The House met at 2 p.m.
POINT OF PRIVILEGE
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: I recognize the member for Hamilton West.
Mr. S. Smith: As we discussed privately this morning, sir, I wish to withdraw a statement made by me last Thursday and recorded in the press. I wish to assure you that I have the greatest respect for the office you hold and it was not my desire to insult the Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I thank the hon. member for his remarks. I appreciate them and I accept them and, as far as I am concerned, the matter is closed. I appreciate them.
I must comment briefly now on occurrences of Thursday last and the point also raised on Friday morning by certain members. When a member disagrees with an answer he has received from a minister, that does not constitute either a point of order or a matter of privilege. He should present his version, either by giving notice of his desire for a debate on adjournment to take place on the following Tuesday, as provided in standing orders 27 and 28; or he should take some other early opportunity of expressing his viewpoint, perhaps by the careful phrasing of a supplementary question.
What happened on Thursday was that it had developed into a pointless argument back and forth across the floor as to who was right and who was wrong in an interpretation of criminal law. When I attempted to bring an end to this argument, the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) accused the minister of misleading the House.
On re-examination of the precedents, I have come to the conclusion that while it is not an offence to suggest that a member is in error and therefore is perhaps misleading the House inadvertently it is very clear that an accusation of deliberately misleading the House is not parliamentary. I refer you to May’s Parliamentary Practice, 19th edition, page 430, at the bottom of the first paragraph on that page, and to Parliamentary Debates, 1972-73, 859, c. 186. While the member for Ottawa East did not in fact use the word deliberate that was undoubtedly his meaning in the context in which he used the expression. I feel it was equally clear that in his accusation the member was imputing motives to the minister, and I refer you to standing order 16 (a), paragraph 9. I therefore had no alternative but to ask him to withdraw the accusation.
Statements by the ministry.
HURONIA REGIONAL CENTRE
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, events at Huronia Regional Centre early in April of this year prompted community concern and questions in this House. On April 27, accompanied by the assistant deputy minister for resources development, I made an unannounced and unscheduled visit to Orillia, to the Huronia Regional Centre. Following that visit and on the basis of further inquiries initiated by me, I determined there should be a thorough and comprehensive independent inquiry into the management and operation of the Huronia Regional Centre. Following this decision, it took approximately three weeks to locate and secure the acceptance of a thoroughly qualified independent investigator to conduct the inquiry. Accordingly, on June 1, I asked Dr. Joseph W. Willard to undertake this inquiry and to report to me on his findings.
Dr. Willard submitted that report to me last week. Arrangements were made to print copies of it during this past weekend and I am taking this first opportunity to table the entire document in this House for the benefit of the members and the general public. While it has taken a little longer than originally was anticipated to produce this report, when the members have had a chance to review it I am sure that they will agree with me that the additional time required by Dr. Willard has been well spent.
Dr. Willard has conducted a searching inquiry into a very difficult and complex operation. As he points out, the Huronia Regional Centre represents, in a sense, a community of some 3,000 people, including residents and staff. The multiplicity of problems which inevitably arise in a community of that size are never simple and straightforward. Fortunately for us, Dr. Willard displays in his report a rare combination of analytical ability and depth of understanding of human relations which have enabled him to outline the problems with clarity and simplicity and to propose solutions which are reasonable and to the point.
Members will note that Dr. Willard has made some 69 separate recommendations. Obviously, because I have had the report only a few days, I have not been able to develop detailed responses to all of them for today. However, I would like to make a few general remarks in response to some of the topics to which they refer.
For example, I am pleased to say that my colleague, the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), has already agreed to undertake with me an immediate review of the recommendations concerning the provision of psychiatric services with a view to inaugurating, insofar as is feasible, the special psychiatric units under The Mental Health Act which are being recommended.
With respect to the signing out and self- discharge of residents to the community, a matter which has caused considerable concern in the Orillia area particularly, I am quite prepared to proceed immediately toward the implementation of the recommendations for determining which residents are capable of travelling freely within the community and what would constitute appropriate supervision for the others. As well, I am prepared to see implemented an appropriate in-house mechanism for ensuring adequate preparation and support for those residents who decide to leave the facility prematurely.
I see much merit in the recommendations concerning resident abuse and staff discipline, particularly in the suggestion that an “ombudsman” function be established so that independent review of allegations of abuse will be assured.
Recognizing the complexities of administering a facility the size of Huronia, and the difficulty of reorienting such an institution to the new philosophy of provision of co-ordinated community based services for the mentally retarded, Dr. Willard has made some very positive recommendations concerning structure and organization. I have already taken some preliminary steps toward the implementation of some of these. In particular, I have agreed that a change of administrator at the centre is required for the reasons which Dr. Willard outlines. In addition, I have asked that priority be given to investigating the feasibility of adopting the four-branch structure at Huronia as recommended.
The need for improving communications and working relationships with the parents of the residents and the community at large is certainly recognized. Accordingly, I am prepared to accept the recommendations concerning the strengthening of the liaison function, both from an organizational standpoint and on the basis of the establishment of a community based centre advisory committee.
With respect to the recommendations concerning planning for the future, I have already stated on numerous occasions my ministry’s complete support for the consultative planning process which has been established through the district working groups.
As Dr. Willard so correctly points out, it will take some time to implement all of the changes, including those affecting the physical plant, which will be necessary to allow Huronia Regional Centre to adjust from its 100-year tradition of being essentially a segregated total care institution to become a functional part of a comprehensive community based system of services and facilities for the retarded. While much progress has already been made, the implementation of the majority of Dr. Willard’s recommendations will do much to hasten that progress.
PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES’ NEGOTIATIONS
Hon. Mr. Davis: Just a very brief matter by way of a statement and, I guess, to adhere to the rules of the House, a point of privilege in some respects as well. I want to apologize to the hon. member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) and also the House leader for the opposition, because my office had indicated to the government that a statement would be forthcoming with respect to the public health nurse difficulties in his and other areas in the province on Friday. This did not happen, through an oversight, for which I cannot blame the hon. member for Wentworth.
Mr. Deans: Thank you very much.
Mr. Moffatt: If you could you would.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I mean much as I would like to!
Mr. Renwick: We thought he was to blame.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, he was.
The Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) has been keeping a very close watch on the situation, and shares with me the frustration with respect to the intransigence on both sides of the issue. I intend to write both sides throughout the province to express my government’s concern in very personal terms. That letter, which I will table in the House later this week, is a prelude to any further government action. I am not convinced, however, that that action will be of ultimate value in view of the initiative of the Ministry of Health in offering to be of assistance to the parties directly. I will keep a close tab on the matter and report back to the House when a response to our letter is received.
ECONOMIC PLANNING CONFERENCE
Hon. Mr. Davis: The end of year one of the Anti-Inflation Board’s operation, as well as the decision by the Legislature to confirm the commitment made by the government to co-operate with that programme, represents a unique opportunity for Ontario to reconsider and review its economic priorities and assumptions.
Some of the concern expressed about the anti-inflation programme centres around the perception of measures which are often perceived to be the central thrust of planning and policy formulation.
Economic policy and planning must not always remain the exclusive preserve of the experts. In Ontario our Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) has always sought to obtain a broad input from many groups in the planning process --
Mr. Reid: After announcing the plans.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He didn’t, I must confess, consult with the hon. member for Rainy River, no.
Mr. Deans: He didn’t consult with us either.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And he didn’t consult with the member for Wentworth.
Mr. Reid: You wouldn’t be in the mess you are if you had.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But I can assure you that representation from organized labour did have an opportunity.
Mr. Deans: So why are you telling me then?
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m just saying this to show you how broadly based it is.
Mr. Breithaupt: As the political arm.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We get your contribution later.
Mr. Peterson: It is the enforcing arm.
Hon. Mr. Davis: As I was saying, there is a broad input from many groups in the planning process surrounding the preparation of budgetary and fiscal recommendations to cabinet. The millions of citizens who have a stake in a free, prosperous and vibrant economy have a very real right to a more open process, a process which brings together the key sectors of our society in order to share and develop a perspective on key economic issues.
To this end, Mr. Speaker, the government is inviting labour, business, consumers, agriculture and representative organizations from within the social sector, to participate in a conference to be held in Toronto on February 10 and 11. The purpose of that conference is best summed up in the title under which it will be organized. Partnership for Prosperity. It is my intention that this occasion will provide an opportunity for full and open discussion of the path and direction our economy must follow after controls are lifted, whenever that may be.
This conference, Mr. Speaker, which I will chair, will seek to build a framework of understanding and a perspective upon which our society can build. The shape of our society, in economic terms, is for the people to determine through their duly-elected governments. For government to seek to make that determination uniquely on its own would, however, be a serious denial of a role for organizations and groups which legitimately seek to advance the interests of their membership and constituency, as well as the interest of society as a whole.
With the high concentration of economic activity here, Ontario’s economic prosperity, its shape and tone, relate directly to the continued economic viability of our nation.
Through this conference, we hope to set an example for the senior level of government. There is room for broad consultation on national priorities as an element in policy development in the economic area. Good and workable federal-provincial consultation is also an essential element of good policy making.
To bear out our contention that sound economic planning requires wide and effective consultation, this government will seek to work with business, labour, consumers and farmers to ensure that perspectives which dominate our assumptions and hopes are realistic and fair.
Mr. Speaker, I will be writing each member of the assembly a detailed letter on the conference before January 1.
The conference will be open to the media; it will also be open to members of the public within the limits of space available.
Mr. Nixon: That’s why you are having it, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: This government feels --
Mr. Reid: There must be an election coming.
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I didn’t hear that.
Mr. Reid: There must be election coming up.
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, I think it is reasonable to assume that at some point in time there will be an election.
Mr. Nixon: Going to allow the media; what a surprise.
Hon. Mr. Davis: This government feels confident Ontario is moving to a period of sustained prosperity and growth which can benefit all of our people.
Mr. Nixon: What a great example this is to the senior government.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We believe it is the role of government to seek to build some common ground that all sectors in our society can share.
Mr. Breithaupt: This may lead to a Just Society.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is our hope that through a coherent discussion of issues which are of direct economic concern to all groups, in an open, objective forum, Ontario can benefit in many ways.
In our invitations, we shall stress that we are prepared to listen and that we seek a broad spectrum of advice. Our invitation is a challenge to all those who share our interest in a bright and equitable economic future, and I’m confident, Mr. Speaker, that that challenge will be met.
Mr. Nixon: Come on boys, let’s have it; did you really say “partnership for prosperity”?
Mr. Speaker: Order please. The hon. Treasurer.
Mr. Ruston: Lorne didn’t even applaud it.
Mr. Reid: Here comes the epilogue.
ISOLATED COMMUNITIES ASSISTANCE FUND
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I want to outline to the members the government’s policy proposals for strengthening the capacity of communities in northern Ontario to meet their local problems.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s about time.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am tabling today a background paper which explores the organizational problems facing our northern communities.
Mr. Conway: There is an election.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: For some time we have wrestled with the question of how to ensure that as many residents of northern Ontario as possible have access to an effective system for meeting needs of local communities.
Mr. Breithaupt: Like water.
Mr. Reid: Like money.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Let me begin by saying that we took a bias into this process and nothing that’s happened since we began has changed this view. We believe that a system of representative and accountable local government should exist where that system can effectively set and meet local priorities.
Mr. Haggerty: Recycling that speech of yours.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In northern Ontario, the problems which local governments face are serious, difficult and unique. In many communities, no amount of rationalizing of local government institutions will make up for their resource deficiencies.
Much of the north has no local government and hence has no local representative presence with which to confront its problems. This realization is not new. Members on both sides of the House have raised perplexing issues unique to parts of northern Ontario.
In June 1974, The Northern Communities Act, Bill 102, was introduced in the Legislature. The purpose of this bill was to provide representative institutions for those communities remote from other urban centres which could not afford full municipal status. After giving this Act first reading, we began an extensive process of local consultation in the north. Our object was to determine from the residents of the small communities of the north what they wanted in the way of local government. It was emphasized to us that no one model will fit all areas of the north. It should be obvious to us that all institutions and systems that are appropriate for the urban and populated areas of northern Ontario, are neither appropriate nor economic in the more sparsely populated areas or in the areas with very small communities. Our first principle then must be to ensure sufficient flexibility in our policies to meet the needs of each kind of area.
However, we can talk in general terms about two different conditions in the north which pose distinctly different problems. First, there are the communities with a substantial population, ranging from approximately 1,000 to well over 100,000. In the second general type of area in the north, and the area, frankly, with which I am most concerned today, are those communities which are too small to establish conventional forms of a full local government system. For these areas, separate municipal incorporation is neither the most economic method of providing basic local services nor particularly desired by local people.
I would like to discuss these two conditions briefly at this point. Throughout the north, there are several urban centres large enough to generate fringe growth. Some of these stand relatively alone, while others have in their immediate vicinity other urban centres with which they compete and share a close community of interest. The problems these communities face vary widely; however, they do share several problems almost without exception. They often border on unorganized areas or municipalities which are dependent on the central communities for employment, commerce, social and personal services, and often for physical services. Much of the area near them features unplanned fringe growth areas of unserviced and unserviceable land, an absence of land-use controls and environmental safeguards and unevenly distributed resources. The tax structure has sometimes encouraged settlement in unorganized territory.
It has generally been acknowledged that land-use controls are vitally needed in most of these areas. Unfortunately, the only tools available -- provincial controls under The Public Lands Act and The Planning Act -- are not fully effective; and most important, are not responsive to local needs. In addition, most areas on the fringe of major urban centres are inseparably linked with those centres but do not contribute any taxes to the community that serves them. These fringe settlements rarely form cohesive units and often create problems which are excessively expensive to alleviate.
While these problems are serious, we do have through The Municipal Act mechanisms by which municipalities can come to grips with them. We have, over the last few years, actively assisted communities and municipalities in incorporating or in redrawing boundaries and will continue to do so in the future. We continue to respond to requests from communities wishing to explore local government alternatives by conducting detailed studies with them. This process not only assists local leaders in a more effective use of resources, it also provides the basis for a much more effective use of provincial support funds that go to municipalities of the north.
While conventional municipal organization may be the appropriate vehicle for much of the more heavily populated parts of northern Ontario, it is not now, and probably never will be, the answer to the problems of the very small and isolated communities and the huge expanse of very sparsely populated territory throughout our north. It is to the immediate problems of these areas that I wish to pay particular attention. This government has a wide variety of programmes available to all residents of northern Ontario, regardless of whether they are in a municipality or not. However, a great many of the services which local government provides to most of the residents of Ontario are not available in the remote and sparsely populated areas of our northland.
Very few of these small communities wish to have full municipal incorporation because they recognize that they are too small to take advantage of the full range of services which makes local government economic in larger areas. In The Municipal Act there are requirements for protecting the public purse. There are requirements for certain records to be kept and for the performance of mandatory services.
From time to time, we are faced with such communities requesting incorporation but because this usually is not an economic proposition it is our policy to discourage incorporation unless economic and financial stability is assured. We decided, therefore, to find a method of providing funds to groups of people in such a way that they were not required to expend a great deal of energy and money on the business of maintaining the vehicle to provide fundamental services.
We have settled upon the establishment of an isolated communities assistance fund. The Minister of Natural Resources will become responsible for a sum of money to be made available at his discretion to individuals and groups in the more sparsely settled areas of Ontario for the purpose of meeting fundamental needs normally met by local governments.
Mr. Reid: That’s what is wrong with the programme.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The fund will be applied to fire protection, water provision, perhaps in a few cases to sewage or water treatment, and other local services fundamental to the maintenance of life and health. A supplementary estimate will be introduced empowering the minister to grant funds to any community organization which can satisfy him of its capacity and intent to provide specific services.
In addition to the voluntary community organizations throughout the north there are --
Mr. Breithaupt: Everything for Kenora.
Mr. Kerrio: Too little, too late.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- a number of bodies established through provincial legislation which may wish to participate in this programme. Examples are: Local roads boards, boards of education; community centre boards; and recreation committees.
Funding would not be available from the ICAF for the statutory functions of these institutions. We will, however, give consideration to the desirability of permitting these bodies to raise and dispense funds for a much broader range of services than they now perform. In many cases, community organizations have been able to collect sufficient money to provide some services. This programme will reinforce local initiatives.
We will therefore consider introducing legislation giving the provincially established bodies authority to raise limited funds for purposes for which ICAF funds have been granted.
For the balance of 1976-77 we will make available $250,000 for this fund; and for 1977-78, $500,000. In subsequent years, depending on demand, response and availability of funds, we will maintain or increase this sum.
The requests for assistance will obviously come from a number of sources. We will be consulting with and seeking the advice of the two associations for unorganized communities -- northwest and northeast -- which have already been most helpful to us. We have undertaken to fund them so that they can continue to speak for the people in the unorganized communities and make their advice available to us.
The main point of contact within the government will be the Ministry of Natural Resources which, with its regional, district and other facilities, including its northern affairs branch, has offices throughout the north.
I want to emphasize, before closing, that the isolated communities assistance fund will be available only to those communities too far from existing municipal areas to contract with them to incorporate themselves and so be eligible for normal government programmes and assistance.
When we recognize that only about 20,000 people live in the area which I have described here, the money which we are making available is a substantial sum and should alleviate many of the difficulties facing these communities. We are all familiar with tragic fires and difficulties in daily living which faced many of these communities.
It is my opinion that the isolated communities assistance fund will go a long way to solving these problems while those communities which are sufficiently close to population centres to contract with them or to amalgamate with them can meet their pressing needs through normal municipal avenues.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
ISOLATED COMMUNITIES ASSISTANCE FUND
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I know there is a question but I don’t know what it is.
Mr. Breithaupt: Start by asking how much.
Mr. Deans: I don’t quite understand -- how is this $500,000 to be administered? On what criteria will the money be handed out?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The criteria are being developed but, basically, I think two rules will apply. The money will go only to communities as distinct from municipalities to be spent on things for which they are not eligible under other government programmes. Am I making myself clear? Secondly, except as a last resort, it would not go to areas which, because of either size or proximity to an already incorporated area, should be incorporated and come under the umbrella of local government.
As to where the requests will come from, I am sure they are going to come from communities themselves and from members on both sides of the House. They will come through the Ministry of Natural Resources to the minister who will administer the fund.
Mr. Reid: Can the Treasurer explain to me why he has ruined the programme from the very beginning, by making it at the discretion of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier) who is already known for his incompetence?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a supplementary question?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member would like to suggest how it might be administered. We happen to have confidence in the system whereby there is ministerial responsibility. We don’t, on this side of the House, propose to abdicate our responsibility to spend public funds.
Mr. Angus: Mr. Speaker: I am wondering if the minister could advise us what discussions have gone on between the two unorganized community associations with regard to this particular proposal? Are they familiar with it and have they had a chance for input?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: There have been extensive discussions, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deans: Can I ask one final supplementary? Wouldn’t it appear appropriate, at least for the purposes of the public view of the programme, that it be clearly administered through the administration of the ministry rather than left in the hands of the minister himself?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Certainly, but the minister is ultimately responsible.
Mr. Reid: He is in charge of patronage in the north.
Mr. Conway: A supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Because of the interest in this we will allow a supplementary to the member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Conway: A very brief clarification: Could the Treasurer indicate exactly the jurisdiction, again? I am thinking particularly of those areas which lie in a sort of buffer between southern and’ northern Ontario in the northern reaches of Renfrew county. What is the exact area that would be covered?
Mr. Moffatt: Not Renfrew North.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Basically, any territory in the province which is unorganized or which, realistically, will not be organized. There may well be areas, broadly speaking south of the French River, which are unorganized and which realistically should not be organized or attached to an organized area and which therefore would be eligible.
I am pleased the member has asked this question because we tend to think of the unorganized parts of the province, those areas without municipal organization, as being only in the north but there are areas of southern Ontario which lack municipal government and which realistically probably won’t have a form of local government and for which this fund, is available.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for Cochrane South.
Mr. Ferrier: I would like to ask the minister, by way of supplementary, if unorganized areas which lie between two organized areas at this point will be given adequate consideration and full consultation before they are brought into organized areas?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes, Mr. Speaker. There is no intention at this moment to initiate incorporation of areas. I think the statement says that but we will certainly encourage it. There are parts of the province which we think would benefit either by separate incorporation, or more particularly by amalgamation or coming into an organized area. That will be encouraged, but at the moment I don’t know of any area where we are going to initiate that ourselves, or at least we would not do so without extensive local consultation.
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism: Is the minister in a position to table the documentation that led to the amalgamation, I suppose it was, of General Electric, Westinghouse and GSW, particularly in those areas which affect the manpower policies of the three companies, to ensure that not only will the overall employment be maintained and improved but that the individual plants will not be detrimentally affected by what is taking place?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I would not be in a position to table the documents because all documentation really is with the federal government and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce in Ottawa. I shall inquire of the minister in Ottawa as to whether the documents are for public dis closure, and the details of them, and see if it is possible to have them.
Mr. Deans: By way of supplementary question: Has the minister met with his colleague, the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), with regard to the effects this amalgamation or coming together, whatever we want to call it, will have on her well under way manpower policies for the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, first of all we should keep very clearly in mind that the application for amalgamation between two companies does not fall under the guidelines of the FIRA organization. The right to discuss this, that is for the federal minister and I, was given to us by the three companies involved, Westinghouse, GSW and Canadian General Electric. Their obligations were a true indication to the government, both provincial and federal of what they would do.
They have indicated clearly they will maintain the employment and the factories as they presently are. They have also said they might streamline some of the factories and plant locations but there would be no reduction in employment. There is a possibility that 400 new employees will be brought on stream and that over the five-year period $50 million will be invested in new technology by the amalgamated companies.
Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary for the minister: Is it a fact that a few weeks prior to this deal a GSW plant in Fergus closed? Has the minister assured himself that the two events -- the closing of the plant and the ultimate agglomeration of the companies -- is not in some way related?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am convinced that they are not related. GSW clearly indicated to us that they closed the plant in Fergus strictly for economic reasons. No longer could they manufacture the goods in that plant and stay on a competitive basis.
Mr. Renwick: They always say that.
Mr. Deans: A supplementary question. Isn’t that exactly the reason the minister needs to see the documentation that guarantees the jobs? Isn’t that the very reason he has to have before this Legislature all of the documents? Doesn’t he feel he has a responsibility to the people of Ontario to ensure that he is satisfied, the government is satisfied and the Legislature is satisfied that those people’s jobs will not be in jeopardy for economic reasons?
Mr. Warner: No matter what the company says.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think at the time I made the announcement regarding the GSW-Canadian General Electric amalgamation I showed proof positive that the reason they were making the amalgamation was that for long-range stability of that industry it must be done. If they were to continue down the road as three separate companies -- Westinghouse, GSW, so on -- there was no assurance -- I would say there was a great guarantee that the whole industry would disappear from the Canadian market because we did not have the size and volume of production to warrant or justify any further investment, nor the security of market position because of costs. Although they have amalgamated, in no way, shape or form did they have an obligation to this House or to the people of this province in any documented form to put it here.
Mr. Deans: But you have an obligation.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We brought them to Ottawa. Mr. Chretien spoke with them and got from them the greatest degree of security he could, not having it brought under FIRA. This included that they would indicate in a written statement to him, the federal minister, that they would maintain the five plants across Canada, four of them being in the province of Ontario. There is no legislation which would enable the province of Ontario to get a guarantee of employment from those companies.
I have a great deal of confidence in the men we have been working with. I am sure the member has met with some of the people in the union in the Hamilton plant. There have been people who have met with the people in the Orangeville plant and I think the unions themselves are satisfied that long- range stability of employment is in this type of amalgamation.
Mr. Speaker: We have a final supplementary from the member for Renfrew South.
Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, pursuing the matter raised by the hon. member on the amalgamation of CSW, Canadian General Electric and Westinghouse, hasn’t it long been known in the appliance trade in Canada and the United States that there was not room enough for four or five major manufacturers in Canada and that this would have to come to be if the industry was to survive at all?
Mr. Roy: Is that the only contribution you can make?
Mr. Renwick: Is that a question or ministerial statement?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a brief answer?
Mr. Renwick: It sounds like a postscript to the ministerial statement.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I think I have covered .that point adequately. The fact is if we did not have amalgamation of these companies, with such a small market penetration by all three of them they eventually would disappear against American competition which enters this country under some very favourable conditions. I think it is in our interests.
PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES’ NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. Deans: I have a statement for the Minister of Labour -- a question for the Minister of Labour, I am sorry. I keep wanting to make statements; it has been a desire of mine for a long time.
I want to ask the Minister of Labour if she has personally discussed the current state of negotiations or non-negotiations between the public health nurses and the public health board in the Hamilton-Wentworth area? And when would the chairman of the board have said that it wasn’t his idea to have meetings this week?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I really don’t know why the chairman of the Hamilton-Wentworth board would have made that statement. I have not discussed it with him personally, no. I have had discussions with various other people and certainly with the leadership of the Ontario Nurses Association, but I really have no idea why he would have made that statement.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary: Does the minister have one of her staff from the Ministry of Labour in on those negotiations now? The minister nodded yes, so I assume that’s the answer. Could :she check with that person, whoever it is, and find out whether in fact there are negotiations taking place or about to take place that will be meaningful and whether the board is prepared to place anything on the table with regard to the demands and requests of the employees in this situation?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Following our course of reasonably active intervention in problematical areas --
Mr. S. Smith: What about problematical intervention in reasonably active areas?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- the ministry itself has been responsible for arranging some meetings and using the powers of persuasion, which we may or may not have, to invite both sides to the table. That may be the reason that the chairman of that local board ha’s made the statement that it wasn’t his idea, but I can most certainly check with the executive director of industrial relations.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Along this line, is the minister in agreement with the statements recently made by the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) that these nurses will never receive compulsory arbitration or any form of arbitration because they’re not essential workers? Does she hold to that same view?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I have not heard the Minister of Health make that statement. I think that I should have some discussions with him about it.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary.
Mr. Mackenzie: Would the minister consider having the charges of not bargaining in good faith brought against the boards, because it’s the boards that seem to be refusing to sit down with the public health nurses?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The Ontario Nurses Association, of course, has the facility of the Labour Relations Board open to it at this time. If they feel that the boards have not been bargaining in good faith, they can lay that charge before the board.
Mr. Deans: I have another question of the Minister of Labour.
Mr. Reid: Would you help the OFL solve their employment problems?
Mr. Nixon: There is discrimination against aged candidates.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Wentworth has a question.
APPOINTMENT OF CORONERS
Mr. Deans: Just a short question for the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson): Are the recent appointments of Dr. Potter and Dr. Archdekin part of her manpower policy?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Since I had nothing to do with those appointments, I’m not really quite sure what the hon. member is asking.
Mr. Deans: I wonder.
Mr. Moffatt: Oh, you still don’t know what he meant?
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LEGISLATION
Mr. Deans: Can I ask the Premier (Mr. Davis) whether he would be in a position some time in the next week or in the next couple of days to table information with regard to what he might intend to do about a freedom of information bill for the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I will be tabling any information for members of the House. In discussions some weeks ago I indicated that the Progressive Conservative Party of this province, at its annual deliberations, gave us some advice. I have heard some views expressed by members opposite. It is a highly complex and complicated area, but it is one that the government is assessing.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Were the news stories inaccurate that it is the Premier’s intention to introduce a bill, or to introduce something before Christmas?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m trying to recall exactly what the news stories contained. I do recall discussing it with one or two of the distinguished members of the gallery, of which there are many --
Mr. Singer: How many are there?
Mr. Peterson: Name one.
Mr. Breithaupt: One from column A and one from column B.
Mr. Roy: They should get up and bow.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can’t say there are only two distinguished members of the gallery; they’re all distinguished in their own way. That means there’s more than one; that means they’re all distinguished.
I do recall stating to one or two of them that we were assessing it, yes. I don’t recall saying there would be a bill introduced this fall, although that may have emerged out of one of the stories.
Mr. Conway: Still a secret? Is Kealey going to write it for you?
DEATH OF JAMES CULLEN
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Solicitor General in regard to the death at Inco on April 16 of James Cullen, and the fact that the site of this death was blown up prior to a coroner’s jury being able to investigate it: Can the Solicitor General explain the actions of the deputy chief coroner in this case; and in particular can he confirm that Inco did offer to allow the coroner and the jury to visit the site of this accident? Can he also confirm that, in fact, the coroner had the power to order Inco not to disturb the site under section 11 of The Coroners Act and yet did not bother to do that?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, the only knowledge I have in the matter is a newspaper report that appeared today. I will get some of the information the hon. member has asked for, sir.
Mr. S. Smith: Well just by way of a brief supplementary, would the Solicitor General, when he is seeking this information, in view of the editorial suggesting the need for legislation in this regard, confirm that the adequate legislation is already in The Coroners Act and that, in fact, the investigating coroner in this instance should have used his discretion and his power to order Inco not to disturb the site and should have taken up the invitation to visit it?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I will include that in the information, sir.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Solicitor General: This is the second case to my knowledge where an inquest --
Mr. Speaker: This is a supplementary question?
Mr. di Santo: Yes. This is the second case where an inquest has been initiated months after the accident. The last case was --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. This is supposed to be a question, not a discussion of the matter.
Mr. di Santo: Yes, I’m coming to the question.
Mr. Speaker: The question, please.
Mr. di Santo: I would like to ask the Solicitor General whether he is going to direct the coroner’s office to initiate inquests within a certain number of days or weeks and if he is going to pass legislation to that end?
Mr. S. Smith: That’s really a supplementary, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, if that is a supplementary, I’ll say no, I have no such intentions. I don’t think it would serve the purposes of justice. A certain amount of time, as I explained the other day, is required to hold a proper inquest, and suggesting that it should be held in a matter of a few days or a few weeks would not, I say, help justice.
Mr. S. Smith: In this instance, there was a second inquest anyway.
SPECIAL EDUCATION GRANT
Mr. S. Smith: A brief question of the Minister of Education: Has a decision been reached on the question of funding for the Ontario Foundation for Visually Impaired Children, their pre-school programme for blind children? If he has made that decision, will he share it with the House? I believe they were asking for about $24,000, if I’m not mistaken.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’d have to check on that. I can’t recall whether we’ve made that decision yet or not. I’ll find out and let the hon. member know.
METHOD OF ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
Mr. S. Smith: A question, Mr. Speaker, of the Minister of Colleges and Universities: I just wonder if he can share with the House the results of his research and investigation, and could in fact now tell us the list of higher institutions for professional training which accept their applicants on a first come, first served basis as was suggested by the Minister of Education the other day.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, I don’t have that information yet. I promised I’d get back and I will.
Mr. S. Smith: Thank you very much. I await that with a great interest, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Good: A lot of active ministers over there.
PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES’ NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. S. Smith: A final question for the Minister of Labour with regard to the public health nurses situation and her answer to my question of a few moments ago: Given the fact that the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) has said the public health nurses won’t receive arbitration because they’re not essential workers, could I have the opinion of the Minister of Labour about this? Are we to assume, therefore, there’s no possible chance that these nurses will be able to obtain some form of arbitration and that they will be forced to adopt only the strike route? Is that going to be the policy?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question, I believe, is no.
Mr. S. Smith: Well by way of supplementary, and in the hope that this will be thoroughly discussed with the Minister of Health, who gave a different answer, can we assume, therefore, that in the eyes of the Minister of Labour the public health nurses do enjoy as high a status as, for instance the LCBO workers who do have arbitration as their recourse in the event of contractual difficulties?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is very well aware, I’m sure, that I have said on several occasions in this House that it has been our role and our intention over these many months to persuade both parties to return to the bargaining table to arrive at an agreed upon solution for this round of bargaining --
Mr. Eakins: The minister should consult with the Minister of Health on this problem.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and then to sit down together with us to try to find a better solution to this problem. I think all possibilities should be taken into consideration in the search for that solution and that is why I very clearly said that I would say no in answer to the member’s numerous questions, because I believe there are other alternatives and we should be looking for them. It is difficult to do that in an atmosphere of crisis.
Mr. Eakins: The nurses have suggested a solution.
Hon. B. Stephenson: We would hope that we would have this round of bargaining resolved before that discussion takes place.
Mr. Eakins: What about the nurses?
NORTH PICKERING PROJECT
Mr. Godfrey: A question of the Minister of Housing, if I may, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the Minister of Housing, the Premier (Mr. Davis), and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) have been served with notice by one Roy Bambrough that he will take certain actions if his home in Pickering is invaded by the ministry’s agents, what will now be the minister’s direction to his agents and officials for the date of November 24, 1976?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I was advised this morning that I had been served with some paper. I have not in fact seen that paper. When I do see it I’ll determine what action my agents will take.
Mr. Godfrey: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Supplementary.
Mr. Godfrey: I asked the question because this paper was served on the three members I spoke of, and it was served last Friday. Would the minister permit me to redirect the question to the Premier?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. Point of order.
POINT OF ORDER
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. That is not correct. I was not served with the paper on Friday.
Mr. Godfrey: Your agent was.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member said I was served. I was not.
Mr. Speaker: You’ve had one question. The hon. minister did not suggest it be redirected. It is probably the same question, is it, to each of them?
Mr. Godfrey: It is the same question --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. It is a little different procedure than we’ve been used to. I think we’ll wait till the hon. Minister of Housing reports to you.
Mr. Roy: A question to the Attorney General: In view of the fact that his colleague, the Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth), would not allow me to see the authorization in question in the Turner case, will the Attorney General allow my viewing of that authorization in view of the fact that it would appear that the position he is taking about the confidentiality is not the position taken by his law officers for the Crown, at least in Ottawa.
I have here a copy of an authorization in another case in Ottawa in which photocopies were given to defence counsel and were put in as exhibits in court.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In my view , Mr. Speaker, they should not be handed out. The Criminal Code --
Mr. Reid: You haven’t been right yet.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- makes it quite specific that these documents are to be treated as confidential. As a matter of fact, I am convening a meeting of the regional Crown attorneys this week in order to clarify this. In our view the Criminal Code makes it perfectly clear that these are confidential documents and if they have been handed out by Crown counsel in parts of the province, my position is simply that they should not have done that.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Attorney General takes the position still that they are confidential, how is it then that --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The Criminal Code takes that position, it isn’t --
Mr. Roy: No, it is the minister’s interpretation of the Code --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. Is there a supplementary?
Mr. Roy: The Attorney General has lost before.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. Would the hon. member place his supplementary question? Thank you.
Mr. Sargent: Lost it again, it would be a good idea.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: Is it the minister’s position then that the Crown attorneys in Ottawa are breaking the law? Is it his position as well that Judge Flanagan in Ottawa, who made this an exhibit and referred to the body of the authorization in a judgement, which is on public record, is breaking the law as well?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No. A clear reading of the Criminal Code makes it quite clear that these documents are to be treated as confidential. They are not to be handed around for the very simple reason that there are a number of names that are referred to in these authorizations of people who are suspected --
Mr. Roy: Let me see it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Just let me finish, would you please? -- of people who are suspected of criminal activity. Now the member should appreciate --
Mr. Roy: Well what is their charge?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- having some experience in this, that this would be a very serious and gross interference with their rights as individuals to have their names bandied about as people suspected of criminal activity when they have not been charged with any criminal offence, let alone convicted of any criminal offence.
Now these authorizations are introduced as exhibits in voir dire --
Mr. Roy: Which the public should go into.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and I am not surprised that a judge would make reference to it. An exhibit entered as an exhibit during a voir dire is not a public document, and the member knows that.
Mr. Roy: The judgement is --
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the member for Ottawa East.
Mr. Roy: Is it the minister’s intention, as Attorney General of this province, to introduce legislation, as I thought he was quoted in the paper as indicating, in prohibiting the activity of the police in this case, that is, intercepting a solicitor-client communication. Does the minister intend to go by way of policy or legislation?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Firstly, as the member knows, any such legislation would be clearly outside the jurisdiction of this province. Secondly, I said we were developing very specific guidelines to protect the confidentiality of solicitor-client relationships wherever possible.
Mr. Roy: That hasn’t stopped you before.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Roy: Are you going to let us know?
Mr. Sargent: You are protecting yourself.
Mr. Swart: My question is of the Attorney General also. Will he recall that I asked him to determine whether he could take action against the newsstand sale of the drug pushing book High Times; and after some preliminary view he stated, and I quote from Hansard: “I will try to report to the House much more fully on Monday.” That Monday was two weeks ago today. Can he belatedly report on this to the House now?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The hon. member was to leave me with a copy of that particular edition, which he left with me for a few moments. Then he will recall that he took it away with him because of an impending press conference.
Mr. Peterson: Beat you to it, eh, Roy? You are mad.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The member chose in his wisdom not to return the copy to me. Notwithstanding that fact, I have requested my senior law officers to give an opinion. I am sorry, I am not yet in possession of that opinion. I will advise the House as soon as it has been received.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Inasmuch as I contacted the Attorney General’s office immediately after the question period and a member of his office staff by the name of Mr. J. Rawsome said they had copies of it and were looking into it; in view of the fact that he later said they were looking at it very very closely under section 422 -- which is the incitation of another person to commit a crime -- and they expected to have a report shortly, and that was conveyed to me by telephone 10 days ago --
Mr. Speaker: Is there a question?
Mr. Swart: -- can he tell me now if he has had a report under that section of The Criminal Code?
Mr. Breithaupt: He said no.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: If I may just repeat what I said a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, I have not received a report.
AUCTION OF GUNS
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General. In view of the fact that the Premier (Mr. Davis) last August made quite a point of saying that Ontario wanted strict gun control and if the Ottawa government didn’t enact it Ontario would, and in view of the great concern expressed by a coroner’s jury in Toronto last week about the failure of what controls there were to prevent a sniper from shooting people in downtown Toronto, can the Attorney General explain to us why the sheriff of the judicial district of York sells by public auction one Winchester, model 94, .32-calibre lever- action rifle; one Remington Sportsman, model 58, 12-gauge shotgun repeater; one Cooey, model 840, 12-gauge, full-choke, single-shot shot-gun; one Browning, .32-calibre, semi-automatic pistol with clip and case; one Luger Mark I, .22-calibre semi-automatic pistol --
Mr. Speaker: I think the list is long enough. The hon. member must recognize --
Mr. Singer: -- and one hunting knife.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Were you at the sale, Vern?
Mr. Singer: Yes.
Mr. Peterson: Now, how do you feel about the hunting knife?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t know the circumstances of that sale other than that I would imagine that I would assume that it had something to do with an execution that had been realized, and a public auction with respect, I think in that particular case --
Mr. Sweeney: Execution before or after?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Oh, come on, don’t be a hero, Sweeney. You are a loser from the word go.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- in relation to a gun collection. That’s all the information I have at the present time. I will attempt to obtain additional information and inform the hon. member and the House.
Mr. Singer: Supplementary: Would the Attorney General undertake to make sure that any law officer over whom he has control, such as the sheriff of the judicial district of York, should not embark on this kind of a programme unless or until there are strict controls to make sure that no tragedies might take place in the future, such as the coroner’s jury complains about in its recent report?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think that’s a reasonable suggestion, Mr. Speaker.
LACK OF COURT FACILITIES
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, the question I am going to ask is going to relieve all that problem, if the Minister of Government Services will give us a report. Gould the minister give us a progress report on the long-awaited and much-needed courthouse and registry office in the region of York at Newmarket?
Mr. Nixon: I am glad you asked that question.
An hon. member: It’s okay. It’s a PC riding.
An hon. member: There is an election coming.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a brief report?
An hon. member: Give us the courthouse, Margaret.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, this project is developing satisfactorily.
Mr. Breithaupt: From whose point of view?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: To the best of my knowledge, it is on schedule --
Mr. Sargent: Whose riding is it in?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: -- and although there was a brief delay while we revised the design to incorporate solar heating, I think we have caught up the lost time. The job will be ready to go to tender next June --
Mr. Nixon: Next June? That is a little late.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: -- and I expect we would be breaking ground early next summer.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, I would add one thing. This job will create about 200 contracting jobs in the area.
An hon. member: You can’t even build courthouses --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There are far too many interjections this afternoon. Order, order.
MANPOWER TEMPORARY SERVICES
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour: Is the minister aware of the practices of an agency called Manpower Temporary Services in Oshawa that now has some 35 people working in a plant called Supreme Aluminum in Pickering? The agency in question pays those people $2.90 an hour although the going rate in the plant is between $4.10 and $5.10 an hour. There are no benefits paid and there is no overtime paid. Is this practice legal in Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of that specific instance, but I shall attempt to investigate it and report to the House.
WATERLOO REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, a question of the provincial Treasurer. This has to do with a controversy over a regional headquarters being purchased in Waterloo region. Since the regional chairman has stated, according to newspaper reports, that the only way the province will purchase the former Waterloo county courthouse from the region is if the region acquires the K-Mart site now for regional headquarters if this is correct, why does the province resort to this type of financial blackmail to push an unpopular issue for the regional chairman?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I saw that press report and I must say I was somewhat confused about it. I don’t know just what the chairman may or may not have had in mind. I didn’t pursue it because I just didn’t think it was all that important. Whether he was misquoted or what, I am not sure what he had in mind. The Minister of Government Services (Mrs. Scrivener) actually has been corresponding with the region of Waterloo and the member may want to direct a question there, but I am not aware of what he might have meant by that particular statement.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary to the Minister of Government Services --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We didn’t allow the transfer from one minister -- I am sorry, I believe the hon. Treasurer did refer it.
Mr. Good: All right. I will redirect the question then to the Minister of Government Services.
Mr. Sargent: Somebody should know something.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the member to clarify his question.
Mr. Good: The regional chairman is quoted as saying in the paper that the only way the province will buy the former courthouse site is if the region now, at this time, buys the K-Mart site for a regional headquarters. My question is why, if this is correct, does the province resort to that type of financial blackmail to help the regional chairman promote an unpopular issue within the region?
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, despite the member’s intemperate language, I would suggest that in actual point of fact my ministry and this government are attempting to accommodate the regional government and assist them in their efforts to acquire the property.
Mr. Good: Supplementary then, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order. May 1 just suggest --
Mr. Good: Short supplementary. A yes or no supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Yes or no? All right.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, a short supplementary: Am I correct in assuming from the minister’s answer that the province is not making an ultimatum as to time as to when it will purchase the courthouse site? That it must be now?
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: There has been no ultimatum at any time. There has been only the greatest degree of co-operation.
Mr. Breithaupt: It is like beauty in the eye of the beholder.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The comment I started to make when somebody threw me off a moment ago was that really there has been too much editorial comment in some of the questions this afternoon. That does not form part of the proper question period.
The member for Cambridge with a final supplementary.
Mr. Davidson: Is the minister saying that the chairman of the region is distorting the facts?
Mr. Singer: Deliberately.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Of course not, Mr. Speaker.
CAPITAL GRANTS PROGRAMME
Ms. Sandeman: A question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In view of the fact farmers’ wives, even though they are legal partners in the family farms, cannot qualify under the provincial capital grants programme, could the minister inform us what steps he is taking to end this discrimination against married women?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have no discrimination against married women, I can assure you. The capital grants programme was set up --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are wasting valuable time here.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I know one quite well. One of my best friends is a married woman.
Hon. W. Newman: The capital grants programme was set up to help the individual farmer on the farm. Often, in many cases, the husband and wife work diligently together to make the farming operation a worthwhile operation, but there is only one grant per farm unless it is an incorporated farm.
Ms. Sandeman: I am sorry. I don’t understand why, if the husband and wife work diligently together, they cannot be considered a partnership when the programme considers a father and a son who have a written agreement and are both active on the farm to be eligible under the programme. Why cannot a husband and wife, who have a written agreement and are both active on the farm, have eligibility as a partnership and both be eligible for the grant?
Hon. W. Newman: The legislation is one thing, and another reason is this: I happen to have a farm and I am entitled only to one set of capital grants; my wife hasn’t asked for the other set yet. I am not being discriminatory against women; don’t get me wrong.
Mr. Breithaupt: He doesn’t discriminate.
Mr. Eakins: That is not what she says.
Hon. W. Newman: The members who have been around here a long time know me better than that.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. W. Newman: I said that when there is an incorporation there is an allowance for double capital grants but when one farm means a husband and wife, they are only entitled to one set of grants.
SEVERN PARK DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier) perhaps the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development could answer this question. What could possibly be the rationale of the Ministry of Natural Resources, or the provincial secretary if he was involved, when it was agreed to turn over a 25-acre parcel of wooded land south of Grand Bend known as Severn Park -- which was owned by the province and was a beautiful wooded stand -- to Grand Bend and Bosanquet township for development purposes, considering that directly across the road there is also land owned by the province which is scrub land and could be used for development purposes?
Mr. Eakins: Tell him you don’t know.
Hon. Mr. Irvine: Mr. Speaker, I was not part of the discussions nor part of the policy decision which apparently has been implemented by the Minister of Natural Resources. I would suggest the member direct that question to the minister.
Mr. S. Smith: What do you do?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Are you opposed to it? What do you stand on?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That question is finished.
Mr. Nixon: Mysterious self-effacing ministry.
Mr. Riddell: Can I redirect the question to the minister?
Mr. Speaker: No. We want to get on with the next question, if you please.
ENGLISH FOR NEW CANADIANS
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Is the minister aware that in Heydon Park Secondary School in Toronto there are 52 students who need classes in English as a second language on a full-time basis, and they’re receiving these classes for only 30 minutes a day? At Heydon Park there is only one teacher who teaches these classes. Is the minister suggesting through this that the class size for new-Canadian children should be 52 to one?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Of course, I’m not suggesting that. As my friend knows, these are matters that are really left up to the determination of local boards, which have a high degree of autonomy in this particular area and must decide on the priorities that they wish to place on particular programmes such as this. I place a much higher priority than that on English as a second language, and always would. I’ll be happy to look into the matter that he’s raised, but I must point out to him that really the responsibility for that situation rests with the trustees of the Toronto Board of Education.
Mr. Grande: The minister said he would look into it. Would he contact the director of education for the city of Toronto because the teacher there --
Mr. Speaker: Place the question, thank you.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, I’m directing a question.
Mr. Speaker: I heard the question. You don’t need to explain why. This is supposed to be supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Wells: As I’ve indicated, I’ll be happy to look into it, but really the responsibility for this rests with the local board. If we believe in local autonomy, some of these things have to be settled where the responsibility falls.
EMPLOYMENT TAX CREDIT
Mr. Sargent: A question to the provincial Treasurer: Without editorializing at all, the Treasurer has been doing a lot of jawboning around the province about the high cost of welfare --
Mr. Speaker: What do you call that? Is there a question?
Mr. Sargent: -- and doing very little about it. In the makeup of his mini-budget I’m wondering is he planning to give small employers tax credits for taking people off the welfare rolls?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: What will be done tomorrow will be announced tomorrow.
Mr. Sargent: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That question really was not proper because you’re asking about something that’s going to happen tomorrow which will be disclosed, so you’re wasting the time of the House.
Mr. Sargent: I want to know today.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’ve allowed the member a question.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: What is your point of privilege?
Mr. Sargent: The Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell) said the credit rating of the province of Ontario was --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That has nothing to do with this question. It’s not a point of privilege either.
Mr. Sargent: He told me --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The Treasurer’s plans will be disclosed tomorrow night.
Mr. Sargent: He gave me misinformation, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Sargent: He misled me; yes, he did.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I know the hon. member said that in jest but it should not be used.
Mr. Sargent: Do you want to hear me out then?
Mr. Speaker: No. Order, please. I want the member to sit down. We let the member finish his question. I pointed out, however, that the question was out of order because it had to do with something that’s going to be disclosed tomorrow evening and, therefore, is not proper.
Mr. Speaker: Order. We don’t need all the heckling in and out. Does the hon. member have a legitimate question? We will allow it today.
Mr. Sargent: Yes, I do. Any questions we ask are legitimate down here.
Mr. Speaker: Let’s try it on for size then.
Mr. Sargent: Discussing tomorrow’s budget with the Treasurer, I want to tell him that the Minister of Energy told me the triple --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It’s the question period now.
ONTARIO’S CREDIT RATING
Mr. Sargent: The question is this, then: Does the Treasurer know that the credit rating of the province of Ontario as of Friday was a double-A rating, as opposed to what the Minister of Energy told me, that it was a triple-A rating? He said they were watching it very closely and were very concerned about the continuing deficit.
An hon. member: That’s Trudeau.
Mr. Sargent: That’s my point of privilege. Who knows what’s going on down there?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member has asked the question. Is there a short answer?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We have a double-A rating with one agency and a triple-A rating with another agency. Both of them arc well. Both of them are watched.
Mr. Moffatt: You have no rating with the people.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The rating agencies have complete confidence in the government of this province and the people of this province.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Hon. Mr. Parrott presented the financial report of the University of Toronto for the year ended April 30, 1976.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the referral to the resources development committee of Bill 139, An Act respecting Employees’ Health and Safety, be discharged and the bill be referred to the standing social development committee.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bill.
ELECTION FINANCES REFORM AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Samis moved first reading of Bill 164, An Act to amend the Election Finances Reform Act, 1975.
Motion agreed to.
An hon. member: The socialists are looking for more money.
An hon. member: No, no, Liberals.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, this bill requires that every candidate in a provincial election file with the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses a list of his or her personal assets as part of his or her application for registration with the commission, thereby making such disclosure a prerequisite to the acceptance of campaign contributions.
ELECTION PUBLIC OPINION POLLS AND SURVEYS ACT
Mr. Samis moved first reading of Bill 165, An Act respecting Election Public Opinion Polls and Surveys.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, this bill prohibits the publishing and broadcasting of public opinion polls and surveys during an election where the polls or surveys relate to the outcome of the election or the standing of any leader, candidate or party in that election.
Mr. Breithaupt: That is called freedom of the press.
CONDOMINIUM PROPERTY MANAGEMENT FIRMS ACT
Mr. Leluk moved first reading of Bill 166, An Act to register Condominium Property Management Firms.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Leluk: Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for the registration, bonding and inspection of condominium property management firms.
Ms. Samis: I have a third bill, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Oh, I’m sorry. The member for Cornwall
Mr. Samis: This is the day, Mr. Speaker.
LIQUOR CONTROL AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Samis moved first reading of Bill 167, An Act to amend The Liquor Control Act, 1975.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to enable independent owner-operated grocery stores to sell beer and apple cider.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 140, An Act to reform the Law respecting Property Rights and Support Obligations between Married Persons and in other Family Relationships.
Ms. Warner: Before I begin, Mr. Speaker, while the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is getting things organized, I would like to pass along some congratulations to him with respect to this particular document. It is a great improvement over his efforts on violence in hockey, and I know that his concern for this legislation will see an implementation that we’ve been waiting for for some time. I know he is anxious to see a good set of laws introduced, no matter how many amendments it takes.
Mr. Philip: Don’t resign.
Mr. Warner: I have a few questions for the Attorney General with respect to the principles outlined in this bill. I’d also like some of his suggestions as to what must be done by other ministries in order to make the intent of this legislation become real.
Section 13 deals with persons who are aged 16 and under and those who are, I take it, aged 18 arid over. I wonder if the Attorney General can envisage difficulties for persons who are 17 years of age. I think particularly of those persons who are very likely to be in high school at age 17, who could have suffered some family breakdown that affects them either directly or indirectly. In other words, a person who is aged 17 may have had to leave the house on his own or her own, or the family itself may have been split, and yet that person would like to remain in school. Is there no parental obligation towards that individual?
I’m sure the Attorney General is well aware of the situation. I had one instance in our community where a person aged 17 was involved in a family breakup, and, of course, the Children’s Aid had no jurisdiction over that person. The individual wished to remain in school, and had it not been through the efforts of a local community organization to find a home for that person to stay in -- and it turned out to be my place -- that individual would have had no other route to follow except to leave school and seek employment on his own.
As it turns out, that person today was able to have completed his education, is fully employed with a skilled trade, is married and enjoying a reasonably decent life. But that didn’t come about, I submit, through any protection of the law. It’s that part that disturbs me. There should be some protection of the law in that regard, and the Attorney General knows more about the area than I do, and I would welcome his comments.
Regarding the notes appended to the actual legislation, I commend the Attorney General for doing this; I really wish more ministers would take the same kind of approach. I am not a lawyer and it really makes it much easier when I can read the material in front of me. In the notes there is a phrase used which says the person had a “settled intention -- ”
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: What page?
Mr. Warner: I am sorry, page 17 of the preamble. The phrase “settled intention” is used with respect to a guardianship, or I should say a stepchild. I am wondering if that phrase has any relationship to guardianship. Would that include, for example, the case where an individual had put in his or her will that immediate children of the family were to come under the guardianship of some other person upon the decease of either of the parents? I would like an explanation, if it is possible, of settled intention.
On page 20 of the preamble it talks about attachment of earnings, referring generally to section 16 of the bill where it talks about support payments in general. I am wondering if the Attorney General has some suggestion as to what to do about those persons who originally had the obligation attached here in Ontario and then leave the province for either some other province in Canada or some other jurisdiction outside of Canada. As the Attorney General appreciates, it’s a very real problem.
On Thursday, the very day last week when we began the debate of this legislation, I had a young woman phone my office. The woman has one child, 10 months of age. The family broke up and the husband left. The court decided the husband should have support payment obligations to the mother. That’s all well and good, but the father then took upon himself to harass the mother and child, both verbally and physically. The woman felt that if she were to lay a charge to have the husband dragged into court to maintain his obligations, she would encounter some more physical abuse. That’s a very real problem for her obviously.
Because of the fact that she hadn’t laid the charge, she was not eligible for mother’s allowance; so she has no visible means of support at that point. Her friends and relatives were reluctant to take her in because of the violent nature of her husband. Finally, she ended up staying at her mother’s place. In conversation with her, she eventually resolve that she would go and lay the charges at the police station and have the husband taken back into court and try to wrench the support payment from him.
I am wondering if the Attorney General would have a comment as to whether or not some of this could be solved by working through The Income Tax Act or through having automatic deductions through payroll or some accounting through the T4 slips of the Department of Revenue, and if that would answer some of the problems of those people who leave the province, go to other provinces and then decide not to keep up their payments.
At the bottom of page 20, and again I believe it refers to section 16 --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: If you are going to refer to the bill section by section, this might more appropriately be brought up under clause by clause in committee stage. This is second reading, where you deal with the overall principle of the bill.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I am dealing with several principles of the bill, this one in particular that a person who defies a court order should be sent to jail. It’s part of the principle of the bill. I am questioning the use of such a procedure. Rather than supply a support base for the person, does it not really take away from the possible income that the family that is left really needs? Would it not make more sense to garnishee wages or to seize property or have some other alternative, because the person who has been offended is the one who requires the help. By putting someone in jail, you are taking away the help that the one who has been offended really needs.
In parts of the bill it talks about having access to records for the purposes of tracing. I am wondering if the Attorney General could comment on how he intends to monitor that so that there are no abuses of one’s privacy, of the rights of the individual? If we are going to have access to records then there must be some safeguard, it seems to me, and I say that in the light of the comments I just made a few moments ago about looking at the possibility of using the income tax system or the T4s. Again, there is some privacy that the minister is responsible to uphold and respect and I would appreciate the Attorney General’s comments on it.
In another portion of the bill where it talked about loss of consortium, there’s a line which struck me as being rather curious -- certainly for the Attorney General’s interest if not the Speaker’s -- on page 38: “Outright abolition of the action might be going too far.” I am wondering, although it is not explained in the document that was left with me, if the Attorney General might explain what’s behind a statement like that?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am sorry. What page is that again?
Mr. Warner: Page 38, right in the middle of the page. It says, “Outright abolition of the action might be going too far.” It is in reference to consortium. I am wondering why he feels that’s going too far? Again I am looking at it not so much from the standpoint of the lawyer, obviously, because I am not a lawyer, but from a common sense standpoint, that where the person has suffered damages, the Attorney General is proposing that there be “a new action for damages caused by wrongful conduct which results in injury to a spouse,” Does it not make sense to have a suit brought by the person who has suffered the damages? Would that not be a more direct way to deal with it?
In other words, the person who has suffered the damages should be the one then who initiates a suit to recoup whatever he or she figures should be coming to him or her. In the case of a minor, obviously, it has to be done by a guardian or someone appointed by the court or whatever, but at least for someone who is 18 years of age or over perhaps that person is the one to launch the suit.
In adopting the principles of this family law reform, to put it in the sort of common terminology that has been used, we may in fact end up, through amendments, coming up with an extremely good piece of legislation that in the courts is going to protect the rights of many people, particularly women, who have not had their fair share of things in our society over the years. We may very well do that, and that’s fine. What concerns me is that it may just stop there. I would very much welcome some comments from the Attorney General as to how he views this legislation being used to promote some other activity within our society in Ontario which is needed to help women, particularly women, become independent
To be specific, in my experience so far one of the people who has the most difficult time is a woman who has a family and is on her own. She has been out of the work force for perhaps 10 or 15 years. She has suddenly had to re-enter the work force, through family breakdown or through her husband dying, and she decides that one way she can re-enter the work force is by attending a post-secondary institution, college or university, to upgrade her own skills so that she can go back and get a good job.
When she decides to do that and she makes that decision, she then comes under several handicaps. Firstly, because she is working and taking courses part-time she will not be eligible for any student aid. Secondly, because she is now going out nights to attend courses, and work, she has to bear the cost of child care, both during the daytime, when she is working, and on whatever evenings she attends her courses.
Because she is a woman she is going to be faced with lower wages than men. That is just what is happening, has happened, and continues to happen. So her expenses become considerable, and yet her wages often won’t be very much. I realize the minister is trying to make sure that this woman, after a family breakdown, is going to be guaranteed a certain amount of money -- though again I would certainly echo what my colleagues have said about taking the total assets, adding them all up and dividing by two. I subscribe to that notion. But beyond that, she encounters barriers that I would not encounter and the minister would not encounter. I am wondering what kind of thrust the government can take, in ministries other than his own, to support what he is trying to do in family law reform? I think it is extremely important. It boils down to attitudes in a lot of cases, agreed. But surely the government has an obligation and responsibility in terms of attitude as well.
If our attitudes have been in the past that a woman who is at home raising children while the husband has been busy developing a business -- whether that is a medical practice, or a law practice, or the corner store -- is not entitled to some benefits from that activity, and if the minister is going to change that in law then surely he has to do something to change the attitudes as well. Those attitudes are still prevalent and as much as he and I know that one doesn’t legislate wisdom, one doesn’t also legislate attitudes.
Maybe in some sense it is not fair to place the whole onus of a response upon the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps it really requires a response from the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) and the Minister of Colleges and Universities (‘Mr. Parrott), and the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes), and so on. But I would be very interested to hear his response on behalf of the government that he is a member of.
What kinds of things can the government do to help foster a better attitude towards women in our society? I have run into it -- and I am sure the Attorney General has, too -- the attitude within my own riding of people who will say, “The woman’s job is at home raising the family. She didn’t help build this little business that I am working on. Therefore, if we split up as a couple she is not entitled to very much.” In fact, I had one person who is going through this kind of circumstance come in to my office and tell me that he really didn’t think his wife should have any part of the house because, after all, he had listed the house in his name.
Those are deep-seated attitudes, and we are not going to change them through legislation, I am sure the minister is well aware of that. So I would like to know how the government proceeds from here in enacting the legislation by changing attitudes so that we have things on an equal footing.
I know that at some point the minister will, I assume, come back with the response about the totalling of assets to be considered as a total package. I take it the Attorney General is not an unreasonable person; that he has listened to the arguments put forward. I say that because I know that he has a firm grasp of his ministry, and a full knowledge of what is going on.
I ask him to consider for a moment the person who has, in fact -- and this is a real case, not a figment of my imagination but a real case -- a woman who was part of a marriage for 25 years, whose husband was working all of that time and who had built his business, a small business. The woman had remained at home for the 25 years, raising the children. Obviously, if you’re involved in business or if you’re a lawyer or in some other profession, your hours are extensive. The person was working more than 40 hours a week and that, of course, put a greater strain upon the wife to raise those children and to take care of the family needs.
In many cases, the wife ends up doing all of the bills for the house, answering mail, answering phone calls and everything else because the husband isn’t there. That is sort of a personal comment as well, I take it, for most males who are elected members of this assembly and who leave their wives --
Mr. Bain: What about the women?
Mr. Warner: Sure, it works both ways. Upon dissolution of that marriage there comes the question of what the woman has contributed. What I submit is that she has contributed time and effort which freed the man to pursue his career and, in many cases, has curtailed her own career.
I certainly don’t mind saying, in a very personal way, that it’s a circumstance I went through and I’m sure many members of this House have gone through. My wife cannot pursue her own career because of the job I have to try to perform as a member of the Legislature. If, at some point, we were to break up then her career would have cut off several years before, she isn’t likely to be able to follow her career or to pick it up after 10 years’ or 15 years’ absence. That’s a real loss to her and how on earth do we measure that in dollars and cents? We can’t.
The only way to measure it is by what’s left and that’s what we’ve been talking about. We can’t measure what she lost in terms of a cut-off career or a job she was cut off from so the only way we can measure it is by what’s left. That’s why I say we take what’s left, total it up and divide it in half.
I couldn’t be as active a member of this Legislature as I am if it were not for the fact that my wife maintains the family unit at home. She answers the phone calls when I’m not there; she takes care of the children and she makes sure they’re off to school and so on -- all of the things I could be involved with if I had a job which took 40 hours a week. Is it not fair to her that she should have at least half of whatever assets are there?
Unless I’ve misread the bill -- the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) knows that isn’t likely -- I take it that there is still, in some circumstances, an obligation toward proving circumstances for breakdown. If my reading of it is correct, I would appreciate a response from the Attorney General. Is it not possible, within this bill, to talk rather in terms of no-fault, or not having to prove circumstances?
What we’re dealing with is two people who have decided for whatever reasons -- they’re their reasons, not ours -- not to continue as a married couple. Can we not simply deal with the assets which are there? Why do we have to go into the reasons for the breakup? The attachment of fault to one side or the other doesn’t seem to be productive. Aside from the fact that we’re invading privacy of individuals, is there any productivity to such an activity? I don’t see that it produces anything worthwhile.
If we want to be involved in the legislation of morals, fine; maybe there’s some advantage to discovering why couples have broken their marriage. But I don’t think we legislate morals, either. We set them by example and I’m sure that the government, in its own way, sets examples for people to follow. We have often argued those haven’t been very good examples but nonetheless it does set examples.
I, like many other members of this House, welcome the introduction of family law reform. It’s too easy in some sense just to sit back and say it’s long overdue. We all know that. The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) knows that and he wasn’t in the House before. It has come through a great agony to produce a document such as that. I would be less than forthright, however, if I didn’t say that I believe this legislation is in need of many amendments, some pretty basic. I think I would say that the totalling of assets is a very basic part of this legislation and, quite frankly, unless there are some changes in that regard, I don’t think I could support this bill on third reading. I really look forward to our debate in clause by clause and I feel confident that the Attorney General likely will come forward with many amendments before we even begin.
In closing, I would stress that to bring in a law is one thing but to work at the substance of the law with respect to the very basis of our society is entirely another matter, and it will require more than the institution of this law to bring about some of the change in attitudes and the change in fair play that’s needed. The Attorney General is probably aware that I have had occasion to visit several colleges and universities in the province and have met with working women, and it’s the same story wherever you go. There is hardly a female administrator in the system. There are a few. The women are paid less money than men and they do not have decision-making powers. They are left, in many cases, without a voice, So the women in this province will be very happy to know that the Attorney General is making changes in the law, but I think they would be even happier to know that he was taking a positive step, a leadership role, in trying to get attitudes changed and in trying to get a more equitable base for them to operate upon as persons in our society.
I look forward to working with the rest of the House in helping to take a good bill down the road to become an even better bill and helping to create the kinds of attitude changes that are needed in this province of Ontario.
Mr. Givens: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think there has been a bill in my recollection, and I don’t imagine there will be a bill for many years to come, for which any minister will receive the accolades and the congratulations and the paeans of praise that the present Attorney General is receiving with respect to the introduction of this bill dealing with family law reform.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There have been a few brickbats.
Mr. Singer: Not as loud as your brother’s.
Mr. Givens: With respect to his brother, the Attorney General can merely say, “Et tu, Brute.” But for the most part, from the sources that the Attorney General usually receives brickbats -- not from the close sources -- he has been receiving nothing but congratulations and praise. I, like all the others, rise to add words of congratulations and praise to the Attorney General’s bringing in sweeping reforms which are so long overdue, because in one fell swoop he sweeps away the cant, the hypocrisy and the injustice literally of centuries by bringing in this law reform that the Attorney General has introduced. I hope these sweeping changes bring about the necessary alleviation of problems and of injustices which is so long overdue and that they actually bring about the changes which are hoped for by the introduction of this bill.
It’s certainly going to increase the work of lawyers an awful lot. I would imagine there will be lawyers who will develop a specialty on this particular subject. With the way this bill is fashioned, I think every couple, both those who are legally married and those who are living in common law, are going to need a marriage contract, just as they need a will. I think it will become mandatory for everybody to have a marriage contract and there will be a whole development of jurisprudence with respect to marriage contracts. Lawyers will be developing an expertise in this particular field and this will be a specialty by itself.
I can just see the law stationers downtown, pulling out their hair because all their forms are going to have to be changed, the affidavits of marital status, the deeds with dower and the mortgages. I remember as a student and as a lawyer how one used to have to run around and explain to a client why his wife had to sign the deed and why she had to sign the mortgage. Now, after all that, she no longer is going to have to sign to debar her dower, that stupid old anachronism that existed for centuries and really meant nothing when one got down to the final analysis because it afforded her no protection at all. That will all go by the board.
Yet there are some misgivings and some uneasiness that I have with respect to this bill. I’ll tell the Attorney General that I have had more inquiries after the introduction of this bill with respect to this bill than I have had since I have been here with regard to any other 10 bills put together. Inquiries have been coming in by telephone and by letter. They ask: “What does it mean? What does it mean to my particular situation?” There are hypothetical situations raised by people who are looking down the road. I was talking to a woman today who asked: “What if I break up with my husband?” I said to her: “What danger is there of your breaking up with your husband?” When I investigated the matter, the idea of her breaking up with her husband was so remote that it was just absolutely absurd. But there she was, picturing a hypothetical case where she might break up and what her situation would be. There is great interest with respect to this.
I say I have certain misgivings which I can articulate to a certain extent, but I’ll be darned if I know how to express them in such a way where I can indicate what amendments I would propose in the committee stage to shore up some of the uneasiness and misgivings that I have with respect to certain sections of this bill. I’ll just go ahead and tell some of the things that bother me because other members of the Legislature have already indicated what’s bothering them.
I hope that the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) isn’t persuaded to change the family assets definition of section 3 with respect to family property. Theoretically, it’s all right to say, “Let’s gross up all the assets and have an equal division of all the assets between husband and wife in the case of a break-up of a marriage.” I think that would be a very wrong thing to do for the following reasons.
Theoretically, there is the principle to say while they both contributed, lived together, worked together and both contributed in this way, if they break up they should split the assets even-Stephen, no matter what it is. On the other hand, I think it would be impossible to conduct business on that basis, if we put business relationships in a straitjacket. It would be almost impossible to conduct day-to-day business relationships. In the case where a man is involved in business and where his wife is in active business with him, it might be different. But where he would have to run his own business and run from day to day to get the concurrence of his wife with respect to the transfer of a piece of property or with respect to an agreement that he has to make or with respect to any kind of transaction, it would just be impossible to conduct that kind of a business relationship.
I think the very thing one wants to accomplish -- the smooth operation of the marriage, the beneficial operation of the marriage with respect to the naming of the living and the accumulation of assets -- I think would be hampered by this business of grossing up all the assets and insisting that all the assets go into this pot. I think that that would be wrong and I hope that the minister won’t do that, it would inhibit and restrain business activity in the long run. The principle of permitting the leeway and permitting the opportunity and the elbow room for business activity to continue is more important than the principle of grossing up the assets all the way down the line 100 per cent and splitting them down the middle in case of this potential breakup of marriage, because I think that the protection that has been afforded under this section is adequate as it is and the minister should leave it at that.
Another thing I want to talk about is that the Attorney General has shown great courage in the common-law situation where a common-law relationship exists and a dependency is forced on a spouse, where that dependant may be exploited, or where the dependant is forced into a position where for many years that dependant spouse cannot return to the making of a livelihood. Consequently if there is a marriage breakup that dependant spouse may have to resort to having to go on welfare. There the minister insists in a situation where that dependent person, for example, has been crippled or damaged or hurt -- if they were struck by a car -- he has insisted that that person has to be looked after, that there is a duty and an obligation on the part of the person who has made that person dependent to look after them.
In this case, the Attorney General had two groups of antagonists to contend with. There is the group that has said: “I don’t want to be hassled by the law. I want to be able to enter into any kind of relationship that I please and do whatever I please and I don’t want you to come in with your legalities and tell me how I should live and how I should not live, what I should do and what I shouldn’t do.”
I think the minister was right in facing up to that situation and saying: “No, you cannot do this to a person. You cannot take people and exploit them and then throw them on the scrap heap of humanity and not bear any kind of responsibility for those particular people. You must invoke the law for the purpose of taking care of them, of being responsible for them.” And you were right.
Then there is the other school of thought that says: “No, this is an illicit relationship. This is an illegal relationship. The hell with them. Let them stew in their own juice. We owe them no responsibility. We shouldn’t look after them.” I say to people like that, whose nose are we cutting off to spite whose face? If the dependent person is going to wind up on the welfare rolls and society has to pay in the final analysis, whom are taking care of, who is the ultimate person who has to pay the shot? We have to pay the shot, particularly where children are involved. So I think that the minister was right in doing this.
However, he seems to have stopped short of the precipice and has drawn back. Because in the definition section of part I having to do with the family assets and with the matrimonial home he defines spouse one way and in the section having to do with the claiming of support he defines spouse another way. In other words, in the common-law relationship, the Attorney General is saying to the common-law spouse who was wronged, “You can claim support but you cannot claim your share in the matrimonial home or in the family assets.” I don’t understand the logic of that or the fairness of that and I am asking, why is the minister discriminating against the common-law spouse? What is the purpose of that?
I am asking particularly why is he discriminating particularly where there is a child or children involved? We make a big to-do about legitimizing illegitimate children today. Finally, after centuries, we are legitimizing illegitimate children. We say we are putting them on the same status as legitimate children. So we say to the illegitimate child of the common-law relationship in this particular Act, “Okay kid, you are legitimate. We’ve done this by an Act of law. But you are not really legitimate in this sense because if your old man leaves you, your mother can claim for support but she cannot claim for her part in the matrimonial home or for her share of the family assets.” So we are really being unfair, we are being cruel and we are being hypocritical about this.
Now, I don’t understand why this is being done and perhaps the minister can explain it to me. Maybe there is an overriding reason of principle for his doing this. I don’t understand why.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Take for starters the wife of the common-law spouse who gets the share of the home.
Mr. Givens: I beg your pardon?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Where there is a wife and a common-law spouse.
Mr. Good: Where there are both, who should have the share in the home? He should provide for both. He should provide for both. All right?
Mr. Singer: Divide it into four halves.
Mr. Roy: You know there might be two or three different --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: A very common situation.
Mr. Givens: All right. I don’t know how common that situation is, but it’s a very important thing to take into consideration. It’s no reason why the dependent spouse who finds herself -- generally I say her because it will be a female -- who finds herself in that position should be jeopardized and should be discriminated against for that reason. It’s unfair to that particular person.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Would you divide it into three?
Mr. Givens: I don’t know.
Mr. Singer: Three halves.
An hon. member: Instead of four halves.
Mr. Givens: But there is certainly an incomprehensible thing there which I find difficult to understand and even though there is a difficulty in solving it, I think it has to be solved. All right, now let’s pass on to something else.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Please do.
Mr. Givens: There are instances where property -- where a house may be put in a wife’s name in order to protect the property from a judgement. I don’t think this is amoral or that it is dishonest. I think a man has a right to protect his property from the danger of a judgement being taken out against him. He may be a young doctor who is afraid of a malpractice suit, or a young lawyer who is afraid of being sued for an error or omission, or a man who drives a car a lot is afraid of being socked for a big judgement because of an accident so he wants to protect his home.
Now what I am concerned about is this: In the case of family assets, if there is a breakup of marriage and it is possible that the house may be divvied up -- there may be a sale of the house for the purpose of distribution -- does that mean that the judgement could attach against a part of the house? If that is so, then should there be protection against that sort of thing? In other words, can the judgement proof aspect of having an asset in the wife’s name be removed by virtue of the fact that there is this common sharing of the family assets? I am wondering just whether there could be any kind of protection that is afforded to the individual to be able to see to it that that kind of protection is continued and not jeopardized in this way?
Another situation I have been receiving questions about is with respect to older people, like the widower who is in his 70s, a man of about 75 who finds himself widowed, who may marry a woman 20 years his junior for companionship and having regard for the life expectation of the older person, the marriage may last a very short period of time. He has worked many, many years -- a lifetime to put together his life assets and even his matrimonial home. This may even be the case of a widow who has worked all her life to accumulate family assets or a matrimonial home.
The question they ask: “Is it fair that I should be put in the position where I have to share my family assets or my matrimonial home with a spouse whom I may be married to for only a short period of time?” I suppose that in that particular case, a marriage contract can be made and that arrangements can be made in the marriage contract whereby these things are avoided.
The whole matter of marriage contracts under this bill bothers me because practically every other section in the bill has to do with things which are done and which give the courts the right to override various provisions of the bill. There is so much uncertainty created. I started listing some of the sections which give judges the right to make exceptions with respect to marriage contracts and I began to put down just about every section in the bill.
What concerns me is that it is going to be an almost impossible problem, an impossible task, for any lawyer to advise any client with any degree of certainty as to what his client’s rights are under a marriage contract because of the provisions of this bill. I can see that where there is undue influence or duress or fraud a marriage contract should be set aside. Where a marriage contract is properly drawn and properly witnessed and it deals with specific guidelines which are set out in the bill -- or in the Act when it is finally passed -- the guidelines which permit courts to interfere with marriage contracts should be limited to almost negligible proportions. Otherwise, what is the purpose of telling people and educating people that they should get marriage contracts drawn if there is going to be so much uncertainty?
I think it is going to be almost impossible to advise anybody as to what to do with regard to property, assets or anything under the bill because of the features built into this bill with regard to judges having the right to override it. These are some of the things which have been bothering me about it.
Unfortunately I am not able to suggest at this particular time any specific amendments. For instance, in the case of the common-law relationship I talked about, I cannot suggest what specific amendment I would like to make with respect to that matter which would hold any water and which could be put in here and not do greater injustice than the one I am trying to clear up.
These are some of the misgivings I have about some of the uncertainties which I believe exist in the present bill. Other than that I think, as I said at the outset, the bill clears up a lot of injustices which have heretofore existed. Generally speaking, I will support the bill and I am sure my colleagues will as well.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, one writer has said that laws and institutions, like clocks, must be occasionally cleaned and wound up and set to true time. This seems to be what we are doing in part by this bill.
However, I am not sure if the bill is achieving entirely what the intentions are and that is why we are looking very closely at it. For one thing it seems to have a rather negative approach to marriage and the relationship between spouses. It concentrates on the economic view of the marriage relationship rather than considering the social and the lifestyle aspects of marriage.
It comes into effect mainly when the matrimonial ship is on the reefs and this I find rather depressing. In the minister’s booklet, which he has issued to encourage public discussion of the bill, on page 30 this statement is made, “Spouses should be encouraged to consider the possibility of their marriage breaking down.”
Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that this legislation should be directed more towards making the marriage relationship more stable and developing an institution in our society, rather than contemplating only the economic division of the spoils.
Another aspect of the legislation that bothers us considerably is the stress on the judicial discretion, which means an adversary approach to marriage and to marriage breakup. I know the minister is saying that he is going to bring in unified family courts, which is a new concept and which will try and get away from the adversary relationship, but it looks like they’re a long way down the pike. He hasn’t yet signed the agreement with the federal government to sort out the jurisdictional problems to bring them into effect. I don’t see any money in the new supplementary estimates to provide for unified family courts. Even the pilot project, which he is suggesting will go into Hamilton for the next three years -- there is no money in the supplementary estimates for that.
Are we going to have to wait until the three-year, pilot-project experiment is over before we try the unified family court in other areas, once we do get agreement with the federal government to get them started? Because if we don’t, we’re going to be saddled with a great deal of litigation under this bill and it will all be on the adversary basis. That can be very detrimental to the bringing together of spouses who are having difficulties or to any possibility of reconciliation.
It also will be a bonanza for the lawyers, they always seem to manage to get a welfare state set up for them. I’d like to ask the minister if Legal Aid will be available to spouses who find that they have to go the court route in order to get their fair shares? If so, will it become a lien on the property which is to be divided? Because, it seems to me, in the case of people of fairly modest means, practically all of the family assets could be taken in legal costs when there is any area that has to be litigated to decide what is a fair share.
I know the minister had to choose between the various extremes in dividing property. There could be the complete community of property, which has been tried in a number of jurisdictions and has been found to create almost as many problems as it has solved, and which, generally, was set aside by a series of marriage contracts in most cases. The other extreme is complete judicial discretion, and I think we got the Murdoch case out of that, which certainly did not look after the interests of the dependent spouse.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The judges were really hampered by the common law there -- I’m sorry, I should not interrupt you.
Ms. Bryden: Thank you. I understand there were a lot of complications in the interpretation that led to the Murdoch case. But I have my doubts about judicial discretion after reading in last week’s paper about judges who apparently hold mediaeval concepts about the reliability of women’s evidence at certain ages and certain periods of their life. I think in steering a course between the extreme of complete community of property and the extreme of complete judicial discretion, we hope the bill will succeed in avoiding the disadvantage of both those extremes. We have actually a blend of deferred community of property and of judicial discretion in this bill. We have our doubts as to how much of a problem the judicial discretion will be particularly to people who are not used to litigation and who may find that it is very costly.
Outside of those concerns about the thrust of the bill being somewhat negative and the retention of the adversary approach in many instances, we feel we can regard this bill perhaps as a first step toward sweeping away some of the cobwebs which have hung around family law for many years. I think we can credit the impetus for this bill not so much to the government having seen the light after 33 years and deciding that it was time to reform this area of law but to several things such as the rise of the women’s liberation movement which drew attention to the many disabilities which women suffer in our society which prevent them playing their full role and the many barriers to their attaining a position of equality either within or without the marriage situation.
The reports of the Law Reform Commissions, both at the federal level and the provincial level, are part of the background which led to this kind of legislation and I think the work of the Ontario Status of Women Council should be given credit for seeing that this kind of legislation is now forthcoming. The council held a very important conference on this subject shortly after the Ontario Law Reform Commission issued its report and I think that conference probably had a great deal to do with raising the minister’s consciousness of the problems facing spouses before the law.
As a final credit, I would give minority government high marks. I think the various reports of the Law Reform Commissions and of the conferences on the subject would have gone to that great Valhalla of reports which this government has generally made great use of -- namely, the pigeonhole. We would not have seen action if there had not been a minority government which was making a real issue of the position of women and the disabilities they suffer.
We regard this as a first step to removing some of those disabilities and sweeping away some of the archaisms in the law but it is certainly not the complete answer to establishing the equality of women in the marriage state. They will still suffer from dependency because there are not enough steps being taken to enable them to have complete access to education, to job retraining and to various occupations. Their contributions to managing the home, child rearing and so on are not adequately recognized in this legislation,
My colleagues have mentioned a number of other deficiencies in the law and I won’t go over those. I’m sure some of them will be the subject of amendments in committee. We’re hoping that we can improve on this law. I’ll just refer to them in passing.
One is the question of conduct being considered by the judges in assessing the shares. One is the question of enforcement of maintenance orders and whether the legislation in here for improving the enforcement of maintenance orders is adequate. One is the question of whether the definition of family assets is broad enough or whether there shouldn’t be some consideration of the business assets. As my colleagues have said, the fact that a wife stays home, manages the home and manages all the child-rearing and all the other affairs of the family enables her spouse to carry on business activities. He is in a much better position because of having that support from the person managing the home and the family. My colleagues have mentioned that the section in the 1975 legislation on family property, chapter 41, section 1(3)(c), should be added to section 7(2) in here in order to have recognition given by the courts or anybody interpreting this law to the spouse’s contribution as a spouse, not in the form of either money or work in the business.
Those are some of the areas we will be looking at in the amendments. I might mention some of the things in the bill we think are good. I’m sure that’s what the minister is waiting to hear. These include the sweeping away of the archaisms, the institutions of the marriage contract as a possibility, though not a compulsory contract in our law of Ontario, which gives more flexibility to people who do have special circumstances. We hope there will be some requirement in the law for some sort of an affidavit to be signed along with a marriage contract to the effect that both parties were quite aware of what is being done in this situation. Often in the sort of euphoric state that one is in on getting married, they may not be looking at the economics of it as much. I think one or other spouse may not be as used to contracts as the other. They should be made very aware and should probably sign a statement to the effect that they were made aware of what the contract entails.
Section 30 about prohibiting harassment of spouses appears to be a useful clause. We hope that the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) would see that the police enforce this. The fact that the ownership of the matrimonial home can be in either name or in any form does give a certain flexibility there to the people who for business reasons or others wish to have it in one name or the other.
The clause requiring support for illegitimate children on the same basis as legitimate is a clause we all welcome. It is long overdue. The obligation of support for children who are of legal age, that is, over 18, to support their parents -- they’re not really children at that stage -- is a section I very much question. The Parents’ Maintenance Act has been rarely enforced in recent years, and I think rightly so. After all, children or young people have no control over their parents and they should not have such control. Therefore, to put on them the obligation of support is unfair. Also at the years in which they might be required to support an aged parent, they are usually establishing their own families, getting their own homes set up, often establishing careers and businesses that require education investment and most of them just do not have funds to support parents. I think society as a whole should take on the responsibility of supporting any people of adult age who, because of misfortune, or illness, or unemployment, or any reasons of this sort, are not able to have sufficient income to support themselves. If society pays for it, then all the children will pay for it through their income tax, and I think there should be a good progressive income tax so that all the children of the world support all the parents of the world through the social device known as the state.
We are all responsible for one another rather than individual children being responsible for the particular parents who happen to fall into misfortunes. Certainly the relationship between the children and the parents is much better if there is not this obligation on them. Not many parents want to take their children to court to enforce maintenance, so instead they do without, and if they do take them to court their relationship is destroyed. There are all sorts of reasons why I think it is a backward step to repeal The Parents’ Maintenance Act and then to put into this bill a sort of pious statement that children are responsible for the support of their parents.
As to the common law section, I find some difficulty in understanding how it would be enforced. In a case of a marriage we have a definite date on which the marriage occurred and we have a definite date on which a separation agreement is signed -- although I don’t believe separation agreements are essential under this bill -- but how would we determine when a common-law relationship had started? And if there had been a period, during say two years, of a month or two when the common-law couple were not living together, would we start over with another two-year period, or at the end of two years less a day could they separate for two weeks and then come together again and start over a new two-year period before there would be any obligation of support?
It seems to me it’s a very difficult area to administer and I question whether it is an area that this particular law should be getting into. I certainly would agree that all parents should support their children, whether the children are legitimate or illegitimate, and that they all have that obligation. In the case of a person who has become dependent on another through a common-law relationship, that seems to me a special case that is very difficult to define and to bring within this particular law.
Actually I look to the day when there will be much less of this sort of dependency, because we will make it possible for both spouses to have careers during the period when they are not raising children and to share in the child-rearing period, and also there will be larger family allowances so that the child-rearing stage will be bringing in some income to the spouse who is engaging in that, and there will be more day care facilities so that the child-rearing period will not be as long.
In other words, we need a whole series of policies which will reduce the dependency of the spouse who has taken on the responsibility of either managing the home or raising the children. I would hope the responsibility of managing the home, if there are no children, would be simply shared by the two spouses on an equal basis and there would be no dependency developed from that. The raising of children does create problems unless there is sufficient income from family allowances and opportunities for retraining for the person who stayed home with the children so that they are able, when the period is over, to go out and support themselves. So I rather question whether we should be bringing in the common-law obligations in this particular legislation.
Those are my main concerns with the bill. I think we should still hope that we will see more positive steps from the government along the lines that I have been mentioning, to remove dependency from women and to ensure that the mechanics of the bill actually achieve the objectives, which I think are well stated in section 49, that spouses should be equal before the law and that marriage should be a partnership of equals.
We would also hope that the government would do as my colleague from Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) mentioned and do its part to reduce the dependency of women by its work with its own Crown employees. It was rather discouraging to learn during consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Labour, as the Crown employees’ officer reported, that there had been practically no progress towards increasing the number of women in senior administrative positions in the government over the past year and that there was very little change in the ratio of pay earned by female versus male employees in the public service. That ratio is very low. Women make, I think, about 55 per cent of what men make. That’s partly because they are in the lower-paying occupations, of course, rather than outright discrimination, although there probably are still some areas where we may still need equal pay for equal work. Certainly there is not equal pay for work of equal value in the public service yet; we are a long way from that.
In conclusion, I would urge the minister to consider that this is only part of the legislation and the positive policies that are needed.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, I would also like to say a very strong word of support for the general thrust of this bill. It has long been called for in that the areas of matrimonial property and matrimonial support needed revision and updating and clarification, and this bill goes a long way to do that. With that I do not quarrel; that I certainly support.
Following in the footsteps of the previous speaker, there is an area, however, that I would like to address myself to very briefly: that is. when this was first announced, I had rather strong misgivings about the attitude that we were sending out, the message that we were sending out to our society. Having talked to a quite a large number of people since then about this, that attitude, that reservation, that concern is simply strengthened and deepened; that is, the whole message we are sending out with respect to the stability of married life and families in our society.
It is of great concern to me that the disintegrating forces seem to be taking over more and more all the time. Just a few days ago in our own local newspaper, it was announced that in 1975 there were in excess of 50,000 divorces in Canada; that represented an 11 per cent increase from the year before and something like about a five- or six-fold increase in the last seven or eight years. We know this is happening. We know also that the strongest force for stability in our society are our families, and especially those families which are encased in a strong marital relationship. What concerns me about this one is that the whole thrust of it is, as was just said, a very negative one. Now I appreciate that we are talking here about legislation -- what you can put in black and white, where you can cross the t’s and dot the i’s. I guess what I’m trying to argue for is that somewhere, somehow -- and I haven’t been in this Legislature long enough to know how to suggest it, maybe it’s a preamble, I’m not sure what it is -- but someway somehow we must get out the message that we are strongly in support, in this society of Ontario, in this society of Canada, for the sanctity of marriage and the strength of family.
If we just look at this legislation: First of all it deals almost totally with the concept of marriages, marital relationships, breaking up. It does mention some aspects of the continuing marriage relationship, but the main thrust is the breakup. As has been pointed out, even in the booklet that has been sent out for perusal ahead of time, there is a statement that right, from the very beginning, young people planning marriage should consider the possibility of breakup.
Yet the whole concept of marriage is based on something totally different. The whole concept of marriage in our Christian society, our Judaeo-Christian society in this province, in this country, is based on the concept of a life-long commitment that won’t break up. And in saying that, in saying it strongly, we are not so blind, we are not so naive, as not to know that, in fact, some of them will break up. We see it around us. But if we are suggesting to young people entering marriage, if we’re suggesting to our families right now, that this is a distinct possibility they should actually plan for, then the message we’re sending out, whether we intend to or not, is that they should expect it to happen.
Yet the message we need to be telling people is that they shouldn’t expect it to happen. They should do everything they possibly can, they themselves as young people planning marriage, the young families that are already in marriage and society at large and this Legislature, should be doing everything we possibly can to say hold them together, hang in there, somehow make it work. Because it’s only to the extent that our families are going to hang together; it’s only to the extent that marriage in our society is going to hang together through thick and thin, through better or worse, through sickness or poverty, all of those things that we said at the beginning, that our society is going to hang together.
If I seem a little bit strong on this it’s because I feel that very, very deeply. When marriage goes, when family goes, that’s the end of it. If we read through the pages of history we see it time and time again. Great civilizations rise and fall, and when you examine why they fell it was the destruction of family life in those societies, over and over again. To the extent that society allows its families to deteriorate; to the extent society does anything in terms of legislation like this that would suggest that it can happen or that you expect it to happen, then we’re asking for trouble.
The whole concept in this legislation that deals so extensively with contracts -- you know, a contract is totally unnecessary unless you expect the marriage to break up. If the family is going to continue, if the marriage is going to continue, nobody needs a contract.
I have grave reservations, Mr. Speaker, about suggesting in here, as strongly as we do, that the concept of a contract is a desirable thing. By that we are, in fact, encouraging it.
I’m not saying that we prevent it. If people want to do it of their own free will, if there are some reasons why they think they should have it, fine; I’m not saying we prevent that. But I don’t think, we should be encouraging it; that’s the point I’m trying to make.
Mr. Minister I think what we have to appreciate is that what we say and what we do in this Legislature has impact out there. People look at what we do and what we say and they get perceptions. Whether that’s our intention or not, that’s the perception that’s out there.
What I’m arguing is that when we do and say things in here, be sure that what we really mean and what we really feel and what we really believe is also the message that goes out. So therefore I have reservations about the precontact. The whole aspect of common-law arrangements that we have in here -- even the terminology we use today when we call them common-law marriages -- they are not marriages at all in a sense of the word as we understand it in our Judaeo-Christian concept; we shouldn’t even be using that terminology. The fact is that we sort of send out the message that this is okay. Well the fact that we know they are there does not make it something that’s okay. I’m really concerned about the children.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Show me in the bill where common-law marriage is mentioned.
Mr. Sweeney: No, I am not saying it is. I am not saying that. I am saying that in the reference to that kind of relationship; these are the messages that are going out.
It mentions in the bill very distinctly the concept of marital misconduct. I can understand the reasons why marital misconduct has been mentioned in previous legislation, and that perhaps it has been punitive, but once again the message we are sending out is that maybe it isn’t so bad, maybe that is not something we should be unduly concerned about. Yet it is verily those kinds of marital misconduct that are causing marriages to break down; and to suggest in any way whatsoever that it is not a serious thing is, I suggest, a danger. That is the main point I want to make. I am really concerned about, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the things we are sending out, the messages we are sending out, the perceptions we allow to go out through this legislation. I guess I am asking if there is any way this legislation can have a preamble, or if there is anything that the Attorney General, through his ministry, can do in terms of public relations to make very sure that is not the intent, because I feel from public remarks I have heard him make that isn’t his intent. However, my reading of the public, the kinds of things they have said to me, the things I have felt myself, suggest that that is what is going out there.
A second observation I want to make -- and I remember it was sort of an interjection made when the Attorney General first stood up in this Legislature and announced he was going to do this sort of thing, and it echoed in my own mind -- the enforcement of support payment is one of the most difficult things that is going on right now. I am not sure whether the provisions which the minister has made in this legislation are going to solve many of those problems. I have in my own riding quite a number of marriage breakup situations where the wife in particular, because she doesn’t have the same kind of earning power, is in a real dilemma, even after the court has ordered payment, even after it has gone to the justice of the court, it has gone to family court, the whole bit. This thing gets delayed and delayed and the husband comes back and brings in all kinds of delaying tactics, and nothing gets done. It just seems to go on, literally for ever. What I am arguing for here is that once the breakup has occurred, once payment is demanded, we build in here as strong an enforcement procedure as possibly can be done.
One little aside here, and I don’t know what the minister can do about it, but it is becoming a rather serious problem with three or four constituents in my area, and that is, those women who are married to service personnel. I am sure the minister is aware of the fact that there is no way one can garnishee their wages. I am not quite sure what the correct terminology is. I guess as an employee or a servant of the Crown they can’t be attached.
I have four situations of women who have separated from the husbands in this situation. There have been all kinds of court orders, we have gone right to the personnel directors in Ottawa. right to the armed forces, and they say there is nothing they can do, they can’t enforce it. Therefore, here is a body of people sitting outside there and they are literally laughing at the law, the law is being made a farce of. Okay, that is one other thing I would ask for.
One area that I want to support very strongly is the reference here to illegitimate chidden. While I can’t, as I have already indicated, support too strongly the common-law relationship, I do feel very strongly for a child born from that relationship, and anything we can do to remove the stigma from that child, who had nothing to do with the decision to enter into such a relationship, we should do as strongly as we possibly can. The children of a common-law relationship are facing enough difficulties as it is, and to further brand them for life with the title of illegitimacy or whatever it is that they are branded with, should be removed as completely and as thoroughly as we possibly can; anything that the minister can do in that direction I would certainly applaud and support as much as possible.
To sum up, I am saying that I certainly support the basic thrust of the legislation. My main concern, however, is that we do not convey to the families, to the married people of this province, to the society of this province, the message that we don’t hold in very high esteem the sacredness of marriage as it exists. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Bellwoods.
Mr. McClellan: I am sorry, I had thought that somebody opposite was speaking.
In a phrase that was used by the leader of our party some years before he became leader, and speaking on an entirely different subject, I intend --
An hon. member: That sounded sanctimonious.
Mr. McClellan: Well we just had the sanctimonious contribution, now maybe we can get back to the bill.
As I was saying, our leader referred to the subject he was discussing as one which deserved to be talked about with studied ambiguity and I think at this point that certainly sums up my own position with respect to the bill. We are intending, as the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) said, to give qualified support on second reading. I don’t know at this point whether or not we can give support on third reading. I think that will depend substantially on the debate as well as on the amendments in clause by clause consideration.
Many of our concerns, I think, have been well spelled out, at least semantically, and we can go into them in the clause by clause consideration.
I want to focus on a particular aspect which is causing me a great deal of concern and that is the support provision. There seems to be a substantial amount of what can only be described as welfare law in this bill and I’m not sure why that is there. Clearly this legislation will involve substantial revisions to social assistance legislation, to The Family Benefits Act in particular. I don’t know whether or not either this ministry or the Ministry of Community and Social Services have begun to discuss the implications of this bill for existing family benefits legislation but, clearly, the Act will have to be substantially revised.
That leads me to my concern. I hate to use the odious phrase, Roy McHeadline, but I do have --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: You are becoming needlessly partisan.
Mr. McClellan: -- a McHeadline in my hand from the Toronto Star, November 13. The headline is quite snappy: “McMurtry View: Man Runs Away and We All Pay.”
Mr. Warner: Good line.
Mr. McClellan: Aside from the PR value of the headline, there are some principles in the story which, if we translate them to the bill, I think are grounds for quite serious concern. The Attorney General says in this article that Ontario spends more than $160 million a year in family benefits and attributes the size of that case load to women and children who’ve been forced to go to the public purse because of personal relationships, married and unmarried, which leave them in the lurch.
He goes on to document the amount of money which family benefits programmes cost the Ontario taxpayers for unwed mothers, deserted wives and so on. He implies very clearly in the story that he intends his legislation to redress somehow the large amount of public funds now spent in the support of single parents, unwed mothers and deserted wives through the Family Benefits legislation. If that is the intent of this legislation we are going to have some serious quarrels with him.
I don’t think that it is, in any sense, an adequate analysis to pretend that we can solve the problems of single-parent families in this province by requiring the state to enforce the support obligations. I doubt very much whether the Attorney General believes that himself. You will forgive me, Mr. Speaker, if my paranoia quotient rises considerably when I see an article like that. I put it in the context of this government and the present Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) who has launched his own particularly odious form of welfare bashing with respect to general welfare assistance recipients. Now we have a package of family law reform in the middle of which appears to be some rather odious possibilities -- and I say possibilities -- with respect to single-parent families.
I have an hypothesis, which I hope I can do some work on before we get to clause-by-clause reading; that is, that most of the people who are on family benefits in the single-parent family category were in the low-income category before they went on to benefits. I believe the ministry itself has done a study on mother’s allowance recipients some years ago which indicated as much. I don’t think the introduction of the power of the state to intervene and apply for support orders would have other than a very punitive effect on both individuals in the relationship, on both the woman and the man. I doubt very much if it would be other than punitive.
There is no clear benefit to the family whose mother’s allowance is only reduced by the amount of support and not a nickel goes to supplement the family income. On the other hand, the person paying the support order is in the position of having to support two households. I doubt whether very many people in this society, other than perhaps lawyers and politicians, can support two households
Mr. Good: What was that all about?
Mr. McClellan: I am quite concerned about section 15(2). Clearly spouses should have the right to apply for an order of support and clearly spouses are entitled to adequate enforcement of support orders, which is something which doesn’t obtain today. But it seems to us senselessly punitive and a very major invasion of privacy that the state should be given the power to intervene in such a way between spouses to apply for orders of support, independent of the feelings or desires of the individuals. We intend to pursue that again in the clause-by-clause debate.
Secondly, we’re concerned as well that the same right has been given the state to intervene between parents and children. Certainly needy parents have the right to claim support. But I cannot accept that the state has the business to make that decision itself to intervene in the relationship between parents and children in that way and to intrude itself in such a way into the private lives of individuals and families. It opens itself up to tremendous psychological damage, it seems to me, and to a great opportunity for abuse.
Perhaps I can overstate the case and ask the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) whether he intends, expects and requires every aged applicant for a family benefits allowance, or a general welfare assistance allowance, or for a GAINS allowance, or for an admission to a nursing home under Extendicare, or for admission to a home for the aged under The Homes for the Aged Act, to sue their children for support on the failure of them to do so.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No I don’t.
Mr. McClellan: I said I’m overstating to illustrate what this legislation at least permits.
Mr. Reid: The usual NDP approach.
Mr. Davidson: Are you awake? He woke up over there.
Mr. Moffatt: The Liberal-Labour Party is alive anyway.
Mr. McClellan: In the event of the failure of the parents to sue the child, will the state automatically intervene? What kinds of criteria will determine when the state will decide to sue a child or a person for non-support of parents?
It seems to me the government is almost moving in the direction of bringing the courts in as the mechanism for determination of eligibility for social service programmes. That is an interpretation clearly possible under 15(2) -- it is open to the Ministry of Community and Social Services to run every applicant for a provincial benefit allowance or a social service programme through the courts to determine whether the offspring should be required to pay or how much he or she should pay toward the cost of the service or benefit.
I don’t think that makes very much sense, No. 1. No. 2, we have profound concerns about the power of the state to intervene in that way in people’s lives. No. 3, we are very reluctant to entrust those kinds of powers to a government which has installed as its Minister of Community and Social Services the incumbent whose riding I do not know.
The government asks too much if it asks us to give that hon. gentleman that kind of power.
I won’t go on. As I said, we intend to raise the concerns which have identified thematically in second reading during the clause by clause stage. We will look forward to that debate. In general, we are cautiously optimistic and guardedly congratulatory to the minister for the serious attempt, we think, to reform our family property law. We recognize the complexity of the task and that there is no clear consensus with respect to particulars of the bill within the community.
I think opinion within the community is still in the formation stage and hopefully the discussions which will take place in the clause by clause consideration will help all of us and the public at large to come to a clearer understanding of what the implications are of this law and all its ramifications.
I come back again to the question of support and tell the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) that it causes us enormous difficulties. Unless we can have some of those difficulties assuaged, either through argument in the clause by clause discussions or through amendments, we will have some profound difficulty in supporting it on third reading.
Mr. Speaker: Has the hon. member finished his remarks?
Mr. McClellan: Yes, I have.
Mr. Speaker: Will any other hon. members wish to speak to this bill?
Mr. Roy: Yes.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps you would care to move the adjournment of the debate?
Mr. Roy: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to make my comments originally on Thursday I think it was. I would like to take this opportunity and adjourn the debate.
Mr. Speaker: Next Thursday?
Mr. Roy moved the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ HOUR:
HOSPITAL LABOUR DISPUTES ARBITRATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. S. Smith, on behalf of Mr. Bullbrook, moves second reading of Bill 142, An Act to amend The Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act.
Mr. S. Smith: I am pleased to present this private member’s bill for discussion before this House. The province of Ontario has been the scene of a very unfortunate labour dispute which we all know about and which has involved some of the most dedicated professionals serving the public of Ontario. I’m speaking, of course, of the public health nurses.
These, as you know, Mr. Speaker, are professionals dedicated to helping people in their home, at their work, at their place of recreation. These are people who are able to give service to the public generally but in a way that is seldom brought to public attention. They are not the kinds of people that television serial adventure stories are written about. They are not the spectacular people wearing particular uniforms which make them stand out as angels of mercy, and so on. You don’t see them in war movies.
But they are people who are tending to the wounds of the aged, who are making sure that the various medications which are the rule in medicine today are taken by the citizens who require them. They are people who are making sure that parents have brought to their attention whatever deficit in hearing or vision or in other forms of behaviour are present in children in the schools. They are people who need a lot of training -- they have to intervene from time to time in marital disputes.
I have had many occasions to make use of this particular professional group because, as a psychiatrist, it has frequently been a useful thing to be able to discharge patients to their home, but where these people would still have someone to look in on them to make sure things were going well and to be sure that they were able to take care of their families, and so on.
Public health nurses have frequently brought to the attention of people -- in my own department for instance, when I was acting as a doctor as opposed to a politician -- people requiring help were frequently brought to my attention because of the scrutiny given the community by public health nurses.
You probably know as well that these are trained nurses who have to achieve all the various standards achieved by hospital nurses but then they go on to do further study. It seems only reasonable that at the very least these people should be paid on a par with those who are acting as hospital nurses. This has always been the case in the province of Ontario.
But recently, despite the fact that a year ago -- over two years ago -- money was made available, recently the health units for which these particular professionals worked, have adopted a very unfortunate and somewhat intransigent stand and have in fact been unwilling to maintain parity for these particular nurses even as the salaries have increased for hospital-based nurses. In some instances, and Pine Ridge-Haliburton is an example, these nurses were actually locked out even though they had done nothing wrong and even though they had made no particular threat. This, despite the fact that provincial representatives frequently would sit on the health unit board.
Now, I can appreciate that the health units are short of money, but I still feel, and I hope this House will agree, that the health units should have been given additional sources of revenue by the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) instead of waiting months and months and letting the thing escalate to the point it has now reached. I still think these nurses should have been given at least a band in their dispute so that they could seek a remedy which would be fair and equitable vis-à-vis their professional colleagues in hospitals.
I wanted to bring to your attention the fact this group of nurses really has no clout. Let’s speak frankly now. We know very well there are people in society who -- because of their clout, because of their power, because they are, for instance, teachers and can hold up an entire school system -- frequently want to use the strike weapon as a way to achieve an increase in salary. It’s the rest of society that begs them -- please -- to use arbitration so they don’t exercise the clout they have.
This unfortunate group of professionals called public health nurses, however, because they are in groups of eight, 10 or 20, really have no power against a health unit in terms of bargaining power. Because they could be left out in the cold in a strike endlessly, ad infinitum, and would have no particular power to oppose this, these people are asking for arbitration. They are willing to settle for what an arbitrator deems as fair and equitable. The New Democratic Party, of course, cannot support this.
Members of the New Democratic Party, time and time, find some reason to wriggle out of supporting arbitration for these particular nurses because they believe in the collective bargaining process their labour union masters tell them has to go on undisturbed in the usual manner. They are used to it; rather than give these nurses some clout, some power which a resort to arbitration just might manage for them, the NDP would sooner sell them down the river. They will not actually see to it that they get the arbitration they deserve, because the labour unions, which give the orders to the New Democratic Party, don’t like arbitration; consequently, the nurses can get no help whatsoever in that line from the New Democratic Party.
I would expect better of the government. The government surely must recognize that there are a number of public servants and quasi-public servants in the province to whom arbitration is offered and, in fact, for many of them arbitration is the only way that they are permitted to resolve their differences when the collective bargaining process runs up against a blockage. It seems to me, therefore, that it is only reasonable that the public health nurses should have this Act to amend The Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act so that they too can elect to have arbitration, since the strike weapon is absolutely meaningless and useless to the public health nurses. They should not have to follow the method used by the auto workers and the steel workers, who have more power. They should be given this particular option, which is the only one they particularly want.
They have suffered a lot. I am pleased that the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) was able to stand in the House and suggest that there would be money made available for the health units. But that’s not sufficient. That was done before. That was done two years ago and the health units didn’t take advantage of that money. Now we have a situation where the government must intervene to give the nurses whatever power is needed to make collective bargaining a fairer and more equitable process for that particular professional group so that they can continue to assist the community.
I want to say one brief word about the sense of priorities of the government. I think we are all aware of the fact that the day has gone for using expensive institutional care for all the problems that afflict the health of mankind in the province of Ontario. These institutions are too expensive. A sensible way to go about things is to care for people in their own homes wherever possible. Public health nurses are able to do that and they should be encouraged. They shouldn’t be maligned and discouraged.
I think the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), who I notice is in the House today, is very concerned about this as a person and would like to be of assistance. I have never doubted her motivation at all in this I regard. I would, however, suggest that not a tremendous amount has been done. Certainly there was room for a lot more. The representatives of the Ontario Nurses Association did consult me to say that in a space of over a month and a half they had been unable even to obtain an appointment in her office and had had actually no communication at all.
Mr. Roy: Shame.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I talked to them today.
Mr. S. Smith: I think that is poor. I realize that things are now changing and I encourage her to help and to use her good offices --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Absolute balderdash.
Mr. Roy: She is playing hard to get.
Mr. S. Smith: I personally am of the opinion that the only way that this is ever going to be settled is by arbitration . I think that’s the sensible thing to do and I feel that the nurses should have that power. Let me put it this way to you, Mr. Speaker: If the nurses had the power to elect arbitration, then I think you would see the health units finally settle. But as long as they have no weapon whatsoever, as long as they have no clout whatsoever, then they are simply going to be taken advantage of as the weak people in a situation that is still ruled by the law of the jungle. The labour people don’t mind that because they figure in unions they have strength. But these particular nurses, the vast majority of them as you know are women, have a right to be given some clout in this society, some clout so that collective bargaining becomes meaningful for them.
Various members of my path are going to speak on this bill and will add their own particular point of view and I think you’ll see, Mr. Speaker, that the bill is a very reasonable extension. I trust that at least there will be a tenth of the House supporting this particular professional group and that the government will take steps to give them what they actually deserve in the way of a fair and equitable wage settlement.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, I find myself concurring with some of the thoughts just expressed by the leader of the Liberal Party. I’d like to set my thoughts to the House. I feel that public health nurses throughout this province provide a vital and much needed service to both urban and rural communities.
As such, both the nurses who provide this service and the communities that receive those services deserve protection from strikes or lockouts which seriously undermine our health care delivery system.
I think it’s no shock that health costs are rising at a frightening pace; a pace that the taxpayers of this province simply cannot afford. But few people realize the dimensions of the problem. While placing restraints on the growth of hospital spending is a partial solution, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got to look at contemporary lifestyles which seriously harm the health of Canadians. We’ve got to look at factors like the abuse of alcohol, the excessive use of drugs, the spread of venereal disease and the lack of physical exercise. In short, the public attitude has to change.
Each of us must direct our attention more fully to the environmental preventive health measures if we are to arrest the spiralling costs of health care. We have to look much further than purely providing diagnosis and treatment of individual health problems. We must look to the identification and prevention of broader health problems that affect every sector of the community.
It is in the promotion of environmental and lifestyle health care that public health nurses have a very vital role to play. The public health nurse is there in the community where she is needed. She is able to act immediately to identify a problem before it happens or as soon as it happens. She has access to the home and can assist in a difficulty before it develops into a crisis situation. She has the opportunity to treat the whole family as opposed to the hospital nurses who deal primarily with one member of the family experiencing a problem.
The public health nurse acts on a potential difficulty rather than reacting to a problem which has already developed. She provides an effective liaison between the doctor and the community and has a tremendous impact on the people she serves. Within the schools -- and the leader of the Liberal Party mentioned this -- the public health nurse screens the children for health problems. I have this in a very personal way as my youngster had a problem identified by a public health nurse in its early stages. She is involved in the immunization of youngsters against communicable diseases and provides education in the preventive health practices. They are in effect a very low-cost extension of our health care. Within the community they assist young families in a neo-natal education and marriage counselling and they identify people with potential psychiatric disorders and guide them to assistance.
They provide services in the homes for the disabled and the elderly and they relay a sense of caring and concern for those people who are less able to cope with the world which revolves around the young and the very able. There’s no question in my mind that the situation of strike and lockout which has been allowed to develop places in serious jeopardy the future of public health service and public health nurses in this province. In too many municipalities, locally imposed restraints have meant that public health nurses have been unable to achieve parity with their colleagues in the hospital field, in spite of the fact that the public health nurses often have superior educational qualifications, as was referred to a moment ago.
The Ministry of Health is prepared to provide additional funding on the same ratio as it cost shares health unit budgets to rectify the wage disparity that currently exists. Local boards must be strongly encouraged to re-establish the relationship between the two groups and I think we saw another example of that in the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) comments earlier in the House. While I fully recognize and promote local autonomy in negotiations between local boards and the public health nurses, I fear the current situation has reached a stage where protection must be provided for these nurses.
This legislation does provide that protection through arbitration and moves toward the elimination of strikes and lockouts, which undermine the health care delivery system in every affected community. I believe, however, that it should be viewed as a temporary or a stop-gap measure.
We must take immediate action to find an equitable solution to the serious problems public health nurses are facing today but we must also look ahead toward a long-term solution which will prevent the present difficulties from recurring at some time in the future. I am not fully convinced that arbitration provides that long-term solution.
Certainly the people of this province are becoming increasingly concerned about the effects of confrontation bargaining. Such conflicts in this situation have fuelled frustrations and anger in both public health nurses and the people they seek to serve. Since these nurses are prepared at this time to abrogate their right to strike, their ultimate right to withdraw their services from the community, it is now incumbent upon us to provide them with protection against a lockout, or management’s weapon in a conflict. Therefore, I am pleased at this time to speak in support of Bill 142 in principle.
Mr. Bounsall: This amendment as devised by the Ontario Nurses Association to solve this very long-standing dispute, is, when one first reads it, intriguing and it is certainly quite skilfully worded. It allows one side, one party -- the union in this case -- to opt for the provisions of The Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act relating to binding arbitration to settle this particular contract problem.
If the matter could work that way I personally might be inclined to support it. If there is any possibility that the government would write legislation which allows one party, the workers in this case, to opt for a particular course, my innate reaction would be to support it.
We have here a group of workers, who are very valuable in terms of the health delivery system in Ontario and who are playing an ever-increasing role, and should be, in our health delivery service. It is one of the most valuable roles anyone in our health service has. They are being hammered by the lack of negotiations taking place now and over the years.
They have seen their situation vis-à-vis their other colleagues in the nursing field -- those in the hospitals -- fall further and further behind so there is now $2,000 to $4,000 difference between them in wages paid. It’s a deplorable situation particularly as the public health nurses are delivering a service which we feel to be exceedingly important, all the way from pre-school testing to the provision of services in homes where there are elderly people, to the various immunization and testing programmes which the province runs. This is a very key role, and this is a group of workers we should never have allowed to fall into this situation. From that point of view there’s no question about our party wanting to see these workers achieve parity with their hospital nurse colleagues. The question is, how do we go about it?
Basically, I think everyone would agree that a piece of legislation allowing one party to choose to go to arbitration -- although in this ease, again, a very strong feeling on our part because the private member’s bill and the nurses’ proposal is worded that they be given the choice -- that situation is basically an unfair one, although we are certainly, as I say, quite inclined, as it’s written this way, to say, “Gee, here’s a bill that says the workers alone can choose,” we’re emotionally inclined to say if that could possibly happen we can support it. At the same time we realize that it’s basically unfair and probably cannot be written in that way. The right to demand arbitration would have to be extended to both parties in terms of proper legislation and fairness in the legislation that we would have to write, otherwise the law is a lopsided one.
There’s where our problem occurs. There’s no doubt in our mind that arbitration in this particular instance would certainly help the nurses at this particular time. The six jurisdictions that have voluntarily gone to arbitration have, in fact, received awards from that arbitration that bring them up to parity with hospital nurses, anti that certainly is a situation that should he achieved. Of course, the AIB has to hear them and the AIB has rolled them back, so under that situation they still haven’t quite achieved parity but the arbitration boards, where they’ve voluntarily gone, have recognized that that parity should be achieved.
If the legislation has to be written in fairness, such that both sides can go, we really fear for the future. What this means is that whenever we have a situation where compulsory arbitration can be chosen, where compulsory arbitration is one of the routes, what has been found is that good-faith bargaining simply does not occur whenever down the road sits the compulsory arbitration process. I fear that what will happen here is that the public health boards would never negotiate in good faith, or in many cases they would not.
There must be some boards out there which are better than average, maybe those six that voluntarily went to arbitration, rather suspecting, I would think, that parity would be given. I don’t know the intimate details of the attitudes of those board members, but with most of the boards, who’ve been so difficult this year, in n situation which allows them to choose arbitration, why should they bargain to reach a conclusion? They’ll wait for the arbitration to be imposed upon them and argue their cases, and that is a situation that experience has proven, through those groups of people for many years under The Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, that worked to their distinct advantage, they fell further and further behind other equivalent workers in the community. I would hate to see a situation result in legislation putting them primarily under arbitration.
There’s no question that we would like to see this dispute settled and we would like to see these nurses achieve parity, but a type of legislation which envisages, finally, binding arbitration, compulsory in that sense because public health boards would use it as such, is a situation where we are very fearful.
The main problem here is one of funding. The Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), in his announcement on November 4, where he granted enough funds in the ministry’s portion of the budget so that whatever percentage that might be to the local boards he could grant, in full assurance that not many of those boards would pick it up. Why? Because in some cases they only fund it to 25 per cent and 75 per cent has to be picked up; and even in those boards in which 75 per cent funding is provided by the province that other 25 per cent must be got from the municipalities or from the county in a year in which the government has severely limited the funds to those municipalities. In many of those cases they’ve said to virtually every board -- not just the public health boards but other groups also -- “What we can afford to give you is something like eight per cent.” That’s in the budget, that’s already long standing in the municipal budgets, they see this constriction on them. In some cases it’s very difficult for them, even if they see the justification and the right for these nurses’ salaries to be equalized, to be able to pay any increase out of this year’s budget.
If the government truly wanted to see these nurses brought to parity with their colleagues, they should have said, “We will give sufficient funds to those boards so that all of their salaries, from whatever source, can be brought up”; so the boards don’t have to go back to the municipalities to try to get the difference between the seven to nine per cent, or whatever it is that’s provided in some of those budgets, and the other increase that is required. Alternatively, the government should have said to the municipalities, “If necessary, we will provide the funds to the municipalities above a certain percentage of increase this year so they can pay their portion of the increase needed in their salaries so that the nurses can be brought to parity.”
It’s got to be one of those two routes, I feel, in order for it to be achieved this year without a lot of shuffling going on at the municipal level. It could be granted, as the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) said, but it in no way solves the problem. Basically it’s somewhat a dishonest proposal by the government in that regard, when they know that it doesn’t remove the problem. They know that these funds have to come from the municipal levels, but because those budgets have long been set and because of the government’s tightness in grants to municipalities this year, it is very difficult for them to have that sort of money in their budgets.
I end by saying that this dispute has gone on long enough -- far too long. The year is almost out, the year for which they are bargaining. I say to the Minister of Labour to get together with her colleague the Minister of Health, and solve these disputes. Do nothing else from here on in but get these disputes resolved and with salary levels for the nurses equivalent to their counterparts in the hospital system.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to begin by quoting one paragraph from our local newspaper of just one month ago:
“Health Minister Frank Miller has frequently said that non-essential workers should keep their right to strike as the ultimate bargaining weapon. He counts public health nurses among those whose services are not deemed essential.”
That’s the danger right there. When the Minister of Health of this province can say publicly that public health nurses are not an essential service, then we’ve got a major problem. I think that what is coming out of this particular statement is that when any society says that curative services are a higher priority than preventive services, then we’ve got a problem. That’s the distinction here, because when we have very clearly said to the people of this province that we’re willing to pay our hospital nurses, who are there to cure people who are already ill, more than we’re willing to pay our public health nurses, who are trying to prevent people from getting ill in the first place, then we’ve really got something backwards.
I believe very strongly, and the members of this caucus believe very strongly, that public health nurses’ services are essential services because they place the concept of prevention above the concept of cure -- and that certainly is where we have to place it.
I believe also the point has been made on a number of occasions that although this government pays lip-service to alternative, more productive and, yes, more economical health services, in fact it won’t really do it. It has been brought to the government’s attention before that it is much more economical to provide care for people in nursing homes and in their own homes than it is in hospitals, and yet the government refuses to provide the necessary funding and the necessary encouragement and motivation to see that this is done.
We have the same thing here. When we look at the range of activities that public health nurses perform in this province -- such things as pre-natal and post-natal care, school health, visiting released psychiatric patients, venereal disease control, family planning clinics, and looking after the elderly. Right now, they’re the ones who are handling the swine flu clinics. Are we going to say these people are not essential? Yet this same government will say that the men, the very good men, who look after the plants and the grass in front of this building perform an essential service. They have the right to go to arbitration.
The men and women who work in the Liquor Control Board stores, who hand out bottles which create a lot of the problems we’re dealing with here -- is that an essential service? They can go to arbitration. We’ve got our priorities backwards and upside down and inside out if we continue in this particular way. We’re talking here, first of all, of an absolutely essential service. We’re talking of very much more productive and more economical alternative services and we simply must support this one.
I would like to point out that we recognize -- it has been suggested also but it must be repeated again -- that our public health nurses not only have the same training and background as the hospital nurses, they have more. Yet in my particular community the public health nurses with more training, more background and better qualifications than hospital nurses are earning in excess of $2,000 per year less than the nurses in the hospitals.
I would like to sort of step aside and point out here, in case there is any question about it, that the nurses in the hospitals are supporting the public health nurses. If anyone in this province would try to set those two groups against one another they’re making a serious mistake because I have received numerous letters and phone calls from nurses in hospitals supporting their public health nurse sisters or brothers, as the case may be, in this particular concern. Let’s be sure we get that straight.
What we’re dealing with here is a basic injustice and we cannot allow this injustice to continue.
I would like to conclude by reminding everyone that this particular bill was brought into this Legislature by a member of this Legislature but basically it is a bill which was requested by the public health nurses themselves. I think it is the most serious type of arrogance for us to say that those hundreds and thousands of nurses who have asked for this kind of legislation are not mature enough and adult enough and responsible enough to know what’s good for them. For anyone in this Legislature to stand up and say, “We know better what’s good for you than you know yourself,” is the highest form of arrogance and I don’t think it should be tolerated.
Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, as a preface, I would like to expand upon some of the comments made by the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall). I presume he would have expanded a bit on them except for the mandatory time limit.
One of the things which concerns me about compulsory arbitration is that with the exception of the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police and perhaps the firemen, depending upon the scope of the bargaining unit in certain places, the whole difficulty which has focused sometimes the attention and often the wrath of the public upon the labour movement has been the absolute collapse of any attempt at meaningful negotiations in the public sector. It’s not only the absolute collapse of any meaningful negotiations but the total failure of the traditional system of mediation or conciliation even to cope with the issue short of the withdrawal of services.
Upon analysis, it is easy to understand why the traditional system simply does not work in the public sector. In the private sector both sides can lose. The worker who withdraws his services certainly loses his wages and becomes part of an economic struggle.
On the other side, the employer or the management has competitors who can absorb part of the business. The competitors can put enormous pressure on the suppliers, customers and so on and so forth. There is an economic penalty not so much directly but probably indirectly upon the management in the private sector.
When we come to the public sector, there is no such onus upon management. The truth of the matter is that from the moment the negotiations come to a crunch and decisions have to be made, management is playing with a loaded deck for the very simple reason that everyone in the public service -- perhaps in varying degrees -- is essential. Every time anyone in the public service withdraws his labour there is an immediate and a direct impact upon the public.
We can have steel industry strikes, which the newspapers like to talk about, or automobile industry strikes, but there’s not the same direct impact upon the public. There have been some lengthy automobile industry strikes in this country but although the public may be inconvenienced when it comes to getting a car, they can go somewhere else, I have yet to see them flooding in with letters saying something must be done.
The difficulty is that as long as compulsory arbitration is put forward as the ultimate solution in the public sector, without any attempt to bring about a new scope of mediation and conciliation which can be thrust backwards upon the direct negotiations to make them meaningful or in good faith, it is merely a primitive solution which is going to do nothing more than, over a prolonged period of time, merely inflame, aggravate and quite frankly, promote confrontations, mutual distrust and a dreadful impact upon the public.
The difficulty, of course, is that we are faced today with precisely the same situation -- except it’s in the public sphere -- as we were in the late 1930s or the immediate post-war period in developing a mediation and conciliation programme in the private sector. We haven’t addressed ourselves -- there is not a government in this country that has addressed itself to it -- to finding a new method of government intervention, if we will, or mediation or conciliation. There hasn’t been one which has really addressed itself to this topic and come up with a solution.
Coming directly to this dispute, I can understand the attitude of the public health nurses. I admire them. I think they do a marvellous job. I can understand their frustrations in bringing forward what would appear to be a very unfair piece of legislation. I suppose we could balance that by saying in the future there might be a time when they would be in a dominant position but still would have this right to apply for compulsory arbitration by the employees hanging over their heads.
I suggest the efforts of the government in this dispute argue against the introduction of this type of one-shot, scatter-gun approach to a very delicate and prolonged issue. The results haven’t been spectacular. Five of the units have gone to arbitration; another four are commencing mediation. They are back at the table going forward.
I would say one thing to my friends, the nurses. One of the boroughs in Metropolitan Toronto has broken away. The borough of York is going back to mediation, starting really the process toward voluntary arbitration. In the other boroughs of Metropolitan Toronto, at least, this is a marvellous time for the ladies to engage in some very good and very effective labour relations by knocking at doors and telling the people exactly what is happening. The council is either too cheap, too miserable, or is deliberately exploiting them because it is afraid to exploit its other white collar workers who have more clout. I somehow think that would bring a remarkable number of conversions to the municipal field. They would start moving toward, at the very least, mediation and direct negotiations again.
I would hope as a result of this bill that, first, the public of this province gets the very distinct knowledge that there is not a member of this Legislature who is not sympathetic to the plight of the nurses and is not aroused at the intransigence, the arrogance and the straightforward stonewalling by their employers, whether they are health unit or in some cases boroughs. Second, I hope that by focusing inwardly upon this dispute that government can be stimulated to start working toward a meaningful method of conciliation and mediation that will take away the tremendous disadvantages that compulsory arbitration demands, that the compulsory arbitration programme has placed upon those in the public sector and put them in a very unfair economic position compared to those in private employment.
Mr. Deans: I am pleased that the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) is in the chair because what I wanted to say, he would relate to. I doubt very much if there has been any dispute that has caused us as much concern as this one has. It would be very easy in this instance, since we are four-square in the corner of the public health nurses, to say, “Yes, we would adopt compulsory arbitration in order to resolve this dispute.” But the problems that flow from making that decision in this case would be so great and so many that we would be faced in this Legislature almost on a weekly basis with appeals from one group or another which are faced with problems at the bargaining table to adopt similar measures to resolve their disputes.
Compulsory arbitration: What it means is that each of the parties decides that they will accept the decision of the arbitrator. If we were to on this occasion, because we are very sympathetic to the plight of the public nurses, agree that they should have the unilateral choice of determining whether or not they wish to have their dispute arbitrated, we would then have to agree that in any other dispute involving public health nurses or anyone else that the employer, notwithstanding whether that employer had bargained in good faith or not, notwithstanding whether that employer was recognized as an unfair employer in the province of Ontario, notwithstanding the economic conditions of the day, that any employer in the province of Ontario would quite rightly expect that this Legislature would deal with them in exactly the same way and give to them the same rights. Unfortunately I really can’t put myself, nor do I think the Legislature should put itself, in that position.
Arbitration holds no terror for me. Arbitration is a perfectly legitimate way of resolving a dispute between two parties. But it must be the decision of the two parties that they will adopt arbitration as the method of resolving their dispute and this is where this all falls down.
It’s my honest opinion that collective bargaining can resolve most disputes most of the time, but it’s also my opinion that the Ministry of Labour should exercise a great deal more authority in trying to determine and to make known to the public and to the parties involved whether or not in their opinion each or both of the parties are not bargaining in good faith as the law requires. I think that the Ministry of Labour, in fact I think the government as a whole, has sat back far too long in this dispute. I say to you without any fear that had we been the government we would have done what we asked this government to do over the last number of months. That is, to say to the public health boards in the province of Ontario that public health nurses have to be dealt with fairly and that, as the government of Ontario representing the best interests of the people of Ontario we require the board, as a public body, to sit down at the negotiating table and attempt honestly to find an answer to the dispute that currently confronts it.
Having given the assurance of the Minister of Health (Mr. F. 5. Miller) that there would be money available to bring about what may turn out to be a satisfactory solution, there is a clear responsibility on the part of the government to assert itself as the government of Ontario and to say to the public health boards: “Either do your job or, through order-in-council or otherwise, we will not place you in the position of having authority over these people and the health of this province at any future time.”
I say I’d do it -- I’d do it without a moment’s hesitation. I would say to the public health boards: “You sit down, because the money is now there; and you find a solution to the problem and you do it now, not just when you happen to feel like it.”
The difficulty with the public health boards, in all fairness, is the public health boards are part-timers. They drop by when it suits their cause. They are not committed full-time, as a matter of their job, to providing public health service in the province of Ontario. They may be well-meaning, community-involved, concerned individuals but the fact of the matter is they don’t turn all of their attention most of the time to the matter of public health in the province of Ontario. I think that’s where the whole process breaks down.
Here you have a vital part of the province’s health programme being administered by people who are appointed on a part-time, whenever they can get there basis, in terms of the policy and direction they have to follow. I say to the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) that all of the good intention, all of the goodwill in the world won’t change that.
There’s another problem -- the government of Ontario has never placed any emphasis on public health. The government of Ontario has played down the role of public health. The government of Ontario has never been in the forefront of the development of a great deal more public health as a means of keeping down the health costs and providing a higher level of service in the province of Ontario. We in this party, my colleague from Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta), repeatedly during the estimates of the Ministry of Health, has pointed out the need for public health, the extension of public health, the way in which community health services could be emphasized and the greater use to which they could be put.
The government has continuously if not always denounced that as some sort of airy-fairy view of the way the world operates. Let me tell members that one of the difficulties, of course, is that a great number of people in the community don’t appreciate the role the public health nurse plays. They don’t really relate to it very well. When they think of nurses, they think of hospitals because that’s what this government has emphasized. They don’t think of the role played in the community and the way in which the public health nurse serves the community.
We, in this party, perhaps unfortunately in this dispute, feel there are far too many people in the province of Ontario who come under compulsory arbitration. This government has opted, as would the Liberals, for the easy way out in most instances rather than dealing with the personal and human problems which can be resolved at the bargaining table.
Mr. Sweeney: Do you know better than the nurses?
Mr. Deans: I find it interesting that the Liberal Party travels the province of Ontario talking about its private member’s bill without explaining to the public health nurses that in itself it is a meaningless gesture. It cannot resolve their dispute because we have asked, as they have asked, whether the government is prepared to adopt that as a measure and the government has made it clear that it is not.
Mr. Sweeney: The government speakers have supported it.
Mr. Deans: The Liberal Party wasn’t honest with the people, the nurses of the province of Ontario, when it purported to represent them here in the Legislature and put forward arbitration as the method to solve the dispute because its members knew full well it couldn’t pass. It was a private bill and would never ever come to a vote in the Legislature.
Mr. Eakins: Ask the nurses.
Mr. Deans: They didn’t tell anyone that but that’s typical. That’s the expediency of the Liberal Party, anything to gain a vote.
Mr. Sweeney: What are you doing?
Mr. Eakins: What are you doing about it?
Mr. Deans: Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with us.
Mr. Eakins: Why don’t you support the nurses?
Mr. Sweeney: Such arrogance. You know what’s good for everyone “we’ll tell you how to run Ontario; we will think for you.”
Mr. Deans: I want to tell you -- and the Minister of Health will tell you, and the Premier (Mr. Davis) will tell you, as will the Minister of Labour -- that I have frequently pressed to have the minister meet with the health boards, frequently asked whether or not it might not be more appropriate for the government to exercise its clout and try to bring about a resolution to this dispute; and unfortunately the government has refused to act.
It has taken months and months. Public health boards have sat; they have done absolutely nothing in any meaningful way to try and resolve the disputes that are before them. Four out of the outstanding 29, I believe, are now at the bargaining table -- four of 29 two weeks after the government made its intentions known with regard to funding.
I asked the Premier, is he prepared to talk to the people involved and suggest to them, as the Premier of the province, that he wants to see it resolved; and he tells me today, some week and a half after I asked him, that yes he thinks this week he will send out a letter.
It will be two weeks on Wednesday since I asked him personally whether he would do this, and it will be two weeks before he gets the letter out to suggest to them that maybe they should get to the bargaining table and try and get these matters resolved.
That is two weeks wasted; and two weeks that could quite easily have been used to try and find a solution to the problem.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member has about 30 seconds.
Mr. Deans: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I frankly think that we have to take a serious look at restructuring the public health boards. If the public health boards are not prepared to deal fairly with their employees, how then can they make judgements about how those employees can deal with the public? If they don’t understand the worth of their own employees, how then can they make policy judgements about what ought to be done in the community by those employees? If the public health boards are unable to understand that their own employees are of such importance in the community that they should sit down with them and spare no effort or time in order to find a solution to the economic problems that confront them --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Deans: -- then I say to you that we should remove the public health boards.
Mr. Eakins: I want to rise and speak briefly in support of this bill put forward by the hon. member for Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook). Approximately eight months ago the Ontario Nurses Association charged that: “Good faith bargaining for nurses in public health units for 1976 is practically non-existent in this province. Local Boards of Health refuse to bargain beyond the eight per cent to 10 per cent guidelines as set out by the Ministry of Health of Ontario, in spite of the long-standing historical relationships that exist between hospitals and public health nurse salaries.”
In six weeks or so 1976 will be over, and the nurses have made little or no progress in achieving the parity which they seek. During the course of this dispute, nurses have been locked out of offices by district health units, numerous questions have been asked in this House, and virtually all Ontario public health nurses legally able to strike voted to do so for one week commencing June 14; all to no avail. At the time of the strike, the Acting Minister of Health, who is of course the Minister of Labour, told the demonstrating nurses that she was acutely aware of their concerns and hoped to meet with the boards of health to find a solution: “But,” she said, “I cannot promise you anything.” I hope today that the minister will be able to promise us something.
Personally I can see very little rationality or even simple humanity in the neglect of a dispute which has left a rural population of about 100,000 people in Haliburton, Northumberland and Victoria counties without public health services for months; which left in doubt the future of immunization programmes and essential testing programmes; which cancelled prenatal and postnatal classes; which left elderly people -- dependent on regular visits of the nurses -- without these services; and which caused the people, many with mental health ailments, to be without badly needed assistance.
Back in August a Ministry of Health official, who refused to be named, said only that it is an awful poor situation which should be rectified. That is probably, Mr. Speaker, the understatement of the year. From the health point of view it is an unforgivable situation and but for the grace of God might have had very tragic results.
From the labour dispute point of view, it is an intolerable situation which has been allowed to continue far too long. Compulsory arbitration as a means of settling labour disputes to some might leave a great deal to be desired. Perhaps in cases such as this, where arbitration has been specifically requested by one, or in cases by both, of the participants we should give serious consideration to this means of settling a dispute which has been prolonged at the expense of the employees, the employers and the members of the public, who really, in the long run, are the innocent victims of a labour dispute. Thank you.
Hon. B. Stephenson: This has been a very interesting and very disturbing situation in the province of Ontario. There is no doubt in my mind that most of the people who have had to require the services of hospital nurses are aware of their role in the provision of health care. It is unfortunate that most of the citizens of this province do not in fact recognize that the role of the public health nurse has been one of real importance to the provision of health care services throughout the province of Ontario and to the maintenance of the health of the people of this province.
Mr. Speaker, is there some small problem which I should be aware of at this point?
Mr. Deans: No, no. I’m talking to him about another matter.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh, fine. I listened very carefully to the hon. member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans). I hope that he will accord me at least similar courtesy.
Mr. Sweeney: That is an unreasonable expectation.
Mr. Deans: I heard every word you said.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You always hear better when you’re talking than you do when you’re listening.
Mr. Renwick: I am his surrogate.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Okay, fine. Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that with the evolution in health care which must come about if we are in fact to achieve any real advantage of the amount of money which we are spending in that area, in that evolution there will be an improved and enhanced and enlarged role for public health nurses. I am convinced that the public health nurses themselves see that at this time, and are working diligently in that direction -- in the direction of modifying their traditional roles which have been perhaps less visibly essential than they have been apparent to those of us who have had direct contact with them.
This situation which has arisen vis-à-vis the public health nurses and boards of health is one which is very unfortunate. We are, on the one hand, dealing with a group of people who provide important services; a small number of people. I would remind the hon. members of the House that of approximately 2,000 public health nurses in this province about 1,400 are represented by the Ontario Nurses Association. So 600 of the public health nurses are not actively involved in this dispute at this time.
Some of them are, indeed, employed by very large areas like the city of Toronto and have a bargaining unit which is related to the CUPE local in that area. Some have no bargaining unit at all and have preferred to remain independent of organized activity. So what we are in fact dealing with at the moment is about two-thirds of the public health nurses who are functioning within the province of Ontario. And, as has been noted before, five of the locals have, indeed, gone to arbitration and have settled their problems with their employers.
One has to understand that the employers in this instance are the municipalities or the regions of this province, and that the boards of health who are in fact the employers of the public health nurses are, in large part, either elected officials within those municipalities or people appointed by the elected officials within those municipalities.
Mr. Ruston: Appointed by the government.
Hon. B. Stephenson: If we understand or believe in anything related to decentralization or to local autonomy or to decision-making based upon the evaluation and assessment of local needs by people who function within the local area, then I think we must support the concept that the regional board of health made up of local people is a rational route to go. We do have to insist, indeed, that those people who make up boards of health exercise their responsibilities fully.
Mr. Deans: They are not doing it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would have to agree that in certain specific instances within this province and related to this dispute, it would be very difficult to state that, indeed, those gentlemen -- and they are primarily gentlemen, I would remind you --
Mr. Conway: Don’t be sexist.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- have exercised their responsibilities as fully as they should.
Mr. Deans: Men they may be; gentlemen they are nut.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Particularly when they related as employers to a group of people who are primarily women. I find this a disturbing situation, as well, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Renwick: That is not characteristic of you.
Hon. B. Stephenson: But I would remind you too that we have been working, I think, reasonably hard. The hon. member for Wentworth may not think that we have been as diligent as we should, but we have tried very hard to persuade the boards to come back to the table and we certainly have tried hard to persuade the ONA locals to go back to the bargaining table as well. We have been reasonably successful in a limited number of areas.
You are telling me that my time is up, Mr. Speaker?
On motion by Hon. B. Stephenson, the House adjourned at 6 p.m.