The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to call the attention of hon. members of this Legislature to an action now being undertaken by three senior professors at the University of Toronto. They are Professor James Ham, dean of graduate studies; Reverend J. M. Kelly, president of St. Michael’s College, and Dr. Louis Simonovich, chairman of the department of medical genetics.
These distinguished professors have invited all their colleagues at the University of Toronto to authorize them to press upon the Prime Minister of Canada their request that the government of Canada take “urgent and effective action to persuade the Soviet authorities to permit unhampered emigration for all those who have committed no crime, but foresee in the Soviet Union a life of intolerable discrimination.”
Mr. Speaker, I would ask the unanimous consent of the hon. members to a motion that we applaud this initiative of the University of Toronto professors.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I simply want to add my voice to the voice of the Leader of the Opposition in support of that particular resolution, which I have already signed. I hope all members of the House agree to take this action in an effort to ensure that human rights are respected in the Soviet Union.
Mr. S. Smith: Point of order, if I might; on a separate matter, Mr. Speaker.
On the matter of Soviet emigration, I was asking unanimous consent of the hon. members to a motion that we applaud the initiative of the University of Toronto professors. I’d be guided by you, Mr. Speaker, as to whether such consent is forthcoming and what action should be taken at this point.
Mr. Ruston: Who’s in charge over there?
Ms. Gigantes: Agreed, agreed.
Mr. Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, agreed; we said that.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON INCO AND FALCONBRIDGE LAYOFFS
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege.
On March 6, the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) rose on a point of personal privilege as a result of comments made in the select committee report on the Inco and Falconbridge layoffs. He referred to comments made by my colleagues the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) and myself, on page 28 of the Inco Falconbridge select committee report.
In the report tabled, the New Democratic Party members made the following statement pertaining to one of the recommendations in the Interim Report on the Select Committee on Economic and Cultural Nationalism: Natural Resources, Foreign Ownership and Economic Development: “Some 23 major recommendations were made by this committee, one of them calling for public ownership of the resource industries. Again this government failed to act.”
The member for Mississauga South on March 6, 1978, indicated that no recommendation which called for public ownership of the resource industry was made. He stated there was “a recommendation which called for 75 per cent Canadian ownership of equity after 15 years, but that does not mean ... government or state ownership.”
The member for Mississauga South went on: “Further, on page 74 of the interim report, there is a recommendation that says the government should be empowered to take up to 50 per cent of the equity in new ventures in the non-renewable natural resources sector. But neither myself” -- and I’m speaking about the member for Mississauga South -- “nor the member for London South (Mr. Walker) agreed to that recommendation. In any event, a recommendation stating that the government should be empowered to take an equity position is not the same as calling for public ownership of the resource industries.”
The member for Mississauga South continued: “The additional comments of the four members of the third party implied that members of the select committee and members of this party” -- and in brackets I indicate the Conservative Party -- “were in favour of public ownership of the resource industry. That is not a factual statement …”
Mr. Speaker, that is the point I want to make -- when the member for Mississauga South said, “That is not a factual statement.” It is this final remark by the member with which I cannot agree and at which I take umbrage.
What in effect the member for Mississauga South is attempting to do is disclaim that his party, the Liberal Party and the NDP jointly called for public ownership of new development in the non-renewable resources sector. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
The member for Mississauga South might like to argue that their calling for 50 per cent equity position in new ventures in the nonrenewable sector did not indicate his colleagues meant public ownership; that’s nonsense. The select committee on economic and cultural nationalism recommended -- and I’m quoting from that -- “that government should be empowered to take up to 50 per cent of the equity in new ventures in the non-renewable natural resources sector.”
Mr. Speaker, I ask you to turn, when you have an opportunity, to page 81 of the select committee’s report and direct your attention to the dissenting opinions of the members for Mississauga South and London South, which I want to quote. Their words are as follows: “This recommendation permits the government, at its option, to acquire up to 50 per cent equity in mining enterprises. This ignores the fact that the private sector may have invested heavily in exploration and be at the same stage of developing, economically, a viable operation.” They go on -- and this is very salient to the point I am making -- “This is grossly unfair to the private sector and would in effect be a move towards nationalization, in part, of the non-renewable natural resources industry.”
Mr. Laughren: They should make up their minds. They can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the member for Mississauga South’s statement of last Monday when he said, “In any event, a recommendation stating that government should be empowered to take an equity position is not the same as calling for public ownership of the resource industry.” Yet in his dissenting opinion in 1974, Mr. Kennedy says, “This is grossly unfair to the private sector and would in fact be a move towards nationalization.”
Mr. Lewis: He can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Martel: The only members who dissented from that report --
Mr. Rotenberg: What’s your point of privilege?
Mr. Mackenzie: Skewered by his own words.
Mr. Martel: The only members who dissented from that recommendation were the members for Mississauga South and London South. The rest of the committee knew full well what we meant was being discussed. In fact, so did the members for Mississauga South and London South, because they in fact so indicated by their dissent to signing that particular recommendation. The member for Mississauga South cannot have it both ways.
Mr. Rotenberg: You always have.
Mr. Martel: His party and the members of his party, as well as the Liberal and New Democratic members, knew what they were signing. One only has to read the select committee report, pages 66 to 75, to be aware. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me an opportunity for clarifying that point of personal privilege.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It has confused the issue more.
Mr. Speaker: While I listened with a great deal of patience to the presentation made by the member for Sudbury East, I don’t think it constituted a point of privilege.
Mr. Martel: Sure it did.
Mr. Speaker: It’s a difference in an opinion or an interpretation as to what was meant by the recommendations, and it varies significantly from the interpretation placed on it by the member for Mississauga South.
Mr. Havrot: It’s a waste of time.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member has had an opportunity. I listened patiently to his point of privilege last week. I listened to a rebuttal of it. I don’t think either one of them was a legitimate point of privilege.
Mr. Kennedy: Could I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: I don’t know what could possibly be out of order. We haven’t even started routine proceedings yet.
Mr. Kennedy: Would you give me a try, Mr. Speaker? Would you give me a try on a point of order?
Mr. Speaker: I’ll let you try.
Mr. Cassidy: We tried; and we won’t come back a second time.
Mr. Kennedy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I repeat, I know of no recommendation in that report calling for public ownership of the resource industry and the member is just clouding the issue.
Mr. Martel: You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Kennedy: We don’t want it both ways, we just don’t want it your way.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
THUNDER BAY COURTHOUSE
Hon. Mr. Henderson: During the last session of the Legislature --
Mr. Sargent: He should take over the Treasurer’s job.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: -- the hon. member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) asked my predecessor several questions concerning the condition of the provincial criminal courthouse in Thunder Bay. In order to clear up certain misconceptions which were apparent in the report of the inspection panel, on which the hon. member based his questions, I have obtained a consulting engineer’s report which I am now proposing to table.
In summary, the report indicates the building is structurally sound, although there has been some settlement. The settlements are below the limits at which distress might be expected to occur to a structure and have not affected the operation of the building. There are no unusual ground-water conditions at the site. In particular, no evidence of artesian condition or wells or springs has been found. The drainage system from the basement is being examined and repairs will be undertaken as the need is shown to exist. Repairs to the roofing and waterproofing in the basement will be undertaken in the near future. Copies have been given to the opposition.
Mr. Kerrio: Did the report consider the north side?
OPP ROLE IN STRIKE
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I would like to make a brief statement today clarifying the role of the Ontario Provincial Police --
Mr. Deans: Here comes the apology.
Mr. Warner: Disgusting.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- in the labour dispute at Huron Park involving Fleck Manufacturing Company Limited and the United Automobile workers.
Mr. Lewis: The minister should discipline severely all of those who are involved.
Hon. Mr. Ken: As a result of questions put by the hon. member for Wentworth to my colleague, the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), in the Legislature on Tuesday, I requested a complete report on the picket-line incidents and the situation at the plant generally from OPP Commissioner Harold Graham.
First of all, I want to stress that the OPP has not taken sides in the dispute but was present at the plant strictly to maintain the peace.
Mr. Deans: Of course it did. It took sides on Friday when it went in.
Mr. Lewis: It has.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Secondly, the decision to inform workers of their rights and responsibilities during the strike was made by the local OPP detachment commander, Sergeant Roy Glover.
Mr. Martel: They do that every day.
Mr. Lewis: That is ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I have been assured he was not contacted in any way by James Fleck, deputy minister of Industry and Tourism, any member of his family or any government official at Queen’s Park with a request to speak to the workers.
The detachment was first involved in this labour dispute when a plant employee, Mary Lou Richards, came to the Exeter detachment on February 23, 1978, seeking advice on the rights of strikers. She was given that information. She is a member of Local 1620 of the United Automobile Workers and a UAW representative in the plant. On the morning of Friday, March 3, 1978, Sgt. Clover sent Constable W. F. Maclntyre, his community services officer, to the plant when advised by management that a strike was pending and that there were rumours of impending trouble. Constable Maclntyre returned to headquarters and briefed Sergeant Glover on the situation.
At 2 p.m. that same afternoon, Constable Maclntyre and Corporal Freeth returned to the plant at Sergeant Glover’s direction. Constable Maclntyre was in civilian dress, which, as a full-time plain-clothes officer, is his normal attire. Corporal Freeth was in full uniform. The workers were assembled and Constable Maclntyre addressed all employees and advised them of their rights and of the laws regarding intimidation, mischief, damage, threats and weapons.
It was made abundantly clear that the police would not take sides in the matter --
Mr. Deans: Oh, come on.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- and that the OPP presence would be strictly for the purpose of maintaining the peace.
Mr. Deans: By the very fact he was there he was taking sides.
Mr. Makarchuk: You don’t call that intimidation.
Mr. Lewis: That is an incredible intrusion on free collective bargaining, an unforgivable intrusion.
An hon. member: Bring the OPP under public control.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Several questions posed by the employees were answered. Constable Maclntyre’s comments were based on material contained in the OPP’s in-service training manual on strikes.
Mr. Lewis: It is really unforgivable. Where has it ever happened before?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: A copy of this manual is in every detachment library.
I do not intend to comment today on the picket-line incidents involving a union representative and a picketer, as charges have been laid and this matter will be decided by the courts. I can only say that Commissioner Graham has assured me that his men are acting impartially in this strike and intend only to maintain peace on the picket line.
Mr. Martel: You should be ashamed of yourself.
Mr. Lewis: They are intimidating women on the picket line. You should have a judicial inquiry.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Scarborough West doesn’t have to react to every statement that is said.
Mr. Lewis: I don’t react to every statement, only the absurd statements; only the provocative statements.
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s just about every statement.
An hon. member: Here comes another one.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I won’t be provocative.
FLECK MANUFACTURING COMPANY
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: In view of some questions raised in this House and in related news stories concerning my deputy minister, I want to say that after examining the facts and discussing --
Mr. Deans: There was no question in this House.
Mr. Makarchuk: The minister should be embarrassed.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I am going to respond to the interjection because I think if Hansard is checked, the member will find there was reference made by the hon. member for Wentworth concerning the Deputy Minister of Industry and Tourism. If there was no reference made to him, then it will not be necessary for me to make a statement.
Mr. Deans: I said “whether the name is Fleck or otherwise.” That was my comment.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: In view of some questions raised in this House and in related news stories concerning my deputy minister, I want to say that after examining the facts and discussing this personally with Mr. Fleck, I am confident that the position of Fleck Manufacturing and Mr. Fleck’s role as deputy minister conjure up no conflict of interest.
From what Mr. Fleck has told me, I am satisfied that he has no involvement in the day-to-day general administration of this company. Further, my investigation of the matter convinces me that this company receives no preference or special treatment from government or any of its agencies.
By way of background, I must explain that Huron Industrial Park, the former Canadian Forces base in Centralia, is located in Huron county on Highway 4, approximately 25 miles north of London and four miles south of Exeter.
In 1967, the Ontario government commissioned a firm of management consultants, Stevenson and Kellogg Limited, to conduct a feasibility study into the practicability of converting the base into an industrial/educational complex. The results were positive. In the same year the property was acquired from the Department of National Defence and ownership was transferred to the Ontario Development Corporation for administration and operation.
The park comprises 767 acres of developed land zoned into six general areas -- an industrial complex, educational complex, residential complex, commercial complex, recreational complex and an airfield. One hundred and fifty-two thousand square feet is occupied by the Centralia College of Agricultural Technology and the Animal Health and Veterinary Services School.
The industrial complex totals 396,000 square feet, primarily located in seven hangars each providing in excess of 42,000 square feet. Current rental rates for these hangars range from 74 to 85 cents per square foot per year, depending upon the year in which the present tenant assumed his lease. All leases contain an escalation clause providing for rate increases annually.
Mr. Sargent: A pretty cozy deal, eh?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Since 1973, Fleck Manufacturing has occupied 45,755 square feet in hangar No. 1. This space was first leased in 1968 to the Hall Lamp Company, who went into receivership in 1973. During their occupancy, the rental rate was 50 cents per square foot per year.
Fleck Manufacturing Limited first occupied the space through arrangements made with the receiver/manager. In September 1974 the Fleck organization assumed a five-year lease from ODC at an initial rate of 63 cents per square foot, with a five-cent-per-year escalation clause. The company is now in the fourth year of this lease, paying 78 cents per square foot. This will rise to 83 cents in September of this year.
Mr. Sargent: You can’t even get storage for that.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member is well aware what happens when anything goes into receivership; he’s probably been through it more times than anyone else in the House.
I would like to add that every effort has been made to make Huron Industrial Park a profitable, self-sustaining complex, providing employment and job opportunities at no cost to the taxpayer. This had proved to be the case, and at present, based on recognized accounting standards, Huron Industrial Park operates from its own funds and has accumulated a reserve of $1,425,000. This reserve is available for new capital expenditures or for replacement and refurbishing of existing services and facilities.
Mr. Martel: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: There is no point of order.
Mr. Lewis: Yes, there is a point of order.
Mr. Martel: There is a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: No, there isn’t.
Mr. Deans: There is.
Mr. Speaker: There isn’t.
Mr. Lewis: Yes, there is a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Anything that results from a ministerial statement can be legitimately raised in question period.
Mr. Makarchuk: His statement is out of order.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, there is a point of order. Would you kindly listen to it?
Mr. Speaker: There isn’t. Are you denying the minister the right to make a statement in this House?
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. Lewis: No.
Mr. Martel: If you would kindly listen.
Mr. Speaker: There is nothing out of order.
Mr. Martel: There is something out of order.
Mr. Speaker: There is nothing out of order.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: There is nothing out of order.
Mr. MacDonald: There is something out of order.
An hon. member: How can you know when you won’t listen?
Mr. Lewis: Is it not possible for you to listen before you rule?
Mr. Speaker: You may rise on a question of privilege or to correct something that was said.
Mr. Lewis: I rise on a question of privilege which relates to a correction of the proceedings.
Mr. Speaker: Try it.
Mr. Lewis: Fair enough. It’s good of you to allow it, sir.
Under the rules of this House, opposition critics are entitled to copies of ministerial statements before they are delivered -- under the rules of this House, Mr. Speaker.
The statements were not delivered. My colleague simply wished to draw that to the attention of the minister and the Speaker -- that we have that right by rules of the Legislature.
Mr. Martel: Maybe you should apologize.
Mr. Lewis: I don’t know whether that’s a point of order or a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: My apology. That is a point of order.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The reason I didn’t think that was a possibility was that I was just delivered a letter from the hon. Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) where he said he had been accused of the same thing. I found out the minister was not at fault; the actual copies of statements had been delivered to the office of the leader of the New Democratic Party at least 20 minutes prior to the statement having been delivered in the House.
Mr. Lewis: Yes, but that’s not John Rhodes. We know the way Rhodes operates.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct. I did not deliver it before the reading of the statement. However, the statements were just produced this morning. I had the copies here on my desk --
Mr. Lewis: I’m just drawing it to your gentle attention.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- and they were delivered -- two copies to the leader of the New Democratic Party, two copies to the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: My humblest apologies --
Mr. Lewis: They are accepted with good grace.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- and heaven knows, I would not want to break any of the rules of the House --
Mr. Lewis: I know that, sir. I know that.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- in keeping with the method followed by the New Democratic Party.
NORTH PICKERING INQUIRY
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am today tabling the report of the commission of inquiry into the acquisition by the government of certain lands in the community of North Pickering.
Members will recall that this inquiry was established in October 1976 after the report of the Ombudsman on this subject, the response of the Ministry of Housing and hearings of the select committee on the Ombudsman as part of a two-tribunal hearing, one by this commission and one by an officer of the Office of the Ombudsman, Mr. Keith Hoilett.
The commission was to consider, recommend and report on three main areas of contention:
1. The merits of claims for additional compensation in cases placed in dispute by the response of the Ministry of Housing; any other cases handled by any of the five named land agents;
2. The amount of any additional compensation;
3. The allegations of misconduct against Terry Bortolotti, James Gilhespie, William Thompson, Joseph Kuzik and J. E. Spafford.
The order in council establishing the commission stated that “all matters referred to this commission shall be heard and determined in proceedings of an adversarial nature.”
It is important to note that these references and directions were drafted in accordance with an agreement signed by the Ombudsman and the then Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) on October 1, 1976. This agreement was reached after discussions were carried on at the direction of the select committee on the Ombudsman. An interpretation of these terms of reference was made by the Court of Appeal of Ontario at the request of counsel for the claimants and the commission proceeded on the basis of this judicial instruction.
The report records the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), made in this House on March 2, 1972, announcing the whole North Pickering program and comments upon the resulting efforts that were made to inform landowners who might be affected by the project. These efforts included the distribution of pamphlets, newsletters and newspaper supplements, and meetings held in the area.
The commission began its hearings on November 4, 1976, and the report records the history of the proceedings and outlines the perceived duties of the commission.
Unfortunately, these duties were to a large extent complicated by the refusal of the applicants to appear before the commission. In spite of notices published in the daily newspapers and served on the former landowners, none appeared at the final hearing or gave evidence with the exception of one claimant who gave part of her evidence in chief. However, some 47 exhibits were filed and considered.
In relation to allegations against the five land acquisition agents, the commission found these agents were experienced in real estate matters and qualified for the positions they held.
The notes they made at the time of their visits to owners and the comments made therein demonstrated that they had sought to serve the interests of the owners and fully appreciated their obligations to treat them fairly and justly, the commission found.
It also found that they did not attempt to minimize the value of the property but pointed out those factors which would tend to increase the value of that property and that they were sensitive to the rights of the owners and endeavoured to promote such rights.
The commission pointed out that one of the complainants was a lawyer and a considerable number of the other complainants had acted on the advice of their solicitors. The commission has no reason not to assume that those solicitors were qualified and competent to -- and did -- properly advise their clients and protect their interests.
I will quote very briefly from the conclusion of the report:
“A careful consideration and weighing of the report of the Ombudsman, especially the summaries of the representations made by the complainants and the interviews conducted by the Ombudsman and the evidence led on behalf of the five land acquisition agents before this commission, leads to the conclusion that none of the allegations of misconduct made in the report of the Ombudsman on the North Pickering project against [the five agents named] is justified....”
FUNDING OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) and myself, I would like to report the results of a meeting of federal and provincial ministers of welfare and social services in Ottawa on March 6 and 7.
As hon. members are aware, the provinces and the federal government have been involved in discussions for more than three years regarding a new arrangement to replace Canada Assistance Plan funding of social services. This, of course, does not include sharing of income maintenance, which will continue to be shared under the Canada Assistance Plan.
Before providing details of the meeting, I would like to highlight relevant background information regarding this issue.
Since the introduction of the Canada Assistance Plan in 1966, provincial expenditures on “federally approved” social services have received 50 per cent cost-sharing from the federal government. This federal assistance has been very valuable in the development of Ontario’s social services system. While we appreciate this support, it should be made very clear that federal cost-sharing under the Canada Assistance Plan has never been available for all the social services that our people require.
Consequently, this government initiated, and in many cases maintained, a number of important social services at 100 per cent provincial expense. This occurred because the necessary services were either ineligible for federal sharing or shareable only if certain restrictive conditions were met. Extended care for the elderly and adult mental retardation services were 100 per cent funded by the province at the outset, although some federal cost-sharing ultimately was obtained for both.
Mr. McClellan: Some? It’s $123 million.
Hon. Mr. Norton: However, services such as children’s mental health centres, children’s mental retardation services, elderly persons’ centres, meals-on-wheels and a number of other programs were initiated and are maintained to this day at 100 per cent provincial expense. The magnitude of this can be seen readily by the fact that approximately $110 million of expenditures on children’s services under the Ministry of Community and Social Services receive no federal cost-sharing.
My intention is not to criticize the federal government nor to minimize their contribution. Rather, it is my intention to indicate that the Canada Assistance Plan has not been fully adequate to meet the needs of the people of Ontario.
In these circumstances, Ontario welcomed federal initiatives in 1975 to develop a new and more appropriate approach to funding of social services. Unfortunately, the proposed new Social Services Act, Bill C-57, which was tabled in June 1977, did not meet our requirements. It offered a broader base for cost-sharing and would have provided assistance for a number of services which were not shareable under the Canada Assistance Plan. However, we were concerned about the potentially restrictive aspects of the proposed legislation.
The Social Services Act was extremely detailed in respect to the range of cost-shared services, eligibility for service and user charges paid by the recipients. As such the Act did not provide the degree of flexibility required by the province and gave the federal government greater potential control and leverage over provincial social services.
It was also administratively cumbersome as the federal government subsequently did acknowledge.
Therefore, Ontario responded promptly and positively to the federal government’s September 1977 offer to block fund services instead of proceeding with Bill C-57. The block funding approach did not meet Ontario’s stated preference for tax points transfer. However, it was an extremely positive step on the part of the federal government. It confirmed their confidence in the ability and the willingness of the provinces to fulfil their responsibilities in a flexible manner in accordance with provincial priorities.
The original offer was unilaterally revised by the federal government in December 1977. This revised block funding offer was the subject of our meetings this week where the ministers agreed that a new arrangement for federal funding of social services will commence on April 1, 1978. The funding formula will be based upon:
1. The amount the provinces will have received in 1977-78 for social services under the Canada Assistance Plan, the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Agreement, and the Rehabilitation of Young Offenders Agreement;
2. An additional per capita “enrichment factor” associated with a more comprehensive coverage of social services and intended to provide for further development of services. This amount will not be payable until 1979 and will be escalated thereafter for the ensuing 10 years;
3. An escalator factor for each subsequent year based on the gross national product experience and increases in population;
4. A “levelling” adjustment that would gradually eliminate over the 10-year period the provincial differences above or below the national average contribution by Canada so that at the end of the period each province would receive the same per capita contribution.
The agreement will apply for a 10-year period. It contains three general conditions pertaining to residency, recognition of federal contribution, and provision of information. The block funding offer has not met all of the Ontario government’s expectations, nor those of other provinces. As noted previously, Ontario would have preferred a tax point transfer. Fiscal realities led the federal government to postpone unilaterally the enrichment factor for one year, thus reducing the expected federal contributions to the provinces by $132 million in 1978-79.
The 10-year period of the agreement effectively transfers the risks regarding service growth to the provinces. Ontario and several other provinces have preferred to renegotiate after five years. There was a general concern among the provinces regarding the application of the three conditions, particularly in respect to the information requirements which have yet to be determined precisely.
It is not possible to establish the exact financial implications for Ontario given the variables contained in the formula. In addition, the fact that a number of relationships with the established programs’ financing agreement have not been fully determined could alter the estimate by as much as about five per cent. However, the general financial impact, according to federal estimates, will be approximately as follows:
In 1978-79 funding under the new agreement, estimated at $155 million, will provide approximately $5 to $10 million more than the present Canada Assistance Plan Agreement. In 1979-80 the introduction of the enrichment and levelling factors combined with the escalator will provide an estimated total transfer to the province of $235 million.
In effect, Ontario will continue to bear the costs of “non-shareable” social services during the 1978-79 fiscal year. Federal transfers in that year are significantly lower than the amount Ontario would have received under the Social Services Act. However, in 1979-80 federal funding will increase by approximately $80 million.
Approximately $55 million of that increase is attributable to the “enrichment factor.” The remainder represents the escalator and the first levelling payment. The “enrichment” factor is intended to provide for more comprehensive coverage of social services and further development of services. However, the real effect in Ontario will be to extend federal funding to existing social services, which were previously not cost shared.
This point can be readily illustrated by the fact that Ontario, despite its highly developed system of social services, receives the lowest per capita federal contribution for social services in this country. At present, Ontario’s per capita federal contribution is approximately $6 less than the national average of $22 per capita, and $12 to $16 less than the per capita payment received by some provinces.
We recognize this agreement is not an ideal solution, but ideal solutions are not readily attainable at this time. However, the block funding proposal has very positive advantages. It increases federal support of social services in the province and provides Ontario with greater flexibility to determine its own priorities. This flexibility must be matched by responsibility. Ontario has always recognized its responsibilities for social services, even when federal cost-sharing was not available. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that Ontario will continue to do so under this new arrangement.
INCREASE IN OHIP PREMIUMS
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I seek your advice in this matter; perhaps it will be necessary to obtain a statement of fact from the Treasurer.
I understand the OHIP premium increase, as announced the other night, is in direct contradiction to section 54 of the British North America Act. It is in contradiction of standing order 86, which applies to our House, and in fact to section 90 of the British North America Act, the essence of which says that no tax shall be imposed without legislation. The Treasurer, in his statement, made it quite clear he was collecting the OHIP premium increase as a tax revenue source.
I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that such a move is in clear contradiction to our standing orders as well as to the direction given by the British North America Act, and I would ask you to make a ruling on that.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member is asking me to rule on the British North America Act. I’ll take a look at the hon. member’s point of privilege to see whether or not it is a prima facie case, then I’ll decide as to whether or not I will rule on whether it’s in conflict with the British North America Act.
Mr. Sargent: You are talking to a lawyer now.
Mr. Breithaupt: Can you find that out by the end of the question period?
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Treasurer, now that we’re not only eating inflation but living and breathing it as well in Ontario.
Mr. Kennedy: Wrestle it to the ground like your leader did. Trudeau is wrestling it to the ground, haven’t you noticed?
Mr. Nixon: He wasn’t even prepared to admit he’s made a typo.
Mr. S. Smith: Actually, he has escalated an obvious typographical error to an art form, but we’ll allow him to do that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Let’s have the question.
INCREASE IN OHIP PREMIUMS
Mr. S. Smith: Will the Treasurer delay the implementation of the 37 per cent OHIP premium increase, now scheduled for May 1, pending consideration of that increase, and also pending the consideration of alternatives that might be cheaper, and certainly more equitable, in this House? Would he permit us to consider the possibilities of other alternative ways of funding our health care system, admittedly an expensive system, rather than proceeding on May 1 with the 37 per cent increase in OHIP premiums?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I’m quite sure in the debate -- which begins not today, not until Monday as I understand it -- that the House and certainly the government will look forward to the alternatives put forward by the Liberal Party to that particular premium increase.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: Since my request was for the House to have an opportunity to consider the possible alternatives that might be suggested on all sides of the House, would he consider delaying the implementation of the increase, which is at present scheduled to occur very soon, starting on May 1 -- and plans have to be made to collect that of course -- and if he has done studies himself concerning the relative efficacy of these possible alternatives, would he be kind enough to table those studies as quickly as possible so that we can consider them in the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, as I recall, there was rather extensive documentation in the budget of two years ago. If there is other documentation, I will be glad to make it available to the Leader of the Opposition. The regulation was brought forward to cabinet yesterday and was passed, and I assume has been signed. Certainly, if the Leader of the Opposition comes forward, or anyone comes forward, with alternatives that make sense, I can only repeat that we’d be glad to consider them.
Mr. Cassidy: Given the fact that a married taxpayer earning $10,000 a year with a couple of kids will now pay more in OHIP premiums annually than in provincial and federal income tax, given the fact that farmers and small businessmen will be particularly hard hit by this particular increase and given that wage earners in the province are being held to a wage increase of six per cent per annum this year under the AIB rules, how can the Treasurer justify a 37% per cent increase in OHIP premiums?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I doubt that question was supplementary but I will be --
Mr. MacDonald: Are you the Speaker or just provincial Treasurer?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- glad to answer it.
An hon. member: It’s not your job to rule.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think one looks at a variety of ways to increase revenues, be it in direct taxes or be it in terms of premium revenues. I looked at a number of alternatives and, in terms of the amount of money which I felt was necessary to add to the revenues of the province, this seemed in many ways the most equitable and fair way to do it.
Mr. Cassidy: Equitable?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would point out, to put this in perspective, that a roughly similar amount of money to be raised under the personal income tax would require raising our rate from about 44 to 48 or, alternatively, I suppose one might have looked to the retail sales tax and raised the retail sales tax from seven per cent to eight per cent, which would have brought in nearly $300 million.
Mr. Mackenzie: That’s a Tory solution.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would point out that one of the features of the present system -- and we look for improvements for it -- is that in the first instance it is largely paid by employers, and the figures are in the budget. It is true that in many instances it is a taxable benefit. I would point out that, as opposed to going to the retail sales tax or some other route, retail sales tax would be paid by many more people whereas, if memory serves me correctly, 1.82 million people, or something over 20 per cent of the people of the province, will not pay the premium at all because of either their age group or their income level.
All in all, in looking at a series of alternatives, this appeared to me to be the most appropriate way to raise that amount of money, bearing also in mind that we attempt to relate to the public one of our most pressing problems, that is, the cost of health care. It is a large bill and the premium does assist in reminding us of that fact. I am sure that today and yesterday there are many people in the province who are more aware of the large health bill which the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) presents to this Legislature than perhaps they were last Monday or Tuesday.
Mr. Cassidy: You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Mackenzie: You take it away from them, don’t you?
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: Can the minister tell this House exactly how much and what additional financial burdens he has placed on the various levels of governments, for example, local and regional governments, boards of education and transit commissions, especially since most of these pay either a part of the benefits or the entire benefits as they relate to OHIP premiums? Doesn’t he realize that these local governments and school boards will now have to find millions of dollars more to meet these costs and will likely have to raise property taxes to do so?
Mr. Warner: It’s called double taxation.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would put the matter in perspective. I know in terms of our own payroll, I think on a full-year basis -- and in our case it will not be a full year and for the municipalities it will be two-thirds of a year only --
Mr. Wildman: But next year are you going to lower them?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Auld) has made a rough calculation that it increases our costs by 0.71 per cent on this particular cost.
Mr. Warner: An extra $2 million in Toronto for property taxes.
Mr. Cooke: You increase the costs and decrease the grants.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would point out to my friends that, for example, what I am budgeting for and in the printed estimates, in respect of our payments in lieu of taxes, which is a tax in effect levied on us by the municipalities on properties, we estimate this year that those payments will go from something like $45 million to $49 million because of rising mill rates. We pay for their rising mill rates. I see no harm in asking them to pay what I would guess to be about a half a per cent increase.
Mr. Cassidy: To the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: Is it not correct that the only reason the Treasurer is raising the health insurance tax is because this is the only tax he can raise without coming to the Legislature? That is what is happening.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Is the member answering his own question? No, Mr. Speaker, that is not correct. Obviously, we have bills before this House introduced by my colleague, the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) and my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller), which raise and lower taxes.
Mr. Cassidy: Is the minister prepared, then, to bring in legislation --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: In regard to the Treasurer’s contention that by laying a $144 million bill on working people they will suddenly recognize how much health care costs, doesn’t he think it entirely more likely that people, faced with paying this amount of money, may well decide to start to get their money’s worth and actually make more use of the system rather than less use of it?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That’s nonsense.
Mr. Henderson: People are honest.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I can only say if that is the alternative or part of the alternative being proposed by the Liberal Party, I look forward to his suggestions as to where we are going to find this money.
Mr. S. Smith: Then why raise the OHIP premiums to make people know what it costs?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I will say this, I have a little more respect for the medical profession and the hospital administrators than the tenor of that question implies.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the hon. member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Warner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Having respect for that group, plus the patients of Ontario and the people of Ontario who are faced with this huge increase, I would ask the Treasurer two supplementaries: I’d like his comment on the fact that because he is raising a revenue tax he is violating the principle of taxation by legislation. Secondly, how can he equate his statement of wanting equity with the fact of double taxation which he has now put on every urban centre in this province?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: On every who?
Mr. Warner: Urban centre in this province. For Toronto, it’s $2 million.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t know the distinction between urban centres and rural centres; I assume it has something to do with the fact that that party doesn’t represent any rural centres.
Mr. Wildman: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Makarchuk: He’s got more land than you have, Darcy.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: If it is a $2 million bill to Metropolitan Toronto, it will also be felt in similar amounts by townships around this province. But I would simply point out that we will pay our share of raising mill rates, and they in turn pay their share of premiums, if they have negotiated that way, and that was their decision.
Mr. Warner: Will the Treasurer answer the first question?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The member raised the first question as a matter before the Speaker, and I think the Speaker would want to reply first. I am not going to speak to that point; I am not a constitutional lawyer.
Mr. Martel: Yon are a plumber.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I see no purpose in allowing additional supplementaries. There will be ample opportunity during the budget debate to explore all of the facets of the increase in OHIP premiums.
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: Given the fact that there has been an admitted shortfall of 16,000 jobs created in 1977, and given the action that the Treasurer suggests in order to deal with the creation of temporary jobs by paying part of the salary for each of the temporary employees, can he explain to this House why he will not use basically the same type of mechanism, as we originally suggested, to pay part of the salary for permanent or semipermanent jobs that are desperately needed in the work force?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Again I would make the point that within our resources we feel that we can do a job in terms of summer employment. I would point out to the hon. member that the beneficiary in terms of a savings in expenditures, or therefore a reduction in expenditures, will be mainly to the unemployment insurance fund. If the member feels that there should be more programs for direct job employment, I don’t disagree with him, but I think that it has to come from the government to which will accrue the savings -- namely, those funds which are going --
An hon. member: Very convenient.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- from general revenues of the government of Canada into the unemployment insurance fund, something like $2 million. If on the other hand, the member feels that I should be spending more money on direct job creation, then I would have to ask him where he would suggest -- and I look forward to his alternatives there -- I cut expenditures in this current year -- or where he would suggest I raise revenues.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: of course, I’m tempted to answer the minister’s question, except that it doesn’t work that way --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let’s hear it.
Mr. S. Smith: -- but he found $105 million in one week. That’s the kind of fat he has in the budget.
An hon. member: What’s your alternative, Stuart?
Mr. S. Smith: But let’s deal now with the question of the Unemployment Insurance Commission saving the money that might come from any job-creation initiative taken at the provincial level. Why has the minister not been negotiating with the federal government since last summer to arrange that any program taken as a provincial initiative in this manner, to pay part of the salaries, would in fact be met by a partial or complete compensation from the unemployment insurance fund, something that might have achieved a desirable result, met with public acclaim and very likely might have achieved a successful negotiated position with the federal government?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The hon. member’s friends said no.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Let me assure the Leader of the Opposition that those suggestions have been made by several ministers on this side of the House together with their federal colleagues -- and, not privately, most publicly, by the first minister of this province.
Mr. S. Smith: Where?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: At the first ministers’ conference.
Mr. S. Smith: In February? You had a year to talk about that.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s exactly what the Premier said at the conference. We’ve been saying it before and that’s exactly what he said at the conference.
Mr. Sweeney: We haven’t heard anything since Bramalea.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would have to say, though, that the response has not been forthcoming from Ottawa. I really thought, from that smiling picture --
An hon. member: Always blame Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- of the Leader of the Opposition with the Prime Minister of Canada, which appeared on the front page of the Star --
Mr. Breithaupt: It is closer than the Treasurer ever got.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- several weeks ago, that’s probably what they were negotiating and talking about.
Mr. Sweeney: The Treasurer is not answering the question.
An hon. member: Passing the buck again.
Mr. S. Smith: There is no leadership in this province at all.
Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary to the Treasurer, and I hope he will not just take partisan shots on this.
Mr. Havrot: You’re so pure, oh boy. Pure baloney.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: I would hope he could get down to the job of providing jobs for people in this province. Can the Treasurer say, in view of the fact that there is nothing being done for the 137,000 young people who are out of work today, what those young people should do during the period of time when his summer job program will not apply?
Mrs. Campbell: Hold their breath.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Some of them, of course, will undoubtedly find employment. Some of them will return to school. Some of them will go into the Ontario Career Action Program.
Mr. Swart: Most of them will remain unemployed.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Hopefully, the government of Canada may develop something using unemployment insurance funds; and some of them undoubtedly will find jobs in a healthy and expanding private sector. But they’re not going to find a permanent job --
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s what you’ve been saying for years.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- through higher government expenditures by this government. I say that frankly.
Mr. Cassidy: The Treasurer’s attitude is “Let them eat cake.”
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, the Treasurer is looking for sources of revenue to handle this. Now that his government is going out of the mortgage business, he has a $1 billion portfolio; why doesn’t he put that on the market to the private sector and pay for this increase in OHIP?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I recognize that the member hasn’t been here every day, but I think before --
Mrs. Campbell: He has been ill!
An hon. member: Neither have you, Darcy.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- he asks that question perhaps he should talk to the financial critic of his party who thought that suggestion was disastrous.
Mr. Kerrio: He didn’t miss anything, Darcy. It’s the same story as last year.
An hon. member: The member has egg all over his face.
Mr. Sargent: Why doesn’t the Treasurer answer the question himself?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: If the member for Grey-Bruce would read the budget he would find that’s what we are doing.
Mr. Sargent: I’ve got it right here. It says over the next few years.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But if he would speak to his financial critic he would find that the Liberal Party apparently thinks that’s the wrong idea. Clean up your act over there!
Mr. S. Smith: The government is going to do nothing.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary. The hon. member for London Centre.
Mr. Peterson: You’re flogging off the furniture to pay for the debts you’ve created.
I just want to understand how the Treasurer can reconcile what he has just said in response to these last three questions with an important statement in the study put out by his ministry, reassessing the scope for fiscal policy in Canada. He says this: “The composition of unemployment in Ontario and the rest of Canada merits more attention. Skilled, permanent jobs for youth is highlighted as the pre-eminent challenge to governments in the immediate future. Required are fundamental structural changes in the economy to enhance competitiveness, increase exports and generate well-paying jobs in the private sector.”
I want to know what the Treasurer is doing in terms of the structural changes? What is he doing in terms of energy policy and industrial policy? What is he relying on, in fact, except a devalued Canadian dollar that he is hoping is going to drag through his growth predictions and provide temporary relief in the imbalance in tourist funds? He has nothing substantive.
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. Peterson: He is relying on our deficient dollar to help him in the short run. I want to know what he is doing in terms of permanent structural changes in the economy of this province?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the member asked a number of questions. He asked what we were doing about an energy policy. We are supporting Ontario Hydro -- which is more than I can say for his party -- and there are going to be jobs at Elliot Lake because of it. That is point one.
Mr. Kerrie: You are giving a lot more support to Steve Roman, though.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s your policy?
Mr. Lewis: Don’t forget your storm doors.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, in terms of structural changes, I don’t think we will debate structural changes this afternoon.
Mr. Peterson: You used the word here. You used it right here.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t think we are debating structural changes during the question period.
Mr. Peterson: You used it.
Mrs. Campbell: He asked a question. You should answer it.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Was that statement tabled on Tuesday? No, it was tabled two weeks ago.
Mr. Peterson: Yes it was. It was also filed --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has already been asked. If you don’t expect an answer why do you ask the question? You have already asked the question. Have the courtesy to listen to the answer.
Mr. Peterson: My apologies, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, structural changes will not take place in the economy overnight. Structural changes imply a medium-term or long-term commitment to certain objectives which were enunciated and enunciated well by the 11 first ministers of this country. Among those structural changes -- what amount to structural changes -- some of them are a commitment to balance budgets, and we are working to that end; a commitment to reduce the share of government spending and government take in the total economy, and we are working to that end --
Mr. Cassidy: That question was a mistake.
Mr. Wildman: What about branch plants?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- a commitment to deregulation and a commitment to more competition in certain areas, and legislation in some areas has already been introduced in the House.
Mr. Cassidy: We have heard this refrain before and it isn’t working. You’re destroying jobs.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The member talks about an energy policy and I think securing long-term supplies of uranium at the right price is one of those policies and we have done that.
I say to the hon. member he made the same speech last year and we are still waiting for his solutions. Let’s hear them.
An hon. member: You wonder why the House gets unruly when we have to listen to garbage like that.
Mr. S. Smith: The only leadership is coming from this side of the House.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Treasurer.
Given the fact that the government recognizes the need of senior citizens for additional income, and given the findings of a recent social planning council study in Toronto that nearly half the single senior citizens in this city are living below the poverty line and are forced to choose between adequate housing and a decent diet, will the Treasurer explain why the government has not decided to implement the increased tax credits now, but has decided to defer them to some date in the future when market value assessment comes in?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I think the member might want to address that question to the minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton). Obviously if we are talking about the necessity of income supplementation --
Mr. Makarchuk: What about the tax credits?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- if we are talking about an increase which is necessary in GAINS, then so be it.
Mr. Foulds: We’re talking about property tax credits.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: What the paper in the budget addresses itself to is one aspect, one part of the expenses of our senior citizens, and that is property taxes.
Mr. Foulds: The flimflam was in your budget.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That is what that paper is all about, a reduction in the burden of property taxes, if there is one, and that is what it is related to.
Mr. Foulds: When?
Mr. Martel: Ten years coming.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: It is not related to a whole variety of other things.
I would also say that I don’t think we on this side of the House accept that particular document of the social planning council as the gospel which the leader of the third party accepts it as.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: If I could put the question in more specific terms, why is the Treasurer deferring property tax relief when senior citizens need that relief now?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We would like to see some progress, and I hope to see some progress, towards property tax reform. I recognize that the member opposite thinks that the taxpayers of this province are a bottomless pit who can be mined at any given point in time.
Mr. Bounsall: That is what we are concerned about.
Mr. Makarchuk: It is the other way around.
Mr. Cassidy: You are saying senior citizens can be mined.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: There are undoubtedly going to be certain shifts in many municipalities in this province, with market value assessment particularly, aside from tax reform.
Mr. Martel: That’s been 10 years coming.
Mr. Cooke: Answer the question.
An hon. member: You are raising OHIP premiums 37 per cent.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: It seems to me that is the time to make the change or to begin to make the change, coincident with those shifts which may take place through the assessment process.
Ms. Gigantes: They need it now.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I know the member would have us do it twice. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that in fairness to the general taxpayers of the province it may be better to do it at one time rather than to do it twice. I know the member would not agree.
Ms. Gigantes: Is your mother hungry, Darcy?
Mr. Mackenzie: Let them starve a little longer, eh?
Mr. Peterson: I’d like to know just what the Treasurer’s philosophy is. Is there only one taxpayer or are there many taxpayers? On the one hand he argues that there is only one taxpayer paying all of these taxes; on the other hand he says there is no point in solving unemployment here because we are only helping the federal government with their unemployment insurance premiums. What is the Treasurer’s view on that matter?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, if I can be so bold as to suggest --
Mrs. Campbell: You are always bold.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- the question, and it was a good one, was about senior citizens. I don’t look on senior citizens in this province in the context that the question was asked as being “one of the taxpayers.” We put them in a little bit different category than that.
Mr. S. Smith: Yes, hostages for your tax reform. No tax reform, nothing for the senior citizens.
Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary: In view of his comments about fairness in taxation does the Treasurer not realize that according to his own documents tabled last year the net increase in property tax to those in the $5,000 family income range has been 73 per cent and those in the $7,500 income range has been 61 per cent in the last three years, whereas the average in Ontario has only been 43 per cent? Does he not therefore think it would be fair to --
An hon. member: They’re all frightened of comebacks.
Mr. Swart: -- increase the property tax credits to senior citizens this year so they do not pay more than the rest of the taxpayers in this province?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I would refer the member to the budget paper which details --
An hon. member: This is just the beginning, Darcy. Wait until next week.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- the amount of assistance which is already being given to senior citizens. It is our pledge to do more.
An hon. member: Not this year.
Mr. Swart: Next year.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But we will do so responsibly --
Mr. Swart: But not this year, what kind of a future --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- and we will bring it before the House when we do it.
Mr. Makarchuk: That is what you have been pledging for the last 30 years.
Mr. Foulds: Like the OHIP increase.
An hon. member: When the next election comes.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But I would say to the member that if he reads that budget paper he will find that the taxpayers of this province have assumed their responsibilities for senior citizens in many and dramatic ways. And the proportion of taxes already paid by all of us to assist senior citizens is very high already.
Mr. Swart: Most of all the senior citizens, the tax is paid by them.
An hon. member: Half the seniors in Toronto live in poverty.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr. Cassidy: Given the fact that it is 12 years since the Smith committee recommended the move to market value assessment and the government has been farfing around with that ever since that time --
Mr. S. Smith: What?
Mr. Cassidy: -- what assurance do we have that the senior citizens will not have to wait for a further 12 years before this property tax relief is given?
Mr. Conway: What was that word, Michael?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would say that the answer to that question rests in part with all members of this House. If they are prepared to be responsible, then we can get on with the job.
Mr. Martel: You have postponed it at every election.
An hon. member: We’ll bring it in if you’ll support it.
Mr. Lewis: Just stop farfing around over there and get on with it. Just do your job.
Mr. Cassidy: I felt, Mr. Speaker, that the English language needed to be enriched with a new word.
Mr. Lewis: Hear, hear!
Mr. Cassidy: There are a few other words that are needed to describe this budget and this Treasurer, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: There is a perfectly good one already, why don’t you use it?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Define farfing.
Mr. Cassidy: A question of the Minister of Natural Resources. There he is; I can see him peeking around the government whip.
In view of the fact that the budget contains no real increase for the Ministry of Natural Resources, can the minister say what has happened to the government promise of two trees to be planted for every one cut, which was so clearly outlined in the Bramalea charter?
Mr. Kennedy: It is winter time. You don’t plant trees in winter.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I am sure when you get the details of the budget I think, you will discover that my regeneration moneys have been increased by between $5 million and $0 million for the coming year.
An hon. member: What percentage is that in trees?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since he is a member of the cabinet can the minister explain why there was absolutely no reference to the needed rebuilding of the forestry industry of this province in the budget which was handed down this week?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, there were no tax changes related to it, therefore there was no need to mention it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: That will come in the estimates, you know.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Is the minister therefore indicating to us that there will be no changes in the Crown Timber Act and subsequent tax changes with regard to his last statement?
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, I am not indicating that.
Mr. MacDonald: You’re going to have it both ways.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the hon. member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: Is it correct that the ministry has circulated a new code of ethics, or a rejuvenated code of ethics, for its foresters or for its staff which admonishes them not to publicly criticize the forestry program of the ministry?
Hon. F. S. Miller: How could they? It’s perfect.
Mr. Martel: A perfect mess.
Mr. Reid: Who believes it?
Mr. Sweeney: A question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Mr. Speaker: In releasing the new student grant program today, how can the minister say that he is firmly convinced that the new program brings greater equity and will be to the advantage of every student when in three significant ways it is clearly a disadvantage: post-graduate and professional school students can’t qualify; families with even lower net income than previously are expected to contribute; and, finally, students’ living expense allowances are going to be even lower than those qualified under the federal plan?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: There’s no doubt that I can say that because, somewhat like my friend in the Ministry of Natural Resources, almost the perfect plan evolved.
Mr. Deans: Oh, don’t get smart.
Mr. Martel: For what class of people?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I won’t go quite so far as to say perfection; that I will leave to my confrere the Minister of Natural Resources.
Mr. Makarchuk: What have you guys been eating over there?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Let me say to the hon. member that I think when he has an opportunity to take a close look at the information he now has in his hand he will see that indeed he is not quite correct on several items. Let me give the hon. member an illustration that perhaps makes the point. I hope so.
Mr. Speaker, this perhaps will be a long reply but I don’t know of any other way of addressing the problem.
We’re trying to compare this year’s plan with last year’s plan and in preparation I had these figures compiled.
Taking the gross income of a family as $8,000, the parental contribution last year would have been zero; it would be zero this year.
With a gross income of $10,000 the parental contribution under the new plan would be $200 if the student is away, and zero if at home.
With a gross income of $12,000, the parental contribution would be $672 under the old plan. Under the new plan it would be $555 if the student is away from home and $70 if the student is at home -- which is considerably less, about $600 less, in that particular illustration.
With a gross income of $14,000, the contribution would have been $1,045 under the old plan. Under the new plan it would be $995 if the student is away from home and $440 if the student is at home.
I could go on to give the hon. member other illustrations. The point that must be made at this time is that if he will take the figures and do them one by one, he will find that the contribution from the parents is less than it was last year -- in contradiction to what the hon. member originally thought.
Mr. Sweeney: Let me say, before I ask a supplementary question, that we also have selected three examples and they don’t work that way. Let me use one precise one, and I would ask the minister to explain how this works: A parent with a net income -- net income meaning what they have got to spend -- of $6,600 can be expected to contribute; that means a net income of $127 a week. How can the minister expect any parent in those circumstances to make a contribution? That’s even lower than it was last year. It depends on where one picks the examples.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, I think it doesn’t. First of all, in reply, to give some details of that, I think the member opposite would agree that we likely will have fewer students in the system next year than last year. We have more money. Fewer people, indeed, will be therefore applying for the assistance. It follows, I believe, that there would be more assistance per student. That’s pretty basic and there can be no doubt about that.
Mr. Sweeney: No, it doesn’t follow.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: There’s more money in the program and there are fewer students.
Mr. Sweeney: There was $23 million left over in the budget one year.
Mr. B. Newman: Oh, for crying out loud!
Mr. Sweeney: Just because the minister puts it into the program doesn’t mean he is going to use it.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: It is a little difficult -- I accept this criticism of the plan. In just two minutes of looking at it, one cannot comprehend all of the details. The member asked me where his information was. It was put in the mail to him this morning. I sent him a copy five minutes ago. I suspect he has not had time to look at the whole program and understand it.
Mr. Sweeney: They have been available for months.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: They have not been available to members for months. They were available at 10 o’clock this morning.
Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: How can the minister possibly explain and justify for those roughly 13,000 students who will be on the Experience ’78 program that when they subtract their allowance expenses from that, there is not enough money to pay the assumed savings that would be required under this program?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: That is another gross illustration of the fact that members of the New Democratic Party, particularly, don’t understand the program. For many years students have wished that their contributions would be assessed on actual earnings. This year, for the very first time, that is exactly what’s going to happen. There is no assumed contribution. It is a direct result of an assessment on the actual earnings. I am afraid the member is absolutely incorrect in the statement he has just made.
I have had the advantage of seeing the release by the New Democratic Party. I can’t begin to tell them the number of errors they have made. I know it wasn’t the member himself but it does have the New Democratic logo on it. There are innumerable errors in the arithmetic in their press release.
Mr. Lewis: You’re just falling apart over there. All of you are coming apart at the seams. There is nothing left.
Mr. Cassidy: If it was so good, the minister would have brought it out two months ago.
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Labour but I can’t ask it because I must ask the Solicitor General something with regard to his statement.
OPP ROLE IN STRIKE
Mr. Deans: I want to ask the Solicitor General whether or not the provisions contained in the in-service training manual on strikes that is available, he says, in every detachment library, could be tabled in this House in order that we might determine whether it is appropriate within the direction given for an OPP officer to attempt to drag a woman out of a car while her seatbelt is still in place and while the car is still moving?
Further, I would like to ask him whether it says in there that it is appropriate for the OPP to go into a plant to speak to union employees about the possibility of a strike without first checking and discussing the matter with their representatives? I want to ask him whether he thinks it is right and necessary for the OPP to be involved at all until there is an evident problem?
Finally, I would like to ask him whether he doesn’t believe that by the very nature of their intervention, which was unwarranted and unjustified, starting on Friday afternoon right through until Monday morning when they moved themselves into a situation which to that point had created absolutely no problem, the OPP were not the major part of the problem and not part of the solution at all?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I am sure the manual to which the hon. member refers does not specifically mention an incident regarding a female employee of the plant with her seatbelt on.
Mr. Deans: The woman got hurt, by the way.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: This is the first I have heard of this and I have had representation both from the union and from the police officers in the area.
Mr. MacDonald: Are you going to investigate it?
Mr. McClellan: How come you find out these things so late?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Dealing with the second question, which I feel is much more relevant, I think the hon. member should realize that some days before the strike took place a representative of the union attended at the police detachment headquarters --
Mr. Deans: One woman.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Right -- and asked certain questions regarding picket lines and the conduct of the employees and questions of that nature, very valid questions.
Ms. Gigantes: Very responsible.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Management also wanted the same information, and as a result the sergeant of the detachment decided that everybody should know what the situation was --
Mr. Lewis: That’s just a crock. What a dream world you live in.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- what their rights were, and what their obligations would be in a situation of that kind. I think it is important to realize that these women workers have just been organized and the union has just been certified.
Mr. Lewis: That’s right.
Hon. Ms. Kerr: I realize that, and because of that they wouldn’t be aware of all their rights --
Mr. Mackenzie: Two dollars and eighty-five cents an hour in a sweat shop.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s why you have to be particularly sensitive.
Mr. Warner: They’ve got a union to tell them that.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- and what could take place in the event that the strike occurred. I’m saying that the employees, because they were employees of a plant that was just newly organized --
An hon. member: The Minister of Labour is really protecting the women in this province.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- and because there were certain uncertainties as to what their rights were --
Mr. Cassidy: You’re unbelievable. That’s unbelievable.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- it seemed to make sense to the sergeant of the detachment that everybody in the plant should have that information --
Mr. Cassidy: That means you condone intimidation across this province.
Mr. Deans: They had no right to make that decision.
Mr. Lewis: That’s terrible, terrible.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- and that is why he attended at the plant. I will say this, that this is certainly not a routine procedure by the OPP.
Mr. Foulds: It should not even be an extraordinary one.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: It is not, and I would hope it would not be.
Mr. Martel: What would happen again?
Mr. Foulds: What have you told them?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: But I think under the circumstances there are reasons here why it’s occurred, and another point I want to make is that because the police had this prior information and because the police were told there was a certain amount of intimidation and there could be violence on the picket line --
Mr. Deans: By whom?
Mr. Lewis: Intimidation by whom?
Mr. Warner: By management. They were meddling.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- there was an obligation by the police to deal with the situation to avoid any trouble before the strike took place.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: What investigation was undertaken by the police to determine whether or not the information given to them with regard to intimidation, or whatever, was even valid? Let me ask a further supplementary so the minister can answer them both while he’s on his feet. Is it true that he said that it was justified because a lot of the employees really didn’t want the union anyway?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: No, Mr. Speaker. I should have probably have made a point of privilege while answering the hon. member’s question. I didn’t say that which was attributed to me in this morning’s Globe -- the words, “he added that only half the workers of the plant want the union.”
What I said to the reporter was that there was a division of opinion there, that there was some exception by a number of employees as to whether or not they wanted that strike. That’s what I said.
Mr. Deans: That’s irrelevant. They’ve been certified.
Mr. MacDonald: In this country, 60 per cent of the people aren’t in favour of you at election time; that’s a division of opinion.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The members don’t want to take it out of context, that’s why they wanted to know about the legal aspects of the strike; and the other point that I made in reference to the bus was incorrect as well.
Mr. Lupusella: Taking into particular account incidents which have taken place too often in the province of Ontario --
Mr. Deans: Does the minister ever wonder why there are difficulties in picket lines? It’s the mentality of the whole thing.
Mr. Lupusella: -- is the minister ready to introduce legislation regulating strike-breaking in the province of Ontario in order that those incidents will never take place again?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Is that like selling hydro to the poor people in the States?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, that of course is the whole argument about the question of crossing the picket lines. It is something the Minister of Labour would be concerned with, and I would suggest --
Mr. Cassidy: She’s not concerned about it.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- that it probably should be debated rather than answered in this instance.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: This was raised last week. The original question was a four-part question. His second supplementary was a three-part question. There were 17 interjections while the minister was trying to answer. We have spent enough time on it. The hon. member for Armourdale.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: You should send me a copy of your question, Ian.
Mr. Deans: It will be in Hansard.
CLOSING OF SCHOOLS
Mr. McCaffrey: For the Minister of Education: My question concerns the matter of declining student enrolment in Ontario, and the related question of school closings and the Jackson commission. Am I correct in assuming that the ministry does not have a position with regard to school closings in this province --
An hon. member: That’s typical.
Mr. McCaffrey: -- and if that is correct, is it reasonable to assume that that position will be unchanged after the Jackson commission report?
Mr. Martel: Yes, no position afterwards, right.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, it is not reasonable to claim we do not have a position. The position is very clear. It is one of local autonomy -- investing the authority to provide accommodation and to make arrangements for accommodating the students, and that this is to be done by the local school board. It is in the local school board’s jurisdiction and authority to close schools if it so desires.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Was his ministry spokesman correctly reported in the Globe and Mail on February 15 in saying that the only reason a full copy of the Currie Coopers and Lybrand management study of the ministry was not released was that it was too technical and expensive to print? Was it for those reasons we must rely on an unsatisfactory edited version? Why can’t we have the full report so that its recommendations can be seen in their full context?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know to whom that statement was attributed. The fact is that what is being referred to as a report, I would rather refer to as background working documents. Also they are rather bulky, and there are only four copies that have been prepared.
Mr. S. Smith: We’ll come to your office and read them.
Hon. Mr. Norton: There were four copies for the members of the steering committee within the ministry. This included myself, my former deputy, my present deputy and the representative of Management Board whom we invited to sit on the steering committee.
Mr. Martel: You can give one away from the former deputy.
Hon. Mr. Norton: There are no other copies in existence to my knowledge. I don’t have any intention of having additional copies of those working documents prepared.
Mr. S. Smith: We’ll read them in your office, how’s that?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I did take steps to immediately release, upon receipt of the report, the full range of recommendations.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can assure the House that if I were to go to the expense and the problem of trying to reproduce additional copies for the members, they would be terribly disappointed because there is no scandal in the place. There are no personalities referred to. There is none of the stuff that opposition members think is in there.
Mr. S. Smith: Can we read it in your office or not?
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition is repeating himself.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In fact, they are just what I said they are. They are working documents. As far as I’m concerned, for the present and until we have continued to deal with them, I’m not hiding a thing.
Mr. McClellan: Then let’s read them.
Mr. S. Smith: What are you hiding?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Members have copies of every recommendation that is made in that report.
Mr. S. Smith: Then we will come to your office and read it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I have no intention of producing the working papers at this point in time until we have proceeded further.
Mr. Warner: Then let us read them.
Mr. S. Smith: Then what are you hiding? We’ll come to your office.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would think it would be one of the most disappointing exercises members might ever engage in.
Mr. S. Smith: Then we will be disappointed.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, by way of a supplementary, when the ministry spends $70,000 on a report such as this, does it not seem reasonable that the members of this House, at least, should see that report and benefit from it? I understand this is not the first time the distribution of a report by that ministry has not been made available. If it’s going to cost the ministry that much we’ll take up a collection and Xerox the matter in the minister’s office.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Actually, the Xerox machine in my office is usually busier than to allow for that length of time to be taken up.
Mr. Foulds: I thought it had been replaced by a shredder.
Hon. Mr. Norton: There is simply nothing that is being bidden in the report. I can assure the member that I am being open with them on that point.
Mr. Cassidy: Then make it available.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps I can take it in excerpts and read it during statements from the ministry from time to time, If members wish, I would be quite happy to do that.
Mr. Martel: Invite us over to read it.
Mr. S. Smith: We’ll read it in your office.
Hon. Mr. Norton: But I’m not intending to spend the money of the taxpayers of this province to duplicate working documents that are for the use of people in my ministry to implement recommendations that I gave to members several weeks ago.
Mr. Martel: Then invite us over to read it.
Mr. Speaker: One final supplementary from the hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: Will the minister give one valid reason why we in the opposition should not be permitted to go to his office and read the full reports there and decide for ourselves whether in fact it was a worthwhile venture? One reason.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Everyone here wants me to invite the member over. But, actually, I think there is --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Invite him over and let him bring his own couch.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- a reasonable explanation as to why not.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The fact of the matter is that I happen -- perhaps just by chance -- to have been elected as a member of the government of this province and I have been charged with certain responsibilities for administrative matters in my ministry, which I am discharging. I have shown the members recommendations that have been made to make certain improvements, and that --
Mr. Warner: The new Jean-Jacques Blais.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- we are proceeding very quickly and very effectively to do that.
Mr. S. Smith: What are you hiding?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I’m hiding nothing. You just see how good a job we do, Stuart, and baby, will you ever be impressed.
Mr. S. Smith: Then we will be disappointed.
An hon. member: You will be Minister of Government Services by then.
Mr. Cassidy: Jed Baldwin would be ashamed of you.
An hon. member: A government of secrecy.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, this morning at the Metro social services committee meeting a day-care consultant provided material on Mini-Skools Limited which provides evidence of serious violations of the Day Nurseries Act and regulations. I now want to present this material to the minister and to ask him a number of questions.
Using his powers under regulation 13A of the Act, will the minister review this material and conduct an investigation with respect to Mini-Skools’ financial dealing with the Metro social services, and report back to this House inter alia whether it is true:
1. That Metro awards its subsidy agreements to Mini-Skools without the necessity either of proper financial submission or adequate accounting;
2. Whether subsidy payments made without a signed contract, as is the case this year between Metro social services and Mini-Skools, are legal under the Act;
3. Whether in his opinion the actual profits of Mini-Skools on the Metro subsidy contracts, which are as high as 24 per cent on tax dollar revenue received, are in his opinion a ripoff?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, I will review this material and attempt to answer the hon. member’s questions.
Mrs. Campbell: Not if it costs too much.
Hon. Mr. Norton: As he is aware and has indicated, the contracts or relationships are between Metro and the particular provider of service. I can’t answer those questions at this point but I will.
Mr. McClellan: Supplementary: May I ask the minister, using his powers under Ontario regulations 232, 71, section 3, will he review the material and conduct an investigation into Mini-Skools’ enrolment practices and child-staff ratios between 1975 and 1977 and report back to this House whether it is true and to what extent:
1. Mini-Skools’ rated capacity exceeds the licence capacity as established by his ministry;
2. That Mini-Skools repeatedly violated licence capacities by over-enrolling at all six Metro day-care centres between 1976 and 1977;
3. That the child-staff ratios at Mini-Skools day-care centres are violated as a matter of habit? Finally, Mr. Speaker, will he --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Put it on the order paper.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The original question was a three-part question. The hon. minister indicated that he would take it as notice, that he would review the information made available to him and get back. Surely if the response isn’t complete, then supplementaries may be appropriate at that time.
Mr. McClellan: If I may, on a point of order, I had asked the minister to report back on a number of points. I have one small point to finish off: Will the minister report to us why Mini-Skools’ licence should not be revoked under the provision of section 8 of the Act? And one final supplementary, if I may, Mr. Speaker --
Hon. B. Stephenson: No bloody way.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, this is in answer to a question that was asked by the hon. member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) of the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch). The answer is some three pages and it has to do with expediting hearings of the Ontario Municipal Board. I am prepared to give the answer now or in the form of a statement tomorrow morning.
Mr. Speaker: Give it as a statement tomorrow morning.
Mr. Epp: I have a question for the Treasurer. Given that he is the minister responsible for municipal affairs, and given that both elected and private citizens in the town of Midland have asked for a public inquiry into the affairs of the municipality, and given the fact that more than 150 signatures were on the petition, would the minister consider holding a commission of inquiry into the affairs of the municipal council of Midland?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, as I recall, we have written back to the petitioners and asked them why there should be an inquiry. To the best of my knowledge they have not indicated to our satisfaction that there are substantial reasons for an inquiry. As I recall -- I am not entirely sure of this -- I think the council purchased some property and these petitioners disagreed with that purchase. I am doing this by recollection, but my view is that what has been raised to date does not necessitate any kind of an inquiry -- a judicial inquiry by a judge, or a provincial inquiry. However, if the petitioners have additional information we will be glad to take another look at it.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Affairs. In view of the comments by the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), quoted in the Sault Daily Star of February 24, 1978, that he was fully aware of the desire of the people of Blind River to have Highway 555 completed to Elliot Lake, and “it is up to the Northern Affairs ministry to set the priorities”; in view of the fact that the people of the north shore of Elliot Lake have submitted to the Minister of Transportation and Communications a petition with over 1,300 names requesting the completion of the Granary Lake Road, can the minister indicate when his ministry will make a decision on this project, and whether or not that will be in the affirmative?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I can’t say that the decision will be in the affirmative. I can’t even tell the hon. member when the priority will be established. It will be some considerable time; but I can assure him we are looking into all aspects of it. I am sure the hon. member is aware of the problems --
Mr. Cassidy: Sure; the minister is the problem.
Mr. Makarchuk: You are waiting until the election, are you, Leo?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- relating to that particular road going into the town of Elliot Lake. There is some concern expressed by that particular community and I think it is fair to say there is not a great deal of enthusiasm from the Elliot Lake end. We are looking at all aspects of it.
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: In view of the expansion of Elliot Lake, which is being encouraged by this government, to say the least, and also in view of the fact that the council of the town of Elliot Lake recently passed a resolution that it would agree to the completion of the Granary Lake Road, will those matters be taken into account in making the decision?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. I think that, further to this, we will wait the results of the environmental bearings that are at present going on and will take place with regard to the radon gas problem in Elliot Lake, which will have a bearing on the development in that particular community.
Mr. Reid: There is a gas problem around here.
ELDERLY PERSONS’ CENTRES
Mr. Bolan: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is the minister aware of the provincial-municipal grants reform committee’s proposal that the grants to elderly persons’ centres be eliminated, and can the House have his assurance that this proposal will not be acted upon, and that the elderly persons’ centres will continue to receive these grants?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can assure the hon. member opposite that those are simply recommendations by a committee. I have not given any consideration whatsoever to the implementation of such matters with respect to those programs. At this point, it is my full intention to continue as we have with those centres.
Mr. Laughren: A question for the Minister of the Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs: Is the Treasurer aware of the testimony of both Inco and Falconbridge before the select committee on the layoffs that the problems they were facing in the mining industry had nothing to do with the level of taxation but rather with world markets? If he is aware of that testimony, why has he granted further exemptions and concessions in his budget which will reduce the income to the province from mining in this next fiscal year to only $33 million?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’m not sure I’m aware of the specific testimony but I’m aware of that statement or feeling. I do not look for the package of incentives which will be brought forward by my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller) to create jobs tomorrow. I think the member is well aware as a northern member that --
Mr. Cassidy: At least he’s bringing it into the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- we have been concerned, and I’m sure the member has been concerned, for several years now that we haven’t had the level of exploration or the level of activity in terms of new mines --
Mr. Martel: This government used to blame that on Barrett. What’s happening here?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- coming on stream either to add to the total mining production or to replace production which may otherwise disappear in a period of time as mines run out. So, the package is not going to have any significance in so far as the world of the current world metal oversupply is concerned, but hopefully it will position our industry to take advantage when the cycle turns in two, three, four or five years.
As the member is well aware, it takes four or five years to bring a mine to the production stage. We hope to encourage through this package a greater exploration and hopefully some new mines. Let me put it this way: if they came into production tomorrow, they would obviously, as the member has said, be adding to a metal glut at the moment. That is not the purpose of the package.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: Would the Treasurer indicate to us how granting the processing allowances for offshore processing against Ontario profits will create any kind of employment in the province of Ontario? Would he not agree that in effect he is exporting jobs, not creating new ones or protecting existing ones in this province?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: No doubt the Minister of Natural Resources would say more about this. Let me simply say I think that particular change is recognizing the reality of life. It’s unrealistic to expect that either the existing refinery in Wales or in Norway is going to be closed down and moved to Canada. I think it simply faces the facts of life. I don’t think we could develop incentives powerful enough or large enough to do it in the absence of the stick approach, which essentially the present regulation is.
Mr. Cassidy: Why not make them be responsible?
Mr. Laughren: Boy, wouldn’t I like to play poker with the Treasurer. They have bluffed you. For 45 years Falconbridge has bluffed you.
Mr. Cassidy: There is not a job for five years in that concession.
Mr. Laughren: Does the Treasurer ever play poker?
Mr. Martel: They keep winning the game.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH REPORT
Mr. Conway: Pursuant to provisional order 7 of the Legislative Assembly, we, the undersigned members of the assembly, hereby petition that the annual report of the Ontario Ministry of Health for 1976-77, tabled November 14, 1977, be referred to the standing committee on social development for such consideration and report as the committee may determine.
Mr. Speaker: I understand that that is a petition to the House.
Mr. Conway: Yes, it is, Mr. Speaker, under provisional standing order 7. I signed it myself.
Mr. Speaker: Does it have 20 signatures?
Mr. Conway: Yes, it does.
Mrs. Campbell: Yes, it does.
Mr. Speaker: It’s agreed then?
SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that when the House adjourns at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, it will stand adjourned until Tuesday, March 28, at 2 p.m.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved first reading of Bill 30, An Act to amend the Municipal Elections Act, 1977.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I have several minor amendments to the Municipal Elections Act. As a result of the change of the election date from December to November it was necessary to specify in the Act that the term of office of the present incumbents will expire on the last day of November 1978. Where such members are paid an annual allowance, the allowance for the year 1978 shall be reduced accordingly. So there is an amendment to that effect.
The second amendment is designed to facilitate the verification of nominators. Others clarify the procedures to be followed when the number of candidates nominated at the end of nomination day is not sufficient to fill the number of vacancies that exist. Those nominated will be acclaimed, and additional nominations for the remaining vacancies may be received on the Wednesday following nomination day. On the Wednesday following nomination day the acclamation provisions will also apply similarly.
The remaining amendments clear up the procedure to be followed when a new, as opposed to a regular, election is required to be held.
I might add that as a result of the change in the date in the Municipal Elections Act there will be a series of amendments required to the Municipal Act and the regional Acts in order that county and regional councils can select the heads of council and set up their committee structure at an earlier date.
MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Henderson moved first reading of Bill 31, An Act to amend the Ministry of Government Services Act, 1973.
Motion agreed to.
An hon. member: It’s an increase in salary, is it, Lorne?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment is to clarify the authority of staff of the ministry to carry out some of the responsibilities of the minister as they may be delegated by the minister to such staff from time to time.
Mr. Foulds: Need this to fix the Thunder Bay courthouse?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It may be.
ANSWER TO PETITION
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I wish to table the response to petition 2 presented to the House.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 1 and 11, standing on the order paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS
GASOLINE AND HEATING OIL UNIFORM PRICING ACT
Mr. Lane moved second reading of Bill 3, An Act to require a Single Price for Gasoline and Heating Oil sold in Ontario by a Wholesaler.
Mr. Lane: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill was to require a wholesaler of gasoline and heating oils in Ontario to sell gasoline and heating oil products at a single price throughout the province, thereby preventing the wholesaler from charging a higher price in certain regions. I understand I have 20 minutes to speak on my bill, and if I wish I can reserve some part of that time for summing up after other speakers have been heard.
Ms. Speaker: That is correct.
Mr. Lane: Thank you. I would like to point out that my colleagues the members for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) and Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot) are both in support of this bill and would like to be able to speak on it. They are not able to be here and the time will not allow them to speak, in any case. I want that on the record.
Mr. Wildman: He is right over there.
Mr. Lane: They will not be here later in the afternoon.
I guess the first question is, why do I bring this bill before the House?
Mr. Foulds: That is a good question.
Mr. Lane: The reason I do that is that I want some answers that I haven’t been able to get. I want to find out why there are 17 or 18 cents per gallon differences in price for the same grade of fuel at various places in this province.
Mr. Bolan: Because of the tax structure.
Mr. Mancini: Because of 35 years of Tory rule.
Mr. Lane: Yesterday in Toronto, regular gas was selling at 91.9 cents. In Elliot Lake the same gasoline was selling for $1.08. On Manitoulin it was selling for $1.05 and in Sudbury it was selling for 91.5 cents.
My understanding is that to put a gallon of gasoline on the market costs about 87.9 cents, and it is broken down like this: Ontario gasoline tax, 19 cents; federal excise tax, 10 cents; federal sales tax, 4.9 cents; average dealer margin, 8.5 cents; cost of refining, distributing and marketing, 9.5 cents; and cost of crude oil, 36 cents -- for a total of 87.9 cents a gallon.
I would just point out that in Elliot Lake the price of gasoline yesterday was slightly more than 20 cents per gallon higher than the cost of producing it.
It’s a conundrum to me why a farmer who has on his farm a fuel tank -- holding 500 or 1,000 gallons in some cases -- can go to a service station and put 10 or 15 gallons of gasoline in his tractor for fewer cents per gallon than the cost of getting it delivered to the storage tank on his farm. This gasoline is not going through a service outlet. It is not being pumped by a dealer. It seems to me that a part of that average of 8.5 cents that’s going to the dealer should be available to the farmer as a benefit for buying 500 or 1,000 gallons at a time.
I have talked to different people in different oil companies over a period of years. This problem is not a new one as far as I am concerned. As those hon. members who were around here in 1972 know, I raised the matter when I introduced a bill last May -- the same bill as I am speaking on today, as a matter of fact -- but, because we were forced into an election, the bill died on the order paper and I didn’t get a chance to debate it. But I still want some answers --
Mr. Ruston: The election was forced by your leader.
Mr. Wildman: If we had changed the government, we might have got some legislation.
Mr. Lane: We were forced into an election, as the hon. gentlemen will recall.
Mr. Wildman: John, if we had changed the government, we would have had some decent legislation.
Mr. Lane: At one point I was told that the difference in price is because of the transportation cost. That is not a fact.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right. You’re right.
Mr. Lane: In my riding we have storage tanks at Little Current and at Cutler, and the big tanker that comes from Sudbury hauls the gas a total of 160 miles -- 80 miles each way. The little retailer in Little Current can follow that truck to Sudbury and fill his gas tank at the pump there cheaper than he can get the gas dumped in his storage tanks at Little Current for resale to his customers. There’s something sadly wrong with the situation when that happens, but it certainly isn’t a transportation problem.
Mr. Wildman: No, it is free enterprise.
Mr. Ruston: Ever heard of competition?
Mr. Lane: The same thing goes for Elliot Lake. If people at Elliot Lake are getting their gas from the storage tanks at Cutler, it involves a round trip of about 56 miles as opposed to 160 miles return to haul the gas from Sudbury. Despite that, the gas in Elliot Lake yesterday cost $1.08 a gallon and in Sudbury it was 91.5 cents -- and the two places are only 100 miles apart. So there is something wrong with the situation.
Mr. Wildman: Right.
Mr. Lane: Apart from mining in Elliot Lake and paper mills in Espanola, the bulk of my riding is made up of farming and tourism. The farmers have been selling their cattle below the cost for production for the last three or four years, and many tourist camp operators find it very difficult to make any money because of overhead costs. Would-be visitors to the area are looking at areas where gas prices are cheaper; and even if gas prices were the same in the north as they are in the south gas would still cost more, because it is farther from point A to point B. Anybody going there for a holiday or living there has to use more gas; so if they are paying the same price, they are still paying more. If they are paying 10 cents a gallon or 15 cents a gallon more, then of course they are paying a lot more. That is what I am complaining about.
Mr. Wildman: They should have a lower price.
Mr. Lane: I have a letter here from the Manitoulin Tourist Association. It has a membership of 150 different firms; 66 of these people are camp operators and 84 are associate members. I noticed, in going over the list, that 15 of these people have a retail gasoline sales outlet on their premises.
The letter I refer to is addressed to the Minister of Energy. It says:
“Dear Mr. Minister: It is obvious that if the tourist industry is to survive in northeastern Ontario there must be an equalization in the prices of gasoline at the wholesale level.”
Mr. Foulds: What was the minister’s reply?
Mr. Lane: It says: “As you know, the north country is very attractive to tourists because of its great beauty, but it mainly consists of a vast rural countryside with small towns and villages scattered throughout. The distances are great.”
Mr. Foulds: Rural countryside? Six of the seats are held by New Democrats.
Mr. Lane: It continues: “The price of gasoline ranges as much as 17 cents per gallon within the large heavily populated areas and the sparsely populated areas of this province. When a family is looking for a place to spend their vacation, the attractions of northern Ontario do not compete well with other parts of Canada or even other countries, when many of the miles to be travelled are to be considered in relation to the fact that the prices of gasoline are well over a dollar a gallon. Something must be done and done soon.
“All the tourist operators and affiliated members of this association which appear on that tax list” -- that’s the 150 people I was referring to -- “and thousands of other northerners are in full support of our member, John Lane, in his efforts to get the wholesale price for gasoline and heating oil equalized across this province. We hope the government gives his private bill on this matter its full support.”
The letter is signed by Carl Irwin, secretary.
Mr. Wildman: Do you have a copy of the minister’s answer?
Mr. Foulds: What was the minister’s reply?
Mr. Lane: I don’t know.
Mr. Wildman: Is the minister going to speak in the debate?
Mr. Reed: Come on over to this side.
Mr. Lane: In an effect to find out why we have this discrepancy in prices, I’ve asked some other officials from other oil companies, when I couldn’t live with the transportation problem, and they explained to me that wasn’t the problem.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right. It isn’t.
Mr. Lane: One official quoted the reason for the difference in price between Sudbury and Manitoulin Island as being that the sale price is based on Toronto price, plus shipping cost. He said: “If one of our dealers cannot meet the competition, we place him on consignment, which means we buy back all of the gas in his tanks, regardless of the loss, and pay him eight cents a gallon to sell our gas to meet the competition at that point.”
Mr. Wildman: That’s the thing right there.
Mr. Lane: He went on to say that there is as much as 300,000 barrels of surplus gas being produced per day.
Mr. Philip: It’s a lot cheaper for the gypsies to take a truckload of gas than a truckload of milk.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right.
Mr. Lane: It’s a little hard to accept because it’s not so very long ago since we were told there was a shortage of fuel and we should not burn very much gasoline. Yet here’s a gentleman who says we have a surplus production of over 300,000 barrels a day. That’s a lot of gas. Sometimes when there’s a surplus, one doesn’t pay too much money for it, but we’re paying $1.08 in Elliot Lake.
Another official of the same company said: “There is too much refining capacity chasing too little volume and, with another refinery under construction in Ontario, this problem of overcapacity is going to get worse before it gets better.” It sounds as if there are no better days ahead, according to the officials of that particular company.
None of these statements really provides acceptable answers to a very serious problem. It is out of sheer frustration on behalf of my constituents and myself that I bring this bill for debate into this House. I personally think the government should stay out of the marketplace as much as possible. I would also hope to keep regulations and legislation to a minimum because sometimes, I’m sure, we interfere in people’s lives and businesses too much. But somehow this great difference in price between one point in this province and another must be corrected.
After all, we are all Ontarians. If our federal government had had the foresight 25 years ago to come up with some good energy policy for Canada, the provinces would now be sharing our resources one with the other and we would be depending on each other so much we would not have to worry about unity or these crazy gasoline prices. But, of course, hindsight is a lot easier than foresight.
I’ll now listen to what other speakers have to say on this matter. I’d like to use whatever time is left of my 20 minutes to sum up after they have spoken.
Mr. Reed: I appreciate very much the intent of the member for Manitoulin or Algoma Manitoulin who wants answers to this problem.
Mr. Foulds: You don’t even know where the riding is.
Mr. Reed: I’m learning.
Mr. Kerrio: Are we supposed to?
Mr. Reed: We all want answers to this problem. Hopefully, through the course of the debate, information and points of view will be exchanged that will perhaps help to put a better perspective on the problem.
I want to say that I sympathize with the concern the member has about the discrepancy in gasoline and heating oil prices in northern Ontario. I would submit to him that if the provincial government had moved to provide some tax dispensation for that fuel some years ago when the Liberal Party asked for it, this bill would probably not have to be presented today.
I would also ask him, getting into the content of the bill, what in heaven’s name is a wholesale price in the petroleum industry? It is a very difficult thing to assess.
Mr. Foulds: Good question.
Mr. Reed: I have done some investigating and I am even more confused now than I was before, and I guess I was pretty confused before. We have things like the delivered price, which is the price the oil company delivers to its branded dealer, and that includes the cost of production plus certain other incurred costs. We have the rack price, which is, I suppose, the price an unbranded dealer pays, in cash or whatever, to the oil company when he goes down and makes a block purchase of gasoline. That does not include cost of transportation; it doesn’t include the cost awarded to the branding of the product or the sale cost that is incurred.
Then we have what is called the posted tank-wagon price which, I understand, is the price paid by farmers and heating oil customers. So we have a whole hodgepodge of bases to assess. Then we add to that the fact that the forces of competition are very active in the petroleum industry at the present time.
Mr. Wildman: To the detriment of the consumer.
Mr. Reed: I will go on to explain that it is currently very much to the advantage of the consumer --
Mr. Wildman: Only in some areas.
Mr. Reed: -- that the forces of competition are operating just now.
We have an overbuilding of refinery capacity in the province of Ontario and it is being further extended in Nanticoke at the present time; to such an extent that if you asked Texaco privately how they assessed their prospects with the Nanticoke refinery, they will probably tell you that they wish they had not considered it.
This overbuilding of refinery capacity is general around the world -- the Arabs did it; the Europeans did it; we did it in North America. As a result, anyone who has studied the economics of refinery petroleum knows that in order to break even we have got to keep the refinery moving at about 85 per cent capacity.
The projections about growth and consumption did not pan out in recent years. So, consequently, last year, the consumption of petroleum in Ontario was revised by one oil company three times during the course of the year. It started out at something around four per cent or a little more in terms of the projected growth. Last June or July, if I remember correctly, it was revised downward in the three per cent area, and it came out at the end of 1977 at two per cent.
So we can see that the petroleum companies made an error. All of the petroleum companies across the world made an error. That error is currently working to the advantage of the consumer --
Mr. Wildman: Only in some areas.
Mr. Reed: In some areas, quite correct. In three areas of northern Ontario -- the member for Algoma-Manitoulin pointed out one area -- the price of gasoline is lower today than it is in Toronto.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right.
Mr. Reed: That’s the result of competitive forces. They’re involved in a very hot war in order to try to keep their refineries going. I would submit to the member that if we were to introduce a standardized wholesale price across Ontario those localized advantages would of necessity be brought to an end. I hope the members of this House would be prepared to live with that eventuality should they vote in favour of that.
There are a few other factors which should be pointed out too. First of all there are some petroleum companies who do not operate in northern Ontario, so the problem is not relevant to them. The Act states in section 6 that the minister may make regulations exempting any wholesaler, either generally or in respect of a particular sale or a particular class of sale. I would suppose the reason for this inclusion would be to exempt those companies who are not operating in northern Ontario. Let me submit this thought to the member, that if those exemptions were made, the competitive forces of course would once again take over. We would then experience a greater disparity than we have at the present time. This is of particular concern.
It is also of concern to me that the incentive for investment by the petroleum companies in northern Ontario would be diminished by these resulting exemptions. It would stand to reason that if the petroleum company considered that it would elect to do business in its largest-volume area, then one would consider that it might divest its holdings in northern Ontario in order to qualify for such an exemption as is contained in this bill. I hope the member for Algoma-Manitoulin might have something to say about that in rebuttal.
Whether or not we should give this bill our support, I suppose, is a question of being seen to be concerned about the problem in northern Ontario, as opposed to getting down to the nitty-gritty and actually being able to do something about it. While I support, in every respect, any move to allow us to be able to come to grips with this very real problem, I see only in this bill the ability to be seen to do something. I really can’t find in this bill the means by which these necessary corrections -- and we all agree that they are needed -- can be made.
The member quite rightly pointed out some of the cost awards and said that distribution was not a major factor here. It is a factor and it’s an important one.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Reed: All right, Mr. Speaker, thank you. In conclusion, then, I would say that while this is a free vote, I will not be able to support this bill. But I would, on the other hand, support an alternative for consideration of the reduction in taxation.
Mr. Wildman: I rise in support of the purpose of this bill, which is to reduce the excessively high gasoline prices in the north and in rural areas of the province.
I’d like to point out, in relation to what the member for Halton-Burlington was saying, I appreciate his concern, as a southern Ontario member, for northern Ontario. I’d like to point out that the problem the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) is attempting to address in this bill is not just the problem of northern Ontario but a problem of rural Ontario generally.
It’s a problem for rural and small communities throughout the province and not just the north. Obviously, as a northern member, along with the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, most of what we might have to say relates to the north. But this is a problem, as the member for Halton-Burlington indicated, in relation to competition especially; I think that’s what we have to look at.
I said I was supporting the purpose of the bill; however, I must say that it’s certainly my position that this bill would require extensive amendments in order for it to be effective in doing what it purports to do.
Mr. Foulds: It has to be rewritten.
Mr. Wildman: Obviously, something has to be done to equalize the differences in prices between the competitive markets of places like Toronto and other, rural parts of southern Ontario, but it should be pointed out for the benefit of the member for Halton-Burlington that places like Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury have prices which, in some cases, are comparable to the ones in Toronto. It’s the small communities outside of those centres that are suffering from the exorbitant gasoline prices that we now face.
Mr. Foulds: And Thunder Bay.
Mr. Wildman: Yes. The price of gasoline in cities like Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins is less than 90 cents a gallon.
Mr. Gaunt: And Wingham.
Mr. Wildman: When the drivers drive out of those cities into the more isolated communities and have to stop for gasoline then they face paying 10 cents to 20 cents more per gallon.
I can give you a couple of examples in my riding, Mr. Speaker. In the Sault Ste. Marie area the price of regular gasoline is 88.9 cents a gallon. In Blind River, which is close to Elliot Lake, to which the member for Algoma-Manitoulin referred, the same gasoline purchased for 88.9 cents a gallon in the Sault Ste. Marie costs over 95 cents.
If you go north of the Sault, Mr. Speaker, you run into even more serious problems. Up there they don’t sell gas by the gallon any more, they sell it by the half gallon. I think that’s to try and hoodwink the tourists. They see a sign saying “52 cents” or “56 cents” and they say, “What a bargain.” They drive in and find out when they get in there that the price in White River is $1.10 a gallon. The price in Wawa is $1.11 a gallon. It’s the same in Chapleau. In Hornepayne and Schreiber it’s $1.13 a gallon.
Mr. Foulds: Is that for unleaded gasoline?
Mr. Wildman: No, this is regular gasoline that I’m talking about. Unleaded gasoline is more expensive and as more cars require unleaded gasoline you’re paying even more.
An interesting point is that seven miles from Wawa, where you’re paying $1.11 a gallon for regular gas in comparison to about 90 cents a gallon in the Sault, there is a large Imperial Oil tank at Michipicoten Harbour. The gasoline is transported by boat to Michipicoten and then, seven miles into the town of Wawa where you’re paying over 20 cents more than you are in the Sault.
Mr. Foulds: Just figure that one out.
Mr. Wildman: Besides hurting the consumers it really hurts the businessmen up there as well.
Mr. Foulds: A very good point.
Mr. Wildman: The problems of competition and developing an industrial base, or even tourism in the north as the member for Algoma-Manitoulin suggested, are compounded by this high price of gasoline. Frankly, northerners are very angry about the whole situation, Mr. Speaker, and feel that they’re being exploited by the oil companies.
Mr. Foulds: They sure are; it’s shameful.
Mr. Wildman: We know that transportation costs which have been used as an excuse for years for the differential prices are only a fraction of the increase in the price. One can talk of about one to five cents difference in the gallon price for the towns that I am talking about in comparison to Sault Ste. Marie, and yet they are paying about 20 cents more. Frankly, when one talks about White River and Wawa, the wholesale price there -- that is what the dealer is paying for his gasoline in most places -- costs more wholesale than the consumer pays retail in Sank Ste. Marie. There’s no reason for that. It’s really an unbelievable situation.
The problems with the bill, though, have to be addressed. There is already a uniform posted wholesale price in the sense of what the member for Halton-Burlington was talking about, the tank-wagon price if one wants to use that. I don’t know what the member for Algoma-Manitoulin really means by wholesale price, but if we talk about a tank-wagon price they have a posted price in that sense.
What I am leading to is that that price doesn’t in the end determine the retail price, because the oil companies in many cases are forced by independent retail competitors, or because of excess competition in certain areas, to lower the prices by consignment sales in that they rebate, as was pointed out earlier; in essence, they are rebating up to eight cents a gallon to the dealer in a competitive market to try to keep him in business. This doesn’t happen in areas where competition isn’t strong. They don’t offer the rebates, and of course retailers make an additional mark-up in many cases, so the consumer is paying double the margin between the tank-wagon price that the member for Halton-Burlington was referring to and the consumer price.
We in this party have been arguing for years, on the basis of equity, that northern consumers should be protected from being victimized by the oil companies. While this government, before the election, gave us a lower licence fee of $10, which they eventually learned also had to cover pick-up trucks and vans, it can’t be forgotten that this really doesn’t compensate for the higher gasoline prices that we pay. Even with the increase in the licence fee in southern Ontario, the difference between the two prices doesn’t compensate for what you are paying, considering the distances we drive and the amount of gasoline we use.
Frankly, I congratulate the member for Algoma-Manitoulin for standing up, in spite of the reticence of the members of his government to do anything about the problem, and pointing it out in introducing this bill. But, frankly, I wonder if he’s alone over there. If the minister is going to participate in the debate, I am looking forward to what he has to say, especially in relation to the letters I have received over the last two years from him and his predecessor on this very problem; it shows a complete misunderstanding of the whole problem and a complete lack of desire to do anything about it.
The question is how do we deal with this problem; and we have some suggestions. According to the bill, the problem would be dealt with through wholesale prices, the companies determining the wholesale prices themselves. Also, of course, there is the problem of the need for exemptions and the companies being allowed to vary those prices themselves. There is no regulatory agency responsible, according to the bill as it’s proposed, and that’s a tremendous hole in the concept as far as I can see.
There’s nothing in this bill that would prevent the refiners from undercutting the so-called posted wholesale price by offering support payments to retailers in the same way they do now by the consignment sales process, unless something can be done to equalize those rebates for the areas that are not competitive, in the rural areas and areas of the north. That applies if the member considers this to be a maximum posted price. If he is talking, however, about a minimum posted price, if he is not allowing the company to sell below some posted price --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Wildman: If he is not allowing this, I just want to conclude by saying he would be cutting the feet out from under the small independents who in the competitive areas are keeping the prices down. We think the Ontario Energy Board should be given the power to set a competitive price and to require the companies to pay the same kind of rebate to all of the dealers in the areas to which they are delivering gasoline, if this is to be an effective bill. Because of the problem I will support it on second reading, but it obviously needs to be amended at the committee stage.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I rise to speak on the proposed single price bill with really mixed feelings.
Mr. Wildman: I can imagine.
Mr. Reed: Make an announcement about lowering the tax.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I respect the intentions of my colleague, the hon. member for Algoma-Manitoulin, in presenting for the consideration of this House a bill he feels would lead to a more rational, a more equitable and a comprehensive pricing system for motor gasoline and home heating oil in Ontario.
Mr. Kerrio: We could use one for uranium too.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: He wants to reduce the differentials among communities throughout Ontario in gasoline and heating oil prices. Many of us in government share the very same concern as does the hon. member. That was one reason why in August, 1975 the government established the Ontario royal commission on petroleum products pricing, also known as the Isbister commission. As you may recall, Mr. Speaker, Commissioner Isbister concluded in his final report --
Mr. Philip: A shoddy Tory rag if there ever was one.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- that the consumer in this province was, in his language, well served by a competitive petroleum industry.
Mr. Philip: The worst whitewash that ever was tabled in this House.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Full-scale regulation was therefore not recommended after a very thorough study of the problem. Since receiving that report in July, 1976, the Ministry of Energy has monitored market development closely and has held discussions on a regular basis with executives of the petroleum industry.
Mr. Philip: You could drive to Manitoulin on the methane gas produced from the Isbister report.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We feel these meetings have been generally fruitful in spite of rapidly escalating world prices, over which I would remind all members we have had no control. The increase of oil and gasoline prices here in Ontario has generally been kept to a minimum through efficient operations and competition.
The need for competition was expressed by the hon. member for Halton-Burlington and was also alluded to by the hon. member for Algoma.
Mr. Philip: You haven’t driven to Florida lately, have you?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: There is no doubt that both wholesale and retail prices of gasoline and home heating oil could be made uniform across the province. But this could only be achieved through complete government regulation of petroleum manufacturing, distribution and marketing in this province.
Mr. Philip: Nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: A partial cure or a Band-Aid approach to higher prices in certain locations, such as proposed in this bill, could be worse than the disease. The consumers in Nova Scotia have had to suffer higher prices --
Mr. Wildman: Only if you live in the competitive areas.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- as a result of their provincial government’s tinkering with regulations. I feel there are a number of weaknesses in this bill, both in its ability to achieve the hon. member’s objectives and in the undesirable implications which would arise from its enactment. In the first place, the bill will not provide a uniform price for the Ontario consumers for either motor gasoline or home heating oil. This is because different wholesalers, under the proposed legislation, would still be free to charge different prices.
Mr. Wildman: So tighten it up.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Furthermore -- and the hon. member for Algoma seems to have missed that point because he just wanted to deal with that one section -- there is no provision in this legislation for regulation of retail prices.
Mr. Foulds: Amend the whole bill. Why didn’t you get some help in drafting it?
Mr. Wildman: Give it to the Ontario Energy Board.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It is important to note the impact of service station dealer margins, which I’m advised can vary from as much as four cents a gallon in some of the larger centres to 18 cents per gallon, depending on market circumstances.
Mr. Foulds: Yes, and gallonage, eh? Do you expect the people in smaller communities to get service or not?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: To achieve the objective would require imposing regulations on the whole commodity, which they would like to see but which is against our policy and which in turn --
Mr. Foulds: Yes, you’d rather gouge the consumer, like you did the Hydro deal.
Hon. Mr Baetz: -- would create a need for an evergrowing bureaucracy, my friend; something we’re trying desperately to reduce, not to expand.
Mr. Bolan: If you want to look at bureaucracy, look at Hydro.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We want to deregulate, not regulate, and all the members opposite can think of is regulate, regulate, regulate.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you just try protecting the consumer for a change? Are you attacking the member for Algoma-Manitoulin?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Moreover, accountability for petroleum product pricing would become a direct responsibility of government, which would be a further intrusion into the operation of the market economy. That’s what they want, I guess.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right. That’s what the member for Algoma-Manitoulin wants too.
Mr. Foulds: Where is the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier)?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Regulations designed to provide more uniform prices would in reality be an estimated $6.5 million transport subsidy on petroleum products moving to destinations more remote from refineries. That’s what it would be. Directly or indirectly this would lead to higher petroleum product prices for the majority of the consumers.
Mr. Wildman: Do you think it’s just transportation?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Regulating the petroleum product prices would undermine the highly competitive petroleum market which does exist in this province at this time.
Mr. Wildman: In some areas.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Indeed, as the hon. member for Halton-Burlington has indicated, competition is currently so keen it is of concern to us, because in certain parts of the province it has resulted in retail price wars which can pose a real threat to the independent dealer, who we feel should remain in the marketing picture in order that the consumer continues to be well served in the future.
In conclusion, I believe Bill 3 as envisaged would not achieve the ultimate objective which my colleague desires and which is one I share. In fact, I believe firmly that the opposite would be true --
Mr. Wildman: All right then, what are you going to do?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- that such a measure could have the opposite effect. That is why I feel that the present government’s policy should continue and why I cannot support this bill.
Mr. Foulds: You mean the present government’s non-policy. You’re repudiating the north.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: In reaching this conclusion I would, however, like to say that my colleague, the hon. member for Algoma-Manitoulin, has done us a service by directing our attention to this issue at this time.
Mr. Nixon: You have been saying he is wrong.
Mr. Bolan: Who wrote your speech?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would like to assure my colleague and the public that in pursuing our policy of encouraging competition rather than the state-imposed regulations which the members opposite would like to see on motor gasoline and fuel oil pricing --
Mr. Foulds: Just try protecting the consumer, you clown!
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- we will continue to monitor closely the petroleum industry to make certain that a competitive market system will continue to be in the best interest of the consumer.
Mr. Foulds: When are you going to become a Minister of Energy instead of an apologist for major oil companies? You are a disgrace.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Bolan: First of all, I support the bill in principle, because I think that what the member for Algoma-Manitoulin is trying to do is to bring to the attention of this House and bring to the attention of the people of Ontario the inequities which exist in the structure of the gasoline and fuel prices in this province.
In looking over the bill, it would appear to me that it arises out of two frustrations. The one frustration, of course, is the high price of gasoline in northern Ontario -- not only the high price of the gasoline, but also the irregularities which exist within the gasoline industry. You never know from one day to another what the price is going to be. You never know what the price is going to be even if you drive 15 or 20 miles from where the price is known.
Mr. Foulds: Or even from day to day.
Mr. Bolan: Even from day to day.
People like to point to the people of northern Ontario and say, “Why are you people always complaining about the high price of this and the high price of that? Why were you complaining about the high price of licence fees on cars and trucks?” The simple fact of the matter is this: It does in fact cost more to live in northern Ontario than in any other part of this province.
That being the case, I think that the government owes some obligation to the people of northern Ontario to treat them in a more equitable fashion.
I think that the member for Algoma-Manitoulin was expressing his frustration in the sense that the party of which he is a member, which forms this government, is obviously not prepared to do something about these inequities.
Mr. Foulds: Where is the Minister of Northern Affairs?
Mr. Bolan: He is not even here -- that is how much he even thinks about the bill.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: What will you do? Let’s hear it, what have you got?
Mr. Wildman: You told us what you weren’t going to do; you are not going to do anything.
Mr. Bolan: I might also point out -- and I say this to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin -- he has got guts. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has guts to stand up on his own two feet and to point out to that party over there that he disagrees very much with the way they are treating people in certain parts of this province.
An hon. member: There is no comparison with what Hydro does to rural customers.
Mr. Bolan: It is absolutely shameful what they do to rural customers.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Get on with your proposal.
Mr. Bolan: I would have expected that the member for Algoma-Manitoulin would have been able to present his case to his party caucus in such a way that they would have done something about the high price of gasoline in northern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Sault Ste. Marie.
Mr. Wildman: I mentioned that.
Mr. Bolan: Obviously his inspiring remarks have fallen on deaf ears. It certainly is not the intention of that government, and this is clearly demonstrated by the Minister of Energy, who I presume speaks on behalf of the cabinet, and who can’t even give it lip service. Probably the Minister of Energy does not even understand what it is like to be up there when you are going from one area to another without even realizing whether you have enough money in your pocket to pay for the next gallon of gasoline.
Mr. O’Neil: Give it to ’em, boy.
Mr. Bolan: As was pointed out by one of the previous speakers they sell gas there by the half gallon. That is how ridiculous the price has gone out of sight.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Get on with your proposal; let’s hear what you have to offer.
Mr. Bolan: When the minister gets up and speaks on behalf of the government, which he has just done, he confirms what I have been saying in this House and what I have been saying on the street. He is confirming that his government, his party, has abdicated its responsibilities and it has abdicated its will and its desire to govern the province.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Give us your better idea, come on, I am waiting.
Mr. Ruston: Resign, let’s go.
Mr. Bolan: Addressing myself to the bill, I say to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin it would be with much difficulty that he would be able to effectuate this bill. I look at, for example, his definition for uniform gasoline price and I look at the wholesale price. How he arrives at a wholesale price is something, I would suggest, which would have to be determined. We don’t know how he arrives at it. In effect, he is leaving it up to the government, through regulation, to determine what that wholesale price will be. So unless he has some kind of regulatory mechanism to set that wholesale price, then I would say to him that he is in difficulty with the bill.
But as I indicated to you earlier, Mr. Speaker, we will support the bill in principle, because I think the member is right in trying to do what should be done for that area.
There is another way, of course, but this can’t be done through a private member’s bill. That is through the gasoline tax structure. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin may be able to impress upon these other people who sit over there that what the government ought to consider is tax rebates in certain regions of this province. I suggest to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin that that may be a more appropriate way of trying to remedy this inequity.
One clause which really does give me some concern -- it is what I call a catch-22 clause -- is paragraph 6, where he says that the minister may make regulations exempting any wholesaler. Let’s assume that the bill were to pass: Under this, the minister can exempt any wholesaler from the provisions of this bill. With that clause in the bill, and assuming that the bill were to pass, we are giving the Minister of Energy, who has denounced the bill, the opportunity to exempt any wholesaler who applies.
Mr. Foulds: Putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank again.
Mr. Bolan: I would suggest to the hon. member for Algoma-Manitoulin that the bill really loses whatever impact it has by including that particular clause.
As I indicated earlier, on general fundamental principles I will support the bill. Perhaps something can be done with it in committee -- if it should go to committee -- to beef it up. But, as I also said earlier, I personally want to congratulate the member for Algoma-Manitoulin for bringing some of the inequities which exist to the attention of this House and to the attention of the people of Ontario.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Etobicoke. And I would like to remind him that the hon. member for Algoma will resume his remarks at 4:38.
Mr. Philip: I would like to compliment the hon. member for Algoma-Manitoulin on his bill. The hon. member and I served together on a committee that studied regulation at some great length. He certainly has a better grasp of the value of regulation, at least in terms of the trucking industry, than does his minister, who had the audacity to introduce a silly bill like Bill 21, which I guarantee will not pass in this House.
Mr. Gregory: What bill are you debating?
Mr. Nixon: That’s out of order.
Mr. Philip: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has raised a number of questions. The fact is that his government has failed to get the answers to the questions that the member has raised and to many other questions that have been raised in this House. They had a perfect opportunity to obtain that information in the Isbister commission, which heard much testimony that the essence of the problem was the large vertical integration by the large, monopolistic oil companies. Anyone who has read through the reports on matters concerning the gasoline market in British Columbia, tabled in December 1975, or indeed who sat through any of the Isbister commission hearings, could not help but understand that the real problem deals with the whole vertical integration of the oil industry.
A number of members have pointed out that there is a problem of overcapacity, and there is little doubt that is the case in the case of the refineries. There is little doubt in my mind though, that the problem we are facing is a problem of monopoly. While there is competition, as the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Baetz) has pointed out, and certain price wars, they only exist at local levels. When you examine what takes place in those price wars, you invariably find that the consumer is being squeezed because the monopolies are squeezing out the independent dealers and the independent service stations.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: No, they are not; we are watching that.
Mr. Philip: A number of members have suggested it would be difficult to discover what the wholesale price would be. I suggest that the Ontario Energy Board could determine a competitive price level on the basis of the maximum or average rebates offered to dealers in the major regional centres.
I suggest that this government has failed to come up with any energy policy. If they had, they would have realized that at the centre of that policy would be divorcement legislation that would get the oil companies out of the retailing game.
Mr. Foulds: Damn right. Exactly right. And get Denison out of the uranium game.
Mr. Philip: I suggest that at the centre of that legislation would come the power of the Ontario Energy Board to find out what the oil companies really are doing in this province not to do the kind of whitewash the Isbister commission did. I suggest that if this government were serious, it would work with the Ontario Energy Board and we would have competition; then we wouldn’t need to have the kind of well-meaning, piecemeal legislation which the member for Algoma-Manitoulin has just introduced.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: You’d regulate all the competition away -- more government interference.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin. I believe there are nine minutes left.
Mr. Lane: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will respond in the order that the members spoke.
My friend from Halton-Burlington said we should have listened to the Liberals when they wanted to make some adjustment on the tax. Well we need the tax in order to build roads and keep the roads up. We in northern Ontario maybe are more aware of that than some people down here.
Mr. Reed: I suppose you could say you need some licensing fees.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Lane: The only thing I could say to the hon. member regarding the tax is that the federal government is taking 14.9 cents a gallon and I don’t see them putting any money into highways in Ontario, not even the Trans-Canada Highway, even though they do it in other provinces. We here in Ontario must support our entire network of highways and municipal roads through the gas tax that we now collect.
Mr. Reed: Tell your Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) to get busy.
Mr. Lane: So I really can’t agree that we should cut the tax.
Mr. Reed: Put them to work and make our case in Ottawa.
Mr. Lane: Of course, the other thing, as the member for Algoma has pointed out, is this isn’t a north-south problem.
Mr. G. Taylor: They won’t listen in Ottawa.
Hon. B. Stephenson: We keep trying.
Mr. Lane: This is a sparsely populated area problem against a heavily populated area problem --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Like the UIC program. We’ve been trying that for a year.
Mr. O’Neil: Behave yourself, Bette.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You don’t get anywhere.
Mr. Lane: -- so you just can’t have tax apply here and tax not applying someplace else or a differential in the tax. I don’t really think we can do it that way.
Again, I would say to the member for Halton-Burlington that I’m not as concerned about the big oil companies as he seems to be.
Mr. Foulds: You are losing credibility, John.
Mr. Lane: I’m more concerned about the farmers and the tourist operators and the small business people in the sparsely populated parts of this province.
Mr. Reed: I’m concerned about investment in northern Ontario.
Mr. Foulds: They have to buy gas.
Mr. Lane: Maybe that member has more shares in the gas company than I have, I don’t know.
Mr. Reed: Not yet.
An hon. member: He’s putting his commercial money into that.
Mr. Foulds: Do you have any? Do you have shares in a gas company, John?
Mr. Lane: To my colleague from Algoma, I would like to say that I’m sure he understands the bill probably better than some people in this House, because he and I share some of the same kinds of problems in our adjoining ridings.
Mr. Kerrio: I think we pay more money for gas in Niagara Falls.
Mr. Lane: I can appreciate that the bill, if it is carried today, will need to have some amendments --
Mr. Foulds: Force a vote on it, John.
Mr. Lane: -- and will need to go into committee. I’ll see that it goes into standing committee on resources development where we can all look at it and hopefully then we can all look at it and hopefully the members opposite can help me improve the bill.
Mr. Foulds: The Minister of Northern Affairs will help you.
Mr. Kerrio: It’s about time the Minister of Northern Affairs arrived.
Mr. Reed: Where were you? We were talking about your bill.
Mr. Lane: I would like to thank the Minister of Energy for his remarks and offering to monitor this problem if this bill should fail to get through the House today. If that should be the case, I shall be watching and waiting --
Mr. Foulds: The bill will get through if the cabinet doesn’t block it, John.
Mr. Lane: -- and asking the minister for results from the monitoring he is doing with the oil companies, because this differential in price just has to be corrected.
Mr. Wildman: He still thinks it’s only transportation. He doesn’t understand.
Mr. Philip: Where are the independent service station operators now that they’re bankrupt?
Mr. Lane: It has to be corrected.
I would thank the member for Nipissing (Mr. Bolan) for his remarks. I know he is a legal person, and he can understand that I, not being a legal person, probably would not have the correct wording in the bill.
Mr. Kerrio: Don’t apologize for that, with their record.
Mr. Lane: Again, as I said to the member for Algoma, if we get into committee with the bill --
Mr. Ruston: Right.
Mr. Lane: -- hopefully the members can help me make it a better bill so that it will do a better job.
Mr. Foulds: Not if, when. Why are you so pessimistic?
Mr. Lane: The member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) pointed out that he and I sat together on a committee. We didn’t always agree but we had a fair bit of respect for each other and we both learned a great deal, I think, about transportation and transportation costs.
Mr. Philip: About the value of regulations.
Mr. Lane: I appreciate very much his remarks and thank him for his moral support in any case.
Mr. Foulds: Legislative support.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That completes the time allotted for Bill 3. It will be dealt with further at 5:45.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. O’Neil moved second reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, in the explanatory note, if I might read from the bill: “The purpose of this bill is to increase the time for notice to an employee whose employment is to be terminated where the employer plans to terminate the employment of 50 or more employees within a short period of time. The bill also requires the employer, when requested, to confer with the minister and any trade union that represents the employees to discuss alternative methods of reducing the number of terminations.”
Mr. Speaker, before I start on the explanation of this, I would like to reserve approximately 10 minutes at the end for the final discussion.
The minister might note that the amendment relates only to mass terminations, that is the termination of 50 or more employees during any period of 12 weeks or less, as has occurred all too frequently in Ontario recently, as exemplified by the layoffs at Inco and Falconbridge. There are two main components to the bill: Increasing the period of notice which an employer must give; and secondly, requiring the employer to give notice to the Ministry of Labour in the event of a mass layoff.
The purpose of increasing the period of notice is fairly obvious, namely, to enable discharged employees to make suitable arrangements with respect to other employment, housing, schooling et cetera. A long lead time may be required in the case of a mass termination because a large number of employees, perhaps with similar skills, will be laid off in essentially the same job market. The problem is particularly acute when the layoff occurs in a locality where there is only one major employer or type of employer, such as in Sudbury or Port Colborne.
I have been able to do a little research into notice provisions in other jurisdictions. It appears that the period of notice of termination required in France is one year and in Sweden six months. I am sure that the minister, with the resources available in her ministry, could undertake more comprehensive research in this regard and provide it for us, if this does go to committee.
I have also obtained a copy of Swedish legislation dealing with individual as compared to mass terminations. In the Swedish legislation, it appears that where an employee has been working for the same employer for at least two years, the length of notice which must be given by the employer varies with the age of the employee. For example, he must give two months notice to an employee aged 45 but at least six months notice to an employee of 55. I find this a novel proposition and commend it to the minister for further study.
I have also heard the minister speak on many occasions of the need for increased employer-employee business co-operation. I note that the Employment Standards Act currently requires the employer to co-operate with the minister during the period of notice to employees. I feel this requirement should be strengthened so that the employer is required in all cases to communicate with the minister at the beginning of what I propose to be an extended notice. I feel this might have had a beneficial effect for example, with respect to the recent Inco and Falconbridge layoffs. There seemed to be some concern on the part of the Inco officials that discussion with the minister prior to the period of notice would somehow have been a contravention of securities legislation.
When questioned on this matter in the estimates, I understand the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Grossman) disagreed with the view taken by Inco officials, while some of the officials are reported to have agreed with the stand taken by them. I think this entire matter should be clarified with the rights of workers given some consideration.
I have also found that the members of the European Common Market have passed a directive related to collective redundancies, or what we would call mass terminations. I note that the directive stipulates three main requirements as follows: Employers should consult workers representatives in advance about proposed layoffs; employers should notify the relevant government ministry of such layoffs; the relevant government ministries should be able to postpone the layoffs in such situations.
I would commend a study of this document to the minister. We have had some discussion with employer groups with respect to this proposal. They have some concern, particularly with respect to market fluctuation. However, industry in this province has learned to live with a 16-week notice, and it is not clear to me that they could not also adjust to the longer period of notice.
As I have mentioned, this bill would apply only to mass layoffs. Our members have also been informed of certain problems and inequities with respect to the operation of the bill concerning temporary layoffs. For example, one of our members received a letter whereby a long-term employee was to be temporarily laid off with only several hours notice. While this may technically be in accordance with the current employment standards provision, in my view, the provisions with respect to individual layoffs may also require further examination.
In any event, I urge that this bill be given second reading and sent to committee so that it can be examined in detail.
Mr. Renwick: I arise to join in the debate with a considerable degree of interest and concern about the bill. We will, of course, support the bill and trust that the government will have the good sense to send it to a committee so that we can give some consideration and depth of attention to the intention of the bill.
It’s an interesting coincidence that it’s exactly eight years ago this week that the employees of the Dunlop Tire Company plant in my riding were given notice that the plant was to be shut down. There had been no prior communication, apart from one sort of afternoon tea party exchange between the Minister of Labour and the president of Dunlop. Notice was given to the employees on a Friday afternoon, on March 6, 1970; the plant was closed and vacated by May 1, and at the end of May the minister introduced the first provision dealing with this whole question to amend the Employment Standards Act, and it was passed by the House after a long debate at the end of June, 1970.
I think it may be well worthwhile to recall the traumatic effect which that closing had on the persons directly affected, the riding of Riverdale, Local 132 of the United Rubberworkers and all of the people who were involved in that occasion. There was nothing that was left undone by anybody in the union, amongst the employees and in the neighbourhood to try to persuade the government to protect the men and women in that plant. So 600 or 700 men and women lost their jobs in a very short period of time, the great bulk of them men and women of very long service. When I say very long service, I spelled it out when I spoke in the assembly, both in the Throne Speech debate in 1970, in March --
Mr. Nixon: I remember it well.
Mr. Renwick: -- and when I spoke again on the second reading, as did the member for Brant-Norfolk or wherever it is --
Mr. Nixon: Those places.
Mr. Renwick: -- because we were all very much concerned that the government did not seem to understand that there is now an obligation on corporations not to take unilateral decisions without lengthy and adequate prior consultation. The government had commissioned the Rand commission to study the whole question of labour relations and the mutual responsibilities of employers and employees to themselves and the public interest which is involved in it, and it specifically stated that in this day and age it was not proper for that kind of decision to be made.
I can recall the specific statement made by Mr. Justice Rand, and I quote from his report: “Industry and business today are carried on for the benefit of all three interests -- employer, employee, and public -- a conception which does not admit the right of an employer, regardless of the circumstances, to send a senior employee into the wilderness as a result or a means of gaining an operating benefit.” I just want to say that was in 1970, in June, and there was in my opinion a direct causal connection between the Dunlop closing and the introduction of the first provisions related to this notice, which are now before the House for amendment proposed by my friend.
It does seem to me that there is still something seriously wrong when we have to talk about the kind of notice which even my friend has incorporated in his bill, when we consider men and women of very long service being given that very short termination notice. It is instructive to note in a very class sense that the only person really protected at common law with respect to the termination of their employment are persons who have a professional capacity, such as engineers, or lawyers, or accountants, or persons who have a particular skill. In case after case where they have a contract of service for a definite or indefinite period, they’re given notice, they go to the court and they’re protected up to a year, a year and a half, two years.
We had many such cases fought in this province at the time of the shutdown of the aircraft plant at Malton under that disastrous decision of Prime Minister Diefenbaker, and each time we get the impression that the only person who gets adequate protection -- adequate protection -- is somebody who has a special skill or a special trade.
In those circumstances, the whole question of availability of other employment, loss of remuneration and the length of time to be given is considered by the court. Principles were established and notice was given, but we are still using, for ordinary men and women in the work force, a uniform method, not graded at all with respect to the length of time of the service which people have given to a particular plant. So in the case of Dunlop, it didn’t matter whether you were hired two months before, or were an employee of two years’ standing, or whether you were an employee of 30 years’ standing; you got the identical notice, you got the identical remuneration. That was at a time when only the company made the decision about the length of time that the notice was to be given.
I went back to Hansard to check, and at the time the bill was introduced into the House we moved a reasoned amendment which tried to give effect to two principles. One was that there was an obligation not to treat everybody the same way, but to take into account the length of time that each of the persons affected by a shutdown were in the service of the company. It required the employer to pay on that basis.
In the reasoned amendment, we also tried to give to the minister, and to the ministry, the authority to look into the whole question of curtailment of operations; the whole question of shrinkage of labour force of any plant; and to decide whether or not, as a business matter and as a matter of obligation to the society in which that plant had been operating, it was a fair and reasonable adjustment which was being made by the employer with respect to his employees.
We were then, as now, quite unable to change the mind of the government. But I do hope that at some point we will be able to give to the minister the power and authority which will require companies to give adequate advance notice of intended layoffs, both to the minister and to the working men and women in the plant, adequate opportunity for discussion about the way in which the termination of employment is going to be carried out; and adequate consideration for the varying lengths of time and duration of service of the many employees.
I don’t know why it is that, even at this late date, we still have to treat everybody who happens to be a working person in a plant as if he is identical with everyone else, regardless of any variation in the length of time which he has served the company. I would hope very much that the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) will persuade her colleagues that this is a bill, when it passes today as I believe it will, will get to a committee, will be considered in committee, and will at some point allow discussion in committee, with representations being made, so that we can have at least this step forward in the provisions relating to the termination of employment in the case of mass shutdowns. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the intent of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, is very laudable -- to soften the financial, the social, the psychological impact of a mass termination.
The concern for terminated workers, I think, is expressed very clearly by the hon. member for Quinte (Mr. O’Neil) in the preamble to his bill, and it’s a concern which I share very deeply.
I believe it was this same concern which led to the introduction of section 3 of regulation 251 in 1970, as the hon. member for Riverdale has noted. Perhaps I should take just a moment to outline the purpose of section 3 of regulation 251.
It’s designed to give advance notice of mass termination so that the employees can make the necessary adjustments in order to continue their careers without major interruption in earnings.
Secondly, it is designed to provide government with enough lead time to explore all possible means to assist either the company in resolving the problem or the workers in finding solutions to their termination difficulties and to minimize the potential disruptive effects. Like the hon. member, the members of my staff have, during the past year, questioned whether section 3 of regulation 251 fulfils these two objectives appropriately. They undertook an intensive review of mass terminations during the year 1975. This is also part of a total review of the Employment Standards Act which is at the present time being carried out by my staff.
They found -- and I can report this to you -- that terminated employees fell within two groups. The first group was the group that began to seek alternative employment immediately after the termination was announced. The second group was the group which does not do that, expecting that the termination will be rescinded at the eleventh hour, I suppose. This pattern was obvious, regardless of the length of time of advance notice.
Those with an optimism that I suppose could be construed as somewhat unrealistic, waited until they were actually terminated to start looking for another job, whether they had been given eight weeks’ or 12 weeks’ or 16 weeks’ notice.
Our research has shown as well that the first six weeks after a notification of termination is the most crucial period of time. Most of the people who find alternative work in this kind of situation do so within the first six weeks of the notice of termination. I really have no evidence which would support the concept that lengthening the period of notice required would be productive in assisting the terminated workers, or the potentially terminated workers, in finding alternative employment, which is certainly one of the goals of this bill.
On the second point, regarding government action, the staff has also carried out a fair amount of research which shows that all possible government action can and is explored and implemented within the length of time required under section 3 of regulation 251. I believe that more time would not appreciably affect government’s ability to either change or prevent the termination or to soften its effect upon the workers. I have grave concern on that point and feel that a lengthening of the period of time might not be beneficial at all.
Some may feel that the bill would, in effect, provide one benefit -- another eight or 12 or 16 weeks of work. That isn’t necessarily so, because if you take, for example, the case of an employer who must terminate 60 employees on June 30, under the present section the employer is required to notify those employees of the termination by no later than May 5. The proposed bill would not mean that the plant would remain open an additional eight weeks until August 25; indeed, what this bill would ensure was that the employer would simply notify the workers eight weeks earlier, on March 10, and regardless of the length of notice, the plant would still close on June 30.
An extension of the notice period through government action would not appreciably benefit the employee directly or indirectly; and I am afraid that it could have a negative effect because with mass termination -- since most employees find other jobs before the date of termination and leave to take up their new jobs -- there can be rather damaging effects during a very prolonged period of notice, and we have had some evidence of that within the past several weeks.
This situation often makes it very difficult for the employer to maintain the plant in operation and thereby continue to employ those individuals who have not found alternative employment. Obviously, the employer in that situation can’t replace the employee, because no one’s going to take a job knowing that the plant is going to close; therefore, the operation may have to be suspended earlier, the workers who are remaining there are put out of work earlier; and in fact it could provide an additional fairly hefty cost to the employer in that situation in terms of money in lieu of notice.
I doubt very much that extending the notice period could improve that problem. I think it would probably exacerbate it, except for one provision which is not included within Bill 2, and that is the provision that would freeze the employment of those employees for the period of notice, ensuring by law that all of those employees would be required to remain in their jobs until the period of notice had been concluded. That, I think, is a requirement which most employees would loathe to become a part of.
I cannot concur with the hon. member’s suggestion that the four-week period in section 42 of the Employment Standards Act should be extended to 12 weeks. As members will understand, it is far more difficult for a terminated employee to find alternative work if there are hundreds of others seeking jobs at exactly the same time, particularly in small communities.
Take, for example, a situation in which 100 workers are to be terminated. If all 100 employees were to be terminated on the same day, the effect on the individual and on the community I think would be much more serious. If, however, the termination of 100 employees is spread over six months, for example, the effect while still serious is very much less so in the community context.
Section 42 of the Act was designed to encourage employers to space out terminations where it was necessary to have them, while protecting the worker’s right to reasonable advance notice. And increasing that four-week period to 12 weeks would not reduce the number of persons terminated; it would merely mean that they would all be terminated on the same date.
The intent of the hon. member’s recommendation, as I said, is laudable. But I have a suspicion that it might worsen the effect, rather than improve the situation. Under the Employment Standards Act as it is presently written, the mass termination requirements are prescribed in regulation 251. The purpose of stating the requirements in this manner is to allow some flexibility to make changes to the regulation when experience shows that those changes are necessary. That is something that can be done.
The intent of the hon. member’s amendment is to move these portions into legislation, thus inhibiting the kind of flexibility that is now available -- of the type suggested, for example, by the hon. member for Riverdale -- for amending the regulation. In this instance, I believe that a legislative straitjacket would not be in the best interests of either the employees or the employers.
I share the member’s sincere concern about mass termination. As a result of that concern, the ministry has been not only attempting to prevent such terminations when they do occur but to limit the damage. In addition, we have been reviewing actively all the provisions of the Employment Standards Act related to this specific area. However, I cannot support Bill 2 at this time because I do not believe that it will do much to alleviate the financial, social or psychological effects of a termination. In fact, in certain instances it may indeed intensify them.
The ministry recognizes that changes are needed in the termination legislation and to this end our study is being carried out. We will continue that study. It should be completed within the very near future -- I would say within the next two months -- and hopefully at the end of that time the suggestions which have been made during the debate upon this very laudable bill suggested by the hon. member for Quinte -- a bill which has some major imperfections -- I think will be of great help to the ministry review staff in reviewing the termination provisions of our Act so that indeed we can make the required improvements.
Mr. Bolan: I would like to start off by saying that I support this bill introduced by my colleague from Quinte for various reasons which I will express. I do not expect to take my full allotted time because my comments are brief, but I would hope that they will be to the point.
Mr. Mancini: Brief but very good.
Mr. Bolan: On going over this bill, I think what really brought this to the minds of the people of this province is what transpired last October in Sudbury. We reacted in such a way to this mass layoff that one of the members of this House has seen fit to bring this bill forward. All I am saying at this time -- I’m really addressing myself to all the members of this House -- is that I think something can be done with this bill. I think something can be done to improve the lot of the employee who is faced with mass unemployment. This is why I am urging the members of this House to approve second reading of this bill, so that we can bring it to committee and, hopefully, do something with it.
It could very well be that at the committee level it could be debated more extensively. I think that an important piece of legislation like this should not just be given one hour and 10 minutes or whatever the case may be. I think that if the matter were brought to committee, ministry officials as well as members of the opposition -- members of all parties -- would have a better opportunity to explore the whole bill.
What’s so magic about 16 weeks in the existing piece of legislation? Are we playing with numbers or what? My information as to how this 16 weeks came about -- and I tried to get some historical background on it -- is that it is the result of a strike which took place a few years ago when it was generally felt, following the strike, that 16 weeks was an appropriate period of time. As I say, what is so magic about 16 weeks? If 16 weeks will do it, why won’t 32 weeks do it? Again, why should we be playing with numbers when we’re dealing with the livelihoods of so many people.
On going through the bill I’ve also looked at other pieces of legislation in the western world. These people aren’t crazy. These people have some good ideas. These people run sound economies in some of these countries outside of North America. I think we have to take a long, hard look at the type of legislation which they have which affects the worker. I suppose there is nothing more frustrating than to walk off the work line at 4 o’clock one evening and to be given a notice that says: “This is it, buddy. You’re gone. You’re not going to be around. You’re not going to be wanted here very much longer.”
I think this sense of frustration was expressed by the workers who were laid off in Sudbury. I really feel that had there been a longer period of time perhaps something more could have been done. I know that through attrition perhaps not as many people would have been laid off. I suppose one of the complaints of the employer is that he can’t tell from one month to six months down the line, for example, how many cars Ford will have to produce. This is the argument which I get from people in industry. Because of the market conditions, they can’t determine three months or six months down the line what the market requirements or what the demands will be for that particular product.
Surely there’s more to it than just that. Surely these people have market researchers. Surely they study the market conditions. Perhaps they might have to sharpen their pencils. One realizes that when the pinch is on people come up with answers. As I say, perhaps the pencils will have to be sharpened to find alternative ways of dealing with the problems.
The other section of the bill which I would like to address myself to is the requirement that the ministry be notified of massive layoffs and that the notification be done in such a way that the minister and her people can sit down to see if anything can be worked out. I think that’s a good idea.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Thai’s what we do now.
Mr. Bolan: I don’t think the minister did it in this case.
Hon. B. Stephenson: In Inco?
Mr. Bolan: I really don’t think the government did. It knew back in February that this was going to happen when the report --
Mr. Martel: That’s right.
Mr. Bolan: -- was filed from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Mr. Mattel: The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller) sent it to a cabinet committee.
Mr. Bolan: I think it was February 22, 1977, that report was filed. It was filed with the Ontario cabinet and it predicted at that time what was going to happen to the nickel industry.
Mr. Martel: The cabinet rejected it.
Mr. Bolan: In fact, if the Inco officials would have read that report they probably would have seen what was coming.
Mr. Mattel: Or if the government had read it.
Mr. Bolan: These were ministry officials of the Ministry of Natural Resources who had done an exhaustive study of the nickel industry in the province of Ontario. These were their findings and these were their reports. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the ministry did not heed these storm signals that were out, as a result of which we had this massive layoff. All I’m saying is that the more time one has to work on these things, the better it is. I feel that if something had been done in February 1977 with that report this catastrophe might have been avoided.
Again, I don’t think it is something which can be decided in the space of an hour and 10 minutes. This is why I am urging the members of this House to bring this bill to committee. Let’s have a long, hard look at it. Put your people to work on it. The minister has competent staff. Let’s see if something can be done to improve the situation of the worker who is affected by massive layoffs.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be very brief. I don’t really think there is that much time needed on it. I want to say at the outset, as my colleague did, that we will support the bill. I think it has a lot of merit. I think the minister is away off base in arguing that it may have exactly the reverse effect.
I remind the minister that necessity is quite often the mother of invention, and certainly a longer period of time could help this government undertake something they should have been doing a long time ago, and that is a planned, long-term employment policy, or industrial policy, in the province. We obviously don’t have one at the present time, and that is part of the reason we are in some trouble.
I would go a little further than the member has -- quite a bit further as a matter of fact -- but don’t want at this particular time to fudge the issue. However, I would ask him what the difference is between an employee who has served five, 10, 15 or 20 years with a company that has 25 or 50 or 100 or 500 employees. I really wonder if we are not in some ways creating first, second and third-class citizens, with the little additional notice one would get, depending whether one worked for a bigger or smaller plant.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You are contradicting your colleague from Riverdale.
Mr. Mackenzie: No, I don’t think so necessarily. If I am, fine, I’m in disagreement; because that happens in this caucus and we are not as straitjacketed as I find the members across the way are when it comes to employment policies in Ontario.
Mr. Bounsall: Or votes on members’ bills.
Mr. Warner: Inflexible, dogmatic Tories.
Mr. Mackenzie: It seems to me that there should be a longer period of notice -- considerably longer -- and it should apply to employees of a plant of any size, but certainly not less than the 50 employees plant size, and I would go lower than that.
The minister fears that it might result in an earlier closure; however, the companies are going to look at it very carefully because they are responsible for the salaries and benefits of the employees for the period of time once they have given the notice. In terms of corporate planning, most of them should have, if they are as good as we hear from the members across the way, the ability to know what they have to do, when they are in trouble, what kind of planning is necessary, and what costs they are going to have to allow for in terms of the employees.
I say that simply because everything we seem to do seems to be an incentive for business. We have seen, in my honest opinion, darn little in this House that deals with the employees and the problems they have when they are faced with layoffs. There certainly wasn’t very much advance work done in the situation in Sudbury.
I think also there could be some real merit in -- and I mentioned this before in committee and in the estimates -- taking a look at the Swedish system, taxing some of these companies in good times and putting away a little bit for the bad times. Maybe if there were something they could draw on in terms of their own earnings, they might find their way out of a situation rather than close down a plant.
But certainly I wish the member had not broken it up into three sections and created the differential between the employees, depending on the size of the plant. As I said, I don’t think it makes any difference how you do it.
Mr. O’Neil: You weren’t here when I made my comments. I covered a bit of that.
Mr. Mackenzie: In any event, I just don’t think the minister’s comments hold water. I think if this kind of notice has to be given it puts an added obligation on the government, which is responsible for any welfare program costs. It gives the employees notice further in advance that they have to start looking for other employment. I think if the company were locked into the cost for that period of time they would do their best to see that that full period of time was used before the employees were let go.
Hon. B. Stephenson: But if they lose their key employees what happens?
Mr. Mackenzie: I think there is real merit in the bill, and I would hope all members of our party would support this bill.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member for London South.
Mr. Martel: There is a great fellow to be speaking on this issue, I want to tell you.
Mr. Reid: You want to amend it now.
Mr. Walker: I rise, Mr. Speaker, to support the workers of this province --
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Sunset.
Mr. Walker: -- and indicate that I oppose this bill because I think it is contrary --
Mr. Reid: That is having it both ways at once.
Mr. Bounsall: This is a Liberal-type speech.
Mr. Walker: -- not only to the long-term but the short-term interests of industry, of economy and ultimately of jobs in this province.
The bill, as we know, basically will double the prescribed time from eight to 16 weeks in the case of 50 to 200 employees, from 12 to 24 weeks in the case of 200 to 500 employees and to as much as 32 weeks from the present 16 weeks in the case of more than 500 employees.
Mr. Warner: It’s called protecting the workers.
Mr. Walker: I am opposed to this bill for a number of reasons, but there are two that I would like to touch on specifically. I would ask the question: What would happen if these employees were frozen into their jobs? If they were frozen into their jobs, they would not have the latitude they would need to get out and seek alternative employment when the appropriate time came. On the other hand, if they were not frozen into their jobs, what would happen if some of the skilled workers were lost in the line perhaps one month into the mission of some seven and a half months?
Mr. Mackenzie: Have you seen the lineup of unemployed?
Mr. Walker: Thirty-two weeks, of course, is almost three-quarters of a year. If a line were being shut down at some point in time 32 weeks on, or seven and a half months on, and if workers in some significant and integral part of that line were to leave their jobs -- say the electricians or some form of mechanic were to leave their jobs -- what would happen would be that the entire line itself would be shut down. How else could it happen?
No skilled employee would ever take on the balance of the job, to continue for that period from, say, the end of the first month to the end of seven and a half months, when the job would be finished; and the firm itself would be not inclined to hire. What would happen is they would end up paying full salary and having to shut down the whole line at that particular point in time, which would be well premature to the ultimate date of separation.
I take it in this bill there is no reference to the freezing of employees’ jobs; so we have to assume there is no freezing of employees’ jobs.
Mr. Mackenzie: Why not? They’re still the ones who are facing the layoffs.
Mr. Walker: If that is the case, I could see the jobs being destroyed as soon as the line is shut down.
The next thing relates to the unnecessary burden that this would bring upon the employer.
Mr. Warner: You are getting silly.
Mr. Walker: There is a responsibility that we have to the workers. But there is a responsibility that we have to the shareholders of a company as well; they have to be acknowledged as being an integral part of our whole economy.
Mr. Mackenzie: That’s all you ever looked at.
Mr. Martel: For a change, we thought about the workers.
Mr. Walker: What this bill is attempting to do is to destroy and emasculate the entire operation of our economy.
Mr. Warner: Take your jelly beans and go home.
Mr. Mancini: You are a heartless Tory.
Mr. Walker: In the case of Inco -- and I served on the Inco committee --
Mr. Warner: No, put it the other way: You served for Inco.
Mr. Walker: -- just look at that situation: There are 1,850 employees there who, I suppose, are averaging about $15,000 per year in terms of income. If they were to be given 32 weeks’ notice -- seven and a half months’ notice -- that would be about $9,600 per employee. For the 1,850 employees, it would have cost Inco well over $16 million just to carry the line when they had made the decision to cut out the line.
Mr. Martel: What did it cost society to see the layoffs?
Mr. Hodgson: You’re the guys who destroyed Inco.
Mr. Martel: What did it cost society? The cost will be $60 million in unemployment insurance for the year.
Mr. Walker: That additional $16 million would have been imposed on that company instead of the $8 million.
Mr. Walker: The NDP are trying to squeeze the last drop from the lemon. That’s what they are trying to do.
Mr. Mackenzie: Do you want to pass that on to the taxpayers?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Bounsall: You wonder why your revenues are down in the province.
Mr. Bradley: They should have let the cat out of the bag earlier.
Mr. Hodgson: Elie, you were the guy who destroyed Sudbury. Take credit for it.
Mr. Walker: This kind of thinking being displayed by the opposition -- by the member for Quinte --
Mr. Martel: You’d sooner pay $60 million in unemployment insurance.
Mr. Walker: -- would destroy any marginal firm. If this had been applied to a firm like Falconbridge, the company would likely have gone under. That’s the kind of thing that would have destroyed that company. And wouldn’t the NDP have been happy then?
Mr. Martel: Come on. They had to give 16 weeks’ notice.
Mr. Laughren: You don’t know what you’re talking about. You are being silly.
Mr. Mackenzie: As long as they had you in the House, they didn’t have to worry.
Mr. Laughren: You are being silly.
Mr. Walker: Then the NDP would have been happy. They would be gleefully happy when that company fell completely. Then they would be delighted, I can tell.
Mr. Laughren: What a silly speech.
Mr. Walker: This is more than a firm can bear, to go on to the 32 weeks; it’s absolutely ludicrous to continue on for that time.
Mr. Sargent: He is out of order, Mr. Speaker. He is out of order.
Mr. Walker: There would have been all kinds of firms that would have declared bankruptcy. I know the member for Owen Sound is going to support the position I am advancing right now, since he is a person who has worked in this area --
Mr. Sargent: The money was spent offshore, Gordie -- hundreds of millions of dollars.
Mr. Walker: If the employees had some 32 weeks’ notice, almost three-quarters of a year, before the period of actual severance --
An hon. member: Oh, terrible!
Mr. Walker: -- what then would be the value of unemployment insurance?
Mr. Mackenzie: Finally looking after workers.
Mr. Walker: That’s exactly why we have unemployment insurance: to cover off the problem of the individual who in that period of time cannot find another job.
Mr. Bounsall: Let the taxpayers pay.
Mr. Mackenzie: They know they will get a tax credit from you people, so what the heck.
Mr. Walker: There would be another 50 weeks of unemployment insurance available on top of the 32 weeks.
Mr. Warner: The member for London South should start collecting immediately.
Mr. Mancini: He knows what it is like to be without a job, doesn’t he?
Mr. Walker: I think that is reasonable. We have to ask, and understand, what do we expect the firm to really bear? What do they really have to bear in terms of their responsibility to society?
Mr. Bounsall: You are embarrassing the minister.
Mr. Warner: You should resign: You should do that right away.
Mr. Walker: I think that in the case of 16 weeks, these firms are respecting their responsibility to society and balance that off with their responsibilities to the shareholders.
Mr. Bounsall: You’re embarrassing the minister.
Mr. Walker: It’s absolutely impossible for companies automatically overnight to come to the conclusion that there should be a layoff.
Mr. Warner: Is this one of your personal concerns?
Mr. Walker: It takes a while to arrive at the conclusion that 500 or 600 or 700 employees should be laid off --
Mr. Mackenzie: One look at the balance sheet.
Mr. Walker: -- so there is a significant period of lead time that would add perhaps two or three months.
In the case of Inco, it was obvious there should have been layoffs occurring in July, perhaps even sooner --
Mr. Germa: You’re provoking me.
Mr. Martel: You heard the good news but your cabinet forgot to act on it. You might mention that.
Mr. Walker: -- but that did not happen. They carried people something like one full year beyond what was necessary and I think there’s a responsibility these companies have to have --
Mr. Bradley: They are all heart.
Mr. Walker: -- particular when they’re marginal industries. I’m not saying that Inco is a marginal industry, but there are a good many marginal industries which have had large layoffs.
Mr. Martel: What did your government do when they were warned, Gordon?
Mr. Walker: It would completely destroy companies like that to insist on some 32 weeks. In fact, it would end up triggering bankruptcies in a good number of cases where those companies would not otherwise have gone bankrupt.
That is the essence of the points I would like to make. We have to take a responsibility, not just to the employees. We have to balance that off with a responsibility to people who are owners of the company, such as the owners of Inco where this has been most prominent in the last few days.
Why, I think the members would even agree, some of us more quickly than others --
Mr. Bounsall: Some of us not at all.
Mr. Walker: -- that MPPs after four years don’t even get 32 weeks’ notice of cancellation of their contract.
Mr. Bradley: We’ll give you notice right now.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support Bill 93 --
Mr. Bradley: Now here is a working man.
Mr. Mancini: -- An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974. This bill has been introduced by my colleague and Liberal Labour critic, the member for Quinte. Once again, we see --
Mr. Warner: The man who’s against the 40-hour work week.
Mr. Hodgson: That’s the member for Rainy River (Mr. Reid) you’re talking about, Liberal-Labour.
Mr. Mancini: -- we see the Liberal Labour critic bringing forth legislation for the benefit of working people of the province of Ontario. And I hear some heckling from my left, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. B. Stephenson: But Remo, it is Bill 2, not Bill 93.
Mr. Mancini: I hear the third party howling and crying, for once again the NDP have been sleeping on the job.
Mr. McClellan: How would you know? You are never awake.
Mr. Mancini: I realize that when a party is demoralized and confused and slips into third place the way they did, I know that now and then they can sleep on the job.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.
Mr. Mancini: It now is up to the Liberal Labour critic --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Request for a point of order.
Mr. Warner: He is out of order.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, a point of order, simply because the word “confused” has been used. The member said he was speaking on Bill 93. I’ve been speaking on Bill 2. Could you tell me who is right and who is wrong?
Mr. Acting Speaker: We’re discussing Bill 2. The member for Essex South may continue.
Mr. Martel: Who is confused?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. Mancini: I wish to thank my good friend, the member for Hamilton East --
Mr. O’Neil: Point of order.
Mr. Acting Speaker: There’s another point of order by the member for Quinte.
Mr. Mancini: Another one?
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, this was more or less prearranged. We wondered how long it would take the NDP to wake up.
Mr. Bounsall: We waited until he used the word “confused.”
Mr. Acting Speaker: Will the member for Essex South please continue uninterrupted?
Mr. Martel: Would you give that fellow a shovel?
Mr. Mackenzie: We have seen how confused you are. Like the 40-hour week.
Mr. Mancini: I would like to thank the hon. member for Hamilton East for catching that slight error, but that still does not detract from the fact that it was the Liberal Labour critic who took the initiative to introduce this bill --
Mr. Martel: Liberal Labour. Sounds like Pat Reid.
An hon. member: Sounds like a contradiction.
Mr. Mancini: -- when our friends to the left are still in a state of confusion since June 9, and I’m sure that their friends in labour, who have supported them over the past few years, are wondering to themselves just what kind of a mess they’ve got themselves into by supporting --
Mr. Warner: They wonder about your critic who opposes 40 hours a week.
Mr. Mancini: -- one party which is in third place and is constantly confused.
Mr. Bounsall: There is no confusion over the support of you.
Mr. Mancini: There are two important points to this bill. First of all, it gives extended protection --
Mr. Martel: I hear they are going to guillotine it -- led by the Minister of Labour.
Mr. Mancini: -- to people who are going to permanently lose their jobs.
Mr. Martel: I wish she defended labour as much as the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) defends farmers.
Mr. Mancini: I don’t know if the Minister of Labour understands exactly what that means -- to permanently lose your job.
Mr. Bradley: They’ll know after the next election.
Mr. Mancini: When a person has been employed for a number of years and has built up a standard of living, I think this society and our corporate citizens should take all possible steps to make sure that the transition from an employee to a jobless person is done in a very orderly fashion and in a very humane fashion. That’s why I don’t think it is extraordinary at all that my colleague, the member for Quinte, would see fit to move this bill and to have notice extended, for 50 or more employees who are being laid off, to 16 weeks from eight; for 200 or more employees who are being laid off; to 24 weeks from 12, and finally, for 500 employees, from 16 to 32 weeks. I don’t know how any one in this Legislature can tell me that when one lays off as many as 500 employees it’s just done, as if there was no consultation, as if it just came upon us, as if we did not know that in the future the market was going to slump. It just happened.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s not true.
Mr. Mancini: There are four automobile corporations that control the whole market here in North America. Is the minister trying to tell me that their market analysts and their researchers cannot project the layoff of 500 employees, when year after year they have been smart enough to make huge profits and yet when they have to lay off employees they are not smart enough to be able to know what is going to happen?
A part of the bill which I think has been demonstrated to be so very necessary in the past few weeks is where the employer must consult with the Minister of Labour or the appropriate ministry and the trade union involved which is representing the workers. I would like to quote from an article written by Richard Gwyn, which states: “I was informed of the layoffs 24 hours in advance.” This is a statement made by the federal Minister of Finance, Jean Chretien, October 21, 1977, and it deals with the Inco and Falconbridge matter. Can anyone tell me why in our society today the most important people in public office would not be told of such a devastating action of one of our corporate citizens longer than 24 hours before the action took place? I think that’s insulting to the people of the province and also to us as their representatives.
I don’t think the bill is calling for anything extraordinary. It asks corporate citizens to consult with their government. It asks corporate citizens to consult with the representatives of the workers, and this bill asks that corporate citizens give people who are going to become jobless after having permanent jobs the chance for a human transitional period. I urge all members of this Legislature to support this bill and, once again, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Quinte.
Mr. Bounsall: I will be very short, Mr. Speaker. I will start right at the start that as far as this particular private member’s bill goes i have no problem supporting it. I am sure other speakers have indicated what it does. It deals with the mass lay-off section of the Employment Standards Act dealing with termination of employment, and it doubles the amount of notice time for the various categories of employees that are already so defined in this case in the regulations.
I might just say that over the years, from the spring of 1972 through to the spring of 1977, when I was Labour critic for our party, I had argued that mass layoffs, irrespective of percentage of persons employed in the plant, should pertain when 20 or more are laid off. I saw no reason for the figure 50 being retained in the Act or for the figure being as high as 50. Mass termination should start at the figure 20. That is when the weeks of notice pertaining should prevail. This Act is fine as far as it goes in that it doubles the weeks for those contained in the regulations under this Act but it is flawed in the sense that it should have started at a much lower figure.
Also there’s a problem with the Act, though not particularly with the bill in so far as it goes. In a bill dealing with termination of employment, the section of the Act with which it is much more important to deal is section 1 of the Act and not section 2. Section 1 deals with the notice required to be given to individual employees. In the Employment Standards Act under section 1 if an employee has worked from three months to two years, an appalling short amount of one week’s notice only is required.
Our sister province in Quebec gives one month’s notice after one year of employment. They have given that length of notice, I believe, since the fall of 1972, or it may be the spring of 1973. For all those years, either since late 1972 or early 1973, in the Quebec statutes the amount of termination notice required to be given to an individual employee after one year’s service is one month.
Here in this province this Labour minister and Labour ministers before her, I might say, of which I notice there is one here in the House today, are content to have and always have been content to have just one week’s notice if someone has worked up to two years. It’s that individual notice to employees, irrespective of how many others are laid off, which has always been of much more concern to me and which will have much more effect in the workplace.
The present Act under section 1 gives two weeks’ notice for from two to five years’ employment. That should be two months. It provides four weeks’ notice for from five to 10 years. That should be four months. It states eight weeks’ notice for someone employed over 10 years. That should be six months or even be eight months. Our proposals over the years have been six months. I might say that the minister can refer to the in-depth studies which the ministry has done. They reside in the Ministry of Labour library and have been there since 1974. All the arguments are made therein for giving much longer termination notice. All the advice has been tendered by the people charged with making the study to the successive Ministers of Labour about how the times under this Act need to be extended, particularly in part A of the Act. And nothing has been done.
One of the arguments used by previous Ministers of Labour, and I would assume by this one -- we certainly got it from the member for London South -- is that if the employer is required to pay for further weeks of termination notice in lieu of continuing to hire that employee, then that would interfere with the unemployment insurance system. We all know in this House that the unemployment insurance system payouts for a few years now, have overrun the income which has been taken in. When they say they don’t want these notices to interfere with the unemployment insurance payouts, what they are saying is they are content to have the taxpayers of this province ripped off in terms of termination payments rather than have the companies pay them, which is where the onus for that should be residing.
They’re saying they will let off the companies, whose lack of organization and lack of proper planning are responsible for the layoff anyway, and they’ll let the taxpayers of Canada pay for that lack of organization, foresight and planning on behalf of the employers in this province. I put to you that it is reprehensible to take that attitude. You’re quite willing, over there -- at least, as stated today, the member for London South is quite willing -- to do that.
If the former Minister of Labour, now the member for Humber (Mr. MacBeth), speaks to the bill, this was his argument for not making this change when it was presented to him in the 1975 Labour estimates. As I say, that is a position which says: “We would prefer to have the taxpayers of Canada ripped off through payments out of UIC than to put the proper onus on the employers in the province when that occurs.” It’s simply not a valid argument. I don’t see, in this instance, why the taxpayers should pay when the responsibility lies clearly with the lack of planning of the employers in this province.
Because of another meeting I wasn’t in the House to hear the remarks of the member for Riverdale, whose effort was responsible for this section coming into the Act in the first place. But I would say that what was obtained then was the very maximum which could be squeezed out of the government of the day, while we recognized it, on this side, to be bare minimum protection. To think it has not been changed for nine years indicates the attitude of the government with respect to terminations of workers by employers of this province.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh, come on.
Mr. Bounsall: It is an attitude of saying to employers: “Go ahead, and do virtually anything you wish.”
Hon. B. Stephenson: There’s exactly the same thing in every other jurisdiction in Canada.
Mr. Mancini: You have no social conscience.
Mr. MacBeth: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Martel: There’s the former Minister of Labour. There is another defender of the working people.
Mr. Sargent: How does it feel to be a private citizen, John?
Mr. MacBeth: I want a little time to say a few words. I hadn’t intended to rise on this bill but the good member for Windsor-Sandwich took my name in vain and I thought perhaps I should say a word on my own behalf in the matter of labour.
When it comes to notice, fair is fair. So many of the people on the opposite side of the House always put the employer in the black hat. Some employers wear white hats and some employers don’t have very big heads either, and they don’t have very big pocketbooks. But, as I say, fair is fair, and if they’re to give notice then perhaps the employee should have to give notice too.
I remember, when I was Minister of Labour, the number of complaints I got from employers whom the Ministry of Labour took to court because they hadn’t given proper notice. Yet when an employee suddenly walked out and gave no notice at all there was little that the Ministry of Labour would do for them and there was little point in getting after those people individually.
So I’m saying that if you want to make the employer give this kind of notice, perhaps it is fair that the employee, likewise, should have to give the employer that kind of notice -- if the planning is all that far advanced as some of the people in the Liberal caucus seem to think it is.
Mr. Makarchuk: It might be fair to tell the OPP to lecture management too on strike breaking.
Mr. MacBeth: No employer wants to lay people off. They only do it for one reason and that is because their business is not succeeding.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, you’re right, John.
Mr. MacBeth: They don’t do it because they want to ruin their own business. They don’t do it because they don’t like their employees. They do it out of economic necessity.
If we’re to encourage the small businessman -- and I tell you that all business people in this province are not Inco -- there are a lot of small corporations who --
Mr. Mancini: Small businesses lay off 500 people?
Mr. MacBeth: -- try to do fairly by their employee. But, at the same time, if we want to encourage these people, then we must make reasonable laws for the employers as well. We hear from the other side so often how they want to encourage people to invest in this country. As I said, fair is fair and if we’re going to have one set of rules for the employees we better make sure that the set of rules for the employers is equally just.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for London Centre, for no more than two minutes.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, in fairness now, I always get caught at the end.
An hon. member: What, are we out of time?
Mr. Peterson: I am very happy to rise on this bill, with the very mixed point of view that I have. At the outset, I want to compliment my colleague, the next Minister of Labour in this House. I want to say that I think he has shown a great deal of sensitivity and understanding in bringing this bill forward. It amazes me how this chap has grabbed hold of his critic’s job in labour, Mr. Speaker, and we are still friends and we are still associates.
Mr. Martel: Yes he has. He voted against a 40-hour work week. Tell us how he grabs it by the handle.
Mr. Peterson: Every day the working people of this province are coming to my friend, the member for Quinte, and responding to his leadership.
Mr. Peterson: I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, he has done wonderful things for the Liberal Party. He has opened up new avenues for this party, and legions of support heretofore belonging to our friends on the left.
Mr. Nixon: More, more.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, with a combination of that kind of support plus other kinds of support in this province, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will be forming the government at the next election, due in very large measure to the efforts of my friend.
Mr. Peterson: However, Mr. Speaker, I want to just speak very briefly on this issue, because I cannot support this bill at this time. It is with great regret that I am on the same side of this issue as my red-necked friend from London South (Mr. Walker) because I really don’t like to be associated with him in any way.
Mr. Sargent: That’s understandable.
Mr. Peterson: Unfortunately, I hope that it’s not construed that way.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: What makes you think his feelings are anything but the same?
Mr. Peterson: I want to say at this time that I have sympathy with the import and with the ideas behind the bill.
Mr. Martel: That’s what he said about the 40-hour work week too.
Mr. Peterson: Ideally it’s the kind of legislation that we do need, but in this time of great economic trouble in this province, in a time when we are facing very serious deindustrialization, when there’s a very major crisis of confidence in the investment community, then I say that this may be just one more nail in the coffin of industry and enterprise in this province and I say that this should be delayed.
Mr. Mackenzie: Are you going to cross the floor too?
Mr. Peterson: This is the kind of bill that would not help the situation now. My very great regret is this, that decisions that are made in the investment community, in the corporate boardrooms and when the people --
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member’s time is up.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I know my friend, the member for Quinte, who was going to take 10 minutes, wants to cede to me at least three or four minutes of that, he being a decent sort of chap.
Mr. Hodgson: Withdraw the bill, withdraw the bill.
Mr. Martel: Oh there is the friend of labour.
Mr. Foulds: Cut him off, his time has expired.
Mr. Peterson: I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, we will never know in this House the ill effects of this bill because there is no scientific way of measuring them; but I can say this, that the investment community, the people making these decisions are getting increasingly disgruntled about the province of Ontario as a place to invest or as a place to participate on future growth.
Mr. Foulds: Boy, it sure is nice to get stabbed in the back by your own colleagues.
Mr. G. Taylor: David, come on over.
Mr. Peterson: We cannot afford at this point in our history any more of this kind of self-defeating regulation, in my judgement.
Mr. Foulds: Marvin Shore moved over, David; why don’t you?
Mr. Peterson: That is why, even though patently on the face of the bill there is great benefit to the working people, and I understand that, as I say; I want to repeat we will never know the ill effects but we will see a gradual deterioration in the economic climate in this province, something that we will all be dealing with from a much more urgent point of view in two or three or four years, unless of course a Liberal government is elected.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I would first of all like to thank all those members of the parties who have supported this bill of mine.
Mr. Foulds: Except the previous speaker.
Mr. O’Neil: It’s also a pleasure to see the NDP falling in behind the Liberal labour policy. We realize it has taken them a long time but they are finally coming around to the way we see things.
I would like to comment on a couple of the minister’s statements. I think the minister and her staff also see the benefit of a bill such as this. She mentioned that there is a study at the present time being undertaken by her ministry and I would hope she would change her mind and those of her colleagues to see that this bill is supported. She mentioned that she felt a six-week period was sufficient for people to find other employment. I don’t think this has been the case with the Inco and Falconbridge layoffs. These people have not found jobs over a six-week period and I would ask her to change her mind on it.
When we get listening to that far-to-the-right member there for London South, I wonder if he has ever had anything to do with the working man.
Mr. Havrot: He is one; he is a working man.
Mr. O’Neil: I just don’t think he knows what it’s all about.
Mr. Havrot: Describe a working man.
Mr. O’Neil: I can say that there was no intention of a freezing as part of this bill; and I don’t believe that you are going to have any of these lines in the larger companies closing down just because they can’t find other employees to fill a position. So I don’t think that stands at all.
As previously stated, I hope that the members of this Legislature will vote in support of this bill; and I would urge that it then be sent to committee to be studied and to possibly bring about some great changes in this province of ours.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS AND PETITION
Hon. Mr. Welch: With the consent of the House, I could table some answers to questions. I wish to table the interim answer to question 10 standing on the notice paper; to table the response to petition 1 presented to the House, and to table the answers to questions 8 and 14 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, I wish the House to recognize that the former member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. R. C. Hodgson) is here with us today.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS
GASOLINE AND HEATING OIL UNIFORM PRICING ACT
Mr. Lane moved second reading of Bill 3, An Act to require a Single Price for Gasoline and Heating Oil sold in Ontario by a Wholesaler.
Sufficient members having objected by rising, a vote was not taken on Bill 3.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. O’Neil moved second reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.
Sufficient members having objected by rising, a vote was not taken on Bill 2.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: May I take advantage of this time to indicate the order of business for the balance of this week and for the next week. This evening we will be in committee of the whole to continue consideration of Bill 59.
It had been understood earlier that perhaps we could wait until all the amendments had been considered by the committee and have one bell next Tuesday evening, but there appears to be an amendment presently before the committee which would have to be disposed of one way or another, because it has some implications as to whether another amendment is introduced in its place. So it’s felt that we should advise members of the House that there is likely to be a division in committee in connection with Bill 59, some time this evening from about 9 o’clock on.
After that particular amendment is handled then it’s my understanding the remaining amendments will be stacked. The plan at the moment is that we might reach the completion of that bill in committee by next Tuesday evening.
Next week’s schedule: On Monday afternoon of next week, a financial critic, the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), speaks on the budget.
Mr. Nixon: That’ll be good.
An hon. member: Another Tory speech.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Then if time permits, if the hon. member is finished before 6 o’clock, we will then go into committee of the whole and carry on with Bill 59. On Tuesday the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) will make his contribution to the budget debate in the afternoon.
An hon. member: That won’t be a Tory speech.
Mr. Martel: He’s not even a plumber.
Hon. Mr. Welch: If time remains when he finishes, between then and 6, we’ll do Bill 59 as well. Then on Tuesday evening, in the evening session from 8 to 10:30, we will do Bill 59 again and hopefully complete the work in committee of the whole some time before 10:30 next Tuesday.
The House does not meet in the chamber on Wednesday, and on Thursday we deal with two other ballot items standing in the names of the members for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) and Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. Taylor), with the House adjourning at 6 o’clock for the winter break.
I might also indicate to members of the House at this time that there have been some discussions with respect to handling the supplementary estimates which have been tabled in the House. We’ll have the motion ready tomorrow but perhaps I might take advantage at this time to indicate to the members the disposition of the supplementary estimates.
Those estimates standing in the name of the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) will be referred to the standing committee on social development, which will start its work on Monday afternoon, it’s my understanding.
Agriculture and Food and Northern Affairs will go to the resources development committee for consideration on Tuesday evening, March 14.
Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs and Government Services will go to the general government committee on Wednesday afternoon, March 15, it being the understanding that all of the supplementary estimates will be completed not later than March 15 in order to be reported back to the House on Thursday prior to the spring break.
Also, we would indicate by motion that the resources development and the justice standing committees may sit next week on Wednesday morning if they require time for meetings.
As far as the main estimates are concerned, we’ll have a motion that will spell out those in some detail. However, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Culture and Recreation will start in their respective committees on Tuesday, March 28 after the break. The Ministry of Government Services will start in the committee of supply in the House on Monday afternoon, April 3.
Some time is being found to honour the statutory requirement with respect to a debate on the 1976 annual report of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, which will go to the resources development standing committee next Wednesday, March 15.
Mr. Foulds: A point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is my understanding that should we complete Bill 59 early next Tuesday evening we would proceed with Bills 25 and 27. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Yes, thank you very much. If by any chance we did complete Bill 59 before 10:30 next Tuesday evening, we would then turn to Bills 25 and 27, being orders 16 and 18 on the order paper.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.