The House met at 2:05 p.m.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of privilege. On March 15, in accordance with the rules of this House, I filed a certain number of questions forming an inquiry of the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson). Subsequently, and within the 14 days, I had what was called by the minister an answer, but which constituted a non-answer to the question, simply that he couldn’t answer within the 14 days.
Later in the House, however, the minister apologized to me, stating that he had signed an answer, and be privately gave me that commitment, too. Yesterday, according to my information, there were tabled in this House after the debate on the minister’s estimates pertaining to the legislative services, answers to those questions -- the answers being dated April 4 and with the notation, “Dr. Stewart hasn’t read this, assumes okay, will be tabled today.”
It seems to me that when a member files questions in accordance with the rules, it is certainly a breach of the privileges of this House and that member, if the answers are delivered in this form, delayed in this fashion, and when we are not able to get the straight answers within the 14 days. I would ask that there be a ruling on this question, since it is very important to every member of this House.
Mr. Speaker: I am aware of the incident and the events leading up to the question that is brought before the House by the hon. member for St. George. As I recall the sequence of events of yesterday afternoon, the hon. Minister of Government Services, before moving the adjournment of the House, asked for leave of the House to table the answers to two questions. I don’t believe anybody in the House was aware of the nature of those answers, and the unanimous agreement of the House was given at that time for the tabling.
I think it would be useful to the House if we did have the tabling of answers of that nature before the orders of the day on each day. In that way, I don’t think the incident that occurred yesterday would have occurred in just that way.
There is no action that can be taken by the Chair. The spirit of the provisional order has been lived up to; there was an interim answer, albeit far from complete, that seems to conform to the standing order. I think it was unfortunate that the answers to those specific questions were tabled after the debate on that particular item in that particular estimate. And I think that, if at all possible, it would be useful if the ministry would table the answers to those questions at a uniform time each day.
Of course, there was leave of the House so there’s really no action to be taken by the Chair. I can only assume the hon. member for St. George raised it as a point of privilege just to call attention to something that she wasn’t entirely satisfied with.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of privilege in response to suggestions made in the standing committee on social development yesterday, claiming that the committee had been given a document that had been altered or tampered with to conceal opposition within the Ministry of Health --
Mr. Bolan: Oh, come on, sit down.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- to increasing health insurance premiums. This charge is untrue.
Mr. Sargent: The minister should be getting up to resign.
Mr. Peterson: You can’t smoke in the House, Dennis.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: To me the accusation that documents had been purposely tampered with to mislead the committee is much more important than any discussion of whether officials within the ministry were in disagreement with government policy. I will not let this charge go unchallenged.
Mr. Warner: Resign!
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Therefore, today I wish to make explicitly clear the sequence of events surrounding the development of the Ministry of Health’s response to the report in question --
Mr. Bolan: To cover up.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- the Taylor committee report on health care costs and the events that led up to this report coming before the standing committee on social development.
Last night I asked my deputy minister for a full explanation in this regard and I will read this memorandum into the record.
Mr. Nixon: It is either him or you, eh?
Mr. Makarchuk: It should be before the committee, not after.
An hon. member: The minister is going to let him take the rap?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I will read into the record the deputy’s memo to me.
“Upon submission of the Taylor committee report to the Premier of Ontario, my staff undertook an examination of the documents. The purposes of this review were: 1. to assess the committee’s recommendations for possible immediate implementation, further study or research or rejection; 2. to examine the external submissions received by the Taylor committee, as well as the letters from the public, invited by yourself, for ideas of merit for containing costs; 3. to assess the overall impact of the committee’s activities, and 4. to produce a summary document of comment and analyses to support the possibility of ministry action and/or release of a response document.
“The following recounts the chronological events of this exercise:
“January 3, 1978 -- Having completed its deliberations on December 29, 1977, the Taylor committee submitted its report to Premier Davis and Dr. L. Loeb of the OMA.
“Early January -- I directed Dr. A. E. Leblanc to have the staff of strategic planning and research branch develop a method and format for the analysis of this report.
January 13, 1978 -- In the Toronto Star you were quoted as inviting the public to submit their suggestions for controlling health care costs. The analysis of the report was extended for consideration of these letters.
“January 16, 1978 -- At the minister’s meeting it was decided to prepare a submission to cabinet committee on social development, outlining the ministry’s reaction to the committee’s recommendations.
“January 17, 1978-The first review of the report was completed for examination by ministry senior management entitled Briefing Notes, Assessment and Proposed Ministry Response to the Recommendations of the Taylor Committee Report.’ It was reviewed informally by myself on January 20, 1978, at which time I directed that an elaborated review document be prepared for management committee examination on January 27, 1978.
“January 23, 1978 -- A memorandum from A. E. Leblanc was sent to ministry division and branch directors requesting their comments on recommendations and external submissions. A deadline of February 15 was given for their response.
“January 27, 1978-Based on the informal review of the draft of January 17, a second document was prepared as a submission to management committee entitled Review and Assessment of Recommendations of the Taylor Committee Report and Proposed Ministry Response.’ Dr. B. Suttie served as acting chairman of management committee in my absence. The minutes of the January 27, 1978, meeting noted that this initial review of the Taylor committee report was carried out to identify implications and to offer suggestions for a ministry response.’ The minutes further noted the comments and observations of the management committee on the suggested response to each recommendation.
“February 13, 1978 -- At the minister’s meeting it was decided to submit the final response to the Taylor report, when available, to the cabinet committee on social development.
“February 1978 to early March -- Comments on selected recommendations and external submissions to the Taylor committee were received from ministry staff by the strategic planning and research branch. These two sources of comments -- management committee review on January 27 and solicited responses from senior ministry officials -- constituted the basis for the continuing revision of the Taylor response document.
“March 7, 1978 -- The provincial budget was presented.
“March 17, 1978 -- At management committee it was commented that the OMA response had not yet been received; also that Mr. Rose would be consolidating all responses to the Taylor report for the submission to the Social Development policy field.
“March 19, 1978 -- At this point a second stream of activity was initiated. Mr. Paul Donoghue, consultant in the fiscal resources branch, was assigned to report directly to me to co-ordinate the collection of reports for the presentation to the standing committee on social development. In addition, he was responsible for the collation of the backup material on the reports for yourself and myself.
“March 20, 1978 -- in support of Mr. Donoghue’s efforts in preparing backup material, strategic planning and research branch undertook to review some 30 documents including the Taylor report and summarize their major recommendations. The preliminary results of this exercise were completed by March 29, 1978.
“March 29, 1978 -- A set of preliminary reviews of the Taylor report was forwarded by strategic planning and research, otherwise known as SPAR, to Paul Donoghue. In addition, a copy of the Taylor response being prepared for management committee in unproofed format was provided to Mr Donoghue. SPAR continued with its work on the Taylor response for the management committee meeting of March 31. Concurrently Mr. Donoghue continued with the co-ordination of the materials for standing committee.
“March 30, 1978 -- In reviewing the briefing materials for yourself and myself, [Mr. Donoghue drew to my attention that the response suggested by SPAR to recommendation No. 1, increase in OHIP premiums, contained in the review document being prepared for management committee discussion was inconsistent with present government policy. The recent statements by the Treasurer and yourself had been ignored by SPAR in their drafting of the proposed ministry response.”
Mr. S. Smith: They were given their just value.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You are always critical of us when we accept the civil service --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: “The section on OHIP premiums needed to be changed to include the policy statements that have been made. At this point -- “
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. All hon. members have an opportunity to be heard.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: “At this point, he and I agreed that further revision would be required for your briefing material for the standing committee and that :this could be accomplished by utilizing some of the letter from the Hon. W. D. McKeough to the Globe and Mail dated March 16.”
Mr. McClellan: Slow down, slow down.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: “Normally, I would have contacted either Dr. Leblanc or Mr. Drazin of SPAR and requested them to make the necessary amendments. Because of the time constraints, I asked Mr. Donoghue to request changes to reflect government policy.
“I must emphasize that this was one more change in the continuing changes to which this paper has been subjected. Indeed it was the fourth version of this response. Other responses had also been the subject of several iterations. Further changes may be made after OHA and OMA comments have been received prior to our submission to cabinet.
“March 31, 1978 -- The third version from SPAR was tabled at management committee but not discussed.
“Early April 1978 -- Following his discussion with me, Mr. Donoghue arranged for typing all of Mr. McKeough’s letter to be incorporated into response to recommendation No. 1, OHIP premium. However, he did not contact Mr. Drazin and the retyped version was not sent to the SPAR branch.
“April 7, 1978 -- The response to the Taylor report was intended solely for backup information for yourself, myself and any senior staff attending the committee until 2 p.m., Thursday, April 7. At that time the questions were received from the Liberal research office including a request for analysis of the Taylor report.
“April 10, 1978 -- It was still intended that an amended version of the response reflecting government policy should be produced by SPAR, but through a further oversight on the part of Mr. Donoghue, this was not done. On the morning of April 10, when the other material was being copied for the committee -- “
Mr. Warner: That’s right -- make him the scapegoat,
Mr. Martel: Who is getting fed to the bears?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: “ -- the response to Taylor with the suggested amendment was included without identifying the fact that this constituted draft No. 4 and should have been annotated to that effect.”
Mr. Warner: He must be related to Jean-Jacques Blais.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: “The intent was not to mislead the standing committee but by making available draft material originally intended for yourself and myself without an adequate explanation of its origin and status, our intentions were open to misinterpretation.”
Mr. Sargent: Why don’t you burn all the tapes?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: “I apologize for any embarrassment caused to you on this matter, particularly in view of your specific instructions that documents being submitted to the standing committee should not he modelled in any way, as was illustrated in your directions to the staff that there should be no updating of the $600 million constraint list.”
This was signed “W. Allan Backley.”
Mr. Speaker, within the working of each ministry in this or any government, there have been, are and will continue to be disagreements over policy options and courses of action for .the government to follow. The very process of policy development in government is one of critical analysis. If officials within the ministries of this government did not consider various courses of action and debated these among themselves, they would not be fulfilling their duties in serving the best interests of the people of Ontario.
With regard to the ministry analysis of the Taylor report, some of my officials had stated their concerns with respect to the funding of the health-care system. As I have indicated, this exercise was being carried out to develop recommendations for the longer-term organization of the health-care system. This exercise is far from completed as more reactions to the report, such as from the OMA and OH, are yet to be received and may significantly affect the final recommendations of my staff. Then it will be I who will have to make the final decision on what to recommend to cabinet.
Mr. Warner: The minister will do what Darcy tells him to.
Mr. Foulds: If he is still around.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The Treasurer announced in the budget the continuance of a premium system. As indicated in the memorandum I have just read, instructions were given by my deputy minister on March 30, 1978 to change the proposed ministry response to reflect government policy.
Mr. S. Smith: Why?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The report was not altered by me or my staff to mislead the standing committee on social development.
Mr. Breithaupt: Who did alter it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would not condone such an action. In order that there is no doubt in the members’ minds, I am tabling today all drafts of the ministry’s analysis of the Taylor committee report.
Mr. Warner: The minister can’t wriggle out this time. He’s wrong and he knows it.
Mr. Breithaupt: It is like the Russian encyclopedia.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There are four drafts, each with various changes representing refinements in the ministry’s comments.
I ask the members opposite, who alleged at the committee yesterday that they were being deliberately misled, to acknowledge my explanation and clarification and to acknowledge that their initial assessment was made too quickly.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I just want to get the minister’s statement very clear. He appears to have come before the House in an effort to save civil servants in his ministry who are responsible for a revision of materials, so that instead of getting material which was prepared within the ministry, material was being directed towards the committee in order to give the committee a different impression of what was happening within the ministry.
He is also saying that over the course of 10 days from March 30 until yesterday -- until April 10 -- despite the deputy minister’s statement that there had been instructions that documents should not be changed in any way, this course of action was persisted in by his civil servants, despite numerous setbacks because of problems of co-ordination between the strategic planning and research branch and Mr. Donoghue and the deputy minister.
I want to suggest that the effort to blame civil servants is not appropriate and that the minister is the person responsible to this House for the actions of his ministry. The minister should not seek to put this off on to his civil servants, nor should he seek to say that there was not an effort to mislead.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s nonsense.
Mr. Cassidy: The minister, in fact, is the person responsible and he should carry the political consequences for this effort to try to deceive a committee of this Legislature which is looking at the whole area of health costs.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The hon. member is a disgrace.
Mr. Cassidy: It is not the first time that this irresponsibility has occurred, but this is the first time in my memory when a minister of the Crown has been found to be putting, before the committees, doctored documents or documents which do not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Mr. Turner: He is making a speech.
Mr. Cassidy: I just want to say on behalf of my party that I think the privileges of the House have been grossly abused by the way in which the minister has allowed this to go ahead. I believe the minister should be brought before the standing committee on procedural affairs in order to account for the way in which the privileges of this House have been abused.
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to address myself to the point of privilege raised by the hon. member for Ottawa Centre. It is my view that there is a very serious matter here which you, Mr. Speaker, will undoubtedly take into consideration as you respond to the hon. member’s point of privilege as he has raised it.
I would draw to the attention of the House an excerpt of the report of the select committee on the Hydro building. It says: “Any person who is required to provide information to the Premier or to any other minister of the Crown in order to enable answers to be given to questions asked in the Legislature is under an obligation to ant in good faith, and to ensure that such information is accurate and complete. Answers which are misleading violate that duty and warrant the most severe censure of the persons responsible therefor.”
It is our view that this is a very serious matter, Mr. Speaker, but we have a feeling that should this matter go to the committee that would normally look into matters of privilege, procedural affairs, and since that committee is already burdened with a good many other items, that in fact it might be many weeks before considering this very important matter. Therefore, later today, in accordance with notice which I have sent to your office, sir, I shall be moving that we set aside the business of the House to debate this matter of urgent public importance at that time.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health has risen in his place on a point of privilege to correct the record and to correct an impression that was left. That does not require any action on behalf of the Chair.
Mr. Sargent: He should have resigned.
Mr. Speaker: It is the prerogative of other members, if they so wish, to get up and to respond to the minister’s point of privilege. I listened very carefully to the remarks of the hon. member for Ottawa Centre. There was a suggestion that certain action be taken, that perhaps something should be referred to the procedural affairs committee. I didn’t hear any motion. I listened very carefully to what the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said. All addressed themselves fundamentally to the same issue.
I must remind hon. members that the very fact that a person rises in this House on a point of privilege doesn’t mean that it is incumbent upon the Chair to take any action. In fact, there is no authority that resides in the Chair to take any action as a result of a point of privilege unless there is a motion before the House demanding or requesting that the House do certain things. I have heard no such motion and I must remind hon. members that we do have standing orders regarding the proper way in which we handle points of privilege. There is no motion before the House, so it is not incumbent upon the Chair to put any motion to the House.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I think that the behaviour of the minister has been absolutely outrageous, and the defence that he has put forward is as well.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
An hon. member: You should resign.
Mr. Cassidy: I would like to suggest, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: It is not a point that is debatable. I gave you an opportunity to respond to the point of privilege raised by the hon. the Minister of Health. I heard you out completely. I heard the Leader of the Opposition. There is no motion before the House; therefore, no further debate is necessary.
Mr. Cassidy: We may come back to this, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Turner: You goofed again, Mike.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CONFEDERATION
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, last April, the government appointed the Advisory Committee on Confederation, under the chairmanship of Mr. H. I. Macdonald, to serve as a source of advice to the government on the evolution of Canada’s federal system.
In pursuing the committee’s mandate over the past year, its members have met with a variety of groups and individuals, including the task force on Canadian unity, to exchange views on the issues facing Canada. Most notably through the Destiny Canada Destinée conference, which the committee successfully convened at York University last June, it has sought wider public participation in discussions about the future of Canada. As you know, the government has encouraged and supported these steps.
On the basis of these discussions, and drawing on the variety of backgrounds that they bring to task, the members of the committee have also given considerable thought to developing and advancing specific ideas which would strengthen and improve our federal system of government.
As a result of these deliberations, I have the pleasure today of tabling the first report of the Advisory Committee on Confederation in the two official languages of Canada. While my colleagues and I have not yet had the opportunity to review the report in detail, I would like to make several brief and personal observations at this time.
I think it is fair to conclude that at this stage in our national debate a successful resolution of the economic and political concerns which now preoccupy us will only come about after a thorough discussion of imaginative and worthwhile solutions by all interested Canadians. The intensity of the principal issues confronting our country may ebb and flow, but my view is the undercurrents will remain. In my judgement, we would be wise not to be lulled into relying on the status quo, but to seize the opportunity we now have to identify where we should make changes and then have the courage to implement them.
As I said in my remarks to the task force on Canadian unity last November and on many other occasions, meaningful changes to matters concerning the human dignity of our people and the vitality of our public institutions are overdue if we are to preserve what we value and cherish. The challenge is to adopt those changes which are acceptable to the majority of Canadians and to all regions of Canada so that the result is a firm and confident understanding among us all. The answers are neither simple nor obvious nor do they relate solely to one part of this country. Reaching a consensus on them in a country as large and diverse as ours will clearly require in the forthcoming months that many ideas be put forward for scrutiny, debate and decision.
For that reason, I particularly welcome this first report of the Ontario advisory committee. As we study these proposals, each of us will no doubt have our own views and responses. Obviously, these are not the only or exclusive or definitive suggestions. But they seem to me to be a specific and creative contribution that merits the thoughtful consideration of all of us. If there are better variations of these proposals, or even better ideas, that’s great. But let each of us he heard.
It is to stimulate the widest possible discussions that I have chosen to table this report. I would, therefore, encourage each member of this Legislature to study the report and offer comments about its proposals. At the same time, I shall ask the chairman of the advisory committee to convene a small but representative conference of citizens, both experts and non-experts, to analyse and evaluate the committee’s proposals. Further, the availability of the report will be publicized to all interested citizens, especially residents of our own province, so that we may have the benefit of their views.
In addition, I am sending copies of this report to the Prime Minister and to the Premiers of our sister provinces for their consideration. At this time, I am also tabling the letters to the Prime Minister and the Premiers, which I am sending with this report. I know that all members of the House will join me in thanking the advisory committee for the many hours that they have voluntarily spent in pursuing these public responsibilities.
All of us in this chamber deeply share a single objective: to contribute to strengthening the national purpose of Canada through a better understanding among all its people. Whether the ideas which will achieve this objective in the coming years come from the advisory committee or from any other source, this government will continue to give them sustained attention and when the appropriate time comes will act on behalf of this province to see that sound measures are enacted.
We now have the benefit of the committee’s first report. I understand that they are continuing their work in the vital area of distribution of powers. I look forward in the coming months to receiving their findings and recommendations on this and other important issues.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: This morning I cosigned a letter of agreement with the federal Minister of Finance which formalizes the reduction in Ontario’s retail sales tax which we jointly announced last evening.
Mr. McClellan: The McKeough budget.
Mr. Martel: That is 1975 in extension.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am now tabling this letter for the information of the members, as well as my statement, which includes unaudited Ontario finances for 1977-78.
Mr. Martel: Shades of 1975 all over again.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The Liberals are only three years behind us.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Later this afternoon, my colleague, the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck), will introduce legislation to implement the reduction in sales tax from seven to four per cent for the period April 11 to October 7 inclusive. It will add a full $433 million to the spending power of Ontario consumers over the next six months.
Mr. Martel: That will do nothing to resolve unemployment.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: When is the last time the member got a standing ovation in Sudbury?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: As the members are aware, the federal government will pick up two-thirds of the cost. I anticipate the economic impact will he firmly positive in the coming months and that the level of demand will be raised for the year as a whole. While it will not solve all of our economic problems, the tax cut will provide a much needed boost to consumer and business confidence. As I explained in my statement last night, this action will help temper the edge of rising interest rates and increases in other costs.
An hon. member: They have already gone up.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am disappointed that the federal budget did not include more vigorous measures to cut back spending.
Mr. Nixon: On the whole it was pretty good, wasn’t it?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think it is important to the taxpayers of Canada, to the state of confidence and to the value of our dollar that Ottawa document more fully the specific steps it will take to control its spending and the systems it is putting in place to ensure permanent economies are achieved.
I would recommend that the government of Canada set out explicit expenditure growth targets for the next three years to reduce the federal deficit, as we have done in Ontario.
Mr. Conway: Sure, it’s $1.7 billion.
Mr. Sargent: You are walking backwards.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Nevertheless, I was pleased to note that specific spending cuts have been made to help finance the reduction in provincial sales taxes. According to Mr. Chretien, one-third of the $1.1-billion boost to the national economy is financed by spending cuts, one-third by the provinces and one-third by federal deficit financing.
Last night’s federal budget also contained important initiatives to strengthen the Canadian economy over the longer run. The enriched tax write-off for research and development is particularly significant.
Mr. Martel: Providing it goes to Canadian firms.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The Premier called for this kind of action at the first ministers’ meeting as the way to generate innovation, to improve productivity and to create additional and challenging new jobs for our talented young people. I believe Mr. Chretien has responded with a soundly designed incentive. It is one which will be in place for a long period of time and one which is success-related; that is, to qualify for the tax advantages companies must expand their research and development activities.
Mr. Sargent: That’s not what Joe Clark says.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am pleased, despite opposition in this Legislature, that this incentive will be available to all corporations doing business in Canada. While we have not worked out exactly what this will mean in terms of our revenues, I intend to parallel this major innovation in our own corporations income tax.
Mr. Martel: And the benefits go to the United States.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Let the member raise his sights.
Mr. Martel: I am for encouraging Canadian development.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Chretien announced two other tax measures which build upon the consensus for national economic action reached by the first ministers. Capital cost allowances for railway investments will be increased to encourage expansion and improvement in this mode of transportation. The tax treatment of tar sands and heavy oil projects will be relaxed to ensure that such vital energy investments go ahead. Though the energy tax incentive will have most of its impact in other provinces, Ontario fully supports the positive steps by the government of Canada.
The federal budget actions will add approximately $150 million to our net tax requirements this year.
Mr. Conway: Is the government going to raise OHIP premiums again?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The bulk of this increase is temporary and does not alter our basic fiscal plans. There will, of course, be an immediate reduction in our cash flow. To make up for this, I will be increasing our Treasury bill offerings. The weekly Treasury bill tender will be increased to $25 million, thus generating a further $195 million over the succeeding 13 weeks, to bring the total outstanding once again to the 1976 level of $325 million.
Members may recall that in 1976 Ontario had a high of $325 million outstanding in 91-day Treasury bills issued on the basis of a $25-million weekly tender. In July of that year the weekly tender was reduced to $10 million and by October the outstanding amount had been reduced to $130 million, the level at which it now stands. There will be no increase then in the province’s longterm borrowing as a result of our decisions to parallel these federal budget actions.
The March 7 revenue-raising actions, ongoing restraint in spending and this government’s continued commitment to a balanced budget --
Mr. Laughren: And higher OHIP fees.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- give me the flexibility to accept the federal offer and substantially benefit all Ontario consumers.
Mr. Peterson: You are so flexible you don’t have any principles at all.
Mr. Cassidy: You are supine.
Mr. Laughren: How about your balanced budget?
Mr. S. Smith: You must be kidding.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Without this prudent financing plan of raising revenues and building up our reserves, introduction of the bill --
Mr. Conway: You must be the doormat for the Minister of Health.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Are the members opposite going to vote against the bill?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- reducing the sales tax would not have been possible today without increased borrowing or additional expenditure cuts.
Mr. S. Smith: Had the Treasurer not already obviated its benefits by raising taxes?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Neither course of action is acceptable at this time. In particular, the seven per cent spending target for 1978-79 represents very tight control of the public purse, and further substantial cuts cannot be achieved equitably.
I find it touching that the Leader of the Opposition --
Mr. Peterson: Does it touch the Treasurer?
An hon. member: Here we go.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Here it comes.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: We will only put the Treasurer away for 72 hours; don’t worry.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I find it touching that the Leader of the Opposition thinks I can still find a couple of hundred million dollars in savings --
Mr. S. Smith: The guy in Ottawa thinks there’s $2 billion.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- but in this yeas, with cost increases as they are, I believe that my colleagues and I have restrained spending as responsibly as we can, in such areas as hospital cots, transfers to colleges, universities, school boards and municipalities, as well as remuneration to doctors.
On February 16, almost two months ago, I said a seven per cent increase would be as far as we could go to restrain spending this year. I have continued to invite those who believe we can do a better job with restraints to lend a hand. I have challenged the Leader of the Opposition publicly to tell us just what services in Ontario are no longer necessary and to point to where we could make substantial savings. We are still awaiting his response.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You’re telling the Minister of Health.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. The opposition in Ottawa has called for the resignation of the Minister of Finance because of the leakage of detailed information about the budget. The minister’s answer in the House has been that it was not leaked from his staff or from his office, and the implication seemed to be that it came from a provincial source.
Since the information was published in a Toronto newspaper, I believe that this implication reflects on the privileges, not only perhaps of the Treasurer but certainly all of us in this jurisdiction. I believe the Treasurer should make a statement in this connection.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I have no reason to believe that there was any leak of the federal budget from me or from my staff. I discussed this matter with the federal Minister of Finance yesterday. We jointly agreed that if he resigned, we would all resign together.
Mr. Cassidy: A pox on both your houses.
Mr. Foulds: That’s the best offer we’ve had all week.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on that point of privilege: I would point out to the members opposite that it was only yesterday, I must confess, I had to say to them that I didn’t know very much but I was intrigued by the eagerness which they displayed to try to find out in advance what was in the budget.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform all members of the measures by my ministry that have been taken to publicize the important sales tax reductions effective today, which were announced last night, and again today by the hon. Treasurer.
Beginning at 8:30 last night, the following steps were taken:
The distribution of information kits to media personnel attending the Treasurer’s media conference last night;
Overnight distribution of bulletins and new schedules to 67 offices of the ministry, including all retail sales tax district offices, all regional and area assessment offices and all branches of the Province of Ontario Savings Office;
Full-scale mail-out or bulletins and new rate tables to all 180,000 registered vendors in Ontario; and
The purchase of advertisements detailing the changes in all Ontario daily newspapers. The information kits included a special explanatory information bulletin and quantities of the new four and seven per cent sales tax rate cards for use at cash registers.
For the particular use of all members in answering queries from vendors and constituents, I have already arranged for information kits containing all available material to be placed in all members’ post boxes.
I would especially draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, the new four and seven per cent sales tax rate cards to assist vendors with their tax calculations.
Members may obtain additional copies of these materials as well as further information by speaking to my staff at the retail sales tax branch.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Treasurer. In view of the fact that the Treasurer is fond of pointing out that our proposals back in the last election couldn’t possibly be doable, because there’s no money around to be found without cutting services, putting people on the street and taking food out of the mouths of children; and in view of his latest statements of a similar nature here today, could the Treasurer confirm that within one fiscal year he has found in his budget the ability to save on the expenditure side on one occasion $134 million, while on another occasion, according to Ontario Finances, he was going to find a constraint of $97 million, and just yesterday he announced in the last month he has found in that same fiscal year another $66 million, totalling savings on the expenditure side of $297 million?
Can he confirm those figures, which come from his own Ontario Finances, I can assure him, and can he tell us, therefore, what services were cut, what hospitals were closed, what children did without food, what teachers were put out on the street, precisely because of his particular policy, and what disasters occurred as a result of finding close to $300 million of money that he never expected to have but found on the expenditure side?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I have made no secret of the fact that the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Auld) and all of my colleagues have been diligent about saving moneys during the course of the year, particularly as our revenue position deteriorated. The net figure finally in the unaudited statements, as I recall, is about $160 million below the budgeted figures. In addition to that, we were able to finance a number of in-year changes and unexpected items, such as firefighting, provincial elections and a few other things, so that the total shifts were obviously larger than the $160 million.
I am very proud of the fact that for the second year in a row our expenditures have come in below target. I give full credit to my colleagues and, as I say, particularly to Management Board for achieving that fact.
I did not say during the last election, as I recall, that there would be hospitals closed or people in the street. I am wondering though how ridiculous the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) must feel, recalling that her leader was going to limit municipalities to an eight per cent increase when her own city of Toronto comes in with a four and a half per cent increase --
Mr. Breithaupt: Your colleagues from Toronto should be concerned.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- and other municipalities went higher. The ridiculousness of the position of the leader of the Liberal Party in the last election is not something I think he should be recalling to this Legislature.
Mr. S. Smith: The Treasurer said they couldn’t do it. He said it couldn’t be done.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I say again to the Leader of the Opposition that he has had two months to suggest some savings and he has suggested not one penny. Doesn’t he think it’s about time he did?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Let me add one further point. It has been four weeks or better since the Leader of the Opposition, with great fanfare and great slyness, I think one might say --
An hon. member: You should know.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- brought in a resolution to get the matter of OHIP before a standing committee.
Mr. Conway: Look what we found.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: What positive suggestion has the member put before the OHIP committee for cutting costs? Not one penny.
Mr. Makarchuk: The best defence is offence.
An hon. member: How can the Minister of Health pound his desk? Let him take the knife out of his back.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. As I said earlier, every member of this Legislature should have an opportunity to be heard. I wish you would extend that courtesy to the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the pressure on the Treasurer to rescind that increase is beginning to take its toll on him.
An hon. member: He’s not smiling, that’s for sure.
Mr. Conway: Wait until Roy gets back.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary:
Since it was the Treasurer’s contention during the election campaign that it would be impossible, without great hardship to the education and other municipal services, for anybody to limit those municipalities -- he said it couldn’t be done and now it has been; and since he also said that the money we suggested could be found in the fat within his budget simply was not there, without cutting out essential services; could he explain to us again how there happened to be $297 million worth of fat on the expenditure side in his budget, which was allegedly untrimmable and which he, with even his half-hearted efforts, was able to trim, and which we, when we take over the new government, will trim even more?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You are smoking funny cigarettes again.
Mr. Ruston: Call Chretien, he’ll tell you what to do.
Mr. Warner: You only have to answer the serious questions.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would just say this, that the pressure on the Leader of the Opposition, after his brave talk of alternatives for the last four weeks, is finally starting to get to him.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I want to confess something. I understand that it is not quite correct that he has not yet come forward with any alternatives --
Mr. Conway: The Minister of Health has lots of them.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t think the Leader of the Opposition, who is wont to move motions in committee has put this in the form of a motion --
Mr. Bradley: Not even the trained seals back there agree with you.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- but the one interesting discussion which I understand has gone on in the committee to date --
Mr. S. Smith: Very interesting; it is called the invisible link.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes, very -- is asking our staff to seriously consider withdrawing full premium assistance from all those over 65.
Mr. S. Smith: We did not, nonsense.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: If that’s his idea, go to it, go to it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. S. Smith: On a point of privilege, I defy the Treasurer to show even one word of such discussion in the committee deliberations. There has been no discussion of that whatsoever. It is shameful; sensitive as he is about the fact that the only knowledgeable people in the government have said that his visible link is in fact a missing link, he should not distort the deliberations of that committee by introducing things which exist in his imagination and which have never been discussed in that committee at all.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak to that point of privilege, because I feel my privileges as a member of this House and that committee have been very seriously compromised by that statement. I would ask that either the Treasurer produce in this House, or in the committee, proof of that allegation, or that he stand like the man we all know him to be and withdraw it. Because he knows it to be as irresponsible as we all know it to be.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I was informed by my staff that members of either the Liberal Party or the Liberal research staff had inquired what would the savings be, for example --
Mrs. Campbell: You really want to know what they are, don’t you?
Mr. S. Smith: We, inquired about a thousand different things; withdraw, withdraw.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- of eliminating the subsidy for those at certain levels of taxable income.
Mr. Conway: Apologize.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: If those questions were not put to my staff by members of the Liberal Party or their staff, then I most certainly abjectly apologize.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s not what the Treasurer said.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But it is my understanding that members of the Liberal caucus and staff have been asking those kinds of questions.
An hon. member: Sit down.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Sure they have.
Mr. Conway: That’s cheap and the Treasurer knows it; that’s pretty degrading and pretty stupid.
An hon. member: Any trick to stay in power.
Mr. S. Smith: On the point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate that the Treasurer is reaching, under the circumstances --
Mr. Turner: Shame, shame.
Mr. S. Smith: -- but let him stand like a man and let him withdraw the statement that there has been any discussion in that committee --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Not in the committee. I didn’t say that.
Mr. S. Smith: -- and those were the words he used, discussion in the committee; let him withdraw his statement that there has been discussion in that committee on that topic.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I am quite willing to withdraw the suggestion that members of the Liberal Party have offered anything to date of a positive or unpositive nature in the committee.
The fact is they’re groping and they’re looking for something and they want to take medical benefits away from the senior citizens of this province.
Mr. S. Smith: The Treasurer is getting cuter all the time.
Mr. Mancini: He is desperate; he is getting sillier every day.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition got up on a point of privilege in response to a remark by the Treasurer. The Treasurer said if he misquoted or misunderstood he would certainly apologize.
Mr. Peterson: He can easily apologize, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: It sounds nicer if the Speaker says it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s only because you listen better.
Mr. Speaker: There is no point in pursuing this back and forth. Points of privilege are not debatable in this House. I’m willing to listen to both sides. I think I have heard enough. There is no motion before the House. I will now listen to the hon. member for Grey-Bruce with a supplementary to a question asked by his leader.
An hon. member: Keep it clean.
Mr. Yakabuski: Leave our senior citizens alone.
Mr. Sargent: Supplementary to the minister. Due to the fact that for the past 15 years we’ve heard him bully the House successively -- and he has brought in four or five or six successive budgets with $1.7 billion in deficits every year --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Question.
Mr. Sargent: -- and due to the fact that he is haranguing us to bail him out and give him an idea how we’re going to bail him out of this OHIP problem, my question is this:
He has told us repeatedly that he is going to balance the budget in 18 months, by 1980; where is he going to find the $1.7 billion in 18 months? I want to know that.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: It’s 1981.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, my cash requirements for this year are not $1.7 billion. I think the member is confusing last year with this year --
Mr. Swart: It will be $1.7 billion by the end of the year.
Mr. Sweeney: We saw what happened last year.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- but perhaps we had best not further confuse that issue.
Mr. Sargent: What did he say? I didn’t hear him.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Read Hansard, Eddie.
Mr. Sweeney: He didn’t say anything.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Oshawa with a supplementary.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary: I wonder if the Treasurer would elaborate. He made some comments earlier about the Liberal Party’s position. Was he referring specifically to the letter dated April 6 from one Simon Armstrong of the Liberal research offices where it was asked, “Are there any studies on the impact of the current and proposed premiums on those aged 65 and over, if this group paid premiums?” Is that the Treasurer’s source for his previous answer? interjections.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member should apologize, apologize now.
An hon. member: It’s a proper question.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor and no one else.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, perhaps the Treasurer would like to tell us what is wrong with seeking information --
Mr. Foulds: Donoghue gets it on the government side; Armstrong gets it on the Liberal side,
Mr. S. Smith: -- of this kind; and furthermore, would he like to tell us whether he has heard about the questions which follow that question and which asked whether in fact there are any studies done indicating the impact with regard to premiums for those aged 65 or over, were they paying premiums if their income was over $15,000 a year. Also whether there is any study being done with regard to the cost of these premiums if their income was over, I believe $25,000 a year? It is perfectly legitimate, along with about 25 ether questions, to ask anything we like of the Ministry of Health here; and we shall continue to ask whatever we like of the Ministry of Health without having the Treasurer decide what our policies are. We’ll tell him what our policies are when we are good and ready to tell him what our policies are,
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, in response to the supplementary question, I would tell the Leader of the Opposition there are no such studies, There are no studies at $5,000, at $3,000, at $15,000, at $25,000 or $50,000; and there will not be any studies, because we on this side of the House have no intention of taking away that benefit from anyone over 65.
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker: If, as the minister has told us in his statement, in point of fact debate within the ministry and the free expression of opinion within the ministry is so important to him, if he feels it vital that it be permitted, can the minister explain why it was felt to be necessary for the staff to alter what was in fact their freely expressed and genuinely held opinion in order to bring it into line with what had been declared cabinet policy? Why is it necessary in his ministry for people to submerge their genuine, personally held opinions and to relate only those which somehow or other are not yet out of keeping with declared cabinet policy?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, without rereading the memorandum from my deputy minister, if the member will recall what I did read into the record, it should be clear that it was his judgement, and I think he is correct, it was his judgement in his directions to Mr. Donoghue that that was no longer a debatable point. The government had confirmed and reaffirmed its policy with respect to the maintenance of a premium system. So he gave that direction to have a change made. I think it is quite correct.
Mr. S. Smith: Why?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Because, Mr. Speaker, it was no longer a debatable point. There was no sense, if you will, in leading the staff on any further. The policy of the government had been confirmed.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, did the minister know, as obviously the deputy minister knew, that the senior people in his ministry were in fact clearly opposed to this 37.5 per cent OHIP increase and felt that it had no visible link at all and no benefit, and many counterproductive aspects to it? Did he know that as his deputy knew it? And if he did know it, did he forcefully express that view to the cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, when the hon. Leader of the Opposition uses the term my “senior staff,” he leaves the implication, on the table as it were, that all of my senior staff felt that way. There are some, as I indicated yesterday. Just to perhaps enter into the lists on this question of alternatives, when, in my concluding remarks in the debate on the motion put by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) I tabled with the committee a document dated September 7, 1977 a list of constraint measures which the ministry had looked at as sort of, if you will a worst-case alternative to policies we have in place to contain costs in our health care system, one of the things that was looked at at that time, as a possible saving of $3 million a year -- not $300 million as is reported in today’s Star -- was a change from the premium system to a payroll tax. As I indicated to the committee further, that was considered and discarded for a variety of reasons, some of which I touched on yesterday, more of which I am sure my colleague the Treasurer will discuss when he appears before the committee. So that had been explored.
But I want to complete the answer where I started. I think it is a complete and, I am sure, unintentional distortion to suggest that all of the senior staff of the Ministry of Health are opposed to a premium system. In fact, it is a very small number and their views have been taken into account.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The ones who don’t report.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the minister’s response just now that he condoned the actions of his deputy minister, can he tell this House what instructions, if any, he actually gave to his staff that documents should not be changed in any way?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in several meetings with my staff, in discussing documents, I made it very clear to them that at no point was anything to be doctored, so to speak, to be cut out of a report -- a date, a recommendation or whatever; nothing. In fact, as was indicated in my deputy’s memorandum, as recently as yesterday morning, meeting in my office to discuss the variety of reports which we have tabled and will table, one of my staff presented me with a revised version of that document to which I just referred -- the one of September 7, 1977.
Ms. Gigantes: You didn’t know.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Her explanation was that she had updated the figures, that that particular paper had ballpark figures. I said, “Look, I don’t care how bad the figures are. We will possibly get into that in committee. But we are not going to give an updated version; we are not going to revise it in any way.” So what was tabled, as per my instructions, which were very clear all along, was the original document.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary: Since it has been indicated by the minister that the document we were provided with yesterday afternoon, particularly the second part of the document -- the original recommendation or one of the original recommendations -- indicates that certain senior people within his ministry feel very strongly opposed to both the premium mechanism and the premium increase, is there another document that he saw and he could share with members of this House, outside of the Treasurer’s letter to the Globe and Mail dated March 16, which makes the case in support of government policy? Is there something that contradicts that? Are there senior people within his ministry who made an argument against that
-- people who did not write the Treasurer’s letter to the Globe and Mail on March 16, which was the only evidence provided in the revised report as support for government policy?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the member that he take a look at the budget. In there he will find that almost two million citizens of this province are paying either no premiums or half premiums.
Mr. S. Smith: Nobody in your ministry --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In there he will find
Out, and in discussions which have emanated from the budget, that many people --
Mr. Warner: You’re not answering the question.
Mr. Conway: Just answer the question, Dennis.
Mr. S. Smith: Who in your ministry favoured that increase? Name one.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Would the hon. member kindly listen for once? Just once?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The pressure is getting to him.
An hon. member: He has flipped.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In fact, if he cares to look, for instance, at the article in the Ottawa Citizen almost two weeks ago, where it compared the situation in Ontario with the other provinces, our system is equitable, if not more so, as the system in any other province.
Ms. Gigantes: Totally inaccurate.
Mr. Cassidy: You wouldn’t be in this situation if you had a grip on your ministry.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister could tell us if it is normal for him to have to admonish and warn his staff that there not be any doctoring or changing of documents that are to be presented to any committee. If so, what kind of atmosphere exists in his ministry that requires that these kind of instructions be given to his senior staff?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, may I say that I have the highest regard for my senior staff.
Mr. Bolan: What about the Treasurer? What do you think of him?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In fact, I would have to go further and say all of my staff, from the people who look after the mentally ill in the wards of the psychiatric hospitals to the clerical staff, to the administrative staff.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
An hon. member: How do you like Darcy using you as a doormat?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I thought it important, in making that admonition, to put it on the record, not out of any suspicion of any one individual or that the system would somehow break down, but I thought it necessary to make it clear that those were my expectations and that, if anybody doubted it, that was what I wanted.
Mr. Laughren: “Richard M.” Timbrell --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is a bit of bitter irony that in trying to answer all of the questions posed in the recently referred to memorandum from Mr. Armstrong in the Liberal research office, and in having to provide the documentation to that, that an error on the part of my staff, an honest error, would lead to this.
Mr. Laughren: Dennis “Milhous” Timbrell.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We’ll get into it later in the day perhaps. In trying to be completely open with the staff and in trying to get at those alternatives, that list we tabled yesterday included some horrendous things. Most of it in fact was horrendous. But they are the worst cases.
Mr. Conway: We presume according to --
Mr. S. Smith: You are allowed to examine alternatives but we are not allowed to do that.
Mr. Foulds: Answer the question that was asked over here.
Mr. S. Smith: He doesn’t let anybody else examine alternatives.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: During the committee proceedings we will want to know what is the opposition’s position on per diems in hospitals; what is its position on a deterrent fee; what is its position on balanced billing and what is its position on abolishing the drug benefit plan.
Mr. S. Smith: You are the government forming the policy.
Ms. Gigantes: Resign.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: What is the opposition’s position on all of the worst things that could happen?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am more than prepared, in discussing this with the committee, to go over the policies of this government and discuss the fact that rather than cutting and slashing --
Mr. Conway: Just make sure we get all the information and not this kind of nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- we have restrained growth, we have maintained accessibility to the system and we have maintained the high quality of the system, rather than adopting some of the Draconian things that could be done and have been tried in other jurisdictions.
Mr. S. Smith: What about the high quality of minister?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We will want to know in specific terms what are the opposition’s alternatives.
Mr. S. Smith: The minister will get them.
Mr. Breithaupt: And we would like to know the minister’s as well.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let’s see them trot them out and let’s discuss them.
Mr. Warner: Just answer the question.
Mr. Bradley: Where does the minister stand? Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let’s let the public evaluate what their alternatives are --
Mr. Conway: Jean-Jacques Blais the Second.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- as against the high quality, accessible, best health care system there is.
Mr. Warner: It won’t work.
Mr. S. Smith: You are allowed to do simple things.
Mr. Cassidy: Now that the Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition have traded gibes, I would like to get down to some real problems that we have in the economy of the province.
Mr. Nixon: Okay, mother.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that unemployment in Ontario is up by close to 20,000 this month over last month and that there are now 345,000 unemployed in Ontario, can the Treasurer say how many jobs he expects will be created as a result of the joint federal-provincial sales tax cut being implemented on a temporary basis through the combined budgets?
Mr. Yakabuski: That’s since the member became leader. That’s confidence. Bring back the member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis).
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Since the leader of the third party added a preamble to his question, I might begin by saying that there are 125,000 people more at work in Ontario today than there were one year ago.
Mr. Laughren: We’re very impressed.
Mr. Breithaupt: He takes the credit but never the blame.
Mr. Kerrio: They all work for the Treasurer.
An hon. member: That’s 25,000 over the charter.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would not forecast a number in terms of the sales tax stimulation.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Is the member going to vote for the bill?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Treasurer has been negotiating this particular arrangement with the federal government over, we understand, a period of about two weeks, have there been any studies by his ministry in order to determine whether there will be an impact on the economy in terms of the people who are now unemployed and who are looking for action from the provincial government, given the lack of action at the federal level?
Mr. T. P. Reid: Are you against the cut?
Mr. Breithaupt: I think they are against the cut.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I said last night that I would not change my forecasted figures in terms of real growth, but perhaps marginally in terms of unemployment.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: If the Treasurer recalls his press conference last night, he has not forecast any increase in real growth or any decrease in unemployment. Could he tell us what he thinks the benefits of this are going to be in real terms that we can measure? When he is answering that question, perhaps he would be good enough to tell us what studies he has done about whether this will benefit imports or domestically-produced products and bow he sees the benefits of this cut affecting the provincial economy? We have had nothing specific out of the minister so far.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: What I said last night, and in the statement which I tabled today, was that I felt there was some deterioration, but nut that much, from my forecast figures tabled on March 7, which were prepared before we had received the fourth quarter figures for 1977; which were, I think, disappointing and surprising to a number of people. I think the stimulatory action taken by Mr. Chretien in conjunction with the province would probably bring those forecasts back on target and perhaps marginally increase them upwards; but I would not substantially change the 4.3 per cent real growth forecast which I made on March 7.
In terms of impact, obviously there is a very direct impact on retail sales in Ontario.
How much of the goods will be imported as opposed to domestically made in Canada, some of it undoubtedly will be imported, although there has been a decline in the rate of growth of imports coincident with the depreciation in value of the Canadian dollar. Our estimates would be that not as much of the stimulation would go to imported goods as perhaps it would have in another period when the dollar was closer to par or had even been above par.
Obviously, I think Canadians generally are thinking very closely in terms of the relative value of Canadian-made goods as opposed to offshore goods because of their greater expense today in terms of our depreciated dollar.
Mr. Sargent: If you are spending $140 million, you should know something about it.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’d also point out that it is obvious that with 50 per cent of the manufacturing base in Canada in this province there will also be benefits flowing to us from increased manufacturing activity brought about by purchases from citizens in other parts of the country. That is a plus as well.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: In view of the fact that when the Treasurer brought down his budget about a month ago he indicated that the reasons be was not involving himself or this province in any meaningful long-term job creation programs was that he saw it as a federal responsibility; and in view of the fact that the federal minister admits and felt there was no specific job creation action in his budget, is the Treasurer now willing to engage in some specific long-term job creation programs in the province of Ontario? As a matter of fact, he might look at the specific proposals put forth by this party.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The hon. member might look at the specific proposals put forward by the Premier of this province at the first ministers’ conference.
Mr. Martel: They were ignored. They were ignored totally by Chretien, all 10 of them.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Just so I understand the Treasurer’s response, because I think it’s important, he is saying that things have deteriorated so badly in the last month from the original projections in his budget had the federal government not come in and bailed him out with some assistance, at least with a major policy to stimulate the economy, his projections would have been way off again this year.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Who was bailing out who?
Mr. Peterson: My question is this: Given the Treasurer’s succession of bad forecasting, how can we trust one number that he has come up with, either then or now?
Hon. Mr. Snow: That’s because we rely on the federal forecasts.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The Minister of Transportation and Communications says we pay too much attention to federal forecasts. That may well be true. On the other hand, if the forecast made by the Leader of the Opposition about being the leader of the government some day is an indication of Liberal thinking, I’ll stick with our own forecasts, thank you very much.
Mr. Cunningham: Wait until you get your OHIP survey back.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: In reference to stimulating the manufacturing sector and particularly in relation to job creation, does the Treasurer agree with the financial critic for the federal Conservative Party that the timing of the tax cut will limit those benefits because I the highest unemployment comes in the fall just when the tax cut will expire, and for it to have any meaningful effect it would have to be on a long-term basis?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: It would be great if we could have long-term tax cuts.
Mr. McClellan: No, they torpedoed your party’s platform.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t think Canada and the national economy can afford permanent tax cuts.
Mr. S. Smith: Why don’t you tell Joe that?
Mr. Breithaupt: Tell Joe Clark that.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I know for our part that we can’t at this point in time. Specifically in answer to the member’s question, I would point out that the tax cut ends in October, when normally there is a great deal of stimulus in November and December in any case. I thought it was the federal leader of the New Democratic Party who made that point last night.
Ms. Gigantes: Why was your fourth quarter so bad last year?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Perhaps Mr. Stevens did as well; but in any case, I would not worry about the cut ending at the end of October because I think, in terms of Christmas sales and other things --
Mr. Laughren: Boy, oh boy; a million unemployed and a six-month budget.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- I think we’re going to see good activity in November and December.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa Centre with his second question.
Mr. Cassidy: I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the combined financial response or fiscal response seems to be Liberal magic wands on the one hand and Conservative Band-Aids on the other.
Mr. Speaker: That’s not a question.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You are right.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a second question -- and that the government is simply saying it thinks things will be okay this year --
Mr. T. P. Reid: Possibly a cleanup for the Blue Jays.
Mr. Cassidy: -- and to heck with 1979 and the people then.
Mr. Speaker: Is that your second question?
Mr. Cassidy: No Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cassidy: I do have a second question, of the Treasurer, Since the Treasurer was a member of the municipal working group and since his parliamentary assistant was the chairman of the municipal working group which was asked to comment and look at the recommendations of the Blair committee, can the Treasurer say whether he supports the report which that committee has drafted, the content of which he is familiar with?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, it is not true that we have been members. Both my parliamentary assistant and myself have tried to sit in on a number of the meetings, but that is a response which is being developed by the municipalities and the school boards. I don’t know what final conclusions they will come to. They are in the process of writing a report. They will be presenting it to the cabinet and publicly on April 19. Whether I agree or disagree at this moment, I think, is irrelevant until we have seen theft final report.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that his brief to that committee, which came on January 4 of this year, said specifically “increases in average taxes on single-family dwellings are not acceptable to me”; and in view of the fact that he therefore asked the working group to come up with some alternatives for Metro which will avoid that result; and in view of the fact that they have failed to come up with any alternatives which protect single-family homeowners in Metro from an increase in the average rate of taxes; is the Treasurer intending to refer the matter back to the committee so that they do come up with alternatives that he originally asked for?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, if I can follow that question, they have not yet come up with something and until they do I can’t refer something back. They will be reporting on April 19, I believe, and we will see what they come up with at that point in time.
Mr. Swart: May I, by way of supplementary to the Treasurer, ask that in view of the projections of his own ministry that there would be substantial increases in the taxes to single-family dwelling units by tax reform, will he give consideration to adjustment of the property tax credit and the am plication of it at the time of payment of taxes so that it will mitigate, at least, any dramatic increase in taxes on the single-family dwelling unit, particularly to those in the older houses which are going to experience the greatest increase?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Presumably the member would want to attach to that some qualification as to their income level. But that’s an interesting suggestion, and if the final report of the committee suggests dramatic increases in some part of the province or another which we find unacceptable, then presumably we will have to find some way to mitigate or change that recommendation. But until I have the recommendations, there is no way I can add anything in response to the member’s question.
However, I will say that obviously an improvement in the tax credit system is certainly something that we have very much under consideration. We brought forward a white paper in terms of the senior citizens -- that is property tax credit for those over 65. I would hope that we would be proceeding with that later on this year. I don’t know, perhaps the Liberal Party will oppose that too; so I don’t know whether we will be able to get it in here or not.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the Treasurer say whether he is now abandoning the commitment that increases in the average tax on single-family homeowners are unacceptable to him? Is that still a commitment of the government or has he abandoned it as he has abandoned so many other commitments made by the government in the past?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I said that I found the increase, in the alternatives which we put forward on January 4, in Metropolitan Toronto, to be unacceptable. My position has not changed from that.
FLECK MANUFACTURING COMPANY
Mr. Peterson: I have a question of the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if she would be good enough to bring the House up to date on the Fleck strike and what has transpired?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as I reported to the House, the disputes advisory committee has been meeting with the parties. Yesterday and today they are meeting with the parties together, and those discussions are ongoing. I am hopeful that as a result of the discussions we may find a solution to the problem.
Mr. Peterson: In view of the apparent lack of success by the group and the very nasty nature of this strike, would the minister consider getting personally involved? It is my judgement it is the kind of place in which she should be personally involved. Would she consider that and would she consider moving quickly?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would question the hon. member’s opinion that nothing is happening. We have appointed a pair of individuals who are experienced in the area of labour negotiations who have dealt successfully with particularly uncomfortable and disturbing strikes in the past, and I certainly would be very unhappy to limit the time and the expertise which these individuals can bring to this situation.
They have been meeting together with the parties for only two days. Please let’s give them an opportunity to solve the problem.
Mr. Makarchuk: Because the major problem in that area is the fact that management is not prepared to accept a union in the plant, is the minister prepared, because of the obvious deputy and minister connection, to instruct them that perhaps they should move into the 20th century and allow a union in the plant?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I have no information which would apprise me of the knowledge that that company is opposed to having a union in the plant.
There are discussions going on which I would not wish to jeopardize in any way. I feel very strongly that the members of this House, at this point in time, should allow the parties to the negotiations to work out their problems. A negotiated settlement is by far the best route to finding a peaceful and reasonable solution to this problem. I think we should be helping the parties to do so rather than attempting to hinder them.
Mr. Van Horne: I have a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I’m wondering, in light of what the minister has said about the dispute’s advisory committee meetings which are going on right now, if she can indicate to us whether there has been any suggestion that the number of pickets and the number of police involved in this dispute be limited on a voluntary basis?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I certainly cannot tell the hon. member whether the dispute’s advisory committee has been making that suggestion to the parties. I will say that the hon. member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans), the Solicitor General (Mr. Kerr) and I used our good offices last week to attempt to limit picketing, to limit access to the plant and to limit the numbers of OPP officers on that site. In spite of our combined efforts we were unsuccessful in persuading the two parties that the overtures that we were making were entirely acceptable. That is not a matter which we have abandoned.
Mr. Germa: That will never solve anything.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister aware of the public statement and the letter to the Beamish Construction Company re the proposed widening of Highway 17 through the Garden River Reserve that has been made by the chief in council since our meeting in his office? Is he aware of the demonstrations carried out today by the band members in opposition to the commencing of construction? If so, what is the minister prepared to do to resolve the situation and to avoid any possible serious confrontation?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I will not say that I’m aware of statements made by Chief Buissoneau because I’m not really aware to which statements the member is referring. I am aware that a number of members from the band have visited the Legislature today.
I really don’t know what I can tell the hon. member that I might do to prevent the so-called confrontation that he is referring to. For almost over two and a half years now, I have been meeting with and negotiating with the members of the Garden River Reserve in an attempt to settle the alignment for the new highway and to provide for improvements to the existing highway.
I am as concerned as the hon. member and as the chief and members of the band with regard to safety, not only of the band members but of the general public. We must remember that this is a section of Highway
17 and is the main connecting highway between eastern and western Canada, so it’s a rather important piece of road.
I have given my commitment to Chief Boissoneau, both verbally and in writing, that we will proceed with the construction of the new alignment, the new four-lane highway, as soon as the property negotiations can be settled. That’s all I can do. In the meantime, in order to provide for the safety of the travelling public and the safety of the members of the band, I feel after a great deal of consultation it is necessary to proceed with the resurfacing and the paving of the shoulders of that section of Highway 17 through the Indian reserve.
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that not only the band members but also the members of the Sault Ste. Marie and District Hotel and Motel Association do not accept the position that the widening of the present highway is completely separate from the solution of the negotiations for the new alignment? As a matter of fact, I received a telegram today from the Sault Ste. Marie and District Hotel and Motel Association indicating that from their point of view they consider the paving of the shoulders to be tantamount to the building of a four-lane highway.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They are happy with it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and the motel association must be sending different telegrams to the hon. member than they are sending to me, because I have had several items of correspondence, including a telegram that was handed to me as I left my office today to come to question period, saying that their association is in full support of the resurfacing and the paving of the shoulders of Highway 17. I had that previously in letter form and, as I say, I have the memo my secretary took from a telegraph office at 1:55 this afternoon and it does not say what the hon. member for Algoma says he received in his telegram.
Mr. Bolan: Supplementary: Is the minister disregarding the opposition of the chief and council of the Garden River Indian Reserve, in view of the fact that Mr. Justice Patrick Hartt stated in his interim report regarding the native people that the government, “too often makes decisions without consulting them” and that “direct discussions among the Indians will be required if meaningful progress is to be made”? Has the minister given any consideration to that?
Mr. Mancini: Ask Darcy.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know where the hon. member has been for the last 15 minutes. If he wants me to go on for another 15 minutes I can explain each and every meeting that I have had with Chief Boissoneau.
Mr. Bolan: I am not talking about the four-lane highway. I am talking about the paving of the existing highway.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am also talking about the same.
This has been discussed at several of our meetings. It was discussed at a meeting we had in my office about three or four weeks ago, which I followed up with a letter to Chief Boissoneau assuring him that this was not a delaying tactic for the building of the four-lane highway, that we would proceed with the four-lane highway. In fact, I outlined to him the fastest possible schedule by which we could expect to build the highway if the property acquisition was settled by the end of this year.
We also discussed the paving of the old highway. I might say we are not widening the highway. We are not taking any additional land. It doesn’t involve any widening of the right of way through the reserve.
There have been fatalities on that section of highway. I am sure the new plan that we have, complete with paved shoulders, will allow for safer operation of the highway, both for vehicles and for the band. We are not making it a four-lane highway, I point out, Mr. Speaker. We are paving the shoulders. We are not widening the bridges. There are several bridges in the area of the reserve. I am sure you are familiar with it.
We are proposing better turning facilities at the intersection within the reserve and we have agreed that we will not put up signs to encourage slow-moving vehicles to pull over on the shoulder to let faster vehicles by, because this was one of the concerns of the band. So for the hon. member to suggest that there have been no consultations regarding this project, I just say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: When I was referring to the hotel and motel association, I was referring to earlier correspondence. I have the same telegram the minister was referring to --
Mr. S. Smith: Why didn’t you use the latest?
Mr. Wildman: -- but isn’t it the case that the reason those individuals support the paving of the shoulders is that they feel, as does the band, this may affect the negotiations on the four-lane highway and indeed this may itself at some future date become the four-lane highway? Those are the fears of the band. What are we going to do to try to deal with that?
Hon. Mr. Snow: All I can do is again --
Mr. Bolan: Why don’t you admit it, you’ve got no intention of putting that new highway in if you pave Highway 17? You’ve got no intention of putting that new highway in at all.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Oh, shut up.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I say to the hon. member for Nipissing that his interjection is misleading this House and I would ask him to retract that statement.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You have got your head stuck in the sand. You’ve never been east of North Bay in your life.
Mr. Kerrio: Go back to sleep.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: If I wait for intelligent questions I would go to sleep.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please; order. I didn’t get the interjection by the hon. member for Nipissing that prompted the Minister of Transportation and Communications to say that he was misleading the House. I am not in a position to say whether or not he should be made to withdraw it. As you well know, Mr. Minister, we don’t normally allow people to stand up and deliberately accuse another member of misleading the House.
Mr. Nixon: We never do.
An hon. member: We do almost everything else.
Mr. Bolan: I would ask the hon. minister to withdraw the statement that I was misleading the House.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the hon. member made a statement as an interjection that it was our intention after resurfacing the present Highway 17 that the new highway would never be built. I just have to tell you that that is -- it’s pretty hard for me to be parliamentary and to say what I think of that statement.
Mr. Nixon: Think about it, now.
Mr. Cunningham: We haven’t got time to wait for you to think about it.
Mr. Warner: You have only one choice to make.
Mr. Nixon: Here it comes.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, if you know me as well as I think you know me, you know what I was about to say.
Mr. Nixon: We know you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You know him, and you would be right.
Hon. Mr. Snow: But, with all due respect, I have to say again to both the hon. member for Nipissing who was misleading the House -- although it may not have been deliberately -- and the hon. member for Algoma --
Mr. Breithaupt: Who didn’t know enough.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- that there is absolutely no truth to the fact that we are not intending to build the four-lane highway. I have told Chief Boissoneau, and the hon. member for Algoma was in attendance in my office when I made the statement. I followed the statement up with a letter a few days I afterwards and I again stated that it is a definite commitment to build the new highway as soon as the property can be acquired.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, I am sure perhaps better than many of the members of this House, when we are dealing with a right of way acquisition from an Indian band --
Mr. Nixon: Keep talking and it will go away.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- it does take a considerable period of time, because we do not have the same type of negotiations, appraisals, et cetera, that we have in dealings otherwise.
Mr. Nixon: Right; now withdraw.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I just say again that as soon as the property acquisition and our agreement with the band, and with the adjoining Rankin band and with the city of Sault Ste. Marie, are finalized, we will build the highway.
Mr. Warner: Withdraw the remark.
Mr. Nixon: Wait a minute, let the Speaker handle it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It thinks it is incumbent on the minister to withdraw the accusation that another member was misleading the House. The hon. member for Nipissing may be misinformed, he may be wrong, he may be inaccurate; but he is not deliberately misleading this House.
Mr. Breithaupt: Or none of the above; he may be right.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask the hon. minister to withdraw that comment.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I regret that the hon. member is so misinformed and unknowledgeable and doesn’t know a darn thing about what he is saying relating to this road --
Mr. Sargent: That makes two of you.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- that he gave me the impression he was misleading the House. But if he wasn’t, I will refract that statement.
Mr. Cunningham: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I’m just wondering if you would give some consideration to adding five minutes to the question period as a result of the reticence on the part of the Minister of Transportation and Communications?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Why?
Some hon. members: No.
FARM STORM DAMAGE
Mr. McGuigan: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is the minister aware that farmers who lost hundreds of barns as a result of the storm of January 26, which was largely along the shoreline of Lake Erie, are now confronted with the task of either repairing or disposing of these buildings? Is he further aware that the decision appears to be to dispose of many of the barns as they are not thought worth repairing?
The farmers face the physical danger of dealing with mostly timber-framed barns that were built of very long and heavy timbers. There are great physical dangers in loading these on trucks or using front-end loaders. Does the minister realize they face problems regarding regulations prohibiting large-scale burning, both from the Minister of the Environment and from the office of the fire marshal? They face problems if they place the debris in the legal dumping sites, and I see some of this being done.
My main question is, would the minister, in concert with other ministers, develop a package of information and perhaps regulations that would guide farmers, and other people who have these derelict buildings, to dispose of them safely, economically and efficiently, and report that back to the House as quickly as he can?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am fully aware of the storm damage situation that occurred on January 26. I'm still waiting to hear from Ottawa about a joint program to help those people, a program I sent down seven weeks ago.
Mr. Mancini: That wasn't the question.
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, it was part of the question.
Mr. Kerrio: The barns are near Lake Erie; they’re not in Ottawa.
Mr. Ruston: Talk to Darcy; he’ll tell you what to do.
Hon. W. Newman: To answer the member’s other question, if there are specific concerns about moving buildings or getting rid of them regarding the storm damage, if the member will send me details of those specific concerns, I will be glad to work with my colleagues. We all work very well together.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. In view of the Globe and Mail article this morning, titled “Job Search Rule Clarified,” which states that injured workers were required to make three job contacts a day and 15 per week to continue receiving a pension supplement, will the minister clarify for the House and thousands of injured workers whether or not they’re required now to submit a job search? The quotations which are attributed to the chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board are far from being clear. Will the minister tell us what changes have been implemented?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I’ll be very pleased to acquire from the chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board precisely what it was he did mean by that statement and present it to the House.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: Concerning a similar problem with people receiving rehabilitation benefits, is the minister aware that as a result of the cost-saving programs in the Sudbury area, the mining companies are laying off injured workers who are on what’s known as light duty, and that when that happens the Compensation Board is telling the injured workers that their job has now been processed out and no longer exists and that they’re therefore no longer eligible for rehabilitation services from the board? If she was not aware of that, I trust that she now is and will she direct the board to cease and desist in that practice?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I’ll investigate that problem and report.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary: Since the Minister of Labour said 10 days ago that she was going to report to the House on this problem, can she tell us if she gave any direction to the Workmen’s Compensation Board in the meantime or whether the decision made on job searching is a decision made by the board itself?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding that there has never been a policy of the board that required a certain specific number of daily contacts with potential employers on the part of any individual who was involved in a vocational rehabilitation program.
An bon. member: Why don’t you learn what’s going on out there?
Mr. McClellan: It’s about time you found out what goes on there.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding that the program has been flexible right from the beginning. I am aware that this was raised and that there was discussion about it at a meeting of the resources development committee and, as I said earlier, I will be very pleased to inquire of the chairman of the board precisely what it was he meant by the statement which he apparently made, and I shall report that to the House.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Gaunt, from the standing social development committee, presented the committee’s interim report, which was read as follows:
On the basis of material tabled at its meeting on April 10, 1978, your committee recommends an immediate revocation of the 37.5 per cent OHIP premium increase.
Mr. Cassidy moved that the interim report of the standing social development committee be adopted.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Martel: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. Under the rules of the Legislature, rule 31(a), it says that a motion to adjourn the House or the debate is in order only after the orders of the day or notices of motion have been entered upon, but may be made prior thereto only by the Legislature. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that in fact we have not got the order of business to that part called orders of the day. The House leader’s motion to adjourn the debate is out of order. I would ask the Speaker to allow the debate to continue because the House leader is contradicting rule 31a.
Mr. Nixon: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has quoted the rule and it says that the motion may be entered into only by leave of the House. Would you interpret that as unanimous consent or simply by the House’s vote?
Mr. Speaker: We had a similar situation the other day where the hon. member for Brock moved the adjournment of the debate and the hon. member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) asked for leave to debate the motion. I ruled in the Chair that he could debate it as long as he restricted his comments to the subject of the adjournment.
In answer to the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, I interpret the standing order that he referred to as a majority of the House, not by unanimous consent of the House.
Mr. Lewis: On the point of order, if I may, Mr. Speaker: What you are saying, therefore, is that the House leader’s motion is out of order unless he seeks leave of the House, that it has been made prior to the calling of the orders of the day, and therefore cannot be made according to 31a, unless leave of the House is granted. Perhaps you would wish to ask whether there is such leave granted?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, if I may speak to the point of order. Certainly there is all kinds of precedent in this House to establish that this particular motion, at this stage, is in order. The end result or the practical result of what is being argued by the third party is that they would have no way of doing anything as far as routine proceedings are concerned. I am certain that that can’t be considered to be the intent of rule 31. There are all sorts of precedents -- one as recently as last Thursday -- for the House to entertain a motion at this time, dealing with matters that come up under routine proceedings.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, if I might speak to this matter, it would appear from my reading of the rules that in the matter of reports, you have the opportunity, since a motion has been made, to deal with this under the terms of notices of motion; or is that only referable after the reports stage, and would you say at this point that we are not under the motions portion of our routine proceedings?
Mr. Speaker: We are not under the motions portion of our routine proceedings, and if a majority of the House objects to the motion it is up to them to say so. I am going to say that the motion is in order --
Mr. Lewis: Whose motion is in order?
Mr. Speaker: -- and you can debate the motion as long as you confine your remarks to the reasons for the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Martel: On a point of clarification, could the Speaker indicate which of the two motions he is suggesting? Are you supporting the House leader’s motion or that of the leader of the New Democratic Party?
Mr. Speaker: We only deal with one motion at a time, and the motion that is before the House is the adjournment of the debate. I am going to say that that motion is in order, and you can debate it as long as you confine your remarks to the reasons for the adjournment of the debate, but not the contents of the report itself.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, might I draw to your attention, on a point of order, that it is stated in rule 3 1(a) that the House or a debate may not be adjourned until we have completed routine proceedings. Further, would you not consider the reason for that is that the routine proceedings of the House should be completed and the only reason for adjourning the debate or the House before that time would be grave disorder; and you yourself, sir, would have the authority to do so? It is very clear that rule 31(a) intended very clearly for all of the routine proceedings to be completed in full. Therefore, the motion by the government House leader, which I admit I did not pick up earlier enough last week, is out of order.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: It just needs a vote.
Mr. Speaker: I think the hon. member for Port Arthur is being entirely inconsistent. In a similar situation last week he wanted the right --
Mr. Lewis: You said he was wrong.
Mr. Speaker: We are being consistent here; we are giving the same ruling. I am saying that if a majority of the members of the House want to debate my ruling or to challenge my ruling they are perfectly at liberty to do so.
Mr. Lewis: Who issued the challenge?
Mr. Foulds: If I might, Mr. Speaker, on the point of order: Last week when I rose on the question I did not take a position. Because I was caught unprepared, I asked the Speaker if the motion was debatable and he ruled that it was debatable at that time.
Mr. Hodgson: You want it both ways.
Mr. Foulds: But we made no decision about whether or not the motion was in order because that question was not raised at that time, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, may I speak to this point of order? Would you take into consideration as well, when you are considering the point of order raised by the hon. member for Port Arthur, that as stated in 31(a) the House leader for the government did have leave of the House when he stood to present his motion to adjourn the debate. It is my view that he had leave of the House to do so; I would think it is his view and it is also your view, from what you have said, Mr. Speaker. If someone wishes to challenge that view, then they may do so, but in my view he had leave of the House at the time that he rose.
Mr. Deans: How did he get it?
Mr. Mackenzie: How did he get it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The Speaker has made his ruling.
Mr. Speaker: The motion before the House is the adjournment of the debate on the motion for adoption of the interim report from the social development committee. I have said that you could debate it as long as you restrict your comments to the reasons for the adjournment of the debate. Question?
Mr. Cassidy: As I understand it, what you are saying, Mr. Speaker, is my motion to have the interim report of the social development committee adopted is in order, and the motion of the government House leader is also in order but is debatable and can only go forward if it is adopted by a majority of the House. That makes sense, and is consistent with what the member for Port Arthur was saying as well.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, as a matter of fact, it is not.
Mr. S. Smith: It is the very opposite.
Mr. Foulds: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” -- Emerson.
Mr. Cassidy: The reason this motion to adjourn the debate should be opposed is that the government has been using every device possible to avoid a vote on the question of the OHIP premiums here in this Legislature.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to spell out for the House precisely what would be the effect of the government House leader’s motion to adjourn my motion at this time.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It will allow the committee to continue its study.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It will allow sanity to prevail.
Mr. Cassidy: This is the only time this Legislature, in a minority situation, has control over whether or not there will be a vote on the motion to adopt a report of the standing committee on social development.
Hon. Mr. Welch: You will spoil the committee.
Mr. McClellan: That’s nonsense and the House leader knows it.
Mr. S. Smith: What the member for Ottawa Centre is saying was said in committee yesterday.
Mr. Cassidy: Listen to the debate.
Mr. S. Smith: He is going back on what he said.
Mr. Cassidy: If the motion to adjourn the debate is accepted at this time, then the control over whether or not my motion to adopt this committee’s report should come back to the House goes to the government House leader’s responsibility and is no longer within the control of this House as a whole.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh come on, the member has 100 other opportunities.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to put some evidence on the table that the government has consistently tried to avoid the fundamental principle that there should be no taxation without legislation in this House.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Let’s have the vote.
Mr. Cassidy: They have avoided it by using a loophole that was adopted first in 1969 in order to increase health premiums without a bill. They have refused our request that legislation be brought forward. When the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) in a private member’s bill made a recommendation --
Mr. S. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker; there will be ample opportunities.
Mr. Speaker: I have been listening very carefully to what the member for Ottawa Centre has said. He had served notice that he is going to get into all of these things. He hasn’t got into them. At that point in time, I will rule them out of order.
Mr. Foulds: At the present time he isn’t out of order.
Mr. Speaker: He is giving the reasons why the debate should not be adjourned.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right.
Mr. Speaker: If he gets into anything with regard to the contents of the report, OHIP premiums or any of those matters, I will declare them out of order.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to point out that when the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere had a private member’s bill in this House, late in March I believe it was, that would have had the result of ensuring that the health premium increase came to this House for a vote rather than being passed by order in council, it was resisted by 20 Conservatives who stood in their places in order to avoid the responsibility for parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Cassidy: We then got the situation where the only device that was left to our party in our effort to fight these increases was to bring a motion of no-confidence. That motion was not accepted by the majority of members of the House and the matter has now been referred back to the committee.
The consistent pattern of action by the government has been to avoid a vote on whether or not these health premium increases should take place.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We had one a week ago.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We had one a week ago today.
Mr. Cassidy: That raises the whole question of respect for the minority situation we have in this Parliament. If there was respect over there for the fact that we have a minority Legislature, those OHIP premiums would not have been increased.
Mr. Havrot: Quit grandstanding.
Mr. Speaker: You can’t talk about OHIP premiums.
Mr. Cassidy: That is why we believe that this debate should not be adjourned at this time but should be held so that the will of the Legislature can be clearly expressed over whether or not those premiums, which have been passed by order in council, should now be rescinded.
I would add that there is a matter of urgency in this, which also argues against the adjournment, because of the fact that these matters have been passed by order in council and are due to take effect in only 19 or 20 days from today, on May 1. There are many taxpayers across the province who have now received premium notices and they are entitled to know whether the Legislature and the government are or are not going to roll back these health premium increases.
Hon. B. Stephenson: They know.
Mr. Cassidy: That is why this debate must be held now and a vote must be held now, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
An hon. member: Try to weasel out of that one.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I hope the Leader of the Opposition is supported by that applause.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t let them get to you. Just provide a little sanity.
Mr. Martel: The Premier wants him to weasel out.
Mr. S. Smith: Believe me, I won’t. The facts of the case are very interesting. Yesterday, in the committee, new information was presented, As a consequence of that, a motion that would be part of an interim report was presented to the committee. It is clearly understood, as a check of Hansard of the committee will clearly indicate, that the committee intends to continue doing its business as soon as possible. It was agreed by all members there that the committee experience is a useful one and should be continued so that we can, depending on how you look at it, either be taken up on the challenge that has been hurled at us, or that we have hurled at the government, to present an alternative package to the OHIP premium increase. We are pledged to do that right after the next five or six sessions of that committee.
The clear intention of the committee in making that interim report was that the work will continue, but that there be some inclination -- I believe the word of the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClelland) at the time was “inform” the House -- about the fact that we felt a certain way. There is nothing new in the fact that we want the premiums rescinded, the government knows that. That is our view on the matter and consequently it seems to me the government has been informed.
Mr. McClellan: Point of privilege.
Mr. S. Smith: I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that to carry on and have a debate on this matter now, ultimately leading to a vote, is a mere repetition --
Mr. McClellan: On a point of privilege, the member for Hamilton West ascribed remarks to me which were inaccurate. I said very explicitly that the result of the vote yesterday would be an opportunity to have a full debate on the issue here in the Legislature. That’s what we are asking in I the motion.
Mr. Martel: It’s not an information thing.
Mr. S. Smith: We can check Hansard on it. The fact is that this House has already had a chance to vote on the matter of whether those premiums could be rescinded without either party having to put forward alternatives.
Mr. Mackenzie: We don’t need to check. You are the one who is twisted.
Mr. Warner: With you around, the Tories don’t need a majority.
Mr. S. Smith: At that time, we voted, as you know, to reject that idea and rather to force the other parties to put forward alternatives. This is something that we relish doing and look forward to doing; despite the comments, in fact, particularly because of the comments, of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough).
We have not yet had the opportunity to do so. The committee is early in its deliberative stages and, as far as I am concerned, the government House leader is quite correct to move the adjournment of what would be a futile debate. This is a debate suggested merely for the purpose of posturing by the New Democratic Party. That party’s members seem to feel that it is necessary, in order to establish their heroism among some of their more misguided supporters, to constantly stand up demanding votes of confidence day after day without ever suggesting alternatives.
Mr. Martel: Oh, come on.
An hon. member: No we fight the government.
Mr. McClellan: Boy, what a speech.
Mr. S. Smith: We intend to suggest alternatives and therefore we are in agreement with the House leader of the government that this debate be adjourned. At this point I shall move that we set aside the regular business of the House to debate some very important matters indeed.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Speaking to the motion for adjournment, may I just make one or two points.
As the members of the House will know, 20 members of this Legislature signed a petition addressed to you referring the annual report of the Ministry of Health for 1976-77 to the standing committee on social development. Secondly, if one looks at the order paper for today, order paper No. 29 on page 9, committee meetings, one will see there is a notice in the orders of the day calling for a meeting of that committee today. That committee is presently charged with the responsibility of the consideration of that report. We feel that it would be completely irresponsible and inconsistent with what has now been required of us to get involved in some matter which really would pre-empt the work of that committee. There will be ample time when the committee has finished its work to consider all of the implications. So the motion for adjournment is to provide an opportunity for the committee to carry out its work. Surely that’s a reasonable position.
Mr. Breaugh: I rise to speak against the motion to adjourn. In effect, what we have is a motion which will invoke closure on the debate. I think, Mr. Speaker, in this minority government, we have been most generous in terms of providing arrangements to the government party whereby we compromise, where we arrange the business of the House, where we provide occasions where we can reach a consensus. We, therefore, attempt to expedite the business of the House during the course of a minority government.
The committee met yesterday. It came to agreement on one item. It is not a long and complicated matter which essentially requires years of debate; but it does, I think, warrant a vote.
We took the time this morning to find a couple of precedents in the House of Commons which indicate to us that in that House it is quite proper to receive a standing committee’s report and to move concurrence and that debate is allowed, in fact, on that particular point. I think it is most appropriate for us to do it in this House.
On the very principle of whether the House leader has the prerogative or not -- in this instance I think it’s in question as to whether he can or cannot move adjournment of debate -- Mr. Speaker has certainly made his ruling clear that he is allowing the motion to stand, that it is in order.
I want to point out that whether, aside from the technical aspects, that might be right or wrong, that’s hardly fair. You’re asking committees of this House to make -- I notice that the Premier gave a great laugh at any indication that we might attempt to be fair.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, as a matter of fact, I have a bad throat and I was coughing.
Mr. Breaugh: Yes.
Mr. Lewis: Same thing.
Mr. Breaugh: Would that you had choked on your laughter.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do cough in a different way, Mike. You would have done a lot better if you had laughed a little more about three weeks ago.
Mr. Conway: Is that what happened to Allan Lawrence?
Mr. Breaugh: I think we should address ourselves to this particular point. Yesterday afternoon a committee of this Legislature, charged with doing a particular piece of business, expressed its opinion. That particular opinion has not been expressed in a formal way save in a no-confidence motion, which is a formal and traditional technique and which has a great many other ramifications.
The committee sat yesterday and made its basis, really, on some new information that was provided to it through one simple statement, one simple recommendation in a very brief report. It does not require a great deal of scheduling, I think, in this House, for the House leaders to come to an agreement as to how many hours we’ll spend on it. Both political parties on this side of the House have expressed unequivocally their position on this singular matter. We are asking, very simply, for the opportunity to express that in the form of a vote in this House. There are some interesting parliamentary questions after such a vote might be taken.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Oh, there sure are.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You know the answer.
Mr. Martel: We didn’t do it on the two per cent Darcy said he set up in his interview in the business magazine.
Mr. Breaugh: Nonetheless, we have simply asked to do that. I think the ramifications of debating the adjournment and whether or not that is in order, and debating the motion and whether that is in order, are interesting technical questions that the House may have some difficulty resolving. But I do think, Mr. Speaker, that the members of this House, in their work in standing committees, have a right to bring a recommendation back to the House and to have a vote on it.
I suspect that I have heard the Liberal leader, in closing off debate yesterday, say unequivocally again that they’re opposed to these particular increases and they, without question, had no difficulty in supporting this motion. The proviso was, of course, that the committee would not cease. In no way does it say that the work of the committee cease. The motion simply said that at this stage, the committee recommends to the House that those OHIP increases be revoked. It’s as simple as that.
We are simply asking that the members of this House have the opportunity to vote on that.
Mr. Martel: He doesn’t want it.
Mr. Breaugh: We are well aware that the Liberal Party want to continue the investigations before the committee, and so do we, quite frankly.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That isn’t what you said last week. Flip-flop.
Mr. Breaugh: We are well aware that many other things may well be discussed but we are aware that we have reached consensus in the first instance on this one matter and we are asking the members of this House to allow us the opportunity to vote on it.
It can be a lengthy debate, without question. It can also be a simple occasion when we substantiate what we have reflected in that standing committee, that all of the members of this House, or at least the majority of them, do not support that increase. I resent, quite frankly, the exercise of the government House leader in invoking closure on this particular measure. It is a simple matter, surely.
Some hon. members: Come on!
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is not closed at all.
Mr. Martel: Sure it is.
Mr. Breaugh: Both of the political parties which form a majority in this minority government have made their positions clear. We are simply saying now, “Let us vote on that.” We’re not saying that it’s a confidence motion. We are not saying that it has all of the other ramifications of that. We are not, frankly, interested in a long debate on the thing. We are simply saying that committee reported, as we are asked to do from time to time, as every other standing committee of this House has traditionally done.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You don’t understand the system.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Such arrogance.
Mr. Breaugh: Now we want a chance to vote on it. The motion which the government House leader has moved invokes closure on this House.
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, nonsense.
Mr. Martel: Condoned by the Liberals. Now you want to weasel out, do you Stuart?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Nonsense. Please be rational.
Mr. Breaugh: Surely closure simply means that you are offering to the government the opportunity to stop debate.
Mr. Warner: You’re stopping debate.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, my definition of an exercise of closure is whenever the governing party, in particular, stands and uses any procedural device which ceases the debate of the House on a given matter.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come on, we debated it last week.
Mr. Breaugh: And it strikes me that allowing his motion for adjournment debate, and its propriety, in effect does that. I say to the Liberal Party over here that it didn’t argue about this particular measure yesterday in that committee, that it has a simple occasion today to put its money where its mouth is and to vote in favour of it.
Mr. S. Smith: Don’t talk nonsense; that’s utter nonsense.
Mr. Breaugh: That’s surely not asking it too much, to be consistent two days in a row; and frankly I would think --
Mr. Warner: Stop weaselling.
Mr. S. Smith: I couldn’t imagine Cassidy beating anybody; but now that I hear this, I understand.
Mr. Mackenzie: The Leader of the Opposition has been a good example, let me tell you.
An hon. member: You’re a bunch of weasels.
Mr. Martel: Yeah, weasel some more, Stuart. As I said before, Xaviera Hollander hasn’t got as many positions as you have.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to quote from the Instant Hansard from yesterday: “So long as that is clear to everyone, we are quite happy to associate ourselves with this statement that we demand an immediate revocation of the 37.5 per cent increase, since we have been demanding it all over the province of Ontario. There is no problem at all as far as that is concerned.” That was the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario speaking yesterday afternoon.
An hon. member: Just 24 hours ago!
Mr. Martel: Good old Stuart, the male Xaviera Hollander.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, as a small aside, I beg for them to try to go two days in a row on the same thing and to adopt the same position twice.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s nonsense -- absolute nonsense.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, the motion currently before us invokes closure on this House. I would think that all of the members would resent that. Further, the motion means we do not get a chance to do what both I, as Health critic for the New Democratic Party, and the Liberal leader, in response for his party in committee, agreed was a desirable and necessary thing to do: Today we would express ourselves, we would report to this House, we would have that vote --
Hon. Mr. Davis: You have expressed yourself.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You have expressed yourself.
Mr. Martel: Let’s vote on it then.
Mr. Breaugh: That is not a major item of concern to anybody.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Why? The matter is not completed.
Mr. Breaugh: We are simply asking the Liberal Party of Ontario to say in this House, as they did yesterday afternoon, that they are opposed to that and to vote in this House, this afternoon, to show that they are prepared to back it up. This motion currently before the House prevents us from doing that, and I say that that’s a violation of the traditions of any Parliament in the world.
Mr. S. Smith: You talk nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to reply to the hon. member for Oshawa, who has started to drag a ridiculous red herring across --
Mr. Breaugh: Yes, it’s called democracy.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- what had been a sensible debate on whether this particular debate should be adjourned at this particular time.
Mr. McClellan: Respect for majority. You wouldn’t understand that.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The majority of the House will decide on the adjournment.
Mr. Makarchuk: The Liberals had the majority in the pipeline debate.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is my recollection, and I haven’t had time to look --
Hon. Mr. Wells: I haven’t had time to look up the references, but I think that all members of this House can recall many times when reports of standing and select committees have been brought to this House --
Mr. Samis: And ignored.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and it has been agreed that the debate at the time of presentation of the report would be adjourned for debate later. That is exactly and precisely what is being done now --
Mr. Cassidy: And it’s our right to have a vote now.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and for anyone to suggest that closure is being implemented is absolutely ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s posturing.
Hon. Mr. Welch: And irresponsible.
Mr. Martel: You’re a professional at posturing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s certainly right for any standing committee of this House to bring forward any recommendations to this House, and I think that it’s right and just that it should do that, It is also the right of every member of this House to debate those recommendations at some time. But it is also the right and privilege of every member of this House to have adequate time to prepare for that debate.
Mr. Germa: Do you mean you’re not prepared?
Hon. Mr. Welch: It should be on the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The suggestion that a resolution of this import should be debated without any notice of most of the members of this House --
Mr. Cassidy: You’ve had a month and a half since the budget.
Hon Mr. Wells: -- and without the further benefit of the very information which the standing committee was asked to bring forward -- and I emphasize that --
Mr. Breaugh: Which version of which document would you like to see?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The standing committee was asked to bring forward alternatives --
Mr. Samis: They didn’t mean alternative documents.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely ridiculous for the members of this House to debate this resolution without that committee having completed its work. Therefore, it is very much in order that this debate should be adjourned at this time, not as an act of closure but as an act of concern of the rights of the members of this House, who have a right to debate the whole matter when the information is available presently.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s an act of evasion.
Mr. Martel: The government has not allowed the debate by a change through regulation.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would suggest to my friends from the New Democratic Party that rather than wasting the time of the House now, they should he downstairs getting at the business that that select committee was asked to address itself to.
Mr. Makarchuk: You’re going to have competition, Darcy.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would say further that to suggest that this House and this government is acting irresponsibly in this matter is wrong
Mr. Makarchuk: He’s bucking for leadership right now.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We voted 73 to 28 last week to sustain the confidence of this House on this particular matter, which certainly indicates that we’ve debated the matter --
Mr. Wildman: Then surely you’re prepared to debate it again?
Mr. Martel: The Liberals have changed since then.
An hon. member: Another flip-flop.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and the Treasurer and the government is free to take the action that it is taking, and the only thing that remains is for those opposite to suggest an alternative --
Mr. Martel: The Liberals changed their position yesterday.
Mr. Warner: As long as they are here you’ll never need a majority.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- which I suggest none of them has done yet. It is therefore very much in order that the House leaders should move the adjournment of this debate, and I suggest we should speedily deal with that motion and get on with the work of the committee downstairs.
Mr. Foulds: There are a number of questions that arise because of the motion that has been put. One of them is: Which has final authority over the legislative affairs of this province, the Legislative Assembly as a whole, or a committee? The argument that is being made by both the government side and the Liberal Party is that the committees are more important than this House. Well, I reject that theme.
Mr. Breithaupt: That is what you think it means.
Mr. Foulds: I say that important as committees are, this Legislature is the final body that makes decisions about what this House stands for. There has been put to this House a motion by the leader of the New Democratic Party with regard to action arising out of a report of a committee and it seems to me that it is not only the right but the duty of this House to take that action.
That action is a simple step. It is a step that says the majority of this House is unequivocally opposed to the OHIP increase. That’s all. It is simple, straightforward and important. But --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
That is where the misunderstanding arises. It is not the responsibility of a committee of this House, or this House per se, to do anything with regard to OHIP premiums. By law, that is the prerogative of the government.
By virtue of the motion, or the contents of the report that your leader has moved for adoption, it is not a recommendation to this House, it is a recommendation to the government. This House has no power to take any action with regard to OHIP premiums. I want you to keep that in mind when you are talking about the motion to adjourn.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that advice probably more than you will realize.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In conclusion --
Mr. Foulds: The government House leader’s motion to adjourn the debate is preventing this House from expressing its opinion to the government at this crucial point in time. And it is a crucial point in time because of what one speaker has said previously:
Billings have already gone out If there is going to be any adjustment in the OHIP increases, it has to take place now and the government has to act on the advice of the House.
I would like to point out to my friends in the Liberal Party that this motion to adjourn, if they support it, will defeat the only real opportunity that they have to state their dissatisfaction with the OHIP increases at 37½ per cent, without expressing no-confidence in the government. Just a week or so ago, my friends in the Liberal Party said that they opposed the OHIP increases, but they did not want to express no-confidence in the government. They have an opportunity today to express clearly, by opposing the government House leader’s motion, without any lethal words, their opposition to the OHIP increases without bringing in no-confidence in the government. And it would appear that they don’t even have, if I may say so, the courage to do that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Read the rules.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You are being provocative, Jimmy; that is provocative.
Mr. Foulds: I would suggest to you and to the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells) who has indicated that in the past many committees have brought in reports and it has been agreed that they would be debated at some later time, that those recommendations were not lived up to. I recall the days of the horrendous majority Parliament between 1971 and 1975. Do you remember, Mr. Speaker, the proliferation of select committees in those days? It makes the peregrinations of the select committees in the last two years look like child’s play.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You guys keep count.
Mr. Foulds: Do you remember how every one of those reports was tabled and not a single one was debated or adopted because of the move to adjourn the debate? None of the suggestions of those select committees that has been fruitful and productive for the people of Ontario has ever been implemented.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is totally wrong.
Mr. Martel: Look at standing rule 43. You have had a year.
Mr. Foulds: I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that if the committees are to have stature and importance in this House, motions such as the one put by my leader, should not be subverted by motions such as the one put by the government House leader and we should not adjourn the debate on this matter.
Mr. Martel: You’ve had over a year to respond and you haven’t.
Mr. Breithaupt: The member for Port Arthur has suggested that in supporting the motion to adjourn the debate we would not be dealing with a matter of confidence. This may be his opinion. However, it may be that the government might choose to decide that such a motion put in this House migbt be a motion of confidence.
Mr. MacDonald: You are going to choose for them then?
Mr. Breithaupt: It is our intention, when this matter becomes a matter of confidence, to have it brought before the House in the full knowledge of the activities and development of the committee that is now dealing with this matter. It is our intention, clearly, as my leader had commented upon when the earlier no-confidence motion was placed last week, that we will have the alternatives before the House and will be involved in the development of those alternatives before we decide what a matter of confidence might be upon which to risk further developments.
It is, therefore, our view that the adjournment motion on this debate is one which we are prepared to support, so that we may proceed particularly with the business that is before the committee now so that those alternatives may be fully canvassed before this matter comes to such a matter of confidence.
Mr. Martel: What weasel words!
Mr. Mackenzie: Few issues have aroused as much public reaction as the debate over the OHIP premium increases and the report brought in by the committee. I think I have the right or should have the right as a member to debate it. I have heard nothing that tells me that debate can’t take place when that report is filed in the House. As an elected member for the riding of Hamilton East, I have a responsibility as well as a privilege to see to it that the people in my riding have some say and some input into a decision as momentous as the increases we’ve got coming to us now. As the member for Hamilton East, I think I have been denied the right to represent the people of my riding, if a motion to adjourn debate on a report of the committee is carried.
I think the members of this House have reached the point where they’ve simply got to bite the bullet, so to speak, and tell the people where they stand on this particular issue. It’s obvious where the government stands or it wouldn’t be moving a motion to adjourn the debate in the House. what I really have to speculate about is what are the motives of the Liberal Party.
Mr. Warner: Nobody knows.
Mr. Mackenzie: Is the last speaker correct? Is it because they’re afraid of a confidence vote on this issue that they now won’t take part in this particular debate? I don’t think I should be denied my right as a member for my riding. I don’t think there should be closure invoked, which is what this does amount to as far as I’m concerned, because I know of no other opportunity to debate the issue of the increase itself.
Mr. Cassidy: The government’s record doesn’t justify an adjournment.
Mr. Nixon: The spokesmen from the New Democratic Party have this peculiar pressure to bring a vote before this House before the alternatives are thoroughly reviewed.
Mr. Foulds: It is just a simple statement of principle. You might not understand that.
Mr. Nixon: We have a specific and restricted term of reference in the standing committee which has just begun its deliberations. You are aware, Mr. Speaker, that the resolution which was entered into by agreement of three parties will establish only six hearing days -- six periods of two-and-a-half hours each -- for the review of this matter and for the establishment of alternatives, which I can assure you will be forthcoming from the Liberal Party if not from the NDP.
The matter as a vote of confidence has already been debated in this House and voted on. It was our decision -- and anyone is free to criticize, and they do -- rationally arrived at, and we believe, with confidence, that it is only by an involvement of all members of this House in that committee that we are going to give the sorts of alternatives which will require the Treasurer and the Premier to reconsider their decision to go forward with the premiums as have been announced previously.
I personally am confident that there will be reconsideration of a significant type and it will not be necessary to have an election on this issue, important though it is. Without rattling any more sabres than have been done in the past, the statements by the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party are clearly on the record in this regard as to what will :be forthcoming in the future. But we in this party are committed to doing our best to involve even the most recalcitrant members of this House into a discussion of alternatives, so that we can have a better method of financing OHIP without the resort to an election which seems to be the only thing in the mind of the NDP.
For that reason, we believe that this matter in the House should be adjourned at this time --
Mr. Nixon: -- and that the committee should continue its work with the full understanding that their terms of reference limit their time.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would think that that is a position that is unassailable by reasonable men.
Mr. Foulds: When in doubt, chicken out.
An hon. member: Members of the club.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary, to follow the observations of the member who just spoke, it’s not a matter for electoral consideration at the moment The only thing we’re really endeavouring to do now is to get the Liberals to do today what they did yesterday -- and that’s impossible, Mr. Speaker, in this Legislature.
Mr. S. Smith: Stop posturing.
Mr. Lewis: I do not understand why the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and the member for Hamilton West find it so difficult to affirm in the Legislature this afternoon exactly what they affirmed in committee yesterday.
Mr. S. Smith: We already affirmed it.
Mr. Lewis: Are you afraid of it? Are you concerned about it?
Mr. S. Smith: Please stop posturing. Don’t play to the gallery.
Mr. Lewis: Just relax, my friend. You had your excursion with the Treasurer. Just relax.
Mr. Mackenzie: Who’s your psychiatrist?
Mr. Lewis: The reality is -- and I say this to the Liberal Party because I don’t quite understand why they’re doing this this afternoon --
Mr. S. Smith: Ask your member for Oshawa; he will tell you.
Mr. Lewis: -- unless it’s a desperate wish to get the matter of urgent public importance which can come before the House after this, I point out to them. All we’re saying, Mr. Speaker, is that if it is truly the wish of the official opposition to get these OHIP premiums rescinded or reduced in some fashion, if it is truly the wish of the official opposition to continue the work of the committee to look at alternatives, which it is well able to do --
Mr. S. Smith: And it is our wish to get you on record with alternatives too.
Mr. Lewis: -- then part of the process, part of the momentum which is built up when you’re fighting a battle like this in Ontario is to support our initiatives today.
Mr. S. Smith: What initiatives? It is a posture. It is an irrational posture. You’re confusing a tired posture with an initiative.
Mr. Warner: You make Silly Putty look like cement.
Mr. Nixon: You can’t send the bill to Inco any more, you know.
Mr. Eakins: Tomorrow starts today.
Mr. Lewis: You know, you’re not the tail wagging the dog. You’re the tail that wags obediently and dolefully behind the dog.
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, sure. We have heard that story before. You are convincing no one.
Mr. Lewis: In fact, if I may use an inelegant phrase, you are the stump on the rump.
Mr. S. Smith: And coming from someone in the rump, you must know what you’re talking about.
Mr. O’Neil: Why don’t you give it back to Michael?
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, what the House leader is doing today is entirely inappropriate and unnecessary. It is in fact right that a committee report of this consequence be debated in the Legislature at this moment.
Mr. S. Smith: Because you say so.
Mr. Lewis: The vote that was taken in the committee yesterday reflected new information and new material which came before the committee --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh no; come on. Mr. Lewis: -- which is perfectly appropriate to incorporate into a debate at this moment in time.
It is right, I think, that the views of the opposition parties in combination yesterday he expressed formally in the Legislature today; that they are a signal to the government of what we collectively intend; that they will continue to force the Treasurer’s hand either to rescind the premiums or to reduce them dramatically; that that is the procedure we are engaged in, and the words of the member for Oshawa were right, because you can count on the Liberal Party, you are invoking closure this afternoon. That’s the effect of it, that’s the effect of what you’re doing.
I wish you didn’t do that. You are not facing any election, you are not facing any no-confidence motion. You would be allowing the parliamentary process to work far more advantageously for everyone in this chamber if the committee’s interim report were entitled to debate now. There is no reason whatsoever why you should move adjournment at this time.
Mr. S. Smith: Why? On what basis?
Mr. Lewis: The fact of the matter is we can debate an interim report, we can debate a second interim report, we can debate the alternatives, we can debate the final findings of the committee. Why is it necessary on this occasion to cut us off now? I’ll tell you why it is necessary -- because you are frankly afraid of a combined opposition vote on this issue at this time in this House. You are afraid to have it presented.
Mr. S. Smith: And you are afraid to present your alternatives. You want a premature debate; that’s what you want. You had it last week.
Mr. Martel: He’s a reason for retroactive birth control.
Mr. Speaker: Order, the member for Scarborough West.
Mr. Lewis: The interjections, Mr. Speaker, are sometimes more racy than some of us can cope with.
Mr. Conway: They were better back on the stump.
Mr. Lewis: We will divide the House on this subject but we want to say to the House leader of the government party that what you are doing this afternoon derides the processes of the House, brings shame on the government --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Nonsense; it’s silly.
Mr. S. Smith: Bring out the violins.
Mr. Lewis: No, I think that is fair. In fact what you are doing this afternoon is a desperate effort to prevent the continued open, public scrutiny in the Legislature -- not just in the committee -- of the budget which was brought in by the Treasurer and which should be rescinded in that particular portion of it which dealt with the OHIP premiums.
Mr. Martel: Definite closure of the meetings.
Mr. S. Smith: We can have more meetings. They can still take place.
Mr. Breaugh: Aren’t you going to come now Stuart?
Mr. Mackenzie: Have you got an appointment down the street on the couch?
Mr. Lewis: Obviously there is no way to change the mind of the Liberal Party. There is no way to change the mind of the government party. Let it then stand as evidence again that for whatever reason, the government members, in concert with the Liberals, are unprepared to vote in this House against the OHIP premium increase --
Mr. S. Smith: Oh nonsense; people don’t believe that nonsense any more.
Mr. Lewis: -- and that is why this adjournment motion has come forward.
Mr. S. Smith: You had no press on your no-confidence motion and you can’t take it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: He doesn’t like being the rump on the stump.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, the main concerns of my friends to my left, particularly the member for Scarborough West, is that they have been euchred, outmanoeuvred, out-jockeyed by the Liberal Party.
Mr. MacDonald: You are in bed with the Tories and that’s indecent of you.
Mr. Sargent: Our main concern was the fact that we caucused our position in this regard and we thought that this was a matter of great public concern. We decided that in the House we would dispense with the day’s business to discuss this very important project and that we would discuss the fact that the minister misled the House. That is of prime importance to us.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege, I believe I covered the situation in the committee yesterday extremely well and at the beginning of the proceedings today before question period. I would ask you, sir, on the basis of that, to order the hon. member to withdraw that remark.
Mr. Sargent: I will withdraw that remark by saying that --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Sargent: -- you were going to discuss the allegations that you are misleading the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order, do I understand the member to withdraw?
Mr. Sargent: I will withdraw that remark. But I’ll use it this way.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No don’t, Eddie, you will just be in trouble.
An hon. member: It is the Darcy McKeough method.
Mr. Sargent: In fact, I think I made my point.
So it is mainly the concern of our friends to the left that they haven’t handled the matter properly. They have been caught with their pants down again, and so they are very upset about the fact we want to discuss this thing as a matter of public importance.
Mr. Foulds: Yes, but there is no vote; here you have got a chance to vote.
Mr. S. Smith: They won’t get the press.
Mr. Martel: You’ve been wanting to vote all along.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I am always intrigued by the approach of the NDP, and particularly by that of the former leader of that party. I have admired for years his approach in this House and his manipulation of the rules as he sees fit; and then when the rules do not fit --
Mr. Lewis: That’s a slight.
Mr. Foulds: It’s a fabrication.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- the particular situation, he interprets them in his own style.
Mr. Lewis: Oh, that’s a slander of former Speakers, that slanders former Speakers.
Mr. T. P. Reid: And he does that very well, especially when he was the leader. I bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker --
Ms. Gigantes: Is this in order, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- that his mangling of the rules on a daily basis --
Mr. Foulds: This is a motion to adjourn.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- was something to behold and I always admired how he got away with that. 1 draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, under section 23 of the standing orders, subsection 6: “Every report of a committee other than when reporting bills which have been referred to it shall be tabled in the House by the committee chairman, accompanied by a brief statement from the chairman only. And any such report which includes a request for consideration by the House shall be entered on the order paper as a government order, as shall any report for which consideration is requested in a petition of 20 members filed with the clerk.”
Hon. Mr. Welch: Very usual practice.
Mr. T. P. Reid: My friends on the left have given the indication here this afternoon that in fact if this motion is not carried, that if the Conservative House leader’s motion is carried, then that is the end of the debate, the end of the report, it will never again surface in this House. Well that is not true.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It goes on the order paper.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Absolutely not true. As chairman of public accounts -- you have other chairmen in your caucus -- I know that when a report is tabled in the Legislature and is not automatically debated, that in fact there are other times set aside --
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s why the motion is worth debating.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- and those things are dealt with in the fullness of time.
Mr. Foulds: In the fullness of time; do it now, why wait for spring, do it now.
Mr. T. P. Reid: They are not necessarily dealt with immediately, which brings me to the second point, Mr. I Speaker. Throughout the debate on OHIP, the Liberals have constantly said, and my leader has constantly said, that we will put forward alternatives by which we hope to see our way clear to raise the necessary funds to pay for some of the increase in health care costs.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The member is straying from the motion.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Well, I wouldn’t think so, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Foulds: He usually does.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- but I accept what you said. The point is simply this. We wish to put forward those responsible alternatives. We wish the work of the committee, only two sittings of which have been held out of six, to go forward. The NDP do not wish to accept their responsibility of putting something responsible and alternative forward. They wish to continue with their posturing of being --
Ms. Gigantes: What are you talking about?
Mr. Foulds: Simply a matter of principle.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- opposed, without any alternatives. We in the Liberal Party wish to have that opportunity to get more information, as well, out of the committee --
An. hon. member: You are an apologist.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- which has been forthcoming and which I think all members would say has been of particular interest. Interjections.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
I want to bring to the attention both of the member for Rainy River and also of the House that the New Democratic Party put its alternatives forward in our reply to the budget, whereas the Liberal Party put forward nothing at that time; And that is why they are floundering right now.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order; the member for Rainy River.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s called increasing the deficit, that’s what it is called.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Again, I would say that was not a point of privilege.
Mr. S. Smith: It wasn’t a point at all.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Hardly a point, even, of information, I would say.
I say, therefore, Mr. Speaker, that we want to get all the information’. We don’t want to make any decisions --
Mr. Breaugh: Limp right along.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- without that information --
Mr. Foulds: You made your decision yesterday in the committee, you clunk.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- that is available in that committee. I suggest that my friends to the left are politically posturing --
Mr. M. Davidson: Are you on Darcy’s staff these days?
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- that they don’t want to see the alternatives. They don’t, in fact, want to see the information that is going to be available through the Ministry of Health. ci would say to you, Mr. Speaker, it’s very strange to hear them today, when for years they and this party have said we want to get at that information you are basing these decisions on; now they have a chance to get that information and they don’t want to deal with it. We do, Mr. Speaker, and therefore we will support the government motion.
Mr. Warner: Support the government once again.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Let’s have a vote.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any other members wishing to speak to the motion?
The member for Sarnia.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, as a member of the committee that dealt with this mailer yesterday afternoon, and one who is hoping that we would be able to get back to further dealing with this mailer this afternoon, I want to rise to support the motion. We know that we will have the opportunity to debate this mailer at a further time and we will be able to do so. All I ask is that we support this motion now and stop this further debate so that we can get on with the committee which is supposed to be sitting at this time, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Gigantes: Question.
Mr. Foulds: This is a filibuster.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I too am a member of this committee and would like to address a comment or two to the members present.
An hon. member: Let’s vote.
Mr. Van Horne: It strikes me that between June 9 and the present time, some members of this assembly have made an attempt to have minority government work. It has been our party’s hope, and my hope too, that in this particular critical situation we would be given the opportunity, through the six sessions set aside for us to weigh all of the factors. In my opinion, we still have some looking to do and I feel that to go along with the members of the NDP in this instance would show signs of rather immature behaviour as a member of this Parliament.
Ms. Gigantes: Question.
Mr. Van Horne: It is time that we learned that the people of the province of Ontario expect some common sense from all members and I would ask that we keep --
Mr. Foulds: And some consistency. One day you’re for it and the next day you’re against it. Do you call that mature behaviour?
Mr. Lewis: The only consistent Liberal is Marvin Shore.
Mr. Van Horne: When one takes the time, Mr. Speaker, to weigh all of the factors, I think that is mature. The former leader of the NDP chose a few kind words for us in the last day in the sitting just prior to Christmas to tell us that he would delight in the back benches where he could remain in a different position, both vocally and in the leadership capacity, and I would suggest that he has not done what he said he would do.
Mr. McClellan: Question.
Mr. Foulds: It’s popular demand. Are you moving closure on this, too?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Resign.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And we are glad to see the member for Scarborough West is still leading the party.
Mr. Van Horne: To go back to the point that was raised a moment ago as an interjection by one of the members of the third party, I would remind all members of that third party that if they are attempting to propel the people of this province into another election, they have chosen an awfully poor tactic. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The House divided on the motion for adjournment of the debate, which was approved on the following vote:
Ayes 77; nays 29.
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that Mr. Bolan be substituted for Mr. C. I. Miller on the procedural affairs committee.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved first reading of Bill 60, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: This bill forms part of a joint federal-provincial economic stimulation program announced last night and again today by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough). The bill provides for a reduction in the general rate of tax from seven per cent to four per cent, effective as of midnight last night.
Mr. Laughren: The Treasurer is the tail of the dog now. The feds are wagging him.
Mr. Havrot: Don’t you want a sales tax reduction?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It will provide a reduction in the rate of tax charged on restaurant meals over $6 and on alcoholic beverages sold with meals or in cocktail lounges from 10 per cent to seven per cent, also effective from midnight last night. Both of these changes expire on midnight, October 7. The 10 per cent rate on alcoholic beverages sold in retail stores and on admission charges over $3 remains unchanged.
Mr. Laughren: It’s a Liberal-Conservative coalition. Is that the anti-Davis member for Timiskaming over there? He’s here once in a while, isn’t he?
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved first reading of Bill 61, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: This bill also forms part of the same joint economic stimulation program. Basically, the bill allows the province to pick up the federal tax reduction announced last night. This money will cover about two-thirds of the cost of a three point reduction in the sales tax rate. The bill also allows for the settlement of any overpayment or underpayment between the federal government and Ontario concerning this stimulation program.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would rise at this point to move, in accordance with rule 30, that the ordinary business of the House be set aside, even at this late hour --
Mr. Martel: We’re going to go to committee.
Mr. S. Smith: -- so that the House may debate a matter of urgent public importance.
Mr. Martel: Come on, let’s go to committee.
Mr. Breithaupt: Well, go ahead.
Mr. S. Smith: Namely, the circumstances surrounding the presentation of a seriously misleading report to the standing committee on social development by the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell ) --
Mr. Martel: It is supposed to go to standing committee.
Mr. S. Smith: -- from which substantial statements of opposition to increases in OHIP premiums were removed without notice and were placed with statements of opinion closer to those of the Treasurer; and the fact that the Treasurer’s statements to this House are contradicted by senior and knowledgeable officials in the Ministry of Health
Mr. Bounsall: You are more interested in getting the minister than you are in reducing the premiums.
Mr. S. Smith: -- who believe that OHIP premiums should not be increased --
An hon. member: Are you against OHIP premiums?
Mr. S. Smith: -- because they are, in the first place, of limited effectiveness in raising consumer cost awareness; in the second place, regressive, in the third place, inequitable; and, fourthly, ineffective within the framework being developed for long-term strategies for cost containment and health system reform; those four matters being direct quotes from the actual ministry proposed response.
I put that forward as a motion at this time, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McClellan: As long as you don’t have to vote on it.
Mr. Speaker: Proper notice of motion has been given. I will hear the Leader of the Opposition for up to five minutes, as I will one spokesman from each of the other two parties for that length of time.
Mr. Martel: God, I thought you were going to go to committee.
Mr. S. Smith: In speaking to this matter, I want to make it very clear that I am not casting any personal aspersions on the minister.
An hon. member: You’d better read your motion.
Mr. Germa: You are just posturing.
Mr. Laughren: That’s a third position.
Mr. S. Smith: I believe very frankly that in handing over to the committee the document from the strategic planning branch of the ministry, the minister truly was of the opinion that the document he was handing over to the committee was a document truly expressing the opinion of people within that branch. I believe he was as surprised as anyone to discover that there was more than one version of that particular document. He will speak for himself, but I personally believe he was taken by surprise.
I also do not believe there was any deliberate effort made by anyone else that I know of at the committee meeting itself to deceive anybody.
Mr. Martel: What the hell is his point?
Mr. S. Smith: But I do believe that a situation has arisen whereby the committee was given a document which had two very important aspects to it. In the first place, the document probably contains the only printed and typewritten expressions of opinion on these matters by senior, knowledgeable officials in the ministry. If there are members of the ministry with some other viewpoint on the raising of OHIP premiums or on the Taylor committee report generally, we have not yet seen any of those viewpoints; and what we asked for specifically, as you know, Mr. Speaker, was the response of the ministry, as far as it has gone, to the Taylor committee report.
To have been given a report that consisted basically of an innocuous paragraph plus a quotation from the Treasurer of Ontario, to be told that was the genuine opinion of the ministry, and then to have to discover ourselves that the real opinion of the ministry had been excised, whether for purposes of misleading the committee or whether for purposes simply of bringing their declared opinion in line with the policy of the government, as the minister suggested to the House today, really is not of that much importance.
What is of importance is the fact that the ministry has declared within its own confines that all the arguments made by the Treasurer of Ontario with regard to the efficacy of the raising of OHIP premiums beyond the 28 per cent level, which he had previously established as a long-run norm, are without foundation and in point of fact run in a counterproductive method against the very goals espoused by the Treasurer.
The actual proposed ministry response, as you know, points out that the premium system is of limited effectiveness in raising consumer cost awareness. It is far from a visible link. It is counterproductive and regressive and, furthermore, they point out very plainly that the ministry opposes the emphasis that this places, shifting the cost burden inequitably to consumers.
In my view, the minister must surely be well informed as to the opinion of the people in his ministry. If he is well informed, then surely he should have been making those arguments on behalf of the people in his ministry or he does not represent them well.
On the other hand, if he did not know the opinions of the people in his ministry -- and you would think from his behaviour on the committee that he did not -- then I think it is a shocking example of the lack of communication between his senior officials and the minister.
I think the committee has one way or another been misled, and I am willing to accept that it was inadvertent on the part of the minister, but it shows either a lack of communication within the ministry or a failure on the part of the minister to forcefully put forward the views of the people who are knowledgeable about health and a willingness to allow those views to be overridden by the views of the Treasurer, whose only interest is in raising money in a way that won’t hurt politically. He has no interest, as far as I can make out, and very little knowledge of the impact of these premiums in terms of actual health care costs.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, whether or not there was a deliberate effort to mislead the committee or the House with the material which was put before the standing committee on social development yesterday, it is clear that the circumstances surrounding that should be explored as deeply as possible, because they are a real violation of the rights and privileges of the members of this Legislature.
In the past, we have been familiar with efforts by the Treasurer to put a gloss, if you can put it that way, on the actions of his ministry in running the economy of the province. We are familiar with report after study after report which has been commissioned by the Treasurer in order to ensure that the actions of the government are defended.
Now we find that it is not just a matter of doing that within the Ministry of Health at the behest of the Treasurer, but it goes deeper than that because of the fact that material which was put forward in one form internally was actually being altered in order to be put before a committee of the members of the Legislature.
We have made it clear that we think there are two issues that are before the House today. One is the question of the rollback of OHIP premiums where we think that this House should have expressed its opinion today by adopting the interim report of the standing committee.
The other is the question of whether or not the Minister of Health is a responsible minister under our system of parliamentary democracy. There is a concept of the responsibility of the ministry which is being flagrantly violated by the minister’s self-serving statement made in the Legislature today and by his attempt to pass the blame off on to Mr. Donoghue, Mr. Backley or on to other officials of the ministry. We are very concerned about that because under our concept of parliamentary democracy it is the minister who is responsible for misleading that committee and through the committee therefore the Legislature as a whole.
The other reason why we think that the circumstances of that misleading report should be debated is the fact that they put such a gloss on this whole transparent effort by the government to hoodwink the people of Ontario.
The Ministry of Health symbolizes what the Tory government is doing when they get good advice from their civil servants. They ride roughshod over it if they believe that it’s to theft political interest.
Mr. Pope: That’s pretty good theory. Who is going to run the government?
Mr. Cassidy: When I spoke in the budget debate in this House about a month ago I said that any fiat rate tax like these health premiums hits people on low incomes far harder than the people in the Treasurer’s tax bracket. I said the Treasurer thought this wasn’t a premium increase, but that it was a tax action. In our motion we said that “we condemn the government’s outrageous decision to raise health insurance premiums and we deplore the regressive impact of this arbitrary tax increase on wage earners, small businessmen and on farmers.”
When you look at the documentation which was suppressed until the minister actually had to be threatened with a subpoena in the committee yesterday, it says exactly what this party said during the course of the budget debate in telling the Treasurer that the OHIP premium increases were outrageous and should be rolled back. The proposed ministerial response which was suppressed says that the increase in QUIP premiums did nothing to rectify the basic underlying inequities and imbalances in the health care system.
Contrary to what the Treasurer says, and has insisted on, this document indicates that it does not work and that there is absolutely no direct link in raising consumer cost awareness. There was no direct link between the health premiums on one side and whether or not people would continue to use health services at the rate they are using them right now.
The document also indicates, and this could almost be a quote from my speech:
“The premium system is no longer regarded by the Ministry of Health as either equitable or as effective within the framework being developed for long-term strategies and cost containment.” It says the Ministry of Health acknowledges -- I don’t know what it means, as a matter of fact -- but it says that the Ministry of Health will continue to advocate alternative funding mechanisms such as personal income or payroll tax systems.
In other words, the Ministry of Health, in that suppressed document, supported the position of the New Democratic Party is that health should be financed on the basis of ability to pay.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They’ve really got to be wrong if they support you. They are wrong if they support you donkeys.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: We’d better check their credit rating.
Mr. Martel: On $35,000 you wouldn’t recognize your difficulties.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You guys voted with them. You’d better live with them.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: You have infiltrated the Ministry of Health.
Mr. Cassidy: Whether you are looking at the question on the basis of ministerial responsibility or on the basis of the most equitable means of raising revenues in the province in both respects, both the minister and the government are out to lunch.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity --
Mr. Martel: Ah, that is what the report says, you high-priced professionals.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- which I had hoped would have occurred this afternoon but apparently will not occur until tomorrow --
Mr. McClellan: Scapegoat.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- to get back into some of these issues with some of the members opposite. Unlike the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy who spoke in the earlier debate, I would have hoped this afternoon that we could have been in that committee room continuing the job assigned to us by the Legislature --
Mr. Martel: That’s what they wanted and here they are.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- and to get at the interests of the members and the proposals of the opposition. There are a couple of things though that I should answer before I get into my arguments on the question of the motion.
First of all, the hon. member for Ottawa Centre has said again, and I must correct him again, that the document was altered because it was going to committee.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Why didn’t the hon. member for Ottawa Centre support the motion?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is clear in the memorandum to me from my deputy minister that the reason for the alteration --
Mr. Bolan: That’s a self-serving answer.
Mr. Breaugh: Oh, the reason for the alteration comes.
Mr. Warner: That was a slip.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Just a minute. First of all, the direction for the alteration came prior to any indication that the committee wanted the ministry comments on the Taylor report, and secondly --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- that that had nothing to do with the going to committee and --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- the question of the difficulty --
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, the minister’s own words, which I copied very carefully as he said them in the House this afternoon, some long time ago, were that it was agreed on March 30 that a further revision would be required for briefing material for the committee and that was the act of suppression that we are talking about.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, there’s a difference between briefing material and material to be tabled and that’s the distinction. When you look at what I tabled --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If you will look at the memorandum and look at the total process, you will find that in fact there was no attempt to suppress in the committee --
Mr. Warner: You are a disgrace.
Mr. Cassidy: Yon are dead wrong,
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- that in fact there was an error and I have acknowledged that there was an error, a clerical error.
Mr. Foulds: It was suppressed for you. It was for your use.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. Martel: He had his finger in the cookie jar.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I want to draw your attention to the --
Mr. Cassidy: That is a completely unacceptable explanation, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to get into it further in committee tomorrow or at any time. It is an honest, truthful, total explanation --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- and nothing is so powerful as the truth and I am quite prepared to stand by what I said. Nothing is as powerful as that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to draw your attention to standing order 30(c)(i), which refers to a genuine emergency. I want to suggest to you, sir, that the use of that terminology in the standing orders --
Mr. Cassidy: You are a disaster in the making.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- contemplates occasions when there is no other opportunity to discuss a particular subject.
Mr. Martel: You had a chance today.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That opportunity exists, Mr. Speaker. It exists in the form of the standing committee on social development and if it were not for the various motions this afternoon from the opposition parties, that’s exactly where we would be now with another half hour left for the consideration in that standing committee.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: So I want to suggest to you, sir, I want to suggest to you with the greatest of respect that a genuine emergency does not exist since there is another forum which should be considering this matter right now.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The second thing, Mr. Speaker, is that I draw your attention to standing order 30(c)(v), where it says the motion must not raise a question of privilege. I want to suggest to you, sir, that with the comments of both of the opposition parties, that is in fact what they are raising, a question of privilege, which I would suggest to you I answered at the beginning of the proceedings of the House today completely and fully and honestly.
I want to suggest to you then, sir, that the motion is not in order and that we should, even though there is only half an hour left, adjourn to the committee room and proceed with the deliberations of the standing committee on social development, which is the forum which has already been designated by this House on motion from that party opposite to consider this question.
Mr. Conway: God only knows what else we will find when we get there.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Hamilton West has filed the necessary notice pursuant to standing order 30 to set aside the ordinary business of the day to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely the circumstances surrounding the presentation of a report to the standing committee on social development.
I am required to rule on the orderliness of the notice and there are a number of conditions to which the notice is subject. The motion must not revive the discussion on a matter which has been discussed in the same session pursuant to the provisions of standing order 30. No such debate has taken place on this matter under this standing order.
I have some reservations that the motion may raise a question of privilege. However, since no other member has raised this as a serious objection, I will not pursue it further.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I don’t mean to be disrespectful but I just raised that question as to whether it is in fact a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: That doesn’t preclude the Chair from raising it.
The substance of the notice deals with proceedings in a committee of the House, which has not yet been reported back to the House. I speak now of the question of the minister’s conduct, not the question of OHIP premiums. The matter could be further debated in that committee. Since the committee is the more appropriate place to discuss this matter and so that the committee may reach its conclusions, I am ruling that the motion is out of order.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I wish to appeal that ruling on the basis that, in my respectful view, the committee is not the place to occupy itself with a matter of this aspect of government policy. Therefore, with regret, I appeal your ruling, sir.
Mr. Mackenzie: What’s the matter? Are you afraid of the word “challenge”?
Mr. Speaker: The Chair has ruled that the motion presented by the Leader of the Opposition understanding order 30 is out of order under the circumstances and the Leader of the Opposition has appealed the ruling of the Chair.
The House divided on the Speaker’s ruling, which was upheld on the following vote:
Davidson, M. N.
Reid, T. P.
Smith, G. E.
Ayes 74; nays 25.
The House recessed at 6:06 p.m.