31st Parliament, 2nd Session

L009 - Thu 2 Mar 1978 / Jeu 2 mar 1978

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, this is the traditional time in the debate in the Throne Speech where one pays some sort of a compliment, if that is possible, to the Speaker of the House. In this case, I can most certainly say that any accolades which the members would make about this present Speaker certainly are not just so much traditional hot air or platitudes, as the previous speaker mentioned this afternoon, but they are well earned and well deserved.

I might say to this House that the thing I appreciate most about this Speaker is the way in which at the drop of a hat or at a moment’s notice he can whip up the most tremendous outdoor meal of barbecued chicken.

Mr. Nixon: I guess that’s not available to all the members.

Mr. Foulds: That was in one of his former lives.

Mr. Nixon: Eating with socialists, eh?

Mr. Bounsall: He has threatened to set this up in the Speaker’s apartment here, and I would wish he would carry through that threat. It is superbly barbecued chicken, much better and much tastier than I have had the opportunity to eat at some other establishments very nearby, I might say.

Mr. Speaker: Just to clarify matters, I think the hon. member should mention he got that kind of hospitality in Schreiber, and not in Toronto.

Mr. Bounsall: It was in Schreiber, indeed.

Mr. Nixon: I have been in Schreiber and I didn’t get any chicken dinner.

Mr. Foulds: Anybody who wants to go to Schreiber is welcome.

Mr. Bounsall: This was before I had become a member. I had met the hon. Speaker on several occasions and found myself passing through Schreiber mid-afternoon one day. I said, “There can’t be that many Jack Stokeses resident in Schreiber,” and sure enough, there was only one. He and his lovely wife produced a very delicious meal on short notice. The Speaker said to me that night: “Would you like to go out on a couple of constituency cases with me to see what the life is like?” And I said yes. We got in his car; it was 6:30. We got back at 11:30. We had put 270 miles on his car, visiting three constituents briefly. I think the Speaker has maybe forgotten that. I was thankful for his sake that there was no provincial policeman on the highway at the speed we had to travel to visit his three constituents.

Mr. Lewis: Shall I tell him about that ride we took down Highway 17 in the middle of winter?

Mr. Bounsall: No, it was in the middle of summer. We were sweltering.

The remarks I would like for a few moments to address myself to tonight concern the youth employment programs of this government; or, by and large, the lack thereof. The Experience ‘78 program is a disgrace -- not in the programs, but at the rate of pay this government now proposes to pay these highly-educated students to work on our behalf in the summertime. We have increased the funding by $1.1 million over the Experience ‘77 program. That is fine; but the job proposals have increased from 11,492 to 13,500.

That large increase in jobs for that small amount of total increase in moneys to the program comes about by taking every one of those post-secondary job positions and placing them at the minimum wage rate. They were low enough at $3 last year; they should have been increased this year, and a reduction now takes place to $2.65 -- a minimum wage which, even when the increase comes in on August 1, still keeps the province of Ontario in the fourth lowest position in terms of the minimum wage in this province. That is a disgraceful position to put the summer students from our colleges and universities through this coming summer. We are ripping off their talent, and paying them only the minimum wage.

They have increased the funding in this program by 7.3 per cent, but the number of positions has gone up 17 per cent. This amounts to nothing more than a spreading of the poverty in this province, and does not in any way meet the financial needs of the students in the province of Ontario to return to their studies the following year. This year is a year in which we have a revised grant loan scheme coming into effect which, in terms of the reports from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on the grant portion thereof, is going to apply stricter controls and tighter criteria. If there is any wonder why the University of Toronto has some concern about the number of students who are going to enrol this coming year, it is because of what is happening to the students’ summer wages and what for most of them will be a drop in the student grant. It’s a deliberate attack by this government on the students in the province of Ontario; you discourage them from further attending the university by means of the grant loan schemes you have devised, and by ensuring that they are paid less for the summer jobs. It is a total and utter disgrace.

I won’t take the time tonight to talk in any great detail about the other two youth employment programs which this government has devised for the unemployed youth of this province. But let me tell you, if I was picking a way to increase employment for the youth of this province, I would think very seriously before I would put in the OCAP program an increase of 49 per cent in moneys to go to the OCAP and the OYEP programs -- that is the $1 per hour subsidy for new jobs, to private employers -- with a predicted increase of jobs at 56 per cent. Even in these programs, funding goes up 49 per cent, the job expectations 56 per cent. Again, the recipients of these jobs will be in a worse position than were people in these jobs a year ago. Again, another sharing of poverty in your employment programs this summer for the youth of the province of Ontario.

I might say that some of that OCAP money should certainly go into ensuring two things, something which this government has not done in the past to any great effect. One is to ensure that the training of people on OCAP programs is in fact, taking place. I have heard, not from my own community in Windsor but from across Ontario in my capacity as Colleges and Universities critic, about people getting OCAP jobs in which they have received little training and little supervision. That is supposed to be one of the goals of this program, and the government had better start taking it seriously.

It is going to pay them less than it paid them last year -- the least it can do is ensure that in those jobs they get some training and that they get some supervision. In some of those jobs they do. It’s clear in some, if not many, they do not.

Secondly, in those jobs taken by those OCAP students or OCAP youth, they are not replacing, as has become common practice at some institutions in our province, notably Niagara College, full-time employees who would ordinarily have to be employed full-time at those institutions. There are many examples of the OCAP program where that person supplied, particularly to a United Way agency, has in fact been a person they wouldn’t otherwise have got. But in far too many instances, it’s been the replacing of what would be a full-time person if they hadn’t been approved under the OCAP program, and that practice should stop.

I want to turn to some remarks about the appalling pollution situation and concerns which are prevalent in Windsor, particularly the west side. As a start to my remarks, I’d just like to remind the House of a fact which I have told it before, that in late 1966 a federal health study reported that living in the west side of Windsor and across from the heavy pollutant factories in Michigan -- and 85 per cent of the wind direction is towards Windsor from that particular industrial area -- living in the west side of Windsor was equivalent to smoking 46 cigarettes a day. That’s in excess of two packs of cigarettes a day.

Commensurate with that study was the very careful statistical analysis done some years previously by Professor Linus Pauling, of which I’m sure we are all aware, who indicated, taking the United States as his sample, that smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years, on the average, knocks six years off one’s life expectancy. So we have in the city of Windsor on cross-boundary pollution a situation where if one is born, exists, grows up and lives in the west side of the city -- which is the majority of my riding -- for 20 years, one will have, on the average, six years knocked off his life expectancy. That’s an appalling situation.

Some improvement has taken place since the late 1960s, but this week the local office of the International Joint Commission issued a report to this effect, that the air pollution monitored in Sarnia and in Windsor over a five-year period showed improvement. However, in 1976 there were some increases in maximum levels of certain pollutants in Windsor, as well as increases in the number of incidents of pollution that exceeded the IJC objectives. The study was not able to say definitely whether the 1976 figures represent another trend, the beginning of a trend for the worse in the Windsor area, which is certainly bad enough as it is, but the authors warn both levels of government to be aware of sources of this increased pollution and to monitor changes more carefully, with more sites of monitoring to implement specific remedial programs where necessary.

The study concludes that unless there are some significant efforts on the part of the Ministry of the Environment here in Ontario the overall IJC objectives that were set to be met by the end of this year, 1978, will not be met, and the government can in no way relax its surveillance nor should it be allowed to relax its objectives.


As one of the authors of the IJC report said: “We feel government” -- meaning the Ontario government -- “should make sure that stringent enforcement is in place to meet the IJC objectives.” Something of great concern to the authors of this report are the figures and the incidences and the locations of increased pollution in the Windsor area, which is already sufficient to knock six years off your life expectancy if you live there for one 20 year stretch.

With respect to further pollution in the area, of continuing concern all last fall was the chance that Peerless Cement, situated on the Detroit River, again in the very centre of the prevailing wind from the west that blows this heavy industrial pollutant on to the west side of Windsor, would have approved by the Wayne county board of health, with support from the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario, the burning of PCBs in that cement kiln. We had to depend, finally, on the Wayne county board of health -- not on Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment -- to protect the west side of Windsor; the ministry were giving their go-ahead and approval of it. We had to depend on the Wayne county board of health and the city council of Detroit, Michigan, to prevent the Peerless Cement company going ahead with the burning of those PCBs.

I would just like to indicate what has been determined by Environment Canada and the city of Windsor in some of these regards. The Environment Canada report of two years ago did indicate that the burning of PCBs and other chlorinated hydrocarbons can be accomplished in a cement type kiln if the kiln can be operated under steady state conditions. But that is the big “if.” As a chemical engineer and knowing plant processes and plant production, I can tell the members of this House that you cannot ever assure continuous steady state conditions to operate in any industrial plant.

Do we have to depend upon that to ensure that no PCBs get into our atmosphere on the west side of Windsor? No way. We couldn’t count on our Ministry of the Environment here to protect the residents in the west side of Windsor. What are appropriate facilities if cement kilns aren’t?

It is very interesting that there has come to light a company called Rollins Environmental Services, operating in the eastern and southern United States in areas where there is very little population. They have incinerators that are specifically designed to burn PCBs and other chlorinated hydrocarbons that are steady state in their operation and have extensive backup systems to make sure that the operation is as fail-safe as possible.

If we want to dispose of that very thorny problem -- how to dispose of PCBs that are accumulating mainly in our transformer oils in the province -- this is the sort of system which we should he encouraging to be built somewhere. It should not be near any metropolitan area, such as Peerless Cement opposite Windsor, or the St. Lawrence Cement Company in Mississauga, but should be built in a non-builtup area that has a steady state operation and this extensive backup system. Any second-best technology for disposal of this dangerous chemical is simply not good enough for the residents of this province. I suggest they could best be built in either Brant, Oxford or Norfolk counties.

Mr. Kerrio: Or all three.

Mr. Bounsall: Or all three -- one in each county. In deference to the member who comes from that area, who has been rather quiet here tonight.

Mr. Nixon: You leave it on Peche Island or Peach Island.

Mr. Bounsall: Maybe in Sarnia where the prevailing wind is the other way. However, I wouldn’t wish that on our friends in the United States.

I could go on at great length upon my concerns about PCBs but I will go no further tonight.

I just want to end up with one other further point about the pollution in Windsor. There has been a proposal placed before Governor Milliken of the state of Michigan that due to the problem with coal supply for electrical generating facilities they do what the governor of Ohio has done --

Mr. Nixon: Is that Dusty Rhodes?

Mr. Bounsall: -- and that is to suspend, possibly to relax or even totally suspend temporarily, the pollution control and standards for electrical generating facilities.

Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, one of the major sources of pollution on the west side of Windsor is the Detroit-Edison coal-fired generating station directly across the river and in the centre of that industrial complex. This proposal would pour even more pollution on the west side of Windsor; and the Ministry of the Environment had better be in there this time saying to Governor Milliken, “you don’t do it,” and defend the residents of the west side of Windsor, two-thirds of whom live in my riding. “You don’t do it just for the simple health reasons.” But the second reason is, “You don’t even conserve coal, of which there is a shortage, by relaxing the controls. In fact, it’s the reverse. You put back into the system what you take out by your stack-cleaners. So it’s the wrong way to go.” The Minister of the Environment (Mr. McCague) had better be saying to Governor Milliken today or tomorrow, “You dare not as a means of conserving coal, pour more pollution on the west side of the city of Windsor.”

Mr. Kerrio: Now we’re going to get it.

Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, it’s a great pleasure to see the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk paying so much attention here.

Mr. Nixon: Well, let’s get this straight. Is this your maiden speech or not? If it is we won’t even interrupt.

Mr. Foulds: No, he’s spoken before.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Whoever heard of a maiden?

Mr. Nixon: Well, with the hon. member it’s appropriate.

Mr. Elgie: Manners I have never come to expect from you.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to make some remarks in reply to the Throne Speech. I would like on this occasion to congratulate you and your Deputy Speaker, incidentally an old friend of mine, the hon. member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer), for the very capable way you handle the affairs of the Legislature and the fair way in which you allow all of us to express our opinions, sometimes parochial, often partisan, but nevertheless you treat us all fairly.

Mr. Foulds: You said “parochial.” Who is parochial and partisan, us or him?

Mr. Elgie: Hang on, it’s a new word; the member will learn it soon.

In addition, I would like to join the other hon. members of this House in extending my congratulations to the new leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy). The hon. member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) was sitting there a moment ago and I hardly noticed the difference.

An hon. member: Quite a compliment.

Mr. Foulds: You should get up on a point of privilege.

Mr. Elgie: Although in some respect I must say I enjoyed his contribution to the debate, I do wish he had spent less time reiterating the many challenges he sees facing Ontario and more time in putting forward realistic, practical and workable solutions. I would like to let him know that the problems we all appreciate; responsible answers are what we require. There are no easy solutions to the problems facing us, only intelligent choices, and this government is endeavouring to make those choices.

As for the leader of the official opposition (Mr. S. Smith), one can only express a certain degree of sympathy inasmuch as he must, almost on a daily basis, carry the albatross of his federal counterpart heavily on his shoulders while at the same time pretending they are the enemy.

Mr. Kerrio: Well, you can’t be proud of Joe Whoever. What’s his name anyway?

Mr. Elgie: At this juncture I am reminded of that famous Pogo cartoon when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That’s your enemy, my friends.

One must, however, give the official opposition full marks for the effort they put into attempting to disavow their federal brothers and sisters. But in all sincerity, Mr. Speaker, I must say that after blowing out the candles on the cake and after cutting through the icing, there was a certain sensitive underlying substance to his remarks and I appreciated them.

Mr. Foulds: What?

Mr. Elgie: At this time, Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I also failed to congratulate the members of the Liberal Party on Mr. Trudeau’s most recent definition of a Liberal as someone in the radical centre. Surely they must feel they are crowding what Jonathan Manthorpe has called the socialist Tories in that area.

Mr. Nixon: The extreme moderates.

Mr. Elgie: In any event, the Speech from the Throne, as on other occasions, got a mixed but in my view generally favourable reaction. As usual, editorials thundered, clamouring for more details about the government’s programs, this in spite of the fact that for more than 100 years in this country, and even longer in the mother of parliaments in London, the Throne Speech was historically never designed to outline specifics but rather to indicate in very general terms the government’s legislative program. This is as true here in Ontario with the Progressive Conservative government as it is in Saskatchewan with the NDP government as it is in Ottawa, where the Liberal Party temporarily reigns supreme.

Still, this Speech from the Throne was in my view an important one, as much for the absence of large new spending programs as it was for the presence of some very sensitive, much-needed programs recognizing the needs of special education and of the need to recognize the rights of children in this society.

In many ways, the Speech from the Throne in my view captured the mood of Ontario today. It reflected the public demand to control public spending, to lessen the impact of government in the daily lives of people, to strengthen private sector activity while still restraining the growth of government bureaucracy.

There will, of course, be some who will say that the government is doing nothing or not doing enough.

Mr. Nixon: Any sensible person would say that.

Mr. Elgie: But I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that there are a lot more people who believe that governments are already attempting to do too much and that this government is in the forefront --

Mr. Foulds: Doing yourselves out of a job.

Mr. Elgie: -- of the effort to reduce extravagant government spending and inappropriate involvement in the lives of citizens in this province.

On the whole, the Speech from the Throne proposes several imaginative programs, programs that are affordable and that should not further jeopardize the economic situation of this province.

There are a couple of areas mentioned in the Throne Speech upon which I would like to comment. I particularly want to commend the government for its intention to increase support for and its emphasis on special education.

There are few families in this country or in this province which are not in some way touched with the problem of learning difficulties of one sort or another. If we consider ours to be a humanitarian society, a society which prides itself in helping the disadvantaged, then I can think of few other ways to express our compassion than to make it possible for those who have a disability also to have an opportunity for an appropriate education -- an education which although it may not promise an equal outcome and although it may not promise to enable all children to learn at the same rate or even to attain the same level of learning, does safeguard the quality and the appropriateness of that education.

The Throne Speech has promised to set aside additional funds for this purpose, to place more emphasis on the early identification of children with learning disabilities and to ensure that all boards provide appropriate levels of service for students within their jurisdiction and, as the speech declared, regardless of their disabilities and handicaps.

The government has also indicated that it will establish a demonstration school for a limited number of children with severe learning disabilities who require services which can only be provided in a residential facility. There is a need for this sort of project, both to fill the educational needs of some children with learning disabilities who require this type of care and to provide a teacher training centre to prepare teachers for the task of providing and/or upgrading their own local school board programs.

All of this is exceptionally noteworthy and commendable, as far as it goes. Yet I look upon it as only a beginning, albeit an important one, and I would be greatly disappointed if we were not able over the next few years to assure more in the way of individualized educational programs which are appropriate to the needs of individual children, including the gifted children.


At this point I would like once again to stress the fact that in my view, as more local school boards develop or upgrade their own learning disability programs over the years ahead, it is anticipated that the number of children requiring this special residential facility will diminish and in time only the most severely learning disabled students or perhaps some from the smaller population areas of the province would require such a special program. I again commend the government and the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) for this substantial step forward in placing greater attention on the areas of special education in this province.

There is another area relating to the special needs of children that I would like to comment on briefly, and this is the subject of child abuse. Again we find mentioned in the Throne Speech new government action respecting the rights of children. The government has pledged to bring forward the recommendations of a consultation paper on children’s services and particularly to take firmer steps in protecting children against the increasing problem of violence and physical abuse. I know I speak for the entire Legislature when I commend the government and the minister sincerely for proposing these strong positions on this important problem. Even then, I wonder if we have gone as far as we should in this respect.

It seems to me that perhaps we should be taking a further step, a step that could effectively give children the right of access to civil action against the abuser whether that be a parent or be it someone else. In the final analysis, we as legislators and this Legislature, which is responsible for determining the law, must take every measure possible to curtail the abuse and make extremely severe the penalty for all who would indulge consciously or unconsciously in the deplorable habit of abusing and violating children. Towards this end, I will be introducing later in the session a private member’s bill regarding the civil consequences arising from child abuse. I look forward to an earnest and concerned discussion of this problem by this House at that time.

I realize that politics by its very nature is a very partisan business. One cannot be here day after day without realizing that. Yet there are occasions -- maybe not all that often -- when partisanship and party loyalties ought to give way to a general recognition of the efforts of a government to represent this province in a forceful and decisive manner. Such an occasion, I submit, was the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) activity at the recent first ministers’ conference in Ottawa because, let’s face it, without Ontario’s program for economic recovery, very little else was put forward at the meeting that was worthwhile and meaningful.

The Premier’s plan as outlined in the document, An Economic Development Policy for Canada, was a major discussion paper. The fact that nine of the major proposals were contained in the communique released at the conclusion of the conference speaks for itself. I believe that what helped to focus the main attention on the Ontario contribution was not only the imaginative and sensible suggestions put forward by the Premier, but the fact that Ontario’s concern about the economy was not limited to this province alone but rather showed a remarkable knowledge about, recognition of and concern for the difficulties of other parts of the country as they faced them.

Surely no one in this Legislature would oppose the recommendation of establishing a national council on the economy or that governments should hold the growth of public spending below the growth of the economy or that the federal government should give priority to the improvement of manpower training programs. These are only some of the more specific suggestions the Premier brought up at that conference.

Mr. Kerrio: You’re experts on the big spender’s side, I’ll tell you.

Mr. Elgie: As long as you’re not the big buyer.

Mr. Kerrio: Tell us about balancing the budget.

Mr. Elgie: The member for Niagara Falls should meet one of my children. They have a lovely saying for things like this: Stifle it. That’s their lovely phrase.

Mr. Kerrio: Oh, that’s right. I buy that. That’s all you people over there can talk about.

Mr. Elgie: I believe the Premier deserves the applause of all members of this House. Hopefully, the federal government will respond in a positive fashion to his recommendation. As he told the conference: “Let us shed the old competitive unproductive ways. Let us commit ourselves to genuine consultation on economic issues. In this way, Canadians can be confident that our efforts will ensure that all will share in Canada’s potential for prosperity.”

Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to you, as others have done on numerous occasions during this debate, that your presence in the chair is certainly a welcome one. I congratulate both the Speaker (Mr. Stokes) and the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Edighoffer) for their adroitness in the chair in trying to handle what is obviously, at times at least, a rather unruly crowd in here. I know that is difficult from time to time, but certainly both gentlemen do an admirable job in that respect and I pay tribute to you and wish you well in the office.

Mr. Conway: One room-mate to another.

An hon. member: Not all of them applauded.

Mr. Nixon: What is going on here?

Mr. Gaunt: I just wanted to take a few moments to put some views on the record with respect to some parochial problems and then perhaps with respect to the Throne Speech, such as it was.

First of all, as far as the Throne Speech is concerned, I think one would have to say that it really boiled down to a hymn of hope for a senile government. There weren’t really many new ideas. Any of the new ideas in it came from the Liberal side of the House.

Mr. Nixon: Right.


Mr. Gaunt: We don’t mind the government stealing our platform --

Mr. Lewis: Or for that matter, your senility.

Mr. Gaunt: Actually they are more inclined to steal the latter, than the former.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I never stole an idea in my life.

Mr. Nixon: You never had an idea -- even your own.

Mr. Kerrio: Bob Elgie did.

Mr. Lewis: The way you were rattling on, mumbling to yourself and someone else, while Bob was speaking, one began to think of senility.

Mr. Gaunt: In any event, I can’t help but feel the Premier (Mr. Davis) is having a little difficulty getting his act together over there. I am sure that come evening he gets down on one knee and gives thanks for his enemies and asks for protection against his friends --

Mr. Lewis: What is he going to do with the other knee?

Mr. Gaunt: He saves that for another day -- because I’m reminded that during the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet ministers, no sooner had the swearing-in been completed than the new Minister of the Environment, the member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. McCague), rushed out to tell the press that as far as he was concerned, the pollution laws in this province were just too stiff --

Mr. Nixon: Oh, he’s a bear for publicity.

Mr. Gaunt: -- I think his words were “plenty stiff” -- and that the whole pollution laws in this province were of such a nature that we had over-regulation in the environment.

Mr. Samis: Take him to Hawkesbury some day.

Mr. Gaunt: Really it seems to me that hardly is government policy established before one of the ministers over there renounces it. In terms of the environment I want to say to the minister that in my view when one has to read, as we did last summer, that 160 lakes and rivers in the province of Ontario have been shown to show contamination to the point that we are advised not to eat the fish, then I say I don’t think we’re over-regulated in terms of the environment at all.

Further, I just quote again from my opening remarks to the former minister on November 28, 1977, during his estimates when I said -- and I’m talking about the pulp and paper industry here and the fact that the government has been so slow in cleaning it up: “For example, your ministry allowed Great Lakes Paper in Thunder Bay to discharge 68,775 kilograms of organic substances each day during 1976. This represents a concentration of 500 parts per million, twice as concentrated as raw human sewage.”

Mr. Kerrio: Shame. Shame.

Mr. Gaunt: “Abitibi Paper Company in Thunder Bay was allowed to discharge 39,220 kilograms of organic substances a day, an equivalent of 250 parts per million. In this case, reported data showed that the plant was not able to meet even these generous effluent allowances from the ministry. In fact, it discharged 64,500 kilograms a day, or an equivalent of 410 parts per million, of organic substances during that year. That is almost twice the concentration of raw human sewage.” I don’t think that sounds like a province that’s over-regulated or a province where pollution laws are “plenty stiff,” to quote the minister.

Then, on the same occasion, the same day, the new Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz), had barely finished swearing his oath before he proclaimed that Ontario was going to have to rely on nuclear energy to a greater and greater extent; unless we are prepared, I think he said, to accept a declining standard of living. I found that curious, because I thought that was what the Porter commission was all about and I thought that was what the select committee of this Legislature was all about, to determine whether the emphasis of Ontario Hydro and the Ministry of Energy was correct with respect to nuclear power and nuclear development over the next 15 or 20 years.

I presume from the hon. minister’s comments that he wants to pre-empt the committee and the Porter commission and bring in his own views and place them on the public record to indicate that he’s in favour of relying more and more on the nuclear energy generating system in this province. I don’t personally agree with that and I think that the Porter commission findings, without really knowing what they’ll be, will find some deficiencies in that particular approach. I hope the select committee will also have a different view from that expressed by the minister in that respect.

Then, of course, there was the latest one. It was the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller), my good friend, who said that he was in favour of selling off cottage lots to foreigners. Then he backpedalled on that one and said: “The cabinet hasn’t really arrived at a decision.”

Mr. Warner: He got lost in the woods.

Mr. Gaunt: Then he came in today and indicated that these lots would be leased to foreigners. I say to the government that somewhere along the line I think the Premier (Mr. Davis) is going to have to pull a collection of the ministers over there together and give them a little talking to and get things straightened out, because that’s not the kind of policy emphasis --

Mr. Foulds: Away in the forest.

Mr. Gaunt: -- that we should be getting in this province. It’s not the kind of leadership that we should be getting at this particular time in our history.

Mr. Ruston: There’s no leadership over there.

Mr. Gaunt: I think that the government, while it is an aged government and while it’s been in power for a long time, can certainly do better than it has been doing in the three instances I’ve cited.

Mr. Nixon: Too long in power.

Hon. Mr. Snow: There’s more to come.

Mr. Gaunt: I want to talk about two local issues, although they do have provincial ramifications. The first one with which I want to deal has to do with the proposal of the Colleges of Nurses wherein the college is advancing a proposal whereby nurses in this province are going to have to work for a period of 50 days during one year over a period of five years in order to maintain their certificates, otherwise they’ll be deemed to be incompetent.

I think that proposal has many deficiencies. Certainly, the nurses with whom I have spoken and the organization with which I’m dealing in our part of the country is very adamantly opposed to that proposal and I know that they are making representation to the college on that matter.


It seems to me that it’s most unreasonable and completely unrealistic To advance a proposal like this at a time when we have a surplus of nurses in the province and when it’s very difficult, particularly in rural areas of this province, to get a job at a local hospital or in a nursing home. Because of the health cutbacks, the hospitals are curtailing their staffs.

One hospital alone in my area, the Kincardine General Hospital, has on file a list of 200 nurses who have applied for part- or full-time positions at that hospital but who are unable to get any positions. There is just no movement of staff; if there is movement, it is usually attritional, whereby if someone retires or quits, the position isn’t filled because the hospital has to live within certain budgetary constraints now that the ministry is cutting back.

Under those conditions, what does one do? What does a nurse in the province of Ontario do in those circumstances? If the nurse happens to be a young graduate nurse and is unattached, in all likelihood she will go to another province or to another country, as many of them have done in recent months. With this proposal, if they came back in two or three years, they wouldn’t be allowed to nurse in this province. Their certificate would be of no value to them in this province unless they went back and took a refresher course at a community college. I believe the refresher course proposed is something in the neighbourhood of 18 months. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the total course is only 24 months and the college is talking about a refresher course of 18 months, which seems quite unrealistic to me.

Mr. Nixon: Right.

Mr. Gaunt: I hope the college in this province will review that. When they get all the ideas from the nurses across the province, with all the objections and alternative proposals, I hope they will reject the proposal and come in with a new one that would be more workable, particularly if it includes a provision to give nurses who have gone out of nursing for various reasons -- maybe they couldn’t get a job here or they wanted to quit for a period of time and raise a family, both legitimate reasons -- a refresher course right in their own setting, in the hospital setting. The length of time of the refresher course could vary, but I would suspect that perhaps a four- or five-week refresher course would be more in keeping with maintaining a nurse’s knowledge of new techniques and new technologies constantly coming in and being developed from time to time.

In any event, I do hope that when the college votes on March 15 it will take into account these various points, because they have been made very strongly in discussions with myself and, I am sure, with other members from rural areas particularly.

The other matter that is somewhat local is the fact that our police are rather unhappy with Bills 113 and 114. I understand the genesis of these bills and the fact that we did have problems in Metropolitan Toronto. We had two commission reports which dealt with these problems and with the fact that citizens basically don’t have a clear-cut channel through which they can voice their complaints in relation to how police treat them in the course of their duties.

I suggest to you that Bills 113 and 114 overcompensate in that respect. I think they go too far the other way and really take away from the police most of their rights as citizens. After all, policemen are citizens too, and they are charged with the protection of all the rest of us as citizens.

I suggest that there is a very fine line between a free, democratic state and a police state. It is a question of maintaining a balance, somewhere in the middle. I suggest that Bill 114 has gone too far the other way.

Back a few years ago we had Bill 99 that resulted in the resignation of the then Attorney General, Mr. Cass, because the legislation which he advanced was too pro-police; it was too much of a police state. I suggest that perhaps this legislation is too much the other way and that there has to be a middle ground.

I think there are some sections in this bill that really violate the rights of the police. I can think of the sections dealing with suspension without pay prior to final appeal and so on; and the fact that a citizen or a police chief can bring a proceeding against a police officer up to 18 months after the alleged act has taken place. I think that’s just a little unfair, and I would hope that the now Solicitor General (Mr. Kerr) would certainly step up the consultation process with the police associations, with the police chiefs across the province, to come in with a better piece of legislation, which is more acceptable to the police and at the same time will accomplish the purpose for which the original was intended.

Just a brief word about the economy and the fact that it appears to me to be the most pressing issue facing us at the moment, both provincially and federally. I think the Throne Speech shows a lack of imagination in dealing with the economy. I am not an economist but the people with whom I speak who are knowledgeable in this area tell me that the cycles are intensifying. The upturns aren’t as pronounced and the downturns are coming closer and closer together and are intensifying in nature, which is rather disturbing. It seems to point up the fact that instability is growing and the recoveries are becoming less pronounced and shorter in duration.

I suppose that as far as governments are concerned, the traditional approaches these last two or three years haven’t been working because there are so many new ingredients in the mix now which weren’t there a number of years ago. The theories that government should pump more money into the system when things start to slow down and that this automatically helps unemployment, automatically assists inflation, apparently are not valid now. The traditional methods of remedy are not working anymore.

I guess there comes a point when the burden of debt becomes unsustainable, and that’s really the problem facing governments at all levels, municipal, provincial and federal. There is only so far one can go as a government in mortgaging the future.

The fact of the matter is that interest has to be paid on that debt. It’s got to come out of the taxpayers in one form or another. I suppose unless the matter is cured by policy -- which hopefully it will be; and that policy will have to be different, now, from the traditional policy approaches when this has happened, that is to say high unemployment and rising inflation -- then the only other remedy, heaven help us, is the natural remedy of a currency collapse, and we all hope that that won’t happen.

I was interested to read an article which indicated the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) has done a study, asking I suppose whether or not there would be any cost benefit from pumping of more money into the provincial economy, and hence going further in debt. The study, I gather, according to the Globe and Mail of yesterday, indicated that this approach would be counter-productive; that the circumstances now are quite different than they have been before, during the post-war years, and that the only thing that would happen would be that the unemployment insurance payouts would be cut. But other than that, there would be no dramatic turn-around and no direct cost benefit to the economy in terms of additional employment opportunities or reduced inflation.

The Keynes method of stimulating the economy in a depression was known as pump-priming and it increased the money in circulation.

Mr. Conway: I thought John Maynard Keynes was dead.

Mr. Gaunt: He’s dead, but some of his theories still live.

Mr. Conway: On to a new life.

Mr. Gaunt: But in any event, I think the conventional wisdom in this regard is now being substantially altered by some of the economists who feel, as I’ve said before, that that would certainly be counter-productive. The fact is that if one does that, then almost all of the money which goes into the system comes into existence as debt requiring interest; and this is the prime cause of inflation so we just go around the hoop once again.

I think what the government has to do is stop treating this problem in the traditional way and use some new approaches. I think the new approaches the government can use in this respect are many and varied.

One of the things that seems to me to be fairly obvious is that the government should abandon all of the, what I would term “choking taxes” which we have in place today. I think that’s one method of treating the problem.

Another method is to stress and have a major emphasis with respect to conservation and renewable energy development. Just let me deal with one point in that particular matter, renewable energy. Let me deal with solar energy specifically, because yesterday I went over the Royal Commission on Electric Power planning and I got a publication called Legislative and Governmental Action Bearing on the Development of a Solar Heating Alternative. I found it most interesting.


For instance, they say here: “The purpose of this study is to examine the legislative and governmental barriers to the rapid development and implementation of solar energy as a viable alternative to conventional energy resources for space and water heating. Taken over all, about one-third of all energy used in Canada goes to heating, another third to transportation and the balance to other uses, including industrial and public utility power generation.

“In the past 15 years residential space heating in Ontario provided by electricity has increased from one per cent to 25 per cent in all newly constructed homes. Of the alternative energy resources available, solar energy appears to offer the best prospects for rapid development. An adequate technology exists, and the economics in terms of life-cycle cost are near the balance point with fossil fuels and electrical alternatives. The utilization of solar energy is presently controlled by laws and regulations that were written at a time when the potential for solar heating was not fully recognized.”

I think this is the point at which the government should now move in and make our laws and regulations more attractive for the development of this kind of renewable energy. For instance, I think one of the alternatives that is put forward in this publication is the fact that the incentive most likely to have the most beneficial impact over the lifetime of a solar heating system is a property tax exemption from all equipment included in the system.

It mentions here that in order to improve the front-end costs other incentives must also be legislated. “Some of these can be included in the tax structure in the form of tax credits or deductions; and others may be outside the tax system as guaranteed loans, low cost loans, and direct government subsidies.”

There are many things we can do in this respect. There are things that can be done. The most obvious is to remove the solar heating system from property tax assessment. As it stands now, anyone who puts in a solar heating system in a residence has that assessed and the value of the property goes up accordingly. I think that is a disincentive for people to install this kind of system. At a time when we are trying to emphasize conservation and at a time when we are trying to encourage movement on the part of the general public toward conservation and toward renewable energy resources, it certainly behooves the government to move in and try to develop not only solar energy but wind energy and other forms of technology in this particular area.

There are great opportunities, for instance, for solar and wind generation on the farms across this province. Farmers could cut their hydro bill by at least 50 per cent if they were encouraged to get into this kind of technology and generate part of their own electrical power right on their own farm. It is a decentralized system; it is a system where the technology is already available. It just needs encouragement and development. The role of government should be to remove all of the existing barriers, where such a move could be politically and publicly acceptable, and legislate incentives insofar as it is able to put solar energy and all forms of renewable energy in a favourable position.

I think I have taken long enough, but I did want to put a few of these observations on the record tonight.

Mr. Davison: May I add my congratulations, Mr. Speaker, to those of the other members of the House on the fine job you are doing as Speaker and say you are a very good example of what a worker can do when he is put in charge of the store.

Mr. Conway: Tell me why is it a worker can’t become leader of the NDP?

Mr. Davison: The member for Renfrew North is the last person who should ask.

Mr. Conway: He can answer that one later.

Mr. Samis: Do you have to be a lawyer to be a federal Liberal?

Mr. Lewis: What in God’s name do you know about the meaning of work, you academic hotshot you?


Mr. Conway: I don’t profess to be any different.

Mr. Lewis: Oh, come off it.

Mr. Samis: You are not.

Mr. Lewis: You are not. You are a hustling prima donna, you are. You dare to talk about the working classes.

Mr. Speaker: Meanwhile, back to the debate.

Mr. Lewis: An elitist over here who harasses the virtue of this side of the House.

Mr. Conway: You called someone else a hustler.

Mr. Lewis: I did not. That’s just your own sense of yourself coming to the fore.

Mr. Conway: What a hustling huckster you are.

Mr. G. I. Miller: He’s learning fast.

Mr. Davison: You really should be on the back bench. While we are here --

An hon. member: What do you want to say?

Mr. Ruston: Good speech. You can sit down now.

Mr. Davison: -- to discuss the Throne Speech tonight, I’ll try to be a little less controversial --

Mr. Lewis: Go back and read about Sir Sanfield Macdonald or whatever his name was.

Mr. Conway: Another Deans man unhappy.

Mr. Davidson: -- and simply extend my empathy to the Lieutenant Governor, because I suspect there are a few people in the province who think that she is the one responsible for this speech that was read on February 21. Personally, I think it was in very poor taste of the government to embarrass the Lieutenant Governor in such a way by giving her such a speech to read.

The speech, on the first page, says that the most crucial challenges are of an economic nature. Then it goes on to spend 25 pages saying that the government has no idea as to how we are to meet these challenges in the future; and that is indeed an embarrassment to which the Lieutenant Governor shouldn’t have been put.

It would be bad enough if the government simply failed to create enough jobs to match the rising rate of unemployment, and it would be bad enough if the government just simply sat in a corner sucking its thumb waiting for things to fix themselves; but the government has actually gone out of its way to create unemployment.

I think the latest word from the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) is a pretty good example of that policy of creating unemployment. I am referring to the health cost restraint program he has instituted. The Minister of Health, acting in his capacity as lap dog for the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), has put forward a proposal for a 4.5 per cent increase, as he calls it, in hospital operating budgets. Then he has gone on to adopt the Treasurer’s rather bizarre logic to prove that an increase on paper of 4.5 per cent at a time when inflation is running at nine per cent is a real increase. It is about time the Treasurer realized he can’t fool the people so easily and that no matter how much paper the government heaps on this issue it can’t hide the reality of the fact that we are currently facing major cutbacks in the health area.

From 60 to 80 per cent of those costs for the operating budgets of a hospital go for wages and salaries. When one adds these cutbacks in real dollars to the rapidly rising costs of energy and other services and goods needed in the hospital, there is only one answer and that is layoffs. If the Treasurer, the Minister of Health and the government think there is another answer, then they are terribly wrong and they are living in a mostly fantasy world. It would be the kind of world where on March 7 the Treasurer would walk in here in the evening on budget night and prove on paper that in Ontario we do have full employment, that there is no inflation and that there is a budgetary surplus; and that is not real.

In Hamilton, look at the effects that are going to be caused. The Chedoke Hospital in Hamilton has received one of the government’s more generous alleged increases of 5.3 per cent. Today the hospital’s administrator of finance said that staff would definitely be reduced as a result of that cutback. The executive director of McMaster University medical centre has said that as a result of their 4.31 per cent purported increase the public would have to expect somewhat less in the way of service. The situation of other hospitals in Hamilton and in Ontario is not any better. This program is not an oddity, off by itself in a corner; unfortunately, it is a common example of what the government is doing. I would say to them that I would hope they would reconsider their current policy in this field; if they can’t move themselves to find real solutions to the problem of unemployment, at least they should stop making the problem worse. If you can’t be part of the solution, at least you could quit causing part of the problem.

Another of the promises in the Throne Speech that rather interested me was the commitment of the government to bring compulsory auto insurance into Ontario by December 1979. There are a lot of serious problems involved in the whole area of auto insurance in Ontario. One of those, of course, is the fact that currently in Ontario it’s possible to purchase a valid licence plate and to drive a car without insurance. You don’t have to show proof of insurance when you’re getting your licence plate in Ontario. You simply need to put down $100 and take the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund route, which provides absolutely no insurance protection to the driver; however, he can legally drive on the road.

Under this scheme, the problem is that not only do the uninsured driver and his or her victim suffer injuries and hardships as a result of any accident, but they also suffer real financial consequences. Those consequences are not only faced by the uninsured driver, whose life could well be ruined by causing or by being responsible for a major accident, but they also affect the insured victim of such an accident because our auto insurance companies, being what they are in Ontario, frequently use such an excuse to justify increases in that person’s insurance rates.

Over the years, a number of people have made a very strong case for compulsory auto insurance in Ontario. The government, after years of an inexcusable if masterly course of ignoring the situation and being totally inactive, has finally come to promise that we’re going to have compulsory auto insurance in Ontario by December 1979. I suppose it’s better late than never. It seems to me that’s about the most common form of praise offered the government, not only by the opposition but by anybody in Ontario, and in this case it’s the best we can do.

However, compulsory auto insurance in Ontario will present new problems for the consumers, because if the only step that’s taken is the introduction of compulsory auto insurance, consumers in Ontario will be at the mercy of the auto insurance companies. Frankly, mercy is not the quality that jumps to mind when I think of automobile insurance.

I think all the members of the House will remember that it was just last year that the AlB ordered Allstate Insurance to pay back $15 million that it had ripped the consumers off for. Allstate, in its usual sensitive fashion, said: “No, we’re not going to do that -- unless, of course, these people that we’ve ripped off will renew their policies.” I don’t see how any member of the House could have a great deal of faith in Allstate Insurance. If members of the government think that simply by the introduction of compulsory auto insurance the consumers of Ontario will be in safe hands, they have another think coming.

It is readily apparent to me that there’s a need for more than just compulsory auto insurance in Ontario. If the consumers of Ontario are going to have adequate and affordable auto insurance, then in Ontario we have to adopt a public auto insurance scheme. The select committee on company law recently had a report submitted to it by Woods, Gordon and Company. It shows that such a public auto insurance scheme in Ontario would save the consumers $50 million.


The reason is very simple. Public auto insurance is more efficient. Conservatives and Liberals have an almost Pavlovian reaction to the question of public auto insurance; the reaction is that government cannot do anything efficiently, they cannot do anything more efficiently than the private sector. Perhaps that is a bit of an over-simplification on my part, it is a bit more complex than that.

The Liberals say that the provincial Conservative government cannot do anything efficiently and the Conservatives say that the federal Liberal government cannot do anything efficiently. I suspect there is more than a little truth to both sides of the story, as an impartial observer I would say that they are both right. Neither the Liberal Party nor the Conservative Party can do it efficiently and neither of them should be running either of those stores.

Fortunately, more and more people, it seems, are beginning to agree with that position. It was the New Democratic Party, of course, that brought public auto insurance to Canada, that instituted the three public auto insurance schemes in western Canada, in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Because those plans are more efficient and because those plans save consumers money, they were well received and are still well received in those three provinces. It is rather interesting to note that even when the New Democratic Party has been temporarily out of power in those provinces, neither the Conservative government in Manitoba, the Liberal government in Saskatchewan, or the Liberal-Conservative coalition that masquerades as the Social Credit in BC have dared to remove those schemes, because the public likes them.

I think that speaks very loudly in favour of public auto insurance. Public auto insurance is so superior to private insurance because it is more efficient. For example, excessive commissions paid to agents, duplication of services, complex rating systems, useless advertising expenditures, legal costs resulting from conflicts between insurance companies -- not to mention pure greed -- all contribute to the very high administrative costs in the private sector, whereas public auto insurance reduces the costs in all of these areas.

The high-volume sales reduce the selling cost of the policy; claims adjustment can be done more efficiently in centres that arrange for repairs in less than an hour, compared with days and even weeks in Ontario; the rating categories are simplified; wasteful competitive advertising of identical policies is eliminated; and because everyone has the same insurance company legal costs resulting from intra-industry conflicts are reduced.

In Manitoba, for example, in 1975, the overhead in the Manitoba plan was 17.7 per cent. At the same time in Ontario, according to the figures for the private sector -- which, if anything, I suspect, are low -- the average overhead figure was 31 per cent. That means, when allowances were made for taking a profit and for premium returns to the plan, in Ontario for $100 of actual insurance coverage the consumer had to pay $148.55, while in Manitoba for $100 of actual coverage the consumer had to pay $116.28. That’s a cost saving on $100 of actual insurance of $32.27 or 21.7 per cent compared with Ontario. Or if we invert the statistics, the coverage is 27.8 per cent more expensive in Ontario than it is in Manitoba. The cost figures alone justify public auto insurance.

The New Democratic Party, like most people in Ontario, thinks it is time that we, the consumer, stop paying so much money for auto insurance. The waste, the fat, the inefficiency in this system have to be done away with. That’s why this party is committed today, as it has been for many years, to bringing about in Ontario a public auto insurance plan, and I would hope that the government would finally rid itself --

Hon. Mr. Snow: Don’t hold your breath.

Mr. Davison: I won’t hold my breath, but I would hope that the government would finally get out of its fundamentalist doctrinaire approach on the issue of public auto insurance and bring in the kind of scheme we need in Ontario. If you don’t, then the hon. members have to accept the responsibility for the giant rip-off that is taking place in the private auto insurance sector in Ontario. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry.

Mr. Cassidy: An historic event; bravo.

Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, my thanks to you for the courtesy you have shown to all segments of this Legislature, in your fair-mindedness and approach in presiding over this assembly. Also I want to add the same sentiments to the Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Germa: Flattery will get you nowhere.

Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, the initiatives outlined in the Speech from the Throne clearly show this government’s commitment to the mood of Ontario citizens with respect to less government expenditures --

Mr. Cooke: More unemployment.

Mr. Villeneuve: -- and less interference with people’s day-to-day lives.

This government has accomplished a great deal in the province and will continue to do so. Our commitment to limiting the growth of government bureaucracy and to initiating policies and programs which provide for the basic needs of the citizens of Ontario, while keeping in mind the ability of the taxpayers to pay, will continue to provide the foundation of our policies as they always have been.

At present, we in the Ontario government are going through a process which will ultimately benefit the future development of this province. It is a process which entails coming to grips with the serious economic problems facing Ontario and the western world, and more clearly defining what type of society we want to evolve. It is a process in which there is a growing recognition that government and society as a whole must live within its means and learn to adjust expectations to our changing social and economic environment if we are to resolve problems of inflation and unemployment.

This government’s commitment to a standard of excellence in the delivery of health care, education and social services will not alter. Currently, almost half of the provincial budget is spent on these three areas. Within the last several years, Ontario’s program of health care has undergone remarkable growth. I don’t think anyone here could deny that Ontario has one of the best health care systems in the world today. But in keeping with a policy of affordable expenditures in a growing health system, priorities must be established as to the relative cost and merit of any new program.

Alternatives have to be found to see where savings can be achieved. I don’t suggest that hospitals aren’t a necessity, of course they are, but do we really need to detain patients in a costly environment, when such alternatives as day surgery, out-patient treatment --

Mr. Davison: You don’t offer those, Osie.

Mr. Villeneuve: -- home care for people with acute illness, and extended care in nursing homes are available at a less expensive rate. These alternative forms of care offer psychological as well as financial advantages. I bet a lot of you know someone who after a long time in the hospital was much happier and more comfortable when they were able to manage without hospital confinement and received treatment right at home or in their own community.

Thus, hospitalization is not the only answer in the event of illness or injury, and this is what the general public should be made aware of. I think the establishment of district health councils was a step forward in allowing communities to assess their own health care resources. Although these councils act at present in an advisory capacity, they are invaluable in making sure that a community has the health care facilities it needs without excess capacity or unnecessary duplication. Thus, they are an important mechanism for getting the best possible value for every dollar spent on health care. The principle of assisting people to be as independent as possible and remain in their community is also being followed in the development of community-based services for the mentally retarded.

The Throne Speech mentions that legislation will be reintroduced for interim improvements to the Mental Health Act, which I am confident will serve well as interim reforms until the Ontario Council of Health provides the basis for a major overhaul of the Act.

With respect to education, the government’s first priority is always to the children under its care, and all its endeavours must be directed to this single end: to create the best possible conditions that will stimulate and encourage children to grow and develop.

I feel the government’s plan to increase emphasis on special education in our elementary and secondary schools is proof of its continuing commitment to all youngsters enrolled in the system, whether they be exceptional students or those who have a particular learning disability.

If the government cannot respond to the individual needs of students, if it cannot develop a system which builds on the individual capability and strength of each student, whether these be academic, religious, cultural or whatever, then we will be forced to accept defeat, as well, in building a nation which recognizes and develops the essential elements of unity to be found in the individual differences.

Speaking of the province’s children brings me to my next point: renewed focus on the family in Ontario. There is little doubt the family is changing. Those of us who grew up in the first half of this century had the benefit of growing up in gentler times when families stayed not only in the same town but often in the same house for a great length of time. As the Minister of Community and Social Services once stated, government and society must put emphasis on services which encourage and strengthen family ties rather than focusing on the individual and his or her needs in isolation.

Many people are becoming concerned that governments intervene too frequently in family affairs. Many feel that government policies, programmes and services may often do more harm than good by creating a dependency on government rather than self-reliance or finding solutions within the family relationship. If governments continue to assume more and more social responsibilities, would this lead to unstable families finding it easier to abandon themselves to personal helplessness and rely on institutionalized support?

In many instances, governments tend to focus on a special, specific family problem, whether it be the troubled teenager, the senile grandparent or the single parent, without considering how the family as a whole could come into play. Families don’t always have the resources to care for their members and this is when services should be made available, services such as protection as recommended by the consultation paper on children’s services relating to child abuse, improved licensing of group homes for children and additional protection of rights of children in residential care facilities.

I could go on at length and relate many other initiatives which we in the Ontario government have undertaken in response to the many social challenges which face Ontario today. The office of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is in the process of bringing in several important reforms to the legal system, and the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) is currently assessing the role of his ministry in finding new ways to make it both effective and efficient in assisting prisoners to readjust to society. Further, he is attempting to make it more affordable to the taxpayers.


Mr. Nixon: He has been closing first-rate institutions.

Mr. Villeneuve: We, in the Ontario government, are currently assessing our priorities so that we can maximize the use of resources available to us --

Mr. Kerrio: You can get that in Hansard.

Mr. Villeneuve: -- and at the same time restraining the growth of government and the burden which it places on the economy. But the whole process of restraint and redefining priorities is not an end in itself. Rather, it is the means through which we can assume Ontario’s future economic strength that provides a financial foundation upon which our high standard of living and social programs are dependent.

I do not want to sound parochial but I do want to speak on agriculture; and representing an agricultural constituency, I am pleased that the South Nation River drainage program which has been under discussion for many years is to be considered by the government in the form of co-operating with the federal authorities, through DREE grants, to pay 90 per cent of the funding for improved channelling and water conservation during dry periods. This will directly affect the riding I represent and that of the hon. member for Prescott and Russell (Mr. Belanger) in preserving valuable agricultural land by affording proper drainage so that it may be as productive as any area of land that we possess in the province of Ontario.

The bulk of agricultural income in my riding comes through dairy farming, and the sale of dairy cattle to other countries with the outbreak of brucellosis in Ontario has deprived us of a very valuable export market mainly to the USA in the last three years and which we had enjoyed prior to that for 45 years. This gave the dairy farmer the opportunity to sell off surplus animals in his dairy herd to the USA but because of the brucellosis outbreak and other matters, this market has been lost for the past three years.

I do want to point out to the Minister of Agriculture and Food for Ontario (Mr. W. Newman) that in testing of cattle for export to the few markets that are available to us, somehow the facilities east of Toronto to the Quebec border and the services we are now obtaining are anything but satisfactory. I know of cattle that were blood tested in the Port Hope area. The charts were mailed to the laboratories in Hull, and it took eight days in transportation due to the mail service we have.

Very often sales are made, subject to receiving these reports back if they are of a negative nature; these blood samples and the charts are prepared for export. Recently, within the last six weeks, a transport plane left Montreal with 83 stalls for cattle available; yet it went 10 short of filling that plane because the buyer who was exporting these cattle did not receive these charts for 10 cattle until two days after the plane had left; and at a cost of $530 a stall, I can only repeat that because of the limited markets we have for export cattle, and especially when we have a surplus of milk, it’s essential that we get the best service possible to meet these dates in order to get the cattle out of the country.

This delay of three to four weeks and sometimes longer is not helping the export business. Certainly it is not helping the farmer who has too many dairy cattle. He cannot sell his surplus milk and he is not afforded the opportunity to sell his surplus cattle.

I think it is something that the Minister of Agriculture in Ottawa is not aware of, and I bring it to the attention of our own minister to make him aware of it, because better service can at least assist many of these situations.

Mr. Nixon: Gene Whelan is the farmers’ best friend.

Mr. Villeneuve: I appreciate that. But on the other hand, under this Canadian Dairy Commission production quota, as of the end of January, there were 2,951 producers of milk who had to market in this province of Ontario. Not one pound of powder that was manufactured from Toronto to the Quebec border was sold to the Dairy Commission this year.

I have in my own constituency two plants that are importing 40 million pounds, during the scarce period from November to the beginning of March, from the province of Quebec, and yet I have 400 farmers within the five counties that have no market for their milk. They have either got to spill it out or feed it to animals on the farm.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Gene Whelan bought all the eggs.

Mr. Villeneuve: Now, it’s quite all right to joke, but this is a very serious problem as far as I am concerned. In the county of Glengarry -- that’s my own backyard, I can speak with authority, I know the people -- 58 farmers as at the end of November ran out of quota. When they received their milk cheques, the average shortage was $858.60 and they did not receive any pay for that milk.

In all seriousness, most of these men -- 90 per cent of them -- have mortgages. They went into debt because the Canadian farm loan agents advised them to expand, renovate their buildings. We, in the province of Ontario, told them to go into the IMPIP program --

Mr. Nixon: That’s right, we lent them money to buy cattle.

Mr. Villeneuve: -- build milkhouses and put in modern milking equipment -- bulk tanks -- and many of them who started with the thoughts of spending $20,000 to $25,000, when they started to renovate old buildings, it ended up costing them $45,000 to $50,000.

They milked -- and I am talking about family farm operators -- about 30 cows. They fed well and they produced anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 pounds of milk yearly. Since they were encouraged by both governments they hoped to increase their herds to pay for this indebtness, perhaps to 50 head. But instead of that, they were cut back 15 per cent, which meant three or four head less, and yet they had to meet this heavy mortgage debt they had incurred.

I have spoken to many Milk Marketing Board men and I can understand they are well-established farmers; I realize they have a very difficult job. I can understand the federal government paying a heavy subsidy -- it has to have control over production. But the farmers run four and five months and they have no place to sell milk, and they are in the dairy industry, and yet there is a demand in my own area not only for that 40 million pounds of milk they have taken in from Quebec, but another 40 million pounds of which they could process and sell every pound in the province of Ontario. That is the situation that exists. They come to me, irrespective of partisan politics, and they say: “You’re our member. What can you do for us?” It’s beyond the stage of making an excuse and apologizing for their problem. I’ve got no answers; and if I’ve got no answers, I don’t deserve to be here to represent them.

Mr. Nixon: What does the minister say to you?

Mr. Villeneuve: The minister has taken it up with my friend’s authorities in Ottawa.

Mr. Nixon: What do they say?

Mr. Villeneuve: Our Milk Marketing Board has opened its books here to show the way it operates and has invited any type of an audit, but we are not given that reciprocal treatment in the rest of Canada. That is something I would like to have clarified, because --

Mr. Nixon: You mean Quebec, don’t you?

Mr. Villeneuve: Yes. I don’t want to stir up any problems; there are enough hornets’ nests or whatever one wants to call them without stirring that up, but in reality this is the problem. We’ve got to find out the facts. If Ontario abides 100 per cent by the Canadian Dairy Commission’s guidelines, I agree with that. But I want the rest of the country to be the same way. If we offer the inspection of the way things are being done here by any type of audit, we should have the reciprocal opportunity in other provinces.

The situation is such that it’s not creating any better feeling. It doesn’t matter whether it involves the French, Irish, Scottish, Dutch or anyone else, when dollars are taken from their pockets, bitterness builds up. I don’t like to see this and I don’t think it’s necessary. I have made it my business during the last six weeks to visit every plant in the three counties that processes milk, and I have found that the 40 million pounds, plus another 40 million pounds, means that at least the number I have given out that have no quota -- and I got that just the other day from the Milk Marketing Board -- is such that they would all have at least two months of a market for milk. That’s in two plants in my constituency, I’m not speaking for the rest of Ontario.

Most of the people in the dairy business are a little better protected because they have urbanized areas in central Ontario and, naturally, they have the protection of the fluid milk market or pool number one. The only time our people, pool number two people, can get in here is when there’s a shortage of milk -- and that happens very rarely, particularly at this time of year when there is so little of it produced. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, your own county, Perth, and the counties of Huron, Bruce and Oxford in western Ontario, are somewhat similar to the extreme eastern portion of Ontario because they have a great number of industrial shippers. But today we have a uniform quality of milk; everybody has had to improve his standards. The time has come when not only the shipper of industrial milk should be affected when the butterfat quota is cut in this province; not only he should suffer and have quota taken from him but, in fairness, I think the whole dairy industry should be appraised carefully.

Another thing: I think the time has come, whether we like it or not, that the Milk Marketing Board or somebody has got to put restrictions on those people who are going from 100 to 200 milking cows and leaving the small farmer to starve slowly. If the situation does not change for the better for those farmers, I predict more bankruptcies -- and I am sorry to have to say this, but it is the truth -- than we have ever had, even in the years of the depression.


Ms. Gigantes: You need some policy.

Mr. Villeneuve: Because they are in this business and in a bind with mortgages, and they have to produce.

Mr. Warner: Start with an agricultural policy.

Mr. Cassidy: You don’t have one.

Mr. Villeneuve: But what I want answers for is the question raised by the processing plants. They tell me, and are willing to say it anywhere, that they can accept all this milk produced in that area -- every pound of it -- and find sales for every pound in this province. Yet these people are being deprived of that market.

Mr. Kerrio: Isn’t your minister responsible?

Mr. Villeneuve: No, because the Canadian Dairy Commission sets quotas. The federal government pays a subsidy of $2.66 a hundredweight on industrial milk. They control the production in each province. When we have hit that quota, that is it.

I realize that in administering an overall natural program, any government that has to subsidize has a right to ask for curtailment of production when it goes beyond the consumption necessary. But I am speaking of these people who are not interested in acquiring this $2.66 per hundredweight federal subsidy for surplus milk. They are quite willing to abandon that. But to take home $1.80 per hundredweight for milk that the processor has to pay $9.35 per hundredweight for, no matter in what language I know -- English or French -- I can’t make them understand that that is not justice. And I am not going to try.

But I do say there are problems that I think with goodwill and understanding we can resolve. We talk about unemployment -- and I have every sympathy for those people. But when people are working 16 hours a day and they can’t meet their obligations -- they are in debt -- it is little wonder so many turn against society. I am fearful, because a lot of good sound people are becoming discouraged with the situation confronting them. I have an office in my riding, and I do find that every weekend I meet 15 or 20 of these people, and they just want to pour their hearts out because they have a real problem and are looking for a solution.

I just felt I should say something in this House about it. I am very much concerned. I am not blaming any particular body or any government. But I do say, when processors tell me that they can use the milk, every pound of it, and sell it in this province, we have to take stock somewhere.

Mr. Cassidy: The member for Stormont should speak more often.

Mr. Swart: Make him Minister of Agriculture.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me to rise and speak in the Throne Speech debate as representative for Haldimand-Norfolk.

I would like also to congratulate the new leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy). I don’t want to wish him too well, but I knew he has taken on a big job and a lot of responsibility. I know he is contributing to the democratic system and we appreciate that.

Mr. Bounsall: Great person.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I share the concerns of the hon. member who just spoke, as a dairy farmer myself. I have two boys who are carrying on while I am here at the Legislature, and I would hope they would be able to exist in the farming industry, and particularly in the dairy industry, because I think it is a great life and agriculture is basic to our economy. I would like to point out I don’t even see one word mentioned in the Throne Speech as far as agriculture is concerned.

Mr. Nixon: Not a word.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Not one word. As my friend and colleague on the opposite side of the House was stating, the milk industry is perhaps in trouble; I think the Ontario Milk Marketing Board and the control of production is a must, but unfortunately it has put us in a bad position at this time. I think you have to understand how we got to that position.

I was a member of the Milk Marketing Board when it was formed and I know we did have milk coming out of our ears at that time, getting $2 to $2.25 a hundred. We couldn’t find markets for it and consequently the government set up the legislation.

I think it has been good for the industry but in the last couple of years we have run into difficulty. As the member suggests, Quebec has taken over our quota. Because we had excess quotas when we first established the Milk Marketing Board and we weren’t filling those quotas. They were sitting around. Consequently -- again I have to give credit to the Quebec government; they provided more incentives, they provide better facilities for manufacturing -- we lost quotas at that time to Quebec. Now we suddenly realize that we could utilize it and it is not there.

I was in Ottawa last week when the Federation of Agriculture had their get-together and discussed agricultural problems. I will agree the problems are severe, as the former speaker indicated. I think income in agriculture has dropped something like 25 per cent in the last two years and again this year we are looking for another decrease of six per cent in income while all the time our costs have increased by something like 17 per cent, so I can sympathize.

I think we need strong spokesmen and I am certainly glad my colleague on the opposite side of the House spoke on behalf of agriculture tonight, because I think we have to have spokesmen in our Legislature, on behalf of the farmers of the province of Ontario, because if we don’t speak, nobody is going to speak for the farmer. I still say that agriculture is the backbone of our economy and we do not recognize it.

I can relate a story from the past month about a farm in my area. A retired farmer who has farmed all his life sold his farm to somebody in Hamilton -- 123 acres. He made a good living from it over the years. But those folks are paying for that farm -- two or three of them in the family are working -- and they intend to retire on that farm.

I would like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is that land going to produce for the economy of our country? Not one cent. At the present time they come out on weekends. They enjoy the country air. They have a little garden. But otherwise that farm is sitting there growing weeds. It has a woodlot which could be worked. It could be contributing something but it is not. That is another concern of mine.

Again, I think this provincial government has to show some leadership and I will point my finger, not at the present Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) but at the programs that have been provided over the last 10 years and maybe longer. There hasn’t been enough attention focused on the agricultural industry.

I don’t think a farmer wants to be given handouts. All he wants is a fair return. A farmer doesn’t want to organize but again, as I suggested, we did meet in Ottawa last week -- I think there were 1,200 to 1,500 people there under the leadership of Peter Hannon. The Federation of Agriculture -- and I suppose I shouldn’t single out one farm organization. There’s the Christian Farmers Union and the Farm Union. But I think the farming industry has to organize to compete in today’s economy. It has to have some support from this Legislature because we are the spokesmen for Ontario. We are the largest province and, if we don’t indicate that we care, then they’ll walk all over us.

I’d like to point out that we’ve always been the top producer of hogs in Canada, but this year Quebec has caught up to us. They are outproducing us. We can produce, we can grow our own grain and we have all the resources, but we have to have some leadership. I think it has come from the Minister of Agriculture and Food arid this government.

It has been pointed out many times too with regard to the peach industry in the Niagara Peninsula that we’re importing 80 per cent of the peaches that are eaten here in Ontario. We have a fine growing area there and we’re only producing 20 per cent. I think that has to be ridiculous, and again there has to be some leadership from this Legislature.

I brought to the attention of the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) only last week the situation in the Glendale training school, where they indicated to me they were using off-shore beef. They had a little trouble understanding that but it was really Australian beef. I could have further pointed out that they’re bringing in Danish fish and French flour, and that is a provincial institution. I don’t want to get anybody in trouble over this but I want to make sure that this Legislature is aware where this food is coming from. If we don’t show some leadership there too, then how can we expect the hotels and the other people around the province to follow suit?

Before minority government came in in 1975, it has been pointed out that at the Legislature one couldn’t buy Ontario wine. It wasn’t here. Because of the minority situation and the fact that we brought it to attention, it’s been changed.

Mr. Ruston: That’s right. It’s here now.

Mr. G. I. Miller: We are not showing enough emphasis and are not proud enough of the fact that we can produce here. I know we have to be competitive in the world market. That brings up another area of criticism and concern, as far as the Throne Speech debate is concerned, namely the economic situation we are in at this time. I noticed in the news today that CCM, which produces bicycles and skates, a firm that’s been in existence for many generations, has been in financial difficulty. We can’t expect the agricultural industry to take these cutbacks. We can’t expect the industry to stay alive unless labour and everyone accepts some responsibility in keeping our economy alive and making us competitive.

Last night I met with a group of people from my riding concerned about employment. They were young school workers who have so much energy and could provide a work force for us to harvest our crops. They indicated they would like to see school open one or maybe two weeks later, which is being done now by some school boards, so that they can help harvest the crops in the fall. There was very much concern by them about employment.

I know we do have a program for providing employment for youth. The youth program pays $1 an hour, but they indicated to me that last year in order to qualify for a new job, particularly in the agricultural industry, they had almost to lie in order to qualify.

[10: 00]

The young people are there and the jobs are there. It seems to me, with the need for employment and the need to harvest our crop, that it would be a good education to make these young people aware -- I think it should be part of our system -- of where their food comes from. I don’t think there is any healthier working atmosphere than to get out in a rural area and to take part in that. It’s a matter of how it is perceived and I think our educators are in a position to sell this to our young people.

I think the Liberal Party has criticized the education system for not providing the basics over the last many years and I think gradually, again under minority government, they are beginning to listen and I can see changes taking place slowly.

Mr. Conway: Nixon lives.

Mr. G. I. Miller: For example, in my riding, in the township of Norfolk, the board of education has extended the school term by one week -- two weeks if necessary -- to harvest the tobacco crop. As members are aware, we produce tobacco, apples and many cash crops, tomatoes and strawberries, and it’s all labour-intensive outdoor work. I know people have been bringing in offshore labour and I know they have been happy with that offshore labour. They are concerned that they do have to utilize our own Ontario students, and the fact is they cannot depend on them. They can depend on offshore labour. They know they are going to be there in the morning and they know they can provide a day’s work. I think our young people can rise to the challenge if given the opportunity.

Mr. Conway: Evelyn and I are going to the farm.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Another concern and another area I think could provide work and jobs is our woodlots. I know the Ministry of Natural Resources has always supported the north as the area producing wood and wood products, but there are a lot of good areas in southern Ontario too. I would like to point out that last year one producer in my riding sold 920 cords of wood for use as auxiliary heat in Franklin stoves or wood stoves. Wood does provide energy. Every time I look at a tree, to me that is energy. We do not grow these trees overnight; it takes 70 to 80 years.

Now is the time we should be working our woodlots and I know that can provide a lot of employment. Again, in the Throne Speech it indicated a lot of employment opportunities for our young people, but the ones between the ages of 24 and 60 are the ones who provide for the family and we have to have programs and permanent jobs so that they can contribute to our economy.

Mr. Conway: Tell them they’ve been at the public trough too long.

Mr. Nixon: You never worked a day in your life.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Another area of concern mentioned in the Speech from the Throne was the environment. The former Environment minister (Mr. Kerr) indicated to me one time last year, when we were discussing putting industrial waste in a lagoon in my riding, that I was playing politics and he would like to put that pollution in my swimming pool.

Mr. Nixon: George wouldn’t say a thing like that. You mean the man who is swimming across Hamilton Bay?

Mr. G. I. Miller: I would not suggest that we put it in his swimming pool. I would not have the nerve to do that, but I do think that we can recycle.

Mr. Nixon: I think that would be a great idea. I’m going to do that on my way home.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I would hope our new Minister of the Environment (Mr. McCague) would give it further consideration because I think we can recycle waste. There are other alternatives, and I firmly believe industry should be responsible for its own waste, the same as the agricultural industry is responsible for disposing of its own waste. I would hope the Minister of the Environment would give serious consideration to recycling.

A couple of incidents have taken place in my riding in the last three or four months that have been of concern, and I would hope that this government is not playing politics because there happens to be here a Liberal member from the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk.

Mr. Conway: And a great one at that.

Mr. Nixon: Long may he reign.

Mr. G. I. Miller: We had a jail in the town of Simcoe which provided a service for that area. I would like to give maybe a little more background; there’s a courthouse in Simcoe, there’s a court house in Cayuga and a small jail attached to the new administration building for the new town hall for Simcoe.

Incidentally, Simcoe is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. They had an official opening and the Lieutenant Governor, Her Honour Pauline McGibbon, went down to do the honours.

But getting back to the jail -- it was providing a service for 30 inmates. I had an opportunity to tour that jail and it wasn’t fancy, but it was adequate.

Mr. Conway: Any customers from St. George?

Mr. G. I. Miller: They came along and closed it with the excuse that the council requested that it be closed. Well, actually that was not the fact. Simcoe council had provided a letter to say that if they were going to dispose of it, they wanted to make sure they had the rights to it; but it was providing some income to the town and it was adequate for the present time.

Mr. Wildman: What about the inmates?

Mr. G. I. Miller: When I walked in, I just went down the hall and one guy said “Hi, Gord.” I was really surprised -- a good friend, yes.

Mr. Davidson: Are you talking about the jail or the ATC?

An hon. member: The General wasn’t there. He was in another jail.

Mr. Nixon: There were hardly any NDP members there at all.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I’ll tell you one thing, they had a television, they had blankets, they were warm, and the food was good. What else can you have? Do you want a jail that is better than your own home?

Mr. Wildman: What about freedom?

Mr. G. I. Miller: Freedom? They’re not there for a holiday. Well, anyway, the jail was closed and the inmates were taken to the London Detention Centre.

Mr. Davidson: How can you relate those remarks to the comments on the ATC?

Mr. G. I. Miller: I haven’t got to that yet.

Mr. Davidson: I know you haven’t. I’m saying, you would think you were there for a holiday.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I think they are taking the inmates to London and to Thorold. The courts are in Cayuga and Simcoe and if that is the economy -- that you have to transport these inmates back and forth to deal with them in the courts -- it is not efficient, in my opinion. As a matter of fact, the law society for the county of Haldimand has given full support that it was a mistake. Again, it is the basic philosophy of the Conservative government that bigness is best, such as regional government, a centralized school board and now they are trying to put the institutions in centralized areas.

Mr. Wildman: We don’t want to centralize the inmates.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I just hope the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) will give us some consideration and perhaps provide a facility in our area, so that it could deal with the courts and the inmates more efficiently.

Getting back to the Glendale Training School program: Again, as I brought to your attention the other day, there was a citizens’ committee to retain the Glendale program. Again, we have had an opportunity of visiting that institution, and it seems to me that they are providing the service. It was only established three years ago and it is providing a service that the minister was suggesting is required in Ontario; it was broken down into four houses with a capacity of approximately 100. It provided an educational system for these young boys from 16 to 24 in a wide field and many of these inmates are coming in with only grade eight education.

I would suggest that, with the support it received from the community, this ministry again is making a mistake by closing a facility that has got the trust of the community. First of all, you have to have trust to bring an institution into a community -- and you don’t get that overnight. I was watching television last Tuesday night, and I saw that they’re changing the school at Oakville and the public is rising against it; the mayor is speaking against it.

It takes time to acquire trust. They had achieved that trust. The inmates have worked in industry in Simcoe and they have gone out into the agricultural field and worked. Yet this government would not sit down to listen to the citizens’ group and debate it with them. They wouldn’t give us that privilege. They wouldn’t give us that right.

Hon. Mrs. Birch: That’s not true. They met with the minister more than two hours.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I asked the minister to come down and meet with me at Glendale, and he was never able to do it. I’m not finding fault with the minister, because I think he is trying to do a job. I think it had to be the people behind him.

Mr. Nixon: The policy people behind him.

Mr. G. I. Miller: When they set up a committee to deal with the closing of these schools, there was nobody on that committee from Glendale school. There were people on the committee from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, from the Sprucedale training program. I don’t think they used the people there fairly. There are 100 people involved.

In my opinion, what brought this all about was an incident last summer when a girl committed suicide. Maybe that triggered it. That is only my opinion, but when I had an opportunity to tour the institution, it was brought to my attention. When they closed the Burwash school some time ago and the staff came down to Simcoe, one of the workers in that changeover committed suicide because she couldn’t stand the pressure and because of the uncertainty involved. I also met with the inmates, and I’m concerned about those young men; I want to see that they get back on the right track or I wouldn’t be standing up here tonight and speaking on their behalf. The government is wiping out a program that has been working effectively, one that met the budget that was suggested to them; they indicated they could still bring it in line financially if given the opportunity, but they weren’t given that opportunity.

I feel the government has made a mistake by not letting us, the opposition parties, debate it along with the citizens’ group to make sure they had a fair hearing. I criticize the government for that. Perhaps it is not too late yet to give the government that opportunity but if they don’t accept it, I will have nothing to do but to go back to my people and say, “It’s too bad. They wouldn’t listen.”

These are the areas I’m concerned about in the Throne Speech. I am pleased to have had the opportunity of expressing my feelings about them at this time. I would like to close by saying that in order to have a strong Ontario, the government has to listen to the majority side of the House. It is a minority government, Mr. Speaker. We are the opposition parties and we want to be constructive. We want a better Ontario and by working together I think we can achieve that.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, it is customary, I believe, the first time one speaks during a session, to extend congratulations to the Speaker and, through you, to the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Edighoffer). I do this with warmth. I think you complement one another in that position, and I immediately want to pledge my co-operation and say to you, as you know, that there will never be anybody from this corner of the House who will be causing you any discomfort in that chair.

Mr. Nixon: That is certainly going to be a reform.

Mr. Elgie: Can you live with that one?


Mr. Swart: In the Throne Speech, I guess the majority of the members speak on one or all of three things. They speak about the general philosophy of the party to which they belong, and endeavour to sell that. I am not going to do that in my remarks because it has been done by my new leader and done well. I congratulate him for doing it and publicly congratulate him for securing the very important office that he holds. It will undoubtedly go on to an even more important office in the not too distant future.

It’s often customary also to speak on the subject of the portfolio which you hold in your caucus. Of course mine is municipal affairs. I don’t intend to do that this evening because there is going to be plenty of opportunity during the session to discuss municipal matters, with the so-called property tax reforms that come forward and with the new Licensing Act --

Mr. Nixon: You are supporting the government in that, aren’t you?

Mr. Swart: -- and with the new Planning Act.

The other matter that is very often covered by members when they are speaking on the Throne Speech is to speak about their own riding and make complimentary remarks about it. In my case that’s unnecessary. Everybody knows Welland and Thorold, the riding I represent. They know it’s tops in the province and it speaks for itself.

My participation in the Throne Speech debate is going to be to make some comments about the procedures and the functioning of this House. Like many other members of this House, my political background is a municipal one. For me it was of 21 years’ duration and it included all the elected positions in the township council, county warden and regional councillor. Also I had a rather deep involvement in municipal associations both at the provincial and at the federal level.

I say this not, I hope, in an immodest manner but because I want to point out that it’s almost impossible for me to refrain from making contrasts, at least mental ones, between the operation of local governments and this provincial House. When I make those mental contrasts, I have to say that municipal government clearly gets the highest marks for its procedures in the handling of the business for the people it represents. Today I want to give voice to those mental observations -- those contrasts that I make. Although the Camp commission and the Morrow committee dealt at length with the procedures in this House, I am going to be presumptuous enough to make some comments which may be at rather sharp variance with those recommendations.

I think we all know that, apart from the question period and perhaps votes in this House and certain other events which are separated usually by rather lengthy periods of time, the attendance is pretty dismal. Less than 20 per cent of the members are in their seats during 80 per cent of the time that this House is sitting. No municipal councils, I suggest, anywhere in this province or this nation, perhaps in the world, function in that manner. I am aware of course that MPPs who are not in the House usually are working at other aspects of their elective responsibilities.

Mr. Nixon: You can rest assured that is true tonight.

Mr. Swart: I know enough about them from all parties that most of them put in extremely long hours in their legislative duties and in their constituent responsibilities. Those things often seem more important, and I guess frequently they are more important than what is taking place in this House and --

Mr. Nixon: No, you don’t believe that.

Mr. Swart: I don’t believe it. I am just going to say I don’t.

Mr. Nixon: I don’t believe it either.

Mr. Swart: What concerns me is that that is prevalent -- priority is given to that, and I think it should concern everyone in this House. House business should be of the order to command the priority of members’ time.

Mr. Nixon: Your former leader said that the House was irrelevant.

Mr. Hall: I’m beginning to agree with him.

Mr. Swart: If it’s not, then it shouldn’t be taking place in this chamber. Debate on the Throne Speech, apart perhaps from the leaders’ comments, seems to serve little use in the functioning of the business of this province. Even the Throne Speech itself, when it has as little content and is as vague as the one made last week, could be almost dispensed with. The mayor of any council in his inaugural address would be laughed at by his colleagues if there was no more substance in his remarks than appeared in that Throne Speech.

Mr. Kerrio: Why did you change places, Mel?

Mr. Swart: They know me too well back there, Vince.

Mr. Kerrio: What are you doing here, Mel?

Mr. Nixon: Is it true they all worked for your election to the Legislature?

Mr. Swart: Besides, if I did, I would have to displace a Liberal or a Conservative if I went back there, and you know how you would take that.

Mr. Kerrio: We wouldn’t buy that for a minute, be our guest.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mel, we always have full attendance when the Lieutenant Governor is here.

Mr. Nixon: And on pay day.

Mr. Swart: Yet basically the mayor speaks only for himself, while the Throne Speech comes from the government. How much more reason for the government to provide real meat in its inaugural statement, which of course is the Throne Speech. I am aware that Throne Speeches give the opportunity for members to raise issues, local or otherwise, of concern to them. But there is no route towards solutions, so the exercise, whether it’s the speeches made here tonight, as good as they are, is largely meaningless. To spend a minimum of eight days on speeches which lead nowhere is not good use of the House’s time and gets no attention from anyone.

I suggest that except for the leaders, and perhaps one or two other people, there will be no coverage in any media about the speakers or the speeches in the debate on the Speech from the Throne.

Mr. Kerrio: Correct, Mel; there’s nobody in the press gallery.

Mr. Swart: Of course, it may be, but it is a good thing, I suggest, that if it is not worth carrying in the news media then perhaps it is not worth doing. Of course, there must be the opportunity to determine no confidence in the government’s general policies, but there are ways of accomplishing that without this kind of waste of House time.

In short, I believe the Throne Speech should be expected to have substance, but debate which by necessity deals only in generalities should be more limited than the eight days.

Budget debate fits much the same category as the Throne Speech, and it too should be severely limited. After all every item of the budget gets detailed scrutiny in the estimates consideration. It is my view that the time should be used on dealing with the real issues and giving life to the Legislature.

There is little doubt that the lengthy budget and Throne Speech debates are anachronisms. They are a carry-over from the time when there was little legislation to deal with in the House. It was then an opportunity to debate political philosophy, with the press recording it, really for lack of other news.

Those circumstances no longer exist, and we should move to procedures that meet the times.

Ms. Gigantes: We should move to a new government.

Mr. Swart: Another new procedure that needs to be implemented is that all estimates be done in committees outside of the House. To carry on with one minister’s estimates in the House under different procedural rules from the other committees outside the House makes no sense, but I suggest it also demeans this assembly.

Mr. Nixon: I agree.

Mr. Swart: There are adequate rooms, even if we had to move over to the Macdonald Block, and the informality and pursuit of questions to the ministers and to their officials must he freely permitted to members dealing with all estimates. There must be no restriction on them.

All estimates should be dealt with early in the year. There is something a bit unreal about debating estimates in November or December when the money has been mostly spent or all of it committed.

Mr. Nixon: We can solve that problem.

Mr. Swart: Let me say also that there should be a firm rule that no committees sit while the House is in session. I have yet to see any municipal council any place in Ontario set committee meetings, or permit them to be set, for a time when the council would also be sitting.

If all this means, and it does, is that the Legislature sits a day or two less in the week, then in balance it is desirable. We wouldn’t be alone in this. The New York State Assembly follows that practice where it only meets on two days a week and the work is done out of the House in the committee.

Mr. Nixon: You people don’t even want committees to meet on committee days.

Mr. Renwick: Why do you make these cheap points all the time?

Mr. Conway: That’s a very poor example, New York State. Try Idaho.

Mr. Renwick: You’re cheap. You always have been.

Mr. Swart: I submit many states in the United States follow those procedures -- and I’m not terribly enamoured with all of their procedures.

Mr. Ruston: You don’t want to do what the Yankees do, do you, Mel?

Mr. Swart: I submit that business would be handled more appropriately, more thoroughly and that House sessions would he more meaningful if that procedure was followed.

Mr. Conway: What about $50 a day?

Mr. Swart: Another anachronism is the system of sessions as we know them.

Mr. Mackenzie: You’re not getting any brighter, Sean.

Mr. Swart: There are the spring sittings and the fall sittings, with the gaps between them being almost as long as the sittings. It is impossible for it to be a good way of conducting public business. Orders in council or other forms of government action on the most fundamental issues are used between sessions. Witness the placement of provincial employees under the federal AIB by order in council two years ago. The hospital closing program was initiated without a single word of discussion beforehand in the House. And, of course, the $8 billion Hydro contracts for the uranium from Denison and Preston were signed by order in council rather than by action of the House while the House was in session.

This is an outdated policy and pattern being followed by an outdated government, where the use of orders in council, spurred by the long down-time of the House, has become a normal practice.

Mr. Kerrio: We should change the whole thing.

Mr. Swart: I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what meaning does a Legislature have if it doesn’t vote or even have the right to vote on the most important decisions being made by the government, such as that made on the contract on uranium?

Mr. Ruston: Tell them to resign.

Mr. Swart: It is my belief that this Legislature should sit every month, as even the smallest councils do. The monthly session would last from one to three weeks, depending on the volume of business.

Mr. Kerrio: The councils only sit one evening.

Mr. Swart: The July and August sessions might last only a day or two, but there would be no excuse ever for the government to enact policy without approval of the Legislature. There would be other plusses to the monthly session system, too.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: He wants to change the whole system.

Mr. Swart: MPPs could get back to their constituents for a week or two each month -- and it’s not a bad idea to find out what our constituents are thinking. There would be time to work in committee hearings which would not conflict with the House sittings. Government and members’ staffs, as well as the members themselves, could plan and execute their duties in a much more orderly fashion.

The session system is a carry-over from the days when transportation was difficult and time-consuming, when many of the members of this House had to drive a horse and buggy several miles, perhaps 10 or 20 miles, to the station, then take a train to come here; and once they were here they stayed until the business was over.

Mr. Conway: Ellis did write this speech.

Mr. Swart: That philosophy still exists with the government which sits across the House.

Mr. Conway: Morningstar wrote this.

Mr. Swart: You know, it was the same on the county council level too, Mr. Speaker. When I first went to county council, almost 30 years ago, all county council sessions were held for a week and only four times a year. We eventually changed that in Welland; it was one of the first, then other counties followed suit. But in this Legislature it has never changed. We still have the same sort of sessions as they had 50 and 100 years ago.

I only have about five minutes left, but if it’s your wish, Mr. Speaker, I’ll move adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Swart moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to.