The House met at 2 p.m.
POINT OF PRIVILEGE
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. You will recall that on Tuesday last, December 7, I brought to your attention the problem the public accounts committee was having in seeking information from the OHIP files as it relates to practitioners’ incomes from OHIP.
Within the last couple of hours it has been brought to my attention that the Ontario Medical Association will be seeking a court injunction restraining OHIP from supplying said committee with said information.
I would therefore request, Mr. Speaker, that you issue your warrant, demanding that the information requested by the committee be supplied, returnable within 12 hours, for the committee’s use only.
Mr. Speaker: I’ll have to take that under advisement and report back to the hon. member. This is the first I’ve heard of this, so I’ll report very quickly back.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: That’s all I can say at this time. I can’t do anything else about what somebody else is going to do outside the House, I point out to the hon. member.
Mr. Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, did my colleague not raise with you the question of the issuance of a Speaker’s warrant in respect of this matter a day or two ago, and are you not in a position to report to the House your authority in this matter?
Mr. Speaker: I don’t recall the matter of the Speaker’s warrant at that time. I’ll have to check that. I missed that.
Mr. Lewis: If memory serves me, Mr. Speaker, with respect, I think in fact this precise point was made by the chairman of the public accounts committee -- the need to turn to a Speaker’s warrant. This is a pretty serious matter when members of the Legislature are denied public information to which they may well be entitled and we would urge your immediate intervention.
Mr. Speaker: I’m sorry if I missed that point. If you will recall, at that time the hon. minister made an explanation and I wasn’t sure whether it satisfied the hon. member or not. But I shall surely pursue it early this afternoon.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, if I might, I specifically raised the matter subsequent to my colleague from Sudbury, and asked you to issue a Speaker’s warrant -- I specifically used that term -- on Tuesday last.
Mr. Speaker: Again, I am sorry if I missed that. I really did. I shall pursue it immediately, though.
Statements by the ministry.
The Minister of Natural Resources.
Mr. Stokes: Say it isn’t so.
Mr. Lewis: This is a memorandum of understanding with the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, free enterprise shall reign.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Surely I don’t have to reprimand the hon. members for this outburst. The hon. minister has a statement, I believe.
CAMPING IN PROVINCIAL PARKS
Hon. Mr. Bender: Mr. Speaker, I am rising to assure all the hon. members that despite the impression which may have been created by this morning’s Globe and Mail --
Mr. Lewis: They do it to you every time.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- there will be no closing of any campgrounds in provincial parks in Ontario, nor will there be any reduction in the amount of campsites available to the public. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.
Mr. Lewis: What?
Mr. S. Smith: I saw the minister on television myself.
Mr. Nixon: What is the minister talking about?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, in my opening statement in the debate last October on my ministry’s estimates I said very clearly, openly and publicly that my staff were exploring ways to ensure continued high service to the camping public at the lowest possible cost to them and at the most reasonable cost to the government.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I also indicated then that as an experiment, in two out of 123 provincial parks the campgrounds were run by private operators last summer. They were at Sturgeon Bay and Inwood parks. The entry fees and the camping fees were the same as those charged at other provincial parks. Let me repeat that. There was no increase in the fees at those parks and the service level was supervised to ensure that it was better than or equal to the publicly-run parks.
Last week in Sudbury I was asked by the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters at their annual conference if more privatization of campgrounds was planned. I mentioned that our experiment would continue and that this coming season two more parks may have campgrounds operated privately. I stated clearly that no fee increase will be allowed over the rate charged at the other provincial parks where campsites are available.
I approved the experiments just described so that we might continue to explore other ways of providing public camping facilities at reasonable cost, as was recommended in the Special Programme Review under the chairmanship of Maxwell Henderson, the former Auditor General of Canada. The suggestion in the Globe and Mail story this morning that there would be a reduction in campsites available to the public is simply wrong.
Another point is that when I was questioned by newsmen yesterday about this matter, I made it very clear that this matter had not been discussed by cabinet and that there had been no policy change.
Mr. Conway: There’s no policy.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: May I suggest the members check the Canadian Press story, written right after I was interviewed by the newsmen. It states that no policy change has been made. The Globe and Mail story is a sad distortion of our government’s justly-praised effects --
Mr. Breithaupt: I heard you this morning.
Mr. S. Smith: I saw the minister on television. He has a double on television.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- to seek ways to ensure better, high-quality and continuing camping facilities for the people of the province of Ontario. This is a programme that I’m proud of and we intend to keep it that way.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
TRAINING SCHOOLS ACT
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, on May 5, 1975, the Legislature enacted The Training Schools Amendment Act, 1975, repealing section 8 which allowed a family court judge to commit a so-called unmanageable child to training school if no other programme was appropriate and if training school was thought to be needed.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, could we do something to be able to hear the minister? We can’t hear what she’s saying.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, we can give full and rapt attention. But I may say we are having some difficulty, I understand, with the sound system this afternoon.
Mr. Singer: Yes, we can understand that too, but we can’t hear her.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That’s not helping. I would ask all the hon. members who have the floor to speak up and the rest to co-operate, and I’m sure we’ll be able to manage. Sorry.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, on May 5, 1975, the Legislature enacted The Training Schools Amendment Act, 1975, repealing section 8 which allowed a family court judge to commit a so-called unmanageable child to training school if no other programme was appropriate and if training school was thought to be needed. This amendment, which was supported by all members in this Legislature, reflected the view that it is inappropriate to incarcerate a child who has not committed a criminal offence. Proclamation of the amendment Act has been delayed to allow the province to study the implications of the repeal and to allow further time for communities and the courts to adjust to the change.
We have seen admissions under section 8 drop from 604 in 1972 to 143 in 1975. There were 72 up to November 30 of this operating year. Most of the recent admissions are from distinct pockets in the province, and the fact that such admissions continue does not necessarily reflect the lack of alternative community resources. A few family court judges continue to use section 8 and would, I suppose, continue to do so as long as it is legally possible.
On the other hand, this Legislature is committed to the repeal of section 8 and to delay further would be to allow the flow of cases, albeit greatly reduced, to continue for an indefinite period. We have concluded, therefore, that we must proclaim the Act. The Training Schools Amendment Act, 1975, will be proclaimed on January 1, 1977.
As of December 3 of this year there were 786 children still in the wardship of the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) under section 8 of The Training Schools Act. Of this total, 103 are in training schools. Others are in group homes, foster homes, special treatment centres and their own homes. After proclamation, some will still remain where they are. I would find myself placed in an unconscionable position if all of these children were to have their wardships terminated on January 1 with no regard for their care. Many of them are responding positively to the care and the treatment they are receiving and it would be irresponsible to move them from their community placements.
Of the 103 children still in training schools, 42 are expected to be returned to their own homes. Another 15 children will be placed in the ministry’s group homes and 26 will go to ministry-supervised foster homes. Twenty others will be placed in boarding homes, treatment centres and special facilities. Each case is being individually reviewed by officials of the Ministry of Correctional Services so that the child will be placed in the most suitable location according to his or her needs, and an after-care officer is being assigned to each case.
In the placement of those wards who present particularly severe problems, the ministry’s work is being assisted by a special committee of the Interministerial Council for Troubled Children and Youth. Some 25 cases are currently being reviewed to work out a co-operative plan for the placement of each child.
It is the aim of the Ministry of Correctional Services to have moved all section 8 wards from Training Schools by September 1, 1977, and to terminate wardships under section 8 just as soon as suitable alternatives to wardship can be found. The Minister of Correctional Services will direct his officials that, after proclamation, any children who remain as wards under section 8 are not to be returned to training school under the repealed section of that Act.
The repeal of section 8 is a necessary and a proper action. I hope the support of all members will continue as we grapple with some of the larger issues surrounding the problems of those children who require our special attention.
We have already taken some administrative steps. As the Minister of Health told the House last week, his ministry issued a directive on November 23 restricting the circumstances under which a psychiatric hospital can lay charges against children in its care. The directive notes that, first, charges cannot be brought simply to relocate a child who is difficult to manage, and second, each case must be reviewed by the minister.
The ministries of Correctional Services, Community and Social Services and Health have advised their staffs and agencies that records must be forwarded immediately or delivered by accompanying staff when a child is transferred from one facility to another.
In a concerted effort to deal with young children who are severely disturbed, we will transfer the services and programmes of White Oaks Village to the Ministry of Health from the Ministry of Correctional Services on April 1, 1977. As most of the members know, White Oaks has provided care for boys under 12 years of age in a family-like setting, with an educational programme designed to meet their needs.
Admissions in the past have been limited to those committed by a court order. We propose to make it available to a wider population, and for the first time to include girls. It will be operated as a direct service of the children’s mental health services branch of the Ministry of Health. The facility will serve both wards of the Ministry of Correctional Services and Children’s Aid Societies. Priority will be given to those children for whom no other community child-caring or treatment resource is available.
We are working on further plans which I hope to share at a later date in more detail. In this regard, there will be dollars available for selected areas of the province with special needs. However, I would like the members to know now that our priorities include the establishment of a small, secure, treatment unit for severely disturbed adolescents.
Some of the members are already aware of the work of the Council for Troubled Children and Youth, with representation from seven ministries, which is headed by a full-time chairman and which reports to me. I hope I can impart to the House some of the enthusiasm and the goodwill that this interministerial council is showing in dealing with the complex issues related to troubled children.
In co-operation and in consultation with non-government people, the council is working on some of the broader and more troubling aspects of our shared concerns. For example, the council, with an expanded mandate from cabinet, will be studying the provision of residential services to children and youth. We are embarking, in fact, on a widespread review of special provincial services to children in order to develop guidelines for the continuation of services and the co-ordination of these services.
This is an enormous and important task, crossing ministries and policy fields. The council has already worked to assist in the transfer of White Oaks, and its recommendations are being sought in identifying areas of this province in need of selective funding. I might add here that we hope in general to put the dollars into programmes rather than into capital projects.
Such a project is already under way -- without the assistance of our special funds -- between the ministries of Correctional Services and Health. Each ministry has contributed $40,000 on a contracting arrangement for the purchase of service on a one-to-one basis for correctional wards with special needs. It is a very modest programme but it clearly demonstrates the direction in which this government intends to proceed by putting money with the child. For instance, one former ward of Hillcrest Training School, with many earlier unsuccessful placements, is now in a specialized foster home with a daily worker and a consultant to assist the boy and his foster parents.
We are committed to doing our best for children and youth with problems. I should caution, however, that we probably will never have all the answers. The public expectation that our workers can take these damaged children and effect a magic “cure” cannot always be realized. There will be some failures. It remains that what children need most is effective parenting. It is truly a sad fact that we cannot achieve full success in the treatment of every child who comes into our care. But we must never lose sight of the thousands of children who are assisted by the caring attention of teachers, childcare workers, after-care workers, probation officers, doctors and many others. They too are committed to the improvement of the system and they deserve our support. It is, after all, the mutual objective of all of us to see that each child receives our help in the most appropriate setting for his or her needs.
REHABILITATION WORKSHOP PROGRAMMES
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, in response to the questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition earlier this week concerning rehabilitation workshop programmes, I would like to provide details on the status of approvals and funding of these programmes. My reply of November 29 to the November 18 letter of the Georgian Bay Council for the Mentally Retarded, advised their chairman of the same information I am now sharing with you.
The Leader of the Opposition asked for an explanation of the “absence of government support” and specifically referred to “delays” within my ministry in regard to rehabilitation workshop programmes. An outline of the progress of specific projects shows, to the contrary, that government has given heavy support, both in funds and staff resources, and that in fact much has been accomplished in a very short period of time.
Port Elgin Life Skills project: The member has asked why no funds had been received. The facts show that while the purchase of service agreement was only finalized on October 20, a cheque was mailed from Treasury on November 15, even before my colleague and I received the inquiring letter from the Georgian Bay Council.
Collingwood Life Skills programme: The Leader of the Opposition will surely see that on projects such as Collingwood, this ministry certainly left no one “hanging.” Our first contact on this project was in May. Within one week a staff person was sent to Collingwood to discuss the project. By the beginning of June, their project had been drawn up, with ministry staff assistance, and had received approval in principle. Despite the project changing from a life skills to a work and training proposal, by September the ministry had assisted them in every way, including the preparation of a legal agreement.
Before final approval was given, the workshop had taken on new clients in September. The final details of their proposal were approved this week and in fact, to assist them, the ministry has backdated their approval to September 1, to cover those clients accepted before the legal agreement and budget had been finalized. This kind of flexibility on the part of the ministry shows our concern to assist these workshops, many of which operate on volunteer resources.
Orillia Life Skills and Transportation proposals: Again this project shows there have not been the kinds of delays the Leader of the Opposition suggested in his question. Their request first came to my ministry on June 29. Many parts of the proposal needed working out between the ministry and the association, because they had in fact made three proposals -- a life skills, a transportation and a group home proposal. They had not decided whether they wanted to utilize existing government-leased space in Orillia, for the life skills programme, or explore the feasibility of leasing their own space.
The transportation proposal needed better definition as it was not tied to any other specific programme. Rather than merely rule it ineligible under the workshop programme, the ministry made every effort to work with the association to develop a new proposal which would integrate the transportation proposal with other proposals.
A change in their workshop manager in September, their lack of viability to support a group home which they had proposed, and the lack of integration of their three proposals, necessitated more detailed discussions on their projects. A further meeting had already been scheduled for December 16 between the local association for the mentally retarded and ministry representatives, to discuss the three proposals so that they could be delivered in a co-ordinated manner prior to approving the rehabilitation parts of the proposals.
Mr. Lewis: So, in fact, nothing happened in that case?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Dufferin Life Skills, Owen Sound Life Skills and Walkerton Expanded Work and Training proposals: These proposals were all submitted in August, after allocations for workshop funds had been made. In light of the very rapid growth of the workshop programmes in the first half of this fiscal year, it was necessary to secure approval for additional funding. Although the Leader of the Opposition suggests it is irresponsible to give approval in principle but no funding immediately, thereby leaving groups “hanging,” it is my belief that these workshop programmes are of such value that additional funding is a good investment. Additional funding was secured earlier this month, so approvals on these programmes can be made immediately.
Mr. Lewis: That’s right. After they harried you, you gave them money.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Barrie: It was only in June that Barrie requested assistance from the ministry to analyse their needs and they were, in fact, nowhere near developing a proposal to meet those needs. Due to vacations and the summer recess of the workshop, it was agreed that fall would be a good time to discuss the programme evaluation. By September, allocations had already been made for funds, but rather than suggest they not develop a proposal, my ministry staff agreed to meet with the Barrie workshop when the financial control guidelines had been established, as these would be the key to the development of any proposal.
In keeping with our commitment to conduct the programme evaluation and discuss the budget guidelines with this workshop, I anticipate a ministry consultant will be in Barrie in the very near future, now the guidelines are established. We have already had several conversations with this group, so some information has already been conveyed and some background work completed.
Glengarry ARC Industries: The leader of the third party specifically asked me “why money never seems to arrive there” and why, for a second month in a row, they didn’t have money to pay salaries. The fact that a cheque for $7,272 left Treasury on October 27 for their September claims and one for $6,381 left Treasury on December 1 for their October claims --
Mr. Lewis: After it was raised.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- shows that money in fact does arrive there.
Mr. S. Smith: It did -- after Villeneuve asked for it.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Since in both cases, as with the majority of workshop cases, there was less than a three-week turnaround time from receipt of claims to issuing of cheques, there is no delay in payment to workshops.
As the member asked me to look specifically into the workshop in Alexandria --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Might I point out that there must be a microphone open and some conversation taking place next to it, which is further interfering with the sound in the --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That’s not helping. Would you just keep your private conversations down, please? The hon. minister will continue.
Mr. Sargent: He is not going to say anything.
Mr. Roy: We don’t mind. That is just Bette giving advice to John.
Mr. Sargent: Advice to the lovelorn.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: As the member asked me to look specifically into the workshop in Alexandria and this month’s claims, I would like to report the claims were received by the ministry on November 10; approved by the rehabilitation branch; forwarded to accounts and Treasury, and a cheque actually left Treasury on December 1, before three weeks had passed -- well before the member’s question to me.
As a result of the interest expressed by hon. members in the rehabilitation workshop programme, I would now like to provide information on the overall programme to date. To provide work and training opportunities for the retarded and handicapped, my ministry has increased the budget for workshops by $5.1 million, from $12 million last year to $17.1 million this year. This is an increase of 42 per cent. The expansion of the 138 workshops in the province will, by the end of this fiscal year, serve 7,750 people.
Mr. R. S. Smith: It is all federal money that you didn’t spend last year.
Mr. S. Smith: Did you put a federal label on it?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: The workshops have also expanded the range of programmes they can offer in assessment and training, sheltered employment, life skill programmes and work placement projects.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Ninety-one proposals for programme expansion have been received by the ministry this year. Of these, 57 have been approved to date. The other 34 will be reviewed and processed within the next 30 days.
Mr. Conway: Filibuster.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I thought you were interested in workshops? I think you would be concerned about the workshops --
Mr. Conway: Filibuster.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister will continue with his statement.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: This dramatic growth necessitated a radical change in both our ministry’s involvement and the workshop operations themselves.
Mr. Cassidy: Statements should be limited in time, especially his.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: To assure the effective delivery of the programmes and the efficient management of public funds, my ministry has over the past six months instituted various administrative changes. In June, the workshop programmes for the mentally retarded and the workshop programmes for the handicapped were put under one administration. This was done to take advantage of the expertise that has been developed within our ministry.
Six community employment officers have been hired to assist the workshop managers and the associations for the mentally retarded. Moreover, each of the 19 district offices of this ministry have allocated a staff member to provide liaison with the workshops to streamline the administration. In addition to this staff assistance, we will, in the near future, provide the workshop managers with financial control guidelines. In the past they have been dependent largely on volunteers for assistance in financial management.
At the beginning of this year our goal was to create 755 new places for work and training. In fact, we will have more than doubled our target -- we will have 1,870 new places by the end of the year. This represents an increase of 32 per cent over last year’s total places of 5,880.
I have received many encouraging letters from associations, and from the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded, who can see from their provincial view the vast growth and opportunities in this area in a short time.
Mr. Conway: I can imagine.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Such growth would certainly suggest that, contrary to the Leader of the Opposition’s statement, there is optimism not depression in the area of workshop expansion.
Mr. Conway: Point of order, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: That’s not really a point of order but it’s a good point.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the members will notice on their desks today bumper stickers that promote our Niagara grape and wine industry. I’m sure all the members will use the stickers proudly on their cars and they are published here in the province of Ontario. I would ask members to put their bumper stickers on to help promote a very fine industry here in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Stoke: That is something like being your own liquor control board.
An hon. member: High-powered government action.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
CAMPING IN PROVINCIAL PARKS
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, a question first to the Minister of Natural Resources. What did he say to the media which resulted in such unhappy misinterpretation of his customary verbal precision? Did the minister, in fact, indicate he would, over a period of time, reduce the number of campsites, or alternatively that he would turn a number of campsites into the hands of private operators in order to satisfy his insatiable need to reprivatize everything in sight?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, there was a question raised, as I said in my opening statement, at the NOTO convention in Sudbury, at which time they questioned the government’s direction with regard to the privatization of provincial parks. The member will recall that in the Henderson report there was a suggestion that we go in that particular direction, provided the quality of service and the price the public would pay were maintained.
We did embark on an experiment last year with two of nor smaller provincial parks. We put them up for public tender. We received a number of proposals for Sturgeon Bay and Inwood parks. They operated last year, just on a year’s lease. We didn’t really get a tremendous amount of information from that one-year experiment. We are looking at the possibility of putting two or three other parks in the province of Ontario into the same field, maybe for a year or two longer, to give us a better feel, a better picture and more information as to how this could really work.
We are anxious, of course, to narrow the gap between the cost of operating and the amount of money we receive in our fees, a deficit of about $11 million. We don’t intend, in any way, to reduce the 21,500 campsites in our provincial parks system, either through our own maintenance of those sites or through the private sector. The private sector at the present time has about 40,000 provincial campsites in the province of Ontario and it indicates to us they are getting stronger, they are doing a much better job.
If members look at the Algonquin Park master plan, I think it’s a typical example. We are looking at it very carefully. The pressures on that particular area are tremendous, with the growing numbers of people who are visiting that particular park. It is obvious to us that we have to move out the camping sites there and put them into our satellite parks, which is part of the master plan programme. So we are moving on that but not in any way reducing the number of campsites.
Mr. Lewis: Is the minister prepared to give an undertaking that the sites at present available in the public parks, for the use of families in Ontario, will be maintained at a price no higher than that which the ministry charges, if run privately? Can the minister tell us what’s wrong with some margin of public subsidy in order to facilitate inexpensive campsites for average working families in Ontario? What’s wrong with that principle?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I believe if the member had heard my remarks, I indicated that was this government’s intention, to maintain that number of campsites at that price.
Mr. Lewis: That is not what I read.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s what we intend.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There’s a margin of subsidy, one might call, in the park system; we agree to that. It’s substantial at the present time and it’s growing, it’s growing each year. We are concerned about it and we are looking at ways to give a better service to the general public at a price the public can pay. We are very firm on that point.
Mr. Warner: You won’t have to worry about the frees either.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, regarding whether there is a misquote or not: Could the minister confirm if that was in fact he himself speaking on television last night, when I watched and heard him say there are two long-term policies in his ministry? One was to end, gradually, on a long term, overnight camping in the parks, “reserving the parks for other purposes such as day use,” and secondly, to turn over what camping does exist, gradually, to “the private sector.” Was that not he that I saw on television saying those things?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That quote might not be exactly what I said.
Mr. Conway: Get the Minister of Transportation and Communications to make your speech.
Mr. Roy: You have had sober second thoughts, have you?
An hon. member: Did the leader of the Liberal Party take it down in shorthand?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think he might be putting words in my mouth, but I have just repeated to the Leader of the Opposition the thoughts that we have within the ministry. We are looking at it very carefully, as a responsible ministry should; looking at the overall programme, the programme of recreation, and we are proud of it. Last year we catered to about 11 million people in the province of Ontario, in 123 provincial parks.
Mr. Lewis: Don’t destroy it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s 10 million acres of this beautiful province that we are going to continue to maintain.
Mr. Lewis: Have you thought of another ministry, perhaps?
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Did you actually say there were so many rules and regulations under the Ministry of Natural Resources, within the public park system, that they could not operate them effectively against the private parks system? Isn’t the solution, if that is a problem, streamlining those rules and regulations and ensuring the rules and regulations protect the public interest?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We believe on this side of the House that there are areas that the private sector can operate in and operate much more effectively and efficiently than government. That’s the thrust of what I said.
An hon. member: Have you mailed a letter lately?
Mr. Reed: I wonder if the minister is aware that the Ontario Provincial Parks Council has addressed itself to this problem and had a draft policy statement ready to submit to the minister? Has the minister not gone ahead with a policy statement without consideration for the Ontario Provincial Parks Council?
Mr. Good: Which he set up.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have been in touch with Dr. Priddle of the Ontario Parks council and we clarified the erroneous press statements as of today. He has been instructed to carry on with this policy submission.
Mr. S. Smith: When, when?
Mr. Bain: Could the minister answer whether in fact the move toward privatization is not an effort to hide the fact that the government is not able to monitor campsites properly, there is an increased amount of rowdiness and the ministry doesn’t want that to become a problem because it can’t seem to handle it, and so it is turning the parks over to private interests? Could the minister also indicate to the House how many rebates were made in provincial parks across the province last year, and for what total sum of money, to overnight campers who put in a complaint and demanded a rebate because of the rowdiness and their inability to get a decent night’s sleep?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The answer to the first part of the member’s question is, no. I would be glad to get the information with regard to the number of rebates and direct it to him personally.
Mr. Speaker: We have had now eight minutes on this particular question. I think the hon. Leader of the Opposition should direct a new question.
OHTB BUS LICENCE
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: In light of the review of the Gray Coach-Greyhound decision, which he ordered yesterday, does the minister not think it both logical and fair that an extension of that review be the prohibition, directed at Greyhound, against its using the routes granted to it until the cabinet has issued its final decision?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker, we have not made that decision.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, why would the minister want to sharpen the confrontation, develop the public expectation and anxiety and create all the unnecessary arguments that will flow from granting Greyhound these routes in the interim period? Surely it is a logical extension of the minister’s position to have them hold back until the cabinet has decreed?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t agree with the hon. member that that should be done.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: If, as the minister’s statement suggests, he is not yet satisfied that the board fully considered the future of the routes to the smaller cities and towns in Ontario, and if he is not satisfied that the board fully considered the financial status of Gray Coach, then in the absence of such satisfaction on his own part, why would he permit Greyhound to continue to possibly damage the viability of Gray Coach and those particular routes?
Hon. Mr. Snow: This matter is going to be considered as expeditiously as possible. I do not think the period of time that will be involved will have any major damaging effect on Gray Coach, and in fact it may be very worthwhile to be able to observe the experience of the two companies running on that route.
An hon. member: We’re not going to let them run --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary: Does the minister have any proposals to make to those poor souls who have already lost their jobs, or will lose them, while the minister is doing this waltz around the block?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, I don’t believe that will be the case.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask the Premier: Has it yet been determined which riding the Premier has in mind for Mr. Kirk Foley, president of the UTDC, as the Conservative candidate in the next provincial election?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Unlike the New Democratic Party of this province, which makes allocations of candidates to particular ridings --
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- ours is a totally democratic party, where those decisions are made by the local riding organizations, so I can’t help the Leader of the Opposition. I only wish that we find qualified candidates, unlike the NDP, in all the ridings of this province. It will be done democratically by the local riding associations, which the NDP should try some time; it would be a revelation for them.
Mr. Speaker: Are you sure that was of urgent public importance?
Mr. Lewis: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. All I was seeking was confirmation of the rumour, and now I’ve received it. Thank you very much,
Mr. Conway: Taylor’s parachute is still open.
Mr. Speaker: Order. We’re wasting valuable time.
PICKERING NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Energy: Does he yet have an answer to my question of some time ago, regarding the alleged secret document, known as the Pickering Safety Report, and can he confirm some of the allegations that were made in an excerpt from that particular book, which I referred to?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have an answer, which I’m not entirely satisfied with; there is some technical data used which I don’t entirely understand. But I can tell the hon. member that the report referred to is not a secret document; in fact, a copy of it was filed with the royal commission on electric power planning a number of months ago.
Mr. S. Smith: Thank you very much. If that’s the report, we’ll await the answer when it’s completed.
CAMPING IN PROVINCIAL PARKS
Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Minister of Natural Resources: Can the minister explain why it is he would make any statement at all on the subject of privatization of campsites, when in fact he has an Ontario Provincial Parks Council, which he lauded greatly in the Legislature on June 7, 1976, and that council, headed by Dr. Priddle, was looking at precisely this matter and already has a draft policy statement? Just for his information, I will tell the minister that Dr. Priddle says he is “appalled” and “extremely upset” that the minister would make his statement without consulting his own council.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would refer the hon. member to the statement I made just a moment ago in connection with the direction that we’ve taken with regard to privatization. It followed the report of the Special Programme Review Committee. It was in place last year; we gained some information from it over the short term. We’re looking for more information on a longer-term basis and we’d like to add maybe one or two more this particular year.
We’ve also asked the parks council to continue its examination of that particular policy and to move ahead jointly with us.
Mr. Breithaupt: No much point now.
Mr. S. Smith: They’re not going to do very much for you now.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Health: In view of the cancellation of the management contract between Browndale Ontario and Brown Camps residential and day school, a contract which netted Brown Camps close to $1 million a year, why has there been no decrease in the Browndale per diem, as there was in British Columbia, for example, when the management contract there was brought to an end? What’s happening to that $1 million? Why are they able to fold it over into this year’s budget?
Hon. F. S. Miller: First of all, if the hon. member will look at this year’s budget, I think he’ll find there’s absolutely no increase in the per diem over last year, when virtually every other organization dealing with us had an inflationary increase. We’ve looked fairly carefully at the costs of Browndale and we’re satisfied at the present time that we’re getting value for the money spent. As the member knows, a fair audit was done last year to determine whether people were on two payrolls. We are satisfied they were not.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, can the minister explain why he now says there was no increase, when he answered me in this House in November and said there was a three per cent increase? Furthermore, why was there no decrease the way there was in British Columbia when a similar management contract which had inflated the budget by a similar amount of money was cancelled? Why was that $1 million allowed to be folded into the next year’s contract?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I think the member is jumping to conclusions. The three per cent increase, in effect, took place because there are three per cent fewer children in the system this year for the same number of dollars.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s exactly what I was saying. A further supplementary on this particular point: Is the minister prepared now to explain to me, since the only matter that concerns him, according to his previous answer, was whether they are getting good value for the money, why he still insists that Browndale be a non-profit organization? Can he explain the logic in insisting it be non-profit, if all he cares about is whether he is getting value for the dollar?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I don’t recall ever insisting it should be non-profit.
Mr. S. Smith: The ministry does.
Hon. F. S. Miller: It does not.
Mr. S. Smith: We’ll hear more of that later.
Mr. Davidson: You are always going to do things later.
Mr. S. Smith: I know Browndale is sensitive to you. Forgive me, I have to bring it up once in a while.
Mr. Deans: We would like the investigation too.
Mr. Yakabuski: Let us find out who the directors are and what their salaries or fees were, and whether any were sitting members of the Legislature.
AIR POLLUTION AT HAMILTON
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Would the minister kindly take possession of those cloths that I am sending over to him, which contain samples of dirt taken from the house of a Mrs. Italiano on Tiffany Street in Hamilton?
Mr. Yakabuski: Is that your riding?
Mr. S. Smith: Would he, by looking at the correspondence in his own ministry, explain why it is that his ministry will not help Mrs. Italiano or any of her neighbours in obtaining some form of compensation from Canron and from Rheem Canada Limited, which foundries are responsible for the particular iron oxide and other pollutants which are ruining the siding of her particular home and her car as well?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: We have issued violation notices against both of those companies.
Mr. R. S. Smith: It is in the riding of the Minister of Correctional Services.
Hon. Mr. Ken: Unfortunately, the emissions from those plants are similar and we are having a hard time to distinguish significantly and sufficiently so that we can lay charges. These plants have been warned and they are under a control order. But once in a while, because of a breakdown in mechanical operations, they have extraordinary emissions that bother people such as Mrs. Italiano. However, I have had questions from other members from the Hamilton area about this particular situation, and we hope to correct it as soon as possible.
Mrs. Campbell: What year?
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Since the answer seems to be that the ministry is unable to determine the exact percentage of blame which will lie on the shoulders of Canron as opposed to Rheem and, consequently, the ministry is not helping any of these residents get any kind of redress for their grievances at all, isn’t that somewhat like refusing to prosecute some bank robbers because one doesn’t know which way they divided the loot?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The hon. member should realize we don’t take civil action against companies to reimburse or compensate people living in the area. We prosecute under our legislation.
Mr. Singer: It sounds like the suit against Dow.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: In the meantime, the main objective is to get rid of the problem, which we’re doing with the plants. In the meantime also, we will prosecute if the emissions continue.
Mr. Godfrey: Can the hon. minister inform us what was the date of the issuing of the violation order?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I don’t have that exact date, but it was sometime within the last six weeks.
AIR POLLUTION AT NIAGARA FALLS
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The hon. member for Niagara Falls directed a question to the Premier last Monday concerning emissions from Niagara Metals Limited.
Our staff were aware of the incident of iron oxide fall-out which occurred in this plant on September 18, 1976. The cause of the emission was attributed to a small venting stack. The plant was shut down for approximately two weeks beginning September 22 during which time the bypass stack was eliminated and the emission was redirected to a dust chamber.
A violation notice was served on the company and an information was laid for this incident under section 8 of The Environmental Protection Act.
With regard to the question of possible health danger associated with this fall-out, it seems doubtful that this fall-out would cause a health hazard. However, our staff have forwarded the data to the Ministry of Health for their perusal and comment.
The hon. member also referred to the matter of the company’s insurance representative requesting the signing of releases. This matter was first brought to our attention through the local press last December 6 and while we have not yet obtained a copy of the form, my staff have copied the wording provided by one of the residents.
As the members know, there is a fundamental right to negotiate a contract for damages suffered for any cause. However we would assume that any person entering into such a contract would first obtain legal advice or advice from an appraiser concerning the value and substance of such a contract.
Nevertheless, the signing of this release would in no way affect the enforcement of our legislation. I have asked my legal staff to review this particular release as to its legality.
Mr. Kerrio: A supplementary: I thank the minister very much for his answer. I would pose one question and that is: Could he, could his people --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, I would be happy to do that.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary: Is the minister, in that situation and in a similar situation at Fittings Limited in Oshawa, prepared to identify the emissions as being from a particular foundry operation? The problem in identifying what the cause is is one of insurance; in most cases it is some kind of problem with either aluminum siding or automobiles. Insurance companies are now saying it is a problem of particular emissions from a plant but the ministry has been rather reluctant to identify that as the case, yet it does the sampling. Is the minister now prepared to do that so that people who have insurance claims can have their claims honoured by the company?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Certainly, in a situation such as Niagara Metals Limited in which we are prosecuting, we would have to identify the plant. We would have to have sufficient evidence to launch such a prosecution.
There may be problems in other instances when we assume there may have been emissions or fall-out from a particular plant. The problem then is to identify the cause of some damage in strict relationship to that fall-out. We can’t, I assume, do that in every case.
Mr. Swart: Has the minister seen the report from the laboratory pertaining to the iron oxide fall-out in Niagara Falls? Is he aware that substantially less than half of it is iron oxide and will it be referred to the Ministry of Health to do a serious test to see if there is any health hazard to it?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes. As I indicated in my answer we have referred the readings and the information we have of that plant to the Ministry of Health to see what degree of health hazard is involved.
Mr. B. Newman: Would the minister consider the proposition of publishing in the press the names of those corporations and polluters which are under ministerial order so the public in the area could be informed? Would such publication not encourage the company to clean up the pollution a little faster?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I could table that information in the House and I would assume it would be made public, particularly in Windsor.
HAMILTON GENERAL HOSPITAL
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Health: Will the Minister of Health undertake to have his ministry investigate the current practices used in the Hamilton General Hospital for discharging patients, to determine whether it is a matter of common practice that doctors would discharge patients in their 80s and 90s to their homes when they are in need of additional care and when there’s no one in that home on a regular basis to look after them?
Hon. F. S. Miller: We’ve never really tried to have the Ministry of Health become involved in the admission and discharge processes of hospitals in the province. We’ve left that entirely to the good or bad judgement of the physicians involved. I’m sure that as pressure for active treatment beds mounts there is often pressure applied to physicians in a given institution to discharge patients who may be deemed to be inappropriately there.
In Hamilton, I would have thought there was an assessment and discharge committee functioning that was set up to avoid the very kinds of things the hon. member is talking about.
Mr. Deans: If I may, by way of supplementary question: Since the assessment operation doesn’t seem to be functioning adequately and since I have reason to know of two cases where deaths occurred in the last week of elderly patients who were sent to homes in which there were no other adults, and since I have reason to know of other cases where elderly patients, some in their 90s, were going to be sent home to apartments and empty houses, will the minister, even though it’s not his practice, ask his ministry to investigate these practices and determine whether something can be done about it?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I’m quite prepared to learn more about the matter before jumping to a conclusion, either pro or con. Certainly we’d like to offer proper care for the people there and I’d like to hear from either the health council or some authoritative agency there as to how great the problem is.
Mr. Deans: One final supplementary then: Can I assume from the minister’s answer that he will contact the health council today, since I have already brought it to the attention of his ministry on two occasions this week? Will he inquire immediately in order that we can avoid any repetition of the occurrences of last week?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I’ll do my best.
Mrs. Campbell: My question is to the Minister of Health: Some time ago I asked the minister if he would answer a question pertaining to Browndale assessments which result in placements in Viking Homes. The minister on that occasion said it had been brought to his attention and that he was investigating and would answer my question at a later date. Does he have an answer at this time, and if not, when may I expect it?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I did have an answer and I’m going to try now to give it to the hon. member accurately. If I’m wrong, I’ll correct it later, if that’s fair enough.
Mr. Roy: You can plead The Evidence Act.
Hon. F. S. Miller: We did look into the matter and we found that, in fact, student psychologists, I believe, were being used from time to time in assessing children as part of their training programme and that no charge was being made by the Browndale organization for these assessments. It was part of an educational programme, not a fee-for-service programme which I believe the hon. member implied in the first case.
An hon. member: A real vendetta.
Mrs. Campbell: I wonder if the minister would, in fact, investigate it further since the information is not that these are students in psychology but that they are student teachers working toward a PhD in the teaching profession and not in psychology.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I don’t recall that last variation. It may well be true, but is the hon. member sure they’re not teachers of psychology?
Mr. Roy: You can’t ask questions.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I’m not here to answer questions. As a supplementary, could the minister not --
Mr. Roy: But she would do a better job than you.
Mrs. Campbell: -- investigate this practice --
Hon. Mr. Davis: You don’t really believe that, Albert?
Mrs. Campbell: -- as it’s part of his ministry?
Hon. F. S. Miller: That’s another of the Goldenberg variations.
NEW HYDRO GENERATING PLANT
Mr. Lane: I’d like to ask the hon. Minister of Energy a question: Could the minister clarify a rumour that I’ve been hearing in recent days that the Dean Lake area near Blind River has been chosen by Ontario Hydro as the site of its proposed hydro generating plant?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Reid: You’ve got all the land bought.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Over and above that I can say I’ve had reports over the last few days too that apparently the CBC has been carrying a report in the north that that’s the case.
I can tell the hon. member that is not the case, that I don’t expect to have a report from Ontario Hydro on the subject until mid-1977, and I don’t expect there would be any decision until about mid-1978, by which time we will also have heard from the royal commission on electric power planning. So that is not the case.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Is that post election?
Mr. S. Smith: How about El Dorado for Spragge?
Mr. Wildman: Could the minister confirm whether or not the citizens’ committees that are currently carrying out site studies have narrowed down the possible sites, giving priority to Dean Lake? Is that the case? Is the minister aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am not aware of that. The hon. members for Algoma and Algoma-Manitoulin know there were five sites being considered -- one at La Cloche, another at Bruce Mines, the third area being Blind River -- within which there were three specific sites being considered. I’m not aware that they’ve narrowed it down any further than that. They may well have, but I haven’t had a report to that effect.
COURSES IN UKRAINIAN
Mr. Makarchuk: A question to the Minister of Education: About a year ago the parents’ committees of St. Josaphat’s, St. Demetrius, and the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Separate School presented to the minister a brief requesting full accreditation of the Ukrainian language as a subject from kindergarten to grade eight. Could he at this time advise the House when he is going to answer their brief and if so, what will be the nature of the reply?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think I wrote them a letter recently and said we would answer them when we had our policy on multiculturalism in education ready to be stated. At that time the answers to their questions will be answered.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: Will the minister then consider the input from their brief when he is formulating his multicultural policy?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Of course the input from that group, which I met with personally, has been part of the consideration that’s gone into developing our policy.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: Is the minister considering courses for the accreditation of teachers in the Ukrainian language?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would say not to my knowledge, but I will be glad to look into the matter.
CBC FRENCH TELEVISION FILM
Mr. Roy: I have a question of the Attorney General. Knowing of the Attorney General’s concern about the spread of pornography across the province and of his whole-hearted support for the position taken by the Archbishop of Toronto in the last few weeks, has he investigated or does he plan to do anything about the showing on CBC French television on November 28 of a film called J’irai comme un cheval fou? I’ll translate that later.
Mr. Lewis: You are embarrassing Bob Welch.
Mr. Roy: I wonder if he has received any complaints about this film and whether he intends to investigate this situation and possibly lay charges against the network, which broadcast it right across the province of Ontario?
Mr. Foulds: What charges are you suggesting?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t know that this is a matter that necessarily falls within our jurisdiction.
Mr. S. Smith: That hasn’t stopped you so far.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have had no complaints, but I could just suggest to the member opposite that perhaps we could persuade our colleagues in the justice committee to stay a little later one of these evenings and perhaps he’d like to arrange a showing.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If I might ask, has the minister not already laid charges, for instance, against CFVO in Ottawa for broadcasting from Hull to Ottawa what was alleged to be pornographic material and are there not precedents? Is the Attorney General not in charge of the administration of The Criminal Code?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think the hon. member opposite misconceives the role of the Attorney General in this province.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s to get headlines.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The Attorney General does not lay charges.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Reid: You are in charge of headlines.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: To benefit from the wisdom of this advice under our system, the police -- the individual police departments and the individual police officers -- are vested with the very important discretion in relation to the laying of criminal charges. From time to time, we ask our police departments -- that is the Ministry of the Attorney General asks the police departments -- to review certain situations with a view to laying charges. The charges are not laid by the Ministry of the Attorney General, but by our police officers.
Mr. Roy: I know.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Well, that’s not what you said.
Mr. Roy: Tell us about the hockey violence.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Having had this matter brought to our attention I will be happy to review it with the Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth) as to whether or not the matter should be pursued further by the police department.
Mr. Reid: That will be the end of that.
Mr. Roy: Your initiative has resulted in charges before in hockey violence.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Talk to your Grit friends in the CRTC.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Talk to your friend Pierre Juneau.
Mr. Roy: Your initiative has resulted in changes before.
HYDRO POWER REDUCTION
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, last Friday, December 3, the hon. member for Windsor-Walkerville asked a question of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Irvine) which he took as notice on my behalf. It had to do with the J. Clark Keith generating station. The answer, Mr. Speaker, is as follows:
The J. Clark Keith generating station is comprised of four coal-fired units with a total installed net capacity of 254 megawatts. The station was completed in 1953 and has the lowest thermal efficiency of all coal-fired units in the Ontario Hydro system. To help stem the rapidly rising costs and because the plant did not meet the present-day air pollution requirements, a decision was taken in February, 1976, to temporarily take the units at J. Clark Keith generating station out of service.
This was accomplished in May, 1976. This decision was taken with the expectation that the Ontario Hydro load would be met during the period 1976-79, and with full knowledge that the system reserves would be reduced.
The present difficulties in meeting power demands stem from extraordinary problems with boiler support hangers at Nanticoke generating station which has made it necessary to remove three 500 megawatt units out of service -- namely, units one, three and four -- and maintain the load on the other two available units -- units five and six -- below 450 megawatts in order to reduce the stress on the hanger rods.
Thus, unexpectedly, 1,600 megawatts that Hydro had been counting on from Nanticoke generating station for the 1976 peak were unavailable. In addition, transmission limitations prevent Hydro from fully utilizing the available generation from its 2,000 megawatts oil-fired Lennox station.
The return of the J. C. Keith generating station would add only about 254 megawatts to a power system of approximately 20,000 megawatts. Hydro would still be in difficulties at the present time with or without J. Clark Keith generating station in service.
Mr. Haggerty: It was used for 20 years.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: To take J. Clark Keith generating station out of mothballs and make it available for generation would take about one month. However, until necessary modifications to the plant are made so that present-day air pollution standards can be met, Hydro is not planning the return of the J. Clark Keith generating station to service at the present time.
Since the focus of Hydro’s difficulties is at Nanticoke generating station, all available resources are being utilized to tackle the problems there. Hydro hopes to have some additional power available from that plant by December 17, 1976, with two units, which represent 1,000 megawatts of capacity, returned to full service with temporary repairs by Christmas.
Technical and economic evaluation of alternative uses for J. Clark Keith generating station have been completed, defining the required modifications to make the plant operationally and environmentally acceptable and indicating a need for generation from the plant by 1980. Recommendations in this regard will be presented to the Hydro board of directors at their meeting in December of this year.
Mr. B. Newman: A supplementary: Can the minister assure the residents and the industry in the tri-county area -- Essex, Kent and Lambton counties -- that they will not suffer from brownouts as a result of the J. Clark Keith generating station not being put into operation within the next month?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As I pointed out in my answer just completed, if the J. Clark Keith station were put back into service it would not answer the problem. As well, it would take over a month to bring it back into service and out of mothballs, after which time we should be over the December Christmas peak.
Through you Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member, I would anticipate that they will not suffer any more than any other part of the province if there has to be a reduction in the voltage or if there have to be interruptions to those industries that have interruptible A or interruptible B contracts.
Mr. Sargent: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Carleton East. Order, please. A supplementary? The member for Grey-Bruce.
Ms. Gigantes: He can’t ask --
Mr. Sargent: Are these microphones working?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes.
Mr. Sargent: Why don’t you get a good sound system?
Mr. Speaker: We can hear you. Will the hon. member continue please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You don’t need one.
Mr. Sargent: I can sell you one.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I believe you.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member place his question?
Mr. Sargent: A supplementary to the Minister of Energy: Why does he put the fix on the people of Ontario? In the press release on December 1 he said the Nanticoke situation could be closed down until after Christmas; then there were the brownouts and next day one of the units came on-stream at Nanticoke --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Sargent: Okay, I’m talking about energy.
Mr. Speaker: Order please, it’s a good question, but nothing to do with the original question which had to do with this particular power plant that’s in mothballs in Windsor. You may ask the question later.
Ms. Gigantes: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. I’d like to see if the minister can explain to the House why it was that Hydro instituted a voltage cut on December 3, when there were interruptible contracts still in operation which would have more than covered that voltage cut.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I don’t know that that is correct. I will check the figures we have as to which were cut. As the hon. member knows there was a three per cent reduction in the voltage which was imperceptible in any part of the province. If in fact that was the case, I would imagine it was in order to assist those industries to keep operating because, as the member knows, a great many people on the work force have been inconvenienced because of the interruptions.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: I wonder if, for the general enlightenment of the House, the minister would table the daily operating reports of Ontario Hydro for the last two weeks, covering the period from December 1 to December 3 in particular, with all the relevant details on purchases, on sales, on interruptible contracts and so on, and which generators were in operation producing how much.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member, through her phone calls to Hydro on a daily basis -- of which I get reports -- does get that information.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: But I’ll be glad to get the information and to indicate how much Quebec has cut off from our contract, how much we bought from New York or whatever.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Erie.
Mr. Haggerty: Supplementary of the Minister of Energy: Will the minister reinstate the select committee dealing with the Ontario Hydro operation -- particularly on the matter concerning the short-fall of energy at the present time? Will he reinstate that committee to look into it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary.
Mr. MacDonald: I wonder if the minister in getting that information would get the specific information as to what proportion of the B interruptible contracts were really interrupted and what proportion of the A were interrupted?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That varies from day to day, depending upon the peak. Some days all of the Bs are interrupted, some days only some of them and some of the As. It was a different mix each day, but I’ll get all that information.
Ms. Gigantes: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I understand there may have been some confusion in the response the Minister of Energy gave to my question when he talked about reports of my daily phone calls to Hydro. I hope he’s not going to give us a report on reports of my daily phone calls to Hydro, I want more than that. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member has made her point. It is not really a matter of privilege --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I will just say I --
Mr. Speaker: Order please -- it’s just correcting something.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I will get the information as I promised to the member, hopefully in as much detail as she’s interested in.
Mr. Kerrio: A supplementary to the Minister of Energy, Mr. Minister, is the minister aware that the --
[Failure of sound system.]
Mr. Kerrio: Am I coming through, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Yes, I can hear you.
Hon. W. Newman: It sounds like you have a short.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Are you running out of power?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please, there is too much background noise now.
Mr. Kerrio: My question is to the Minister of Energy: Is the minister aware that due to the cutbacks in power he interrupted the heavy power users in the Niagara Peninsula, particularly in the abrasives industries; that they now have in fact a layoff of 40 to 50 men; and that there is some speculation as to whether some of the heavy investments they were going to make in those plants would rather be made in the United States because of the interruptions, and the decrease in available power?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am aware, as I indicated in one of my earlier responses, that some industries in the province that have been hit several days in a row have had to lay some people off, and obviously that’s of a great concern.
I have not heard from anyone to suggest that, because of the problems brought on by the low water levels and the difficulties of the Nanticoke generating station, any investment decisions are being put off. They realize that December is usually the annual peak in demand. They also realize that the utilities around us are having some problems as well -- witness the fact that we are selling power, or have been, I am not sure if we are today, to Manitoba; Quebec had to cut back its sales to us and in the United States some of the authorities have difficulty during their peak, which usually comes in the summer.
I would doubt very much if those kinds of decisions would be based strictly on a problem isolated to a few days in December, 1976.
Mr. Speaker: The question period has expired.
Mr. Warner: I have the privilege to enter, on behalf of 1,772 citizens, a petition protesting the Ontario Highway Transport Board’s decision of November 22, 1976, which granted a licence for the purpose of operating bus routes between Buffalo, Toronto and Sudbury to the American-controlled Greyhound Lines of Canada Limited. The petitioners state --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the hon. member has stated the petition.
An hon. member: No, he hasn’t.
Mr. Warner: The petition itself is worded to say that the Ontario Highway Transport Board has, in effect, limited Gray Coach operations throughout the province and such diminishing routes will be accompanied by cutbacks in staff at a time of high unemployment in Ontario. The petitioners believe that the decision of the Ontario Highway Transport Board should be reversed and they petition the government of Ontario to reverse the decision of the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
Mr. Stong: I have three petitions to present to the House today. The first is to the Lieutenant Governor and the House, endorsed by me, over the signature of 47 persons, indicating that the undersigned are against Greyhound taking over the Gray Coach routes, specifically Buffalo, Toronto and Sudbury.
The second petition, addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the House reads: “We, the undersigned, oppose a decision by the Ontario Highway Transport Board to allow Greyhound Lines of Canada Limited” --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We can’t hear the hon. member.
Mr. Stong: Thank you, Mr. Speaker -- “to compete with Gray Coach lines, an Ontario firm, on some Ontario runs. We believe it to be contrary to the best interests of Ontario people, particularly those in the central and southern area to allow such rights to an American-based company at a time when employment is of such importance and economic considerations may force Gray Coach to go out of business. Gray Coach is more than just transportation. Their chartered services and personnel have made group trips great occasions for many travellers in the Markham area.” That is signed by 35 persons.
My third petition reads the same and it is signed by 25 persons. On behalf of these people I present these three petitions.
Mr. Roy: Is that the issue you are flip-flopping on?
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to present a petition and table it with the Clerk of the Ontario Legislature. It is directed to the Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Communications --
An hon. member: A rebellion in the ranks.
Mr. Conway: That will keep you on the back bench.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for York North is presenting a petition.
Mr. Hodgson: -- on behalf of approximately 500 residents of the towns of Aurora --
Mr. Speaker: Will the hon. member continue?
Mr. Hodgson: -- and Newmarket and area. They are objecting to the Ontario Highway Transport Board’s granting a franchise to Greyhound Lines of Canada Limited.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Edighoffer from the standing miscellaneous estimates committee reported the following resolutions:
Resolved: That supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Office of the Assembly be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977:
Office of the Assembly
Office of the Assembly programme $1,493,000
Resolved: That supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Office of the Ombudsman be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977.
Office of the Ombudsman
Office of the Ombudsman Program .... $509,000
Resolved: That supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Office of Provincial Auditor be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977.
Office of the Provincial Auditor
Administration of the Audit Act and Statutory Audits Programme ......... $ 95,000
Mr. Germa from the standing public accounts committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
As provided in section 35 of The Legislative Assembly Act, the House authorize Mr. Speaker to issue his warrant for the production to the public accounts committee of the records of the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan respecting payments of income to individual licensed practitioners in excess of $100,00 during the fiscal year 1974-75; that records should include the name, address, nature of practice and any income derived from clinical billings to the practitioner.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills.
CONSUMER INFORMATION ACT
Mr. Cunningham moved first reading of Bill 186, An Act respecting Consumer Information.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for mandatory disclosure of information regarding material defect or the malfunctioning of a product; the prohibition of the manufacturing, selling or distributing of an unsafe product; manufacturer research into the safety and functioning of products; and reimbursement for replacing of or repairing a defective, malfunctioning or unsafe product by the manufacturer of that product.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
OHTB BUS LICENCE
Mr. S. Smith moved that the regular business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance under standing order 30, namely, the devastating impact on the bus service to smaller communities that will result from the Ontario Highway Transport Board decision to allow the operation of Greyhound Bus Lines on Gray Coach bus routes.
Mr. Speaker: I might say that the hon. member did give ample notice of his intention to introduce this special motion and I point out that each party will have five minutes to explain its position for or against this particular motion. I presume the hon. member for Hamilton West will lead off.
Mr. S. Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I feel we have before us a matter of sufficient urgency, particularly the lateness with which we find ourselves in terms of when this session is likely to come to a close.
It seems to me the government has acted in this regard, with regard to the Ontario Highway Transport Board, in a way that urgently requires public scrutiny. I am particularly concerned. You may realize, Mr. Speaker, that it is two weeks ago today that I first raised this matter in this Legislature, and during that two weeks, until yesterday, we had received constant assurances from both the Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Communications that they supported the basic thrust of the OHTB decision, that they supported the idea of this competition and free enterprise. I would say to you that despite the last-minute partial recantation of yesterday by the Minister of Transportation and Communications we have here a very urgent matter.
An asset that belongs to the taxpayers of Metro has been depreciated here by approximately $10 million -- maybe more; that’s a conservative, if you’ll forgive the expression, estimate -- and in fact that particular asset value has simply been transferred over to Greyhound Bus Lines, controlled by American interests in the private sector. This represents a fundamental change of policy in the province of Ontario where heretofore no major inter-urban routes have been permitted to be overrun in the sense that there would be more than one major carrier on the ordinary route between two major centres. This has been the policy of the government up to now. The decision of the Ontario Highway Transport Board represents an absolutely fundamental change in this policy and such changes should not be made simply by the board but should be considered by the Legislature.
We wouldn’t be quite as concerned about the need for an emergency debate except for the fact that Greyhound continues to operate at this very moment services on the lines which were granted to it by the Ontario Highway Transport Board. The government did accept finally, yesterday, that there is something that needs to be looked into. They pointed out, basically that they’ve lost confidence I suspect in their own board because they say that the board failed, basically, to look at the matter of whether the small towns would be affected with regard to their bus service, and, similarly, whether the economic viability of Gray Coach was being hampered in some way. Surely, by virtue of looking at the previous decision of the board in 1961, we see that it usually does include those criteria in its decision-making process, and if it failed to include those criteria one wonders what the board is doing anyhow.
We feel that the uncertainty felt by the employees who may now lose their jobs -- and, certainly, even if they don’t lose their jobs and are transferred into city routes on the TTC, might certainly lose their seniority and their pension rights and it’s these employees who now see unions in Buffalo and Winnipeg clamouring for the jobs in Greyhound, which will supplant the Gray Coach drivers -- we feel that their uncertainty needs to be put to an end; and, similarly, the uncertainty of the small towns; places that are along the way from here to Owen Sound, from here to the Barrie area, the Gravenhurst area and so on.
We feel, also, that the whole competence of the Ontario Highway Transport Board is called into serious question and needs to be discussed immediately. Time is running out on the session, as I’ve said. The Premier has said, according to published reports, that my motion, somehow or other, is improper because the matter is presently before the cabinet. If, in fact, he did say that then I can simply say to you, Mr. Speaker that that is utter nonsense, if the matter is being considered before the cabinet there’s no reason in the world why members of the Legislature should not be given the opportunity to express themselves and the views of their constituents.
This is a matter in which the House has a vital interest. It’s a matter of great concern to the entire province of Ontario because, as I say, a public asset has been handed over. The spectre of public subsidy looms before us. The small towns are threatened with regard to their bus service. A fundamental change in policy has occurred; and the cabinet, which has consistently been stonewalling in front of this Legislature, despite questions, for two weeks and now, finally, comes out with a very weak and puny statement yesterday which by no means allays the fears that I have and that members of the public have regarding this shameful deal.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, we energetically support the request for a debate on a matter of urgent public importance, and we support the motion, although let me say that we really didn’t think we would have to. Frankly, we feel that the government’s position is entirely insupportable, that the government should have moved before now in order to make this kind of initiative unnecessary on the part of the Legislature. However, because it is urgent and pressing, we will support it on the following four grounds:
No. 1, that the Ontario Highway Transport Board has clearly exceeded the authority given to it, and that it is making decisions which should be made by a government not an administrative tribunal.
No. 2, that the information acquired in the interim period relating to the dollar turnaround for Gray Coach, relating to the absence of service which will surely flow for small communities, relating to the jobs which are put in jeopardy, indicates clearly and urgently that this is a matter which must be dealt with by the Legislature with dispatch.
No. 3, that we cannot surrender, as has been indicated, a public asset to a major American conglomerate, frankly, whose corporate acquisitions and process of takeover in the United States and other jurisdictions is ominous and menacing and should not be permitted in the province of Ontario. In fact, if the government had taken the time to look at the way Greyhound has operated in the 50 years it has existed, between 1926 and 1976, in the United States jurisdiction, it would have had significant qualms about allowing it to overrun the only profitable routes which Gray Coach operates.
No. 4, may I suggest very strongly that the other reason this is urgent is that because once again, perhaps inadvertently, but nonetheless forcefully, we are in the process of raising a threat to the viability of small and rural communities in the province of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You don’t believe that?
Mr. Lewis: That’s right, that’s right.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, come on.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s true.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I could understand it over there.
Mr. Lewis: I want to put to the government, I want to put -- I hope we are recording this unsolicited agitation on the part of the Premier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is not unsolicited; it has been solicited.
Mr. Lewis: May I say, Mr. Speaker, that if you are going to take away railway service, if you are going to close hospitals, if you are going to shut down arenas, then you don’t terminate bus routes gratuitously. It’s as simple as that; and that, too, requires an urgent response from this Legislature. That’s why we support the debate at this time.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. The hon. Attorney General has the floor, I might point out.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it very clear that so far as the government of which I am a member is concerned we welcome a full-scale public debate of this issue. However, I want to say at this time, I don’t intend to direct any remarks one way or the other in relation to the wisdom or otherwise of the decision of the Ontario Highway Transport Board. Unlike some of the members opposite, I am rather interested in having all the facts before me before I am called upon to exercise my own judgement at the appropriate time. Certainly, I have no intention at this point in time in indulging in some of the rather unctuous sanctimony that I’ve heard in the last few minutes from across the aisle.
Mr. Conway: What about the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson)?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I can say, as an Attorney General, I am concerned about the propriety of a debate about a matter that is under appeal before the cabinet and my remarks will be restricted to that issue.
Mr. Renwick: You should be, you have been wrong --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have been advised directly by the general counsel for the Toronto Transit Commission that the formal appeal is forthcoming and will certainly arrive at the beginning of the week.
Mr. Singer: It is not in yet?
Mr. Nixon: So everything is on ice, eh? That is the end of the debate?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In my respectful view, I suggest that it is improper to ask those who will have the ultimate responsibility of making the decision on all the facts to participate in a debate prior to having all the facts before us.
Mr. Breithaupt: Don’t participate then; just listen.
Mr. S. Smith: Don’t participate then.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Surely the legislation that was passed by this House makes it quite clear --
Mr. Peterson: You don’t have to say anything; you can let the Premier speak.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not --
Mr. Breithaupt: Say nothing. Just listen.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- that the executive council should be in a position to make a free and unfettered decision based on all of the evidence that will be before it at the appropriate time.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and particularly when the Minister of Transportation and Communications has announced that the Ontario Highway Transport Board will be having a further review of the matter.
Mr. Nixon: Meanwhile the buses are running.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Certainly the information that will be forthcoming in a public manner not only will be of interest to the public as a whole but obviously will be relevant to the executive council in its deliberations at the appropriate time.
Mr. Conway: Then suspend Greyhound temporarily.
Mr. Nixon: Except you welcome it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I simply say that at the very least a debate at this time would be premature without having all the evidence that was before the Ontario Highway Transport Board --
Mr. Conway: Tory arrogance.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- or indeed without having additional information that would be forthcoming in the public hearings that have already been announced. At the other end of the scale, this House wants to indulge in creating an appearance --
Mr. Renwick: This House is not indulging in anything.
Mr. Conway: You should talk. You should talk.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- for the interested parties we are prepared to prejudge the matter --
Mr. Nixon: The minister already prejudged it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- that we are going to ignore entirely the protections that are afforded to the parties --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think we’ve requested order several times this afternoon. The minister has about 30 seconds left in his time.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: If the desire of the House is to run roughshod over the rights of those people, then that will be the members’ responsibility.
Mr. Reid: Oh, baloney.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: And to cloak it in the sort of nonsense that I’ve heard in the last few minutes for purely partisan and political motives --
Mr. Nixon: Eddie Goodman is looking after their rights.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- in my view simply is not in the best interests of the public of Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: Ed and John Robarts will look after them.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. Whatever unctuous sanctimony I or others engaged in, it is as nothing compared to the way in which the Attorney General views the degraded value of this parliament in saying we shouldn’t debate this subject before it is judged.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We have had the three positions put forward.
Mr. Lewis: The minister has a pretty contemptuous view of the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. MacDonald: For once the executive branch is being brought to heel.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I listened very carefully to all the arguments put forward and there’s no doubt in my mind that there is sufficient urgency and public importance connected with the matter for all the reasons -- and I’m not going to summarize them -- as put forward by both the member for Hamilton West and the Leader of the Opposition.
But the Speaker has to abide by the rules of the House, and I would just point out one very important rule, which I’m sure is especially important for those who have any knowledge of legal things -- and, of course I don’t pretend to have --
Mr. Peterson: Don’t make a ruling then.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order 16(7)(ii) states: “In debate, a member will be called to order by the Speaker if he” -- and I go over to 7(ii) of that -- “refers to any matter that is before any quasi-judicial, administrative or investigative body constituted by the House or by or under the authority of an Act of the Legislature where any person may be prejudiced in such matter by the reference.”
As I understand the situation, this matter has been referred to the Ontario Highway Transport Board, if I have the correct name, which is a body established by an Act of this Legislature and, therefore, I will have to rule against this debate at this time.
Mr. Speaker: No, that’s the ruling.
Mr. S. Smith: On that point, if I can speak to the --
Mr. Speaker: If somebody wishes to challenge the ruling that’s a different matter but that’s the ruling.
Mr. S. Smith: With regret then -- I would rather speak to the point in a spirit -- but if I’m not allowed to do that, I’ll simply have to challenge your ruling. I think you’re incorrect in your interpretation, with regret, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I probably anticipated that, too. I shall put the question. The Speaker has made a ruling and it’s been objected to.
Those in favour of the Speaker’s ruling will please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “nays” have it.
Then I shall put the next question, and that question is: Shall the debate proceed?
Those in favour of the debate proceeding will please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “ayes” have it.
The debate shall proceed and, according to the rules, each member has 10 minutes to present his arguments in favour of the proposition. Who is the lead-off speaker? The member for Hamilton West.
Before we start, I believe the cameras have disappeared from the Legislature. May we have the lights turned down please? Thank you.
The hon. member for Hamilton West; his time starts now.
Mr. S. Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I’ve been very concerned about how it is that a board such as the Ontario Highway Transport Board, which has a long and distinguished record in the province of Ontario, would suddenly come to make such a tremendously new policy whereby it decides that there would be more than one carrier on an interurban bus route.
It’s not particularly my own opinion that overrunning inter-urban bus routes are to be avoided. We have the opinion, as well, of the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. McKeough) who wrote to the hon. Minister of Transportation and Communications on March 15, 1976, because he was concerned about what he says is a reference to free enterprise. He says: “Bus services have always been controlled to maximize benefit to the public.”
Similar arguments were made by Greyhound itself when it was opposing the application of Murray Hill to run between Montreal and New York, to overrun the Greyhound line. It argued very vociferously at that time,
I would like to quote from “A Case for Exclusive Territory Bus Franchises” by Peter C. Briant and Eric G. Walker. This particular quote points out: “Regulation is designed to save consumers from exploitation through price and if necessary to guarantee the provision of vital service at a satisfactory level.”
I quote the following point:
“If there were to be free competition along the main lines of travel between large urban centres, we could expect that the profits on the high density lines would decline and service on the low density lines would probably not exist. Therefore, it would certainly seem to be desirable, in terms of public convenience and necessity, to offset losses on low density lines by profits on those of high density.”
The argument is very well known; it’s very well known even by the Highway Transport Board itself which, in 1961, ruled against Greyhound’s attempts to overrun Gray Coach. At that time the board said, “The board accepts the evidence in that it feels that the profitability of the operation of Gray Coach between Toronto and Sudbury would be adversely affected if this application were granted.”
As I asked in the House the other day, what has happened to justify this? How can the government permit the OHTB to make a decision of this kind and then try to stonewall us for two weeks while we discuss it in the Legislature? How can the government risk the remaining transportation link which the small towns in Ontario have? How can it jeopardize jobs at a time of high unemployment in this province?
How can they justify giving away an asset that brings in revenue profit of about $800,000 to $1 million a year? They have made Gray Coach, which belongs to the people, a wounded bird basically.
I ask you to look with me, Mr. Speaker, at some of the history of what went on here. It is of interest that the whole matter seems to have arisen in the last year and a half. The application was filed in November 1975 by Greyhound. That’s very interesting. I want you to know that on May 8 of this year, Ontario Northland also applied to overrun that particular route. Ontario Northland is an arm of the government, I remind you, Mr. Speaker, and answers directly to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Yet, interestingly enough, as of the end of October just before the decision came in in favour of Greyhound, Ontario Northland withdrew its application to overrun Grey Coach.
Mr. Nixon: That’s interesting.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s a very interesting series of coincidences. And let me draw your attention to some more of these interesting coincidences, Mr. Speaker.
After the application was filed in November, 1975, hearings were scheduled for April and May. In the month of March, an article appeared in which the Minister of Transportation and Communications was quoted as advising Hamilton to sell Canada Coach, a bus company in a similar situation to that of Gray Coach in Toronto. He advised them to sell Canada Coach and said that really those in the city “should not be in the intercity bus business.” That is what he is quoted as having said.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I don’t believe I ever advised the city of Hamilton to sell Canada Coach. It may have been discussed or suggested at a meeting with the representatives of Hamilton, but I don’t believe I ever advised them that they should or should not sell the operation.
Mr. Deans: You were happy when they said they would.
Mr. S. Smith: I am sure the minister can make that point later on. The mayor of Hamilton at the time quoted the minister as saying: “He told us the city should not be in the intercity bus business and neither should the province.”
At that point, Mr. Mallette of the TTC made a note of that particular article and wondered what was going on. First there was the application to overrun, then the statement that people like Gray Coach shouldn’t be in that business at all. Interestingly enough, within the last year, he has received three letters -- from Voyageur, from Charterways and from Greyhound -- inquiring about the possibility of purchasing Gray Coach. You’ll appreciate that the purchase price of Gray Coach has gone down substantially since this particular decision has been made, because the profitability of Gray Coach has been removed and it’s been turned instead into a money-losing proposition which will probably have to be subsidized by the people of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Has it been sold?
Mr. S. Smith: This is a very interesting situation in which offers or inquiries about buying it happen at roughly the same time as Ontario’s Minister of Transportation and Communications suggests that maybe the city shouldn’t be in that business. Now we find that a decision comes in which is unparalleled in the OHTB history. A totally different policy is being adopted from that which has previously been the case in Ontario.
We know very well that Voigt was allowed to overrun on the Kitchener to Toronto bus route, and we know also of the executive service that goes from Toronto to London; but both of these are horses of a different colour completely from the existing ordinary services on the major interurban routes. There is no other instance of a major interurban route which has been permitted to be overrun in this way.
What we have now are situations where the small communities are threatened, where the public of Ontario is being robbed of a $10-million asset that rightfully belongs to them. We have a situation where the taxpayers may have to make this up in terms of financing and subsidizing the deficit. We have a situation where the cabinet sits back and permits Greyhound to continue to operate.
Greyhound brought down a good many witnesses, as you know, and put them up in the various hotels in Toronto, and these witnesses came forward with their information. It’s of great interest that a good many of these witnesses live between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, which is serviced by Greyhound. They admit they were told by Greyhound that if they supported Greyhound’s application to run between Sudbury and Toronto, then they would be able to get certain local services in places like Espanola, Blind River and Iron Bridge. They didn’t understand that Greyhound has the power to give those services right now -- and that it had nothing to do with Gray Coach whatsoever that those services were not being provided.
It’s perfectly clear that what is happening here is that the citizens of Ontario are being asked now to subsidize an American-controlled giant corporation. I ask you to consider, Mr. Speaker, this sequence of events in which, little by little, the Ontario Highway Transport Board seems to have found itself in a situation where it was in some form of acquiescence with what seems to have been a change in the fundamental thrust of government policy. I have to ask seriously how that could have happened.
That’s a question which we will probably not be able to answer today but it is one which will stay in my mind for some time, because this is altogether too odd a sequence of coincidences. It seems very clear to me that the government, or certain members of the government, have decided that intercity transportation is no longer to be a franchised operation but rather is to be a competitive one.
If the government is that keen on competition and if the government thinks that competition will, somehow or other, improve the services to the people living along the express routes, then it might be worth trying. It might be worth trying some form of competition -- doing the experiment. But, for heaven’s sake, why experiment with the one profit-making asset that belongs to the public? The government wants to overrun somebody? Go and overrun Voyageur on Toronto to Ottawa and let’s sit back and see whether the competition --
Mr. S. Smith: Go and see whether the competition will in fact be very helpful.
An hon. member: Are you for that, Albert?
Mr. S. Smith: Let’s see it overrun Greyhound.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Speak to your colleague, speak to Albert.
Mr. S. Smith: Why does it pick as the first bus line that is going to be overrun the one that belongs --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Stuart, you are priceless. Interjections.
Mr. S. Smith: Well, I wonder though whether there is a price for the Premier; that’s the question. I may be priceless but he may not be.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Shame.
An hon. member: You walked into that one.
Hon. Mr. Davis: On a point of personal privilege. I assume the member for Hamilton West is suggesting that there was something improper in my activities or those of a minister of the Crown as they relate to this particular decision.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. S. Smith: I didn’t say that.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is exactly what he was suggesting.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is exactly what he said.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Withdraw.
Mr. Eaton: Withdraw.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I say, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should apologize --
An hon. member: Sit down.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and apologize immediately.
Mr. S. Smith: I didn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come on, be a man.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the Premier referred to me as priceless and I suggested there may or may not be any price for him at all. The term I should have used for him --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Could we have some order please?
Mr. S. Smith: The term I should have used for him was valueless. If I’m priceless, he is valueless.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come on. I know exactly what you said and I know exactly what you intended.
Mr. S. Smith: Well, that’s very interesting.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Conway: Well, what did the Premier intend?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Just because the member for Renfrew North might behave that way, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. If the hon. member for Hamilton West will direct his questions and his remarks to the Chair --
Mr. Sargent: Tell that to the Premier.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: -- there will be less chance of the Premier intervening.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I agree with you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I certainly did not mean to cast any aspersions on the honesty of the Premier.
Mr. Roy: That is not our style, you know that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What do you mean, it is not your style?
Mr. Roy: That is not our style and you know it.
Mr. S. Smith: I would point out to you then, Mr. Speaker, that what we have is a situation where somehow or other there has been a radical departure in the Ontario Highway Transport Board and what I have to ask you, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. S. Smith: -- is how we are to assess why it is that the Ontario Highway Transport Board has now been accused by the Minister of Transportation and Communications of having failed to consider vital data --
Hon. Mr. Snow: That is not right.
Mr. S. Smith: -- namely, the effect that this might have on the small towns --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. S. Smith: -- and the effects that this might have on the financial viability of Gray Coach. The decision must surely be overturned by the cabinet.
Mr. Roy: You like to talk about flip-flops, the Premier looks bad on this one.
Mr. Philip: It is a pleasure to speak on this issue, which is not only of vital importance to those who use Gray Coach and Greyhound Lines, but also the taxpayers who are concerned about the possibility of picking up the cost of a decision for an experiment which is of questionable value.
The real issue in this recent fiasco is not one of personalities, it is one of policy. In this case the real issue is not that the government has changed its transportation policy, as has been alleged by some members of this House, but rather that the government has failed to develop a clearly defined policy.
It is quite apparent to those of us who served on the select committee on the transportation of goods that much of the criticism we heard against the transport board has little to do with the quality of the decision-making per se and more to do with the fact that the transport board is making decisions in a policy vacuum. In fact, not only is there a policy vacuum, but there is also a communications vacuum between the transportation ministry and the transport board.
We know that the transport board has been making decisions that it clearly has no authority to make. The fact that the chairman of the transport board periodically issues temporary operating authority to transport companies is a clear example of where the board, in a vacuum of direction from the ministry, has taken authority that was never given to it by the government or by the Legislature.
What is clearly needed is a statement by this government as to whether the transport board is an administrative or a judicial body, or a combination of both and in what combination. What is clearly needed is a well defined transportation policy for Ontario, and this policy we feel would have as a central principle, the principle of cross-subsidization. This is the principle that is accepted throughout North America and a principle that was accepted by the transport board in its famous decision in 1961.
During the last Transportation estimates, the minister boasted that Ontario had one of the best systems of primary and secondary roads in the world. We frankly don’t agree with that. We don’t think that it has one of the best. We think that it has the best. If this, in fact, is the case then it is all the more reason why this government must be blamed for not developing an integrated, public passenger transportation system in this province. People are often amazed at the fact that we don’t have the public transit or rail systems that are evident in Europe. The alternative is not rail or nothing, the alternative and the problem we face in Ontario is to use what we do have, namely the excellent highway grids, and to develop a public transportation programme in which bus service would be a major cornerstone. The government has failed to do this and the result has been the kind of fiasco that we have today -- the possible loss of jobs, the loss of service, and in the government’s case, the loss of face.
Mr. Deans: Never in history has it been proved.
Mr. Philip: Why has the government failed to develop the kind of bus service here in Ontario which would be equal to German rail system, especially when it takes credit for developing the infrastructure.
Were this done I suspect the Gray Coach drivers would not be worrying about losing service. In fact, many communities such as those in northern Ontario which now complain of inadequate service would be serviced, and there would be more driver jobs than now exist.
No one can blame Mr. Shoniker if he changed his mind from 1961. In the vacuum of direction he did what he thought he had to do. He acted as though he were the cabinet. There’s no clear indication in the minister’s statement on December 8 that the government has any clear policy on people transportation. I assumed when I read the statement that the minister was giving the transport board some guidance. In reviewing it, this is not the case. When I called the ministry and asked for a copy of the terms of reference or the directions which I assumed he would have supplied to Mr. Shoniker, I was told that none were given. The Public Commercial Vehicles Act and The Public Vehicles Act have few clues about what public necessity and convenience are. Statements by the government have never cast any light on this. The board has not been required over the years to issue written reasons for all its decisions, so one cannot even find out from the transport board.
The fact is, then, that section 17 of The Highway Transport Act -- and under which this review will take place -- does little either to clear the muddy waters and give us any kind of direction or give the transport board any kind of direction on which to judge this case.
If the Energy Board were asked to make decisions affecting the distribution of energy without guidance, everyone would be horrified, but by tradition, by the failure of successive Ministers of Transportation and Communications to show leadership, the government is now expecting us to swallow this kind of sloppy decision-making in the case of passenger bus transit. The government’s failure to act is also evident in that it has made no decision to allow Gray Coach to carry on with its traditional service until the review has been completed. How much of the taxpayers’ money will be wasted in the interval at this time when this government talks about austerity? It is time for the cabinet to act like a cabinet and for the transport board to act like a transport board and not vice versa.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Grey-Bruce.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I thought I was going to have the opportunity to speak for my party?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: You can if you wish. I was waiting for you to stand so I could recognize you. The hon. member for Oakville.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am glad you remembered where Oakville is, Mr. Speaker. I would like to --
Mr. Deans: You have bus service there, too.
Hon. Mr. Snow: We have an excellent bus service run by Gray Coach, too, under contract.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Everybody will have an opportunity to participate. The member for Oakville has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I would like at this time to clarify my position in what has become a very highly emotional issue regarding the granting of three certificates of necessity to Stock Brothers Bus Lines of Markham, Greyhound Lines of Canada and Eastern Canadian Greyhound. The three certificates of necessity granted them direct route rights between Metro Toronto and Barrie, Metro and Sudbury, and Metro and the Niagara frontier respectively.
To begin with, I want to reiterate what I said in my statement to this House a week ago today. The certificates were issued only on the basis that the public’s interest should come first. I believe, as I did then, that the sole reason for the issuance of these certificates was to provide the public with adequate service. Not only should it be adequate but it should encourage Ontario travellers to use buses and not discourage them simply because express routes are not available.
I don’t believe I should have to remind this Legislature that buses are our most economical users of energy and that it is in everyone’s interest to encourage bus ridership. Nor should I have to say that the witnesses at the Ontario Highway Transport Board’s hearing expressed a strong definite desire for express service.
On top of that kind of evidence which, I remind the House, was not countered by contrary witnesses at the time, I have received numerous telegrams and letters from northern Ontario municipal leaders, residents and even union officials, substantiating this desire.
With reference to those hearings, which were carried out over seven full days of hearings before two OHTB members, there was more than adequate opportunity for executives from Gray Coach or the Amalgamated Transit Union as well as the general public to express their opinions.
I can honestly say I am still convinced, on the basis of the evidence put before and reviewed by the board, that the board’s decision was correct. The decision, regardless of what members have been told, is not a radical departure from our transportation policies.
For example, between Hearst and Thunder Bay, Grey Goose and Greyhound are in direct competition and they continue to exist. There is a similar situation between Toronto and London where Charterways, Gray Coach and Greyhound are in competition. Between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, Greyhound --
Mr. S. Smith: Another major urban service.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- and the Ontario Northland operate on the same route. Between Oshawa and Toronto, both Gray Coach and Voyageur travel the same route -- I suppose nobody rides between Oshawa and Toronto.
Mr. S. Smith: Nobody cares about commuter routes.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Hamilton West has spoken in this debate.
Hon. Mr. Snow: The route between North Bay and Toronto is covered by both Gray Coach and the Ontario Northland. There are several more but I would not take the time of the debate to list them. I therefore cannot understand why Gray Coach cannot live with competition, as outlined, when the three certificates of public necessity and need were granted.
Mr. S. Smith: The Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) knows it. Ask him.
Hon. Mr. Snow: To put it another way, if a bus company which has operated for so many years cannot keep its ridership the first time some competition appears, and according to the statements appearing in the media that is what is happening, then it couldn’t have built up a very dedicated ridership. If those statements are in fact true, then perhaps the Ontario Highway Transport Board’s decision was correct. There was a need for adequate service.
Mr. Kerrio: That isn’t what the Minister of Transport says.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I can only repeat that I see no radical departure from our policy when the OHTB provides for this kind of controlled competition and when it offers the residents of Ontario, and in particular in the north, a wider choice or more adequate service, as you prefer.
My personal philosophy, as you know, Mr. Speaker, is that competition is good for the consumer. I do understand the concern for the dollar position of Gray Coach and the resulting total effect on the company’s drivers and other employees as well as on the residents of smaller communities who could be left without service, should routes be abandoned. But why didn’t Gray Coach executives express these concerns which involved their operations at the OHTB hearings?
Mr. S. Smith: They did.
Hon. Mr. Snow: No one to my knowledge has come forward with any explanation on that subject. It was my concerns -- and, yes, the sudden emergence of these concerns -- that prompted me yesterday to request the OHTB to further review this case on the basis not only of its effect on the possible reduction of service between many communities, but to explore all the available alternatives.
Mr. Conway: Including politics.
Hon. Mr. Snow: As well, I have requested that the board study the real effect of the Gray Coach operation, including those points brought up by the Amalgamated Transit Union. However, I must remind the Legislature that the chairman of the OHTB makes specific reference to the limited fiscal information that Gray Coach executives were able to bring forward at the hearings back in April.
I understand that in the past month -- in fact as far back as 1973 -- the TTC management has given more than cursory thought to the possible sale of the entire Gray Coach operation. I am led further to believe that a number of months ago the TTC commissioned a study to evaluate the future of Gray Coach. While I am not aware of the results of this study, I would have to assume that any such study may have been initiated because of the possibility of a sale, and that it would have taken into consideration such matters as its effect on its drivers and their futures. If this information is available, why wasn’t it brought to light at the hearings or at least before the certificates of necessity were approved?
I personally want to have the opportunity to meet with the TTC officials, with the Gray Coach officials, with Greyhound officials, with the board of directors of the Motor Coach Association, and with the members and executive of the Amalgamated Transit Union, both local 113 and the Canadian representatives. In order to do this and not to appear to be hearing evidence out of court, as one might say, I propose to hold these meetings personally in the next few weeks and to make my recommendations to cabinet. I will refrain from sitting on the legislation committee, of which I am a member from cabinet, when the appeal of the Ontario Highway Transport Board decision is considered by that committee.
Mr. Conway: That is a double twist.
Mr. Good: We said a week ago you shouldn’t.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I realize that it is very difficult for the hon. member from Hamilton, East, I believe it is, to make any remarks without bringing in innuendo.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Or for Renfrew North.
Mr. Laughren: Hamilton West.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Hamilton West, I’m sorry. I am very disappointed he should have suggested in his remarks, as I took it anyway, that for some reason since I became minister of this ministry I would appear to have instructed the Highway Transport Board to take certain actions that they may not have taken before.
Mr. Lewis: I don’t think that’s true.
Mr. Reid: He didn’t say that at all.
Mr. Conway: You weren’t here.
Hon. Mr. Snow: At no time did I discuss this application with the chairman or any member of the Highway Transport Board nor do I discuss any other applications that are being heard before the board. I may discuss an application or a result after a decision is made.
I might say I had a visit between three and four weeks ago from the executive of the TTC and the Gray Coach Lines, and, I might say I refused, on behalf of them, to make any recommendations or suggestions to the chairman of the board until such time as a decision was made and I will continue to take that stand.
Mr. Sargent: Very briefly, the minister should resign. This is the biggest train robbery since Hydrogate -- the Moog and Davis hotel here.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I would caution the member not to use excessive language.
Mr. Sargent: You can keep on cautioning. I’m speaking from the chair as much as you.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I’ll caution you, and I’ll even dismiss you if you persist in doing so.
Mr. Sargent: You just try it and see what happens. This is still a free country. We have enough people here protecting the government now. We have here --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Will the member take his seat?
Will you take your seat?
Mr. Sargent: I will think about it, yes.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: If the member thinks he’s going to threaten the Chair, he’s got another thing coming, because I don’t threaten very easily.
Mr. Sargent: Don’t threaten me then.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I will caution you to abide by the rules of the House and not use excessive language, because if you persist in doing so you will be dismissed from the chamber for the rest of the sitting.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, will you define excessive language, please?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Excessive language is anything that imputes motives, anything that is apt to cause grave disorder in this House and I’m not going to permit it. I just want to warn you of that fact right now.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, anything I may say is in the records of this House, in the report of the select committee hearings on Hydro, and if it’s in that report I can use it tonight in this address to the House.
We have here the documents from these hearings -- a certificate before the board from their representative Mr. Goodman, the top adviser to the Premier. For 32 years he’s been steering and writing the scenario here at Queen’s Park. We have John Robarts --
Mr. Lewis: He has not done badly.
Mr. Sargent: -- and a former member of the cabinet, Mr. Clement, involved here. These things are factual.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would ask the hon. member to say in what way Mr. Clement --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: There is no point of order. I have listened very carefully to the debate, there’s nothing out of order, so there is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. Snow: He’s misleading the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: You cannot accuse another member of misleading the House. You’ll have to withdraw that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I withdraw it. He certainly wasn’t intentionally misleading the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: You cannot accuse another member of misleading the House, you just withdraw it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I withdraw, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Conway: At last. At long last.
Mr. Sargent: We have the report from the cabinet meeting yesterday, and this is a dodge of the cabinet, it’s a stall. They’re bailing out a leaky boat and they say that they’re going to review this. I say to you, sir, and mark my words, we have a fait accompli now; the buses are running and they’re carrying passengers.
We have seven people on this Highway Transport Board, and only two members sat in on the hearings, the chairman and Mr. Stoddart. I suggest to you that this is a sellout to the American interests -- owned 60 per cent by Greyhound, based in Phoenix, Arizona -- of a system that belongs to the taxpayers of Ontario. It isn’t the government’s, it isn’t the Highway Transport Board’s, it belongs to us. What’s the motivation here?
The word gets to Mr. Goodman, the chairman, that there’s a chance that it could be up for grabs, so he probably makes a deal. What’s his fee on this thing? A $20 million deal, is he making $1 million commission on this deal? That’s motivation -- selling out the interests of the people of the province of Ontario, that’s what I’m talking about. That is a big train robbery, especially when train service is closed down in my area, you’re closing our hospitals, closing our arenas, and now you’re taking away our bus system.
What it means to Owen Sound -- it is a very diabolical thing that the minister can sit here and let people who have the keys to the Treasury make a million bucks or so commission on the deal. That’s what I am concerned about. It’s time somebody started telling the truth in this province after 32 years.
Hon. B. Stephenson: They certainly won’t get it from you.
Mr. Sargent: I’ll get you in a moment, hotshot.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t know how you people can laugh at him; you ought to feel sorry for him.
Mr. Sargent: I see. We’ll see, Mr. Premier.
Mr. Cunningham: Do you have a licence on pride?
Mr. Sargent: We have a beautiful parallel here, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Sargent: We have a parallel here. We have Mr. Goodman; we have Mr. Robarts; and Mr. Clement. Their mere presence before this board gives them a great plus. The parallel is the Premier of this province in Switzerland with Mr. Moog raising money for the Hydro building. That’s a parallel. Their mere presence there gave them the commission, the right, or the approval of this deal.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That’s not a subject for debate this afternoon.
Mr. Sargent: It is a good parallel, Mr. Speaker. Thank you. I say now we have the acknowledged price of $20 million and if only $12 million of it is used, there’s an $8-million loss. There may be $50 million worth of rolling stock at replacement cost. Where’s all this going to happen here? I say it’s a fait accompli but the picture’s incomplete.
Let’s talk about the man who engineered this deal -- let’s talk about that. He’s a director of Cadillac Fairview which is 35 per cent owned by the Bronfman firm. The start of this major corporation was a few years ago when I first came into this House. Cadillac Development, of which Mr. Goodman was a director, had access to the Treasury here. As a result, I would suggest to you, a billion dollars or more has been steered to certain firms by this man, Mr. Goodman.
Mr. Philip: If you have evidence of corruption, why don’t you present it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: You will say this outside, I guess?
Mr. Sargent: I certainly will. And you’ll prove it’s not true, will you?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I won’t have to.
Hon. Mr. Snow: There will be others who will do that.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. We are dealing specifically with the devastating impact on the bus service to smaller municipalities -- as the result of a decision of the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Goodman’s involvements with Wimpey; we are dealing with Wimpey and Mr. Goodman’s involved in that. He’s involved in almost every deal which has any money involved. He has access to the people who count here at Queen’s Park.
And I say it’s time the buck stops here. Time does not permit me to go into all the things I’d like to say here but the Toronto Star today says “Throwing Local Bus Service to the Hound’s.” That’s the headline. It really should read “the Greyhounds.”
Hon. B. Stephenson: Did you write it?
Mr. Sargent: I say, in conclusion, that the Premier should think again for the sake of Ontario’s smaller communities.
He should be less concerned with promoting the profits of Greyhound. He should give Gray Coach back the lines on which it can make money so it can continue to operate in the smaller communities of this province.
I suggest, in closing, that there should be some way because of the blatant conflict of interest of a group of men like this who have the keys to the Treasury here -- I could document cases right now of things happening in this connection, such as getting Hydro lines through, development roads through, et cetera for Cadillac Fairview. There should be some way by which this man should be barred from doing business with the province. That’s my submission to you today.
Mr. Angus: My remarks will be reasonably brief. First, I would like to point out, as a northern member, that while we appreciate getting better service -- and Lord knows we need it in all sorts of areas but particularly in transportation -- it’s ironic that it’s at the expense of small southern Ontario communities. We don’t agree with that. We believe expansion and improvement of services should be done across the province, but not to the detriment of any one community or any group of communities, whether it be in the north or in the south.
I don’t believe this situation would have occurred if there had been a comprehensive transportation policy for this province. I think that if the goals of this government were down in black and white in terms of providing services -- and I mean services in terms of quality as well as quantity -- then we wouldn’t have this debate today. We wouldn’t have the Minister of Transportation and Communications in the press every day saying something and then something else again.
I think one of the things that has become very apparent, and I look on my experiences with the select committee on the transportation of goods on the highways, is the role of the Ontario Highway Transport Board and its relationship to the government, to the ministry. I think my colleague, the member for Etobicoke, expressed that quite well in his leadoff.
I think the Ontario Highway Transport Board in all its dealings should take into account, not just evidence that is placed before it, but should be looking at the total aspect of that route or that group of routes or the actual service record and attitude of the companies involved. Instead of just accepting what Greyhound told them -- as I assume most of the municipalities and representatives all over Ontario did with their response to the minister -- instead of accepting it at face value and chiding the Gray Coach operation for not providing the kind of material that would help to win their case or to emphasize their case, the Ontario Highway Transport Board should have gone looking. They should have taken the whole broad scope of the situation to find out exactly what is happening in transportation. They would have to do that because there’s no transportation policy per se to fall back on.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Gray Coach isn’t really a defenceless outfit that has no lawyer.
Mr. Angus: That is an interesting comment, because one of the things we looked at with respect to trucking in this province was the whole situation of lawyers versus lay people going before the OHTB. We found evidence that suggested that even lawyers were having difficulty in understanding what the rules were and how it was played. I think that that just gives stronger reasoning for a revamping of the OHTB and its responsibilities. I hope that what the minister has directed the OHTB to do is exactly this -- not in two specific areas but across the range -- and I hope too that there will still be the opportunity for appeal to the cabinet whatever decision the OHTB reaches; no matter which way they decide I hope the other party will have the option of appealing to the cabinet.
One of the items that my colleague from Etobicoke referred to was the communications problem. I was in receipt of a resolution from the city of Thunder Bay a number of months back indicating that they were supporting the Greyhound application. I looked at it; they had asked me to respond but it was one of the few I did not respond to.
I talked to some people who indicated to me that, yes, it looked like a good idea. But I’ll be very honest. I did not have the information as to who the competition was, if there was any, or what effects it would have on other communities or other routes of the competition. I respectfully suggest the municipalities that responded by telegram and letter to the minister indicating their support for Greyhound and those who were brought to Toronto to the hearings of the Ontario Highway Transport Board were given a one-sided picture. They were given a PR pitch by Greyhound. Whether Gray Coach did not have the expertise or the talents or the finances to make the same kind of approach I can’t say.
Hon. Mr. Snow: You don’t really believe that, do you?
Mr. Angus: You may, I’m not sure. You don’t?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, I don’t.
Mr. Wildman: You’ve already made up your mind though.
Mr. Angus: You don’t, well. My purpose in pointing this out is that -- again addressed to the role of the Ontario Highway Transport Board -- if municipalities are being asked to comment on a route change, whether it be for bus transportation, airline transportation or what have you, the information should come from the quasi-judicial body, the Ontario Highway Transport Board, indicating the pros and the cons as presented by the parties. Only then should a municipality be requested to indicate its preference to the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
Mr. Wildman: In other words, they should do some work, too.
Mr. Angus: That’s right.
In conclusion, I think one of the areas of responsibility for this problem falls on the shoulders of the Gray Coach system. In conjunction with the Ontario Highway Transport Board they should have been instructed to provide the quality services which seem to be lacking in certain areas. In order that the existing routes could be upgraded for the individuals residing in many communities -- I’m impressed when I look at the map of their service area; heaven knows we wish we had that kind of network of roads in northern Ontario let alone the buses to travel on them. I think they should have been instructed by the transport board to upgrade their facilities before any consideration would be given to the granting of another licence.
That almost winds up my comments. I would like to add that this morning I received the following telegram:
“We strongly protest action of Ontario Highway Transport Board, November 22, 1976. Such licensing to Greyhound can only curtail Gray Coach operations and ultimate loss of jobs for Canadian employees. Charles Parsons, President, Local 966, Amalgamated Transit Union, Thunder Bay.”
Mr. Drea: The thrust of Ontario’s transportation policy must demand that the movement of people and goods be considered a public utility. The overriding need, necessity and convenience of the consumer are so paramount they are the only legitimate criteria for the licensing of public carriers. No matter how motivated, no matter how entrenched, a transportation policy which condones, encourages or perpetuates monopoly is a sham at the expense of the people.
Mr. S. Smith: Darcy doesn’t think so.
Mr. Drea: Monopoly breeds contempt of the legitimate needs of the public, inflicts the permanency of the substandard upon them and stifles any initiatives toward improvement.
Mr. Kerrio: Are you describing Hydro?
Mr. Drea: The thrust of Ontario’s licensing policy has been --
Mr. Wildman: What about the Greyhound monopoly between the Sault and Sudbury?
Mr. Drea: -- a simple response to that public need and necessity, a flexible system which promotes competition, stimulates innovations and adjusts to economic, social and developmental needs.
That policy was underlined by the select committee report on the highway transportation of goods. On Monday, there was not a speaker, not a dissent, not a murmur against the recommendations that would mean vastly more competition on the highways; there was not a single protectionist voice, not one, not a dissent from that report.
If such a policy is needed to give the consumer of goods the right to alternatives and choices, then it defies logic to say it should not equally apply to the movement of people. What is right and proper for the most efficient way to move goods surely is even more essential for the movement of people? Naturally, stability of the carrier is essential if the highways which constitute the public utility are not to revert to an economic jungle where the power of the balance sheet determines who will have the opportunity to operate.
The particular concern we face today is the public anguish of Gray Coach Lines in its efforts to stave off a bid by Greyhound Lines to compete on two highway routes, Toronto-Sudbury, Toronto-Buffalo. The argument advanced is that Grey Coach is decimated as an entity because it cannot meet the limited -- and I emphasize limited -- competition from Greyhound.
There are threats and innuendos that the company will literally be sold at auction, a distress sale which will yield only the value of equipment. There is the implication it will have to abandon its outlying runs, particularly in central Ontario. Its drivers are convinced that more than 200 of them will lose their jobs.
Mr. Philip: Now you’ve got to the problem.
Mr. Breithaupt: That is what they say.
Mr. Drea: Gray Coach management, in an effort to absolve a series of blunders which constitute a corporate death wish, has deceived and used its employees in this matter. After enjoying the monopoly on these routes for decades and supposedly faced with extinction, Gray Coach has not promised the public a single improvement on the Buffalo or Sudbury runs; not to mention the Orillia, Barrie, Toronto run where the competition of Travelways has been authorized.
Mr. Haggerty: Oh, now be careful.
Mr. Drea: The only improvement has been a hostess bus, promised a year ago in November and brought in in June; but it is at premium rates, it is not on the regular service.
Mr. McClellan: It costs $2.50 a ride more.
Mr. Drea: This from a company that did not call a single public witness to the prolonged hearings of the Ontario Highway Transport Board -- not a customer, just thee officials.
Mr. Wildman: Do you want to give them a call? Maybe they changed their minds.
Mr. Drea: This from a company that did not disclose its financial picture -- in the words of the board, “did not see fit to file a financial statement” -- not a figure from a public carrier of this size. This from a company that is responsible for the operation of Toronto’s biggest eyesore, the bus terminal at Bay and Dundas, even when confronted with the offer by Greyhound to join in building a new modern terminal with Gray Coach, or failing that to spend $11 million for its own new Toronto Greyhound terminal.
Incidentally, on the other route, Travelways will build a new terminal at Barrie. There has been no response from Gray Coach.
Where has Gray Coach been in all of this? Where is the management of a company that after being confronted with 70 public witnesses didn’t even bring one of its drivers to say what a good service it had? Where is the management? What kind of a senior management warns of layoffs of drivers, total losses of revenue, when it can still operate on a route? And this is the management that when it abandoned school busing routes a short time ago, gave as its excuse the chronic shortage of drivers.
But enough of the record. We are not here to justify or concur in the decision of the Highway Transport Board, that is the role of the cabinet. But what is significant is what can be done about Gray Coach. This is our responsibility, Mr. Speaker, for we created Gray Coach through decisions of authority. We have allowed Gray Coach to become the milch cow of the Toronto Transit Commission. It is a company without a single employee; right down to the paycheque they are TTC employees. It is a company that must rely on the TTC for mechanics, repair services and maintenance, and there’s a transfer of funds.
There is some interesting accounting involved in all of this, but I leave it to the special review that is going on to determine that.
Mr. Philip: Analyse it, Frank.
Mr. Reed: You know better than that, it isn’t true.
Mr. Drea: In the light of its failure to produce financial records and public statements that constitute corporate terrorism against both its drivers and its customers, let’s look at some Gray Coach operations.
Mr. Lewis: Corporate terrorism?
Mr. Drea: Its services within all of Peel region, virtually all of York region, Toronto-Oshawa, Toronto-Hamilton, make a guaranteed profit of 15 per cent. Those services are operated under contract to the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority, and that calls for a payment of cost plus 15 per cent. One third of the drivers and equipment, one quarter of its revenues come from these routes.
Mr. Reid: So what?
Mr. Drea: But an indication of the awesome overhead of Gray Coach is that it charges government $27.52 an hour for this service, while Travelways, under the same cost plus 15 per cent, charges $16.50.
The excuse given is that Gray Coach drivers make more. The men in this gallery know they don’t make $11.02 an hour more than their counterparts on Travelways. Thus the taxpayers in Ontario are paying an extra $2 million a year to keep Gray Coach in this part of the bus business. Surely the taxpayers and customers are entitled to ask what is going on, when Gray Coach tells the media it would have a $700,000 profit this year, when the fact is it hasn’t provided its parent, the TTC, with a cash profit or a dividend since 1973?
Mr. Sargent: They made $500,000 last year.
Mr. S. Smith: You are darn right, and they are keeping the money to build the terminal.
Mr. Drea: Something is terribly wrong with the senior management when it abandons the York Mills-Malton airport route as a financial disaster and a private operator turns it around in one year to a break-even service.
Within three years Gray Coach will be the only wholly-owned subsidiary of a municipal bus line on highway routes. One of the things that wasn’t brought up by the member for Hamilton West is that on this very day the Hamilton Street Railroad is entering into the final phase of legislative authority whereby Canada Coach will devote, on a phasing out operation, more attention to the Wentworth region.
Mr. S. Smith: They are losing money on the other.
Mr. Drea: It’s been in sadness rather than anger I have dwelt on the record of senior management of Gray Coach Lines. I for one am very proud of publicly-owned companies in this province.
Mr. Reid: After all that?
Mr. Lewis: Except for their corporate terrorism, they are okay.
Mr. Drea: The review of Gray Coach operations and finances by the Highway Transport Board will accomplish two substantial goals. First, it will put into the open the finances of Gray Coach, including why it is in such a fragile financial position. Second, it will put senior management under the glare of public scrutiny and make them answer the most damning indictment of all: Why are you prepared now to substantiate crippling revenue losses when you did not do so before? Why are you now begging for public support when you didn’t bring a single customer to those hearings?
Mr. Haggerty: Is that Ontario Northland?
Mr. Drea: Gray Coach drivers through their union, should ask the same. They have the same rights as customers. One of the things I would like guaranteed, and I will do everything possible, is that there will not be a dislocation of employees. I do not believe the dislocation of employees is a price of change. It concerns me that the drivers’ union did not appear before the Highway Transport Board.
Mr. Conway: They can’t.
Mr. Drea: Other unions do; oh yes, they do. The Teamsters do and the CBRT do, both for applicants and respondents. In this case, the union did not. I would certainly hope that in the future, and particularly in this hearing, the union makes a very active response because the union knows what is going on with the senior management of Gray Coach.
A spinoff from all this is the confusion surrounding it. Commuters to York region now find they cannot take --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Conway: So has he.
Mr. Drea: On that note I will end, with the admonition that when I talk of public need and convenience I am talking for the absolute retention of the Gray Coach drivers in that type of commuter service.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, earlier this afternoon in this debate we heard the Attorney General describe some of the positions held in this regard as nonsense. He described certain members of the House as riding roughshod over what he said was a system -- the system of justice. But the Minister of Transportation and Communications, in approving the order of the OHTB, has done something which in my mind cannot be described as roughshod but which I describe as a flagrant abuse of the legislative process.
I regard it a personal affront to myself and probably other individual members of this House. In depriving us of the responsibility to which we were elected by his accepting this decision and approving it, and in fact acting on it at a time in our country when there is fear of separatism, and by his selling out to a foreign company, his actions are completely unacceptable in my mind. Perhaps the situation as it exists today, the situation of minority government which exists in Ontario, is finding its mark. This type of situation such as the usurpation by the OHTB of the legislative function will have to be stopped, and this is as good an issue to stop it as any.
I find the minister’s remarks in the House earlier today a radical departure from what he said on November 30 when he made his comments in the House indicating his approval of the OHTB decision. In introducing this decision and the fact that he had granted approval of the granting of the licences, he said: “Included with the certificates will be the carefully-thought-out and documented reasons why the members of the board reached the decision they did” -- carefully thought out and documented reasons. He concluded by saying: “Finally, I can tell this House that I have thoroughly and in good conscience reviewed the reasons for the board’s decision and I am, therefore, approving all three certificates as they were recommended by the Ontario Highway Transport Board.”
Today we heard the minister indicate he is asking the board to review its decision despite this carefully documented --
Hon. Mr. Snow: That is not right.
Mr. Stong: -- sending it back for review, is the way I understand the minister’s position.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I did not ask them to review their decision, I want to make that plain.
Mr. Stong: He’s asking that this matter be reviewed after it’s been well documented, carefully thought out and he in good conscience accepted it, despite the fact that the Legislature played no role in this entire episode.
Mr. Reed: The groundhog got too far from its hole.
Mr. Stong: The minister indicated that it was in the public interest that this decision be made. I might say that the OHTB, as I understand the legislation creating that body, has the power to call Gray Coach before it, and say; “Look Gray Coach, you’re not doing a good job in this area and that area, shape up.” But that was not done and the Gray Coach is owned by the people of Ontario indirectly.
I would have thought that the primary duty of the OHTB would have been to call the Gray Coach before it for an accounting and there is absolutely no indication or evidence of that having been done.
As one of the members from the Toronto region I’m also concerned with another aspect of this. I know that the debate covers the devastating effect on the smaller communities of Ontario, but we must direct our minds to those jobs that can and will be lost if this situation persists.
I understand that there are as many as 240 jobs at stake, that’s the information I’ve been given. If that is so, setting aside the fact of seniority, loss of position, being replaced or having to be initiated in a new job; setting those concerns aside, the fact of the matter is your honour -- I mean Mr. Speaker, I’m used to saying “your honour.”
Mr. Conway: He is honourable indeed.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t extricated myself from the courtroom yet.
Mr. Stong: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that if this situation persists, the jobs in Toronto of Gray Coach drivers are in jeopardy -- very much so -- and they’ve concerned about that situation. I’m advised as well that even as early as today, in view of the fact that the lines have been extended the union based in Buffalo is making motions to fill those jobs that will become available by American drivers.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right.
Mr. Stong: What is going to happen in Winnipeg, when the route out in that area is used? The Winnipeg-based drivers will take over the jobs and what’s going to happen to the Toronto drivers? Up to 240 jobs could be lost in selling out to an American outfit.
It seems to me, as I indicated at the outset, that perhaps minority government is working in calling this government to take notice of the situation and protect jobs at a time when jobs should be protected, particularly those based in this area, in this economic climate.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that the entire situation that has developed here in the granting of these licences is, as I indicated earlier, completely unacceptable. It’s unfathomable that, at a time when the government of Ontario should be showing leadership in unifying this country, leadership in creating jobs and leadership in protecting jobs and creating more employment, it has turned to foreign interests to replace those jobs and that particular market. It is time that situation was corrected and now is the time to do it.
Mr. Warner: One of the interesting parts about this whole debate and this whole issue is that in some sense I don’t have to come here every day over the last few days and tell the government that it’s made a mistake, because the people of Ontario are doing that right now. I know that and the government knows that in some sense that makes the job over here just a little easier.
I’d like to spend just a few minutes to talk about some of the things which have happened in my particular riding and a few minutes to talk about what I think is at the basis of this whole business.
I received phone calls, as I am sure many members did, from people in my riding who had an interest; that is, they happen to be transit workers. They are concerned about the possibility of losing their jobs.
I had calls from people who have been customers of Gray Coach who said: “I don’t understand why government members are saying Gray Coach service isn’t very good. I have enjoyed Gray Coach service. I think the drivers are courteous. I think the buses run on time. I think I have been well served.”
I had calls from people concerned about our economic independence who say: “At a time when we seem to be losing more and more control of our Canadian economy I would like to see a little more leadership by our government in making sure that we keep our businesses here.”
When I spoke to people at the door, as I went around last weekend talking with various people in my riding, I had concerns expressed to me about how the process takes place. Someone said to me: “What happens if I have a complaint? If I have a complaint about the service in Gray Coach, what do I do? I have phoned Gray Coach but that doesn’t mean that I get a satisfactory response.”
The process, as I understand it, is that one should send complaints to the transport board. If the transport board deems those complaints to be of sufficient magnitude, it will bring in the carrier, in this case Gray Coach, and discuss the issues, the complaints, and any possible way of improving the service or whatever the complaints happen to be about.
It seems to me that process is wrong; it’s backwards. I really don’t understand why we can’t have a mechanism whereby a public carrier such as Gray Coach reports once a year to the transport board and says: “Here is what we have been doing. Here is what we are doing now and here’s what we plan for the future by way of improvements in the service, by way of meeting customer needs, by way of extending our routes.”
They are answerable to the transport board, surely, and the board is to the government. If the member for Scarborough Centre is going to tell me that it all relates back to the TTC and Gray Coach is nothing but a puppet of TTC -- if he really believes that -- surely there is a course of action through the municipal politicians? They have some voice and control and some power over what’s occurring.
What I am saying is that we have a service which is politically answerable and if it is not answering, we require some political pressure to make sure it does. I don’t see anywhere in the material I have received or heard in the conversations I have had that the people at Gray Coach are unwilling to respond to requests; unwilling to be answerable to political pressures; or flaunting whatever responsibility they have; or ignoring government demands. I have never sensed that; perhaps the member has and, if so, I would appreciate hearing about it.
I think the process is backwards. I suggest that, through all of this, we revamp that process and we take an active part to ensure that Gray Coach will respond on a yearly basis and plan its service.
It shouldn’t do that in a vacuum and that’s the second part of the problem we face here today. Surely, what we need is an overall transportation policy, something which integrates the various forms of transportation -- rail, plane, bus, the automobile, whatever. We must look at it as a total package. I realize the minister may come back and respond that we really can’t do that in the province without federal initiative and federal involvement. Along those lines I agree but let’s take some initiative and get the thing started.
Let’s not end up with the possibility that the towns in rural Ontario are going to be left without bus service or -- the alternative -- that we end up subsidizing those routes. If we end up doing that, we are subsidizing those routes through public money so that an American corporation can take profit of those main routes. In my books that is wrong. I don’t know how it sits with the government but in my books that is wrong.
Like others, I am concerned about the service because I think that is the first place one starts, that is the first consideration. What bothers me about the process that has gone on up to date is that I really don’t sense that the transport board set that out as its primary objective, because if it had it surely would have investigated that service and not simply relied on whatever submissions were put in front of it. In some jurisdictions, boards which have hearings go beyond the material which is submitted at the hearings. They do some investigation on their own. They involve people outside of that transport board and people outside of those who have made the submissions. They take an active role in helping to develop the whole programme. That hasn’t been done here.
I rise today, like other members, to protest the process which has gone on and to protest all of those possibilities which could happen. If there is one job lost out of this whole business I’ll be back here and I will be saying again and again “that the government is wrong”; and if it won’t change its mind, maybe the people in this province will decide to change their mind about who governs.
Mr. Villeneuve: In rising to take part in this debate, I do so because, having served as a member on the transport committee this year, everywhere we visited in this province people asked for better service. I should judge that the people in northern Ontario where the population is sparsely settled are entitled to get the best service possible. Therefore, I feel it is a rather strange thing that this company, Gray Coach Lines Limited, is stirring up such a fuss through the news media. I wouldn’t want to see any man lose his lob, but for a company that has carried over seven million passengers in 1974 -- and there was a substantial increase in 1975 -- since both these routes in total make up four per cent of that total of passengers carried, it seems rather strange to me that they can put forward an argument without any financial figures --
Mr. Warner: It is 38 per cent of revenue.
Mr. Villeneuve: -- to back their argument that they are going to go out of business. That is very hard for me to understand. When I think of the people in Sudbury and elsewhere who come in from the western provinces travelling by bus, in particular elderly people who have to transfer, there is quite a change when they can stay in the same airconditioned bus with all the facilities and have it go direct, straightforward, right through to Toronto.
We had the same situation on train service -- the hon. member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) will know about it -- in eastern Ontario, where we had a train change at Brockville. It was shameful to see elderly people who could not check their baggage have to carry it. Sometimes the train section from Ottawa was in the station before that. If they had three or four bags of luggage, they could carry only one or two at a time. They were nervous and excited. In spite of the conductor saying we are going to wait for you, these people were frustrated. I heard more than one say they would never travel by train again.
Mr. Samis: There is no American company in there.
Mr. Villeneuve: I am talking about service to Ottawa. I am not talking about interest or who owns it or anything else. There is a very substantial amount of Canadian finances attached to this Greyhound company too.
Mr. Philip: Run Gray Coach to Sudbury then.
Mr. Villeneuve: I have implicit confidence in the Highway Transport Board. I realize many of the decisions they make are not easy, but they have given everybody who wanted to appear the opportunity to appear, they’ve heard the evidence of 70 witnesses and they’ve come to the conclusion that on the evidence presented the public interest should come first. I don’t think there’s anybody on any side of this House who would argue with that.
It recognizes, too, that there are serious deficiencies in the current service offered on the route. It also found that Gray Coach Lines had not been fully aware of the unsatisfactory conditions arising from the transfer of passengers and their luggage at the terminals in question.
Greyhound operates into Sudbury from western Canada, and Gray Coach continues to run to Toronto. Until the introduction of the Hostess service in June of this year Gray Coach offered no express services to Toronto, except during the summer months. Of the total passengers between Sudbury and Toronto, 75 per cent are through passengers, and of these about 50 per cent have origins or destinations beyond Sudbury on the Greyhound route.
It is my contention that the board ruled in the best interest to give public service, and if a firm says that it’s in danger financially by losing four per cent of its total business, I would have to see statistical figures to prove its case.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Erie.
Mr. Haggerty: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to speak in this particular discussion this afternoon and to support the leader of the Liberal Party on his views taken this afternoon. Perhaps there is no other member in the Ontario Legislature who uses a bus more often than I do, and I do travel back and forth from Fort Erie, sometimes Niagara Falls, to the Legislature here. I find that the service is exceptionally good, and to listen to the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea) leaves some question of doubt about the service. The terminal at the city of Niagara Falls is an excellent terminal; the buses run from Niagara Falls to Toronto every hour on the half hour, and that starts at about 7:35 in the morning and runs straight through to pretty near 10:30 at night. The return leaves Toronto to Niagara Falls every hour on the hour. Besides that there are five scheduled services running between Toronto and Buffalo. There may be two scheduled routes via the Lewiston Bridge. In the article in the Toronto Star of December 9, one of the persons from Smith Transport who appeared before the board stated that he wasn’t too happy with the service to Buffalo. Perhaps he got on that bus route going to Lewiston which makes its connection in Buffalo for Cleveland, I guess it is, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington. So there is an exchange or stopover at the Greyhound bus terminal at Buffalo.
It is a good service and it is a profitable, money-making service for the Gray Coach Lines. Reading some of the different articles in the newspapers, and the comments from the minister, my main concern is about the unemployment situation that could arise from giving the Greyhound Bus Lines the rights to the franchise to travel over already existing good service in the province of Ontario, particularly from Sudbury to Toronto and from Toronto to Buffalo or Niagara Falls. I might also say about this trip from Niagara Falls to Toronto that sometimes there are about three buses that leave in that hour from Niagara Falls and pick up in St. Catharines; it’s an exceptionally good, strong, healthy climate for bus service there. The only thing that’s lacking in St. Catharines is that there should be a new bus terminal there close to the Queen Elizabeth Way, which would cut off about 15 or 20 minutes on the run to Toronto. Altogether it takes approximately two hours to get to Fort Erie, which is right next door to Buffalo. In Fort Erie the private enterprise system set up a new terminal with good seating accommodation for passengers to be picked up in Fort Erie by the bus from Buffalo. I often catch the bus there at 9:10 in the morning and I’m in here by at least 11 o’clock in the morning.
This through bus service that you’re telling me is going to take place by Greyhound will leave Buffalo about 15 minutes earlier than the Gray Coach leaves now from Buffalo, picking up about 10 persons. Under the old schedule it would pick up about 10 persons in Fort Erie, go to Niagara Falls and pick up a full busload there, going on to Toronto with a full bus.
There’s no mention here whatsoever about conservation of energy. These buses are going to run half empty, which is one of the reasons I travel to Toronto by bus. I can’t see driving more than 100 miles to Toronto with one person in a car. I think this is a point you should be looking at.
One of the other points I would like to mention is about the unemployment. I’d like to read this letter from a group of wives of the Gray Coach drivers, addressed to myself:
“We are four wives of Gray Coach drivers writing to you for your help.
“We were all transferred here to Fort Erie last April 1975 and were all agreeable to this move. Our husbands operate the Gray Coach service from Buffalo to Toronto. We found out yesterday, November 23, 1976, that Gray Coach lost their court case to Eastern Greyhound to operate service between Buffalo and Toronto, also Sudbury and Toronto. Our understanding of this is, Eastern Greyhound is strictly an American-owned company. Gray Coach is owned by the Ontario government” -- I think that should be corrected. “We don’t feel it’s right that a judge has the right to give away work that is operated by the Ontario government. Our husbands have been told that Gray Coach will contest this ruling.
“Now, we would like to tell you what it means to us as the families of these four drivers. Of the four drivers transferred to Fort Erie, three sold homes in Toronto to move down here. All four have purchased homes here and are now settled in. We are now being forced into selling our homes and being transferred back to Toronto. With housing the way it is we are not in a position financially to now turn around and sell here and buy again in Toronto. We might add, we do not intend to go into apartment living with our children. Combined, we have 10 children involved who are all actively involved in school and community activities, more so than anything ever offered them in Toronto.
“Our husbands are now working on an eight-hour day as compared to a 12½-hour day and a possible two nights overnight in Toronto. This was a big factor in taking up this residency so that we would be able to have a family life to offer our children.
“All wives concerned upon moving back to Toronto would have to go out to work in order to maintain a house and, therefore, our children would have to be taken care of by someone else when we ourselves prefer to look after our own families.”
This letter is from four bus drivers’ wives, Mrs. Judith Lauder, Mrs. Muriel Ambridge, Mrs. June Mullin, and Mrs. Marg O’Brien, who are deeply concerned about the loss of employment their husbands might suffer through this transfer of busing rights over Ontario highways and in different communities in Ontario.
I’m also concerned about unemployment when it’s now almost at a level of eight per cent and perhaps will continue to go higher. When I asked the minister on November 29th about the loss of employment, he kind of assured me there would be no loss of employment. I think things have changed now and there will be a loss of employment in busing in Ontario.
The member for Scarborough Centre also indicated there was a monopoly in busing service, and I think he’s quite right in using that particular phrase. If I can expound on it, I think the whole crux of this thing is that there is a power thrust in this matter, getting control of the bus lines in Ontario. We’ve got the Power Corporation in Quebec, which presently runs the Voyageur bus line, and we’ve got Greyhound trying here to take over the profitable routes in Ontario. I suppose where Gray Coach operates, it’s going to cause some difficulties.
I think the intent is to snow them under, to take over the exceptionally good bus runs here in the province of Ontario, and then eventually perhaps Gray Coach is going to have to sell out to one of them. If they do, they’re going to sell at a loss. I feel that this is where the monopoly comes in. Once they get into this business of having the rights to almost every community in Ontario and every highway in Ontario for a franchise, then it is a monopoly.
You can rest assured when there is a monopoly the price is going to be right. As it is now the Ontario Transport Board sets the price rates for different buses in Ontario so there’s no competition in this matter at all. The schedule rates are almost the same or on an equitable basis set by the board.
I’m not too happy with the decision of the Ontario Transport Board, but I think there’s room for improvement. I think they could come back and take another look at the matter and allow the Gray Coach to continue. They are providing good service in the Niagara Peninsula and I would not want to see that taken away. There may have been some difficulties with the matter of transfer in Buffalo, but that’s like any other business: if you’re travelling by aircraft you have transfers; you have transfers by trains and so forth; so I don’t think that any member suggesting that they have to change luggage is a good argument.
On this basis I support my leader in this position. I think the government should take another close look at this thing and keep Gray Coach in operation in the province of Ontario. They are doing a good job.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for York South.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to begin by referring back to the comments of the Attorney General this afternoon. He started out by welcoming public debate on this and then very vigorously opposed the proposition that we should have the debate this afternoon. That rather contradictory posture was perhaps not surprising, but his reasons are what I want to focus attention on.
His reasons were that we would be riding roughshod over something that is going to be discussed and reviewed -- at the direction of the cabinet -- by a quasi-judicial body. I want to suggest that argument is entirely specious. The issue this afternoon is not that this is going to be reviewed by the Ontario Highway Transport Board; the issue is what is government policy?
I was interested in the leader of the Liberal Party contending that there’s been a reversal of government policy.
Mr. Cassidy: How could there be?
Mr. MacDonald: I don’t know whether there’s been a reversal because I don’t know what the original policy was; nobody is particularly certain as to what the original policy is.
This is what I want to stress for a moment: If policy is, as suggested by what has happened in the last week, that you’re going to cream off the profit by introducing competition on the profitable express routes, then I ask the question, where are you going to get the money to extend the service to those parts of the province that are inevitably going to be non-profitable but are entitled to service?
Implicit in what has happened is that your policy, if I can find it, is wrong. You’re deliberately going to let another company come in and cream off the profit on those express routes from Buffalo to Toronto and from Toronto to Sudbury. This simply means that the Gray Coach, or any other company in a similar position, is not going to be able to extend its line out into the smaller areas of the province where they are entitled to have service too.
The minister befogged the issue once again. His comment with regard to why the decision was made by the transport board on this was that public need comes first. That’s a rather narrow interpretation of public need; that there was a public need for more services there and Gray Coach may have not been giving the best possible service. I hope the minister is using public need in the broadest sense because if public need is going to come first then the profits from those profitable lines should be available to extend the service to Owen Sound, to Alliston, to Guelph, to any place you want across the province of Ontario.
Mr. Lewis: Just Alliston.
Hon. Mr. Snow: They were already cutting service in those areas before this decision.
Mr. MacDonald: Let me move to the next point -- the relationship between a quasi-judicial body and the government. Let me tell the House of a rather memorable bit of testimony which we had before a select committee on the Ontario Municipal Board, conducted in this Legislature some four, five or six years ago. Some of our hearings were held in Winnipeg and we had before us the chairman of the Manitoba Municipal Board. He made the comment that if an issue ever came before the board for adjudication and they weren’t certain what government policy was, they adjourned the hearings. He wrote to the government and said, “What is your policy in this area? Until I know what your policy is, I can’t exercise my responsibilities.”
The point is that the function of a quasi-judicial body is to interpret and apply government policy, not to make government policy. What we’ve had is an absence of government policy here or, at best, a very unclear statement of government policy. Therefore, the need is for something to be done in terms of clarifying that policy which takes me to my next and really my final and most important point.
How are we going to do that? Let me remind the minister of something I’m sure he’s generally aware of. Over the last 20 years in the province of Ontario we’ve gone through many changes in terms of departments and ministries. We used to have a Department of Highways and the government saw fit to split off from the Department of Highways those non-highway aspects of the department and put them in the Department of Transport.
One of the terms of reference for that new department was that it was to do research in the development of policy. I recall many occasions in the early years of the 1960s when we began to discuss the estimates of this new department within this Legislature and asked: “What are you doing in clarification of policy? What are you doing to co-ordinate and develop some sort of integrated transportation policy within the province of Ontario?”
In Ottawa a few months ago, when Jean Marchand was still the Minister of Transport, he made a comment which was somewhat indiscreet politically but, I suspect, dead true. He said the national transportation policy of this country was in a mess. He was right -- and transportation policy in this province is in an equal mess.
Yes, it is. That’s the problem. This government has a fragmented transportation policy and what it has engaged in in the last month or so is an action which is going to increase that fragmentation, it isn’t going to integrate it.
Mr. Conway: Throw the rascals out.
Mr. MacDonald: I have a suggestion. I think it’s about time we began to move toward an integrated, co-ordinated transportation policy. Perhaps we should start with the provision of bus services. Perhaps we should start with a policy which clearly indicates -- as we have done with Hydro and every other public service -- that when one can make profits in an area which is potentially profitable, those profits shouldn’t be drained off to a competitor but should be used to extend that service.
My suggestion to the minister, if it doesn’t ideologically shake him off his chair, is that if TTC is planning, as TTC is, to get rid of, to sell, Gray Coach the time has come for the government to move in and take over Gray Coach as a publicly-owned Crown corporation. The government can use it as the nucleus of the development. In the first instance. Gray Coach now has jurisdiction in the whole of central Ontario; the government can immediately co-ordinate it with the ONR and the bus service, which is part of the whole ONR structure.
Mr. Bain: Let the ONR take it over.
Mr. MacDonald: From that point forward it can examine whether or not Voyageur, which has eastern Ontario and is another major bus line, should be brought in. We would have a co-ordinated bus service to begin with and in the whole process the government could extend its co-ordination and integration to involve railway, airlines and all the other forms of transportation.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am not going to take over the airlines. They are already --
Mr. MacDonald: I’m not suggesting the government should take them over.
Mr. Foulds: What about norOntair?
Mr. MacDonald: It has already, in a fashion, taken them over in northern Ontario.
Mr. Conway: Airlines were a problem earlier.
Mr. MacDonald: I was interested in the comments of the hon. member for Scarborough Centre who was rather scathing in his criticism of the incompetence, and various other words which he used, of the management of Gray Coach, both in the operation of the system and in its handling of these particular hearings. I’m not in a position to come to a final judgement as to whether or not he was too harsh in his rather scathing comments, but if there is any question, as the minister obviously believes there is, that Gray Coach hasn’t been doing a good job, all the mere reason why Gray Coach should be not a subsidiary of an urban transportation system, the TTC, because the people in the north are likely right when they suspect a transportation system centred in Toronto is not really going to take into consideration the best servicing of its whole jurisdiction out beyond the metropolitan area.
That, I think, is an appropriate kind of jurisdiction and responsibility for the provincial government. Let it take over Gray Coach, make it a publicly-owned Crown corporation, make it the nucleus for the development in the first instance of the best possible kind of bus system, and through this ministry, which now has jurisdiction over all communication, develop a policy and state that policy clearly. In that whole process, not only will the government have better bus services, but it will clarify its relationships with the Ontario Highway Transport Board, so they wouldn’t be doing the ministers job for him in the absence of his action, as has been the case down through the years.
Mr. Conway: Is the member for York North going to pitch in here?
Mr. Lane: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to take a few moments this afternoon to address myself to the situation that has developed since the Ontario Highway Transport Board approved the application of Greyhound Lines to operate over certain areas of the province that at present are served by Gray Coach.
Having been a member of the select committee studying truck transportation on Ontario highways, I was in a position this past summer to hear views from many people and listen to many submissions. There was always some comment made about the Ontario Highway Transport Board, and in nearly every case these comments were good. The chairman of the board, Mr. Shoniker, is held in especially high esteem by the very many people who have used this board in the past.
The decision on this matter was not made lightly. I understand there was testimony from over 70 witnesses and the decision was made in full knowledge of the service that Gray Coach Lines were providing. I think the leader of the Liberal Party was entirely wrong when he attempted to get the minister to overrule the decision of the board.
Mr. Conway: He’s backing up pretty fast.
Mr. Lane: This type of decision should not be made in the political arena, and the public is better served under the present setup. In fact, I can just hear the flak from the members of both opposition parties if the government, in fact, did make these kinds of decisions.
Mr. Lewis: What?
Mr. Moffatt: Why don’t you set a policy?
Mr. Conway: What about Spadina?
Mr. Lane: As everyone knows, there is an appeal system and that is the route that Gray Coach should be going if they’re not satisfied with what was handed down and they don’t think they can stand some competition. They should go that route, and I don’t know why they haven’t gone that route before now.
In my experience, a little competition is always good for the trade and keeps people on their toes. Generally the public benefits from it. There are some cases, of course, where there just isn’t enough room for competition. Maybe this could be one of those cases. I personally don’t know that because I haven’t been that close to the situation that we’re now faced with, but I would really doubt that.
Mr. Conway: Politics in Lambton county.
Mr. Lane: Gray Coach was aware of Greyhound’s application since November of last year, yet it made no real effort to upgrade its services. It really seems to me that they’re not interested in the comfort or convenience of their passengers.
Mr. Conway: Keep on talking.
Mr. Lane: Another matter that was raised in recent days, I believe by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis), was the fact that Greyhound had paid the expenses of the witnesses who had appeared before the board on their behalf. I would assume that they did. I think this is only fair. I know that when the people who are in the transport business in my area come down to try to get an application approved or to oppose an application, they bring witnesses with them and these witnesses have travel expenses, accommodation expenses and so forth. I think if these people donate their time you can’t expect them to donate their money to pay their travel expenses and hotel expenses. I think there’s nothing wrong with Greyhound having done that.
Mr. Conway: Free enterprise.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The members opposite --
Mr. Conway: Keep talking, Bette.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lane: It’s not really too difficult for people like us in this chamber to transfer ourselves and our baggage from one bus to another. But in the case of a mother travelling with small children or a senior citizen travelling alone, it causes a very great hardship.
An hon. member: Let them go by airplane.
Mr. Lane: And also during the winter months when the weather is very cold, Gray Coach makes many stops between Sudbury and Toronto and the doors are opened many times and people are very uncomfortable. I know this for a fact because my wife and I made a winter trip on Gray Coach from Sudbury to Toronto, and my wife said that never again would she consider such a trip in the winter.
Just last weekend I found out that Air Canada flights out of Sudbury to Toronto for Sunday travelling were all sold out on Saturday morning, so I wasn’t able to get air transportation back to Toronto. I got in my car Sunday afternoon and drove 375 miles down to here for an early morning meeting on Monday and --
An hon. member: I don’t envy you.
Mr. Lane: -- and as the member for Erie so rightly said a few minutes ago, I shouldn’t have to do that. I should have good enough bus transportation service that I wouldn’t consider burning up that extra fuel to get me back to Toronto.
Mr. Sargent: Use a government limousine.
Hon. B. Stephenson: We don’t have any.
Mr. Gregory: Are you back, Ed?
Mr. Good: Why don’t you have Leo pick you up in the plane?
Mr. Lane: I did not even consider the bus trip because I knew it would take two hours longer to get here by bus than it would by my car and it wouldn’t be comfortable en route. But if we had the kind of bus service that we hope to have I would have looked at the bus service as an alternative to Air Canada and I certainly don’t do that with the bus service from Sudbury now.
Many of the northern members, including myself, have been talking at great length about improved services to our people. I would like at this time to read into the record a letter I received from Roger Taylor, mayor of Elliot Lake, dated November 29, 1976:
“I understand the application made by Gray Coach Lines with respect to improved services for northern Ontario communities along Highway 17 was approved by the Ontario Highway Transportation Board. As this service is both essential and highly desirable by the residents of these communities I would urge you to do everything within your power to ensure that this is implemented as soon as possible.”
Those are Mayor Taylor’s words, not mine.
Mr. Foulds: Who is it signed by?
Mr. Sargent: He wants Gray Coach, too.
Mr. Lane: Mr. Taylor ran against me on the NDP ticket in 1971.
You know, Mr. Speaker, from time to time members of that party have expressed a great interest in Elliot Lake and I ask the members for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) and Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and Algoma (Mr. Wildman) who are not in the House at this time -- l guess because they can’t face the situation --
Mr. Foulds: Ever heard of committee work?
Mr. Lane: I would like to ask these people if their friend Mayor Roger Taylor is right or wrong? Is he wrong in wanting better service for the people of Elliot Lake and the north shore? I don’t think he’s wrong. I think he’s right on.
Mr. Foulds: What about the provincial Crown corporation to do it?
Mr. Lane: I think Mr. Taylor’s right on.
Mr. Samis: Did you support Jack Horner?
Mr. Lane: When this case was brought before the board, evidence was brought out that the passengers carried on the routes involved -- Toronto to Sudbury and Toronto to Buffalo -- amounted to somewhat less than four per cent of all the passengers carried by Gray Coach Lines Limited. Mr. Musgrove, vice president of operations, did not see fit to file a financial statement of the company, which would have been a great assistance to the board; nor did he put forth any figures to justify his contention that Gray Coach was not making sufficient profit from its operation on GO Transit.
Mr. Lewis: That’s a lot of balderdash.
Mr. Lane: It seems to me that in view of the fact that we are talking about less than four per cent of the traffic carried by Gray Coach and in view of the fact that the minister has requested and the chairman of the Ontario Highway Transport Board has agreed, pursuant to section 17 of the Act, to review any impact on bus service to various municipalities that could result in a decision of the board to allow the operations of Greyhound and Stock Brothers, owned by Travelways and operated over exclusive Gray Coach bus routes, that the matter is back where it belongs -- with the Ontario Highway Transport Board and not in the political arena. The right to appeal a decision has always been used by any party that is not satisfied with a decision.
Mr. Conway: Did Michael Gee write that?
Mr. Lane: I wrote that myself.
Mr. Lewis: Really?
Mr. Lane: I listened to some of the people from both opposition parties on the select committee this year and those people were saying the Highway Transport Board should have wider powers.
Mr. Conway: In administration, not in policy submissions.
Mr. Foulds: Go get ‘em, tiger.
Mr. Lane: Now they are saying we should take the power away from them and deal with them here in this House. I can just imagine the reaction across the street if we were dealing with these problems in the House and there wasn’t any board to look after them for us.
Mr. Deans: Who suggested that?
Mr. Lane: It’s been suggested here this afternoon.
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. Lewis: Nowhere.
Mr. Lane: Oh, it has been.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member will just ignore the interjections. I’m asking him to do so.
Mr. Deans: He better not.
Mr. Lane: I would very much hope that there would not be one driver lose his job. Especially at Christmas time, it hurts me to think that drivers will be out of work and families will suffer.
Mr. Conway: Where is your Kleenex?
Mr. Lane: It has been suggested that 245 drivers will lose their jobs. Gray Coach would have to go totally out of business for 245 drivers to lose their jobs.
Mr. Warner: They may.
Mr. Lewis: That might happen.
Mr. Lane: That might happen, but it’s a long way from happening now.
Mr. Conway: Is your job up for grabs?
Mr. Lane: If Gray Coach has any guts at all they’ll pull up their socks and start doing a good job on the roads they have a right to work on and they won’t have any trouble with competition. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to participate this afternoon, I suppose on behalf of most of the people of Ontario. I was interested in the observation made by the previous speaker on the efficacy of this debate, and I must say I’m equally impressed by the logic put forth by the hon. Attorney General, who I guess felt because it was sub judice that in fact we couldn’t discuss it today.
I can only say to you, Mr. Speaker, that those comments are consistent with the kind of legal wisdom we’ve had from the Attorney General to date in this House insofar as he’s been consistently wrong. I think it is important for us to want to debate this very important issue at this time. I don’t blame Mr. Shoniker or Mr. Stoddart or people like that, appearing at this particular application decision. I think they’ve made it -- and they have made some decisions -- but they made it in the absence of any policy by this government. I think that’s the most important fact that comes out today. There is no policy there in that particular ministry and that’s why on a continuing basis we’re in trouble on these issues. I think it all goes back to the subject of leadership. Contentious decisions have to be made on a daily basis. Regardless of what way the decisions went, the decisions shouldn’t have been made in the absence of government policy.
Mr. Maeck: I wouldn’t bring that into it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You were doing fine until now.
Mr. Cunningham: I have raised this issue before -- unfortunately I suppose it was out of order at the time: What is the process by which the government of Ontario conveys its feeling on a daily basis to the Ontario Highway Transport Board? I’m sure there’s no member in this House would suggest that a certain decision be made on carrier A, or carrier B, or any certain bus line.
The important thing is that before any of these decisions are made there is no vacuum there of thought, but that there is, in fact, an established, well principled, well thought out, properly conceived policy. I can say to you, Mr. Speaker, from my point of view, in my brief experience not only in this House but also on the select committee on transportation on our highways, that there is, in fact, no policy. It is apparent on a daily basis, day after day, that you see the decisions, there is no relevance in these decisions to what has been discussed in this Legislature and what is in fact put out by this cabinet.
Mr. Conway: Shame.
Mr. Lane: Maybe you would like to go to cabinet.
Mr. Cunningham: In 1974 I refer you to a decision made respecting a carrier from Hamilton and a carrier from Windsor, who wanted to interline. They were well represented by counsel in this particular hearing. They had to face about 70 witnesses in opposition to them brought out by major carriers, and in that summation the counsel of the applicant quoted the Hon. Darcy McKeough, Minister of Energy at the time, ad infinitum on the importance of conserving energy. Had that decision been realized and accepted through granting of interlining licences, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel. What happened to that decision was it just didn’t come through, and to what extent we have a meaningful relationship between cabinet and the Highway Transport Board, I can only say to you that it’s nonexistent.
Late in November and earlier this last week I asked both the minister and the Premier himself about the possibility of excluding the Minister of Transportation and Communications from any discussion in this cabinet on this very contentious issue. I asked that because it is quite apparent to me, watching him on the media and reading his comments in the newspaper, and even in his comments here in this House, that he has a predisposition on this particular issue and he feels very strongly about this subject. With that in mind, I think he should be excluded from any discussion when this reaches the cabinet stage.
I’m glad to hear today that, in fact, he is acknowledging the wisdom of those remarks. I guess that was raised initially by the member for Scarborough West, the hon. Leader of the Opposition.
I can only say to you that we won’t know whether he has participated in this discussion or whether he hasn’t, until a decision is made. When we know it’s appropriate then we’ll know he hasn’t been involved in the discussions.
I want to comment very briefly on the topic of bringing in these witnesses. This is one of the recommendations we have made in our report. I think it’s time that this kind of environment that exists at the Highway Transport Board be discontinued. It basically means that where those who have the resources to bring someone down -- not only someone but 70 witnesses -- and pay for their expenses, and likely a lot of air expenses; well justice cannot expect to take place in that kind of environment. I will say only that those are some considerations which we should make before any decisions are made.
Very briefly, on the subject of cross- subsidization, we all realize the importance to all our communities, be it the transportation of people or the transportation of goods, of cross-subsidizing those less profitable routes. We all know, especially those of us who have rural areas in our constituencies, that it is not profitable to run into many areas.
Notwithstanding that, Mr. Speaker, since you represent a constituency where that’s very important, you know it’s important that these smaller communities have some services. To that end, we can only suggest some trade-offs. A company has some of the more lucrative areas and thus, at the same time, by virtue of the granting of its licence, it is required to serve some of the smaller communities. That’s the long-standing principle with this board. I am sorry to see that it has been abridged or abrogated by absence of government policy in this recent decision. I can only say that I urge the cabinet to reconsider this particular issue and to remove it from the Highway Transport Board.
A decision has been made, rightly or wrongly. It is going to go to the appeal process. I urge the minister not to get involved in some subterfuge and some meaningless delays through section 17 of The Ontario Highway Transport Board Act, to show some leadership and deal with this issue today and not in some interregnum period where the opposing bus lines will be established and difficult to curtail.
An hon. member: Let’s hear from the member for London North (Mr. Shore) on this.
Mr. Lewis: Just before this riveting debate grinds to a halt, I would like to offer some comments on the substance. I would like to speak to the Minister of Transportation and Communications to put a couple of points I would like to begin with. Number one, I believe firmly, and many of us in this caucus believe, that Mr. Shoniker is perfectly capable of coming to the decision he arrived at without any undue influence or suggestion of influence from any quarter. I suspect and feel strongly that Mr. Shoniker believes quite fully in the kind of decision he rendered and that it expresses the evolution of his own attitude toward the highway system in Ontario. It is, we think, fundamentally wrong, but I have no doubt in his terms it is honourably held.
Mr. Shoniker, for whatever reason, has fallen prey to the gratuitous abuse of Gray Coach which is so fashionable on the government side this afternoon and has also mirrored the private sector fetishism which is so fashionable on the government side. Whatever has caused Mr. Shoniker to go through this metamorphosis in opinion, he has achieved it on his own, I have no doubt, and he has made his decision; but he should not have allowed himself to make it because it wasn’t his decision to render, it was a government decision to render.
The Minister of Transportation and Communications, I have no doubt, approved of that decision as a logical extension of his own social philosophy. The Minister of Transportation and Communications is a man who has undoubtedly been jaundiced about the role of the public Gray Coach as a carrier and would naturally, instinctively, and through everything about him, want a private sector carrier to prevail. That’s the nature of the Tory party and the nature of the beast.
Hon. Mr. Snow: You are not calling me a beast, are you? That’s unparliamentary.
Mr. Lewis: I use that in the broadest generic terms. Don’t in any sense take that seriously or personally. It is not unparliamentary.
Mr. Singer: Why doesn’t the minister challenge him?
Mr. Lewis: I think it is true of Mr. Shoniker and I think it is true of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. They come to this kind of specious conclusion in the absence of any policy. We work in an absolute vacuum so that their instincts and their natural inclinations prevail. Their natural inclinations are a hymn to free enterprise and therefore Greyhound gets this kind of preference over and above Gray Coach.
In order to deal with it, though, in order to explain it this afternoon, for example, the government has to indulge in all of this flailing act in abuse of Gray Coach. I haven’t heard more nonsense than that which was given by the member for Scarborough Centre, and I dignify it, in his use of phrases such as “corporate terrorism” and other things. My God, one never hears that kind of extravagance and hyperbole from this side of the House, but certainly the member for Scarborough Centre is addicted to it.
While they abuse Gray Coach for a presentation that may have been inadequate before the board -- and I must say I wondered a little and my colleagues wondered a little about the extent of preparation of Gray Coach before the board -- let me point out to the Minister of Transportation and Communications two things: If the Ontario Highway Transport Board is concerned about the services provided by any carrier, it has a right under the Act to call that carrier before it to indicate to the board why the licence should be sustained in the absence of adequate service. If the Ontario Highway Transport Board has a number of complaints against a carrier it has a right to bring the carrier before it and to demand an explanation.
Did Mr. Shoniker and the Ontario Highway Transport Board ever do it? No. Did they ever give Gray Coach any suggestion that there was wrong-doing or inadequate service? No. The fact of the matter is that the Ontario Highway Transport Board, if it felt that way, was entirely culpable.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Seventy witnesses told them that and they never agreed to the move.
Mr. Lewis: The 70 witnesses brought by Greyhound, not by the board.
Hon. Mr. Snow: They never agreed to the move.
Mr. Lewis: Let me take it the next step. If the board and the government are jointly concerned about the provision of service in any area of the province, then the government has it within its domain to say to Gray Coach: “Extend your service through northwestern Ontario; extend your service through northeastern Ontario; improve the service you are now giving.” Was that ever done by the government of the province of Ontario? Can the minister stand and cite chapter and verse where he asked Gray Coach to do that kind of thing?
The minister is filled with an absolutely smacking hypocrisy. He abuses them on the one hand and yet he has never used the avenues available to him to draw them to account on the other. So one must believe that Gray Coach in fact wasn’t doing a bad job at all.
In truth, if one looks carefully at the Gray Coach operation and if one speaks to passengers on the main profitable and other runs and if one deals with the drivers, one is dealing with a pretty good service all in all -- a service in certain areas like the Toronto-Buffalo run of utter excellence. To suggest otherwise is for the government to indulge in an argument to beat its opponent about the head because the government has nothing better to say for itself. The Ontario Highway Transport Board defaulted, and frankly, so did the government.
Where does that leave us? That leaves us with Greyhound doing exactly what it wanted to do. Already the statistical data is writ large in the annals of the last 48 hours. On Tuesday night at 12:30, the first night the overrun was made, the Toronto-Sudbury Gray Coach carried six passengers; the Toronto-Sudbury Greyhound that departed at the same time carried 26 passengers. Last night, the Toronto-Sudbury run carried 23 passengers; seven on Gray Coach, 16 on Greyhound. The Sudbury-Toronto run left Gray Coach running with two passengers, Greyhound with 19. The government has already driven the nails through, and it is perfectly conscious of what it is doing because it understands it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: You are saying the public doesn’t have the right to a choice.
Mr. S. Smith: You know damn well they will take express over local.
Mr. Lewis: Of course they will take express. The government has given it to them, and it can see the statistics. This, as a matter of fact, makes of Gray Coach’s predictions an underestimate. They could have been more calamitous and they would be right.
Does the government know what Greyhound does? The normal mode of operation in the 50 years it has been working is to find a local partner, often a railway, set up a local Greyhound corporation and buy out the major local bus line. The new partnership would then use the leverage given it by its local operation and its superior financial resources to force other local operators to sell, giving the local Greyhound operation a monopoly. The parent Greyhound operation would then buy out its local partner in a stock trade and integrate the local operation into the Greyhound corporate family.
If there was no local partner to be found the mode of operation changed slightly. A local operator would be given a franchise to use the Greyhound name. Once the local operator became dependent on the business generated by the franchise Greyhound would use its leverage to buy out the locally-franchised operator. For example, as far back as 1940, Greyhound acquired Toronto Greyhound Lines Limited; in 1944 it acquired BC Greyhound Lines Limited. Both were former franchisees or licence holders.
From 1926 to 1976, the 50th anniversary being September 20, 1976, Greyhound has bought out, in this perfectly legitimate but entirely manipulative corporate pattern, 101 companies. It now has 101 subsidiaries, moving like a juggernaut right through the United States into Canada. The government is willing to relinquish to this corporate giant the one model of public corporation excellence we have in this bus field through exactly this kind of transaction.
If I may pull these things to a close --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: One minute.
Mr. Lewis: -- what is most ironic is that the Gray Coach people have made the arguments that they’ll lose money and they’re right; they’ll lose passengers, they’re right; they’ll lose jobs and they’re right. We have no right in this province to jeopardize a single job. The government prattled so easily about jobs with the Reed Paper Company, which may be 10 years down the pike, but it blanches for not a second for 245 jobs which could be lost in the next number of months. That’s the way the Tory party works.
May I say that the Canadian Transportation Commission report -- we haven’t discussed it here -- on the Bruce Peninsula, 1974, showed that the unprofitable runs must be sustained by the profitable runs; just as the report on Alberta showed that the Edmonton-Calgary run sustained all the unprofitable regional runs.
All of the evidence is there but the government refuses to adhere to it. That’s why we’re opposing it so strongly and demand that the board be overturned and the policy be set.
Mr. Gregory: I rise to take part in this debate although I think by this time everything that can be said has been said. I would like to make one or two comments in regard to some of the statements made by the opposition members in their speeches.
The text of the hearing at the OHTB, I think, was clear and comprehensive. The statement was made that Mr. Shoniker has performed his duty as it should have been performed and I think this is so. Where we differ in opinion is in the statement that it was done with a lack of government policy.
This is not the case. The policy of the Ontario government, insofar as the Ontario Highway Transport Board is concerned, is that of service to the public, an extremely good service. The same thing applies whether it be an application in regard to bus transportation or truck transportation.
We seem to be hearing an entirely different position from across the way in regard to this application from what we hear in regard to truck applications. It’s an entirely different position.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s a different business.
Mr. Gregory: It’s a different type of goods but it’s still goods nevertheless. I’ve heard it said that we’re operating in a vacuum with a lack of government policy but I have mentioned that government policy is one of service. I suspect the policy the opposition members are looking for is a policy which says no public conveyance shall be opposed in any way. That’s what they call a monopoly. Are they asking for a policy of monopoly from this government? I don’t think they’re likely to get it; we might get it from some of them.
Mr. Sargent: What a sick argument that is.
Mr. Gregory: I’ve heard yours, too.
Mr. Singer: When do we do away with Hydro? Next week?
Mr. S. Smith: Do away with the Toronto-Windsor monopoly?
Mr. Gregory: Are you going to speak again or do you want to listen for a while?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member will ignore the interjections and speak to me.
Mr. Gregory: I usually do. There was witness after witness before the board, and generally the expressions were --
Mr. Gregory: I doubt that; I doubt very much whether the member has any evidence to that effect. I don’t think they have any evidence to the effect that they were paid to come either, such as the statement he was making in the papers --
Mr. Sargent: The minister said so himself.
Mr. Good: Read their ad in this morning’s paper. They say they brought witnesses to Toronto and paid expenses.
Mr. Gregory: The general remarks of the witnesses before the hearing would seem to indicate a general dissatisfaction with the service of Gray Coach. I don’t think that’s a position or a story that’s being made up by the members on this side of the house; it has been stated by witnesses --
Mr. Sargent: Paid witnesses.
Mr. Gregory: -- through a properly appointed body, appointed by this government, to deal with this type of application.
Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, I am having an awfully difficult time with the opposition members. They can hand it out, but they sure don’t like to take it.
Mr. Breithaupt: I didn’t think you were taking anything anyway.
Mr. Gregory: These witnesses were naturally brought to the hearings by the bus company they were supporting. The same thing happens in every application regarding trucking licences. Why shouldn’t they do this? Is it a sin for them to bring in someone to back up their position? I doubt it. The only fault that was made, and the only mistake that was made, is that if the position of Gray Coach was to strong, as the hon. members opposite seem to think it is, why didn’t they do that? Why didn’t they bring some witnesses to say how wonderful --
Mr. S. Smith: They just couldn’t believe that kind of decision could be made.
Mr. Gregory: They received lots of notice about the hearings. They had lots of time to do this. The fact of the matter is they were so complacent -- which has been the source of their problem and why the service has become so bad -- they were so complacent they didn’t feel there was a chance that authority was going to be granted to an opposition body. They were so comfortable in their monopoly they didn’t think there was a chance that anything was going to happen to it. But, lo and behold, there was a decision based on fact and for which I give all credit to Mr. Shoniker; it was based on fact and the authority was granted. I don’t find it too unhealthy. I think competition is damned healthy.
Mr. S. Smith: Greyhound didn’t think so in Montreal or New York.
Mr. Gregory: The only thing that some of this publicity has done -- and I think for the most part it has been generated by the opposition members -- is that it has caused a great deal of confusion in the minds of the public.
An hon. member: How about Spadina?
Mr. S. Smith: A $10 million give-away.
Mr. Bain: It has clarified their view of this government.
Mr. Gregory: I think the public has a pretty good view of this government. That’s why we’re over here and you’re over there. And we’re going to be over here for a lot longer.
Mr. Breithaupt: There is an Eric Winkler comment.
Mr. Bain: Your modesty overwhelms me.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Mississauga East has the floor. Please continue.
Mr. Breithaupt: He thinks he has got the whole building.
Mr. Gregory: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the spinoffs from all this confusion is the confusion surrounding the commuters to York region who now find they cannot take evening buses from a downtown Gray Coach terminal. Instead, they must take the subway to Finch and then board. There’s no heat in either the terminal there or the crude bus shelter.
Mr. Sargent: Isn’t that too bad? They have to take a subway.
Mr. Gregory: They think this is a result of a decision on the Sudbury and Orillia-Barrie runs. Mr. Speaker, it is not. The Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority, which pays Gray Coach to operate the run, offered months ago to buy the terminal and shelter. This would have meant heat now. But Gray Coach refused. Now TATOA is putting in heat, even though it doesn’t own the site.
Now the public knows this, it surely has the right to demand a clear-cut answer to just what is going on. The public is too confused about this, because of the publicity that has been coming from the spokesmen from the opposite side of the house. I think they unjustifiably confuse them. It’s about time the members in this House started levelling, rather than political posturing, for the benefit of the people they hope to vote for them, and start doing what is right for the public in supporting this application.
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, you are changing policy.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I am puzzled in this debate about some of the legalities and what I would term phoney issues raised by some of the people on the government side.
An hon. member: How about the one behind you?
Mr. Roy: He is out of order.
Mr. Singer: For instance, I think of the reference made by the Speaker earlier, when he came to the conclusion that we couldn’t appropriately debate this because it was sub judice. I can’t forget a comment made by the former member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, when he was a cabinet minister. He had appointed some committee in his department to investigate something or other, and he had the cheek, as this minister and the Attorney General and a few others have the cheek, to come before the House and say, “The matter is sub judice and therefore you can’t talk about it.” That was the initial ruling by the Speaker earlier today.
I draw your attention, sir, to section 17 that says “the board may at any time review, have a rehearing” and so on. It doesn’t say that the minister may direct the board to do it. It says that the board at its own initiative may do it.
The other section that we’re concerned about is section 21 that says upon a petition the Lieutenant Governor in Council may review and order certain things. There is no petition and the thought that a petition may be forthcoming is a thought solely in the minds of the government people. Surely they cannot write legislation at their own behest to justify an Act that is quite improper.
If they want to go to the board and say: “Look further at the impact on bus service to various municipalities that could result from the Ontario Highway Transport Board decision,” and the Ontario Highway Transport Board chooses to do it, that’s fine. But don’t let the Premier tell us and tell the Speaker and don’t let him send the Attorney General to the people of Ontario to say, “therefore it’s sub judice;” because he creates an illegal and false situation and then he says we can’t talk about it -- and he’s wrong, wrong, wrong.
Now the other thing --
Hon. Mr. Davis: The petition from the union is in.
Mr. Singer: There is no appeal presently and there wasn’t late this afternoon, and the minister said he expected one on Monday. He expected one on Monday and he didn’t have it and he didn’t have it yesterday, December 8 --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don’t think it matters that much but I just say, because the union representatives are here, my understanding is that there is a petition coming from their management --
Mr. Singer: Oh, that’s a different thing.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, no. I just want to say so the union representatives here will know that their homework has been done, that in fact a petition has been received from the union.
Mr. S. Smith: Not from your cabinet.
Mr. Singer: That’s not a point of order. He doesn’t have a point of order at all, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I agree.
Mr. S. Smith: The appeal cannot come from the union.
Mr. Singer: Surely to goodness the members of this Legislature should abide by the legislation which is written and which is law. What they have been doing is breaking the laws of the province of Ontario and casting a phoney appearance over the whole procedure in order hopefully to avoid discussion of a very important issue.
The hon. member for York North, who is no longer here, saw fit, appropriately as a member of this House, to bring a petition before us bemoaning the decision that had been made. Fine, that’s his privilege. Many members of the House have done that.
It is most important that we be allowed a free expression of opinion and the inequitable, unfair, unrealistic and illegal apparent legalities the government purports to bring before us are wrong and should be disclosed as being wrong. This unfair tactic should be revealed; and merely bringing the Attorney General in for a few minutes at the beginning to argue that it’s not so does not make it not so. If the government wants to change the legislation, let it so do.
The other very important point is this. Over many years I used to argue with Mr. Kennedy, the former chairman of the Municipal Board, as to what function he had, or what function any appointed board had, insofar as being independent or expressing government opinion is concerned. It was my argument over a long period of time -- and I hope the Premier listens to this because it’s important and I hope he clarifies it in his wisdom and is prepared to bring before this Legislature clarifying legislation -- whether or not these administrative boards are really independent or are expressions of government policy, very important.
Mr. Roy: Very important point.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Kennedy felt that there should be no security of tenure for he and his colleagues because they were in fact interpreters of government policy. I look at this statute -- the Ontario Highway Transport Board statute. There is no security of tenure here, If you accept Kennedy’s argument -- and no one ever changed it -- the Municipal Board was never given security of tenure, this board is not given security of tenure; then these boards are in fact reflections of government policy.
Mr. Roy: That’s right.
Mr. Singer: What other evidence have I about that statement? I have the evidence of this letter the Treasurer wrote to the minister, this minister. And he said: “Tell me, Mr. Snow. The reference to free enterprise has bothered a number of present businessmen and I can appreciate their view. Bus services have always been controlled to maximize the -- ”
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member has one minute.
Mr. Singer: -- benefit to the public. Then the Treasurer says: “Give me some guidance. What is your policy, Minister of Transportation and Communications?” What we’re debating here is not Shoniker, is not the board; it’s what the policy of the government is. The Treasurer recognized that, Kennedy recognized that, the people of Ontario recognize that and the government is wrong in the direction it has taken.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: In accordance with standing order No. 30, this debate is concluded.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.