The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
HIRING OF CANADIAN PERSONNEL BY UNIVERSITIES
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, last April I informed the Legislature about the citizenship of faculty at Ontario universities. Recently the Council of Ontario Universities published statistics on the 1976-77 appointments and these have now been reviewed.
It would appear that this year the universities appointed a proportion of Canadian citizens, and landed immigrants already in Canada, of about six percentage points higher than last year. However, the marked changes in the way the data were collected make exact comparison with last year’s data impossible. The new method records the immigration status of individuals at the time of a job offer being made. This highlights more accurately the area that deserves scrutiny, namely the number of non-Canadians newly entering Canada to assume faculty positions. This base will be used to evaluate progress in succeeding years.
I am confident that more progress will be made in future years because the universities will have more lead time to implement our policies, agreed to by the presidents. I’ve discussed this issue at some length with several presidents and I know the procedure has been adopted by all presidents. I know, too, that they gave their personal review of all appointments this year and I believe these procedures will be maintained.
The COU data also show that 83 visiting professors were appointed. These visiting professors are expected to return to their permanent appointments at other universities after a brief stay. Of these, 46 were visiting from other countries. We want to foster such arrangements which ensure the free flow of scholarship.
There has been some confusion over our policy toward the appointment of landed immigrants. I would like to state, without qualification, that we consider landed immigrants already working in Canada at the time an offer of employment is made, to be as eligible for faculty appointment as are Canadian citizens. Indeed, some of these landed immigrants appointed are graduates of our own universities. This is obviously beneficial.
The confusion arose because in 1975-76 about 70 per cent of the landed immigrants appointed entered Canada after appointment or just prior to being appointed. These cannot be regarded in the same light as appointments of landed immigrants already in Canada. We believe that recruitment outside Canada of non-Canadians for full-time positions should only be done when it has been demonstrated that no qualified Canadian or established landed immigrant is available for that position. It appears that universities are themselves implementing such a policy because fewer newly-entering non-Canadians were appointed this year.
Last year about 72 per cent of all faculty members in Ontario were Canadian. In Britain 92 per cent of faculty are British, in the United States 98 per cent are US citizens, and in Sweden 99 per cent are Swedish citizens.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s socialism for you.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: All these countries have prestigious universities. Clearly, scholarship does not depend on having a large component of foreign faculty. We need make no apologies for attempting to ensure that Ontario universities are distinctively Canadian.
Hon. members will recall that when I last reported to the House on this subject I mentioned that discussions were being held with the Department of Manpower and Immigration. These discussions are proceeding favourably and I expect to be able to report on progress in the near future.
Our goal is not the pursuit of a magic Canadian percentage for our faculty; it is the assurance that qualified Canadians and established landed immigrants are not being displaced by newly-entering non-Canadians.
The improvement shown by most institutions, the attention being given to this issue by the Department of Manpower and Immigration and the continuing commitment of the presidents to ensure that Canadians and established landed immigrants are adequately considered, suggest that we may be optimistic. We will continue to monitor faculty appointments and I will keep the House informed.
STUDENT ENROLMENT IN AGRICULTURE
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the members that this year’s enrolment in the two-year diploma programme in agriculture is the highest it has ever been. Five hundred and eighty-five in first-year students are enrolled in the province’s four colleges of agricultural technology --
Mr. Cassidy: Train them to understand your programmes.
Hon. W. Newman: -- and the University of Guelph. The total number of students in the two years is 1,180. This represents a 45 per cent increase in the past five years. I am particularly pleased to note that first-year enrolments in the colleges at Kemptville and Centralia are up about 40 per cent over last year. The programmes presented by the four colleges and the University of Guelph offer diplomas in the broad fields of agricultural production and management, laboratory technology, business and commerce, home economics, food service management and animal health technology.
Mr. Speaker, I believe these increased enrolments show the high degree of confidence young people have today in the future of agriculture in Ontario. Their confidence is justified.
Mr. Cassidy: Not through you.
Hon. W. Newman: More than half the graduates of these courses are able to return to the farm each year, while the remainder are employed by industries related to agriculture.
Mr. Mancini: Great man.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
NORTHERN ONTARIO AIR SERVICES
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Natural Resources in three brief parts: Has the minister written to the federal government to ask them for a public inquiry into air transportation in the north, northern Ontario in particular? In the absence of that, will Ontario initiate its own public inquiry? And in the absence of that, which of the specific jury recommendations which were made on the crash at Fraserdale will this government now hasten to implement?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I indicated publicly when I was in the Timmins area that I would await the report of the coroner’s inquest prior to making any appeal to the federal government for an inquiry into the air services in northern Ontario. I did not wait for that coroner’s report to come down. I took the initiative, I think six or eight weeks ago, and I wrote the federal Minister of Transport urging him to get on with a full-fledged investigation into all air traffic movement in northern Ontario, because I felt that many of our very good operators -- and we have many good operators in northern Ontario -- are being pulled down, as I said in the newspaper yesterday, to the lowest common denominator. I did not zero in on the private sector.
I also indicated that maybe the public sector should also be investigated as it relates to airstrip development, navigational aids and the dissemination of weather information. That has gone to the federal Minister of Transport. I have not received a reply as yet. I also indicated in my correspondence to the minister that I was prepared to offer the services of my ministry to work with him in this particular investigation.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, in the absence of any reply, or in the absence of a favourable reply, will the minister make the necessary alterations which were requested by the coroner’s jury, related to the availability of weather information, the marking of hydro lines, etc.? Would he consider, in addition, a public inquiry held in Ontario by Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I am hopeful we will have a favourable reply from the federal authorities. As the hon. member is fully aware, the control of air traffic in this country is a federal jurisdiction, and it is their total responsibility. I can assure him we will use all the weight we can muster from this government to lean on them to correct the situation, which has attracted considerable public attention.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: I wonder if I could ask the minister if he has actually discussed this in cabinet, in particular in relationship to his colleague, the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), with regard to the upgrading of the microwave equipment, which I believe is a provincial MTC responsibility?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we’ve had some verbal conversations on this aspect.
Mr. Foulds: Has the minister made any decision or plan of action to improve that, especially in view of the previous crash and coroner’s jury report as a result of the crash near Red Lake, I believe one and a half or two years ago?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker, there has been no formal decision reached as yet. We are awaiting, of course, the outcome of my correspondence to the federal government.
Mr. Lewis: I am glad your conversations were verbal. That’s reassuring.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask the minister, on another subject, has he discussed with the Premier (Mr. Davis), or does he have any response to the categorical refusal on the part of Treaty 9 to participate in the environmental hearings that have been established to deal with the Reed Paper transaction?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker, I have had no formal communications with Mr. Rickard and I have not had an opportunity to discuss it with the Premier yet.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, may I ask the minister to make a statement to the House -- or perhaps request the Premier to do that -- when he has evaluated the letters they sent to him, so that we know where we go from here?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I’ll bring this to the attention of the Premier and discuss it with him personally.
Mr. Lewis: A further question to the Minister of Natural Resources, if I may. Did he notice that in an interview which Mr. Billingsley, the president of the Reed Paper company, gave to the Globe and Mail he indicated that when the government took specific initiatives around economic or social improvements for Whitedog and Grassy Narrows the Reed Paper company would be willing to consider financial support and involvement to compensate for what was done? Has the minister talked to the company specifically about the financial underwriting of any such support or compensation for the native people?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker, I have not, but since reading that particular article I intend to make it a point to speak to Mr. Billingsley to clarify what he meant by that statement.
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT EXEMPTIONS
Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, of the Minister of the Environment: Given the enormous public controversy around certain environmental projects, would he agree to submitting to the Environmental Assessment Board under The Environmental Assessment Act the question of the placement of the bridge across the Elora Gorge and the increasingly contentious matters of the West Montrose dam?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, this has been a controversial issue for some time.
Mr. Lewis: Right.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The conservation authority has been approached on a number of occasions, not only by some of its own members, but by citizens’ groups in the area. They feel that the planning of the project is such that it should go ahead. Certainly if there is representation to me at this stage I would consider the possibility of the Environmental Assessment Board looking into it. But I must emphasize, as I say, it has been under consideration for some time.
I am not sure, but I believe it is one of the projects that are exempt under the environmental assessment regulations -- projects that were made exempt as a result of our phasing in of other than government projects, although there was one project that the Grand River authority wanted included, but that wasn’t one of them. I would have to discuss this with my people and with the conservation authorities to see what stage it’s at. As the hon. member knows, it’s in the courts. It may still be subject to some --
Mr. Lewis: It is out of the courts.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Well, I believe there’s still one avenue of appeal left; whether or not that will be taken, I am not sure.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: Can the minister indicate at this time what reply he is going to give to the Minister of Natural Resources on the request made by the Grand River Conservation Authority to MNR, which was passed on to his ministry, regarding the feasibility of handing over the 1.2 acres of land to the county of Wellington?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I’m not sure, Mr. Speaker, why the Ministry of the Environment would be involved in a land transfer. I’m not quite sure. Did the member say the Ministry of Natural Resources has written to the Ministry of the Environment making this suggestion?
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I’m not aware of that correspondence. I’ll have to look that up.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: Would the minister then table in this House his reply to the request from the Ministry of Natural Resources?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to do that.
Mr. Worton: Supplementary: In reply to the Leader of the Opposition, the minister mentioned the Environmental Assessment Board and I thought he had given us a commitment in regard to the dam project that that would be covered under that board?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is referring to the Elora Gorge, whether or not there has been any commitment --
Mr. S. Smith: Montrose dam.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The Montrose dam project? I am sure there is no reason why that can’t be included.
Mr. Worton: I thought the minister said that was. Can he give us the assurance?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Certainly.
Mr. Lewis: That’s good. Then he will consider the Elora Gorge.
Mr. Lewis: I have a question of the Minister of Labour who I see has just arrived from the conference. May I ask her whether she can explain why the Workmen’s Compensation Board rehabilitation division continued to deal with Premier Picture Frame in the placement of workers in what is essentially a hostile industrial ghetto framework, when as far back as 10 or 11 months ago the rehabilitation branch was on record in letters to at least one of the members of the Legislature that it knew of the problems at Premier and was not happy about them?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I have not seen a copy of the letter to which the hon. member refers. I would tell him first that the president and owner of Premier Picture Frame, a Mr. Robert Jovanovich, is himself an injured workman, a graduate of the rehabilitation programme of the Workmen’s Compensation Board and is, I think, perhaps particularly knowledgeable about the problems which injured workmen may have. There may have been some correspondence 11 months ago; I have not seen that letter and I would most certainly like to have a copy of it.
However, during the past two years there have been 19 trainees in the on-the-job training programme sent to Mr. Jovanovich and his company, of whom seven at least are still with that company. Four of these 19, I gather, were ceased as a result of recurrence of their compensable illnesses at some time during their training programmes. Three of them were very shortly found, within the term of employment or on-the-job training, to be unable to cope with the job and were released regardless of the light nature of the work. They were released within a very short time of being taken on the programme.
Three apparently were considered unsatisfactory as a result of their loss of time from work, their incompatibility with the employer and poor quality of work, and they were also released during the training programme.
Since the programme ceased for at least three of them within six months of the cessation of their training programmes, three more have been terminated. There is one who is continuing right now with the training programme on the job. Five who have been graduates of the programme are currently employed by the company and have continued so up to two years. One of the latter, as a matter of fact is a foreman.
I’m sure there are problems, which are being investigated. The Workmen’s Compensation Board has assigned a specific vocational rehabilitation officer to deal with the 10 or 11 people who have complained about their dealings with Premier Picture Frame. This specific officer is attempting to find them other employment.
The problem of on-the-job training and rehabilitation is not easy. It requires a great deal of patience. Some of the employers who have, I would remind the hon. members, since April 1 this year provided 222 places or new jobs for injured workmen within the province are attempting valiantly -- these are private employers -- to assist the board in its programme of rehabilitation of injured workmen.
Whether there is a specific personality problem in this situation or not, I do not know at this time. I can tell the House that we are continuing to investigate this. We are continuing to talk to Mr. Jovanovich, who seems to be particularly concerned but perhaps is an employer who, because of his experience, expects more of his employees than some others would. It is particularly significant to realize that he himself has been through this programme and believes it’s a worthwhile programme and is prepared to continue with it.
I am a little concerned that perhaps this unfavourable publicity related to one specific company may not allow other employers, who might be encouraged to consider this kind of activity, to continue with the programme in which they are voluntarily cooperating.
Mr. Lupusella: Supplementary: Could the minister tell the House how the rehabilitation branch of the Workmen’s Compensation Board can work effectively in assisting injured workers to find a job, when the board is giving approximately 115 cases per rehabilitation officer, while the total number of rehabilitation officers, including people working at the rehabilitation hospital, is approximately 110?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, if that figure is exact then the work load of the officers is not at the level at which the hon. member has stated it is. During the past year there were approximately 2,400 injured workmen rehabilitated through the rehabilitation process and they are the responsibility of the rehabilitation officers.
Mr. Speaker: The final supplementary on this; the member for Downsview.
Mr. di Santo: I would like to ask the Minister of Labour: One, is she aware that the workers who were separated were actually physically ejected from the plant by Mr. Jovanovich; and two, if it is true that there have been only 222 workers retrained on the job and if there are 2,400 retrained, can she tell us how the other 2,200 workers have been refrained?
Can she also explain to us whether it isn’t true that most of the workers who are supposed to be retrained actually have to go to the companies and report to rehabilitation officers in order to get the supplement?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a brief answer to that? I am not sure how it relates to the original, but --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge that any of these people were physically ejected. Secondly, I said that since April 1, 1976, in six months, 222 new jobs had been developed by voluntary employer participation in this programme; and that the rehabilitation officers are responsible for 2,400 workers who were injured, but the programmes are not necessarily on-the-job training.
The 222 jobs I mentioned were on-the-job training jobs. There are others which are involved with return to school, return to different kinds of educational programmes; and in some cases return to jobs within their own plants which are not new jobs.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Education; this is about the students presently in grade nine throughout the province of Ontario: Does the minister recall that on October 6, when he made his statement at the press conference, he said that the students in grade nine would be entitled to have the new core curriculum recommendations apply to their education; and yet in his answer to me on November 10 he said that these students would not be permitted to have that particular advantage, such as it may be? Is he aware that there are over 100,000 children in that category; and why is he depriving them of this reasonably easy to obtain advantage?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I answered that question quite fully last week, and I thought to everyone’s satisfaction; I don’t think it requires repeating again for the leader of the third party.
Mr. S. Smith: Despite the grace and pleasantry of that answer, I would like to ask, by way of supplementary, if in fact he decided that it would not be fair to change the rules, as he puts it, for the grade nine students, why did he say on October 6 that he would include the grade nine students? Was he simply mistaken or did he change his mind since then?
An hon. member: Flip-flop.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I answered that question last week and I think --
Mr. S. Smith: You did not.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- that I explained to the member; if he read the newspapers, I indicated --
Mr. Eakins: The minister changed his mind.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- that I would give consideration to whether it should be phased in for those students presently in school. Upon reflection and discussion with the members of the profession and our staff, it became obvious that the ground rules should not be changed for those students presently in school. I explained it very fully to the member last week.
Mr. S. Smith: Very fully indeed. Another question for the Minister of Education: Regarding the statement which he made to the Globe and Mail on the weekend on tightening the requirements within the core subjects themselves, I would like to ask the minister whether it’s a fact that he said the present system “just isn’t working”? If he did say that, could he share with this House precisely the evidence upon which that statement was based? How does he know that the present system is not working?
Hon. Mr. Wells: My speech on the weekend -- which I will be glad to send my friend since I assume he hasn’t read it -- is referring to the present system of decentralized development of curriculum, a system which we brought in five or six years ago, which we had great hopes for but which has not lived up to our expectations and is indeed not working. We know it.
Mr. S. Smith: How do you know?
Hon. Mr. Wells: How do we know it? We know it because we listen to people telling us what is happening in the schools.
Mr. Breithaupt: About time.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Unlike my friend who reacts to things in panic and feels the school system is --
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Breithaupt: Why don’t you call another press conference?
Mr. Roy: Why did you reverse your stand?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Unlike the leader of the third party, who continues to tell the people of this province that the school system is in a shambles -- an absolute untruth --
Mr. Peterson: It is true.
Mr. Breithaupt: So is the ministry.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Breithaupt: Your incompetence surprises even your fellow ministers.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We continually listen to what people within and without the system are saying.
Mr. Roy: Yes, you listen to the polls.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Roy: Bring him to order, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In the last six months we have listened to what the Ontario secondary school teachers suggested could be done to improve the system. We have listened to what the secondary school headmasters have suggested. We have listened to what the home and school people have told us in personal meetings --
Mr. Cassidy: Amazing what minority government does.
Mr. Ruston: And the public.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We have listened to what the public school trustees have suggested to us; and being a very responsive and receptive government, we have brought in improvements and refinements.
Mr. Ruston: The Liberal Party’s platform.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, I congratulate the minister, of course, for listening so carefully to all sources; but if, in fact, simply listening to people is sufficient for him to decide that his system isn’t working, may I ask him exactly where, in this precise week and in this precise year, did he get the information it wasn’t working? Why is he persisting with a very expensive interface study, which we were told was absolutely essential in order to know whether the system is working or not? Why not simply scrap it and listen to the people?
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend again exhibits his lack of knowledge about what really is happening in the province. The interface study is a very important study, but it has nothing to do with the principle of decentralized curriculum in this province. It has to do with a lot of other things, but not this particular thing. Let him wait until he reads that study and then see what we have to say about the results of that.
Mr. Roy: You are on the defensive now. You are on the defensive and you know it.
Mr. Foulds: A supplementary: I wonder if the minister would inform the House, and therefore the educators throughout the province, precisely what he means when he says that the objective of the new English courses will be “to express themselves clearly and logically in oral and written speech, based upon an understanding of sound grammatical principles”? Has the minister gone so far as to decide which grammatical principles he is going to follow? Is he going to follow the transformationalist school or the structuralist school or is he going to follow a modified translation of Latin grammar, which has been the traditional form of teaching grammar in English?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Very fortunately for me I haven’t been a professional educator --
Mr. Breithaupt: Unfortunately for the school children.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and so, basically we are going to develop a curriculum for the help of the teachers and the students of this province which will help them to be able to communicate better --
Mr. Breithaupt: They will appreciate that.
Mr. Reid: I thought that’s what the last one was all about.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and gain a degree of literacy in the English language, and we will use whatever system is best.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary.
Mr. Sweeney: With respect to decentralized curriculum, could the minister please explain the contradiction between his statement of October 6, which says: “We will ensure that every student” -- I underline the word “every” -- “knows enough about our history and our geography.” Then farther down: “As Canadians we must have a firm grasp of our history and our physical geography,” and the statement released by the ministry on October 20 --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The supplementary question is supposed to be supplementary --
Mr. Sweeney: It is supplementary to --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Sweeney: It has to do with decentralized curriculum --
Mr. Speaker: That does not include reading lengthily from any document; so if you can abbreviate it, that will be fine.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have to identify the source of the contradiction.
Mr. Speaker: This is a supplementary question, not an original question, I point out.
Mr. Sweeney: All right. On October 20 the ministry released a memorandum which said that in grades 9 and 10 the students can either take two courses in Canadian history or one in history and one in geography. On the one hand he says they must take geography, on the other hand he says they don’t have to.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. We get into a whole debate on this whole subject again and again --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There was an original question asked a long time ago, I forget what the exact gist of it was but this is supposed to be supplementary to it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. All that noise doesn’t help.
Mr. Reid: Perhaps we can study English geography.
Mr. Speaker: Is the question completed now? Is the supplementary question completed now? Does the hon. minister have an answer?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, we are more interested in improving the education system than in nitpicking about memoranda.
Mr. S. Smith: The geography of Canada is nitpicking?
Mr. Reid: Are you going to change the geography of Canada, too?
Hon. Mr. Wells: If my friend is really concerned in reading memoranda here, why doesn’t he read the memorandum that’s gone out clarifying that particular point?
Mr. Reid: And you wonder why we call it a shambles.
Mr. Breithaupt: This is real leadership.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The core subjects are one credit in Canadian history and one credit in Canadian geography in the first two years and these options must be given in every school.
Mr. Reid: Are they options or core subjects?
Hon. Mr. Wells: These two subjects must be made available in every school but it is also possible, if the school wishes, to offer another history option, and that will also qualify students for graduation diplomas if they do take one and two history; but the geography course must be in every school.
Mr. Cassidy: That did need clarification.
APPLICATIONS TO TEACHER EDUCATION COLLEGES
Mr. S. Smith: A separate question of the Minister of Education; it has to do with the Ontario Teacher Education Colleges: In view of the fact that under The Education Act, 1914, regulation 5 sets a specific deadline for applications by students to the Ontario Teacher Education Colleges, can he tell us who in his ministry deliberately went against that regulation and permitted the education colleges simply to disregard applications which arrived well within the deadline? Instead, the colleges used a first-come, first-served basis for accepting people to study. Who was it in the ministry who disregarded the regulation?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We didn’t disregard our regulation. There was a quota or a number which we would accept this year in the colleges and it was done on a first-come, first- served basis. There were many more applications than we could accept. Financial constraints and teaching staff at the colleges necessitated that we educate only so many and there had to be a cut-off date.
Mr. Breithaupt: You make your choice on the speed of the mail.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will have a much fuller statement about how this process will be handled next year --
Mr. Ruston: Another memorandum.
Mr. Breithaupt: It is called a shambles, that’s what it’s called.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend has gone around this province making a great point of this first-come, first-served business in our teacher education colleges. It was done probably for the only time last year because there were many more applicants than we could take in.
Mr. Breithaupt: It’s still not the way to handle them.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s been done in many other educational institutions in this province for a long time.
Mr. Breithaupt: Then it has been done wrong.
Mr. Conway: That doesn’t justify it.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, can the minister tell us whether the ministry considered any means of judging the applications which arrived, for an albeit limited number of places, on the basis of merit? Is he ready for that term? What means of deciding on the basis of merit was chosen and looked at by the ministry prior to deciding on teacher applications based on the speed of the mail?
Mr. Breithaupt: They do it by postmark.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I suggest that my friend will probably fall out of his seat when he hears how we are going to handle the situation this year.
Mr. Singer: You certainly lay them in the aisles.
METHOD OF ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
Mr. S. Smith: Another question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. I was not intending to ask this question until the comment was made by the Minister of Education.
Could the Minister of Colleges and Universities tell us which institutions of higher learning in this province under his ministry have adopted the same method of accepting people for study, namely first come first- served, irrespective of merit? The Minister of Education has said there are other institutions in this province doing it; could this minister list those institutions for us, please?
Mr. Bullbrook: Good question.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I would have thought the member for Hamilton West would have known that the universities set their own admission standards and as such are given that privilege.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Accepting the fact that the universities set their own admission standards, the ministry must surely have a record of these? Could the minister please tell us which universities have adopted that particular practice of first come first served rather than merit, and for what courses?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’ll be glad to report to the member in a very short period of time from now which universities adopted what programme, but certainly I wouldn’t expect him to expect that I would have that information today.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Scarborough Centre has a question.
Mr. Drea: You should be applauding my colleague, not me.
Mr. Speaker: We’re wasting time here. Order.
HYDRO LOAD MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME
Mr. Drea: To the Minister of Energy: Since the minister informed the House last Tuesday of a very significant meeting with the Scarborough Public Utilities Commission today for the government to consider an imaginative and resourceful load management programme by the commission, can the minister report on the outcome of the meeting?
Mr. Nixon: Dennis, have you gone home since Remembrance Day?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, we had an excellent meeting this morning with Messrs. Cavanagh and Broley, who are members of the commission; and with Mr. Curtis, who is the general manager of the Scarborough Public Utilities Commission, and also as a matter of fact served as president of the Association of Municipal Electrical Utilities of Ontario. We all agreed that the proposal they put forward is along the lines of a variety of things we would like to see done in the province to investigate the potential of load management. I pointed out to them that during debates and statements last week I had indicated that within two months Hydro is to come back with an initial report on the potential for load management. So we’re going to follow up the meeting with further sessions involving Hydro, Scarborough PUC and the ministry. The short answer I suppose is that it is an excellent proposal which we want to see followed up.
MUNICIPAL NOMINATION PAPERS
Mr. Ferrier: A question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that con- fission exists concerning the legality of nomination papers filed on November 11 by candidates for municipal office and school board offices? If so, what action is he going to take to make sure the confusion is removed and a number of legal challenges do not result from this confusion?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I am aware and I’m looking into it.
Mr. Ferrier: As a supplementary, will the minister be reporting to the House the results of his investigation?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes.
Mr. Foulds: Before election day?
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Solicitor General. Does he plan to lay criminal charges against the Ontario Provincial Police officers who intercepted a private communication on April 19, 1976, at the Perth county jail, for which they had no authorization and in which the OPP were under the direction of one Detective Inspector Bill Bowles?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, that’s the first I’ve heard of the matter. It would probably be up to the Attorney General to consider the laying of any charges. I have no information on the matter at all, sir.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: I’d like the minister to tell us what possible justification there is for the police, first of all not obtaining an authorization; and secondly, what possible excuse is there for intercepting a communication between a solicitor and his client, as was done in the case of Regina vs. Donald Turner?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, knowing nothing about the matter, I can’t comment one way or another.
Mr. Roy: Don’t you have any policy? It’s your force.
Mr. Speaker: I think the hon. minister answered practically all the supplementaries with both his answers.
Mr. Roy: Just one supplementary?
Mr. Speaker: If it’s a supplementary that’s reasonable.
Mr. Roy: Doesn’t he have any policy within his ministry on OPP officers not intercepting communications between a solicitor and his client?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, yes we have policies, but I’m not going to fall into the trap that my friend is trying to set for me by suggesting there was some breach of policy in this case.
Mr. Peterson: How cunning of you, John.
Mr. Singer: What is the policy? That was a clever trap, to ask the minister about policy.
Mr. Bullbrook: The minister hasn’t laid a trap since he got engaged.
Mr. Singer: I asked him about a statute last week and he fell into that trap.
Mr. di Santo: I have a question of the Minister of Education.
An hon. member: He’s hiding.
Mr. Speaker: Is the Minister of Education available?
Mr. Warner: He’s lurking in the shadows.
Mr. Speaker: You may now proceed.
ITALIAN COURSES IN SCHOOL
Mr. di Santo: In order to dissipate the uncertainty among Italian parents related to Italian courses, will the minister reassure the House in no uncertain terms that: One, the courses won’t be closed; two, will he inform the House whether his ministry has already had any contact with the separate school board; and three, can he tell us whether he has in mind any plan to contact the Italian government in order to come to an agreement until the time the provincial government will take over the courses?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, I’d be happy to. We have talked to the separate school board and no one is going to suggest that those courses should be stopped or disbanded at the present time. We haven’t yet, but through some channels we will be talking to the Italian government to clarify perhaps more clearly its support, how it’s being done and whether it should be done in a more formalized manner if it is to be carried on. We’ll also have a statement on our multicultural policy toward education, probably in about two or three weeks.
MILK QUOTA ALLOCATION
Mr. Gaunt: A question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food: Has the Ontario Milk Marketing Board decided how the extra quota allocation is going to be handled? If a general distribution takes place rather than one done on the basis of the greatest need, as was suggested by the federal government, is there not a danger of Ontario producers losing $3 million in milk subsidies if Ontario doesn’t comply with the federal request?
Hon. W. Newman: I’m well aware of the conditions Mr. Whelan put on the four million hundredweight of milk which I urged and coaxed him to release to the dairy farmers of this province.
Mr. Bullbrook: Good old Bill!
Hon. W. Newman: I would just like to let members know that after several meetings with the Milk Marketing Board a letter was dispatched with great haste last Thursday to Mr. Whelan, suggesting exactly how this 127 million pounds of milk should be distributed in the province of Ontario. I understand that letter will be made public on Friday.
Mr. Singer: He speaks well.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: Would the minister not consider it to be more appropriate to give the quota to milk producers who really need it rather than giving it to producers who don’t need it and can’t make use of it?
Hon. N. Newman: As I just said, there were four criteria set out in the letter that has gone off to Ottawa. Certainly there is concern for new producers, as well as concern for producers who have been in the business for a long time and for those who have taken a very heavy debt upon themselves. There is also concern for those who have shipped well over 60 per cent of their total MSQ for this year already. There is also another category of people who have specific problems which will have to be dealt with on an individual basis because they may have loans at the bank or some other source to which we don’t have access.
I can assure members that the allocation being proposed by the Milk Marketing Board, about which we have had discussions, will be a fair and equitable distribution to the producers of this province on the basis of need.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Whelan always speaks well of you.
Hon. W. Newman: Sometimes.
Mr. Roy: He says you are still learning.
EXTENSION OF OMC TAX DEADLINE
Mr. Burr: I have a question of the Minister of Housing concerning an unexpected and alarming notice from OMC, received on Friday, November 12 by large numbers of residents of a Windsor HOME subdivision called “Villages of Riverside,” informing them that their municipal tax accounts have deficits of several hundred dollars and that OMC must receive these amounts by this Friday, November 19, or it will be increasing their monthly payments by about $50, beginning December 1. The question is, will the minister extend this period to two months to enable the residents to figure out how and whether they can find those large sums of money?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I learned of this situation today as a result of a letter the hon. member gave to me. I think it’s only reasonable, if the notification has been of such short time, that certainly there should be an extension of time and that they will not be held to the Friday deadline. We will certain- 13 look into that matter and those residents will not have to pay by Friday.
Mr. Deans: Can I assume that the minister is aware that this has occurred in many Home Ownership subdivisions across the province, and that we have been in touch with the ministry’s offices asking that some action be taken and that the same rule that he has most graciously applied to the Sandwich-Riverside situation will be applied to every other purchaser of Home Ownership homes until this matter can be resolved?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would have to say yes. I see no reason at all that the purchasers of these homes, who have made their purchases with the information that was available to them, should be placed in any position of having to pay out money until it has been determined that it is a fair price, certainly.
Mr. Swart: A further supplementary to the minister: In the light of what is happening, is he willing to reconsider the general policy of OHC whereby these huge deficits in tax payments are accruing, and see that they don’t accrue to the same degree, and where there are deficits they’ll be spread over a number of years so there aren’t drastic changes in the payments that these people have to make?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I don’t want to make any firm commitment on that part of it. I would like to look at what is causing the problem. Quite frankly, the first that I was aware of it was when the hon. member for Sandwich-Riverside gave me a letter today. I would like to look into that situation, see what the problem is and, where we can, we’d like to rectify it.
Mr. Speaker: I think we should get on with the time left, because this is effectively the same questions over again.
SUSPENSION OF MAPLEHURST GUARD
Mr. Reed: I have a question for the Minister of Correctional Services: Could the minister please tell this House how it is that a guard at the Maplehurst Correctional Centre has been suspended without pay as of this morning considering that the alleged incident occurred on or about October 30, and since that time he has had no opportunity whatsoever to defend himself at a hearing?
Hon. J. R. Smith: I am unaware of the circumstances of the incident the hon. member has referred to and I will undertake to find out exactly its nature and why there hasn’t been a hearing as is normally held.
Mr. Reed: Would the minister not agree that the tactic of suspension without pay constitutes a prejudgement of the case?
Hon. J. R. Smith: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Roy: No? What does it mean to you?
PROTECTION OF OHC TENANTS
Ms. Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of Housing: In view of the fact that the government last spring took the tenants of municipal public housing out from under rent control legislation despite our objections, is the minister prepared to use his authority to approve rent changes in such projects to give the tenants the protection they lack under the law against increases that are greater than a person of modest means can absorb in any one year? In particular, in my riding at 98 Elmer, they are being asked --
Mr. S. Smith: Question, come on.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I really think the question has been asked.
Ms. Bryden: -- for rent increases amounting to 29.5 per cent.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. Does the hon. minister have an answer to the main question?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I think the question should more properly be addressed to the hon. Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman). I certainly have --
An hon. member: Pass the buck, John.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: With respect, the Liberals are a party to the whole mess that we got into over that the first time around. Remember that.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, we brought in the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Peterson: John, you should resign.
Mr. Lewis: This minority government is an awful hassle to you Tories.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They won’t make up their minds.
Mr. Lewis: Remember the days of the great majority?
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. member wish to redirect her question if it’s appropriate to redirect it?
Ms. Bryden: I understand the approval of rent increases in projects of this sort, municipal projects which are shared among federal and provincial and municipal, come under the Minister of Housing.
Ms. Gigantes: Correct.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: If we have the control on the rents, of course I would like to look into what can be done to hold them to reasonable increases. However, I have taken the position all along that I do not interfere with the autonomy of the municipal governments.
Mr. Roy: That’s a new policy.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It really surprises me --
Mr. Roy: Ask Darcy about regional government.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That is not a new policy, as the members well know.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member would like to see us have control over them all. The hon. member, on more than one occasion I am sure, has noticed that the city of Toronto -- I think this is where the problem is occurring, in its housing department -- has made a judgement as to what it thinks it needs in the way of rent. I don’t really like to be involved in controlling the activities of that particular area which I understand is non-profit.
FUNDS FOR WINDSOR CENTRE
Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is the minister aware that the Kinsmen’s ARC Industries, the workshop and training centre for mentally retarded in the city of Windsor, will close on November 30 this year for at least one month unless he provides increased funds so it can continue operating?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Windsor-Walkerville and the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Burr) bringing this matter to my attention last week. As I said then and I will repeat now, I can assure them that the ARC Industries workshop will not close. There have been financial problems in connection with the operation of that workshop. There are some problems in terms of budgetary control but the members can rest assured that we will work those out.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Hon. Mr. Parrott presented the financial report of the Ontario College of Art for the year ending May 31, 1976.
Mr. Johnson, on behalf of Mr. McNeil, from the standing resources development committee reported the following resolution:
Resolved: That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Labour be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977:
MINISTRY OF LABOUR
Ministry administration program.........$5,507,000
Industrial relations programme............1,446,000
Labour services program......................8,231,000
Human Rights Commission program.....1,247,000
Labour Relations Board program..........1,852,000
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills.
FOODLANDS PROTECTION ACT
Mr. McCague moved first reading of Bill 162, An Act to provide for the Designation and Retention of Foodlands.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, this bill would propose to designate classes one, two, three and four, and specialty crop lands, as foodlands.
Mr. Lewis: You mean you are going to freeze the foodlands? On a point of order, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is a Tory freezing agricultural land.
Mr. Speaker: That is not really a point of order.
Any further bills?
Mr. B. Newman: Before you get it on the record, why don’t you read the bill?
Mr. Lewis: That is exactly what we wanted to do. You hypocrites over there. You got a back-bencher to sneak it through.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The debate hasn’t started yet, gentlemen.
Mr. Singer: Come on. You’re not going to allow that are you?
Hon. W. Newman: You create all kinds of emotional issues.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Can we not return to sanity here for just a few minutes?
Mr. Roy: Return to sanity -- sit down, Mr. Minister.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before calling the orders of the day, there are two things I’d like to do --
Mr. Foulds: Stand up first!
Hon. Mr. Welch: First of all, I think all members of the House would want to join with me in congratulating the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) on the honour conferred on him by a great university on Friday.
Mr. Breithaupt: He has got office hours later today.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Having shared undergraduate days with the hon. member in earlier days, I must say I personally am quite delighted he’s made such progress since 1946, and indeed we greet Dr. Nixon on this wonderful honour.
Mr. Lewis: I’ll settle for a simple BA; never mind a doctorate.
Mr. Breithaupt: You are too late. They don’t make those honorary.
Hon. Mr. Welch: There are a couple of schools that I can make some arrangements with. One of them went out of business down there, but for $100 --
Mr. S. Smith: You can get in, but mail early.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I’d get in before the rules get tougher.
Mr. Lewis: That was my problem, you see
-- I did it on merit
Hon. Mr. Welch: Next time use the mail.
ANSWER TO WRITTEN QUESTION
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, may I also table the answer to question 142 standing on the order paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
Hon. B. Stephenson moved second reading of Bill 139, An Act respecting Employees’ Health and Safety.
Mr. Lewis: Speech, speech.
Mr. Speaker: Is the hon. member for Wentworth rising to speak?
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. Speaker: Any comment on this bill? Does the hon. minister have an opening statement? The hon. member for Nickel Belt.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I had assumed that the minister would be making an opening statement on the bill, but I guess we’ll have to wait until after the opening statements.
I am happy to take part in what I consider to be a very important debate I think we have come a long way in Ontario to this point where we are actually debating a bill with the principles that are contained in this particular one. While we know that there are things that we want to change in it, nevertheless we are happy that it is here before us today.
The principles of the bill which allow us to support it are three -- namely the centralization of the responsibility for occupational health under one ministry, the establishment of safety committees at various places of work, and the right of workers to refuse to work under conditions that they deem to be unsafe.
We support these principles but we do want assurances from the minister that these principles will be translated into action without sleight-of-hand and without any “peas under the shell” games. We are not entirely satisfied with the bill, and that will become increasingly apparent as this debate continues and particularly as we get into the clause- by-clause discussion.
It’s very important to us that the government regard our amendments in a positive way and that the government be open-minded about the amendments we put forth. We think they will be thoughtful and in the best long-run interests of employers and employees alike; indeed, we think they are absolutely crucial if the bill is going to work. We shall be proposing a considerable number of amendments.
We think it makes no sense whatsoever to bring in a major piece of legislation such as this without making every possible effort to ensure it will work. It will only work, of course, if it’s acceptable to those people who will ultimately be responsible for making it work, namely the workers in Ontario. We will be putting forth our amendments with that in mind.
The workers in the province are certainly committed to the three principles in this bill, as we are, and that only leaves the employers and the government. Our commitment is unquestionable and so is that of the workers. They are determined to make this kind of legislation work so they have the right to refuse work when it is obvious that conditions are unsafe. We can only hope that the employers and the government are serious in wanting this kind of legislation that will work.
It has been a long and persistent struggle by workers and their unions to get this bill this far. I hope the history of labour some day will be told, because there has been struggle for decent wages, there has been struggle for decent hours of work and the right to organize and the right to work under conditions that are safe. I often wonder why it is that we look back so casually on those struggles which really were struggles for very basic civil rights in this province and elsewhere as well. Despite that fact we honour more the E. P. Taylors of this province than we do the workers who really struggled to achieve what they have. I guess it’s because the E. P. Taylors are the swashbuckling gamblers in our society. The workers merely struggle for what they get and in many cases they have achieved it at considerable personal sacrifice and risk.
This bill establishes the right of workers to refuse to work under unsafe conditions. It really is a sad commentary that it has taken us this long to make it a right in Ontario that they can refuse to work in unsafe conditions without fear of reprisals from employers.
What has been missing in my view in the whole attitude toward the work place is that we continue to regard the work place as having only an economic dimension. Surely work has a social dimension as well and that industrial society called the work place surely should be collectively striving for the same goals that the society in which it functions is striving. I think that that’s something we have always been slow to recognize and slow to encourage -- at least the government has been slow to encourage -- because until now the work place has been highly competitive and predatory while at the same time the government was in the background operating in a very paternalistic fashion. For these reasons some employers have subjected workers to some very hazardous working conditions.
I say “competitive” because you need only ask any bonus miner whether or not he works in a competitive work environment, and I say “predatory” because of the whole history of negotiations and the whole history of occupational health in the province of Ontario. I don’t think I need to recite chapter and verse the story of Elliot Lake, the story of the asbestos mines in northern Ontario or the factory in Scarborough to substantiate my argument when I say “predatory system.”
I should make one exception when I say the work place has been predatory and the government paternalistic. There is an exception and that’s the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier). He is considerably more predatory than paternalistic. I don’t want to lower the level of debate unduly here but I can assure you that had this responsibility for occupational health been transferred entirely to the Ministry of Natural Resources rather than the Ministry of Labour, we could not have supported the bill, given the present Minister of Natural Resources. I would only say that now that we have taken occupational health -- namely, the fate of the miners -- out of the hands of the Minister of Natural Resources, we need only remove mines and forests and he will then have responsibilities more commensurate with his capacity.
Back to the bill: This legislation provides that an employee may refuse to work where he believes an unsafe condition exists. That right is a very important one and should, of course, extend from the employee to his representative, namely, the union. When the asbestos dust levels at the United Asbestos plant in Matachewan were at an unacceptable level, it was the workers who went off the jobs because they knew the dangers of working in that dust. What should be allowed is that the union should legitimately be able on behalf of its employees to say those conditions are completely unacceptable and, to maintain any kind of integrity as representing the membership, to say employees simply cannot work in those conditions and to recommend it to the membership. Just as an automobile driver can decide, if there is freezing rain out, that he will not drive on an icy highway because of the conditions, then surely a worker can make the same decision about the work place.
While the bill itself does give that right to the workers, there is one section in it, section 3(2) -- and we deal with it more fully when we get into the clause-by-clause debate -- where there is an interesting phrase that I think reveals a great deal about the minister, about her senior officials and about the government as a whole. That phrase is: “Where the employer or the person having control and direction over the employee disputes the report.” And then it goes on to complete it.
Mr. Bullbrook: Which section?
Mr. Laughren: This is section 3(2). It is a bit of a diversion, but the words “having control and direction over the employee” are used several times in the bill. It bothered me when I first read it. Then I was reading through the Saskatchewan legislation and saw the different wording. In the Saskatchewan legislation, which is the original 1972 bill, where it describes the employer, it doesn’t use the term “where the employer or the person having control and direction over the employee.” It uses the term “the person in charge of the operation of the place of employment.”
The minister may think that is not a substantial difference. In the one case the legislation describes the employer as someone who is in charge of the place of employment, and in the Ontario bill the description is the employer or the person having control and direction over the employee. So there is a paternalistic, elitist approach to this legislation still. I am uneasy about that kind of attitude remaining. Despite the apparent willingness to give to the workers through safety committees and through worker inspectors some degree of autonomy and authority, as long as the attitude remains that they are chattels of the employer, then we are not going to progress as far as I would like to see us progress, even though the employee has the right to refuse to work. In other words, I am saying that it is not enough to have a principle of the right of the employee to refuse to work; that employee’s right must be firmly established and must have the backing of the ministry.
The second major section of the bill empowers the Minister of Labour to establish joint health and safety committees in a workplace. The actual wording of the relevant section of the bill uses the term “may require.” That simply is not good enough. The establishments of these joint safety and health committees simply must be mandatory. I cannot stress strongly enough to the minister how we feel about that. We feel that unless they are mandatory the people who need them the most simply won’t have them. We will be bringing forth amendments to back that up.
I can certainly think of some lumber companies in the area I represent where they will need a lot more prodding than this kind of permissive legislation. Therefore, I strongly recommend that the minister accept amendments, or make amendments herself, that will require joint health and safety committees in every work place over, say, 10 employees. Otherwise, the very workers who need these committees the most won’t get them. If an employer is conscientious and has a good record and a good attitude toward safety and health, that employer won’t object to establishing the joint committee. The mandatory aspect of the bill won’t bother those employers. If, on the other hand, those employers are not safety conscious and are not conscientious, then the safety and health committees should be mandatory for those employers in particular.
It makes no sense to make the legislation permissive. The very workers who need them most, simply won’t get them. I’m not convinced of the ministry’s ability to descend and direct committees in every place that requires them, particularly in relatively small operations. That’s why we feel so very strongly that the joint committees must be mandatory. It’s not a breakthrough; it’s been established in Saskatchewan for some time now.
We know the employer has a responsibility to provide a safe, healthy work environment and we also know, despite what the minister might think some times, that the employees have the responsibility as well to ensure that the work they do is carried out safely and also that any potential problems are brought to the attention not only of the employees’ representatives but of the employer as well.
In the past, of course, the employees always did have that responsibility. That’s nothing new. Employees have always had a responsibility to themselves and to their fellow workers to work safely, but they have never had any authority to do anything about it. When they tried to change something to make it safer they found they had no authority, and now, for the first time, those workers, those people with the most at stake in safety and health, will actually be able to do something about it. They will be able to have involvement in the decisions that can change those conditions.
The principle of joint safety and health committees is too important to leave it permissive and subject to the whims of successive Ministers of Labour, because we don’t know from one appointment to the next what commitment any given minister is going to have toward making this Act work. That’s another reason we feel they must be made mandatory.
The Saskatchewan legislation states very clearly, and I quote: “In every place of employment at which 10 or more persons are employed the person in charge of the operation of the place of employment shall cause a committee to be established to be known as an occupational health committee.” That is what I meant when I said it would not be breakthrough legislation. It’s already established and working in Saskatchewan. It has not been abused in Saskatchewan to our knowledge, and that’s in conversations with some of the people in Saskatchewan, so there is no reason why Ontario cannot make the committees mandatory.
Mr. Bullbrook: But that is not mandatory; that is not universally mandatory.
Mr. Laughren: Oh, yes it is, in all places.
Mr. Bullbrook: Read it again.
Mr. Laughren: I can tell you, it is.
Mr. Bullbrook: Read it again.
Mr. Laughren: I can quote the entire Saskatchewan legislation but that particular phrase that you question says: “In every place of employment at which 10 or more persons are employed the person in charge of the operation of the place of employment shall cause a committee to be established to be known as an occupational health committee.”
Mr. Bullbrook: That is reasonable legislation; that is not universally mandatory.
Mr. Laughren: Of course, it’s mandatory. For all places of work with 10 or more employees.
Mr. Bullbrook: With 10 or more employees.
Mr. Laughren: That is what we are saying too. That is what I have already said.
Mr. Foulds: Your law office will be exempt, Jim, don’t worry.
Mr. Bullbrook: On a point of order. I don’t want to be provocative. There are many people here who like to be provocative. We are speaking about universal and mandatory legislation, and that’s not universally mandatory. It’s dependent upon the number of employees, which is an extremely reasonable approach that we subscribe to.
Mr. Foulds: That is not a point of order, either.
Mr. Laughren: If I might reply to the non point of order, Mr. Speaker, two points --
Mr. Bullbrook: Don’t let him do that, that is out of order.
Mr. Laughren: -- one, I did not use the word “universal” and two, I did use the term “10 or more employees.” So the member obviously wasn’t listening very carefully.
Mr. McClellan: He should go back to sleep.
Mr. Laughren: I think one of the main advantages of having safety and health committees in the work place is the expertise which the employees can bring to all matters, and not just matters concerning occupational health and safety either. I am sure that many workers have suggestions that can make it a better place to work but may not have anything to do with safety on the job.
As a matter of fact, employers realized this many years ago when it suited their purpose. That’s why all across this country and in other jurisdictions you have employers’ suggestion awards. The employer rewards employees who come forth with suggestions that earn the company more money, and he rewards the employees financially when those suggestions are accepted. So an employer realizing the expertise that employees had when it suited the purpose of the employer is nothing new.
In this case the employees are going to get some of the benefits of their own expertise. We feel the same principles apply to safety and health and the workers have a considerable degree of expertise to offer.
I suspect this government would be ideologically more comfortable if it could simply commission an army of inspectors to swarm all over the work places in this province and do the inspection that way. The minister shakes her head, but the Minister of Health --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Absolutely no way.
Mr. Laughren: No, not at all. We’ve said for years that the workers themselves should control the work place, not the employers. The Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), I believe it was, announced about six months ago that he was hiring 10 more people who were experts in occupational health matters, who were going to lay it on in Ontario --
Hon. B. Stephenson: They weren’t inspectors.
Mr. Laughren: Well, what were they?
Hon. B. Stephenson: They were assessors who went around assessing.
Mr. Laughren: They were experts in the field?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, that’s what I thought you said.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: We’re not going to get involved in an informal debate.
Hon. B. Stephenson: God forbid.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Nickel Belt has the floor and should address himself to the bill and through the Chair.
Mr. Laughren: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I’d be delighted to do that. Through you to the minister I would just suggest that if we were the government -- indeed, when we are the government -- we would establish training programmes for the workers so they could do their own testing and set some of their own rules for occupational health and safety, rather than hiring --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, we have already done that.
Mr. Laughren: -- the 10 experts that the Minister of Health talked about, to go out and assess conditions in the province of Ontario. You can use the word “assess” instead of “inspect” if you like, but it basically means the same thing.
So we assume the minister and her government begrudgingly accept safety and health committees in the province. But we’re saying to them, why don’t you embrace the concept instead of tiptoeing around it and make them mandatory, for heaven’s sake, in all places of work with 10 or more employees? Does that satisfy the Liberal Party? Accept the role that the government should play to make the committees mandatory, and then give them the encouragement, the moral support, the equipment, the access to educational programmes to make it work and to give the safety and health committees the kind of expertise they need to let them do a positive and a good job.
If a committee in an asbestos mill or a mine or a factory or any other work place wants to take dust readings then why should they not be encouraged to do so? Let them take the dust readings; train them in the operation of the equipment to take the test; train them how to decipher the results of the test -- give the equipment and the training to do it properly. If the miners are worried, for example, about the relationship about bonus mining and safety, then the ministry should be there to say, “You’re quite right, that is a legitimate concern,” and ensure that the committees have access to all information.
I know the wording in the bill, which I’ve read very carefully, implies that that is so. I am a little worried about it being a little loose that way -- in other words, that the employer shall be required to provide information of that nature when the safety and health committees request it. I don’t think that’s asking too much.
In other words, I’m suggesting to the minister that the employees on the job be looked upon as a full partner at their place of work. In the past that has not been so because, it being a free-enterprise government and employers being free-enterprise types, they have always said it’s the capital that makes those jobs possible, rather than taking the view that it’s the labour that allows the capital to be productive.
I shall not dwell unduly on the committees but I do think the minister should understand that unless they are mandatory -- and I’ll repeat that as many times as I have to, to convince the minister -- unless they’re mandatory, those employees in the province who would stand to benefit the most from this legislation will not have the vehicle necessary to effect necessary changes. That bothers us a great deal.
This legislation also contains an important administrative change; that is section 12 transfers part IX of The Mining Act, except section 616, from the Ministry of Natural Resources to the Ministry of Labour, and The Silicosis Act also moves over under section 13. Aside from the necessity of protecting the workers from the mines division of the Ministry of Natural Resources, there are other good reasons for this move, which we wholeheartedly support.
Some of us, I might say, support the move less enthusiastically than others, and I can assure the minister that I personally would have no qualms whatsoever in abolishing entirely the Provincial Secretariat for Justice, the Provincial Secretariat for Social Development and the Provincial Secretariat for Resources Development -- I’d even abort the Ministry of Natural Resources -- if it would provide startup funds for a separate Ministry of Occupational Health. I think there are sufficient financial savings that could result from other trimming in government to establish a separate ministry. If we can justify a Ministry of Culture and Recreation, we can justify a Ministry of Occupational Health.
I did say that we are supporting this administrative transfer. I’m making a plea to not only the government but my own caucus when I make this argument.
By establishing a separate ministry, the occupational health requirements would be competing at a higher level. They would be competing in a bigger league. That’s what I would like to see. That’s the kind of importance I would attach to occupational health. As long as occupational health falls within any operating ministry, it’s going to be competing for funds at a different level.
Perhaps as important as the competition for funds, by establishing a separate ministry who would be serving notice to employees, to employers, to everyone in the province, of the kind of priority we are giving to occupational health in Ontario. That’s terribly important because occupational health problems are not transient in nature; they’re here to stay. They’re becoming more complex, more sophisticated and consequently more worrisome to a lot of us.
Much research needs to be done in the preventive aspects of occupational health. The exposure of workers to carcinogens and other toxic substances is increasing and in some cases we do not yet know the extent of the danger or the safe levels. There has been debate in this House on what are acceptable levels for different carcinogens, but some of them we don’t even know yet, I suspect, that they are carcinogens. The long incubation period of many of the diseases, such as cancer, silicosis and asbestosis poses a particular problem as well. I think we must move most aggressively from counting the fatalities after the fact to preventing them from occurring in the first place.
I believe the problem is of sufficient importance to establish a separate ministry with substantial funding. We can no longer worship at the altar of the work ethic. I’m glad the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) is here because he spends some time, I believe, thinking about the work ethic and he even speaks about it occasionally. I think he surely would agree that if we’re going to say to workers in this jurisdiction or anywhere else that to work is good, then we should make sure that when they go to their place of work they work under conditions which are healthy and under conditions which are safe. It makes no sense whatsoever to encourage people to work all their lives without giving them the support of government to ensure that they work under healthy and safe conditions.
I’m sure the minister would agree that it’s not good enough to clean up the existing hazardous conditions. We must make a very real effort to prevent any new ones from occurring. We know as well that the task will be expensive. We know it will be onerous but I think we all agree it must be done. Whether the present government remains in office or not, I think we should continue to press for the kind of priority for occupational health which would justify a separate ministry.
We support the three basic principles of this bill -- the central authority; the right of workers to refuse to work in unsafe conditions; and the establishment of the joint health and safety committees.
We’re worried about some of the things that are missing in the bill. I know the minister has promised an omnibus bill in the new year but there is much which need not have waited until then. I think some could have been included in this bill but we’ve had no indication from the minister as to what will be included in that new omnibus legislation.
Also we’ve had very little indication from the minister about the promised institute of occupational health. That was promised over a year ago -- on the eve, coincidentally, of the 1975 provincial election. When I questioned the minister about her intentions in the Ministry of Labour estimates she was rather vague about it -- disturbingly vague -- and did not indicate what she saw its role to be or its relationship to this new occupational health branch within the Ministry of Labour. Surely, after more than a year, some of the details must be worked out. If they’re not however, I feel it’s incumbent on me to offer some suggestions to the minister --
Hon. B. Stephenson: No doubt.
Mr. Laughren: -- in a very positive vein so that she can include them in her eventual plan. I’m sure she will listen.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Always.
Mr. Laughren: The introduction of this legislation would have been an ideal time to announce the establishment of a new school or faculty of occupational or industrial hygiene at one of the province’s universities. I suspect that federal financing could have been obtained to help out. I suspect there would be considerable interest from other jurisdictions both in terms of support and in terms of experts who would be willing to come to such a faculty.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I would hope that the hon. member for Nickel Belt won’t dwell unduly long on what is not in the bill but will address himself to what is in the bill.
Mr. Bullbrook: Very good.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, that’s a good point, Mr. Speaker. I would like to talk about something that’s in the bill, peripherally, namely the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s not in the bill.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, there is a reference to the Compensation Board in the bill. The bill, however, really doesn’t deal in sufficient depth with what could have been done with the Compensation Board while dealing with this Act. I worry about the Workmen’s Compensation Board because I worry that the board has become an end in itself, has become an agency of government but not really answerable to government. Otherwise, I suspect, the government would not be so continually embarrassed about the operation of the Compensation Board because it would do something about it. It’s a mess and the Tories know it. It’s a continual source of embarrassment to the government.
Mr. Warner: It should be embarrassed. It should start over. It’s a continual disgrace.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, it is not.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I must point out to you -- you may not have had time recently because of your onerous task as Deputy Speaker -- that the Workmen’s Compensation Board for years has had the authority to establish safety committees in places of work that had a bad safety record. I don’t know how long ago, but section 86 of the bill states that if there is a bad safety record in a place of employment the board has the right to require that safety committees be established. I would like to know if there have been any such committees established by the Workmen’s Compensation Board?
An hon. member: Never.
Mr. Laughren: One wonders if there is a parallel. The Workmen’s Compensation Board was given the right to establish safety committees and never did. This minister in this legislation gives the ministry the right to establish safety committees without making them mandatory. One wonders if it is going to be the same kind of commitment the Workmen’s Compensation Board has had for safety in the province of Ontario. Whenever we pursued this matter with the Workmen’s Compensation Board they always said their job is to process the accidents. They have told us: “We’ll process the claims and perform some degree of rehabilitation for the injured workers. Our job is not prevention.”
Not only have they told us that, they haven’t done it. The minister looks sceptical, but I can tell her if they had done it there would have been safety committees established in the province of Ontario in a large number of work places in order to prevent the accident rate. I would remind the minister that in any future dealings with the Compensation Board, whether it has to do with these safety committees or not, that she remind them that they had their chance to establish work safety committees and they didn’t do it. If I was her, if I might be so bold as to give her some advice, I would urge her to deal with the board in a most uncompromising fashion.
If the board had established these safety committees and had played any kind of preventive role in occupational health, some of the problems would not have been as serious as they were. I refer specifically to some of the problems that came out of Elliot Lake where the board was processing the claims, getting the claims through and not forwarding information to the Ministry of Health. Then the whole thing died, nothing happened, and there was no follow-up. We all beard about it from a speech in France, I believe.
I know you know, Mr. Speaker, that eventually the Compensation Board must be abolished and replaced with a comprehensive social insurance scheme.
Mr. Angus: A comprehensive socialist government.
Mr. Laughren: In the interim they should get their house in order, and that is what we are suggesting.
This bill has many other shortcomings. We think that when the minister was talking in this bill about giving workers the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions, she could also have said that when a worker contracts an industrial disease that worker then could, through the Workmen’s Compensation Board, be removed from the job and either put on rehabilitation or on some other job without any loss of income or fringe benefits whatsoever. That could have been done in this bill.
I am concerned as well that this bill does not include the establishment of a data bank for the compilation of statistics concerning occupational health. I think it would have been an ideal place to start that. I suspect the minister intends to do that with the institute of occupational health, but as I say we have no way of knowing that because she has not revealed any of her plans on that yet.
The legislation is really a skeleton. I was very surprised at how short the bill was and how little there was in it. I suspect that for years to come labour is going to spend a great deal of time trying to put flesh on that skeleton because there is not very much there now. That is one reason why we are going to have to propose as many amendments as we intend to in order to beef it up so that it will work. We think there is not enough there right now to make it work. I think the lack of definition in the bill as to what they are attempting to do is also something they should have addressed themselves to. The bill talks about safety and health in such a way that one just knows they are still thinking of safety and health in a physical sense only. We know that.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Come off it.
Mr. Laughren: Show me in the bill where it says differently.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Just because the member is so narrow-minded doesn’t mean the rest of us are.
Mr. Warner: Don’t be so touchy.
Mr. Foulds: Call the hon. minister to order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Laughren: If I might be so bold as to continue to criticize the legislation, Mr. Speaker, I would say that the bill reflects the attitude that the WCB has, namely it’s injury or accident oriented, and while the minister says that the board always gives the workers the benefit of the doubt, that’s only true when there is no doubt -- because if there’s any doubt at all it does not go to the worker.
I’d like to draw a comparison in this Act. The Act talks about occupational health and safety and all the references in the bill are about accidents, industrial disease, mainly accidents though, and I’d like to tell you how the Saskatchewan bill described occupational health, and lacking in this bill is even a definition of occupational health
The Saskatchewan occupational health bill describes occupational health as: “1. The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers.” I emphasize that the chances of finding the term “social well-being” in any Tory government legislation dealing with workers is nil. That’s the difference.
“2. The prevention among workers of ill health caused by their working conditions.
“3. The protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health.
“4. Replacing and maintenance of workers in an occupational environment adapted to their physiological and psychological conditions.”
Does the minister understand the difference in that kind of wording in a bill and what that says about the intent of government; compared to the wording in the bill that she’s brought forth today? The different attitude it has towards workers? In one case the awareness that the work place is a social place as well as an economic place; that’s what Saskatchewan realized.
This government still regards the work place as having only an economic dimension, no social dimension at all. There’s no talk about the social well-being, or the physiological and psychological well-being, or work that’s suitable to the worker; no thought of that in the Ontario legislation. That’s where this minister’s bill is lacking and that’s why we are not perhaps as generous as she might wish us to be when we talk about this legislation. If we tied that philosophy toward the worker in the work place, along with the Saskatchewan attitude that occupational health is an engineering problem -- as we talked about in the Ministry of Labour estimates
-- I think we’d have a nice combination of intent on the part of the government; namely that we regard occupational health as an engineering problem and we’ll do whatever we can to ensure that the hazards are minimized in terms of health and safety. It is an engineering problem, but at the same time, when it comes to the worker, we regard the worker as being in a social setting on the job and his well-being is important, more than just physically but mentally as well. I believe that in the days to come and the years to come, many of our problems in occupational health are not going to be so easily identified as they have been in the past -- namely, an injury or an industrial disease that we call cancer, or asbestosis or chronic bronchitis -- but it will be problems that are related to stress. It may not be that the blue collar worker suffers from it any more than any other worker, but that’s the kind of problem we’re going to be getting in with. We’re going to be dealing with them I think. They are there now, and as long as we have a philosophy of work that deals with the worker as an economic unit and the work place as having only an economic dimension, we’re never going to come to grips with that problem.
I am totally convinced that we are going to have to deal with diseases associated with alienation and stress in the work place in the years to come and I am worried that the minister is committed to that kind of campaign on occupational health. I am concerned as well that the person she has hired as the director of the occupational health branch, who is a medical person, will have that kind of commitment as well. Quite frankly I don’t want to malign the medical profession, but they have not regarded it --
Mr. Foulds: Some of your best friends are doctors.
Mr. Laughren: -- they have not regarded it in that fashion. As a matter of fact, you would agree with me, would you not?
Mr. Dukszta: Yes, yes.
Mr. Foulds: One of my best friends is a doctor.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Really?
Mr. Laughren: The member for Parkdale agrees with me.
Mr. Shore: Is he a real doctor?
Mr. Laughren: And I am saying to you --
Mr. Breaugh: He is the kind you need, Marvin.
Mr. Shore: Do you get good advice over there?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Let’s have some order, please. The hon. member for Nickel Belt will please address his remarks through the Chair.
Mr. Laughren: Thank you.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: There will be less chance for interjections.
Mr. Laughren: Thank you. I appreciate that, particularly as it is protecting me from my own back-benchers!
I am saying to you, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, that we should start to deal with that problem before it becomes the issue of the day, because I suspect that it is just around the corner.
I believe that the government’s record on occupational health is dismal, to say the least. I think that its commitment has been non-existent and I assure the minister we shall be pressing, day in and day out in the days ahead, to make sure that this legislation does not become simply window dressing.
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to begin by voicing again my great admiration for you personally when you occupy that chair, because you do a great job as Speaker. I didn’t see one flicker of assertiveness or negativism when he went through this balderdash about doing away with the Workmen’s Compensation Board and implementing a comprehensive social insurance universal compensation system, such as I think they do in New Zealand --
Mr. Warner: Ask him how he will vote.
Mr. Bullbrook: -- which, of course, is almost a complete tragedy as the people of New Zealand --
Mr. MacDonald: Who says?
Mr. Laughren: Slander, oh slander.
Mr. Bullbrook: -- begin to agree, month by month. But I say to you you are truly an objective Speaker. I intend to direct my remarks solely to you, as the arbiter of objectivity and justice in the House, because it has been a long time since I have seen a piece of legislation that requires this sweet injection of the temperate view of the Liberal Party to make a proper analysis of it.
Mr. Bullbrook: Because my friend from Nickel Belt, if I have properly written down his attitude and I quote from him, says:
Mr. Samis: Legalese.
Mr. Bullbrook: “The workers should control the work place.” Well, if that’s the attitude of the New Democratic Party -- and I don’t know whether the attitude of the Tory government is that the management right clause is universal and sacrosanct, we don’t agree with either one.
As I said in the opening of the estimates --
Mr. Warner: You have never been a worker.
Mr. Bullbrook: -- of the minister some several weeks ago, the fact of the matter is we have got to bring a little social democracy to the work place, a little coming together of both of them.
Mr. Samis: You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Bullbrook: You know it really --
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to say one other thing too. I was sitting here and when he was talking about the social disease -- what was it? What was the word that my colleague from Nickel Belt --
Mr. Bullbrook: -- of alienation -- of the social disease of alienation, I want to tell you there’s one type of employee who can overcome that social disease right away and that’s a member of the legislative assembly. All he has to do is say, “I am alienated, I am not going to run again. I have given up.” I heartily recommend that. I heartily recommend that to some of my colleagues --
Mr. Davidson: Is that what you are doing --
Mr. Bullbrook: -- from the New Democratic Party.
Mr. Bullbrook: I have yet to see such mouthing of platitudes for the workmen as some of these people. Some of them weren’t here in 1970. I want to read something.
Mr. Davidson: Keep talking. We’ll use it at the next union meeting.
Mr. Warner: Is this debating the bill?
Mr. Bullbrook: He talks about using it at the next union meeting. If he means in Cambridge, I can well understand that. I want him to come down to Sarnia and join in some of the union meetings there some time. They hold them in telephone booths as a matter of fact.
Mr. Samis: What about the bill?
Mr. Shore: Do they really?
Mr. Bullbrook: They certainly do. All the NDP there have lost their deposit for the last four elections in a row in Sarnia. They want to come down to that great place of the working man. Let me read you, Mr. Speaker, something that happened in 1970.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you resign now so we can have a by-election?
Mr. Bullbrook: In 1970 we were putting forward amendments to The Mining Act, and the Liberal Party at that time -- specifically the then member for Sudbury and my present colleague from Erie -- put forward some amendments to The Mining Act. Section 2 was amended by Mr. Haggerty, seconded by Mr. Sopha, and the motion was for the establishment of a safety committee under The Mining Act, with proper definition. The vote was: the Tories voted against it, the NDP voted against it. That was back in 1970 when we wanted compulsory safety committees.
There sits in the gallery right now a former colleague of ours, that great friend, Mr. Hugh Peacock, now liaison officer with this assembly from the Ontario Federation of Labour, and a man, by the way, who has given me much education over the last few weeks.
Mr. MacDonald: That I can believe. That I can believe
Mr. Bullbrook: I hope that doesn’t interfere with his job. But the New Democratic Party voted against it. There was a second amendment at that time to The Mining Act which gave the power to the safety committee to enter upon and make recommendations with respect to the proper safety of the employee. The New Democratic Party took it upon themselves at that time to vote against it.
That happens to be six years ago, and I hear my colleague from Nickel Belt stand up and say, “A little bit too late,” knowing that his party, for what reason I can’t recall -- I just can’t recall why they voted against that -- but in any event they decided that it wasn’t appropriate.
Mr. Samis: Why don’t you talk about the bill?
Mr. Bullbrook: Why don’t I talk about the bill? I have to, in fairness, point out that we as a party are not going to subscribe to that narrow approach that says the workers must govern the working place. There are a lot of things wrong with this legislation, but basically anybody who has read the Ham report compliments the ministry on a beginning with respect to implementation of some of his recommendations. We intend to support this. We understand the Ontario Federation of Labour supports the bill in principle. We understand the Ontario Mining Association supports the bill in principle.
What we are going to do is attempt to bring forward amendments which we think will enhance the effectiveness of the bill. We are going to support amendments which we think will enhance the effectiveness of the bill.
When I got up, and you indulged me, and I interrupted my great colleague from Nickel Belt, that fine friend, when I interrupted him he was talking previously about the word “may” in two sections, 4 and 5; and he found that offensive. I find it much more offensive in 5 than in 4 because at least in 4 we have some delineation of the discretion to be exercised by the minister but we don’t have anything of that nature in 5. I am not happy about the word, “must”, but to get up and spend five minutes talking about making it mandatory, and then to read from other legislation which isn’t mandatory -- the fact is that there is the seed within the words themselves, “more than 10,” that we have to discuss in this assembly.
First of all, I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, does it mean that it should be mandatory? Must the minister in every case appoint such a committee whether the employees or employers don’t want it at all? Whether it is for four employees or not? I say frankly I want to have a debate, and a significant debate, among all of us when we are in committee to decide what would be appropriate in the circumstances. On the one hand I see a need for placing an obligation upon the minister where she can’t negatively exercise the discretion and where it is warranted that she appoint such a committee. On the other hand, I don’t think we can straitjacket the minister in such a position that she must appoint in every instance.
We have been given some amendments already -- I don’t think that particular one is covered in the amendments -- and I look forward to some degree of receptiveness on the part of the minister to an amendment which might be put forward. I hesitate to put the amendment forward because frankly I wrestled with the propriety of the wording of it. I am going to be very interested.
If it deals with 10 or more, I wonder if that’s not unduly arbitrary. It concerns me that in a situation where there is a wholesome reciprocity of attitudes between management and its collective bargaining agent and they feel they have done an adequate job themselves -- such as exists in some industries, at least in some plants in Ontario -- why is it necessary that we impose upon the minister an obligation to intervene when they are doing the very thing we want them to do? That is, together under the collective agreement, they’re protecting their individual employees.
That’s why I’m vitally interested in listening again to the amendments of the New Democratic Party. I want to say we’ll make no commitment one way or the other but we will decide on the reasonableness of it.
If they make a valid argument that there should be a number and we think that number is reasonable, I think my colleagues would follow my thoughts and my guidance since it is my responsibility as official critic to recommend to them what we do. I want to say that we won’t go for universality. If that’s what it is to be we will vote with the government as much as we don’t like it.
Those are some of the things we want to come to grips with during the course of the committee. It is extremely important that we rewrite this legislation to cover things which are not presently covered.
With respect to section 2 and the cessation of work activities in unsafe conditions, there are two things which cause me great concern. First of all there are the words “reasonable cause.” There’s a great body of legislation under the labour arbitration cases which has defined reasonable cause mainly in the context of (1), the factual situation and (2), the terms of the collective agreement itself.
The problem here is that we have people outside the purview of organized labour who are to be covered, I would hope, under this statute. I think we have to have some definition of what constitutes reasonable cause in the circumstances.
For example, I had a representative, the chief steward of the IBEW, who came to me last Thursday in connection with this matter, about the lineman for whom the essence of his undertaking is an unsafe condition almost; a hazardous condition. He asked me, “How am I going to guide those people within my bargaining unit who might take a position arbitrarily that their work is unsafe when we recognize that the very nature of the work at times is unsafe?”
As a matter of fact, the more the work is needed, the more unsafe it is. It’s after the storm, when the lines are down and things -- the word “thing” is used in this section -- are unsafe that we have to call upon these people to remedy the deficiency. I am vitally concerned. There might be a manifest and obvious answer that I am missing but I am very concerned about the definition of unsafe as well as some elaboration as to what constitutes a unilateral judgement by the employee which would support the words “reasonable cause.”
The Ontario Mining Association -- I want to read this into the record at least partly -- has suggested the definition in the Manitoba mines Act. I don’t think it suffices, frankly, but if I might I’ll read it:
“Unsafe means any condition existing that constitutes a risk to an employee that is not normal to the usual risks of a job that an employee is required to do from time to time and shall be deemed to be a condition that is dangerous to the health of the employee or to the safety of the employee in the performance of his work.”
That, as suggested by the Ontario Mining Association, is lifted totally out of the Manitoba mining Act. It does overcome, as I think the minister would agree, the problem where there is an inherent nature of risk in the normal work activities. I really don’t think her section covers that. In that respect I think it puts too much of an onus upon the employer, and I think that’s something we’ve got to cover.
There are other things that have been covered by the member for Nickel Belt that I had made comment about before. On sections 4 and 5, the question of discretion, I agree with him --
Mr. McClellan: Tell us what the association wants.
Mr. Bullbrook: I’m sorry; I’m prepared to --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue.
Mr. Bullbrook: No, I am prepared to take a question if he wants.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member will continue the debate in second reading.
Mr. Bullbrook: All right. Before the question, I was dealing with whether sections 4 or 5 should be mandatory. I pointed out, as my colleague from Nickel Belt neglected to point out, that section 5 is much more deficient than section 4. At least section 4 does try to catalogue and delineate the guidelines to which the minister should subject herself in making a decision. I also am very interested in section 4(3) and the question of who actually conducts the appointment to the committee itself. That doesn’t seem to be defined. It reads: “A committee shall consist of such number of persons as the minister may prescribe
Mr. Deans: Is this clause by clause?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Perhaps the hon. member would keep his remarks to the principle rather than debating clause by clause at this time.
Mr. Deans: Absolutely.
Mr. Mackenzie: When is he going to start?
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to say something to you, Mr. Speaker. You weren’t in the chair, and I say this most respectfully, but we went through at least 35 minutes of having to digest the propriety of the accident prevention function of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, which has nothing to do with this legislation.
Mr. Laughren: Not true.
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, it has always been my intention to abide by the rulings of the Chair, and I’ll abide by that ruling, but I want to ask your indulgence in this respect: I’m trying to deal with principles, and the principle I’m attempting to deal with now is the question of the appointment and constitution of the committee. I’m directing a question that involves the principle of who should be responsible for the appointment, so that the minister will feel free to respond during the course of her contribution on second reading to give us some idea of what her intention might be in committee. I appreciate very much the censure that you’ve placed upon me. I’ll try to restrict myself accordingly.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member will continue.
Mr. Bullbrook: Thank you. I’m interested also in the question of why the guidelines under section 4 with respect to the exercise of discretion, are not again issued under section 5. Is that a purposeful thing or was it just an oversight? I think it must be purposeful because otherwise it would be an unduly significant oversight
I want to transfer a thought from section 4(7) to section 9, and that is the question of the remuneration of the employee during the time when it’s being assessed whether he has the right to not work. It doesn’t seem to me that the legislation covers entirely his position. With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, section 9(e) does refer to the fact that “no employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall impose any penalty upon an employee.” I just wonder if the cessation of work and the lack of pay during the time of cessation of work can be construed as a penalty.
Mr. Renwick: I would think so.
Mr. Bullbrook: My colleague from Riverdale says he thinks so. There’s certainly an argument to be put forward that you’re not subject to a sanction if you’re not working. In any event, I think we should cover that, because the member of the committee, as we see under subsection 7, is paid during the exercise of his function as a member of a committee. In the case of the employee who has decided not to work, during the interval of the assessment of the propriety of that decision I think we should define whether he’s entitled to remuneration or not.
Mr. McClellan: Is that what the Mining Association wants basically?
Mr. Bullbrook: I don’t know really whether that’s what the Mining Association wants or not. Is the Mining Association big in Parkdale?
Mr. McClellan: I thought it was in the letter the member was reading from a moment ago.
Mr. Bullbrook: Under subsection 10, I’m also interested in who lays the complaint. Is it limited to the ministry? If it is, then I consider that ineffectual. I think the bargaining agent, and failing the existence of a bargaining agency, then the employee individually or any individual employee should be able to lay the information upon reasonable cause.
Those are basically matters of concern to us. As I say, we support the principles of the legislation. My colleague from Nickel Belt spoke about three principles. I’d say there are four, and I’m happy to regard one as an additional principle. That’s the principle of transferring the responsibilities of The Mining Act, The Silicosis Act and the industrial health and safety legislation to the Minister of Labour. I’ve totally felt and I’ve voiced over at least almost a decade that the Ministry of Labour must be a very vital ministry. I don’t think there’s any ministry that can have a more significant impact on the social and economic welfare, mainly the social welfare, of the people of this province than the Ministry of Labour. It wasn’t appropriate that these functions, which are all in essence welded into one shouldn’t rest with the Ministry of Labour. That’s the way we would want it.
We’ll support the bill as best we can. We’ll do it without the necessity of coming down with rather exaggerated claims. We’ll do it, we hope, without the necessity of taking sides where we have to say that the worker controls the work place because I don’t subscribe to this. My party doesn’t subscribe to it, no more than we subscribe to the fact that management should control the work place.
This is the type of legislation that thirsts for some type of reasonable debate and not debate conducted in a juvenile fashion with a rather socialistic chip on one’s shoulder. Let’s try to do the best for the people.
We’re trying to bring some legislation through that will assist the working people of this province. None of us can stand above the other in this respect and say, “I am holier than thou.” We all work together toward the same end. Let’s act, as our function should direct, to work together for the best type of legislation possible. Let’s forget our past deficiencies. If some of us in 1970 decided not to subscribe to that type of legislation, then we have divested ourselves and we have cleansed ourselves of that error.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member for London North has the floor.
Mr. Angus: Where is your audience?
Mr. Deans: Do you agree with them?
Mr. Shore: They have a lot of confidence in me.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Laughren: Is it true that they didn’t have a going away party for you?
Mr. Deans: The question is are they here supporting you?
Mr. Shore: I know most from Hamilton are. It is a privilege for me to extend my support to Bill 139, An Act respecting Employees’ Health and Safety, proposed by the Minister of Labour. Before I speak specifically on the principles of the bill, I would just like to comment --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member has the floor.
Mr. Shore: Incidentally, is the member for Oshawa receiving treatment? I just want to know if he is or not.
On the issue, before I get into the generalities of it, Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of attending the Labour estimates last week, and I truly believe there’s a lot of constructive information and dialogue that comes forward from there, I don’t believe, on the other hand, there was much destructive information that was coming out of there. The members opposite, particularly the members of the socialist party, the NDP, as the member for Sarnia observed, appear to attack things on a negative basis very well. Very well. I don’t believe that I have to necessarily stand here, and I don’t believe the minister needs me standing here to defend her policies.
Mr. Laughren: That is for sure.
Mr. Shore: Nor does she need me here to defend her personality or her personal position.
Mr. Angus: She doesn’t need you at all.
Mr. Shore: But it particularly disturbs me, not in defence of the minister, who is quite capable of defending herself if needed, but it particularly offends me to sit in those Labour estimates and see and hear some of the things that I did hear.
Mr. Mancini: Speak to the bill.
Mr. Laughren: Be specific, be specific.
Mr. Shore: Some of the things that I truly did hear. It really bothers me. If they truly are interested in advancing the cause for improvement in this area, they would address themselves to this.
Mr. Laughren: Don’t be so vague. What are those vague innuendoes you are referring to?
Mr. Shore: Can you hear when you’re talking, Floyd? Or do you find that it matters? It doesn’t really matter, does it?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order please. Perhaps the hon. member will return to the principle of the bill.
Mr. Laughren: I think he has passed it.
Mr. Shore: Right. Mr. Speaker, it is very important in the development of the type of society that we want here in Ontario that the government be prepared to act to protect the rights of those who, by virtue of the nature of the work they do, come into contact with the possibility of injury and therefore should have the right to exert their own prerogative in a responsible fashion to protect themselves. Members opposite are consistently raising questions, as is their responsibility, with respect to hazardous working conditions, the operation of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, and the circumstances that often contribute toward unsafe working circumstances for some of our citizens. But incidentally, they don’t have licences to be the only ones speaking for the working force.
While members on this side of the House share the concerns of those opposite, and express that concern in many ways, both in caucus and directly to the minister, the reality is that we on this side of the House know that Ontario safety standards and the standards set by our Workmen’s Compensation Board rank among the highest in the world. They do.
Mr. Deans: “We on this side of the House”? Which side is that?
Mr. Ferrier: What?
Mr. Shore: Are you okay there, Mr. Deans? Everything all right?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Shore: Sorry it’s starting to bother you.
Mr. Deans: I find it amusing, “We on this side of the House.”
Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member will refer to other hon. members by the riding rather than by their name.
Mr. Deans: He has never been able to figure out what side his seat is on. He has trouble finding his seat.
Mr. Shore: They are comparable to any other jurisdiction in North America. They are perhaps a far greater protection than many workers in Great Britain and other places enjoy. I believe that the government has a responsibility to continually review the protection which it offers in this respect, move as fast as possible in that direction, and ensure that the protections operate in a fashion which will guarantee personal safety and are economically viable. I am sure members opposite would not want a circumstance where the prerogatives with respect to personal safety were used in such an irresponsible manner or fashion by any worker or group of workers to the point where it became simply economically less than viable for a particular construction site or a particular project to continue.
I believe this bill shows the good faith of this government and the positive attitude of its minister and concern of this government for the safety of the working men and women of this province. I think it’s also a challenge to the responsibility of the working men and women of this province. There will be the odd abuse on the part of the odd individual who will see it as an excuse to be used irresponsibly, but I am sure -- and I stress that, Mr. Speaker, I am sure, as I think are most of the members who have dealt with constituents who have great concerns in this area -- that the vast majority of the working men and women in our province will be exceptionally responsible in the use of this Act and the protection which it provides them.
It’s important too, that the bill provides for third party investigation and deliberation with respect to the ultimate safety of a device or a machine or working circumstance. That, I think, is the ultimate protection both for the employer who may believe he is being unfairly victimized and for the employee who believes that the circumstance is genuinely unsafe.
Mr. Ferris: Who wrote this?
Mr. Shore: I want you to know that I’ve worked in the work force and I want the people on the other side to know that I’ve worked for the Steel Company of Canada. I know a little bit about it. You’re not the only ones.
Mr. Foulds: Let me see your hands.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue debating the principle of the bill.
Mr. Shore: The provisions of section 4 of the Act, which allows the minister the prerogative to require an employer or group of employers to establish a joint health and safety committee, afford the government an opportunity to ensure that in the structure of economic and industrial development which will ensue in Ontario from this day forward, the notion of safety and workers’ health becomes one of the critical elements in overall economic planning and project planning. I think that is very important. I think that is a major step forward for our jurisdiction and a step forward for our province.
Of equal importance, the provisions in section 9 would make it illegal -- and I stress illegal -- for any employer or agent of an employer to dismiss or threaten an employee, discipline the employee, impose any penalty or intimidate the employee as a result of the employee having asserted his or her rights under the provisions of this Act.
What is of equal importance as well is the fact that part IX of The Mining Act, excepting section 6, subsection 16, is now assigned to the Ministry of Labour, as the member for Sarnia alluded to or stated. That represents an opportunity for the government to pull together the occupational safety thrust, which it has been developing for some time, under one ministry which I believe will operate not only in the interests of the working men and women in these circumstances but also in the true interests of the companies and the corporations which can now deal with one unified sector of government as they adapt to new rules and regulations.
Mr. Laughren: Did John Munro write this?
Mr. Shore: Who wrote yours? The only notion I would add and it may be a little bit superfluous --
Mr. Ferris: Don’t say it then.
Mr. Shore: -- is regarding the physical fitness and well-being of white collar workers who may not come into direct contact with physically hazardous circumstances or machines, like some of the members -- the member for London South who probably hasn’t had that experience at all.
Mr. Cunningham: Is it a hazardous position for the member for London North?
Mr. Shore: Although there are some who would argue that perhaps the most hazardous machine around is the telephone -- in some instances even being a member of this Legislature may be hazardous -- I think that before laughing at that kind of assertion we might give some serious thought to the many citizens of our province who are involved in the insurance industry, like the member for London South, and large corporations and governments and other concerns. They are involved in large amounts of desk and office work and can build up physical disorders over a period of time which relate to stress, to lack of exercise and to consistently sedentary activity which can cause very serious health concerns as one approaches one’s middle age.
This Act, of course, is not the place for provisions in this respect. I would hope that some day in Ontario we may have the physical fitness assistance, counselling and advice as part and parcel of the employee benefit package which white collar workers could enjoy as part of their overall circumstances.
Mr. Ferris: Help the accountants.
Mr. Shore: In many senses, being able to run around the track for an hour every day, to eat balanced food, to stay away from excess amounts of alcohol and cholesterol and to exercise regularly might be of more real value -- in terms of earning power in one’s middle years and the health which is necessary to sustain that earning power -- than dollars on a pay-cheque. That is for discussion at another time.
It is truly a privilege for me to extend my support of this bill and my congratulations to the Minister of Labour on having brought it forward. It is truly a progressive and humane piece of legislation.
Mr. Laughren: Now we know who wrote it.
Mr. Bounsall: In rising to speak to the employees’ health and safety bill, I must say that when it was first tabled I was a little disappointed in the areas that this bill did not cover. We had a very excellent Ham commission report and many of its recommendations are not even touched upon in this particular bill.
I understand the minister is bringing in an omnibus bill dealing with the structures and so on of the institutes and her ministry to deal with matters of this sort. If that’s what the omnibus bill is, and it will not have contained within it this Act itself, or further steps beyond this Act, then we have before us in this Act the first tentative step toward the protection of workers in Ontario. It is an Act which would be and should be extended and amended with a fair degree of regularity to have before us an Act which is really going to be workable in the province of Ontario and one which truly fulfils what I see to be the principles emerging from this bill.
I see among the principles which emerge from this bill, first, the consolidation of responsibility for occupational health and safety within one ministry, the Ministry of Labour. That is certainly a principle worth supporting. It is certainly a step forward over what we’ve had, where the mining industry has been separated from industrial safety and construction safety, which were in another ministry, with some of the inspections of those places and some of the monitoring and some of the advice to be given in the area of occupational health and safety in the work place residing in yet a third ministry, the Ministry of Health. So the principle of the consolidation which we see in this bill is certainly a principle which can be supported.
The right to refuse unsafe work as outlined in sections 2 and 3 of this bill is certainly a step forward relative to what appeared in particularly the old Industrial Safety Act, which I will dwell on at some length. Certainly the general principle of the right of employees to know and participate in matters of occupational health and safety -- to help in fact set up the framework by which health and safety will be conducted in their plants and in essence setting and drafting the safety policy in their work place -- that whole principle is a principle which we can support. So in general there’s nothing contained in this particular bill which in principle we would not support.
However, when we get to looking at some of the details I feel that the bill is quite inadequate to achieve the general principle which the minister and the government is laying forth in the bill. When we come to the committee stage there’ll certainly be amendments to those sections and a lot of dialogue between ourselves and the ministry and the officials over those sections which we feel must be improved in order for this bill to work.
There’s been some indication from the previous speaker from the Liberals that the persons to whom this bill applies in the formation of health and safety committees and the work places that it should apply to all and should not be left entirely to the minister’s discretion or the minister’s orders. The point was made that this should be mandatory for most if not all work places with 10 or more employees -- that that section of this bill dealing with the health and safety committees should be automatically applied.
Perhaps the minister can assure us that under that section establishing the health and safety committees she is going to say on passage of the bill something to the effect that “all the employees in this particular industry -- ” and list the industries -- “will have health and safety committees” or, “all work places in which there are 10 or more employees -- ” or some figure which the minister has chosen “ -- will have health and safety committees by the order which I’m making under this legislation.” If we understand from the minister that’s in fact what she’s doing, rather than wait for individual trouble spots to arise and say, “Okay, we’ll have a health and safety committee there” -- if that’s all she is going to do that is not going to be an effective system of occupational health and safety committees in this province.
I was at a meeting on the weekend in which I had a presentation by a member of a local union with respect to the health and safety problems in the plant that he worked in, and he was speaking not only of his plant but generally of plants across Ontario. I wished I could absolutely have assured him that, as a result of this bill coming to debate before us this vary day, two days after he presented his concerns, health and safety committees would be mandatory for most work places across this province. That was a subject which interested him greatly, but one just couldn’t say that.
We could say that there’s a bill coming before us which allows a better right to refuse than what now appears in the legislation. It sets up a provision for some health and safety committees, but unless the minister indicates that she’s going to employ her discretion under that section to make them virtually widespread, it does not say that those committees -- which in my opinion is the proper way to organize safety matters across this province -- will become widespread.
On the refusal-to-work section, I have looked at it, read it three or four times, thought about it and I can’t find any rabbit going into the hat in these sections in terms of any loopholes. Perhaps as I consider it further, I might. I remember in virtually all Labour estimates that I have participated in for the last five years except this last one, because we were having these amendments before us, I have spoken upon how weak the right to refuse to work in unsafe or hazardous conditions was in the legislation that we had. Under that legislation the worker could, in fact, finding himself in an unsafe situation, declare that it was unsafe, apparently taking that one section of the Act that appeared that he had this right. Then one finds that all his foreman had to do was come down, look at it, declare that it was safe and order him back to work. If he refused to go back to work he was dismissed, suspended, what have you, and the whole grievance procedure having to be worked through over that case. That’s all we had previously.
Under these provisions here, if he feels any machine, device or thing or location is unsafe, he reports it to his employer and may refuse to work. If the employer comes down, or whoever represents the employer, and finds that in his opinion it is safe and the worker still disagrees, he may then call in an inspector. Just that one step right there is quite a step forward, since heretofore he could be ordered right back on to the job.
If there is no agreement at that point, then the employee can require the inspector to come in and the inspector then inspects that work place in combination with any worker representative who has been appointed, with the employee, with the representative of management and then he makes his report. Hopefully it’s a report which will correct the situation. That report, under another section of the Act, must find its way to this safety committee if that safety committee is in existence and has been so designated and set up by order of the minister.
Here again that’s a weakness in this whole approach. It may not exist in that work place. There may not be a place for that report to go, to a group of people who are interested in the health and safety of the work place, but if there is, there’s a much improved method by which that employee can feel that his work has a fair chance of being safe or being made safe, and that is certainly an improvement over the present situation.
I suspect that in addition to what is here, when that government inspector makes his report, which will certainly contain a decision of some sort, and even though he has been in the presence of all those concerned -- the employee, the employer and anyone on the safety committee or the safety representative that we appoint in section 5 of the Act -- who investigated it in their company and reported back to them, perhaps the problems still exist and the inspector’s report is the end of it.
I think there should be in this Act, right at this point, the provision of a further and final appeal to the minister, however the minister might want to carry that appeal out. She may leave it to the Labour Safety Council or to some other committee that she forms. Of course, that appeal would be open to both the employer and the employee. But I think there should be a step beyond which, in a formal way, an appeal on that inspector’s decision can be taken easily and readily.
There is a non-finality about the inspector’s report if it is still felt by the worker himself, or by his safety representative or by the safety committee that it still has not had an adequate provision made. Or in some cases the employer may find himself in a situation where, in the speciality of the particular work place involved and the particular operation involved, he has not been able to convince the worker on the job or the inspector who comes in that the machine, which he knows is there to do the job, is in fact doing it in a safe way.
On the basis of the technical knowledge involved, the employer from time to time may well want to appeal the decision of an inspector which he feels may well not have been made with as much technical expertise as it should have been -- expertise which would come into the deliberations if the right of final appeal was then made further up the ministry, to the minister or to whomever the minister might designate that appeal.
The next part of the bill, dealing with the establishment of safety committees, in my mind has a lot of loopholes, a lot of inadequacies and a lot of other things which should have been considered. One of the things that I find not at all palatable, as I mentioned before, is that this is permissive legislation. It says the minister may order an occupational health and safety committee to be formed. Now, one of a couple of things is going to happen: We pass the legislation and no committees are ordered to be formed or very few committees are ordered to formed.
What this legislation really should do is to say that, by the passage of this piece of legislation, we in Ontario are going to have all sorts of health and safety committees in every work place. The minister really should be thinking that there should be a health and safety committee formed where there are 10 employees or more in a given work place. We choose 10 as the number, but we are not inflexible on that. We can go to eight or 12 or maybe as high as 15. The number 10 is chosen because it exists already in one province in Canada where it is mandatory that these committees be formed where there are 10 employees or more.
It is interesting to discover why they chose 10. They were looking to choose the lowest possible number of employees where a health and safety committee would be mandatory. They chose the number 10 because they felt in Saskatchewan that was the number required to allow for the effective operation of a health and safety committee without undue employer pressures on those employees who would be on that safety committee. There is always some pressure. If there is a firing or what have you, section 9 takes care of it but there can be intimidation.
The question in Saskatchewan when they chose the number 10 was what was the smallest number of employees they could have so that a health and safety committee could be formed from and including some of those employees without those employees feeling some intimidation. Obviously, it would be pretty difficult to have a health and safety committee required to be formed where there is a situation of a man and his wife running a business with a couple of employees. They are talking to each other all the time, in any event, in most of those locations. It is not very reasonable in that particular situation to say they have to have a health and safety committee because it would be the case of the employer talking to the one employee he talks to most anyway. The question was what number would be the number to reach at which it is feasible to have a committee where there wouldn’t be the close personal relationship which exists in the rest of the working atmosphere. The number 10 was chosen.
If the minister says one wouldn’t get to that number until 12, 14 or 15, then we are willing to be convinced but not to let it be wide open as section 4 allows it. The minister sets up the health and safety committees at her discretion and not to require these to be formed widespread across the province is really quite inadequate. There’s some indication already that the amendment placed in this area could well be successful when we reach the committee stage.
As well, the committees that would be established under a toughened, stiffer section should be established in a much more widespread way in the province. It should include everyone. It just shouldn’t be the definition of work place as contained in the definition of the bill. It should be much wider. They should include, for example, not just those industrial establishments under The Industrial Safety Act or mining establishments under The Mining Act or construction projects under The Construction Safety Act, but should be wide enough to include virtually everybody in their work place. It should cover agricultural workers, over 60 plus employees, legislative assistants and research people such as the NDP caucus employs. They don’t work under very unsafe conditions most times.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I don’t know. In your caucus they may.
Mr. Bounsall: There may be a situation there, and it should be mandatory that we should have an occupational health and safety committee formed between ourselves and our group of employees. I don’t see any reason why we should be let off the hook or why other similar groups of our size in white-collar positions should not be required to have that same health and safety committee even though white collar positions, by and large, are much safer than those which appear in the manufacturing and industrial complexes and in the construction and the mining areas in Ontario.
That Act says at least half of the membership should be employees. I would think that most committees would be formed equally of employer and employee representatives and that one could establish that there be co-chairmen of that committee, one from each side.
As to the safety committee itself, in those few places that under this Act the minister designates shall have a committee, in looking at the formation of that committee, there are some things that bother us a bit, I think there should be a provision right in the Act in which the chairman of that committee is designated. In the Saskatchewan legislation, co-chairmen are in fact designated directly in the Act.
The frequency of meetings one finds here -- not less than quarterly and not more than monthly -- is not really adequate. I think the provision should be they should be meeting at least monthly, even if that meeting requires only 10 minutes. If they work very hard over the years and have nothing much to report on in a particular month they can meet and decide rather quickly that they have no problems. So I think it should be at least monthly and, of course, more often at the call of either of the co-chairmen, or you can leave in that section of the Act, “or as ordered by the minister.” There should be at least monthly meetings or more if it’s required.
I say that because when these health and safety committees are formed they are going to be quite busy for the first few months or even several years of their operation. If there had not been such a committee in a plant before and not much attention being paid to safety in the particular location, which is the case, it’s going to require meetings more than monthly to cover the issues which they want covered.
We can make provision for that by saying have them at least monthly or as required by the co-chairmen and if, after two or three years of operation, they find in a given month there’s really nothing to discuss they can call a meeting and determine between them that there’s really nothing to discuss further or occupy their time, and not much time at all has been lost from the work place on the part of the employer or the employee.
When I was chairman of the department of chemistry and set up in that department safety committees which included faculty and students as well as some staff representatives, to work effectively they found at the beginning a lot of meetings were required to map out the areas in which they had to look while the whole principle of how they were going to operate within that work place was being laid down. I can see this happening in every location where they are set up, so this particular provision certainly needs to be changed and updated.
Also, the problem here is this -- and this was a problem which I was aware of in my experience. Let’s say this health and safety committee makes a recommendation. There’s nothing in this Act that really gives force to that recommendation. This joint committee can find a very unsafe area in their particular work place and recommend that changes be made, but there’s nothing here that says that recommendation has to be carried out.
This always worried us about the department of chemistry as well, with hazardous chemicals around. We knew, for example, that those chemicals shouldn’t be stored in a particular area. But our committee could only recommend; I wasn’t empowered to build and renovate an area to accommodate such particular hazardous chemicals. It needed to go to the upper echelon of the university, where they would make the decision on funds. Even when the university subsequently appointed a full-time safety officer for the purposes of dealing with situations like this, if he recommended that that must be done, again, that was still a recommendation which could be ignored.
Again, in this bill, if there’s really going to be some enthusiasm that these committees are going to be worthwhile spending one’s time on to arrive at recommendations which should be carried out, there has to be a clause in this bill that indicates that those recommendations have to be carried out. If it takes a little while to achieve those recommendations, such as requiring a renovation to be done, that would be understandable and reasonable time limits could be allowed before it’s obvious that the employer is not carrying them out.
But there should be a clause which says the committee’s recommendations must be carried out. That can be followed up if the recommendations are not being carried out, and the provisions of the Act which allow for enforcement and offences could then be considered as being applied, if the recommendations were being ignored. But we need a section which talks about those recommendations.
We’ll get to some of this in the committee stage, of course, but regarding the pay of the committee members, the Act indicates that the time from the work place for that committee to meet is to come from their normal working time and they’re to be paid for such. But let’s say a committee meeting starts at 2 o’clock and, particularly in the early stages, that committee may have a lot to cover and it runs until 6 o’clock, with the normal quitting time at that plant being 4 o’clock. It’s clear from the Act that they would be paid from 2 to 4, but it’s not clear that they would be paid from 4 to 6 -- and, in fact, that should be at the overtime rate. In other words, time paid for serving on these committees should be the total time expended on that committee, and, in the initial setup, if some of those meetings tend to run long, the total time should be paid for.
Section 5, dealing with the safety representative, is much more vague than section 4, even though there are changes needed in section 4. As for the safety representatives, whom we can call worker-inspectors or whatever, again I would feel much happier if the numbers were specified for those worker representatives; that there should be roughly one for every 25 employees or some ratio in that vicinity of 25 which indicates the number that should be in any particular work place.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. It’s not the intent of the Chair to limit debate on the principle of the bill, but I would ask the hon. members to direct their remarks to the principle rather than dealing with the bill clause by clause.
Mr. Bounsall: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will do more of that and will wrap this up fairly shortly.
Speaking to the principle, the bill at this point sets up a worker-inspector or safety representative whose duties are very vague. I won’t take the time at this point to read them into the record, but a private member’s bill tabled by the leader of my party, An Act respecting the Establishment of Worker-Inspectors in the Work Place, indicated some provisions running from (a) to (h) as the duties of this worker-inspector, while this bill covers them in total in two sections and is very highly oriented to what happens when an accident occurs rather than all of the other duties that a worker-inspector should be involved with. I would recommend to the minister that she look at those and come prepared to revise these sections. Certainly we would want to have some of those duties added to the bill when we reach the committee stage.
Speaking generally to the bill, I think a definition of occupational health needs to be included, perhaps in the definition section of the bill, in much wider terms than the concept of what we have in this bill, when one is really looking at accidents and the prevention of accidents. The member for Nickel Belt mentioned some of the clauses in other legislation which indicate quite clearly that the worker’s physical, psychological, mental and social well-being should be considered as factors in the work place.
A proper definition of occupational health would include those factors so that the committees may talk about the mental, physical, psychological and social well-being of the workers as they see it in the work place and should be in this bill. Any bill that does not contain that is really sort of an extension into the work place of what the Workmen’s Compensation Board has been concerned with -- simply the accident situation and the prevention of accidents. This doesn’t really look at the occupational safety and the occupational health of the worker. This is the time, I say to the minister, that it should be included.
The member for Sarnia in his remarks tried to make some headway about an amendment way back in 1970 with respect to The Mining Act that the New Democratic Party did not support. I’ve been able to put my hands on that amendment. That amendment, which we presumably did not support, was simply one which said that a safety committee shall be established for the purposes of ensuring that the safety provisions of the Act be complied with.
Mr. Lewis: Oh, boy!
Mr. Bounsall: That old Act gave no protection at all, even in the refusal of work.
Mr. Laughren: What a fraud from the member for Sarnia! He is misleading the House with his statements. Where is the member for Sarnia?
Mr. Bounsall: That’s precisely the point, that’s precisely the reason -- very clearly enunciated on page 6346 of the Legislature of Ontario Debates of 1970 -- we indicated we couldn’t possibly support it.
Mr. Laughren: Shoddy politics.
Mr. Bounsall: It was an Act which was not adequate, particularly in ensuring the right to refuse work in a work place which was unsafe. It did not even have in it the concepts and some of the principles which we see here which provide for at least the possibility of discussion, by the possible formation of safety committees which would discuss the actual details of safety policy within the work place.
That’s what was argued at the time as being the reason, and it is as valid now as it was then. We certainly would not vote for any amendment that simply had left those old work-place refusals for unsafe reasons there and did not allow the workers an input upon the safety conditions in their plants. At least in two respects, this bill will meet our 1970 remarks on the matter. It’s very clear that if an amendment had been placed then which set up a safety committee which was capable of dealing with the matters outlined in this bill and not just to ensure the provisions of the old Act, which were no provisions at all in fact, we would have been interested in supporting it as we are, in general principle, interested in supporting this bill.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member for Essex South.
Mr. Laughren: See if you can bail out your colleague from Sarnia.
Mr. Mancini: I am pleased to speak on Bill 139, An Act respecting Employees’ Health and Safety. I have to say that this type of legislation is certainly long overdue in the province of Ontario. Workers in this province in light and heavy industry and in manufacturing have been waiting for this government and for Ministers of Labour to act on their behalf. I see finally that we have an effort put forth. Our party and myself are going to support this bill in principle. I believe my colleague, the member for Sarnia, our critic, has already stated that. I know he’s upset some of my friends to the right of me who are really to the left of me, but I can’t help that.
Mr. Mackenzie: We’re glad you recognize that.
Mr. Warner: That’s your problem, not ours.
Mr. Mancini: Before we can really see the results of this piece of legislation, I believe we have to wait a year or two to get the results back from the Workmen’s Compensation Board to see if injuries in this province have declined. I think that’s going to tell the tale. I’m sure the minister knows, and it’s been brought to her attention once before, that now in the province of Ontario we lose more time in the work place because of injury and accidents than because of man-days lost on strikes. We’ve come to the point in this province where we just could not wait any longer. I assume that’s one of the reasons why the minister has brought forth this piece of legislation.
If this legislation is going to be beneficial it will certainly be beneficial to both the employer and the employee. I’m sure all the members here in the House have had complaints from employees concerning bad working conditions and I’m sure that recently they’ve had complaints from employers about their increases in rates to the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I have to agree with my colleague, the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) who said in the estimates the other day that he really wasn’t too concerned about the employers when they were complaining about the increases in the Workmen’s Compensation Board rates, because they weren’t going to pass down their savings to the consumer anyway. Frankly, I have to agree with him. If we lowered the insurance rate to any of the large industries, I just can’t see them passing this saving on to the consumer.
I am very concerned about one of the principles in the bill which will establish safety committees. My concern is not so much with the organized sector of the work force but it lies within the unorganized sector. I am really concerned that the employer might have some influence on his employees, especially if there is a small group, as to who will be on the safety committee and how the vote will take place and that type of thing.
Actually it has been said once already but I have to agree with it, that we just cannot wait for the Minister of Labour to go around the province picking out places which need these safety committees. I believe this type of thing should be used in all areas and in all parts of the work force. To think that the Minister of Labour or her staff has time to visit different places and say to them that a particular factory or a particular construction company needs a safety committee but there are 50 others who do not -- really, I can’t follow that logic and I just cannot accept that. I would hope this would be changed when the bill is in committee.
Also, it was mentioned before here that maybe the number 10 should be used as a figure before a company or an organization or a work place has a safety committee. Really, I don’t find that objectionable, and I am sure that we might be able to support that amendment once it comes forward.
One thing that hasn’t been brought out that I feel is very important is the fact that we have such a great many injured workmen in the province, and also that we have a Workmen’s Compensation Board that is continuously trying to push the worker back on to the job, saying that he is capable of light duty. I have had an occurrence in my riding where the Workmen’s Compensation Board encouraged a certain individual to go back to work on light duty. The fellow had quite a bad back, but when he went back to work, the light duties that the management had prepared for him and the light duties that he really should do were not one and the same.
Really, if a person goes back to work, and he is not completely recovered from his injury or his doctor and the Workmen’s Compensation Board say he has to do light duties, then if he gets a job and it is not appropriate for him, surely he will be injured again. I think that is one of the things that the safety committee is going to have to look at: How are we going to classify these light duties for injured workmen returning to the job?
We just noticed today that the minister announced that 222 injured workers have been found jobs -- oh, she didn’t say that; well, that’s three or four times I tried to quote the minister but I just can’t get it right. I’m sure I heard that today. Anyhow, just going back to the principle of what I was saying, we are going to need someone on the safety committee who can state with objectivity what a light-duty job is, so these injured workers will not get injured again.
I was very pleased to see in section 9 that no employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall threaten to dismiss an employee. This is something that is needed. It is needed very badly if this piece of legislation is going to be a success. One of my concerns which is very important is section 4, subsection 6. It says --
Mr. Speaker: Will the hon. member have much more to say, because it’s now 5 o’clock and we have to get into the private members’ hour? If so, you can adjourn the debate.
Mr. Mancini: Yes, I’ll speak next day, Mr. Speaker.
On motion by Mr. Mancini, the debate was adjourned.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ HOUR:
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF DURHAM AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Godfrey moved second reading of Bill 95, An Act to amend The Regional Municipality of Durham Act, 1973.
Mr. Godfrey: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this amendment is to bring a little sanity into our area.
As you will recall, sir, the region was originally formed on a rather tenuous basis, almost on “a let’s see how is goes” basis. Historically we are made up of several diverse areas. We have to the north in our region a predominantly agricultural area where I happen to have the pleasure of residing, where we have very little in common with the area to the south which is highly industrial, with a magnificent industrial complex in Oshawa, Pickering and Ajax. This diversity of interest has led to a good deal of dissatisfaction between various people in the riding.
In making up this amendment, the members from that region, my colleagues from Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) and from Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), held a series of public meetings -- on January 13, 1976, in Ajax; on January 20 at Bowmanville; on January 27 in Oshawa; and on February 3, in Uxbridge. In addition to these public hearings at which we had a very large representation -- at least ten-fold the number of the members of the government who are in the House at present -- we had an excellent feedback from the people who are interested in what was going on. In addition, we received a large number of letters and representations from the municipalities.
In justification for presenting these amendments I would like to excerpt a few of the comments which were made at those meetings.
Mr. Harema, who is a Liberal candidate in the area north of us, favours splitting off the three top townships and forming another region leaving a higher organized area below us as one township.
A Mr. McPhail, mayor of Brock, wanted more decentralization particularly as far as water rates and services are concerned -- and these excerpts, Mr. Speaker, are not chosen. These represent a good deal of the input we had.
Mr. Belanger, a regional councillor, felt that many of our problems were concerned with over-centralization.
A Miss Todd, a representative of Goodwood, talked about the feeling of remoteness in the region to the north as being alienated -- if I may use the member for Sarnia’s (Mr. Bullbrook) term -- from the south.
At a meeting in Ajax a Mr. Almack pointed out there was a problem with growth in our area and that the towns of Pickering and Whitby had been encouraged to take lands out of production and urbanize them by the effect of the regionalization.
Other comments were forthcoming along that line, with the result we, the members from that area, felt it would be more effective management of the region if we proposed the amendments as you see them.
The amendments are concerned mainly with the composition of council. We propose that all elected members be members of the council, bringing our regional council to 38. We also urge the maintenance of roads, sidewalks, sewers and water-works be returned to the direction and control of each area municipality. The reason for this, sir, is because of the unconscionable duplication which is continuing. It is not an uncommon problem to see trucks from Durham region and trucks from Ajax on the same street, one of which repairs the curbstone and the other which looks at the sewer manholes. This type of duplication, of course, leads to a very expensive way of running a region.
We strongly urge in our amendments to sections 11, 12 and 13 that all planning for Durham area is to be carried out solely by the regional council with appropriate input, of course, by the municipalities. We’ve also urged, by section 15, that area municipalities will now be able to carry out their own financing under The Municipal Act.
Why are we proposing these amendments? Because we feel that a more expensive way to govern a relatively small area could not be contrived except with one possible exception which comes readily to mind.
The expense that is being borne by the taxpayers is clearly shown in one or two examples I would like to put before you. For example, in the matter of water rates, we now find that water rates are to be retroactive, according to a regional basis, and this has resulted in several cases of gross inequity toward industrialists and residents in our area. I have in my hand here a letter of complaint from an outstanding electronics manufacturing industry in our area which points out “there has been an increase of 1,500 per cent over our last bill for water covering the 90 days, May 1, 1976,” from there on. Fifteen hundred per cent for a manufacturer to put out is a very large amount.
In addition to this, a large number of our new residents find they are denied the advantages of having a public utilities function for the sale of electricity. No area in Pickering is at present covered by a PUC. By the rules of the region at present, unless there’s unanimous consent from the whole of the region the province will not institute an inquiry as to whether a PUC should he brought into our area. Naturally, some of the areas to the north feel that a PUC is not reasonable and they will drag their feet on this suggestion, with the result people in the south suffer a good deal of problems.
Another area which would be rectified by a reorganization of the region is the matter of education. Although we do not deal directly with this in the proposed amendment, we have found that some areas in our community have been denied junior kindergartens which they had previously, solely because the rest of this region simply will not or cannot afford to do this.
We also have a major condominium problem, which is compounded by the fact that the region will not stand by some of the lot levies which were originally charged by the municipality, with the result that condominiums cannot be registered.
These amendments to the Act constitute a start of what we will hope will be a more rational way of governing Durham region.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Durham-York.
Mr. Moffatt: There go those 184 votes, Bill.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose Bill 95 --
Hon. W. Newman: -- and would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that it’s great for --
Mr. Good: You are going to lose 184 votes.
Hon. W. Newman: -- two or three members to stand up here and suggest massive changes to the regional municipality of Durham bill after a few ad hoc meetings with a few people at them. They were not large meetings.
Mr. Moffatt: It is a lot more meetings than you had before you started.
Hon. W. Newman: I had somebody at all the meetings.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. W. Newman: If you want to play politics in Durham region, that is your prerogative, but let’s look at some of the implications of Bill 95 and what it means to the people of the region.
Mr. Godfrey: Mr. Speaker, I am not playing.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I point out that everybody’s on a time limit and there should not be any objections because it is unfair to that particular speaker.
Hon. W. Newman: The member for Durham West talked about the Liberal candidate, Mr. Harema. Mr. Harema was not a Liberal candidate for one thing. It is quite obvious he doesn’t know what is going on in the area. Mr. McPhail, who is the mayor of Brock, is a supporter of regional governments by and large. Sure, he thinks there should be some changes but he’s a supporter of it. You talked about Mr. Bill Ballinger. Sure, there are problems, but Uxbridge could not afford the extended sewer and water services they are going into now without the equalized regional rate which is set up by the region as a result of a grant from the province of approximately $2.1 million.
I just want to get a few facts straight. This bill and the way it was generated represent what to me is entirely the wrong way to function in a democratic society. The member for Durham West has, on occasions in the past, criticized the Ontario government for what he sees as an unwillingness to consult with local governments, and yet he introduces a bill to radically alter Durham’s municipal system after only a few meetings with a few people.
First, the municipalities in the area commissioned a study in 1968 to look at their problems. Maybe you remember that. By 1969, they had decided to find a better system of local government and asked the province to help. We were invited by the municipalities to get involved in the examination of local government. Through 1969, 1970 and 1971, we worked with the municipalities on this project.
In May, 1971, the municipalities involved in the Oshawa Area Planning and Development Study, as the study was known, agreed to terminate the study and turn the recommendations over to the province. Interested people and governments were to submit their views by November, 1971. The province then proposed a new system of local government for the consideration of the local people. This led to over 150 meetings between the province and various groups in the region.
Mr. Haggerty: That is a lot more than you did in the Niagara region.
Hon. W. Newman: Even then, the local people commented and suggested changes and amendments, and some amendments were introduced in the Legislature at the time the bill was passed and some changes were made.
Mr. Good: But not Charlie McIlveen.
Hon. W. Newman: Even then, after a few ad hoc meetings, the New Democratic Party is willing to change the whole system.
The 17-section bill wreaks havoc on Durham region. It proposes to expel Uxbridge, Brock and Scott from the region. Yet just three years ago, the councils and residents of the municipalities, after a great deal of discussion whether they should go to Victoria or whether they should go to York, decided they wanted to stay with the region of Durham. Maybe the hon. member doesn’t remember that.
Mr. Godfrey: Now they’ve left.
Hon. W. Newman: He may remember that we had originally suggested that some of these areas should move --
Mr. Hodgson: Too busy looking after yours.
Hon. W. Newman: In Bill 95, the NDP would change the system of election -- a system that was established in each municipality at their request.
Mr. Moffatt: To appoint a Tory hack is what it was.
Hon. W. Newman: They would increase Ajax’s representation to match Newcastle’s even though the population is twice as large. It is rarely possible to adhere strictly to representation by population in some area municipalities, and they are asking for a different system. In Durham, however, in response to local requests, the system was close to representation by population. The member for Durham West would change this without consultation.
One of the shortcomings of the old county system, of which I was part -- I sat on county council -- was somewhat of a communications gap with our mayors. It was decided that we should pick up this communications gap in the regional governments; therefore, the mayors were included in the regional councils. The member for Durham West suggests that they be kicked off and does so without any local governments’ comments.
The member for Durham West also proposes that the regional chairman should be elected at large -- certainly a very costly and expensive programme.
Mr. Davidson: In every region.
Mr. Moffatt: Democracy.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. W. Newman: Instead, our view is that council should be supreme and the chairman be only head of council and not head of the region.
Mr. Haggerty: Elect them the way you used to elect the wardens. That is a very --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There will be opportunity for many of you to speak later.
Hon. W. Newman: The provincial system is build and maintain major highways, the county system to build and maintain arterial roads, and the local system to build and maintain local roads.
I won’t say this system can’t be improved upon, but to arbitrarily scrap the county road system or the regional road system is to risk the deterioration of an efficient and excellent service to the province of Ontario.
Mr. Davidson: Where is the efficiency?
Hon. W. Newman: It frankly appals me that the member for Durham West would propose in legislation such a major and far-reaching change without any study or discussion of the effects of such action.
Mr. Warner: Too far ahead of you.
Hon. W. Newman: Such cavalier behaviour is precisely what this government has fried to avoid.
The bill’s sponsors, regardless of how bad the legislation is, have proposed major changes to our system of local government with only a passing glance at local consultation. This government will not support legislation generated like this. If the regional system is not perfect -- and I admit that it is not --
Mr. Warner: Then make changes in it.
Hon. W. Newman: -- we are open to suggestions from the municipal representatives who are elected to be responsible for municipal matters.
Mr. Warner: They will say resign. They will tell you to resign.
Hon. W. Newman: If the electors in Durham have a message for their councillors, they may deliver that message this December; and they, in turn, will make those views known to us.
In closing, I would like to say this: The process may not be perfect, but it is representative of democracy, and I for one prefer this to the ad hoc approach taken by the member for Durham West. It just kind of appals me. I am not saying the regional system is perfect -- nor is my friend -- but I will tell him this: It is up to the elected representatives and the regional and local councillors to bring forth their suggestions and recommendations to the province. If they want change in the regional system, then this province is prepared to look at it --
Mr. Davidson: Dismantle the whole thing.
Hon. W. Newman: -- not by an ad hoc committee set up to travel around and do a little political proliferation in those areas out there. Let’s hear from those people who are elected out there. And when they are re-elected in December, let’s hear from them if they want change. Let’s stop this nonsense --
Mr. Davidson: If they are re-elected.
Hon. W. Newman: -- because I say this: If there are changes needed, changes will be made.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, the bill before us today would bring in, if passed, a good many changes in the regional government structure in the regional municipality of Durham. It is interesting to note that when the bill went through this House in 1973, I believe the member who just spoke, spoke to it at that time, and there were certain things about the bill which he did not agree with. The member for Oshawa -- who was a Conservative member at the time, Dr. McIlveen -- certainly found many things in the bill with which he did not agree. To the best of my knowledge, the proposals went through basically as they were.
I think at the time many people felt that the original concept -- that is the plan that was brought in by the former Treasurer of the day, Charlie MacNaughton -- met the requirements and had a great deal of acceptance by the people in the south end of the riding. That particular first proposal, as I remember, left out the north part of the county, which would not have been included. As it was, in this bill when it was originally passed the regional municipality of Durham did not form a region along county boundaries.
It is the only one to my knowledge that violated county boundaries. It threw certain townships in Victoria, I believe, and others into Simcoe. Consequently, there is some validity, I believe, in taking another look at the relationship of the northern townships in the region to the southern more-industrialized area. It is certainly something that should not be done unilaterally; it would have to be at the initiation and with the approval of the townships involved. I know in my own area, two of the rural townships of the region are doing studies on their own to find out why they feel the financial burdens are so much greater since they have become part of the region.
Any bill that would bend or warp or reshape McKeough’s cookie cutter, or break the straitjacket which McKeough and White threw this province into, I would say deserves some support. This has been one of the major problems with regional governments across this province. The cookie cutter was bent and moulded by McKeough and the regions were stamped out. The same mould or die was used when the restructured counties of Oxford, Muskoka, and all the rest of them were created.
Consequently, I feel the government has been remiss in not reviewing the legislation individually across the province. We see amendments going through and they usually apply to all bills. I think the time is long past when we can expect these regional governments to run one after another, cut out of the same mould. I think there are differences in areas across the province and these must be recognized.
There are sections in the bill with which I have a great deal of concern. First of all, the fact that the new regional council should be composed of 38 members -- 14 from Oshawa and six from each of the other four, plus a regional chairman which would make 39. In my view, our regional government of 25 in Waterloo is too big. I think it’s cumbersome. I think a group of 39 would be much too large. The representation on that council, as proposed in this bill, would give six, for instance, to Newcastle, six to Pickering, six to Ajax and six to Whitby.
The figures at the time showed a great deal of difference in the population of the various parts of the region and I think this proposal, while being overly large and cumbersome does not give the representation by population that might be expected, even bearing in mind the fact that the city of Oshawa, being the largest city, would have to discount its membership to some extent.
Certainly I have no hesitation in supporting the idea that the regional chairman should be elected at large. This is something this party has talked about as long as the idea of regional government has been discussed in this House.
It may come as a shock to members opposite in the government that the regional chairman of Waterloo, Jack Young, who was appointed by this government, told me as recently as last week that he would have no objection to regional chairmen being elected at large, provided that certain objections could be overcome as to how regional chairmen would be nominated and how they would run their campaign. I would think the greatest objection, of course, is the size of the constituency which in our case would be about a quarter of a million people, 240,000 -- it’s probably the same as Durham -- and I don’t think that that is any more impossible to achieve than, for instance, the mayor of some of the boroughs in Metropolitan Toronto and the mayor of the city of Toronto himself being elected as members at large.
Our regional chairman this year will be elected by council. The present incumbent has made it known that he is ready to serve another two years, and as of now I have not heard of anyone else who intends to seek the position.
Electing a regional chairman at large I think would certainly increase his accessibility and the stature of the position, in that he is elected by the people and not considered to be a political appointment from Queen’s Park to sort of run the region in the manner as dictated by Queen’s Park, because that’s precisely the cloud under which a regional chairperson has to operate with the way it has been set up here.
The matter of transferring many of the powers from the region to the area municipality, I think in a great many instances has a lot of validity. One of the major concerns and the greatest upheavals in our region was in the region taking over the water system. it was not until after the bill had passed that some of the regions who had no debenture debt on their water systems suddenly found that they were going to help pay for huge debts and debentures of other area governments.
This is in the bill; I tried to tell people this is the way it would be, and they said, “Oh, no, we’ll just have to assume each other’s burdens for the future, not for the past.” Well, the bill isn’t like that and that’s the way it is. One of the single biggest problems in most of the regional governments is that people are going in on an unequal basis. Those municipalities that had fortunately paid off their debentures in the past, had a very efficient operation, are now saddled with other debts.
This disadvantage, of course, would be eliminated to a great extent if items which can conveniently be turned back to the area government be turned back. I see no reason why this can’t apply to the distribution of water and the obtaining of the water; there are mutual agreements among the municipalities as to the sharing of the water supplies and that can certainly be worked out. But water is something that I think no one has benefit from by its being at the regional level.
We had absolutely no water restrictions in the city of Waterloo until the region took it over. What did they do? They raised our rates and put on restrictions that you can water your lawn twice a week -- always when I’m never home, so I’ve got the dirtiest, brownest, dried-out grass that I’ve ever had in the years that I’ve lived in Waterloo, simply because that has happened.
Mr. Breaugh: They say it’s kind of a Tory problem.
Mr. Nixon: A Tory problem?
Mr. Good: So I would say the collection of garbage and the disposal of garbage, I think, can also be done on an area government basis, if there is co-operation among the area governments for procuring their landfill sites. And maybe it would be -- not maybe, it certainly has to be -- a very great deterrent to this idea of continuing the use of landfill sites is the fact that they are becoming so much more difficult to get. We’ve got to look at other means for disposing of our garbage. We have to look at the conservation of wrappings and the garbage of which we are disposing, and I think that can be done.
I’d just like to point out a few things which I do not agree with --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member’s time is up. It was agreed as 10 minutes, I believe.
Mr. Good: I’m sorry. There are two more things. I feel that a region is in a better position than the area government to issue debentures. I think they can get a better rate and, for that particular thing, I would have some qualms in accepting that particular part of this bill.
Mr. Moffatt: Before I begin, I’d just like to place on the desk of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) 1,200 signatures to a letter, which I did not solicit, all of which object to the present method of government in the town of Newcastle, part of the area municipality of the region of Durham.
I did not put a copy on the desk of the member for Durham-York (Mr. W. Newman) because I feel he won’t read it. He’s no longer in the House or I would have given him one copy.
I’m surprised at the remarks from the member for Durham-York because what we attempted to do in putting forth this bill, as he full well knows, was not to rewrite the Act or to change the thing in substance because we know the limitations upon a private member. What we are attempting to do with this bill -- and I think the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Good) has hit upon it as well -- is trying to bring the attention of the government to focus on a problem which, if they do not pay attention to it, means there won’t be any Tories over there next time. I don’t know what will happen then because these two groups on this side won’t be able to decide whether all 125 seats should be in the NDP or just a few of them. We’re really of some doubt as to what should happen.
Mr. McCague: I wouldn’t worry about that.
Mr. Moffatt: The present regime in this province has foisted upon the people of the region of Durham a method of government which cannot work because of the way it structured the Act. The regional councillors and elected people are attempting to make the thing work. They’re being blamed by the present government and by the citizens as being spendthrifts who cause all of these problems. Yet, in fact, what has happened is that every one of those things they have had to do, they have had to do as a result of legislation in the original Regional Municipality of Durham Act. They were forced by the Act to have a regional water rate.
I listen to the present mayor of the town of Whitby talking about the great benefits of regional government but Whitby, when it had as mayor Des Newman, who was the Liberal candidate in the last election, over-spent for the provision of sewer and water to the extent where the town now has 34 per cent of the region’s debt, but under the present bill they have to pay just 10 per cent of the region’s taxes for that particular service. They pay 10 per cent of the levy for 34 per cent of the debt. That’s not a bad deal as far as that particular municipality is concerned, but what does it do to the other areas where they don’t have that kind of debt?
This has been alluded to by the member for Waterloo North. Great debentures are now out and falling upon people who have no benefit from the money which was budgeted to be spent on their behalf. They don’t see any of it; they don’t have any effect of it; all they do is get higher and higher tax bills.
What we’ve attempted to do in our bill is to respond to the feelings of the people in that area. The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) can get up and say three or four times in the course of 10 minutes that he knows regional government is not perfect and his government will change it. I submit that under the present legislation, unless some of the measures we propose in this bill are put forward, there is no way in which it will be changed because they haven’t listened to anybody out there for the last three years. Sure, one can talk about a $1.2 million loan that can be arranged. Do you know how that’s arranged? The appointed regional chairman comes in with the Minister of Agriculture and Food and they go to the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) and somehow from the Minister of Housing they get $1.2 million to do industrial development in the region of Durham.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if that makes sense, there are a lot of things in this province that could be done, because that makes no more sense than to have the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett) putting up loans for mobile homes in my riding. I just don’t understand what is going on. They won’t listen to the elected people. There are three members from this party from the region of Durham and one from the government party, and the reason for that is regional government and the way in which it was implemented.
The people there and the people in this party will support the idea of expanded representation, but we will not support the idea of foisting upon innocent people a kind of legislation under which they’ll have to suffer but have no control. That’s what’s wrong with regional government now. Our bill attempts to put back to the local municipalities those things which we and the people there think the local municipalities can indeed have control over, pay for, and run in an effective manner.
It makes no sense at all to me to see a regional road system and a municipal road system when the city of Oshawa, up until The Regional Municipality of Durham Act, had proposed effective street programmes. There was no need for anybody from the county to come in and clean the snow off the streets in the city of Oshawa or to do repairs on their streets. They had an effective system. What do we have now? The city of Oshawa has a system and the region of Durham picks up some of the cost, because it sends trucks in to do work on those regional roads in the city of Oshawa.
That makes no sense at all. That’s, at the most, duplication. We’ve got a staff of people who plan those things. If you put people aside and say, “Here, you’re a staff to plan regional roads,” do you know what they’ll do? They’ll plan roads even though the need may not be there. They’ll plan them, and then someday somebody will say, “Well, we’ve got the plan, we’d better implement it.” That’s what happens in this sort of thing. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What I’m particularly concerned about is the sort of thing that happens in our region where, because of the Act, the region is forced to make plans to put forward programmes. They’ve got to have a regional works department, a regional roads department; each municipality has to have the same thing. With regional planning and municipal planning, everybody then has to run to the region to get the thing done over again anyway. What happens is that they start out by saying, “The Act says we must do these things,” and they plan how they best may do them. Then they go to the people and raise the money to do those things they’ve planned. What’s happened in that area is that taxes have gone up and up and up to the point where people cannot afford them.
What they should have done, and the Act doesn’t allow this now, is let those people know what amount of money they’re going to be able to pay. The region should know how much money will be raised in one year, and that is the amount that their budget has to reflect. There can be no more of this business of running around and saying, “These are the things which the Act requires us to do. We want to get a road subsidy from the Minister of Transportation. We have to spend so many billion dollars.”
If that kind of budgeting goes on, the people in that area are going to stage more than the kind of bill that the member for Durham West has proposed. There’s going to be a tax revolution in that riding. That whole area is a time bomb and if you people across there aren’t prepared to listen to the elected representatives in the House, the people who sit on those regional and local councils and the people from that area who are ordinary citizens who’ve been writing you letters, then I don’t know what you’re going to do. You’ve created a monster and it’s going to devour you. I urge all members to support the bill before you.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, it’s been interesting to hear the basis on which this bill has been presented to the House for consideration this afternoon. I listened carefully to the member for Durham West when he introduced the bill, and he was quick to suggest that he wanted to bring sanity back to the region by reshaping and reworking the existing legislation --
Mr. Moffatt: A little more than that; that sums it up.
Mr. Williams: -- because he felt that the bill had been introduced on the basis of “let’s see how it goes,” to quote the member. Then the member went on at some length to point out that in fact there’s a great groundswell rising in that area, based on four meetings that were held at the beginning of the year on January 13, 20 and 27 -- I guess the member had a bit of free time that month, because they had a lot of meetings -- and they had one on February 3. Because of those four meetings he could see that the whole shape of the Durham region had to be changed. We now have some evidence that a brief or petition has been signed by some 1,200 people, which I think is impressive indeed, indicating some form of dissatisfaction.
Mr. Godfrey: Thank you.
Mr. Moffatt: Public money.
Mr. Williams: But having that information put before us, obviously to persuade the House that in fact there’s going to be a palace revolution down in Durham, I think goes against the facts that have not really been clearly brought out here today. Let’s just look back for a moment or two at the history of how in fact The Regional Municipality of Durham Act came to pass.
The hon. minister did mention earlier in his remarks that in fact extensive studies in the area had been undertaken long before the bill was enacted. I think in 1969, the Oshawa and Area Planning and Development Study was undertaken and went on for a period of about three years. During that period of time there were no fewer than about 15 component areas of consideration in urban planning that were considered at great length, with a great deal of public input --
Mr. Moffatt: And public money.
Mr. Williams: -- to consider all dimensions of the region -- geographical, transportation -- every facet that has been touched upon here today was dealt with at considerable length. As the hon. minister has mentioned, after that study had been ongoing until May, 1971, the report was submitted; from that, the government put together several alternative proposals for the people in the area to consider through 1972. I would say that what led up to that initial proposal were representations involving in excess of 100 briefs -- and not briefs arising out of four meetings that were held in the area.
Mr. Moffatt: You don’t know anything about this.
Mr. Williams: Following that review by the government, with their proposals being put forward -- by comparison to the four meetings we’ve heard about which apparently are shaping a new era out in Durham -- I understand there were in excess of about 600 meetings that were held through 1973 in the area as a prelude to the enactment of The Regional Municipality of Durham Act. Of those 600-odd meetings, at least 150 of them were attended by representatives from the ministry at that time to ensure that they were fully representative of the views of the people in that area.
Mr. Godfrey: That’s 10 meetings a week!
Mr. Warner: How many were public?
Mr. Moffatt: Ours were all public.
Mr. Williams: I think that the proposer of the bill will concede that, in fact, it was the population in the area that is now Brock that had demanded so strongly that they be included in the region of Durham. One evening, I believe, up in the town of Beaverton, not fewer than 1,000 people in that area turned out to state vociferously to the elected representatives that they must be included in the region of Durham.
Mr. Moffatt: As opposed to what?
Mr. Williams: So these contrasts between the samplings -- and they can be nothing more than samplings that have been taken by our friend -- which he suggests justify this bill, in contrast to the extensive studies that went on over a three-year period with much greater involvement, at a cost in excess of $1 million to conduct those hearings arid the studies --
Mr. Moffatt: What a waste, what a waste.
Mr. Williams: -- that I think, perhaps suggests, there is a degree of emphasis being given to the member for Durham West’s comments that is not justified. In any event, even if there was any merit to the suggestion that the three areas secede from the area, certainly the suggestion that it be done by way of referendum, I suggest, is unrealistic and inappropriate.
Mr. Moffatt: You don’t believe in those, do you?
Mr. Conway: Take it easy on the referendums.
Mr. Williams: If any changes are to be made, I think it only appropriate that it be done in the normal fashion of either taking it before the minister or taking it to an impartial body such as the Ontario Municipal Board, which is so often done in changing and reshaping the boundaries of regions and areas -- and certainly not by referendums, which at best are conducted on the basis of emotion and not fact.
Mr. Swart: What’s wrong with emotion?
Mr. Williams: One of the other very interesting considerations that I find appalling is the casual suggestion that the chairman of the region should gain his seat by election.
Mr. Warner: That really goes against your grain.
Mr. Williams: I find that this has been proposed in the Metropolitan Toronto area, which comprises 240 square miles and which also seems somewhat unrealistic, and here we are talking about an area 10 times the area -- of about 2,400 square miles.
Mr. Warner: Two and a half million people.
Mr. Moffatt: Lake Nipigon riding is bigger than that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Williams: We now have a proposal that people should go out and run for election across an area of that size. It’s further suggested that anyone at large would have the financial capacity and ability to realistically go out and persuade the voters of that vast region to be knowledgeable about the region as a whole, whereas the colleagues who would appoint the person would be far better informed --
Mr. Conway: Better Tories anyway.
Mr. Williams: -- on who would be the best spokesman and chairman of the board. In fact, it’s interesting that in the seat of democracy, in England, we find that all of the county councils appoint their chairmen. They don’t elect them. In fact, half of the county councils are appointed. They are not elected. That system seems to work very well. In fact, I haven’t heard any complaints coming from that part of the world in recent times.
So it appears that these basic proposals which have been suggested are not really to restructure or rewrite the Act or change it in substance. In fact, they will materially change the substance of the Act. The whole purpose of regional government is to provide equity across the system and to provide basic regional needs. This is proven so well in the Metropolitan Toronto area where the smaller municipalities did not have the financial capability nor the resource nor tax structure to provide the tax dollars necessary to provide the basic facilities.
The building of massive waterworks or waste disposal units -- whether they be incinerators or land disposal undertakings or whatever -- are matters of considerable financial substance and normally cannot be sustained by smaller municipalities who do not have the financial capability. So even though they suggest that the smaller municipalities would be best equipped to handle these things, I think in reality we all understand from the Metropolitan Toronto experience --
Mr. Moffatt: Paternalism is always much more comfortable.
Mr. Williams: -- and the experience of other jurisdictions it would be ludicrous to suggest that these large regional capital undertakings could be financed by the local municipalities.
Indeed there is a great number of inconsistencies in the statements that have been made here this afternoon by the proposers of the bill. They certainly fly in the face of the experience that was gained prior to the enactment of the Durham legislation specifically.
Mr. Warner: In the face of autocratic --
Mr. Williams: At that time it was created largely as a result of a great deal of public input to demonstrate that this was the way in which it should be done. This is the way the people wanted the legislation at that time. There’s nothing that’s come forward that really has substantially changed that situation. I would therefore have to vote against the bill. At best it is premature at this time and, in fact, unrealistic.
Mr. Warner: You can’t be serious.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the principle of this bill, insofar as it relates to duplication of services and the establishment of local autonomy. But I find discussion of the bill from members of the government side of the House consistent with their attitude of creating a bureaucratic monster in the name of regional government, with its imposition on people to the eventual elimination of the municipal council.
Mr. Conway: Shame.
Mr. Stong: On the other hand I find the approach of my friends in the NDP to this bill and their attitude toward regional government consistent with their attitude of sucking and blowing at the same time.
Mr. Haggerty: That is typical of them.
Mr. Stong: They propose in this bill the preservation of local autonomy. But when we discussed Bill 55 in this House, and I proposed a recommendation that would protect local autonomy, to a man they voted against that very amendment. Here in this bill they are advocating a return to local autonomy.
Mr. Grande: Because you didn’t understand the bill.
Mr. Nixon: It was very clear and you voted against it.
Mr. Grande: You didn’t understand the bill.
Mr. Nixon: Flip flop. You have got more positions than --
Mr. Moffatt: Masters and Johnson.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, as far as Bill 95 is concerned, and its application in the regional municipality of Durham, many of the aspects of this bill can apply to any other regional municipality. I find the suggestion in the bill that the areas of Uxbridge and Brock be eliminated at this stage to be almost impractical. Regional government, despite the fact it was forced on the people, is there. To eliminate it, as the minister says, without consulting with the people at this stage would be to reiterate the exact way in which the bill was imposed.
The minister referred to the fact that there is a lack of dissatisfaction. He says “go to the people.” Not less than two weeks ago the council of Mississauga voted unanimously to look into the matter of the costs of eliminating regional government from that area.
In my respectful submission, the minister doesn’t have to go too far to find general dissatisfaction with (a) the way regional government was imposed and (b) its operation at present.
Mr. Good referred to several matters in this bill and I would agree with him. At this stage we must have representation by population and insofar as Bill 95 excludes representation by population, setting a fixed number of representatives on the regional council, I find that to be impractical and an error in principle.
As well, reference has been made to the fact that the regional chairman ought to be elected. In principle, Mr. Speaker, I find that to be acceptable and it ought to be employed. As was referred to by a previous speaker, the fact now that the regional chairman is appointed seems to smack of patriotism and at all costs that must be avoided.
Mr. Moffatt: Patronage. You’ve got to be careful of words there.
Mr. Stong: In this case we must have the regional chairman elected. Likewise, Mr. Speaker, insofar as this bill transfers to the area municipalities the function that ought to be designated to them -- for instance, control over roads, control over water -- that is good in principle and I have no difficulty supporting that at all in this bill.
Insofar as this bill refers to adopting an official plan and eliminating the need for ministerial approval, in my respectful submission that is an error in principle. We ought to have a provincial plan and not just have regions or municipalities acting in a vacuum so that the elimination of ministerial approval in this particular bill in my respectful submission is not acceptable and it ought to be left in.
The setting up of a regional board of health is in principle a good facet of this bill; the health council. As well, police and fire protection ought to be included where regional municipalities have already been established, but insofar as they have been established they must not be holus-bolus broken down or eliminated but be made to work -- work in a confined and constrained area and health being one of those areas.
Allusion has been made to the fact that regional municipalities and regional municipal councils are better equipped to finance areas. Perhaps that is a legitimate expression in this bill as well that the region should be allowed to finance the municipalities, because by and large in that area the best financing could be obtained as opposed to local municipalities trying to arrange their own financing. That is an area in which regional councils can play a vital role.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that I was allotted five minutes to speak to this bill and those are the areas of concern that I would express in speaking to Bill 95.
Mr. Breaugh: I have waited for some time to have the opportunity to debate this particular bill in the House because it is very important to me. I am one of those people who worked on that regional council for two years. I was there from the beginning when the proposals were made and attempted, to the best of my ability, with the other members of that council, to make the proposed region of Durham work, to take the legislation that had been put down in Bill 162 and to make the thing function properly. I am quite prepared to say now that that can’t be done.
Let me take you back to that glorious night, December 18 it was, in 1972, when every politician in the area was invited to go to Eastdale Collegiate in Oshawa and hear the word from on high. And it was well done. There was a little showbiz involved. A PR firm came down to put up one slide of the proposed region. The Treasurer was there. His parliamentary assistant was there. And so were a lot of other people, including the people from Cobourg, screaming in the balcony that they wanted out before it even started and that, of course, led to some further consultations about things.
Mr. Moffatt: Hear that, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Breaugh: I remember them walking out, slamming the door, accosting the Treasurer in the hall, yelling and screaming and beginning a very effective campaign to get out of the thing. They had some foresight that perhaps the rest of us didn’t have.
A number of people have made mention of the fact that how bad it would be if we took out those three northern townships. Well, on that night in December of 1972 it took the Treasurer, Charles MacNaughton, about a paragraph and a half to get right to it. He said: “Tonight the Ontario government invites you to join us in developing a strong and responsive system of local government for the area along the shore of Lake Ontario.” As a matter of fact, what he said was exactly what was recommended in the OAPAD study, that million dollar report that the government did and then threw away.
A little later, about a paragraph later, he said: “I want to assure you that everyone will have ample opportunity to discuss his views before the legislation is drafted.” Well, that never happened. Closed meetings with closed minds from TEIGA are not consultation. And that is precisely all we had. On the same evening it took the then parliamentary assistant, the present member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Irvine), about another paragraph to get into this bit about who should belong to the region of Durham and what would be a viable region. He said that in Ontario county it had been convincingly argued that the rural part of the county had little in common with the urban south and should not be included with it.
Mr. Good: Who said that?
Mr. Breaugh: That happened to be the parliamentary assistant, All those who talk about great referendums and planning studies should be reminded of what the then Treasurer and his assistant said that night, after three years, and a million dollars’ worth of OAPAD study and the public hearings to boot. The member for Oriole mentioned those public hearings. I think it is also important that the government not only hold the hearings, but that it listen to what is said. When the government spends $1 million on planning, at least it should pay some heed to what they came up with at the end of that time. It wasn’t just a plan created by seven or eight little Toronto planners. It was a plan put together by the people of the area. The problem is that it was almost totally ignored.
The principle of regional government is a good one and substantially a sound thing. I don’t think you will find many people in the area arguing about that principle. What they are addressing themselves to are the practical problems that have come up after three years of regional government in that area. Somebody else said: “Well, you had four meetings, great.” Surely that is being about as ignorant of the situation as one can get. There are three members in this caucus who work daily with people on that council and people who live in that region. That is where this information came from. One can read the papers any day of the week anywhere in that region and find this kind of information and this kind of viewpoint put forth. One can talk to those politicians and can go now and talk to the committee of the regional council -- they have to redraft Bill 162. They are doing it as well. One can go this Wednesday and see one of the main elements that we are proposing in here debated at the regional council on a motion from the city of Oshawa to return water and sewer functions to the city, to the local municipalities.
There are some very basic problems in that region of Durham, not the least of which is making it a viable community. All of the studying that was done, all of the initial recommendations that were made suggested a lakeshore community -- all of them without exception. In the final throes of a little political upheaval, the government abandoned that position, and no one particularly knows the reason. I was there at the time. I certainly didn’t hear any thundering calls from the north coming in saying they wanted to join. I sat through two years of council meetings listening to those people telling me why they didn’t have much in common with the southern lakeshore community, the one they recognized, because it is there.
There are some practical problems. That cohesion one needs, that possible path one has to have in front of one before one can ever succeed at anything isn’t there in the region of Durham. There are clearly some areas where some changes have to be made, and that is precisely what we are proposing here. One of the basic problems in that legislation is that it was set up to make duplication all along the line. That duplication is not only costly, it is damned inefficient. There is no responsiveness back and forth. Someone made mention of this matter of whether we have local councils and regional councils. We are saying no, everybody who is elected there goes and sits on the regional council. One should talk to those local councillors in the area who want to know what is going on at the region and don’t sit on that council. They think it is important that they understand and play a role in the deliberations of the region of Durham, and I think so too. Frankly, that is why it is in this bill.
The government can’t say it has planning locally and planning regionally and ignore the idea that it has built-in duplication in costs there. There are.
In essence what we have said in this bill is let us take the functions, let us take those that are obviously more beneficially done at the region, such as planning, and put it there. Let’s take out all the red tape on the thing. There will be an appeal to the cabinet if somebody is unhappy. There will be an OMB hearing in the area if somebody is unhappy. But let’s make that essential planning function a regional one. All of the studies, the million-dollar OAPAD study said that.
We also have said, “Let’s take the nuts and bolts of the thing and put them back in to the local municipality.” That is precisely a major problem. People don’t know who to call to plough their road. They don’t know essentially where to turn if there is a small servicing problem in the area. They used to know when it was carried on by the local municipality. They don’t know now.
That’s costly, that’s inefficient, it’s out front where the people see it, and is a source of constant political aggravation in the area -- something you ought to recognize as being a simple fact is that if they did those things well, they could continue to do them well, and that’s another area where you ought to take the duplication out of that service and essentially have it run by the local municipality, let them go ahead and do it. In fact, in a number of other regions what has happened is that although the Act says the region shall perform that public works function, the regional council says in effect that that’s nuts and simply contracts it back to the local municipality. If you want an example of that, you go into Oshawa and watch them clean the streets It’s essentially what’s going on there.
Those are simply factual matters taking that duplication out; deciding what service would be performed by which level of government. Frankly all we are all doing in this proposed bill is simply recognizing the study and the consensus that’s there among the people -- and it is there, and you would have to be blind not to see it.
Let me move to this area about the regional chairman. Much has been made of “What else would you do with old Tories if you didn’t recycle them as regional chairmen?” Now maybe that’s a little unfair and a little harsh, but how impractical is it to have democracy at work for the most important job in the region of Durham?
You say it’s a big area. There are members in this House who have areas twice as much in size. In this viable community that we are proposing as a revised region of Durham it’s a very practical matter to have him do that. That isn’t a difficult task at all.
The matter of local councillors is important. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is important that all the elected people in that area understand the process, but more than that, play a role in that process and they are unable to do so now.
One of the things we found out in the region of Durham is that theories don’t always work. The prevalent theory’ at the beginning of the regional setup was financing, as an example. It has been mentioned a couple of times: “That would be a good thing for the regions to do. There are more people there; you would be able to get better investment, better rates on your debt.” Frankly, that theory sounds pretty good but it hasn’t worked in Durham. The practical factors are simply not there. In fact the city of Oshawa was able to borrow money on better terms, under better circumstances, before the region came in, and had a very fine finance department that handled things very well, thank you.
If you walk around the region of Durham and you are trying to make the case that the financing of the region of Durham is much better now than it was before, people will hit you over the head with their tax bills, or their water and sewer bills, and tell you where to go in short order.
So that part of the financing thing--that there would be economies of scale -- never materialized; it never happened. That there would be fewer people working never really occurred at any time during the three years that that region has been in. In fact what has happened so far is a Band-Aid approach. Every year the region sets its budget; every year the Treasurer finds another little goodie to drop on them.
I sat through an amazing council meeting one day where they tried to convince the regional council -- and I think there were three ministers there at that time -- that something like a $7 million loan would be a good thing. I never thought at any particular time that a $7 million debt for the region of Durham was a particular good idea. I don’t like $7 million debts. Even if they are interest-free loans, you still owe the money.
Much has been said of this water and sewer rate increases -- and particularly in an industrial area. And we had some questions in the House the other day about how badly Durham needs new industrial growth. But it is pretty hard to convince a new industry that they ought to take it on the chin -- 1,500 per cent for a water increase. That makes it pretty tough to convince people it’s a good place to come -- but it’s precisely what has happened.
I want to remind the government too that they love it so much, this is the region that threatened to take it to court over its York-Durham sewer agreement. So there are some real problems there.
In summary I want to say very quickly it is important that the government pay heed to this bill. If it didn’t last December 18, let it do it December 6; do it now. It is a bill that’s not without its faults, I suppose, as any piece of human legislation is. But essentially it reflects the mood of the people there and accentuates some very real problems that were contained in that original bill.
Mr. Speaker: This order is discharged from the order paper.
Mr. Godfrey: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hour is not expended. I call for third reading.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: My watch says 6 o’clock, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I think it’s 6 o’clock.
Mr. Godfrey: Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to contradict you, sir, but looking at the clock over here, it is not yet 6 o’clock and this calls for third reading, there being no further speakers to this bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. By agreement over a number of years and by precedent established over a number of years, the motion for second reading does not come to a vote either, so I declare any such motion out of order. I declare it 6 of the clock at the present time.
Mr. Godfrey: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Recognizing well the traditions of this House, which were enjoyed during a massive majority on the other side of the House, I suggest it’s time for some new wind in this type of ruling and I protest that ruling.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: There is lots of wind over there, that’s for sure. They’re not suffering from lack of wind.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I believe this point is being considered by a special committee; I think that is the place to change the rules of the House and not here in the House by an ad hoc action.
Mr. Godfrey: Mr. Speaker, this is where democracy lives, right here.
Mr. Speaker: This was agreed by all members of the House a number of years ago -- before the hon. member was present in the House, I must admit -- and it has been established firmly by precedent that the second reading does not come to a vote.
Mr. Haggerty: It is under review now.
Mr. Speaker: As I mentioned a moment ago, and as substantiated by one of the hon. members, this particular procedure is under study, so I’ve been led to believe, and we’ll await their decision and recommendation and the democratic decision of the House at that time.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, I would like to remind members that tomorrow we’ll continue with second reading of Bill 139 and, after its completion, order number 13, Bill 140.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Brunelle, the House adjourned at 6:02 p.m.