation as well.
Look at all of that -- and then there was the proposition by the federal government to tack on another support or supplementation system. The member asked me why I was silent at the conference -- I think that’s what he was getting at. The newspaper reported that the Minister of Community and Social Services led the opposition. That’s interesting but I didn’t support that.
As a matter of fact, I said Ontario could not support that and, furthermore, we could not make a decision on that pending the first ministers’ conference. At that first ministers’ conference, I’m sure, there will be other fiscal arrangements which will be considered including, I would suspect, tax points instead of straight cost-sharing. Frankly, I could not see the addition of another plan to all of those we have without rationalizing our system. We’re not going to eliminate everything and have one single solution but surely there must be some way of simplification and rationalization so that we don’t end up with just another plan.
Mr. McClellan: I hope you are going to tell us what you are planning to do.
Mr. R. S. Smith: What is your alternative?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Certainly. I would be happy, when we get into it, to discuss that to any length because it is a very interesting subject which has been discussed for several years around here.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Three years.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s right. For three years. Correct.
Mr. R. S. Smith: And you have accomplished nothing.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I will be happy to do that. As a matter of fact, you talked about social services and the cost-sharing arrangements. As you know, under the Canada Assistance Plan, we have done very well in Ontario because we’ve been able to negotiate and work ourselves into our programmes with cost-sharing. Probably most of the other provinces haven’t taken advantage of that cost-sharing arrangement as we have.
Mr. Deans: BC has.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Not to the same extent. The effect was to codify, if you will, the proposals so you could pick out precisely which programmes would be cost-shared.
Mr. Deans: Why are you filibustering?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I’m not. I’m responding. If you had been here earlier, I think you would have understood that.
Mr. McClellan: I was here earlier and I’m still waiting for a response.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, where were you?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: In any event, if you would like to have the details, the breakdown of the arrangement -- we did discuss that; I certainly discussed it last February. It was discussed by my predecessors for years previous to that. I think that is pretty well set out and, of course, the concept is to put overall parameters on spending so that the moneys will be voted by Parliament and they will he final and not open-ended.
I don’t wish to take the time of the estimates to read all of the particulars you asked me about but I would be happy to supply them to you if you wish it to be covered that way. I think it would address your particular area of inquiry.
I want you to know that we did become actively involved in that and we do have the breakdown. Again, in response to the question of manpower, the parallel system my friend from Bellwoods is talking about in terms of an Ontario manpower programme -- advanced -- would not be cost-shared under the rearrangement.
Mr. Deans: No, but it might be effective.
Mr. McClellan: It would work, though.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Just a minute. What I’m saying is that the basic responsibility for manpower is the federal government’s.
Mr. Deans: That is only because --
Mr. Chairman: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think that’s clear. The new agreement, which was worked out with all of the provinces, indicates and states that if the province gets involved in any programme or scheme which duplicates or parallels the federal scheme, we don’t cost-share.
Frankly, that troubled me because it may be that these are defects or deficiencies in terms of the federal programmes which might be implemented in a casual way; or if we felt it didn’t do the job we thought it should do -- whether you get into the work activity type of programme or what it is -- we didn’t want to be ejected from cost-sharing because the federal government had injected itself into that area of concern.
What I am saying is it is all very well to say what you might do, but you’d be doing it with 100 cent dollars because it would be paralleling the federal Manpower proposal and it wouldn’t be cost-sharing.
Mr. McClellan: So you prefer to leave people on welfare rather than do what you need to do.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: What are we doing? We’re doing the constructive and, I suggest, the sensible thing.
Mr. Deans: Nothing. You are talking a lot and doing nothing.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: We are working with Canada Manpower and that’s the reason.
Mr. McClellan: We told you to do that five years ago.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: All right. Do you not agree?
Mr. McClellan: It took you five years.
Mr. B. Newman: Why all of a sudden?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I’m glad that you’re happy about something that we’re doing. In working with Canada Manpower and placing welfare workers with Canada Manpower, we’ve found that’s been very successful.
Mrs. Campbell: You’re not placing them, the municipality has been placing them.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: In Hamilton, for example, that was done for some time and it’s working out very well. It’s that type of co-operative approach that I think is essential, rather than to talk about make-work programmes, which essentially the member for Bellwoods is talking about in his so-called parallel scheme.
Mr. McClellan: Complementary scheme.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: You can call it a complementary scheme, but I’m saying that it certainly wouldn’t be cost-shared. What you’d call it is the development of job opportunities. So, presumably, you will be making jobs.
Mr. Warner: We might negotiate with the federal government.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The provincial government’s posture, our party’s posture is to generate a very favourable economic climate.
Mr. McClellan: It’s posturing.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s right. This is what we’re doing --
Mrs. Campbell: Deliberately.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- to ensure that we can generate the necessary job opportunities, to provide jobs for people.
Mr. B. Newman: How do you provide the jobs?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s a part of our system. It’s not a make-work programme; that’s the difference. I don’t think it’s very constructive to talk in terms of make-work programmes.
Mrs. Campbell: He is unbelievable.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think the concept is to try to encourage a proper economic climate so that we have that job opportunity there, to work very closely --
Mr. McClellan: And 270,000 people out of work.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- as we are now with Canada Manpower.
Mr. Warner: It is 6.5 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I didn’t wish to speak too long in reply. I thought we should get on to the votes and item-by-item discussion.
Mr. R. S. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, the minister indicated he had not said that there was a 5.5 per cent curtailment on the expenditures of Children’s Aid Societies, and I would like to quote from a speech he made on Feb. 12.
Mr. McClellan: That was in Hansard too; it is on the record.
Mr. R. S. Smith: He said:
“Our current guidelines for Children’s Aid Societies provide for an increase of 5.5 per cent in the ministry’s share of the approved 1975 estimates, excluding any 1975 provisions for 1974 deficits.”
I think that’s pretty clear and concise and that was your policy.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s right. Just before we rise, may I say, absolutely, those were the guidelines and they’re still the guidelines. If you read on with that speech you will see what else I’ve said and also my remarks in addition. You were there at one of those individual meetings in connection with addressing these individual problems.
If you see the reference to the deficits, what I’ve done in most cases is picked up the deficits as well. We’ve looked after that.
Mr. R. S. Smith: You’ve changed your position completely.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: We have not changed our position. Those are the guidelines in which we’ve introduced equity.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.