The House resumed at 8 p.m.
CREDIT UNIONS ACT (CONCLUDED)
Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with those supporting the passage, in second reading, or Bill 97, as amended. I’m sure that when we talk about credit unions in this province occasionally a note of paternalism comes into our speeches and into our remarks. I would say there is a justified paternalism because, contrary to some of the things that are so often taught in an extremely sketchy way in the history books, this province is not where it is today because there was an abundance of English speculators who had all kinds of money to put into bonds.
There was not an abundance of European remittance men who somehow arrived here. It was because the men and women and their families who chose to settle in this province did far more than just settle. They invested in this province. In a far earlier time, it was all too often their plight that the British bond speculator or the European remittance man or perhaps some American who wanted to take advantage of either a discount in the money or a point or two in the interest rate, got preference from the then-established financial institutions. As such, in this province and in other provinces, the credit unions were born.
It would take a far better speaker than I to describe really the impact, both financially and socially, that those institutions have had, not just upon the standard of living of this province, not just upon the standard of living of people, but the enormous contributions that they have made since the day they were founded -- quite often in church halls or in farmers’ halls, in the basements of schools or community centres.
I do not choose even to try to describe the legacy of those institutions. Tonight, quite frankly, I think we are on the threshold of a new age. The credit unions in this province are coming of age. And when I say coming of age, it is coming of age in the light of the new Bank Act that will be introduced by the federal government probably within the next year. It is coming of age in the light of new financial institutions, the complexities and the sophistication of the financial communities.
I think it is remarkable that something that began as a movement --
Mr. Sargent: Are you for it or against it?
Mr. Drea: -- so many years ago, even in the light of the sophistication and the complexities of today’s financial community, is still a movement. As a matter of fact, what we are talking about tonight is an alternative banking system. I say that in full light of the fact the federal government -- and the loud interrupter over there, who is in the pocket of the federal government because it is the same party -- so much likes to look at the big chartered banks and the very big financial institutions as the monetary bulwark of this country. As a matter of fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
When I say an alternative banking system, one of the things this bill is going to do is provide a new source of funds for municipalities and school boards at a time when they find it increasingly difficult to sell their debentures, at a time when they find it increasingly difficult to play with the people down in Wall Street, This is going to open up a new and important and, I make no bones about it, a Canadian method, through which they can finance their debentures.
Mr. Sargent: What has taken you so long then? What has taken you so long to give them recognition? You’ve been six years doing this now.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker in this bill we are talking about financial institutions that are providing a supply of funds for the necessaries, not a supply of funds for what is done on impulse buying. We are talking about institutions that are providing money for mortgages and the necessities of life, not tying up the bulk of their funds on chattels and then saying that they simply do not have enough funds left to trade in the mortgage market.
Very basically, this bill is eliminating the red tape that has prevented the credit unions from coming of age in the very sophisticated financial community that I have talked about. I think probably the most important thing in this bill is that young people, those below the age of 18, will now be able to participate much more fully. I think that the age limit of 18 in the past has been a measure of our paternalism, we wanted to make sure everyone was an adult. I think that opening the doors to young people to participate in this type of banking, and that’s what it really is, is a most necessary step in this province.
At this time, when the province is at the crossroads in financial relationship with a federal government that is willing to give the chartered banks virtually unlimited control over the finances, and indeed the standard of living in this country, I think that this bill strikes a most recordant note. We are not only saying that there is an alternative banking and financial system in this province that is dedicated to the necessary and to the social good, but that this government provides much more than lip-service. This government is providing, through Bill 97, a much more flexible system that will allow the credit union movement to grow, to prosper, and, quite frankly, to compete. I, like my minister, welcome the competition in the financial field, because competition in the financial field, on a responsible note, in the final analysis means only one thing, that the consumer has alternatives. I would suggest that to fly in the face of this bill is to turn back the clock a century, where once again people will be entirely at the hands of those who think they know best at all times for the people who really contribute the most to our society.
Mr. Nixon: I missed all that.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I would like first to thank all the members who have contributed to the debate. The calibre, the quantity and the quality of contributions have been remarkable. They have been so complimentary that from time to time I’ve wanted to hide my head, because I’m a very modest person and really don’t deserve all the credit.
Mr. Moffatt: Now, Syd.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: A great deal of it goes to my predecessor, who was mentioned disparagingly and incorrectly by one of the members opposite. It was John Clement who commenced this process when he became minister.
Mr. Nixon: You mean Mr. Winkler didn’t have anything to do with credit unions?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The administration of credit unions has always been a responsibility of the ministry, but the process of developing --
Mr. Nixon: There have been five ministers in the last three years.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: One of the things that members of the opposition don’t quite realize is that the process of public participation is great, the process of consultation is very constructive, but it’s also time-consuming and we pay a price in time for it.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, three years.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What did you do, have a secret leadership convention during the summer? You are back on top again, you son of a gun.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I don’t think the price is too high, when you arrive at the kind of legislation that we have here now.
Mr. Nixon: But you were prepared to go ahead and borrow from the reserve fund.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) mentioned a meeting that he attended in Ottawa, in which he said that our proposals were received with great disfavour -- and he’s quite right.
Mr. Drea: Where do you get this from?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: One of the reasons why our proposals were not well received is that they were taken word for word from the select committee recommendations. The select committee recommendations were not acceptable to the movement in Ontario, and I think it took the kind of field trips that we undertook to find that out.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member has been in the sauce.
Mr. Nixon: You be nice to me or I will defeat section 4.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Okay, you would too.
Mr. Nixon: Don’t bet on it.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: We found out that the specific recommendations of the select committee were not wholly acceptable to the movement. We went back to the drawing board and we have amended them, revised them and modified them in a way that we have been able to reach a consensus.
Mr. Drea: You know, you are the guy who made the $11-billion misunderstanding.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Nixon: What a shame that I missed your speech and Marvin isn’t even here to hear the minister.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) did bring up, I think, a very significant point in his comments on it and he asked me to respond. I would like to do that now. Unfortunately, the response that I made was made last Saturday night in Windsor. At least one member opposite who is in the House now was there; the member for Windsor-Sandwich was there.
Mr. Burr: Windsor-Riverside.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Windsor-Riverside. The other member, for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall), was also there, as well as the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston), along with the Hon. Herb Gray; the Minister of Agriculture for Canada, Eugene Whelan; and a man who is well thought of in the benches opposite, Mr. Mark McGuigan, also happened to be in the audience.
Mr. Breithaupt: You have the nicest friends.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I understood they agreed with everything I said, which was a violent attack on the white paper insofar as it affected credit unions, Mr. Whelan didn’t even ask for rebuttal time. There is a problem in the white paper on banking so far as credit unions are concerned, and we recognize that. The first official response was in that speech on Saturday night and we are very concerned. First of all, there are some very good things in the white paper for the credit unions, and the member for Riverdale mentioned them. Basically it involves membership in the national clearing system and we support the credit unions in their desire to be members of that system. The cost of entering the system is, in our view, excessive. The province and all of the provinces require credit unions to maintain certain reserves in liquidity. We do not believe that it will add anything whatsoever to the fundamental soundness of the credit union movement to have two per cent of their deposits with the Bank of Canada as non-interest bearing reserves, and we have so informed the federal government.
We are also concerned about the question of being required to belong to a league or central in order to be a member of the cheque clearing system. I suppose I speak personally when I say that the largest credit union in Canada happens to be the civil service co-op in Ottawa. It is not a member of a league. Certainly it is as sophisticated as any credit union and wishes to have access to the cheque clearing system. I do not believe they should be forced to become a member of a league or central or association in order to have access to something which other institutions have without that requirement.
Certainly, there are discussions going on between the league and the large independents so that the league may act as agents for those independents in having access to the system, but basically the two per cent reserve is, in our view, a backward step for credit unions. It certainly will tend to diminish their competitive situation vis-à-vis banks and trust companies and to that extent we will be opposing it.
I also agree with the member for Riverdale in that in experiencing the growth and prosperity that the credit union movement has had over the past 10 years, there is a danger of their losing sight of what they were created to do and why they ever formed a credit union. When they get into sophisticated banking and they compete for accounts, they are going to forget that their prime purpose was to use the funds of the members to serve each other, I have constantly urged credit unions, whenever I have had an opportunity to speak to them, and that’s frequently, that they should never lose sight of the fact that they are a co-operative movement.
I distinguish between the co-operative movement and the collective movement. We won’t get into a philosophical discussion on that. I think they are a co-operative movement. They should not seek to become anything else despite their desire for growth and, in our view, a quite legitimate concern for profit which is known as surplus or whatever the credit unions want to call it.
One of the reasons for the federal legislation which the member for Riverdale questions, as I understand it, is that through the federal legislation our credit unions have access to the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation in Ottawa as a lender of last resort for stabilization purposes. From time to time, in order to keep a credit union from going under or to enable it to become phased-in or amalgamated with another credit union or to save its depositors, it is necessary to have access to large sums of money on a very temporary basis. That is being done through the Canada Development Insurance Corporation, CDIC, because of the federal legislation. It is rarely used in Ontario. Nobody in Ontario has ever lost a cent as a depositor in or as a shareholder of a credit union and we don’t think they ever will.
We think this legislation will be primarily for the purpose of assuring the depositors in credit unions that they do have the same protection as those who have their money on deposit in banks and trust companies. Also it will help the credit unions to attract depositors who may have been aware of the fact that theoretically they did not have that kind of protection. We are looking forward to the exchange of views in standing committee. I think we now have 104 amendments that we will be discussing; they will be moved section by section.
I am looking forward not only to the members’ participation at the standing committee but also those credit unions who have indicated their desire to appear there and I want to make it quite clear that there will be no rush. The standing committee, as I understand it, has two sets of estimates to go through. I have already referred a number of people to the chairman of the standing committee who will be going through the clerk’s office and notifying them of the dates. There will be no cut-off. Nobody will be turned away from the standing committee.
It is my understanding we will be prepared to sit there as long as people are prepared to come to us. Certainly there will be nothing before the committee for a period of five to seven days at the very least so that will give people ample time to prepare and make their travel arrangements if they are coming from out of town. I am looking forward to that committee because I am sure that the bill, as good as it is now, will probably be improved when it comes out of committee.
Mr. Moffatt: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --
Mr. Acting Speaker: State your point of order.
Mr. Moffatt: The minister, in his opening remarks, indicated that at this point in the evening we might have the amendments before us. I wonder if those amendments are now available?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t heard. I said I hoped they would be and we are trying desperately to have them here for 8:30. The debate has been on principle, not on clause by clause, and all I can say is I’m sorry they’re not here. I had hoped they would be and I could only assume they’re not here yet.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The motion is for second reading of Bill 97.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing administration of justice committee.
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Acting Speaker: Before we commence the debate the Chair would like to recognize the fact that Mr. Grossman did adjourn the debate. However, in his absence, the hon. member for Scarborough-Ellesmere will continue the debate.
Mr. Nixon: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, before the debate is resumed, we should recognize the presence of a former colleague, Mr. Alex Carruthers, in the gallery and welcome him back.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the opportunity to take part in the debate over a sum of money which will be spent by the time we have finished debating it.
I have some general comments about economic and fiscal planning as they apply to this province, not only from evidence in the budget which we’ve just seen but previous budgets. As a member of this House and as a voter, as a citizen of Ontario for a number of years, and from discussions I’ve had with people in my riding and friends elsewhere, I sense there’s a general feeling that budgets occur to respond to situations but not to respond to any long range planning, not to look at economic planning in total. We are, for the most part in this province, more crisis-oriented in our fiscal and non-fiscal policies, and less concerned about planning for the future. Witness that little difficulty the government had a few months back with its credit rating, and all of the frantic motions that took place at that time.
One of the points made at the time the budget was introduced was the increase of the OHIP premiums and the government’s insistence that this wouldn’t really be much of a hardship. I find it interesting the kind of response that I’ve had in my riding from ordinary, tax-paying, hard-working individuals who don’t earn very much money and who are frying to pay high rents and meet increased food costs and so on. By and large, the people who were earning fewer dollars were those who were having to pay the OHIP premiums on their own, so that it became a tougher burden for them than it would be for others.
Yes, I think there’s going to be an effect, even with those individuals whose companies or employers are paying the share of the OHIP premiums or the majority of it, because that cost has to show up somewhere. But my concern is particularly for those individuals who are earning a low wage and are having to pay the premium themselves. When I look around -- I mean this in the most objective and non-provocative way -- when I look at a couple of western provinces and see that they have managed to phase out the OHIP premiums, or are in the process of doing so, and extend their health care, I wonder why we find it necessary to raise premiums. It seems to me to be totally unnecessary and placing a burden upon those who can least afford to carry that burden.
It is in the vein of this unplanned kind of lackadaisical approach to the world at large that many of the critics of the community college system have claimed for some time that we saw the institution of 22 colleges as a response to a dead-end four-year programme in the high schools.
This wasn’t really part of a planned economy, to provide additional schooling, or an alternative form of schooling, but rather an approach to a very poor situation. We had people graduating from a four-year programme; it was dead-end, no place for them to go, no job training. What do we do with all these people? We build 22 community colleges.
It’s equally evident, in terms of a lack of planning, that all of these other issues which are now coming before us, from the summer of 1975 through until now -- the loss of productive farm land, the non-development of secondary industries that are related to natural resources, the destruction of timber land that’s not being replaced properly, the gross inequities which exist between northern Ontario and southern Ontario -- all of these are a product of this kind of economic system that doesn’t really plan for the future.
I find that very disturbing, because not only have I had to live with it, but I sense unless we take some dramatic changes in our direction that my children will have to live with that; I hope not.
For a few moments I’d like to direct some remarks toward how this past budget, or the one we’re debating now, will affect the universities and colleges, because that’s my particular critic interest. My travels around this province from Windsor to Thunder Bay to Ottawa and so on have revealed some pretty stark realities that surely must hit the government pretty plainly in terms of what their budgeting is doing.
Some government members have maintained that a 14.5 per cent increase in the budget for colleges and universities is pretty laudable in relation to the remainder of the ministries. But I ask them to walk into a university, to talk as I have, to maintenance people. They tell me that they cannot carry on preventive maintenance because the staff has been cut. There are fewer members to take care of the maintenance in the building. Fine for now, fine for tomorrow and five years from now. But 10 years from now, I suspect we’re going to be facing an enormous capital expense in terms of replacing equipment and materials that should have been repaired along the line. Yet we don’t have the time nor the money for preventive maintenance.
There’s an increased work load for the support staff, the non-teaching people in universities; there are fewer people to do it. There is an intrusion of part-time, contract people as a cheaper way for the universities to take care of their work load. There is not an incentive towards career development. In fact, in many cases it’s absolutely absent. That’s really an irony, in a way, because the university probably represents the best equipped institution or place for individuals to develop their career in terms of skills and talents, and yet it’s that very place where they’re working that they have been denied access to. Somehow, because of the constraints placed upon the universities, they cannot allow their employees to take an hour off to attend an upgrading course. In some instances they can’t even offer them a lower tuition fee. It went so far as the employees employed in one university were attending a different university in order to get the upgrading skills they needed for their own place of work. Why? Because this government has placed some pretty severe restrictions upon the institution and how it handles, how it works, with its non-teaching staff.
The employees are tremendously concerned about the use of contract employees, part-time people. Some of these so-called part-time people are working 40 hours a week and have been doing that for a number of years, but they are still part-time. Why? Because you don’t need to pay fringe benefits, you don’t need to pay them the same salary and it really is a lot cheaper. I don’t blame the universities. They’re reacting to a government budget which isn’t allowing them much flexibility.
When we talk about faculty, there really is a myth about wages. Everyone -- I shouldn’t say everyone -- many people in our province assume that any person who’s teaching at the university is earning a considerable sum of money for his or her efforts. It just isn’t so.
Many professors are being hired at $9,000 a year. At the end of two or three years, they’re still earning perhaps $12,000 or $13,000 -- not an excessive amount of money in today’s market.
Mr. Nixon: Not a professor.
Mr. Warner: I said lecturers, teachers. Where the differential comes in is the full professorship -- yes, the full professorship.
Mr. Nixon: You’re talking about a junior lab demonstrator.
Mr. Warner: Not at all.
Mr. Nixon: And I don’t know any of those who are making $9,000.
Mr. Warner: When I’m finished, I’ll send you the stats from OCUTA and they’ll show the differential.
Yes, the people at the top are earning good money; no doubt about that. The full professors, the associate professors, the deans, the heads of departments; yes. The lecturers, the people who are working on their PhD, who are lecturing full time, are not being paid anywhere near that sum of money. There’s a gap, a really serious gap, between that top and bottom. It seems to be getting worse instead of better and it has got worse over the last three or four years.
The work load has increased for faculty because they’re not hiring. The pension funds for the faculty are not portable and faculty are concerned about it across this province. For some reason, the government can’t seem to organize that in the same fashion as it has done for the public servants of Ontario, and offer them the opportunity to enter into the superannuation scheme for public servants.
Faculty also are concerned about part-time staff being hired. Again, it’s a money-saving device by the universities; it works quite well as far as the budgets are concerned but has or can have some very serious effects upon the quality of education and that surely is the prime concern of this government. When it talks about education, surely it’s defining the quality first and seeing how to fit everything into that definition of quality. I don’t think it is by adding more and more part-time staff.
It’s quite obvious that many people recognize the educational value of some part-time staff in many cases. I can think of examples when dealing in watershed ecology; one wants a short part of the curriculum to deal with one particular segment, perhaps the thickness of ice in the lakes and the melting rate, so one brings in an expert for so many hours of the course, a part-time person paid accordingly. That’s fine. I understand that educational component. What disturbs me, however, is when I see courses that should be dealt with by a full-time faculty member being dealt with by a couple of part-time people, some teaching assistants, using a lecture hall with 500 or 600 students.
All any of us have to do is to walk right across here to the University of Toronto and sit in on some of these classes where there will be as many as 50 students in a discussion group. I don’t know what kind of a discussion group that’s supposed to be, but it seems to me that 50 students is a bit high.
The students in this province are also suffering from the budget that this government has inflicted upon them. The system, I always thought, had been designed around the educational needs of the students but that really isn’t quite so, not at all. Because students, particularly those who are attending from out-of-town -- I’ll use an example here that I came across, and it’s a pretty typical one and pretty vivid.
A student who was from the lovely town of Perth and who wanted to attend Carleton University in Ottawa found that when he arrived there was a housing problem. There was a serious housing problem not only at the two universities and the college -- the college because by law it’s not allowed to build a residence -- but within the city itself. The student found that when he went out to look for housing what happened was that the apartments were either too expensive or they refused to rent to students. The person had no right to tenancy and it certainly seems discriminatory to me -- I’m sure that under the Human Rights Commission it would be discriminatory. When the landlord asks the person what his occupation is, and upon learning that the occupation in the broadest context is that of student says: “Therefore I will not rent to you”; it seems discriminatory. I certainly think it is.
The student ended up looking at a basement apartment. That doesn’t sound bad to some people except that the basement apartment was in such condition that no one else would rent it. The rent was $150 a month and on top of it the landlord said “You will be required to pay 10 months’ rent.”
The student responded: “I’m here at school for eight months.”
The landlord said: “That’s too bad; you’re a student. It will require a penalty of two months’ rent.”
Those kinds of practices obviously are not only economically poor for the student but I think give the student a pretty poor image of the world when he or she is leaving Perth for the first time in his or her life, travelling to a large city and the new experience of attending university.
Mr. Breithaupt: The practice is as old as Dennis Timbrell.
Mr. Warner: Where are the balances? Why is it that this province can’t look at student housing in the light of the Ministry of Housing and include it as part of an overall attack on the problem of housing? It can’t; it never has but I hope it will someday.
When the student has finished the year the student, of course, is seeking employment. What the student found, of course, this past summer, is that jobs were quite scarce. Jobs were more scarce depending upon your family income and depending upon whether you were male or female. This past summer not only did males have greater opportunities for jobs but they received higher pay than the females.
A very interesting study was undertaken by Carleton University’s Students Association’s student employment report, Summer of ’76. The study, I think, first of all exploded a few myths; and secondly made some rather disturbing comments on what’s happening. The employment rate overall wasn’t too bad at Carleton or for the Carleton students, but it was considerably less for females than for males and, when they compared the students’ family incomes, the higher the income, the better the job situation. The reason for that became fairly evident when they interviewed the individual students. For those who came from middle income or higher, the parents had the necessary job connections to get the son or daughter a job. For those from low income families, it was not so.
On top of that, and I think this is really the crowning kind of insult toward all of us who have believed that this government was making university more accessible -- the government’s been saying that university is more accessible -- only 14 per cent of Carleton students come from families who are earning $10,000 a year or less.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Because there are so few families earning less than $10,000 a year.
Mr. Warner: On top of that, the average family income for students who are attending Carleton University is $23,000 a year. If we want to put that into perspective, the average for Canada for a family is $14,833. So although the average for Canada is less than $15,000 a year, the average for those students who are attending Carleton University is $23,000 a year. It shows again that over the past decade the number or the percentage of the university population from low income families has not increased. Children from low income families are still not getting the opportunity to go to post-secondary institutions. With respect to that portion of the budget which talks about student aid and the fact that we have to gear a system to the parents’ declaration of income in its support is very interesting, because 42 per cent of those students attending Carleton receive no financial support from their parents and the average contribution from the family of those who are receiving support from the family was $600. The cost of attending university is approximately $3,000 per student.
It becomes even more interesting in a way, when one considers that in this province the law says that any person who is 18 years of age or over is an individual entitled to enter into legal contracts and agreements. And yet the ministry says that that isn’t so when it comes to a student. You require your parent’s signature. You require a parental statement of income and you are not so much of an individual any more. It’s never been tested in the courts yet; perhaps it will be some day.
What’s interesting about the unemployment aspect, to come back to it for a moment, is the fact that -- and all the figures aren’t in yet -- but the indications at this point seem to be that student unemployment this past summer ran somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent unemployed. Pretty dramatic in two ways: One, that the students need the money, the summer earnings; and whether they are employed or not, summer earnings are assumed by the government so that they may receive student awards. They assume that if you are unemployed you are still going to save $1,600. I don’t know how you do that, but somehow the government assumes that that is going to occur.
Mr. Swart: Part of the restraint programme.
Mr. Warner: Part of the restraints.
Mr. Makarchuk: They are just used to deficit financing.
Mr. Warner: That’s the whole myth and it is rather interesting. We always get tagged over here with this little label that we are the big spenders, but the big debtors are over there. And it really would behove the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) to sit down some time with the treasurer from Saskatchewan and take a look at his books. First of all they will be open; they won’t be a secret. And secondly, he might actually learn something about budgeting and finance.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The next government will check that out.
Mr. Warner: Thank you very much, we certainly will.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I mean in Saskatchewan, as they did in British Columbia.
Mr. Warner: The other aspect of the loan situation, the student award situation, that really bothers me in terms of the budget is that I suspect that when it’s all said and done we won’t be spending the $61 million, etc., that is listed in there; there will actually be money left over. And yet while that is being done there will be students who require money and don’t get it. One of the reasons being -- and I will use an example -- that if you apply for a $1,000 loan which is the ceiling, the maximum, and a $100 grant and you haven’t had a job, you are unemployed during the summer, and so therefore you appeal that decision, if your appeal is upheld you will not get one penny more of grant. There isn’t a mechanism for the appeal to grant any additional grant money but only to increase the loan.
While we are at it I think we should talk about the loan, because there was some alluding to it in one of the local Toronto papers today that the government appears to be giving away money to students. I suppose the government would like that kind of image. It just isn’t so.
They are not really giving it away because the rate for repayment is geared to the Canada savings bond, which is geared in turn to the prime lending rate of the Bank of Canada.
It fluctuates. The student has the advantage that it will not go above whatever amount the student has agreed to at the time he or she enters into the agreement. Fine. But for most students it’s averaging about nine per cent -- somewhere between 8½, 8¾ and nine per cent, somewhere in that area. It’s hardly free, hardly a handout; it’s repayable. The student has to pay the principal plus the interest. I really don’t know where the notion comes from that the government is giving away money. It just isn’t so.
There is also this myth, while we’re at it, that this is really the best bargain in town, going to university. The tuition fees are really a steal. If the government comes through in addition to what we’ve seen so far and adds $175 to the tuition fee, as is reported in the Toronto Sun through that very creditable reporter, Mr. Clair Hoy, and his impeccable sources, that will give university education in the province of Ontario the highest tuition fee in Canada. That is some record not to he envied. Similarly for the colleges -- if it becomes $350, again it will be the highest in Canada. If this government is really concerned that by taking away some of the restrictions the lid is going to come off; or if it takes away the restriction on summer earnings it is going to be pilfered, I make two suggestions to the Treasurer.
Mr. Cunningham: First is resign.
Mr. Warner: Three then; the first is to resign. The second is that he should consider and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should consider the real financial resources of the student and have the student make a declaration, that declaration to be checked against the income tax return. If the statement is falsified, obviously he is contravening The Income Tax Act as well as possibly denying himself access to the institution.
Third, that the student simply prove his search for a job as is required of any recipient of an unemployment insurance cheque or prove his registration at the Manpower office. Surely, with those kinds of simple safeguards, the Treasurer can feel comfortable that the money isn’t being stolen by students who, after all, just want to pay for an education.
Those kinds of things really bother me because I don’t think that this province is planning adequately for the well-being of students or for the opportunity of post-secondary education for students. There are a lot of problems that students in this province have.
One of the things that concerned me greatly when I visited Conestoga College near Kitchener and Northern College near Timmins was that in both of these instances -- and many others throughout the province -- the college is located some miles from the town. Either it isn’t serviced at all by public transportation or is very poorly serviced.
Mr. Ferris: Come to London, we will build it right there.
Mr. Warner: Yet I guess part of that falls into this whole difficulty the province has in planning public transportation, in properly planning a transportation system for this province. I realize that is part of it. I realize that in a city like Toronto -- I think of my own area in Scarborough where Centennial College is relocating its campus in an area which presently is very poorly served by public transit -- in large urban centres like Toronto and Ottawa we are going to have to get a combination of municipal, provincial and federal moneys and planning in the area. It’s going to have to happen at some point. What’s missing is the co-operation.
What astounded me -- in a way it is kind of an aside although it does relate to the budget because it surely is budgeted moneys. I got involved in this whole business over the flood damage. We had some flood damage in Scarborough and some of my constituents who had property damage were concerned about restitution; trying to get the repairs, and repairs were extensive. Simultaneously there arrived on my desk two letters, one from the Treasurer of this province and one from the Liberal MP. The letter from the Treasurer said in effect that they were waiting for some initiative from the borough and from the federal government so that they could coordinate the efforts in terms of funds. The other letter, coming from the Liberal MP, said: “We are going to do a lot; we are just waiting for the initiative from the provincial government.”
That sort of thing really baffles me. Now, after all these years of being on the outside, I understand some of the confusion that goes on in the inside. For some reason this government finds it almost impossible to enter into co-operative works with the federal government to try and get things done, and I find it annoying. In the area of transportation it’s obviously one of the things that needs to be done, but it’s not. It just isn’t done.
Part-time students in this province have a problem as well. Somehow the government takes the attitude that these people are nonentities. Either they are not creditable students -- and it has taken years and years and years for people who wanted to pursue their studies part time to actually be granted status with full-time people but they are not eligible for grants or loans. Many part-time students are working mothers; self-supporting, sole-supporting; trying to support a family, to upgrade themselves and get into a better job situation because there is no father. They can’t get grant money or loan money, can’t oven borrow money from this government so that they can continue their studies, upgrade themselves and improve the lot for their families.
But there is a place where we can take it out on a few people -- there’s a place where we can add some revenue -- and that’s by clobbering the foreign students. That’s great fun.
That issue is interesting from several sidelights. First from the aspect that we are going to take it out on somebody who can’t for the most part defend themselves. Secondly, without any real consultation, someone in the ministry or the minister or cabinet decided that this was a terrific way to add some revenue, so that’s what was going to be done. No one bothered to check with the Council on University Affairs, which is the government’s advisory body; nobody checked with the Council of Ontario Universities; nobody checked with the Ontario Federation of Students or the association of faculties. They didn’t check with anyone.
What’s happening now? The universities are starting to speak up about it. Brock University is the first that I can recall. The president said that this was a wrong policy, that students would not any longer come here to study except for very rich ones.
Keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, that those students who come here from other countries are not allowed to take jobs. They are not allowed to borrow money. They are not allowed to have grants. They are allowed to spend up to $3,000 a year on accommodation and food and books and everything else, and then you want to add another $1,000 tuition.
Who is going to come here? Only the rich. Who is going to lose by it? Those emerging countries who desperately need our help. It was one small way that this province could help with foreign aid not a terribly expensive one -- and a way that would enrich the lives of the people in those countries. It would provide them with some expertise in areas where they were lacking. It would provide some direction and quality of life to people in those countries that they have otherwise been missing. Yet what do we do for the sake of adding a couple of million dollars to the Treasurer’s budget? We deny that opportunity to deserving students from foreign countries. It is rather appalling, I think. I suspect I am not alone. It’s rather interesting, when the government’s finished and they’ve developed their budget they will pass along the information to the universities and colleges. And, of course, what happens then is that the universities and colleges will have to downgrade their own budgets to meet with what the government is going to hand out to them. There are some real inequities in that because over the last few years the government has encouraged universities to take in more bodies. The more you have, the more money you get. The BIU system, it’s called -- basic income unit. If you could add professional schools -- if you could add schools of medicine, engineering and so on -- you would get more dollars for the warm bodies you attract. “Don’t be quite so concerned about quality of education, but let’s look at quantity and see how much money we can wrestle out of the government.”
Do you know what the university and colleges would really like to do? They would like the government to say: “There’s a base cost for opening those doors. Whether you’ve got 2,000 students or 2,500, you’ve got a base cost and, in some areas, we can look at programme financing.” This government doesn’t seem to be interested in programme financing. The federal government does it quite a bit, but somehow we can’t wrestle with that here -- maybe because the provincial government is afraid that many universities will put the squeeze on them for research money. The federal government isn’t concerned about research any longer; they’re drying up research dollars and the next logical place to come is to the provincial government. But that means programme financing. I don’t know how you’re going to approach research without doing programme financing.
On top of all of that -- on top of the kinds of financial inequities that I’ve displayed and spoken about -- the universities and colleges are not given enough lead time to plan properly. They keep saying -- at every institution I’ve been to, which is approximately 30 in number, I have had the same identical plea: “Could the government please plan for more than one year at a time? Why can’t they budget for more than one year at a time?” I don’t know why they can’t; there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason. But, however, that’s the way we carry on. Maybe because that’s the way it’s always been done and who wants to change? I for one, but I’m sure the government doesn’t want to.
What’s interesting about the whole situation for universities and colleges is that you, as the government, have forced universities to look at the whole thing backwards. What I think should be done instead and what the universities really want to do is to look at quality first, define what they want, their goals and objectives and then figure out how you reach them and not the other way around. The government has forced that on to them. How else can they respond?
There are a lot of alternatives. If the Treasurer is looking for some alternatives to examine, there are a few in the area of colleges and universities that he really should take a look at. One is -- and I’m not really making any judgement on this; I’m simply offering it forward as an alternative -- that he look towards more loan money for students, but to be repaid in connection with the income tax scale as reflected in the graduate’s income. That surely would be a fair way of doing it. At this point, particularly with high unemployment, many graduates are earning not much money and upon graduation whether you earn $8,000 or $16,000 you’re required to make the same monthly payment for your loan. It hardly seems fair, but that’s the way it’s done.
I think also that we should be looking at a surtax on the profits from industry to go directly into post-secondary. There’s a very simple reason for it. At one time, the kind of training that’s now done in the community colleges was done by the industry, paid for by the industry; sometimes it was on-the-job training in their own little school setup or whatever, but it was done there. But not any more. It’s in the college and university system and we collectively, meaning the public of Ontario, are paying for that. The industry is getting off scot free. They used to pay for it and I think it’s about time we made them pay for it again. We’ll put it directly into post-secondary.
The figure that I heard -- the Treasurer obviously has some sources for this, or he should -- is that a very modest one per cent surtax on the profits from the industry in this province would net somewhere between $45 million and $50 million a year. Perhaps a paltry sum in the Treasurer’s eyes, but it seems to me to be somewhat significant.
It would entirely be possible to designate a certain percentage of the personal income tax scale that was directed towards education; that would be a possibility for the Treasurer to look at and see if in that way he could help to stabilize the situation. I take it, and I have made this remark a couple of times before in here, that education surely is a part of each of our lives. It’s not something we take on and discard the way you do with a coat. It’s not something that’s packaged up and given to you like a chocolate bar. Surely it’s something that answers the educational needs I have, as a human being, from the time I’m born until the time I die; and, that being the case, surely we can stabilize things financially a little better than we’re doing.
I’ll mention a few of these ideas. Maybe they’re new ones to the Treasurer and maybe they’re not; but he’s not going to get anywhere until he starts listening. I don’t mind saying here -- and I really don’t do it in a boastful way -- that when I’ve been travelling around the province and meeting with people, invariably I’ve got the comment, “We’re glad you came to listen. No one has ever listened to us before.” Thirty years of Conservative rule --
An hon. member: Thirty-two.
Mr. Warner: Thirty-two; that’s a painful number to remember. But they’ve been in power all that time and they’ve never listened to anyone. I can’t understand that. Maybe that’s why they’re losing their grip; maybe that’s why they’re losing control of the province. Those will be my comments as they apply to the colleges and universities.
I’d like to make a few remarks as to the effects of the budget on my constituents. The Treasurer is right that in some regard, as he has been saying on occasion, the world isn’t falling apart because of our budget. Not immediately, but the seams are weakening a bit. The whole thing hasn’t fallen apart yet, but the effects are there. Some of them are subtle but they’re there.
I mentioned before about the wages, and invariably the low wage earners -- and I have quite a few of them in my riding -- are absorbing that increased OHIP cost outside of the price controls. Price controls really don’t mean anything in this province; they really don’t exist. When the government can blatantly talk about $175 increase for fees in face of the suggestion by the federal government that we control prices within eight per cent, prices obviously aren’t being controlled. The calls that I’ve had most often -- and not just calls, but also letters and personal interviews by constituents who wanted to see me and talk to me and write to me -- are about 35 per cent, 40 per cent or 50 per cent increases in their car insurance premiums and similar kinds of increases in house insurance and fire insurance. They keep saying, “I thought there were price controls.” I have to tell them, “I thought so too; obviously there aren’t.” When I ask, “Are your wages being controlled?” the answer invariably is yes, because I have few lawyers or doctors who call me.
Public transit is an interesting subject, because I got the answer earlier -- I believe it was from the Minister of Transportation and Communications, but I wouldn’t swear to that -- that public transit really rested with the municipalities. It wasn’t much of a provincial concern, particularly for Metro Toronto. I think he’s going in the wrong direction. I’m not going to debate at this point what percentage of the pressure belongs with the provincial government or the municipal governments, but I will reiterate that the three levels of government need to be involved. The federal government surely has an interest in the major cities of this country, in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and so on, if it wants to develop a comprehensible, understandable system of communication and transportation in this country. If we’re really concerned about moving people and goods from one part of this country to another, we have to be concerned about how we do it in the cities. How can we expect to be developing proper systems between cities if we can’t develop the system within the city? That’s what’s happening; those are some of the problems.
As a simple illustration, I’m sure that many of the transport companies are now experiencing difficulty using the 401 across the top of Metro because of the increased load. Why is there the increased load Because we haven’t developed public transit in the city. Why? Because we’re not getting provincial dollars.
Mr. Breithaupt: The Spadina Expressway.
Mr. Warner: Oh, yes. We won’t talk about Spadina. We don’t want to embarrass the government.
We haven’t had a hospital closed in Scarborough, thank goodness. Maybe the minister doesn’t know where we are. But we have had some cutbacks in hospital beds, services --
Mr. Conway: A $10-million courthouse.
Mr. Warner: Yes, we can spend money in other places, but not hospitals.
Mr. Breithaupt: Who got the credit for that?
Mr. Warner: Our public health nurses, again, are still underpaid. They’re doing a tremendous service to the community and not having that service repaid in kind at all. I find that very annoying and I know this government can do something about it.
I find it a little irritating this afternoon to hear the Minister of Labour more or less say that there wasn’t really much she could do about the situation. I don’t think that’s right at all. All of us here know where those people came from and what their political affiliations are and all of us here understand about elbow-twisting and arm-twisting. I think it’s about time that we had some meaningful negotiations but I know the public health nurses in my riding are not being treated fairly.
Social services -- we’ve had some cutbacks in social services.
Mr. Cunningham: I thought you were talking about student loans?
Mr. Warner: Would you like a loan?
Mr. Cunningham: No, I paid my own. I couldn’t get a loan. Did you get a loan?
Mr. Warner: I heard the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) at one time say that there needed to be greater involvement of communities and community people in social services because this somehow would take the pressure off his dismal budget. The province isn’t willing to put money into co-ordinated social services, therefore the community should pick up the slack. That’s very interesting unless you’re on the other end of it.
I worked for a while as a volunteer director of a community social service type of agency -- 100 volunteers, one paid staff member. We worked with every social service agency in the community, served a community of 50,000 people and had a very good track record in terms of what we were doing and how we were meeting the needs of the community.
Then we came to the provincial government for funding. Well, that was a joke. It really was. They made our people who made the presentation feel as though we were looking for a handout that we weren’t really doing something useful or if we were somehow we had to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt -- mind you, we’d been accepted by the United Way but that really didn’t mean anything -- and that whatever they gave us should be looked upon as some great gift.
We got $6,000 and the way it was spent probably saved this government close to $100,000, but we never got a letter from the government acknowledging that. No way; it doesn’t work that way.
When I was in Peterborough at a mini-caucus meeting, we had a presentation by someone who was in a similar situation as I described myself to be in earlier. The person said, “We took five people who had been destined for the juvenile jails and we worked with those people in a voluntary way in our programmes and out of that, four of those individuals remained in the community -- four out of the five.” Do members know what the saving to the province is on that? Four times $27,000 -- because that’s what it costs to keep a youngster in a juvenile jail.
But what does the organization have to do? Beg for a couple of thousand dollars out of this province. That’s backward economics, if nothing else. You can talk about the social aspect -- it’s backward economics, it’s poor social policy. I don’t know how you ever straighten out the government, how you ever get them on the right track, but if they want some social service work done at the community level -- and it’s pretty important there, it has in some respects more meaning. When you talk to the social service professional worker he or she likely will tell you that if they could have a volunteer, someone who is known in the community, to do some of the work that it would be very useful and productive. If you want that to happen, then stop holding back on the money that needs to be spent for those community organizations.
Look upon it that if you spend $6,000 or $10,000 here or there in various communities, you will probably be saving yourself $100,000 for every time you spend $10,000. A little better economically, if you ask me.
You know, when I look at the budget that we’ve seen, when I know of the cutbacks that have occurred, when I view what’s gone on -- particularly in the universities and colleges because that’s the area I’m most familiar with -- and when I see the lack of planning, I know for once and for all, at least in my own mind, this whole myth about Tory financial competence is destroyed. You people over there really don’t know how to manage the money of this province. It’s been a façade for 30 years. No one could get into a bigger debt if they worked at it 25 hours a day.
And on top of all of that, on top of this huge debt -- what is it, $200 million now? Is that what you’re in the hole?
Mr. Breithaupt: Oh, much more than that. Two billion this year.
Mr. Warner: Two billion. Two billion this year you are in the hole. On top of all of that, what really hurts is that you’re not planning to get out of it. You don’t have any long-range plans.
Mr. Makarchuk: Even when you give it away you screw it up.
Mr. Warner: You can’t even give it away properly. That’s bad when you don’t know how to give away money.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: You can always do that. That’s one thing you know how to do.
Mr. Warner: Give away money. I make the same suggestion to the hon. minister of consumer relations and corporate protection that you also, along with your colleague the Treasurer, take a look at the books of the province of Saskatchewan. It really would be a good exercise.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I can’t stand the sight of red ink.
Mr. Mackenzie: They’ve done a pretty good job of running that province --
Mr. Warner: What’s interesting too, when you take a tour of northern Ontario -- and I hate to say it but I really think that a few members over there aren’t exactly sure where northern Ontario’s located. When you take a tour of the north, you really understand the lack of government planning. We continue to dig things out of the ground and send them to the United States or to Norway. We continue to rip down the forest and send it elsewhere and we don’t develop the secondary industries that are related to those natural resources.
You had the opportunity years ago; you never did it and you won’t do it today. Do you know where northern Ontario is? It really is incredible.
Mr. Warner: Is it true they’re building a four-lane highway to Minaki Lodge?
I would just like to close by mentioning that although the government sits there smugly after 32 years and says that it knows how to manage the economy in the face of a huge deficit and without any long-range planning, and then says to us we’re the big spenders, though we’ve never been the government of Ontario. I don’t know how you make that claim. You are talking about the Ontario New Democratic Party and you claim we are the big spenders. And in the face of the balance sheets from Saskatchewan and Manitoba in particular.
It really hurts, sure it hurts, when Mr. Blakeney goes down to New York and grudgingly the capitalists hand over the money for him to nationalize an industry, and at the same time up his credit rating. That hurts. Do you know why they did it? Because they saw his balance sheet.
And yet you can still sit there and say we are the big spenders and that we couldn’t balance the budget, we couldn’t run this economy. Sure we could do it; after the few years it would take to clean up the mess you people had left us in.
Mr. Burr: Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a few remarks this evening about drugs and the government’s attitude toward them.
The first mood-altering drug on my list is nicotine. Although the tobacco industry continues to claim that no connection between lung cancer and tobacco has been proven, nevertheless the industry is trying to produce cigarettes with less nicotine. To this end the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in the United States has been granted patents for the production of cigarettes containing such cereal grains as wheat, corn and rice used as tobacco extenders. The company claims that in this way it will be able to reduce the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes without changing the taste or “reducing smoker satisfaction,” a phrase that could be expressed as “without losing customers.”
Almost simultaneously, however, studies in England have shown that the addictive power of cigarettes, which incidentally is even greater than that of alcohol, depends upon one element in the tobacco -- the nicotine element. Studies show that smokers given low-nicotine cigarettes, that is of the kind the Reynolds’ company is planning to promote, increase the number of cigarettes smoked each day. Moreover, the smokers of these low nicotine cigarettes took longer and deeper puffs. In other words, they inhaled more deeply and held the smoke for a longer period of time. It was observed also that they smoked to the very end of the butt where the last few puffs contain more tar, more nicotine and more carbon monoxide than do the first puffs of each cigarette.
The final result of smoking low-nicotine cigarettes may be just as bad as, or even worse than, the normal nicotine cigarette. Reynolds may have a good idea. They may have found a way to sell more cigarettes to their regular customers and they may acquire some new customers who think that their new cigarette will be less harmful to their health. Yes, Reynolds may have a good cigarette going -- good for their stockholders, but no improvement for their victims, the smoking addicts.
Heroin pushers, cocaine pushers and all the other hard drug pushers are regarded as the scum of society by most people. Nicotine pushers, however, are still considered highly respectable. Recently this respectability enjoyed by three Reynolds executives slipped somewhat. Three executives whose salaries ranged from $158,000 to $270,000 in 1975 were demoted following allegations that they illegally channelled corporation money into political campaign funds. The chances are that they are still highly respected in their local political and social circles. There are indications, however, that their prestige and influence in government circles may soon decline.
The American Medical Association at this year’s convention in Dallas, Texas, passed some strong anti-tobacco resolutions.
At least two of these resolutions should be of interest to various ministers of the Ontario government: 1. The AMA called for the elimination of subsidies to the growers of tobacco; 2. The AMA called upon all of its members to act as “non-smoking exemplars.”
To return for a moment to the subject of the search for less hazardous cigarettes, a project on which considerable money is being spent, Dr. Gio B. Gori, a deputy director of the National Cancer Institute’s division of cancer cause and prevention, has stated, “In the broad view I don’t believe there is such thing as a non-hazardous cigarette.” His statement is all the more significant because the National Cancer Institute is one of the sponsors of research to find a less hazardous cigarette.
I don’t want to be entirely negative about cigarette smoking and cigarette smokers. I should like to point out some of their virtues. In the first place, they contribute generously to the public tax coffers. If they all stopped smoking, my taxes would have to be much greater than they are today. So I thank them. Of course, since at least half of all the fires in this province and other provinces are caused by careless smokers, my fire insurance rates are much higher than they would be if there were no smokers. So perhaps I should qualify my thanks.
Secondly, they are all reducing their own lives by a few years. In view of the now recognized over-population of the earth, their early departure from the scene will leave more room for the rest of us and our families. This self-sacrificing gesture on their part should not go unnoticed and unthanked.
Thirdly, cigarette smokers are more thoughtful than pipe and cigar smokers. Cigarette smokers at least filter some of the toxic substances out of the smoke into their own lungs before emitting the rest of the smoke into the common air. Pipe smokers and cigar smokers usually refuse to inhale and thereby filter the smoke. Instead, they puff it into the mutually shared air with all its contaminants unimpaired and intact.
The cigarette smoker is a little more considerate of his companions. So there is something to be said for the cigarette smoker and I’ve tried to say it.
Before I leave the topic of tobacco, I should like to draw to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) especially a recent resolution passed by the delegates of the 10-million-member United Methodist Church at its recent conference in the United States. It called upon the Department of Agriculture and other United States government agencies: “To plan for and assist the orderly, economic transition of the tobacco industry, growers, processor and distributors, into other more benign forms of production.”
I should like to record a novel idea reported in the Toronto Star of yesterday, October 25, 1976.
Dr. R. J. Ginsberg, head of chest surgery at Toronto Western Hospital told the Ontario Thoracic Society over the weekend that all cigarette smokers should be required to be licensed and that older smokers, those over 45, should be required to be tested every six months before their licences could be renewed. Smokers in the 35 to 44 age group, he said, should be encouraged to take the tests but not compelled.
Dr. Ginsberg’s licensing and testing plan stems from his great concern that far too many lung cancer cases are detected far too late. The suggested $2 licence fee, plus a penny-per-pack tax would finance the enforced periodic checkup for the older smokers. A hundred thousand people in North America die of lung cancer every year, and 2,000 of them are in Ontario; so I urge the government, at least the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), to consider seriously Dr. Ginsberg’s recent novel proposal.
Large numbers of smokers would like to quit smoking, they tell me, and large numbers have tried to quit and have failed. There are several individuals and small organizations who are helping smokers to quit but even if they were 100 per cent successful, their total impact on this addiction would be minuscule. The Ministry of Health has an obligation here. Because of its prestige, its influence and its resources, it should be giving leadership in determining the most effective methods, training personnel to help people in every community to overcome this harmful, wasteful, destructive and noisome habit and then to publicize the importance and success of the best programmes. With a little initiative, the government could make a great contribution to the benefit of many thousands of Ontario families.
The other drug pushers whose ubiquitous advertising is especially annoying to me are the alcohol pushers. New information about the destructiveness of alcohol is reported almost monthly. In the medical literature of the last four years there are more than 50 articles now on one aspect alone, namely the fetal alcohol syndrome. When a pregnant mother drinks alcohol, the fetus drinks it too. Children born to an alcoholic mother show a wide range of effects, all of them adverse. Some fetuses do not survive the pregnancy. Some have birth defects. Some have central nervous malformations. Some are retarded in weight and height and even in head size. Some exhibit mental deficiencies. Some survive birth only for a short time.
Mr. Reid: They also grow up and become cabinet ministers.
Mr. Buff: And some actually have, at birth, what is usually described as the DTs. Medical explanations for the increase in reports of the fetal alcohol syndrome include these reasons: first, an increasing awareness of its existence on the part of many doctors; second, the lowering of the drinking age in many jurisdictions; and, third, the “seductive advertising of the liquor industry.”
Although I have always favoured total abstinence as far as alcohol is concerned, nevertheless I have never advocated prohibition. Recently, after reading so many of the alarming medical reports, I wondered why this was the case. As far as I can tell, I have been brainwashed by the generally accepted cliché that prohibition was a failure.
Mr. Reid: Al Capone didn’t think so.
Mr. Burr: As I recall the arguments, it was that prohibition was to blame for the creation of organized crime; therefore, it was a failure. I wonder whether anyone has ever thought of doing an audit on the advantages and disadvantages of prohibition in the United States and Canada. This audit would have to include such items as the estimated percentage of adults who drank during prohibition compared with the percentage today. It would include the percentage of teenage drinkers then and now, the number of alcoholics then and now, the number of teenagers on skid row then and now. Incidentally, a recent police report in Hamilton said there were 18 identified skid-row teenagers in that city. It would include the percentage of alcohol-caused auto accidents and auto fatalities then and now, and the percentage and frequency of other alcohol-involved homicides then and now. An estimate would be required for the frequency of fetal alcohol syndrome, then and now. In short, how many lives did alcohol end, shorten, abort or destroy in the days of prohibition compared with the present time? In other words, was the alleged failure of prohibition just a myth conceived and nurtured by the liquor industry? it would be interesting if someone did some research in this area.
I recall reading shortly after World War II a speech by a president of a distillery board of directors, or maybe it was the chairman of a distillers’ convention. In any case, the gist of his speech was simply this: “A whole generation of young people has grown up on soft drinks. We have to go after that market.” And go after that market they certainly have done -- with such single-minded determination that in Ontario, as well as elsewhere, the Legislature in 1971 lowered the legal drinking age from 21 to 18. Of course, the legislation was packaged with other items and arguments, the chief of which was: “If our young people are old enough to be called upon to fight for their country at 18 they are old enough to vote.”
It is true that all three parties supported the legislation which lowered the age of majority to 18, and perhaps all three parties had convention resolutions passed on the subject. Today we face the fact that this legislation, as far as the lowered drinking age was concerned, has proved to be disastrous for thousands of teenagers and their families. Only the alcohol pushers have benefited and their benefit has been only in a financial sense. If they have a conscience, they must suffer from the knowledge of the countless tragedies they have caused. The increase in accidents and deaths involving impaired teenage drivers is so well known that I need merely mention them. Yet this legislation has done nothing to rectify the situation except to appoint a study group.
The government sets up committees to study the obvious; violence on television and teenage drinking. Many members have polled their constituents on restoring the drinking age to 21. I have yet to hear of a member who had a majority of his or her constituents opposed to returning the legal age for drinking to 21, either immediately or by a phasing-in method. This question should concern the Ministry of Health for health reasons; the Ministry of Community and Social Services for social reasons; the Ministry of Justice because of the increased workload for the police and for the courts; the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations because of the higher auto insurance rates. In fact, it should concern every minister with any influence in the cabinet.
Life is tough enough for teenagers without alcohol. They don’t need the additional problem of trying to cope with alcohol. It helps no one -- physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. Why help the alcohol industry in its lust for profit at any cost? The very least the government should do is raise the drinking age to 19, 20 or 21 and the driving age to 17 or 18.
Every week in the year, somewhere in Ontario, some motorist or other has the traumatic experience of killing a pedestrian or another motorist. The more mature a person is the better he can cope with such an experience. Few 16-year-olds are mature enough to emerge unscathed from such an experience.
I should like the government to consider seriously phasing in 17 or 18 year age limits for driving licences, possibly with a few exceptions on compassionate grounds. This would help to reduce the number of drinking drivers and would save 16 or 17 year olds from the possibility of both causing fatal auto accidents and suffering the resulting trauma.
Incidentally, a Windsor clergyman came to see me not too long ago on this very matter, after two 16-year-old boys in separate accidents caused, or were felt responsible for, deaths, one of a pedestrian and the other of a motorist. From his experience in ministering to these two boys the clergyman was convinced that a young person of 16 is too young to run the risk of such a shattering experience. I know there is widespread support for such a change, both among fathers who usually have to pay several hundred dollars additional car insurance and among mothers who have two extra years of lying awake at night awaiting the safe return of junior in the family car. Mr. Gallup might include this question in one of his frequent public opinion polls.
Since I prepared these remarks two or three days ago regarding the legal drinking age I’ve seen the latest statistics on motor vehicle accidents in Ontario. Over 27 per cent of all 16-year-old drivers in Ontario in 1975 were involved in auto vehicle accidents -- over 27 per cent. When you think also of all the non-driving 16-year-olds who were involved in motor accidents you wonder whether it is safe for any 16-year-old to enter any motor vehicle.
In 1974 29.5 per cent of all 16-year-old licensed drivers in Ontario were involved in motor vehicle accidents. In other words, almost 30 per cent of the 16-year-old licensed driver group each year are involved in motor vehicle accidents. The 17-year-olds profit considerably by an extra year of age. In 1974 only 17 per cent of the 17-year-old drivers were in motor accidents, and in 1975 the figure was the same.
The statistics make it quite clear that the accident rate falls with increasing maturity. The combined 1974-1975 figures are worth putting on the record. I’ll start at the beginning again.
These are the figures for 1974 and 1975: 28.4 per cent of all 16-year-old drivers had accidents; 17.7 per cent of all 17-year-olds; 17.8 per cent of all 18-year-olds; 16.5 per cent of all 19-year-olds; and 14.9 per cent of all the 20-year-olds. Then the statistics group the 21- to 24-year-olds, who had a figure of 12 per cent. The 25- to 34-year-old group, 8.5 per cent; the 35- to 44-year-old group, seven per cent; the 45- to 54-year-old group, 6.2 per cent; the 55- to 64, 5.5 per cent; and the 65 and over group, 4.7 per cent.
Of Ontario’s 4.16 million licensed drivers, over 350,000 had accidents -- a percentage of 8.44 per cent, which was approximately the average rate of the 25- to 34-year-old group. So when you see that year after year the 16-year-olds, as a group -- not as individuals, but as a group -- show that almost 30 per cent of them are involved in accidents, the conclusion is fairly obvious. Many 16-year-olds are not mature enough to drive. The difference in accident rates between those who are 17, 18, 19 and 20 years old is slight; there’s scarcely any difference. But the difference between the 16-year-olds and the 17-year-olds is alarming. Keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, that the ratio between the number of drivers aged 16, 17 and 18 is roughly one to three to four, an indication that only a few 16-year-olds are able to convince their parents that they are capable enough to apply for a licence. Of those parents who have been persuaded, almost 30 per cent guess wrong each year.
I should like to make a few brief remarks on the subject of unemployment which is a topic that is underdiscussed in this Legislature, it seems to me. Over the past three or four years, we have had about seven per cent unemployment in Canada. I assume that this means that 93 per cent of employable Canadians who are able and willing and wanting to work have jobs. Many of these 93 in every 100 are doing far more work than they should be doing. There is so much overtime work being done by some that these 93 could easily share their work with the other seven without anyone’s health suffering at all.
Why is there so much overtime work? Simply because it is cheaper for most companies to pay time and a half and even double overtime to their regular workers than to hire more regular workers and pay the extra fringe benefits. I have talked with many auto workers about this matter and I have yet to meet one who does not feel that the work should be shared.
In 1946, Chrysler workers had a 4½-month strike over the 40-hour week. Although that was 30 years ago, one Chrysler worker told me recently that he has worked fewer than 50 of these 40-hour weeks in all those 30 years. The 40-hour week is still a dream.
The Ministry of Labour is partly to blame for this situation. As each new Minister of Labour is appointed, I or my colleague from Windsor West have pointed out this situation whereby the Ministry of Labour repeatedly grants permission to the auto companies to work the men for more than 100 hours of overtime a year. Some men get in 100 overtime hours a month, 1,200 a year.
Each new minister expresses disbelief and sometimes indignation but each new minister keeps signing these overtime permits. Consequently, some men work themselves to death while others, lacking work, are destroyed by unemployment.
It is true that many individual workers survive and benefit financially but is this the kind of society we want? Is this the kind of society that we can tolerate? A society in which 93 men and women perform 100 jobs while seven remain in soul-destroying idleness, vilified, humiliated and stripped of human dignity.
Spreading the work is not an impossible dream. It is the only practical answer to the unemployment problem. The Ontario government can and should make a contribution by eliminating overtime and, if necessary, reducing the work week, perhaps by only three or four percentage points.
Finally, I should like to express my personal opposition to the taxing of property owned by non-profit charitable organizations, by churches and schools, both public and private. One proposal before the Blair Commission would almost certainly mean the end of all private schools in Ontario. Simultaneously, it would mean a large tax boost for many communities if all the students now taught in private schools had to be supplied suddenly with buildings, teachers, etc., at the public expense. This latter possibility must strike terror into the heart of our austere Treasurer with his austerity programme. Even the assessment of public school properties, with the taxes being paid by the province, is an unnecessary and costly task for the assessors. We all know that if the Minister of Education gives extra grants to municipalities to pay for property taxes on schools, the Treasurer simultaneously will cut the grants that he gives to municipalities.
This whole proposal is needlessly upsetting large numbers of citizens. In fact, the whole idea of uniform provincial assessment has been a most expensive exercise that has produced no worthwhile results. Each municipality used to assess its own properties according to its own scale or formula. So long as that formula was followed fairly for all property owners within the municipality, what did it matter to anyone else in any other municipality how high or how low the mill rate was? Unfortunately, I think some fastidious bureaucrat noticed that some municipalities had a 30-mill tax rate while others had a 60-mill tax rate. It did not matter to him that the assessment standard or formula in the first municipality was more than twice as high as in the second, but it offended his sense of tidiness and he decided that market value assessment all over the province of Ontario should be used as the basis for local municipal taxation. The result has cost Ontario millions of dollars, and I suspect that the Blair commission will turn out to be a similar worrisome waste of time and money.
Fortunately -- just to end on a cheerful note -- in this morning’s Globe and Mail the Premier (Mr. Davis) is quoted as saying, “In no way will the (new) tax structure inhibit the operation (of the private schools).” A further quote from the Globe and Mail news report: “A source in the Ministry of Revenue said that Mr. Davis’s words suggested to him that the Premier would not allow tax reforms to financially jeopardize separate and private schools, although just how the government could amend the proposals is still in doubt.”
Mr. Speaker, there was one other topic that I wanted to speak on in this debate but I haven’t completed my research on it.
On motion by Mr. Burr, the debate was adjourned.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Handleman, the House adjourned at 9:48 p.m.