The House resumed at 8 p.m.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Bain: This evening I’d like to draw the members’ attention to a very grave problem that exists in northeastern Ontario. It’s a problem that perhaps hasn’t been focused on in quite the way that I would like to do it. For me, the problem really involves communities and their right to live. People have developed these communities; they’ve built homes and schools and they’ve put down roots and many of these communities now are in jeopardy because of the price of gold.
It’s not the precious metal that’s at stake; it’s the communities that are at stake. In the Timmins area, we have a number of mines that have laid off men since the beginning of the year. For example, Dome Mines laid off 150 workers. Pamor Porcupine Mines Limited, which operates all the other gold mines in the Timmins area, have been laying off about 500 men since the beginning of the year. Just recently, the Aunor and Hallnor mines laid an additional 100 off.
This is not only a problem for the Timmins area, it’s a problem for many, many communities in northeastern Ontario. In my own riding, Kirkland Lake has communities that are dependent basically upon three mines, two of them being gold mines. If you consider the problem that these communities find themselves in, you realize that the problem was entirely of someone else’s creation. These communities had no influence upon the creation of the circumstances that have led to their present situation.
I’m sure the members are very familiar with the situation that the American government, a considerable length of time ago -- in fact, long before the Second World War -- put a base price underneath gold which led to a considerable amount of production. It led to a situation where you had a number of countries accumulating gold. This developed over the years until you finally got the International Monetary Fund recently making a decision to dump this gold. You had auctions beginning which, we were told initially, would not depress the price of gold -- there would be no decrease in the price of gold.
This hasn’t been the case. The price of gold has fallen rapidly until it’s reached the point now where the gold mines in many communities cannot make a go of it. I’ve been told that for many mines they are actually losing -- losing, not gaining but losing -- $30 an ounce for every ounce that is produced. I know the members of the House can appreciate that any business that finds itself in that position cannot last for long.
But it’s not the mines, per se, that are the most important thing in this equation. It’s the miners; it’s their families; it’s their communities; it’s their way of life. And as I said, the miners have not created the particular situation they find themselves in. This has almost happened with a stroke of a bureaucratic pen, in this case not entirely of Ottawa’s making, but certainly Ottawa supported the idea that these options should take place. Certainly the United States was the main country pushing for these options.
I think we have an obligation now to provide a transition for these communities. I think we have an obligation to provide some sort of support. You cannot, I maintain, create a situation where people establish communities, then overnight pull the rug out from under them.
The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier) has stated at St. John’s recently that he personally has a great deal of sympathy for the mining communities that produce gold. Indeed, many mining communities that produce gold are in his riding. But unfortunately, the Minister of Natural Resources has basically said that if the federal government will not act, Ontario will not act.
I don’t think this is good enough. We have too many examples where the government in Ontario says that it’s a federal responsibility.
We heard the same for the farm income stabilization. We couldn’t have a support price beyond 90 per cent of the average price received for a product over the last five years. That was the federal support price and Ontario couldn’t strike out on its own. But, lo and behold, when threatened with the combined opposition, the government decided that they could in fact provide more than the 90 per cent support price. But I suggest that the government, on too many occasions, uses this idea that it’s a federal responsibility to hide their own responsibility to look after the citizens of this province.
I would suggest that if the federal government refuses to act that the provincial government provide some sort of support price, base price, subsidy or whatever you want to call it, for the gold mines in this province. I don’t suggest that it simply transfers money out of the public treasury into the profit picture of the gold mining companies. What I would suggest is that it looks at their deficits and perhaps picks up a deficit, but certainly not simply transfer money.
I would suggest that this kind of support would be far cheaper in the long run than the money that would be required out of the public treasury to support these mining communities if those gold mines close.
In Kirkland Lake the average age of a gold miner is 57 years. I’m sure that a similar situation exists in Timmins. Where will those miners go if those mines close? How many mines do you know that are going to hire 57-year-old miners? Not very many. Besides that, most of those people don’t have a large income. They have built up their home in their respective communities. They can’t afford to leave it for a few years and go to a community where they are very unlikely to find employment anyway.
So most of those miners will be forced of necessity to remain in their communities. They will first turn to unemployment insurance and then they will have to turn to public assistance. And the public treasury will end up paying far more in support if that happens. Plus, this government will have done something else which I consider far more of an indictment. It will have taken people who are proud people, who have produced a lot of wealth in this province for the benefit of others, not for themselves, and it will have forced them on to public assistance. And I think the government owes it to those people. It owes it to those people to provide a decent income for them. It owes it to the whole gold mining industry in this province to intervene if the federal government refuses to do so. I don’t think this government can justify sitting back and doing nothing. If it does that it is abdicating its moral responsibility to these communities and to these people.
Another area which has been very serious for the people of all of this province has been the difficulties that farmers are facing. I don’t think there is a member in this House who does not have a farm community which has come to that member and discussed the difficulties that the farmers are facing. I won’t go into detail because members all realize that basically farmers are forced to pay out far more for the necessities they need to purchase in order to maintain their farms than they can possibly receive as a return for the products they are producing. That is why we need some sort of farm income stabilization which will provide a decent income level for farmers in this province.
It is not solely for the farm communities but for all the people, because if farmers go out of production we are not going to have them come back in very easily. In a few years we will be faced with food shortages and many people will not be able to afford the price for food at that time. Let me tell members that at that time the few farmers will not be getting the benefits. Even then we will still have the large meat packing companies, the flour milling companies, all the food processors and the food chains which will be the ones that will be reaping the windfall profits.
Right now the price of beef has fallen considerably since 1973. For the farmer the price has fallen but the price has remained relatively unchanged in the supermarket. The farmer is not meeting his cost of production as a beef producer today but the meat packing companies and the supermarkets are reaping untold profits.
Right now the price of beef has fallen considerably since 1973. For the farmer the price has fallen but the price has remained relatively unchanged in the supermarket. The farmer is not meeting his cost of production as a beef producer today but the meat packing companies and the supermarkets are reaping untold profits. If the situation exists where the farmer, because of lack of supply, finally gets a decent price we can bet our last dollar that the meat packing companies and the distributors will be the ones that will be really benefiting from that kind of situation.
We have an obligation to the farm community in this province and we have an obligation to all the people in this province to provide food not only for today but for tomorrow.
That brings me to the present farm income stabilization bill which was introduced the other day, Bill 131. This bill, An Act respecting Farm Income Stabilization, was heralded by the minister as a great step forward. If the minister had been in charge of the space programme we would never have got to the moon. It’s not much of a step forward as far as I can see.
The only difference in the bill is that the minister has incorporated some of the things the opposition parties requested. For example, he is making the bill cover all commodities; the programme will be covered by premiums which will be paid by farmers and those premiums will pay for a third of the programme’s costs. Two-thirds of the cost will be paid for by the provincial government.
The problem is that the support price, instead of being 90 per cent of the average price received, plus some allowance for production costs over the last five years, is now 95 per cent. We get an extra five per cent on one hand but that is going to be taken away by the farmers being called upon to pay a premium to participate. I would suggest that the bill we have before us is the same bill with a little change made here and there but it is still totally unsatisfactory and it is not going to solve the problem.
I believe that the problem is one worthy of tackling. I believe that the farm community in this province deserves a lot better from any government and I would think that the members of the government should be ashamed to introduce Bill 131.
Mr. Lupusella: It’s a shame.
Mr. Bain: The mismanagement of our resources, I think, is a shame that can be laid to rest at the doorstep of this government. We have always been told that the government is efficient in its planning. It’s efficient as a party that knows how to manage. If you look at our natural resources, which in fact are the basis of our prosperity, you will see that they have been totally mismanaged. We’ve already seen first-hand the problems in the farm community because of lack of proper policies on the part of this government. If you turn to the forest industry, Mr. Speaker, you find an even greater indictment of the government.
I always assumed, because the government said it was the case, that we were into a programme of sustained yield in this province, that we always planted as much as we cut, and therefore the forests would go on forever providing the jobs that were so necessary. But in fact we have a situation that has come to light in a number of reports -- one of them the Armson report -- where we see that the government in this province has collaborated with the private companies to not embark upon forest management but to maximize the immediate profits of the corporations.
There really has been very little effort made to embark upon adequate policies of regeneration. I’ll grant that some efforts have been made to regenerate, but those have been very short of what the goal should be. During 1971-1972, an area covering 5,100 acres was harvested near Dryden while only an area of 2,600 was treated through various methods of regeneration, whether there was actually a spreading of seed from the air by planes or whether it was planting of seedlings. In the same district in 1975-1976, 12,500 acres were harvested and only 3,600 acres were treated. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that far more is being taken out than is being put back in.
If you look at the entire province one finds that the picture is about the same. We’re harvesting, as of one year ago, 5.1 million cunits of wood over 500,000 acres and we’re treating only 175,000 acres. By 1982-1983, we are expected to be harvesting, instead of 500,000 acres, 600,000 acres. By then we’d only be regenerating 296,000 acres. As you can see, as the years pass the accumulation of untreated acreage will build up and build up, until you reach a point where we will not be able to maintain the same level of cutting, where we will not have put anything back into the bank to draw upon, and we will have to curtail the forest industry.
Those members in the government who are from northern Ontario -- and there are, I admit, a few of them -- will have to recognize and agree with me that this is a severe problem. We in the north realize the limitations of our mines, but we always felt that our forest would provide jobs at a sustained rate and that there would never be any curtailment of the forest industry, because we believed that the government was in fact utilizing the policy of sustained yield. But as I showed earlier this is not the case. We are cutting and we are not putting back what we should be.
I’m sure that I speak for my party on this. One cannot always assume they speak for their party on many issues, but on this I’m sure I do. If the government introduced a sufficient budget to cover regeneration for everything that is being cut, and began to get rid of some of the backlog of acreage that has never been regenerated, it would have the full support of this party. We would not show the slightest reservation. If it wants to spend money on something useful, spend it on regenerating our forest. It then would be protecting the future, not of ourselves but of our children, in this province.
An example that has come to light recently that I think exemplifies mismanagement of our forest industry is Reed Paper. Reed Paper has, I think, just about the worst record of any company in this province in the forest industry. It is responsible for the pollution of the English and Wabigoon river systems with mercury. It has a record of total disregard for regeneration in its limits; the province itself has been almost incapable of accomplishing any regeneration within those limits.
This company, with such a record, is given almost 19,000 square miles of virgin timber land in northwestern Ontario. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I know I would not be able to say it, because the Speaker would call me to order, but I just wonder about the motivation for such a decision. I am not attributing motives. I am simply wondering how such a thing could happen; how a company like Reed Paper could be given any more acreage in this province. I would suggest, since that company --
POINT OF ORDER
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: What is the point of order?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member is intimating to this House that, in fact, 19,000 square miles of area has been given to Reed Paper.
Mr. Deans: That’s not a point of order.
Mon. Mr. Rhodes: The Premier (Mr. Davis) has stated quite openly, on behalf of this government, that it is not so. With respect, Mr. Speaker, I feel the hon. member should not be making those comments that this, in fact, has been done.
Mr. Deans: It is his opinion. He’s entitled to his opinion.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, it is not an opinion.
Mr. Bain: Mr. Speaker, I assume you will not rule that is a valid point of order, so might I continue?
Mr. Speaker: Irrespective of that this seemed to be very thoroughly discussed this afternoon. There is a difference of opinion as to whether anybody has been given anything or not, but I think you must accept the word of the hon. member that it has not been given. You may suspect that it might be given, but that’s a different matter from saying that it shall be given. So I think the member should avoid such statements in view of the statements this afternoon.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, if the member wishes to give his opinion as to what may have happened or what may happen, I would think that might be all right. But to say, in fact, that a certain thing has happened, in the light of a denial from the Premier, might be a little presumptive. One would therefore hope that the member would refer to his own point of view as to what may happen. If that occurs, I would think the House would be pleased --
Mr. Speaker: I think that’s what I said in other words. The hon. member will continue.
Mr. Deans: Just a brief word on the point of order: If you are going to exercise that prerogative now, Mr. Speaker, I hope you will keep it in mind when people like the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) make speeches.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Timiskaming will continue.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Bain: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would assume that whenever members speak, they speak about reality as they perceive it. I would simply say that my perception of reality, and my party’s perception of reality, have been proven to be correct more often than the government’s -- in my opinion.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Ninety-nine per cent garbage.
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s perception of itself.
Mr. Bain: In the example I cited relating to Reed Paper, I was going to say that a memorandum of agreement that agrees to give or not to give, that might give, that perhaps will give and that some day will give, is not what should have been signed. What should have been signed was a strong letter of indictment that would have been sent by the Minister of Natural Resources to that company that, because they as a company are responsible for the pollution of the English and Wabigoon river system, unless they clean up that river system themselves at their own cost, they will lose what timber rights they already have.
The time has long since passed in this province, I think, when we can tolerate any company destroying the natural resources of the people of this province in the name of corporate profit. For, after all, when the companies have come and gone, the people will still be here; and if there are no resources, what will sustain them?
I would like to turn to a matter that is of great importance to the average person in northern Ontario because they face it every day of their lives. I am sure that the Minister of Housing will recall in 1971, in the election campaign waged by the government in northern Ontario, that they published a very nice pamphlet. It had a blue cover with, I believe, a picture of the Premier. I looked for it down here in my office but, unfortunately, I had left it at home so I will send you a copy if you should indicate your interest.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I have one. I was around in 1971 and you weren’t.
Mr. Moffatt: I have 12,000 that nobody would take.
Mr. Bain: You have it? The pamphlet in particular was very interesting in that it promised -- this was an election promise and I assume the government keeps its promises --
Mr. Deans: They can speak on whatever they want to and you can’t challenge.
Mr. Bain: I wouldn’t want to impute motive but I assume they keep promises. They promised in that election that they would equalize gas prices all across this province --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What is Orphan Annie talking about?
Mr. Bain: That appealed to the people of northern Ontario and it still appeals to them and they’re waiting.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Not in the Soo. We pay less in the Soo than in Toronto -- two cents a gallon less.
Mr. Bain: How long must they wait? In the fall of 1975 we saw where gasoline and oil prices were going up on the average six cents a gallon. The oil companies were about to make another windfall profit but the government refused to intervene and allowed this to take place. We have recently been treated to another such increase in gasoline prices and on a recent trip last week through northeastern Ontario, we kept track of the gasoline prices from station to station.
In New Liskeard, we found that gas in one station was 98.9 cents for a gallon of regular gas. In Timmins it was 83.9 cents. In Smooth Rock Falls it was 99 cents and in Kapuskasing at one station it was 94.9 cents. These are random stations, just happening to be the ones we pulled into.
The point is, we’re always told in northern Ontario that we have to pay more for gas because of transportation costs. We get it from the south supposedly. For anyone’s geography, if you look at New Liskeard, Timmins, Smooth Rock Falls and Kapuskasing’s relative locations on a map, you will find that New Liskeard is in the south with 93.9 cents, Timmins, over 100 miles to the north, has 83.9 cents. Smooth Rock Falls, going further north, is 99 cents. But again, further north than Smooth Rock Falls, you have Kapuskasing with 94.9 cents,
I would suggest that the price of gas bears no relationship to transportation costs. It bears a strict relationship to what the companies figure they can charge the public. They charge all that the market will bear. In the case of Timmins, we owe the lower gas price to one stalwart individual who sells his gas as an independent at a lower price. I’m sure the people in Timmins thank him every day, not only by high sales but by gratitude for his desire to do a little bit to provide a reasonable price for gas. He’s still making a profit. The other companies, of course, are forced to keep their prices down a little more.
There is no relationship between gas prices and northern Ontario and transportation costs. For the government to fail to act in this area is again negating its responsibility. We are told that transportation is the reason for the difference. But transportation, of course, is not the reason. The companies will charge whatever they think they can get away with and, of course, the government seems to sanction that attitude. I believe it calls it free enterprise. Most of us would call it gouging.
Hydro. The government can say it doesn’t have any control over the gas companies, which I would debate, but it has a very direct control over Hydro.
Last year hydro rates went up some 20 per cent and this year we’ve been told there’s going to be a wholesale increase of 30 per cent. The government can give me all sorts of justifications why --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Could we have a little less noise in the chamber, please? Can you keep your side conversations down?
Mr. Bain: The Liberals and the former Liberals.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Who said that?
Mr. Bain: I did, the person who is supposed to be speaking.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That’s the first accurate thing you’ve said all night.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: If the Minister of Housing wishes to interject, please would he do it from his own seat?
Mr. Bain: I think that the Speaker would appreciate a little incident -- the Minister of Housing and the former Minister of Transportation and Communications reminded me of this.
Mr. Laughren: He’s not the Minister of Housing; he’s the minister of house. He built one.
Mr. Bain: The minister, of course, represents the great riding of Sault Ste. Marie, which has remained a great riding despite the representation. I’m sure the former Minister of Transportation and Communications realizes that the people in northern Ontario have a totally inadequate road system and that people all along Highway 11, from North Bay onwards, have been asking the government for quite some time to build a few passing lanes so that people’s lives and limbs would not be endangered every time they went on the road. We’ve been told that the government can’t afford that.
This summer my wife, my son and I had the privilege of vacationing in the Dean Lake area and we happened to go to Sault Ste. Marie one day. Members will realize that we had already gone from North Bay toward Sudbury and we didn’t see any great profusion of passing lanes along Highway 17. We were well past Sudbury at Dean Lake and we went toward Sault Ste. Marie.
All of a sudden, out in the middle of nowhere, these passing lanes began to spring up upon us and my wife couldn’t quite figure out why those passing lanes were there because she knew there were no passing lanes to speak of in any other part of northern Ontario. As we got closer to the Soo these passing lanes were so intermittent that they must be an embarrassment to the minister.
Of course, his pride is the fact that we have those passing lanes there. As a former Minister of Transportation and Communications I’m sure he evaluated the need for passing lanes on Highway 17 toward Sault Ste. Marie in the same way as he evaluated the need for passing lanes everywhere else in northern Ontario.
I feel that this kind of crass patronage is what has resulted in the Tories having only -- what? one, two, three, four people representing northern Ontario in the government. I would suggest that that is because of their attitude, the way they treated politics in northern Ontario. I don’t find many people who believe that the way one votes should determine whether one gets basic services or not. That’s what defeated the Tories in northern Ontario.
I’m sorry for the digression, Mr. Speaker, but the interruption by the former Minister of Transportation and Communications I felt should elicit a response.
Going back to the problems of Hydro and the escalating prices in general, we come to the most scandalous example, the example of natural gas. Within the last 2½ years the price of natural gas has gone up over 100 per cent.
Mr. Bain: Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, you correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that in the budget debate I will be speaking, then a Liberal will be speaking but we don’t have a Conservative who would be willing to speak tonight. Obviously the member for Sault Ste. Marie has a lot to contribute and I’m sure we’d be happy to listen to him in his turn.
Mr. Bain: The gas bills, as I’ve said, in northern Ontario have gone up over 100 per cent in the last 2½ years. I cite these examples to indicate that the government’s supposed restraint programme applies only to essential services and certainly not to basic needs of the people.
If the Tories are going to embark upon an anti-inflation programme which they claim is necessary to fight inflation, I’m sure the people of this province would be happy to accept such a programme if they felt it was being applied fairly. If wages are allowed to go up only eight per cent to 10 per cent, fine, as long as prices go up only eight to 10 per cent. But the Tories have shown no indication of doing that. This mumbo-jumbo about profit control is misleading no one; nobody believes that. Even they don’t believe that. If they want to control prices set a lead; set an example. If they control prices as they have tried to control wages, they’d have the support of people for a real anti-inflation programme.
As long as they allow Hydro charges to increase by 30 per cent wholesale this year, natural gas to go up 100 per cent in the last two years and, worst of all, as a government, increasing OHIP premiums 45 per cent -- that’s what I call real leadership. They really want to show the people they mean business about prices. It’s a service for which they charge people; they raise the price for it 45 per cent and expect the people to sit back and allow their wages to be restricted to eight and 10 per cent.
In effect, what they are doing is taking away earning power from working people. They are -- they’re right. They’ll be able to fight inflation because if people don’t have any purchasing power they can’t buy goods. There won’t be a demand, therefore the government is not going to have inflation but there’s no way that that is a method of fighting inflation which any progressive, humane government could sanction. Yet these people sanction it and, in fact, proselytize for it but they have gained no converts. Unless they totally disavow the anti-inflation programme they’re going to be totally disavowed at the next election.
The restraint programme, I have found, has been expressed in a very unacceptable manner when it comes to the Ontario Student Assistance Programme. I’m glad to see that the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott) is here. I would simply like to say to him that last year and this year when I and others phoned the Ontario student assistance branch here in Toronto, we were told that there was not sufficient staff to process the applications and that’s why the applications took so long to process.
I would suggest that in an area like this, a basic area where people need the service, he shouldn’t cut back on his staff. Whatever staff he needs to process the applications, he should have. If he can’t do that or is unwilling to do that, he should set up a basic set of guidelines which would show the qualifications for an Ontario student assistance loan and give those guidelines to the colleges and universities and let them administer the programme. At least he’ll get it done a lot more quickly.
I’m not saying that he needs to do that. I’m simply saying that whatever method be feels he can manage is the method he should embark upon to allow those applications to be processed.
Since I was elected in the fall of 1975, I have begun to get an idea of what the Speaker referred to as -- what was it? It was bureaucracy. Flabby bureaucracy? It was a good term anyway.
Any time one phones a government agency, one has to have a number, a file number, a social insurance number, some sort of number. I’ve come to accept that. I see the necessity for that. When one phones the Ontario student assistance branch, one needs a file number but the file number is no good to them. They can’t find the file. They have to have the batch number as well. I think that is the first ministry in any level of government where you need two numbers to get hold of a file.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Progress.
Mr. Bain: As I said, whatever method the minister needs to utilize to overcome the problems of processing applications, he should do it. Many students who are going to colleges and universities would not have been able to go a few years ago; they don’t have family resources to fall back upon. If they can’t get their student loans in time, many of them have to drop out of school and I don’t think we can --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: That is not so.
Mr. Bain: I don’t think we can tolerate that and any student --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Why doesn’t the member name a few?
Mr. Bain: Okay. Any student who has had to do that --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Send me a list of a bunch of those who have left.
Mr. Bain: Okay. I assume, then, if I give the minister any names of students who are faced with this difficulty --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: The ones who have had to stop. The ones you said are dropping out.
Mr. Bain: The ones who have had to drop out? Unless the minister is going to be able to go to them now and provide a situation by which they can re-enter, his posturing is of little use. I’m trying to get an improvement. If I provide the minister with names of students --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Who have dropped out?
Mr. Bain: No. Who are presently in that situation. I can provide the minister with those names as well, but those people can’t be helped right now.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: You’re aware that 80 per cent of them got their loans?
Mr. Bain: The minister is willing to help. I can see that. I’m glad he’s willing to help. Can I provide the minister with names of students who face that problem right now, and will he act before they have to drop out in the next week or two?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Certainly. We have 80 per cent of them now.
Mr. Bain: Thank you very much. The minister will have the names tomorrow. Do any other members have names? If so, send them to the minister.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Without the student aid programme, there wouldn’t be any students left.
Mr. Bain: I was told that one couldn’t get any action out of the government by speaking in the House. I’m glad to see that isn’t true. I’ll have to bring more matters to the attention of the House.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It’s the first representation you’ve made on behalf of your constituents since you have been here.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Villeneuve: He’s only here for one term.
Mr. Bain: I’ve known of situations where the member for Algoma has had to raise issues in this House which more properly should have been raised by the member for Sault Ste. Marie. It just goes to show who is representing their constituents, doesn’t it?
Mr. Lewis: Does the minister realize that his party is 12 per cent behind the NDP in northern Ontario? In the Soo, Algoma-Manitoulin, Cochrane North and Kenora -- in those four ridings.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Not in the Soo, baby.
Mr. Lewis: The other ones we won’t even talk about.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: You’ve got to admit you guys don’t even come close.
Mr. Lewis: And when you think of who they’re talking about as your successor --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, will you stop the interjections by the member for Scarborough West? It’s terrible.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member for Timiskaming please continue?
Mr. Bain: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Another area I would like to deal with is one which the government has neglected far too long; it is the area of occupational health. The government has received the report of the Ham commission, which I think many of us will agree has been a milestone in its thoroughness and in the personal character of Dr. Ham, which led him to really talk to people about the problems they face in the mining industry. But this royal commission on mine safety also has been a milestone in that it has documented, point by point and verse by verse, the government’s total lack of involvement to enforce proper health standards in the mining industry. In fact, the Ham commission report is an indictment of the government’s inaction over the years.
Mr. Cunningham: Where’s Marvin? We want Marvin.
Mr. Bain: There are a number of things in the Ham report which I feel are long overdue, but won’t go into all of them. However, I think that we must have workers as the inspectors in the mines. There’s no point in having the inspection done by people who come out of management and whose sympathies lie in that area. We also need to have strict and objective threshold limits for various levels of exposure to dust, gas, etc., that can be rigidly enforced. There needs to be this reference that can be made so that one can find out exactly what the standards are.
One other thing that I think is most important is that permanent records need to be kept of anyone who enters into the mining industry so that person will be able to know of any developments that would hazard that person’s health. Today we have many miners -- and the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) has mentioned this many times in the House -- who don’t have records kept of the mines they’ve been in; they might go out of mining, and when they do there is no effort to track them down to see if they do need treatment. So I feel this is absolutely essential.
It remains to be seen whether the bills that have been promised by the government will accomplish what the government says they’re going to accomplish, but at least the government is admitting that it must move in a new direction, and that this new direction has to guarantee safety in the work place.
Mr. Cunningham: Where’s Marvin?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Where’s Stuart?
Mr. Cunningham: Looking for Marvin.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Is he down talking to Pierre, saying, “Please go away”?
Mr. Cunningham: Talking to Bob Johnston.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: “Pierre is hurting me,” says Stuart -- Stuart is hurting Stuart.
Mr. Bain: I would suggest that the government do something that might be a little innovative for the government. It should formulate a bill of rights for working people and for miners, and it should be mandatory that this bill of rights be posted in every work place in this province so that the working people would know exactly what their rights are. I find that a number of people involved in industry do not know exactly what rights they do have. I’ll grant you under this present government those rights have been precious few but they are not even aware of many of those. So, provide a bill of rights for working people in this province that is easily understood by everyone and easily enforced and can’t be wriggled out of by the government.
Mr. Laughren: Long overdue.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Glad to have been of service, says another teacher.
Mr. Laughren: Says the Minister of Housing, a former jock.
Mr. Bain: I have been glad to see the Minister of Housing participate in this exchange. I only hope that he has learned and will benefit from the exchange.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, teacher.
Mr. Breithaupt: He still has powers --
Mr. Bain: We are all teachers and we are all students and we all have a lot to learn.
The problems that I have discussed this evening do not simply focus on an abstract. Gold is not the problem; it’s people and their communities that are the problem. Farming is not the difficulty. It’s the farm communities that are threatened by the government’s inaction. Forestry, again, is not the problem per se. It’s the fact that we are not wisely utilizing our forests and that we have to embark upon regeneration in order to guarantee the future for the people of this province.
Prices -- gas, hydro, natural gas, your infamous OHIP premium increase -- these again in themselves are things that affect people and the government has to control those prices. If it doesn’t -- and I don’t think it will because I don’t think it cares -- then in fact what it is saying to the people of this province is that they don’t really matter. The government is saying that you can’t have a divided loyalty. You can’t have a loyalty to corporations and people at the same time. And it has obviously decided which side it is on. The profits of corporations --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You want to subsidize them.
Mr. Bain: -- are what it will protect. And that is why this government has to be watched constantly because it says that it will come in with a bill that will protect workers. But when it implements it, what kind of a bill will it really be? The government’s heart usually is not in any of these things and it is driven, yelling and screaming, to the point where -- like 1943 -- it figures “We might lose so we had better put in a bill that looks like it will appear to people that it will tackle the problem.” Invariably, it’s window-dressing and the bills usually never have any real substance.
I would like to offer a little spirit of co-operation. I wouldn’t want to be accused by the government of not being willing to co-operate. I personally would be willing to support this government when it makes the decision that people are more important than corporate greed and corporations maximizing their profits. Until it does that -- and I don’t think it ever will -- it will not have my support and it will not have the support of this party nor of the people of this province.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, after all that applause I feel as though I should sit down while I am ahead. On the other hand, I don’t think I will.
It has been some time since the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) brought down his budget last April 6. There have been a number of major things happen since that time and a person could spend a great deal of time in going over that budget. Probably one of the items that is of interest right now is the reform of property taxation in budget paper E that the Treasurer spoke about at that time. I think that he should take the reform out. I don’t think it is a reform. I think it’s just a shuffle, like they sometimes shuffle the cabinet over there, like musical chairs or something. I have a feeling that’s what he recommended in budget paper E and the reform of property taxation -- and that’s all it is.
With regard to his proposals to raise the market value assessment on the golf courses, and to tax schools and many other charitable properties, in my opinion this is not reforming our taxation system. If we are going to really reform it then I think it’s time we started thinking about where the money should come from for certain services that we must put into the community.
I would suppose that education is always one of the topics in a type of thing like that, because it does take a major portion of the municipal tax. I think in our own area, from what the municipality collects, about 55 to 60 per cent goes to the education system. It’s worrisome when you see people bringing you their tax forms for this year compared to last year. I was looking at one of my neighbour’s whose house is in the township where I live. I think his total taxes last year were $552 and this year were $654.
The township and county rate held steady -- they didn’t raise any. They were very careful -- they are trying to keep it down. They were aware that the province had cut back to some extent on the increase it had been allowing school boards, so the school board had to raise theirs considerably -- in fact $102 on one home. That was what the school tax alone increased in one year.
But it concerns me to see what happens in the United States just 20 miles from where I live -- the problems they’re having in education for their children, and assessing the cost of it. I don’t know if you are aware of it but in the United States they cannot raise the mill rate automatically at the whim of the elected people like we can over here. We have much greater powers than they have. The local municipal council in Detroit or any of the areas there cannot say, “We need $10 million more this year so we’ll just raise the taxes.” They can’t do that. They’re limited in what they can put on the taxes in United States.
Last August during the primaries they had a vote in the city of Detroit to try to get more money to run their school system, and it was turned down. That meant a great catastrophe really -- in the city core especially. Under our present system, if it continues the way it is, I’m seriously concerned that the same thing could happen here. I think everybody in the education system should think about this -- teachers, school boards and everybody. If it continues like that -- and there’s been talk about it over here -- the people are going to get so concerned about it that they are going to start demanding that something similar come about.
That could really be the ruination of our education system. Much as we like to look after our fellow man, we sometimes have a tendency to say, “We don’t need a new school -- our children are all through.” This is what is happening in the United States in many cities. In fact they are having another vote on November 2 to try to get this. There are many more people in the community concerned about getting the mill rate voted, so they can raise more money.
If we continue our present method of paying education costs -- so much of it on the mill rate and property taxes -- I’m concerned that we’re going to have real problems. I think it’s time we took a look at how the future stands and how we are going to handle this and whether we are going to have to start looking at the sales tax, the income tax and the corporation tax. I don’t think we can continue at the rate we’re going. I’m afraid we’re heading for trouble. I’m very serious about this; I’m really concerned about it because I can see these problems growing.
We have the negative income tax, of course -- it does help some. But it doesn’t solve the problem and it’s not going to solve the problem, and I’m really concerned about this.
The education system that has been running in this province for the last 10 or 15 years has not been the best. I know that the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) and the former minister, now the Premier, like to get up and say that our system is the best in the world. But it’s not been the best in the world and they are finally admitting it. In fact, it was only a couple of weeks ago on Wednesday afternoon when the Minister of Education came out with a window-dressing statement that he was going to start making certain subjects mandatory and so forth when he was aware that one of the other parties had a policy statement coming out to try to bring our education system to a higher standard.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Which party?
Mr. Ruston: Well, which party, Mr. Minister of Housing? I am sure the minister knows which it is because we know the NDP are not interested in improving the education system. They want it freer than ever. No regulations, no nothing, just go and do your own thing. That’s their system; that’s their policy and we know that. I am ignoring that party for now.
I think it’s a serious situation and I would hope that all parties would consider this matter of assessing the cost of education in the future and taking it very seriously. I think that if we continue with the present system we are heading for real trouble. I think the public is not going to accept it.
There are many things that a person could talk about now. One of the main concerns to everyone in the province of Ontario, not just in our own riding, is our energy costs -- hydro rates, natural gas rates and gasoline. The OPEC countries a few years ago came to the conclusion that if we could sell a bushel of wheat for $5, they should have $10 or $11 for a barrel of oil. They raised the price from $3.50 to $11 and that’s it. Of course the sheik of Alberta then figured if they can get $11 or $12 a barrel, he should be able to get that much too --
Mr. Edighoffer: He is NDP.
Mr. Ruston: No, I am afraid he is a Conservative. It’s a funny thing about the oil in Alberta and the price that they want. The federal government is trying to keep them from raising it too fast. They want the world price immediately but the federal government said, “No, we are not going to allow that.” You know that fellow from -- well I don’t know what riding he’s from -- from Alberta. I think his name is Clark but I don’t know if he is from Assiniboine --
Mr. Breithaupt: He is the Yellowhead kid.
Mr. Ruston: -- or from Yellowhead or from --
Mr. Kerrio: He’s a McTeer.
Mr. Ruston: Well, yes, I have heard that name too. But there is another riding he is going to represent too and I am not sure which riding it is. He is having a little problem there. He is having a little problem there with somebody running against him in one of those ridings.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: He is the next prime minister of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: He is not bailing out to Quebec.
Mr. Ruston: The funny part about Mr. Clark is that I never heard a word from him about what he would do about energy costs. It’s amazing how he can keep so quiet in all this. It is just amazing and one wonders why, but I suppose it is not hard to figure out when he comes from Alberta. Naturally he doesn’t want to say anything about all the millionaires in Alberta and all their oil. But that fellow, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in Ottawa, I will give him credit. He can really keep quiet when it comes to energy costs. He has never said a word since he has been elected leader of the party.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Don’t mention the federal Liberals.
Mr. Ruston: John, are you having trouble over there?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Don’t mention the federal Liberals or Stuart will be mad at you.
Mr. Ruston: Oh, I see. Well, I am mentioning energy costs and they come all tied in. The Minister of Energy for Ontario (Mr. Timbrell) -- well, I have a word for him but I don’t think it is ethical. I can’t call another member by what I was going to use. I am very disappointed in the way he replies to some of the suggestions that people have made -- the municipal associations of Ontario and so forth. The arrogance that he shows -- I don’t know whether it is because of his --
Mr. Eakins: Youth?
Mr. Ruston: Well, I think a lot of young people are a lot smarter than that. They respect people more than that. I am not sure what it is but I think that most people are disappointed in his attitude with regard to suggestions made to him on energy costs and so forth in Ontario.
As for hydro rates in Ontario, it’s fine to say we need controls and my goodness, we know that the majority of people of Canada accept them. They don’t agree with them all because, after all, everyone likes controls as long as it is on the other fellow and not on them. That’s the way we happen to be in most cases. But when you come and want a 30 per cent increase in Hydro rates at a time like this I just can’t understand it.
Sure, the Treasurer gets up and says: “Ontario Hydro has to have the money because we’d only have to go into the market and borrow more money.” If I was running a business and had to compete with a fellow down the road who had his place all paid for while I was still borrowing money I couldn’t afford to raise my price way above his because I wouldn’t stay in business. I’d have to go out and borrow money and try to get along so that I could compete with him.
But, of course, Ontario Hydro doesn’t have to compete. That’s one great advantage, I suppose, of being a government agency. In fact, like the NDP, if everything was run by the government there would be no competition. Whatever the price is, that is what it would be.
But you still need a little competition. Ontario Hydro does not have to raise the rates all that much if they really look at what their rate structure should be over the next five years. If they do have to borrow a little money for this year or for the next two or three years, there’s nothing wrong with that. They could keep their increase to about 18 per cent wholesale this year and next year about 12 to 14 per cent and the next year about eight to 10 per cent.
That can be done, Mr. Minister of Housing. I see he’s taking his pencil out, but that can be done.
Mr. Bounsall: Not a bad idea.
Mr. Ruston: No, that’s sound business practice, especially at a time like this when we’re trying to keep our cost increases in a general line or from six to 10 per cent each year. That’s what we should be looking at. There’s nothing wrong with it at all.
The cost of hydro at this rate is going to put our manufacturing industry in some jeopardy. It’s going to put everybody in jeopardy. We just can’t be looking at a 30 per cent increase in one year, especially when it can be done with a lower increase. I realize that even 18 per cent is too high but, on the other hand, that’s the wholesale rate. I’m surprised that the member for London North (Mr. Shore) doesn’t get up here. He’s an accountant and I’m sure he could tell you fellows that this could be done, but I suppose he’s not going to say anything to you fellows. He’s going to be pretty quiet.
Mr. Eakins: He’s 9 to 5 now.
Mr. Ruston: I see he’s not in his seat now. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I’m concerned that this is not at all good for the province of Ontario --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: He is out with Stuart playing tennis.
Mr. Ruston: -- and I think that this government has to see that Ontario Hydro does not raise the rates over 18 per cent wholesale for this year, and balance it out over the next five years. That can be done, I’m sure.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Eighteen?
Mr. Ruston: Eighteen per cent wholesale. They’re asking for 30.5 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Would you settle for 22.7 per cent?
Mr. Ruston: No, 18 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: We’ll have to go to the people over that one.
Mr. Ruston: We don’t have much control over natural gas. We realize that because it comes from Alberta and British Columbia --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: It comes from Chatham.
Mr. Ruston: Maybe if we had all this natural gas like they have out there we’d be greedy too. After all, we all have to live in this country. Surely, we can look after our own anyway. Our own hydro, fine, we should look after that. We should see that it stays within reasonable limits and within the guidelines set up by this government. This government approved those guidelines.
Mr. Speaker, one of the ways the Treasurer is handling the finances now -- his cash flow and his budgetary requirements and so forth, and this Wintario lottery and now this Provincial lottery -- I spoke on the Wintario bill when it came in -- and mind you, I have five tickets in my pocket now. Sometimes I have more but I have to force myself to quit buying so many because --
Mr. Eakins: You’re playing right into Darcy’s hands.
Mr. Ruston: Yes, I’m playing right into the Treasurer’s hands and also those of the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch). Every time there’s a draw on TV, the Minister of Culture and Recreation is up there and this is a great thing. They are all right up to a point but when we start putting these in and now there are the $5 tickets, the thing that bothers me -- not very long ago I saw a fellow walk out of a place which was selling tickets. He had worked overtime the week before and he had a good-sized cheque. He walked out with three $10 lottery tickets, two $5 tickets and five $1 tickets. There was $45 that he was paying in one week in lottery tickets and he’s got a family to keep and so forth. What I’m saying is the more these are put out and the more we keep this advertising going -- it’s false advertising, too, when they get up and say “everybody wins.” I suppose if a businessman advertises like that the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Ottawa would probably take him to court.
What bothers me with this is it’s fine to have it for certain things but with this type of a thing we tend to get the money -- the people who are putting out the money are generally low income people, the people who aren’t able to pay high taxes. What I said at the time this Wintario bill came through was that we should never get the idea that this is the way to raise money for necessities because after all we’re not collecting on the ability to pay.
It’s an emotional thing and it kind of gets into you, I suppose. It’s like betting on the horses or betting on the numbers like they have in the States and some other places. I’m not objecting to them. I think everyone likes to gamble a little and I think the Wintario one with its $1 tickets is great but I’m really concerned about these other ones and the big advertisements we have saying everybody wins.
I don’t think that’s the way to raise money for health care and educational costs or even health research. If we need health research I think that should come from the people who have the ability to pay and I don’t think there’s any fairer way to collect it.
There is another thing with Wintario. I mentioned about the Minister of Culture and Recreation getting up there -- we’re using it as a political game. I’ve had different people tell me, “All you’re doing is building up a fund.” I think one of the commentators on CBET, channel 9 in Windsor, Lloyd Brown-John, said, “All you’re doing really when you’re buying tickets is you’re building up a fund for the province of Ontario and the Conservative Party before the next election so that they can go out and start approving all the grants and making sure the cheques get out in a hurry.”
They’ve approved lots now but the cheques aren’t going out. It takes eight months to a year to get them out. Five weeks before the election, they’ll be rolling them out and they’ll have to bring in transport trucks to take them all out. It’s a great thing. I had one in the last election, $325,000, just seven miles from me. The Premier came down and said -- sure, we’re glad to take the money.
Mr. B. Newman: What happened as a result of that?
Mr. Ruston: They did get 100 more votes but they still got only 18 per cent of the total. That’s all right, we accept that.
Mr. Good: It cost $35,000 a vote.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Didn’t hurt you any, did it?
Mr. Ruston: But this is too political. We’re heading the wrong way on that, I’m sure. It’s an interesting thing -- how the letters are signed. Every time I get a copy of a letter that went out or was going out to somebody who made an application for a Wintario grant --
Mr. Kerrio: Listen to this.
Mr. Ruston: -- the first thing I do when I get it, I don’t read it -- I look at the bottom to see who signed. If the Minister of Culture and Recreation signed it I know it’s an approval but if the deputy minister or some other one signed it I know it’s being considered. It’s awful to think that they have come to that.
Mr. Good: How low can you get? Talk about politics!
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Johnston turns it down and the minister approves it.
Mr. Ruston: The Minister of Culture and Recreation has had so many portfolios. I’ve been in this House nine years and I think he’s had eight portfolios since I’ve been here. I really don’t know whether he’s incapable -- whether he gets a ministry in such a mess that they move him to another one -- or whether he can fix them all up in a year and they pass him on to another one. I really haven’t been able to assess that because I don’t have access to the files to know for each ministry he’s been in charge of, whether he’s good or bad. You have to look at it one way or the other. He’s real good or real bad and they shuffle him out.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What is your honest assessment?
Mr. Ruston: My honest assessment? I think he’s pretty lousy.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Give us your honest assessment.
Mr. Eakins: He was Minister of Housing, wasn’t he?
Mr. Ruston: Yes, he was the Minister of Housing for a while. That’s right.
Mr. Good: What shape did he leave that in?
Mr. Ruston: I don’t know if he was minister much longer than this minister or not, but -- He wasn’t?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I hold the record.
Mr. Ruston: The present minister holds the record, that’s good. Well, that shows some of his capabilities, I’m sure.
Mr. Deans: We’ve ground to a complete halt. He’s got the record for grinding.
Mr. Eakins: George McCague is going to get the minister’s job.
Mr. Ruston: We had the leader of our party in Windsor yesterday and I was just listening to the radio.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Which one?
Mr. Ruston: Oh, I’m sure that the minister knows that.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Federal or provincial?
Mr. Ruston: Provincial, and that’s our party. That’s right. The only leader of my party is the provincial leader and I’m very glad to be with him. I was at the airport to meet him and travelled in Windsor all day yesterday.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, he looked it.
Mr. Ruston: I might say that there was a poll at CKWW radio for an hour before he came on the hot-line. It was rather an interesting poll. There was 39 for the Liberals, 28 for the Conservatives and 20 for the NDP. I can’t really figure out where the 28 Conservatives were because you know, there must have been somebody on that line all the time just calling in. You see, I’ve never heard that many before.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: How did you get 39 Liberals to phone in all at the same time?
Mr. Ruston: They called each other.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Where did they come from?
Mr. Ruston: I don’t know where they came from. They must have been calling in from Chatham. I think they were calling in from Chatham. Darcy McKeough must have had them calling in from Chatham.
Mr. Eakins: They used the WATS line out of Toronto.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You don’t have that many in your caucus. Somebody called twice.
Mr. Ruston: I suppose we have a number of concerns. I met today with people from the Ministry of Housing and officials from the Ministry of Housing with the township of Sandwich West. We’re concerned about getting new sewage work put in the townships and we have a number of these that have been held back. I don’t say they’ve been cut off. They’ve been held back for a year because the Ministry of the Environment has run out of funds, apparently. I think he’s a pretty good fellow --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: A slight delay. Want some of those Wintario funds?
Mr. Ruston: I think he’ll see that we are taken care of. We’re all concerned to see the pollution abatement programmes carried out. I think that we are doing reasonably well in Ontario compared to the United States, although you know you never can do too much on that because we still have a lot of areas that need care and need pollution equipment, sewers, treatment plants and so forth put in. This is a concern to many people in Ontario and I question whether this is a place we should be cutting back. You always say, well, where should you cut? I think pollution abatement is something that should be a top priority.
Health care is of course a top priority and how many more do you have? Education, I suppose, but those three have to be on the front burner. I think they have to be on the front burner to keep them going.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Don’t forget the highways.
Mr. Good: Your budget should be cut right off.
Mr. Ruston: We’re concerned about these and we’re hoping that the Treasurer will see that money is made available for these pollution disposal systems and abatement programmes throughout the province and, of course, in our own area.
We also have agricultural problems. It seems to me that weather conditions vary so much in agriculture. I just noted some of the turnout, the bushels per acre of soya beans, corn, tomatoes and different things like that in our area this year. It’s amazing the variation you get because of weather conditions. I think I’ve noticed it more this year than in the last few years. I think from 1972 on, it has more or less evened out.
This year we have areas where soya beans, which is one of our major crops in western Ontario -- especially Essex and Kent counties and Pelee Island -- they went from -- I had one fellow tell me last Saturday evening that he had 60 acres of soya beans and he got 400 bushels. The average crop in Ontario is about 30 bushels to the acre so you know what he got -- he had a lot of work for nothing.
That was at a meeting in Windsor. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) was speaking and explaining The Credit Union Act at the annual dinner and banquet of the credit unions of Essex county and the city of Windsor.
Farming this year in our area has had some real problems. Corn production is down as well. Wheat was a good crop. Some years if a farmer gets a poor crop but the price is way up, he’s all right but this year I think the United States is trying to avoid too many exports so it could keep farm prices down during an election year. That way the politicians thought they could get the majority of the vote in the cities. Then Ford started realizing, when he was out campaigning in the farm states, that he was running into problems so then he started saying he would export more to help the farmers and probably put the price up a little. We find out now, I see from Mr. Jamieson, I think, who was over in Russia, that they have a bumper crop this year and may not need very many imports.
It’s very unsettled. Beef prices are very low. To give members an idea of hog prices -- I’m not sure there are too many hog farmers here -- a year ago they were about $85 a hundred and right now they are $47. It’s pretty hard to run a roller coaster and that’s why I say we need a good farm stabilization or insurance bill to cover these types of catastrophies.
As members know, when a man starts a business and is trying to run it along, $85 a hundred probably is higher than he needs; $70 or $75 may be what he should have, but it fluctuates. When it goes down that low, it can give him real problems especially if he’s trying to buy according to the market. He has to be pretty careful.
It’s a pretty unstable situation and it proves that we need a good farm stabilization Act to kind of cover these hills and valleys that we run through.
An hon. member: Better than the proposed one.
Mr. Ruston: Yes, better than the proposed one, especially when some of them are going to get only five per cent on top of nothing almost; or five per cent of whatever the low price might be. We’ll get into that at another time and it’s not necessary to speak about it right now. That’s one of the concerns we have.
The dairy farmers and some of the industrial milk shippers in the past year have had real problems. It’s awfully easy for the Minister of Agriculture and Food here to get up and blame the Minister of Agriculture in Ottawa, and for him to get up and blame the Minister of Agriculture in Ontario for encouraging overproduction.
I had one of my constituents come in one day and show me his milk cheque which had $2,700 taken off as a penalty because he had overshipped his quota. His total cheque was $4,300 and $2,700 was taken off. The government just can’t do that. He was shipping about 1,700 pounds of milk a day. I asked him, “How did you get into this type of a position?”
He said, “I got an IMPIP loan. I got a Farm Credit Corporation loan; I’d had one previously. I got an IMPIP loan and I had only about a 400-pound class A quota and about 500 industrial milk. I had a chance last November or December to buy some class A quota at five cents a pound.” Five cents or $5? Five dollars. I’ve got so many things on the go.
He said, “I could have bought that and it would have protected me then for shipping. I would have had a class A quota.” That gives him the top price for milk, around $12 a hundred. He said, “One of the field men from the Ontario Milk Marketing Board said there was no use my buying that. I could ship all the industrial milk I wanted. I get only about $1 per hundred less and don’t have to invest any money, just keep on shipping the industrial milk.”
So he didn’t buy the class A quota and then, this spring the roof fell in on him. He said, “If I had realized, if I’d known, that that was going to happen I could have arranged to have bought some of the class A quota and I could have stayed in business. I would have been all right.”
Well, he’s been struggling along and with some changes lately I think he’s going to be able to manage. But they really put him in a terrible situation.
So, who is at fault? Trying to control production is not easy, I realize that. But we don’t get anywhere by saying the Minister of Agriculture in Ottawa and the dairy commission said we had to cut production. Then the Minister of Agriculture said a year ago we had to have more production. So they come out with the IMPIP loan. We’ve had some poor direction there some place.
I am not positive where the real blame is but I have to lay the blame at least 50 per cent here and 50 per cent in Ottawa. I don’t know where else. There was poor communication there some place -- from Ottawa probably in telling Ontario to cut down production; we are going to be overproducing. Maybe they didn’t put it in writing. I think that was one of the things that were wrong. I think the Minister of Agriculture for Canada just made a statement that we were going to have to cut down production. I don’t know how he notified the provinces. Anyway, this was poor communication some place and we certainly have to do something with that because that puts the farmer in a terrible position.
Now, of course, we’re talking about imports. We are importing a limited amount of cheese -- what is it? -- 50 million pounds a year, I think, from foreign countries. I suppose there has been a request to Ottawa to cut that out.
But you know, the Minister of Industry and Tourism for Ontario (Mr. Bennett) talks different to the Minister of Agriculture for Ontario.
He gets up and says the government of Ontario will continue to trade with any nation it wishes to. So if we are going to trade with them then it has to come back in. It’s fine for Ottawa to say, put up a wall but if Ontario wants to trade, what do you do? Ottawa has no control. You can’t have each province controlling imports and exports. So, I think the Minister of Industry and Tourism had better get together with the Minister of Agriculture and they had better start putting their speeches together. Because I have a speech here from the Minister of Industry and Tourism and it is certainly in complete conflict with the Minister of Agriculture for Ontario.
I don’t think that we can really put a wall around our country and say we won’t import. There’s always a certain amount necessary even if you produce 95 per cent. I suppose people may like to taste a little bit of Swiss cheese; I don’t know whether it’s any better. They seem to think if it has the Swiss name on it, maybe it’s a little better. I don’t buy it myself. I make sure I only buy Canadian. That’s what we have.
Of course, there was a strange thing about the Milk Marketing Board. It was putting on a campaign to sell more milk, “drink more milk.” What was it, have a whisker of milk? I think there was some kind of campaign on with that. They had 12 of these little cars going around with people driving them. They were all painted white, with a sign on the side. They were all imported cars; all 12 of them were imported cars.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Well?
Mr. Ruston: Well, not from Canada and the United States. We class American-made cars together because we have that auto pact. But they make small cars in Canada, you know. They make them in St. Thomas. They make them up in Quebec. They could have bought them just as cheaply. The Milk Marketing Board was saying we should cut off imports of cheese. But when they wanted to buy 12 cars to promote the sale of milk, they go out and buy 12 imported cars. They must have had a reason for it; I don’t know. I just question it. I mean, it just seems kind of strange.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: How about imported wine, Dick?
Mr. Ruston: No, Canadian wine, I’m not a heavy drinker, but I’ll take the Canadian wine.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You see, it would be interesting --
Mr. Reid: John, you will drink any given quantity.
Mr. Hall: Don’t knock the Ontario wines, John. Got to drink it, John. Getting better every year.
Mr. Ruston: You know, we get so much mail it is hard to keep track of it all but I have heard different people in the ministry talking about cutting down on the use of -- being your own liquor control board -- the ads on TV and everything. I was looking over the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario statistics. In the week ending April 17, there were 38 new applications for liquor licences. The week ending April 24, 36 applications were approved. The week ending May 15, 19 new applications; week ending June 26, 32 applications. I don’t know -- maybe the province should be its own Liquor Control Board. They are advertising on TV “be your own”, you know, but they are not leading a very good example if that’s what they are doing. It comes in the mail, Mr. Minister of Housing, and it’s interesting --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Any in Essex North?
Mr. Ruston: No, I don’t think so.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It is dry there.
Mr. Ruston: Oh no.
Mr. Eakins: Save it for the select committee, John.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, we have a number of other items we’d like to speak on -- I don’t know if anyone wants to speak.
I suppose the select committee on highway safety will be coming in with its report in the near future. That’s something I’ve been extremely interested in for some time, and I’ve been looking forward to what the report may be. I never made any presentations to the committee; I was out of town at the time they were in the Windsor area. I had a number in mind.
I know there have been some remarks about whether the age limit for driver’s licences should be raised. I personally am against raising the age to 18. I think that 16 is still all right. Maybe we should have a better system of driver training, so that maybe everyone would have a driver training course before he gets his licence. Now they have some of them in schools, and I think that’s an area we should be exploring.
I think we should be looking at our highway system, and whether we are building it for the maximum in safety: They’ve got the speed limit down to 60 now on our main four-lane thoroughfares. Of course, I suppose the majority of cars drive between 65 and 70.
Mr. Good: Between 70 and 75 on Highway 401 -- it is great.
Mr. Ruston: Another thing that ties in with the speed limit is the police chasing after someone who broke the law. We hear of so many cases where a car went out of control and someone was killed or injured in driving so fast.
Why can’t we say to the manufacturers that the maximum speed of a car should not be over 85 miles an hour? With a speed limit of 60 or even 70, if you have to pass a car 85 certainly gives you all the passing ability you need. You could have police cars with a maximum speed probably of 95.
With a little enforcement that could be done, and I think it would solve an awful lot of our problems when it comes to the police chasing cars that may have been stolen, or whatever the case may be. It may sound a pretty simple way but I still think it would work.
Many trucks are geared to go 65 miles an hour and they just can’t go any faster. If you ever see one trying to pass another, he might spend three or four miles trying to get by him, because the maximum speed of some trucks is 65. They are geared to that speed by governors. I think that that’s an area we should be looking at.
Another thing I’m concerned about are the rear end accidents. After some cars have been produced and sold, people then try to doctor them up. If you ever drove behind a car that had the back end jacked up about four feet, it’s an awful looking sight. And if you were to ever run into that car, you are up into the gas tank and the accident happens before you know it. I think the province would have to get involved in that, because the federal regulations apply to when the car comes out of the factory. The province would have to get involved after, because these modifications are always done after the car has been purchased --
Mr. Good: You shouldn’t allow modification.
Mr. Ruston: I think that the modification of cars is what it would cover, and that’s what we would have to do.
Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the thing that I’m concerned about now is energy. I think that hydro rates are outrageous at 30 per cent wholesale at this time, which means about a 23 per cent increase at the retail level. It has been proven by good accountants that an 18 per cent raise would cover it at this time, and blending it out over the next five years. That’s what we should be heading for. Thank you.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to become involved in this debate?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I must say, Mr. Speaker, that applause was certainly deserved.
Mr. Deans moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Rhodes, the House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.