The House met at 10:00 am.
OHIP BENEFITS SCHEDULE
Mr. S. Smith: I rise on a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, which I believe affects all members of this House. Yesterday the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) read a statement to the House which pertained to and was entitled, “Agreement with Ontario Medical Association.”
It is my view that that statement by its incompleteness was misleading. It is clear that some of the media were misled by it and I admit I was misled by it and some of my colleagues were misled by it. I venture to say that many hon. members were in the same position. The minister’s statement began: “Mr. Speaker, I am glad to announce that the government has reached agreement with the Ontario Medical Association on the increase to be applied, effective May 1, 1978, to the schedule of benefits payable under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan” and so on.
I draw the attention of the House to the fact that there is no authority in the Health Insurance Act passed by the Legislature authorizing the government to negotiate an OHIP schedule of benefits with the Ontario Medical Association. Section 31 of the Act says: “At least six months before any proposed revision of the schedule of fees of the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Medical Association shall notify the minister of the proposed revision and the minister shall arrange and implement discussions with representatives of the said association respecting the details and extent of any proposed changes in the schedule of fees.”
Please note, Mr. Speaker, that is in the schedule of fees. It has nothing to do with the schedule of benefits paid under OHIP. As long as the schedule of fees was negotiable in this way and discussable in this way, and as long as the benefits followed automatically as 90 per cent, then ipso facto the benefits were, I suppose, being negotiated. But as long as the schedule of fees is to be totally removed from and independent from the schedule of OHIP benefits, I point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that there is no reason at all for any committee of the government to be negotiating with anybody from the OMA regarding what this government sees fit to pay in the way of OHIP benefits.
In fact, the very meaning of the Act is to assure a universal access form of medicare and health insurance. It could be argued that OHIP benefits should be discussed with all groups, consumer groups and anyone else, but not negotiated with the Ontario Medical Association. Only their fees are supposed to be discussed according to section 31. The clear intent of this legislation is that the public Treasury pay to medical and other practitioners such amounts as will provide universal financially accessible medical insurance to the residents of Ontario.
Inasmuch as the relationship between the benefits and the OMA schedule of fees seems now no longer to exist as proposed in previous existing regulations, the minister, in not giving us the new regulations and in not informing us of the way in which the two schedules have now been divorced, has in my view breached the privileges of the House by not pointing out to us the tremendous difference between the present situation and the past It is my view that he may even be destroying the very principle of medicare with his statement. Furthermore, it seems that the Clawson committee was engaged in certain negotiations which have no validity under section 31 of the Health Insurance Act, 1972.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I welcome the opportunity to respond to the point of privilege. I want to point out something. First of all, I find it a little difficult to understand how the member can feel his rights have been abridged in any way inasmuch as yesterday I was in the House for the entire question period, as was he, as was his Health critic, and as were many of the people who sit around here this morning. In fact, I even spoke with his Health critic behind the Speaker’s dais at one point about another matter. In staying in the House, I was clearly prepared, as on any other day, to answer any questions.
I must say that last evening I did overhear on the way out of the House, following the completion of the debate on second reading of the Mental Health Act amendment, the contribution of the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) in the budget debate. Because of that I did prepare some notes late last evening to respond to that this morning either in questions or in whatever form. But clearly, I would suggest to the House that by being here yesterday -- and today or any day, for that matter -- to answer the questions, I cannot answer for the fact that the hon. member didn’t ask the questions. Clearly I was prepared to answer them in the House by my very presence and the fact that I am here today.
Mr. Peterson: Is that how you interpret your responsibilities?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Certainly I would be glad to make a statement this morning, based on the additional notes, in reaction to what the hon. member for Renfrew North had to say last night, which displayed, with respect, serious misunderstanding. I am sorry he had it, but it is a serious misunderstanding. I can make a statement or I can answer questions today.
Mr. Cassidy: On a matter of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that we intend today to use the opportunity to question the minister. I am glad he is here even though we wish he wasn’t at all.
Mr. Rotenberg: We wish the same for you.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to say, though, would the Speaker not agree that the minister was being less than frank with this House yesterday when he neglected to mention that the traditional length between the OMA schedule and the schedule --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, the Leader of the Opposition raised a point as a point of privilege. I fail to see that it is really a point of privilege, however, I felt I should listen to the members on this matter. I would have to rule that I feel the matter raised by the leader of the official opposition has every opportunity to be raised during the question period or during the estimates of the Ministry of Health, and therefore we will continue with the regular order of business.
Mr. McClellan: A point of privilege, if I may. On Thursday, March 9, I asked the Minister of community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) a series of questions relating to the financial transactions of Mini-Skools Limited with the Metropolitan Toronto social services department.
The minister replied on March 13 and again in an adjournment debate on March 14, and said on both occasions that there was no indication or evidence, despite materials I had provided to him, that Mini-Skools’ profits from the Metro day-care contracts were excessive or inordinate. Second, he refused to undertake the full investigation that I had asked for originally on March 9.
I have here a document entitled “Mini-Skools Limited Financial Statement for the Period Ending September 3, 1976.” It is the complete financial report for the Mini-Skools’ fiscal year, which runs August to August. It indicates to me that Mini-Skools is in fact making inordinate profits. I would like simply to submit this to the minister for his weekend perusal.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, a question was asked by the Leader of the Opposition in my absence on March 31 concerning tax incentives to industry that are being offered in New York state. He, the Leader of the Opposition, asked if Ontario offered similar incentives to industry in this province. I would like to take a moment of the members’ time to address this question.
Let me reaffirm, first of all, my statement in the 1978 budget that our studies have indicated levels of taxation in Ontario compare favourably with those of nearby jurisdictions with which we compete. Our position in this regard is clearly demonstrated with respect to the income tax in a table contained in our recently released study on the retail sales tax exemption on production machinery and equipment. It shows, for example, that with regard to the income tax, Ontario is in the most favourable position of the nine jurisdictions considered.
Let me also say that the advertisement by the state of New York, which I think appeared in the Globe and Mail on the same day, March 31, is somewhat deceptive. It in no way demonstrates the burden of tax in that state, nor does it attempt an analytic comparison of the statutes of the neighbouring states to which it has compared itself. It is a simple checklist of tax incentives which the state has chosen to best suit its own purposes.
It says, for instance, that New York state has a corporate income tax exemption or credit. Well, Ontario does not have an income tax exemption or credit. We do, however, have a rate on small business that is 25 per cent less than our normal rate; we do have 50 per cent fast write-offs on manufacturing machinery and equipment, energy-efficient equipment and pollution control equipment; and we do have a host of other significant incentives for the mining industry in particular. I can tell hon. members that most of this is not found in the tax laws of New York state.
I can continue down the list of incentives the advertisement describes and indicate to hon. members that Ontario does not levy excise taxes, that accelerated depreciation and a sales tax exemption are available for manufacturing machinery and equipment, and that three per cent of inventory is allowed as a deduction in computing taxable income. But a superficial listing of what is and what is not available to industry in Ontario falls well short of offering any conclusions concerning the cost competitiveness of our industrial base.
The ability of the manufacturing sector in Ontario to compete in national and international markets is of paramount importance to this government. We cannot afford to be complacent in this regard and I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that our analysis of our relative position extends well beyond side-by-side listings of available tax programs.
My staff and staff from the Ministry of Industry and Tourism are now going ahead with studies to more comprehensively assess the competitive position of Ontario industry vis-à-vis our neighbouring jurisdictions. We have asked the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association to assist us in this project. Taxation, as an important element of business costs, will be an essential part of this analysis; but it will not be the only element, as all factor costs -- labour, land and capital -- will be considered in the study.
When our analysis is complete, I will be happy to share the results with the members of the House.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, on February 1 of this year I released a set of recommendations by the management consulting firm of Currie, Coopers and Lybrand Limited, which had been prepared at my request and related to the management and organization of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Mr. S. Smith: We would love to see the whole report. it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: When I’m finished with it.
Mrs. Campbell: No rationale, of course.
Hon. Mr. Norton: At that time, I said that “the 56 recommendations in the 32-page report are not to be construed as policy or final decisions … (as) ... none of us have had the opportunity to study these proposals in any great detail.”
In order to ensure a thorough review of all the recommendations, we -- through the ministry’s senior management committee -- initiated a complete consultation process with senior staff of the ministry. This exhaustive study was undertaken with one major objective in mind: the development of an organizational plan that will result in improved service to the people with special needs whom we serve through a more decentralized approach at the local level.
Mr. McClellan: Who writes this stuff?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Our objective is multifaceted. We aim to improve public awareness and understanding of the ministry’s programs through strong communications initiatives. In addition, we intend to enhance our operational efforts by, among other improvements, reducing waiting times on requests for services and by providing increased capacity at the local level to provide decisions to the public on specific requests.
At the present time, for example, every decision relating to an individual’s eligibility for provincial benefits is made in an office in Toronto. We propose to decentralize that approach, gradually and carefully transferring more of the decision-making responsibility of our representatives closer to the community level. This will be done with all appropriate safeguards to ensure, through training and guidelines for field staff, that decisions are both equitable and consistent for people with special needs, no matter where they live in Ontario.
We regard this reorganization as essential, given the remarkable growth of this ministry and its responsibilities. In 1974, the ministry had about 2,000 employees; today, our ministry has approximately 12,000 employees. This increase is the result of responsibilities being added to my ministry, not an increase in the overall size of the civil service.
Our growth is the result of two significant changes. Most recently, effective July 1 of last year, the children’s services division of this ministry was created. This division involved the integration of programs from the ministries of Correctional Services, the Attorney General and Health with existing programs of our ministry. Earlier, provincial programs for the mentally retarded were transferred from the Ministry of Health.
Against this backdrop of growth, we requested senior staff to develop an implementation plan outlining the steps necessary to achieve the overall objective of improved service. An organization plan has now been approved. It represents a phased approach towards developing a ministry characterized by an integrated field organization having full responsibility and authority for service decisions delegated to it, and a program split between adults’ and children’s services, with the two divisions responsible for developing policy, enforcing standards --
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. S. Smith: I’m sorry; on a point of privilege. I don’t mean to interrupt, but it would be much easier to follow the minister’s statement if I had a copy, as would be in keeping with the rules of the House.
Mrs. Campbell: He doesn’t seem to know the rules.
Mr. S. Smith: I am interested in the comments he’s making, but I’m finding it difficult to concentrate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That would be a point of order and within order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to that. Just prior to coming into the House I checked and it was confirmed that one of the senior people in my communications department did personally deliver a copy of my statement both to the office of the Leader of the Opposition and to the Liberal Party critic. This is not the first time we’ve had some difficulty in this respect, and I can only assume on the basis of the information I have that the difficulty is occurring within the offices of the hon. members opposite. In fact, we have changed our procedure so that the envelopes in which these are delivered are now clearly marked “Ministerial Statement” so they cannot be somehow mislaid by members of the hon. member’s staff.
Mr. Breaugh: We had no trouble. We got our copies.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s the internal difficulties of the Liberal Party.
Mr. S. Smith: As a matter of privilege, it is not a matter of coming here --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. S. Smith: I don’t wish to make a big deal --
Mr. Foulds: Didn’t Harold Greer bring it to your attention?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Order. I accepted it as a point of order because I think this is a point of order. I would appreciate it if the Minister of Community and Social Services would continue his comments.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. S. Smith: Well, I rise on a point of privilege. The fact is that the minister has cast certain aspersions on the staff. I would like him to know I now find that this document was in the mailbox of the deputy whip of our party. I happened to come to the Legislature direct from the caucus room.
Mr. Foulds: Don’t you check your mail?
Mr. S. Smith: The proper way to deal with these things is not to hand them out one minute beforehand but to put them on the desks of the people, as most other ministers are kind enough to do. I think rather than cast aspersions on the office, they should make a real effort to be co-operative.
Mr. Hall: Smarten up.
Mr. Foulds: I guess Harold Greer wasn’t in this morning.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I shall so instruct my staff in the future, and I also would make a generous offer to the hon. member opposite. If he’d like to borrow the services of my office manager for a period of time to help sort the problem out, I would be quite happy to lend him his services.
Mr. S. Smith: Don’t be a smart aleck.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Smart ass.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I’d just like to remind the members that if they kept their private conversations down, it might be much easier to hear the minister.
Mr. McClellan: He’s not saying anything. Give us some dates on this. Give us some dates.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the need for a fully-integrated organization at the community level is a recognition of our rapid growth and the need to integrate what had become, due to the transfers, three different field organizations within our ministry.
Mr. McClellan: When? No dates. No times given.
Hon. Mr. Norton: At the present time, we have three major divisions -- social resources, children’s services and developmental resources -- all involved in community service and funding. We have decided to have two major program areas, children’s and adults’ services, providing service to our client groups.
Mr. McClellan: When are you going to do this? Tell us when.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In recognition of the need for fiscal restraint and the desirability of maintaining a lean organizational structure, the ministry’s plans provide for no expansion in senior executive positions. In fact, they call for a slight reduction. There will, however, be a number of significant changes in the content and structure of senior jobs from those currently in the organization.
Some of these changes will be immediate. That’s the answer to the question of the hon. member for Bellwoods. I didn’t want to interrupt my statement earlier.
Mr. McClellan: Some sometime and others other times.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Others will be the result of the longer-term process of reorganization.
We have already initiated action to enhance the ministry’s financial management and control by establishing the position of assistant deputy minister, finance and administration. This senior official will be undertaking a review of all systems of financial management and control and of our approaches to human resources management, to strengthen this function in the light of the importance of it to the responsive and effective delivery of service to the people of the province of Ontario.
Mr. McClellan: He can look at Mini-Skools.
Hon. Mr. Norton: To ensure responsiveness to local needs, we propose the appointment by October of this year of four regional directors of children’s services and four regional directors of adult services. These ministry officials will be responsible for planning and funding for services at the community level on behalf of the people we serve.
The change to two major divisions for children’s and adults’ services at our head office will also take effect in October. As an interim step, four positions for children’s services will be established immediately as area planning coordinators. These individuals will be responsible primarily for developing the work plan, initiating the systems and establishing the working relationships necessary for the appointment of regional directors by October. I have appointed four ministry staff members to assume the positions of area planning coordinators for children’s services. They are Dr. Ken Beck, Dr. Gillian Doherty, Ms. Valerie Gibbons and Mr. Ken Macdonald.
A number of changes will be required in the structure and functions of our organization to support the concepts of delegation and decentralization, a twin goal to which the ministry is committed. For this reason, we have decided to establish a small implementation task force to analyse in detail what further changes are required. This task force is to be composed of staff seconded from all ministry divisions and is headed by Dr. Cliff Williams.
Mr. McClellan: How many task forces does the minister have now? One hundred?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I want to emphasize, moreover, that all organizational changes will be planned so as not to cause any deterioration in service to the public and a minimum of disruption to staff of the ministry during the transition period. I’m confident that the steps I have outlined briefly will improve the ministry’s responsiveness to the special needs of the people we serve and enhance its operational efficiency.
Mr. Foulds: Is this the reorganization that was promised in 1970?
OHIP BENEFITS SCHEDULE
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Minister of Health. In view of the fact that the agreement which was reached with the Ontario Medical Association is on a basis completely different from what has previously been the case in the province of Ontario and is on a basis which may, without being overly dramatic about this, spell the end of universal medicare in Ontario, how can the minister justify, having made a bland statement to the House yesterday, including absolutely nothing regarding the divorce between the OMA fee schedule the OHIP schedule of benefits and the implications of that divorce?
Furthermore, what does he understand to be the legal basis on which the Clawson committee continued its deliberations, once the OMA made clear that its fee schedule was going to be exactly what it wanted and not open to much negotiation and certainly not open to the usual 90 per cent rule? Once that happened, on what legal basis would the Clawson committee have continued, given that section 31 only permits the OMA schedule of fees to be discussed and not some separate matter of government policy?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let me answer the latter part of the question first. Then, if I may, the most appropriate way to answer the first part is perhaps to go to the notes which I have prepared as a result of the comments of the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) last evening.
If the member looks at section 31, it’s quite correct that it says that at least six months before any revision of the schedule the OMA must notify us. There is nothing in that section which obliges the government, although this has been the practice, to base the schedule of benefits on the schedule of fees of the OMA. I refer the hon. member to section 51(j) of the Act which, Mr. Speaker, for his edification, reads as follows: “The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations: ... (j) prescribing the amounts payable by the plan for insured services rendered in or outside of Ontario in or by hospitals …” and so forth.
Mr. J. Reed: That’s the easy way out, by order in council.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: So, clearly, there is no legal obligation to use the OMA schedule fees as a basis for payment and there is a clear right of the government to prescribe in section 51(j).
Mr. S. Smith: Where’s the right to negotiate OHIP benefits?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As I left the House yesterday evening, following the discussion of the Mental Health Act amendments, I stopped to have a coffee in the lobby and it was fortunate that I did because I then heard the contribution of the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) to the budget debate. I must say again that it was somewhat disappointing, having been in the House yesterday, that there wasn’t a single question from opposite, even though, to my recollection, we had discussed the matter on several occasions in this House in question period in recent weeks.
Mr. S. Smith: We were misled by a misleading statement.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would hope that you would order the member to withdraw that because it is certainly not what occurred. Perhaps you want to reserve that?
Mr. S. Smith: I was misled by the minister’s statement.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Well, I can’t be held accountable for the member’s shortcomings.
Let me repeat, the government will publish an OHIP schedule of benefits. Opted-in physicians who at present constitute approximately 89 per cent of all physicians will receive fees which are 6.25 per cent more on average than they are at present receiving.
This is a result -- and this has been discussed before in this House -- of the refusal of this government to base its payment on an OMA fee schedule that would reflect what in our view would be an unconscionable increase in payments by OHIP of approximately 36 per cent, for physicians’ services. Thus, it is no longer possible to relate our benefit schedule directly to their fee schedule.
In writing such a separate schedule, members must surely realize that the OMA is attempting to mollify the dissident factions among its membership. At this point, let us recognize that under existing law in our free society the OMA has every right to prepare a fee schedule to reflect the wishes of its membership.
The member for Renfrew North yesterday evening indicated this most recent development of the relationship between the doctors of Ontario and the government would mean an end to the principle of universality of health care in Ontario. This simply is not so. We remain firmly and absolutely committed on this side of the House to this principle, the most fundamental of the principles of our medicare system.
Also, my hon. friend from Pembroke seemed to be under the misapprehension that opted-out physicians would be able to continue to collect from OHIP and collect an extra amount from their patients; what he called patient participation. Let me assure the members, that is completely mistaken. I repeat that an opted-in physician will continue to receive only the OHIP benefits.
Representatives of the OMA have repeatedly indicated to me that they do not foresee nor do they intend to encourage a large-scale opting out of OHIP. I accept their word. However, let it be absolutely clear, as I have said before, that if there is evidence of an inordinate increase in the number of opted-out physicians such as to jeopardize the basic principle of universality, this government will have to intervene to restore a proper and acceptable balance.
Members will recall that this same concern has been with us from the beginnings of the plan. In 1969, there were predictions that by allowing physicians to opt out of the plan, many people would be deprived of needed medical services because of the amount charged by these opted-nut physicians. This has not been the case.
Mr. S. Smith: Ten per cent.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would remind the members that even with AIB controls in effect, any number of physicians could opt out today and charge whatever they and their patients would agree on, so long as their income didn’t exceed the guidelines. In other words, they could treat fewer patients for higher fees and not exceed those guidelines. Obviously, this hasn’t happened and I believe it reflects the high degree of responsibility of our medical profession.
Mr. Kerrio: What is happening is that they are going to Texas.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Undoubtedly some have avoided this option out of a very genuine concern -- which I think is a realistic one -- that many of their patients would simply switch to other physicians who have remained in the plan. It would be the height of irresponsibility if, based on gloom and doom predictions, such as those of the hon. member last evening, this assembly were to destroy the excellent relationship that exists between the physicians of Ontario and the government and which has benefited every one of our citizens. Surely, the experience of the past nine years is reason enough to dismiss as premature and unfounded any suggestion from any quarter that our physicians will act irresponsibly.
Need I remind the members on all sides who have expressed to me their concern over the number of physicians leaving our province that I have always shared those concerns? I would also like to remind the member for Renfrew North of how often he has joined in that chorus of concern, and I have to ask him, and perhaps his leader too, if they wish to bear the responsibility, either as the Health critic or on behalf of the whole party over there, for ill-founded speculations and overreaction to a problem which in my view should not occur, which will only serve to punish an entire profession whose collective record in this province deserves commendation, not damnation.
Mr. Foulds: Is this a ministerial statement? Just a few notes?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: To sum up, let me reaffirm our positive commitment to the maintenance of our universal medicare plan. That bond with the people and with the doctors of Ontario has never been in doubt and it will never be breached.
Mr. Kerrio: Sounds good.
Mr. Rotenberg: It is good.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, given the fact that the minister is well aware that the existing 10 per cent differential between OHIP and OMA really amounts to the cost of setting up a billing apparatus and an allowance for bad debts; and given the fact that under his new arrangement the difference between the OMA and OHIP will be closer to 30 per cent -- very much more of an incentive for opting out -- and given the fact that the OMA president has declared that the OMA favours opting out, what I want to know is this: I don’t want the minister’s pious promises about the future of medicare. I want to know what studies he had done to make certain that there will not be what he calls an inordinate number of doctors opting out. What surveys has he done to indicate this? What percentage of doctors opting out does he consider to be an inordinate number --
Mr. Handleman: Who’s your fortune teller?
Mr. S. Smith: -- what percentage would he call intolerable, and what percentage of doctors opting out would disqualify the Ontario medicare program under the federal health insurance legislation which says there must be universal, reasonable accessibility? What are the levels that he anticipates, what are the levels he would accept, and what are the levels the federal government would accept in terms of percentage of opted-out physicians?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Who cares what the federal government would accept?
Hon. W. Newman: What are you going to do personally? In or out?
Mr. S. Smith: I’ve always been in and I will continue to be in.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is true of the rest of the profession.
Mr. Foulds: You will be in as soon as you are out of here, Stuart.
Mr. Riddell: That will be a long time.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s what they said about Wintermeyer.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let me point out, first of all, that before the Anti-Inflation Board controls came down, we had six years under the latest plan through the evolution of OMSIP, OHSIP and now OHIP. Throughout this period -- I think I am correct in this -- we have averaged about 11 per cent opted-out; sometimes it’s been 12 per cent, sometimes it’s been 10 per cent. Right now it’s about 11 per cent. In fact, the number of opted outs has gone down during the control period, because many physicians took the view, “Well, if I am going to be held to $2,400 a year, I might as well just let OHIP send me one cheque a month as worry about billings and so forth.”
I want to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that no matter what happens to the OMA schedule fees today or tomorrow, once the controls are off individual physicians and the profession collectively will be reverting as it were back to the pre-October 14, 1975, situation where they would have to consider, given their particular group of patients, given their particular specialty or whatever they have got that attracts patients, whether they could make it on an opted-out basis. That’s one very serious consideration, because I think it is a very real concern that many patients would simply go to doctors who stay in the plan. That is a fact to be considered.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is a bit of a marketplace.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Exactly, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is exactly correct; it is called the marketplace.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is a bit of one.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would say at this point, given the fact that in my discussions with the OMA, there has been no indication that they are going to promote opting out. Their position has been that it’s to be on an individual decision basis -- no pressure from the OMA. I think it would be highly speculative and premature today to say to the doctors, “Look, we’re going to come down on you like the hammers of hell” --
Mr. S. Smith: At what level?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- especially when they have served this province so well and given that over the nine years, any of them could have opted out at any point, and haven’t; it has remained relatively constant.
Mr. S. Smith: What level will you accept? That’s the question.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think it would be irresponsible today to speculate on what percentage are likely to opt out and at what point it will become a problem. What I said was --
Mr. Kerrio: Wait and see.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- that if the numbers of opted-out clearly begin to threaten the universality of the system, then we will intervene.
Mr. S. Smith: What number is that?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I don’t think we can determine at this point what such a number would be.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why doesn’t the Leader of the Opposition pick a number out of the air?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Pick a number.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes, pick a number.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The number may vary from community to community.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What does the Leader of the Opposition have against the medical profession?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The point is not the number opted-out. The point is the universality and accessibility of the system, and that’s what we have to be concerned about. I think we have to look at that and be concerned about that --
Mr. S. Smith: At what level is that?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- and see what impact the other is having. I don’t think one can choose a number now.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Supplementary, the member for Scarborough West. Pardon me, Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the compliment.
Would the minister not agree that what the government is in fact proposing to do is to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted? Because what the government is saying is that if the principle of universality is undermined by doctors opting out, then the government will start to act tough. Should the government not in fact be protecting the health consumers of this province by ensuring that the universality is not in fact undermined?
Would the minister not also agree that what the government is condoning is the creation of a two-class system of medicine in Ontario --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Never has been and never will be.
Mr. Cassidy: -- where those doctors who opt out will be charging a fee which is 42 per cent higher than what they will be able to receive under the Ontario health insurance premiums, effective May 1?
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s bunk, absolute bunk.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You want to make them all public servants.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Over the weekend I’m going to dig out Hansard for 1969 and see what kind of arguments were made then. Because I suspect that the kind of things the member is saying by way of his questions today and the kind of things he’s perhaps saying outside this House are exactly the kind of gloom and doom and dire predictions which were voiced in this House by a much smaller group of members of his party in 1969, and which predictions have not come true because of the responsibility of our medical profession in this province.
Mr. Breaugh: Ninety per cent? Ninety-one per cent? Ninety-five per cent?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I say to the member again, as previous Ministers of Health have said, that if at any point the right to opt out threatens the universality of that system, we will intervene. There has been no reason to for nine years, and I anticipate no reason to intervene.
Mr. Elgie: Supplementary: With the minister’s reaffirmation of this government’s firm commitment to the principle of the universality with regard to the OHIP medicare program, and in view of the concerns expressed today about the possibility that this principle would be undermined if large numbers of physicians opted out in 1979, when the AIB constraints have been lifted, will the minister assure this House that he has the means and the intent to monitor the number of physicians participating in the OHIP plan, to ensure that the citizens of this province continue to have adequate access to physicians who are opted in --
Mr. Cassidy: Even your own back-benchers aren’t happy with what you’re doing.
Mr. Elgie: -- and thus accept the government’s OHIP medicare schedule as full payment for medical services rendered?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Clearly, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Breaugh: Clearly you can’t even convince your own caucus.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- all sides of this House share concern about maintaining the universality of a plan which has developed so well over the last number of years. To specifically answer the member’s question, yes, through the offices of Dr. Buchanan’s section of my ministry, the medical manpower planning division, we have the means -- and we have been doing it regularly -- to follow the distribution of physicians, not only just in numbers, in hundreds or thousands, but as between specialties and general practice, and between opted in and opted out.
That has been monitored and we will continue to monitor that, so as to ensure -- let me repeat it; it bears repeating as I think the members still don’t understand it -- so as to insure that the universal, accessible medicare plan which we have developed in this party, in this province, in this government over the last number of years will be maintained.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, how can we have confidence in the minister’s declaration that he is going to be sure that opting out doesn’t reach this dangerous level if he can’t even tell us that he already knows to any extent what he would regard as a dangerous level threatening the universality of the plan? And, furthermore, if the marketplace, as the Premier says, will decide these matters --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t put words into my mouth.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s what the Premier said. That’s right.
Mr. Sargent: What did the Premier say, then?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. S. Smith: If the marketplace, to which the Premier refers, is insufficient to overcome --
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s better, that’s more accurate.
Mr. S. Smith: -- this 30 per cent differential in the two fee schedules, and it seems as though that will be approximately what the difference is, would the minister consider making the marketplace truly effective by either eliminating the opting-out provision or, more importantly, by including the non-reimbursement by OHIP of those patients who chose to go to opted-out physicians? Then the minister would have a marketplace operation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. S. Smith: Which one is it going to be? Is the minister going to tell the doctors they have to opt in or is he prepared to tell the doctors they are either in or out of the plan?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The Leader of the Opposition is behaving like a dictator.
Hon. Mr Timbrell: That is the most incredible display of economic philosophy I have ever heard from a leader of that party in this House. Is that how he would define a marketplace? Would he, in effect, set up somebody totally in isolation and cut out everybody else? Is that a marketplace?
Mr. S. Smith: They can opt in.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: What we have had in nine years is the right to opt out, which has not destroyed the versatility of the system, and which has not destroyed the accessibility of the system. There is no reason to believe that these events are going to cause universality and accessibility to be threatened.
Mr. S. Smith: There’s a 30 per cent differential.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There are two further points. I say to the member again, whether the OMA schedule of fees was 0.1 per cent, one per cent or 100 per cent more than the government benefit, the OHIP benefit is immaterial when it comes right down to it because of the patterns of practice and because of the types of practice tbat are involved in this province.
So help me, Mr. Speaker, I hope that abroad in this province by the 6 o’clock news tonight people will understand what Liberal marketplace economics are all about.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. We have already taken up 20 minutes. I will now accept the second question from the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: I am going to stay on the same subject, Mr. Speaker. If the minister prefers to distort what I have said, let me ask him a further question.
Mr. Foulds: Nothing you say can be distorted.
Mr. McClellan: Here comes the flop.
Ms. S. Smith: If the doctors en masse in the province of Ontario decide to accept the 30 per cent incentive, which would be represented by billing according to the OMA schedule, and in that way threaten the universality of medicare in this province and the universality of access, what is the minister going to do and what does he see as the possible measures that the government has to offer? Does he not agree with those studies that have indicated that in such a contingency, and in such a contingency only, he would have two possible methods of operating? One is to make sure that all doctors opt into whatever the benefit schedule is and the other to say that those who opt out basically will have to get their patient clientele from people prepared to pay the whole shot themselves and not supported by public funds.
This is not something he has never heard of; it has been studied in his own ministry. Those would appear to me to be the weapons he has. Which ones would he use?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why do you always want to talk about weapons? Why do you want a confrontation with the medical profession?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In my time as minister I have always been firm with the medical profession when it comes to points of policy or principle where we might disagree, but never have I tried to use the medical profession of this province as a political whipping boy for the benefit of myself or my party. With respect, that is exactly what the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre talked about a two-class medical system. That is exactly what the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting when he talked about opted-out physicians having to get their clientele elsewhere. He is talking about Harley Street medicine. That is Harley Street medicine in England, and we are not going to go to that.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s not true.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s Quebec medicine he’s talking about because that is what they do.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The member wants a confrontation with the doctors. They don’t want a confrontation and we are not going to have a confrontation. There is no need for it. We have a responsible medical profession and the kinds of things he is suggesting are only going to aggravate the problems.
Mr. S. Smith: Given the fact that what the minister has been doing is setting the ground for exactly that confrontation by allowing a 30 per cent differential --
Hon. W. Newman: Why don’t you ask a question instead of making a statement all the time?
Mr. S. Smith: -- between what a doctor can get out of the plan and what he can get in the plan, and given that that is far in excess of what the billing costs and the allowance for bad debts would be, I want to know what contingency plans the minister has to make sure that we continue the fundamental principle of universal access to medicare in this province, and I don’t want his pious platitudes.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, with respect, I have answered that question several times in several ways.
Mr. S. Smith: He has no contingency plans at all.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The point is still the same, that there is no reason to believe that the profession is in any way going to act in a way which is going to threaten that system. I make it clear again, if there is a problem, as on any other occasion, we will act in the best interests of the people as I indicated earlier.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to tell the minister that the difference between the two fee schedules will in fact be 42.55 per cent and not the 30 per cent that has been mentioned.
Hon. W. Newman: How do you know? You don’t even know how to figure.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to ask the minister, does he not agree that, in fact, the existence of such a large margin is going in lead to a much greater proportion of opting out than the 10 per cent differential that has existed over the previous nine years, and is that not the question that the government should have addressed in deciding to condone that very large increase in the OMA fee schedule by not trying to bring it down in any way at all?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I don’t know for the life of me where the hon. member gets 42.5 per cent. Let’s just take the raw figures. At the worst, it is approximately 36 per cent, maybe the high 50s; that is the difference in income. Then we have to look at the difference in expenses. An opted-out physician does have to have extra staff; he or she does have to have extra records; that opted-out physician does run into problems with bill collecting and bad debts, the difference is not that large. In fact, if we throw all the extra costs and bad debts into it, the difference is much less.
I think the other part of the question has already been answered.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary: My question to the minister is, first, if there is no reason to believe the OMA is actually going to use the realistic new fee schedule, I am wondering why the minister feels they are pursuing this in the first case?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Are you describing it as realistic?
Mr. Conway: They have.
Secondly, since the minister indicated that the marketplace was, in fact, going to perhaps come to bear on the opting out business, which is the key --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just heard you say it was.
Mr. Haggerty: It was you who suggested that.
Mr. Conway: -- can he share with me, any views he has as to how he sees the marketplace operating differently, let us say, in rural, small-town Ontario from perhaps Metropolitan Toronto, because it seems to me those marketplaces will be fundamentally different in some respects?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would have thought -- how long has the member been Health critic? Two years?
Hon. W. Newman: Two weeks.
An hon. member: Answer the question.
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, come off it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would have thought that as the member travelled around the various medical societies and academies of medicine, including Toronto East and so forth -- I hear they had a good evening with him --
Mr. J. Reed: Why don’t you go back to school?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- he would have learned that, I think it was in 1974 or 1975, the membership of the OMA directed the council of the OMA to prepare a new fee schedule to reflect what in its view were values for services higher than it was getting from the government.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Higher than they defined before.
Mr. Breaugh: Put it in writing, Bette, and hand it to him.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That was put off by them understandably during the control period.
Mr. Kerrio: We just want to get the answers.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: They are simply, one, following the direction of their membership and two, doing what they are legally entitled to do.
As to the second question, that is really a different question, and we get into the question of distribution of physicians around the province. As members know, we have an extremely successful underserviced area program for both physicians and dentists.
I may say -- and I have indicated this in correspondence with several members -- we are growing a little bit concerned about the distribution of certain specialties and considering the possibility for the future of expanding the underserviced area program to cover some specialties to make sure that they are properly distributed around the province, and even, for that matter, considering the possibility of recommending to my cabinet colleagues at some point in the future we might take a look a reinstating the bursary program; all with a view to maintaining the distribution of physicians, including the specialties, so as to ensure the universality and the accessibility of our medicare system.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister has repeatedly indicated that he does not see any threat to the universality and accessibility of the system by the actions in the last few days. But he has indicated, it seems to me, that should that become a possibility in the ministry’s view, intervention would be taken by the ministry. Could he tell the House how far he has thought that particular action through -- what form of intervention he sees the ministry taking at that point in time should it become a reality? Would that be through negotiation? Would it be through legislation? Could he give us some indication of what kind of intervention specifically he is thinking about?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, should it come about -- and I see no reason for it to, I repeat again -- the reaction would be the most appropriate to the need at the time.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CONFEDERATION
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier arising out of his statement on the report of the Advisory Committee on Confederation, which came before this Legislature a couple of days ago. In the statement, the Premier sees our task now as “finding ways of focusing discussion, as the dialogue proceeds, to shape the vitally necessary public consensus in these complex matters” -- I don’t know who writes the Premier’s speeches. But in view of that and his statement as well that he would encourage each member of this Legislature to study the report and offer comments about his proposals, are the Premier and the government now prepared to refer this report and other matters affecting the future of our country to a standing or select committee of the Legislature so that the members of the Legislature as a group can take evidence, can consider the matter, can discuss it, can bring in expert witnesses, can possibly travel throughout the province and possibly throughout other parts of Canada in order to make a joint contribution --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. Cassidy: -- to the future of the country?
Mr. S. Smith: When I suggested it, you said it was like suggesting a coalition.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the interest the hon. member is taking. I also understand his desire to travel perhaps -- I don’t quarrel with that.
Mr. McClellan: Don’t be cheap.
An hon. member: When are you going to Greece, Bill?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, you people. Can’t we have a bit of fun across here? He can say he doesn’t know who writes my speeches --
An hon. member: Are you having trouble with the Greek vote?
Mr. Makarchuk: You remember the last election when you wrapped yourself in the flag.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You people think it’s always a one-way street. You can make snide remarks, sarcastic remarks, but we have a bit of fun, be a bit facetious and you can never take it.
Mr. Foulds: You know about that; you’ve never answered a question seriously in two weeks.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You always like to dish it out, but when we have a bit of fun across here you always say, “Oh, that’s a cheap shot, we don’t like it,” et cetera.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Michael, don’t lose your sense of humour.
An hon. member: He hasn’t got one.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Mr. Foulds: Oh come on. As a standup comic, you are a failure.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the hon. member who sits on the left of the Leader of the Opposition, as a stand-up comic he’s a great success. I would say that.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you.
An hon. member: That’s the cheap shot. That’s the cheap shot.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wouldn’t be critical of him. Sitting down he’s a great success.
Mr. Sargent: That’s why he is here. You are no help.
Mr. S. Smith: You are better sitting down.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am quite anxious to have a response, not just from members of the House but from the public generally; I would suggest that, perhaps, prior to any decision to have a standing or select committee to subpoena witnesses, take evidence, cross-examine et cetera. I really don’t think we are looking for that sort of thing.
Mr. Cassidy: Oh, for goodness’ sake.
Mr. Foulds: No, a public inquiry.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, you did.
Mr. Foulds: No, no. A public inquiry.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, you said to take evidence and so on. We’ve got the task force on national unity, there is something very creative --
Mr. Makarchuk: A bunch of charlatans.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Are you saying that Mr. Robarts, Mr. Pepin, and others are charlatans?
Mr. Makarchuk: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member should be given an opportunity to reconsider that remark. I don’t think the people of Canada regard those people as charlatans.
Mr. Kennedy: Shame on you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know he said it in jest, but there are some people who might think he was serious.
An hon. member: You haven’t asked one.
An hon. member: Reconsider.
Mr. Makarchuk: I withdraw Mr. Robarts.
Mr. Foulds: Will you get to answering the question now?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the NDP caucus and the Liberal caucus, I think these things are certainly worthy of discussion. But to say at the moment we’re going to have a select committee to evaluate that report, I don’t think that’s the right route to go. There’ll be a second phase to the report which is crucial, to which the hon. member’s colleague, the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) could contribute in terms of the history of this dialogue that’s gone on for so many years, and that is the whole question of the distribution of powers which is really basic to any finality in terms of discussion. The committee has not yet dealt with this.
The proposals that are there though, I think should be considered, and should be considered by members. We can have a debate here in the House; I have no quarrel with that. I would just suggest that before we say, “Let’s have another committee, let’s study it again,” let’s get some reaction from those who have read the report. I know that all have read the report --
Mr. Foulds: It’s a short report.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and if they haven’t, the weekend might be a good opportunity. Let’s perhaps have a discussion here in the House before we start talking about select committees travelling and hearing witnesses.
Mr. Cassidy: As a matter of fact, I had not expected the Premier to take the tone he did in his response to my question. I stumbled over the words in the letter he wrote to the Prime Minister and that’s why --
Mr. Haggerty: You’re stumbling now.
Mr. Cassidy: -- I made a comment about the speech writers. I’m sorry for that comment, as a matter of fact, because I think that this House should deal more carefully with this question than the Premier did. I want to say, Mr. Speaker --
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you ask the question the way you do, you are going to get that kind of response.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Would the hon. member place his question?
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the comments of the Premier in this House this week, that he is asking Mr. Macdonald to convene a small but representative conference of citizens to analyse and evaluate the committee proposals; in view of the Premier’s request that all interested citizens, particularly from Ontario, comment on the committee’s proposals; in view of his encouragement to members of the Legislature to look at this, but only on an individual basis, does the Premier not feel that it is time that, rather than having short debates on a sporadic basis which never seem to happen in this House, we seriously and on an ongoing basis have a group of members look at the problems of the future of our country as seriously as we have examined other questions that have been under study by select or standing committees of this Legislature in the past?
Is the matter of the future of our country and Ontario’s place within it not as important as other matters which have been freely referred to standing and select committees of the Legislature? And if the Premier thinks that is the case, then why will he not take the action now, rather than looking for continued excuses --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. member has certainly asked his question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will try not to be provoked by the latter part of the hon. member’s question. He wants me to be reasonable in my replies; I try to be. The hon. member starts out with a reasonable question but then he always has to find some way of being sarcastic at the tail end. I will try to restrain myself. I am encouraged that the hon. member is taking an interest.
I agree completely that this matter is far more serious and of greater concern than a number of matters that have been referred to select or standing committees over the years. I can think of some in fairly recent times that I would suggest were less relevant, but they were referred at the insistence of some members opposite.
All I’m saying is, and in my letters to the Prime Minister and to the Premiers I think I pointed out as I did in my statement in the House, that I want or would encourage some public discussion. I have suggested to the chairman of the advisory committee -- and it’s an ongoing committee; this is just the first report -- that if possible, he arrange a discussion with some of the academic communities, some of those involved in constitutional matters, to weigh some of the legal implications of the first phase of their report. I would, without any question, like some constructive discussions here in this House.
I am raising the point that at this moment, to say we will have a select committee to examine the report would be premature. I think there should be an opportunity here for all members of the House for general discussion, because this is not my report. This is a report from the advisory committee of people who have conscientiously and with a great deal of consideration prepared a document that I think is helpful in the current debate. I’m not going to suggest for a moment it will be universally accepted --
Mr. Peterson: By Peter Lougheed.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- by other provinces. It may not be acceptable to some of the people in the government of Canada, but at least it is a step and a very constructive one.
All I’m saying to the leader of the New Democratic Party is let’s try to approach it in a very non-partisan sense, because I don’t think there are any partisan politics involved in this. And after members have had an opportunity to read it thoroughly and digest it, then we should, in the initial stage, at least, have a discussion here in this Legislature. I think that’s the most reasonable route to go.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: One final supplementary: the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Cassidy: A final supplementary? On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s actually the first supplementary, Mr. Speaker. It’s the first supplementary after the leader’s.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, we have been cut back by you on several occasions today, and to have only three questions is simply not fair.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: Welcoming, as I do, the suggestion that we might have a debate in this House on the report -- and I say that’s a constructive suggestion -- would the Premier give us the benefit of his opinion regarding one of the recommendations which is that we have, in Ontario, a bill bringing together the French-language rights and services that are available to our francophone minority, giving it some legal status in a unified form? That is one of the recommendations of the report. Would he give us his opinion about that and also tell us what he feels about the recommendation that we have a committee to construct exactly such a bill and to look over the present situation with regard to minority-language services?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think it’s a question of having a select committee to look over the existing minority language services. I think that these things can be ascertained by existing committees and through the Education estimates in particular. We have a report that was part of the report to the council of Ministers of Education across Canada which, I think, is a very good document for any discussion of that particular matter.
As a matter of fact, prior to this recommendation, on one occasion I set out as a possibility the question of a bill as it relates to the provision of French-language services as distinct from the question of passing legislation declaring this province officially bilingual. I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition that this sort of thing requires very careful consideration, it is very simple -- I shouldn’t say simple because it wasn’t that simple -- to provide legislation in terms of the educational service.
After this morning’s discussion, it is obvious to me that the Leader of the Opposition would be far more knowledgeable about the medical field than I would be, although I question whether he’s as knowledgeable about how one should approach the question of the other issue. But I think it’s very difficult to legislate, as an example, in the health field. You can have general principles. You can make commitments as a government, which we have done. But I guess -- and I’m only guessing at this -- that if you are in need of surgery, language becomes somewhat irrelevant if it is something of an emergency.
Mr. Foulds: Not for diagnostic purposes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think you can develop the same sort of legislation as you can in the field of education, where you can prescribe numbers of students, class sizes, et cetera.
I am just saying that it sounds like one direction that could be considered. Actually, in a speech of mine some months ago, I think I said something about this but I would not want to hold out to the Leader of the Opposition any false expectations for something that is not achievable or doesn’t make sense. It is something that we’ve been looking at since we had the report, and at some point in time -- and I’m not going to pin myself down to two or three weeks -- I will have some further suggestions to make on that part of the report.
I would hope, when we get into a debate, that we also consider some of the other recommendations, because while that one recommendation is important in terms of what we do internally within the province of Ontario, the other aspects of the report on the question of the House of the Provinces -- or whatever other terminology -- and appointments to the Supreme Court; all of these things, I think, are really very crucial to our present discussion.
I am not saying for a moment -- and I want to re-emphasize this -- that the committee’s report is the only answer -- and I am digressing, so if you want to add another two or three minutes to the question period, Mr. Speaker, I will not object at all -- but what I am concerned about is the feeling that exists in some parts of this country that there is this third option, that there is some alternative that is going to sort of magically appear. I guess I’m one of those who believes that the third option -- if that is the term -- that the alternative that is available to Canadians is some significant measure of constitutional reform.
When we take all of the rest of the debate away, the rhetoric, the emotion, et cetera, when we come right down to it, if we are talking about change within this country, we have to get back to the constitution. As dry a subject as it may be for some people, as unexciting as it may be for some people, I really think that’s what we have to understand and I think that is the solution that we should be seeking.
This is why I was very encouraged by their report. It was not easy for them, and there is the one part that is lacking, as the member for York South I am sure will agree. It’s hard, I know, to consider the initial report without the report on distribution of powers. It is difficult, but I think we can make some progress with it and hopefully the suggestions on distribution will be available some time in early summer. That’s the best guesstimate I can give to the members of the House.
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for taking so long but I did want to set out one or two of those views while I was on my feet.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The second question of the member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, you have rightfully pointed out that we have taken some 20 or 25 minutes on the first question of the Leader of the Opposition and I would respectfully point out to you that while OHIP premiums and the difference between the OMA schedule and OHIP premiums is a serious matter, that the question raised by the leader of this party about Confederation and the advisory committee’s report is of equal importance to this Legislature and, as a point of privilege, it seems to me to be unjust for you to limit the supplementary questions on this important matter to two.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I appreciate the comments of the hon. member and I must remind him that it’s the duty of the Speaker to make certain that all members of this House, or as many members of the House as possible, may have the opportunity to ask questions of the ministry regarding urgent public important business. I am trying to carry out my duty and I will now accept the second question from the member for Ottawa West.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, with great respect --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sorry, are you challenging --
Mr. Foulds: -- with great respect --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I would like to remind the member that during the question period, he does not have the right to challenge the decision of the member -- of the Speaker.
Mr. Foulds: I think you were right in the first place -- member.
Some hon. members: Shame.
Mr. Ruston: Apologize..
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order before I launch into my second question, I just want to --
Some hon. members: There is no point of order.
Mr. Havrot: Screwballs and oddballs.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the hon. member ask his second question?
Mr. Cassidy: I will proceed, Mr. Speaker, but I just want to put on the record the fact that there were at least six supplementaries to both of the questions --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: -- of the Leader of the Opposition and there have been only two to my first question, and that is not equitable treatment of the two opposition parties.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. W. Newman: You can’t challenge the Speaker. Be quiet and sit down.
Mr. Kerrio: Why don’t you take your ball and go on home?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Are you going to take your matches and go home?
Mr. Hodgson: Cry-baby.
An hon. member: Has anybody got a towel?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the hon. member for Ottawa Centre place his second question?
Mr. Cassidy: We will take this up with the Speaker, not with the Deputy Speaker. I am really unhappy about this.
An hon. member: You are great while you are getting your own way.
Mr. MacDonald: Take a look at the record. We went 20 to 25 minutes on the first question.
An hon. member: No crying.
Mr. MacDonald: If we wanted to distribute the time, why didn’t we distribute it then?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
An hon. member: You are no Stephen Lewis.
Mr. MacDonald: It’s wrong, so don’t yadk on as though you thought it was right.
REGISTRATION OF NURSES
Mr. Cassidy: I have a second question for the Minister of Health. The minister has undoubtedly had some correspondence on the question of a proposal by the College of Nurses to impose requirements for a certificate of competency which would insist that nurses have at least 50 days of experience per year over a five-year period in order to continue to be qualified to nurse. Can the minister state what is the ministry’s position --
Mr. Riddell: The OMA is reconsidering that.
Mr. Cassidy: -- on that particular proposal of the College of Nurses and whether he thinks the 50-day requirement is fair and realistic?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I answered that question in the House about five weeks ago --
Mr. Breithaupt: A long time ago.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- to the hon. member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt). At this point it is only a proposal of the College of Nurses which is being discussed by the College of Nurses among the membership. It has been conducting a series of seminars or meetings around the province -- the most recent one that I am aware of was about three weeks ago at Convocation Hall -- to discuss the implications of the proposal with the membership and to take whatever action it deemed necessary to either revise, rescind or proceed with that proposal.
The ministry has no position on the proposal at this point, because it is not before us. Until such time as we have the final views of the College of Nurses we will take no position on that.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the growing concern, which has been mounting steadily in the past five weeks as well as before that period, what steps does the ministry intend to take, if the proposal goes through, to ensure that upgrading requirements are not unduly onerous and that training, retraining or refresher courses are freely available across the province and are not restrictively available in only certain localities?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I answered that question, too, Mr. Speaker, that, I think, was the supplementary of the member for Huron-Bruce. I indicated that in the event such a proposal does come forward -- and I acknowledge that it is an extremely controversial one within the nursing profession -- and let me reaffirm what I said on that day: We recognize and will continue to recognize the right of nursing, through its own college, to self- administer its profession.
Clearly, if such a proposal were to come forth, part of our considerations would have to be what our sister ministry, namely the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, would have to do by way of the nursing programs in the community colleges to meet the requirements of whatever is their proposal and whatever is finally decided upon.
An hon. member: Strike three, Michael.
Mr. Eakins: In the absence of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Brunelle) and the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch), I would like to place my question to the Premier. In view of his government’s decision to change its position with regard to the Ogoki Wilderness Lodge project, and in view of the reluctance last year of the shareholders to operate the lodge until sufficient guarantees were given to underwrite any operating losses, would the Premier outline the terms of the decisions which were made yesterday in regard to Ogoki Wilderness Lodge?
The Minister of Culture and Recreation has come in; perhaps he might answer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can’t, Mr. Speaker. One of my colleagues may; and if one would like to volunteer, I am sure be would. And if that one can’t, I will be delighted to get the information to the member on Monday.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, since there has been some reference to the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, we along with other ministries have been involved under the leadership of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development in some negotiations dealing with the corporation that has primary responsibility in this project, and particularly with its management.
I must confess to the hon. member that I wasn’t at any meeting yesterday; I was in Montreal yesterday at meetings of Ministers of Recreation. I do know that the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development notified my office that he would not be here today. If the hon. member would perhaps defer that question until Monday, I would have an opportunity to consult with the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development and encourage him to bring the hon. member and the House up to date on those discussions.
Mr. Eakins: I would like to ask the minister, then, if he would make a statement on Monday because surely, if we read it in the press, we should have this information in the House. Secondly, I would like to ask the minister if the lodge is going to be open this year and will he table the Dunwoody report which was commissioned by his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Welch: My understanding is that the lodge will be open; in fact, literature is available. When we were doing the estimates of the Ministry of Culture and Recreation we had copies of that particular brochure, a very attractive brochure; the hon. member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) has a copy, and I am sure he would be glad to share it with his colleague.
Mr. Mancini: I am sure it had glossy covers.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Will you encourage them all to go and visit?
Hon. Mr. Welch: As far as the report is concerned, if the hon. member will leave that with me I will report on that on Monday as well.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. I wonder if, following on the report of the Ontario Status of Women Council, the minister is now ready to bring in an amendment to the Employment Standards Act, as they recommend, creating a situation of equal pay for work of equal value in Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, we are most certainly considering the recommendation of the Status of Women Council. It will be included in our consideration of all of the presentations which were made at the conference in January of Equal Pay-Equal Opportunity and which have been published and distributed to all members of this House. I do hope the members of the House will read the booklet carefully, and if they have any specific views or comments which they would like to make, that they will transmit them to me.
Mr. Warner: You got one this morning.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: Would the minister comment on the motion of the council that says, “The Ontario Status of Women Council is of the opinion that time for discussion has passed” on this issue?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am not at all sure that the time for discussion has passed and I’m certainly not sure that the time for discussion of methods of implementation of such a program has passed.
Mr. Warner: We need some action.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Nor am I sure that simply passing a law which cannot be enforced is the way to solve this problem.
Mr. McClellan: Study it for four or five years.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It would seem to me that the assurance of equal opportunity for women in all areas is probably the best solution to this problem which is ongoing.
Mr. McClellan: Keith will help her study it. He will help her study it for five or six years.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: While we would all like to see equality of opportunity for women, is the minister not impressed by the cases that have come to our attention over the last year of women who, even when they’re organized, cannot within their work place receive remuneration equal to men who are doing work of a very similar kind?
Hon. B. Stephenson: In all instances in which it has been demonstrated that the work is substantially the same within the same establishment, the law of the province of Ontario since 1962 --
Ms. Gigantes: That’s why the law has to be changed.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- has stated that they must be paid equally whether they’re male or female.
Mr. Warner: You need to change the law and you know it. You won’t do it.
Mr. McClellan: There are too many loopholes in the law.
Ms. Gigantes: Final supplementary: Is the minister trying to tell us that a situation of equal remuneration exists in Ontario? Is she satisfied with the current situation? Is that what she’s suggesting?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I made no such statement at all.
Ms. Gigantes: Why don’t you change the law?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The hon. member suggested that in certain establishments there were people doing substantially the same work and being paid unequally.
Ms. Gigantes: That is correct and you know it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is against the law in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Warner: It’s still there.
Mr. Cassidy: What about the banknote company?
Hon. B. Stephenson: If there are instances of that sort, all that needs to be done is that they be reported to the employment standards branch for investigation and they will be resolved.
Mr. Warner: Oh, come on.
Mr. Breaugh: Get off it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: They have been resolved in almost all instances in which those cases have been reported.
Mr. Breaugh: In the cabinet maybe.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. B. Stephenson: But I would remind the hon. member that the concept of equal pay for work of equal value is not precisely the same as the concept of equal pay for equal work.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s why we need to change the law.
INCOME TAX CONSULTANTS
Mr. Breithaupt: A question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations with respect to recent advertising on television and radio concerning the tax experts and tax specialists’ terms. Is the minister aware of the use of those terms, particularly in the advertising by H and R Block Limited and does the minister believe that the use of those particular words, “experts” and “specialists,” is appropriate when the tax services that are being provided by persons with some training and a basic course do not really go as far as to do more than provide a tax consultant or tax service situation?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, I would point out that this isn’t a problem unique to the income tax service. Every day of the week one can open up the newspaper and find, for example, experts in home insulation, experts in aluminum siding --
Mr. Breaugh: Consumer and corporate affairs.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- experts in plumbing or whatever. Except for those areas where a person can’t carry on business without a certificate, it becomes very difficult for the ministry to make a value judgement as to whether a person is or is not an expert. Unless someone were able to objectively define what an expert is in any business, it would be most difficult for us to succeed in a prosecution; for example, in suggesting that that was unfair or misleading advertising.
In any case, this matter was drawn to my attention through the media a couple of days ago, and I’ve asked my staff to have a look into it and report back to me on it.
Mr. Germa: A question of the Minister of Labour. On March 30, I raised the question of the activities of one of her mining inspectors in relation to the deaths of three people at Inco’s Frood mine in Sudbury at which time she did say that she was aware of the situation and would report back to the House. In view of the fact that there are men’s lives possibly in danger as a result of her inactivity, can she bring the House up to date on her investigation into that complaint?
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s something of an exaggeration. The inspection process goes on consistently as a result of the activities of the mine occupational health and safety branch, and the danger is certainly not increased.
The concern expressed by the hon. member was about the role of one member, one inspector, under that branch. I told the hon. member at that time we were reviewing the transcript of all of the inquests that have been held and the complaints which have been lodged. The legal branch, plus the occupational health and safety branch, is examining the problem. I anticipate that next week I shall be able to report to the House, but there is no question that the safety or health of the miners is in any way in jeopardy because of the fact that the branch and the legal branch are examining these documents which have been made available to them.
Mr. Germa: Supplementary: Is the minister saying that this mining inspector has been removed from his present role of inspection at the Frood mine?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, I did not say that. What I did say was that the director of the mining occupational health and safety branch, which is acutely aware of this problem, is obviously providing the kind of supervision which is necessary in that situation to protect the health and safety of the individual workers.
Mr. Warner: Give him a job selling beer at the ball park.
Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Has he received a copy of the Essex county health council’s recommendations concerning ambulance services and, if he has, when can we expect a decision as to how the ministry is going to resolve the problems of the ambulance services in the county?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I saw them only three or four days ago. As the member knows, they are rather significant recommendations. I would anticipate we would want to take a few weeks, if not a few months, to review those recommendations before we make any final decisions. By and large, from what I can recall in a very quick cursory review of a few days ago, it seems to be a very well-prepared document.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I would like to withdraw totally any injudicious remarks I made in my exchange with you and apologize for them.
Mr. Kerrio: That’s the nicest thing that has happened today.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Thank you kindly.
STANDING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Havrot from the standing resources development committee reported the following resolution:
Resolved: That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of the Environment be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1979:
Ministry administration program ...... $ 6,761,000
Environmental assessment and
planning program ................................ 19,433,000
Environmental control program ....... 247,121,000
Resource recovery program ............... 7,483,000
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Breaugh moved first reading of Bill 64, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breaugh: The purpose of this bill is to place the whole of the legislative building and grounds under the control of the Speaker. The amendment follows the recommendation of the Ontario Commission on the Legislature and a select committee of the assembly established to study the commission’s report.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Breaugh moved first reading of Bill 65, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breaugh: The purpose of this bill is to prevent the hiring of strike-breakers and to control access to a work premises that is affected by a strike or lockout. The bill prohibits an employer from hiring or using the services of a person to do the work of an employee who is on strike or locked out, unless that person is specifically authorized to do so. Similarly, when a picket line is established at a place of access to a work premises, access is limited to persons specifically authorized by the bill.
Mr. Wildman: The short title is the Fleck bill.
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES (CONCLUDED)
On vote 804, supply and services program; item 13, protocol services:
Mr. M. Davidson: I ask your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, to allow me to go back to a different vote because I have some information that I found since the time I received an answer on a question, which leads me to believe that maybe the information the minister gave me was incorrect. I am not going to suggest he was misleading me. I am simply saying the information he gave me could possibly be incorrect.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I would point out to the member that we are on item 13 and we have exactly 45 minutes left for this ministry.
Mr. M. Davidson: I understand that, sir.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I would have to rule that we continue on the agenda we have.
Mr. M. Davidson: Then I would ask it on a point of privilege, sir.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: If you have a point of privilege, you can raise a point of privilege.
Mr. M. Davidson: On April 3, 1978, I asked the minister: “If I may, I would like to follow up on the Grandview School. I believe I understood the minister correctly to say when he was answering one of my questions that the Grandview property is in the hands of the Ministry of Government Services, including the buildings.”
The answer I received from the minister was: “It is not in the hands of the Ministry of Government Services. It is still in the hands of the Ministry of Correctional Services.” I asked him: “The entire property?” The answer was, “Yes.”
I went back to Hansard of December 7, 1977, during the debate on the estimates of the Ministry of Correctional Services. At that time, I had raised in my opening statement a question regarding the Grandview property. The answer I got from the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) at that time was: “In regard to the other thing you brought up” -- and this was the Grandview School property -- “I met with the mayor and Mr. Collins, the administrator, last night at some length. Their concern really isn’t the jail; their concern is the rest of the land. That isn’t my land. As you know, that is still Government Services’.”
The Minister of Correctional Services then appeared at a public meeting in Cambridge. On January 31, 1978, the Cambridge Reporter quoted some of the statements made by the Minister of Correctional Services --
Mr. Mancini: The Minister of Government Services is in hot water now.
Mr. M. Davidson: -- during his discussions with the city council and the public of Cambridge. Some of these are that the city and the region should contact the Ministry of Government Services which owns the property and leases it to Correctional Services to negotiate an agreement. He suggested that the mayor and the city administrator, Don Collins, the region and regional police should discuss its cost with the minister who will take title of the land. He did not know what it would cost. He told reporters after the meeting that sometimes the province sells the property for $1.
My point of privilege, Mr. Chairman, is simply that I have received, to very similar questions, in two different sets of estimates, two different answers relating to who does own the Grandview property, a property whose value is estimated at somewhere in the neighbourhood of $4 million, including the buildings located on the land. If the Ministry of Government Services does not have it and the Ministry of Correctional Services does not have it, could someone please tell me who is responsible for that piece of property?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Were you in the other day when I gave a response, the following day -- I’m not sure whether I gave it on Monday this week or last Friday?
Question: “Has the Grandview School in Cambridge been declared surplus by the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) ?” Were you in when I responded to this the other day?
“Not entirely. Of the approximately 69-acre parcel, the Ministry of Correctional Services has only declared a seven acre parcel, without buildings, fronting on Highway 24 as surplus. As most of this site is now vacant, this ministry is studying alternative uses with all interested ministries and will make recommendations on completion of the study.”
Mr. Chairman, I would only add to that I presume that our ministry has the title to it because as you know we are the ministry that acquires all property, but until the other ministry declares it as surplus -- this was my reasoning for saying that it was in the other ministry -- we do have the ownership.
Does that answer the question, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. M. Davidson: That will satisfy me for the moment, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: You have risen on a point of privilege. Your point was to state an answer and I would ask --
Mr. M. Davidson: I am just saying that will satisfy me for the moment.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: We now revert to item 13.
Mr. M. Davidson: I may find it necessary to pursue it at a further date.
Mr. Foulds: Could I just ask a quick supplementary?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: No, it was a point of privilege, there is no supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, I would like to go just a little bit farther. This is a summary that was prepared for me dated April 5. That’s the date I believe you referred to.
Mr. M. Davidson: April 3.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: April 3, all right; this was prepared for me and dated April 5.
Seven buildings on 63 acres on Highway 24 just north of Highway 8 at the northerly edge of Galt; six buildings vacant -- three dormitories, an academic building, administrative building and superintendent’s building -- for a total of 50,000 usable square feet. The seventh building is the new Waterloo detention centre, the former Churchill House, which is still having a wall built around its exercise yard, hence it is unoccupied.
The Minister of Correctional Services has only declared a seven-acre parcel, no buildings, fronting on Highway 24 as surplus. They have more or less promised it to the Waterloo regional police for a new Cambridge detachment headquarters. The Minister of Correctional Services has told the city of Cambridge he would like the property, other than Churchill House, transferred to the city. However, Mayor Nelson, has apparently not expressed interest in acquiring any surplus property. Now, I had the mayor in -- I think I explained that to you, did I not?
Mr. M. Davidson: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: All of the buildings are in excellent exterior condition. The interior requires some renovation to convert to office space. MNR is anxious to relocate its district office in one of the dormitory buildings, since its present accommodation is very inadequate.
The provincial court in Galt is a rundown building and could be accommodated in these quarters. The remaining space could be utilized by some others in the leased provincial court buildings.
All I bring this out for is so the hon. member will know that other departments are looking at the overall complex.
Items 13 and 14 agreed to.
On item 15, employee data services:
Mr. Ruston: Could the minister explain, does this have to do with any computers in any way?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It uses the computer service only for its employees’ payroll.
Items 15 and 16 agreed to.
On item 17, actuarial services:
Mr. Ruston: I see this is a new activity. I assume that actuarial services would have something to do with ratings and keeping track of your pension system. Is that what this covers? Would these be people who would be looking into the stability of the pension system and so forth because it is of great concern to many people?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes, that is basically correct. It is not a new branch. It was part of the consulting services in previous years.
Mr. Ruston: I think of the report of Wednesday, March 15, 1978 of the Ontario Economic Council. We did get into some of this in the minister’s supplementary estimates and I don’t want to repeat it. I’m concerned about public pensions where there is no fund but only a book entry and no assets earning interest from which the pensions will be paid. As we’ve noticed in the past six months with the teachers’ pension fund and our own employees’ pension fund, the time may come when the government is going to have to consider funding these as we go along.
I’m wondering if we’re going to be able to continue on this basis in the next few years when the payments are certainly going to increase. I’m wondering about the ability of the taxpayers to meet these commitments at that time and whether we shouldn’t be looking now at the possibility of funding them as we go along and investing that money in Ontario Hydro funds and other mortgage funds so that we have some money on hand.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: This could be quite a lengthy answer. I believe the hon. member was at the committee when I had my supplementary estimates and where I did give quite what I feel was a fairly good explanation of it. I believe the hon. member is quite knowledgeable about this situation. He’s knowledgeable about the fact that the money is loaned to the province of Ontario at the average going interest rate for a 25-year period. That has worked out very well. Now, due to the high increase in salaries, it has caused concern and there will have to be extra moneys put in, as I said at that time.
Mr. Ruston: I am aware of that. As the minister states, the government pays interest on the contributions of the employees. I’m wondering at some stage in this pension system that we may have to start contributing. I don’t want to get into a long thing on it today. I don’t think it’s the time and place. But it is something we should be looking at in the future, as to whether maybe we are going to have to contribute to this as well, so that at least we have a fund set up. As the years go by, the payments that are the obligation of the government as an employer may get pretty high and could be quite a burden on the taxpayers at that time. This is something that we’re going to have to consider, as the Ontario Economic Council did in their report.
I don’t think it’s necessary for me to continue with this. I’ll let it go at that. It’s just something I think we have to start considering.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Did I understand the hon. member to suggest that we only paid interest on the employees’ portion? If that was the understanding, he has the wrong impression. The full amount paid by both the government and the employee is put into a fund, and loaned to the Treasurer. The Treasurer in turn pays interest on both sides, both on the government’s share and the employees’ share. It’s all part of the fund.
Mr. Ruston: It’s a book entry but not actually cash.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It’s a book entry, but it’s credited to the money. You’re right. It’s not cash.
Item 17 agreed to.
Vote 804 agreed to.
On vote 805, management and information services program; item 1, systems development services:
Mr. Ruston: I’m a little confused. Do you have computers that you look after and service in the Ministry of Health? Does that come under this?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Let me answer the hon. member this way. We are transferring the people to the different ministries. This is just sufficient money to close out so that we can transfer to the other ministries.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does item I carry?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson) asked about an employee, if you remember. I have quite a lengthy statement here, if I might read it.
In March 1975 Miss A. Desomogyi was retained from GO Temporary Services to administer the reference library that had been established to service the professional staff of the management consulting services and the systems development services divisions. Shortly after this time, doubt arose as to the continued liability of these divisions. As a result, Miss Desomogyi and other ministerial temporary staff were continued on a temporary status pending studies to determine the future prospects of these divisions.
Subsequently, in 1976-77, it was decided to wind up these divisions and return the staff and responsibility to the client ministry. When the management consultant services division was dispersed, some of the holdings of the library were dispersed to other parts of the government. The library was retained as it was advantageous to the retaining of the systems development staff.
Between June 1977 and February 1978 general staff meetings were held in systems development services to apprise the staff of the situation and a program was put in place to assist the staff in relocating. On October 3, 1977, this lady was notified by her supervisor that her present assignment would end in March 1978, and that the supervisor was willing to render reasonable assistance such as references, et cetera, but that locating a new assignment was her responsibility.
The lady was similarly notified by the acting executive director on February 23, 1978. At this time, the lady was notified that the library was being transferred to computer services division and that her assignment would terminate on March 10, 1978. Her new supervisor in the computer services division confirmed this at the outset and pointed out that while a full-time librarian was not required, there was some possibility of part-time employment. The lady declined this. On March 10, 1978, the assignment terminated.
I would only add further that my staff informed me that this lady was a very good employee but there just was not an opening. But she was a top employee.
Mr. Chairman: This concludes the estimates of the Ministry of Government Services.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, if I might: I do appreciate the questions that I’ve had an opportunity to answer, but I don’t believe you were in the chair at the outset of my remarks.
The hon. member for Essex North did bring up a point at that time and suggested that on a visit to Essex I presented him with an appropriate remembrance of that occasion.
The hon. member for Cambridge suggested I was not as kind to him. The only problem with the hon. member for Cambridge is he did not attend the meeting I went to, which was in his area. I really wouldn’t know why he wasn’t there but he wasn’t. So if one of the pages would be kind enough to deliver this -- he will note the appropriate colouring. It’s just a remembrance, and to thank him.
Mr. M. Davidson: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would very much like to thank the minister for his kindness. It has been a pleasure to be with him during this, his first set of estimates, and I can only say he handled himself very well, probably better than some expected he might do, and I look forward to working with him in the future Thank you.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, I must add to what the member for Cambridge has said. We appreciate what the minister has said in his first estimates. I think they were quite successful and we finished on time too, which is something.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We will now let you have the House.
ESTIMATES, MANAGEMENT BOARD OF CABINET
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The estimates of the Management Board begin on page G19. We start on page G20 with vote 501, item 1. The minister has an opening statement.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, I hope I am not noted for wasting the time of this House with unnecessary speeches and I considered not making any opening remarks in order to allow maximum time for questions. However, I recall an experience in last year’s estimates when several members noted that they didn’t have an adequate understanding of what my ministry was all about. In order to assist in this regard then, I think it would be useful to provide some background for the members.
Mr. Ruston: Does the minister have a copy of that?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I will have one for the hon. member in a moment, if it isn’t already over there.
It may be faster to review briefly my ministry’s programs and some of our main initiatives, thus avoiding possible confusion and wasted time. This ministry is one which focuses internally on the government. It’s composed of two agencies, the Management Board secretariat and the Civil Service Commission.
Management Board, as you should know, is a committee of cabinet with powers and duties clearly spelled out in the Management Board of Cabinet Act, a copy of which is in the back of the briefing book which we provided. The board does not decide on what programs are to be carried out. This is the responsibility of the ministry, the Policy and Priorities Board and cabinet itself, nor does it decide what revenues are to be achieved or the overall level of expenditures. In this, cabinet is served by the Treasury. The board is responsible, in summary, for policies and procedures which seek to have these programs delivered in as effective a manner as possible and with as much efficiency as can be achieved, and it has powers to approve such matters as expenditure levels and organizations in this regard.
The Civil Service Commission on the other hand is responsible for policies regarding the management of people. I am sure you will agree that of all of our resources for the delivery of services, material, funds and people, this last resource, our public servants, is the most critical. Without the conscientious efforts of our staff, other resources cannot be effective. Management of people is a sensitive and difficult task at best and particularly now, in a time of restraint, when it is easy for morale to decline.
The actual responsibility for people management rests with the individual ministries and their deputy ministers but the framework to support their actions and to ensure fairness and equity across our public service is the responsibility of the commission. The hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) noted last year in the general government committee that it was hard to determine the funding for the Civil Service Commission. She appeared concerned that our emphasis was on the management of things and not people.
In the estimates before us, the larger proportion of the fund is for the Civil Service Commission. Similarly the largest portion of the staff is for the Civil Service Commission. If we ignore vote 501, item 4, the contingencies item which is not for the operations of the ministry, about $6.25 million or almost two-thirds of the funds in these estimates are for the commission. Similarly, as is indicated, over two-thirds of the staff are on the commission side. In fact, as you will see, the majority of the individual activities or items are related to the personnel side.
Last fall comments were made that the restructuring of the votes and items from year to year made it hard to follow changes in expenditure levels. Of course, these changes can and will occur as the nature and emphasis of our activities change. However, the programs and activities in the estimates before us today are unchanged from those for the fiscal year just ended, although, as noted in the briefing book provided to the leaders and critics across the floor, we made two minor shifts in funds which were reflected back into last year’s figures in the material before you.
The programs and activities of the ministry are straightforward. We will be reviewing them, so I won’t discuss them individually. However, activity 501-4, contingencies, was the subject of some discussion last fall and I should explain it. We are continuing the practice started in the 1976-77 estimates by establishing a contingency fund for 1978-79. This fund is to make provision for the estimated cost in 1978-79 of changes to salaries and related employee benefits for the government employees.
The comparison between the contingency funds for 1978-79 and 1977-78 shows that the current year’s provision of $99 million is almost $21 million higher than last year. This stems primarily from two fundamental differences in the situation of the two years resolved. The first, which has the effect of increasing the fund by $52 million, concerns the January 1978 bargaining unit negotiations. These were not completed early enough to permit us to locate the additional 1978-79 costs in the estimates of the ministries which will ultimately incur those costs. Therefore, unlike 1977-78, when the negotiations were finalized much earlier, it was necessary to provide for this expense in the 1978-79 contingency fund.
The other prime factor which made this year’s basic situation different from last year’s was that in 1977-78, contingencies contained $27 million for the federal-provincial reciprocal sales tax agreement and for the youth employment program. In 1978-79, these expenses will occur, but we have been able to show them in the specific votes and items of the operating ministries. This has the effect of reducing this year’s amount by $27 million in these estimates before you.
In addition to these two major changes, funds were provided in the 1977-78 contingency fund to cover an extra day beyond the normal 26 pay periods and for minor costs of converting contract staff to classified staff in conjunction with the new manpower control policy. It was not necessary to provide for either of these actions in the 1978-79 funds. As the hon. members know, a new manpower policy was introduced in the House on April 16, 1977, when a paper on that subject was tabled. Since this is such an important part of our efforts, I would like to review it here.
The new manpower control system is composed of three elements: an annual salary and wage dollar control, a classified staffing control and a staffing information system. The first element, the control of the total annual dollar amount of each ministry’s salaries and wages standard accounts control the total cost of employees. That includes classified staff, unclassified staff, other Crown employees and even temporary help. This will meet the requirement that the control be comprehensive and it has been brought into effect at the beginning of this new fiscal year.
The second element, the classified staffing control, has been established. As explained in that introductory paper of last year, this sets a ceiling on the total long-term salary commitments that each ministry can make. Ministries will now have the freedom to change the job mix within the classified service, as long as the net impact of these changes does not exceed their classified structured ceiling.
In setting these initial ceilings for each ministry, all full-time continuous public service jobs are identified as appropriate to the classified service. The ministries whose ceilings have been established are now in the process of converting to the classified service any such positions which were at a different class.
The third element, the staffing information system, was introduced in January 1977 and provides information for each ministry on the numbers of persons employed in each staff category; that is classified, unclassified, including temporary help, and other Crown employees. The monthly reports show a snapshot head count of employees at the end of each month. As mentioned by the Treasurer in his 1978 budget, this new system is based on a dollar control of manpower, with its emphasis on cost control rather than on numbers of civil servants.
When changing any system there are some anomalies or misunderstandings which should be cleared up. On March 14 a question was directed to the Treasurer which basically asked for an explanation of the difference between complement and staff strength. The technique we had been using, until introducing the new manpower control system which I just reviewed, was complement control.
The complement assigned to a ministry represented the number of full-time continuous places it was allowed to fill. If all positions were filled, the number of staff or staff strength of full-time continuous staff would provide the same figures. However, staff are continuously retiring or leaving our employment for other reasons, and thus some complement places were vacant while replacements were being recruited. Thus, staff strength was traditionally lower than complement.
Up to the most recent restraints on staff it was complement or entitlement which was being reduced. Ministries responded by rational decisions to actively manage their vacancy rates and thus were able to mitigate the severity of the manpower reductions. They were aided in this by the fact that our turnover rate has been declining recently. Whereas in the past about 12 per cent of our staff left each year, we anticipate that only about eight per cent will leave during this fiscal year.
The net effect of these two factors is that the complement reduction of 4,200 served towards achieving a real reduction of 1,988 full-time, continuous employees, of which 1,792 were civil servants. As I said, our new emphasis is on salary dollar control, which will also allow fuller control of part-time and seasonal staff on contract. Our aim in all such exercises must be on controlling the cost of salary and benefits. Control simply on numbers is not an answer in itself.
In this connection, I might mention here three small changes in the structure of all estimates for 1978-79. These, we hope, will make them more informative to this House while at the same time improving our control.
The first change relates to the salary dollar element of the new manpower policy. Costs for temporary help which formerly were budgeted under the services standard account will now fall under the category of salaries and wages. This is logical as the new manpower policy, as I said, emphasizes staff levels in terms of salary and wage dollars rather than numbers. We feel temporary help is essentially an element of staff and in budgeting such costs as part of salaries and wages we would, in effect, be bringing them under the umbrella of the manpower control package.
The second change involves the budgeting for unfunded liability payments into the Public Services Superannuation Fund. Rather than having these costs absorbed by the budget of Government Services only, as had been the case up to now, we decided it would be more informative to allocate them to individual votes and items of the employing ministries in order to show the full cost of employee benefits for each program and activity.
Third, clarification of accounting procedures now requires that chargeback recoveries from agencies, boards and commissions operating outside the consolidated revenue fund must be credited on a gross base to revenues rather than being shown as a recovery under the chargeback activity. It will therefore be noted that certain 1978-79 chargeback programs in this and other ministries may record a small increase in the net appropriation involved. The net effect for the province remains unchanged since that increase will be offset by increased revenues.
This government has been and is committed to restraint and during the last fiscal year, we continued the strategy of intense monitoring of expenditures. Our goal was to retain the overall actual spending within original budget limits. In fact, the Management Board secretariat, working in cooperation with all the ministries of government, was able to pinpoint areas of savings in 1977-78 sufficient not only to offset the additional unanticipated expenditures which became necessary during the year but in addition to reduce the overall expenditure total.
One of the expenditure reductions involved which was announced last September was an $8.5 million reduction in total unexpended salaries and wages for the remainder of the 1977-78 fiscal year. Each ministry was given a monthly target reduction in salaries and wages to achieve by the end of the fiscal year.
This saving in salaries and wages results in a reduction of manpower in the government. On a full year basis, this should amount to a reduction of about 2,300 man- years or about 2.7 per cent. This particular reduction was in salary dollar terms in line with the new policy and thus was not limited to the classified service.
In achieving such reductions, maximum advantage is taken of attrition. Thus, key job vacancies can be filled but the impact on individual employees is minimized. Obviously, savings at the higher level affect fewer employees than savings at the lower level. In order to continue our reduction in senior executive positions in the government, and to encourage the elimination of whole units, a reduction of three per cent or 25 positions was applied across the province. Combined with a similar reduction the previous year, this means a total reduction of approximately 10 per cent in our senior positions since 1975.
The other major thrust of our efforts to ensure appropriate funding for the programs established is managing by results or MBR. Management Board, with the co-operation of all ministries, introduced an MBR approach to government program management in 1973. Our effort to date has been concentrated on developing a results-oriented management system which, while focusing primarily on results, is intended at the same time to encourage efficiency, ensure accountability, and maintain control.
Under the MBR approach, the ministry, in conjunction with Management Board, determines in quantifiable terms the end results to he achieved for a particular client group by a program with approved financial and manpower resource allocations. During the year, the ministry monitors the actual results, reports these results to Management Board and institutes corrective action where necessary to ensure the programs remain on track. Where planned results are not being achieved, the ministry may be required to discuss with Management Board its approved corrective action, in which case a special review and presentation is arranged for the board.
We have made encouraging progress in improving output measurement techniques. While inevitably various efficiency measures and result indicators still require improvement, we are better able to determine if the relationship between results and resources represents an efficient use of the personnel and funds available. Year-to-year comparisons will become possible in order to determine trends in productivity. This is not a small or isolated action. Management Board has enlisted the active support of all deputy ministers in extending the MBR approach to all levels of management within the ministries.
At present, about 90 per cent of the Ontario budget is covered by the MBR approach and ministries have submitted firm plans to increase this percentage over the next year. The information being developed in this regard lends itself in many cases to use in the application of zero-base budgeting, a technique of which I am sure hon. members are aware.
The Management Board secretariat has studied the application of the zero-base budgeting technique in other jurisdictions and has made the results of our findings available to the operating ministries. ZBB complements the MBR system already in place within the government and provides a rational framework for establishing funding priorities. The decision on the method of and phasing of implementation is left to the discretion of individual ministries, although we can provide technical assistance. A number of ministries have either undertaken pilot studies or plan to do so shortly.
Finally, there is one other area which has come under discussion in this House and deserves some comment: the procedure for passing and publishing Management Board orders and special warrants. Section 5 of the Management Board of Cabinet Act provides: “Where an appropriation is exhausted or a sufficient amount was not provided and the public interest or the urgent requirements of the public service necessitate further payments, the board, upon the report of the minister of the ministry concerned ... may make an order authorizing payments to be made against such amounts as it considers proper.”
As you know, Management Board orders are now tabled in the Legislature with the Treasurer’s quarterly financial reports and with the year-end financial report. In 1977-78, by a more intensified use of supplementary estimates, we were able to reduce the number and, more important, the dollar amount of MBOs considerably. Up to April 4 -- and I stress here that the books are still open, so these numbers could go up a little -- we had approved 57 MBOs as opposed to 111 in total in 1976-77, with a dollar value net of offsetting savings of $22 million as opposed to $159 million in 1976-77.
A special warrant is an order under section 4 of the Management Board of Cabinet Act, signed by the Lieutenant Governor, authorizing expenditures of an urgent nature for which no appropriation exists, and is permissible only when the Legislature is not in session. It differs from a Management Board order primarily in that a Management Board order may only increase the spending level of an appropriation which already exists, whereas the special warrant has the effect of creating a new appropriation.
Special warrants are only used when urgent situations arise which cannot be delayed until the next session of the Legislature. During 1977-78 three special warrants of an urgent nature were approved when the Legislature was not in session; and they had a dollar value of $6.1 million. These were tabled in this House on June 28, 1977, and I need not review them here.
Mr. Chairman, those are the matters I felt I should cover. After my friends across the floor have made their remarks, I suggest we proceed activity by activity in the estimates as is our usual practice.
I will bring these remarks to a close by repeating my remark of last year. Speaking for the government, I want to say that Ontario is fortunate to have such a fine and dedicated body of public servants. Despite the program of financial restraint which we have had to impose, the work of these men and women continues to be a source of pride.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to rise and take part in the consideration of the estimates of the Management Board. On Tuesday of this week I was given the privilege by this caucus of becoming the new critic of the Management Board. I was hoping at that time I would have at least a few weeks to go over any details which are necessary to be reviewed so that the critic might make a good and comprehensive statement on behalf of the party. Having had only two or three days and having never heard very much from the minister in the two or three years I have been in the House, it has been rather difficult to get as much information as I wanted for these debates. I don’t want the minister to think he is going to get off easy and I don’t want him to think he is going to be questioned. I just want him to be prepared for the next estimates where I intend to do a much better job.
First of all, I would like to say that I see the responsibility of the Chairman of Management Board as that of a person who oversees, much like the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), the expenditures of the government of the day. It is not his sole function just to shuffle paper and to issue special warrants, and Management Board orders, as he calls them, so that more moneys can be expended. That is not his only function. He has another function and a much more important function, that is, to assist in the pruning of the expenditures of the government, which is one that has brought before the Legislature budgets in the last four or five years with deficits in excess of $1 billon.
There are many ways the Chairman of Management Board can exercise his influence over other cabinet ministers and there are many suggestions he should be able to make so that their expenditures aren’t as great and don’t increase from year to year. Having sat in the Legislature now for nearly three years, I can’t recall many public statements or any at all on curtailing programs. If the minister does have copies of public statements where he has asked for the curtailing of certain programs of different ministries, which he felt were not necessary, I, for one, would like to see them.
It especially bothers me when different ministries send out weekly or bi-monthly reports with pictures of ministers, especially the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Somehow, for some reason, the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) always seems to get his picture in these bi-monthly reports. I am not really sure if this is necessary. I think the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations is also guilty of sending out reports where somehow for some reason there is a smiling picture of the minister, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) on the front cover.
I don’t know how the Chairman of Management Board allows the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to send out those recipes at a time when this government, at least, so it informs us, is trying to find ways and means of cutting expenditures and of actively participating in restraints. Yet he allows the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) to send out these thousands of recipes, as he does, I believe, once or twice a month. I wish the minister would look into that and see if it’s necessary for these recipes to be sent out. I don’t think I need recipes about raspberry jam, to tell the truth.
I would like to bring up the subject of the sunset law. I don’t think the Chairman of Management Board made any remarks in his opening statements concerning the sunset law, and I thought he would have because of the activity that this subject has generated in this Legislature. We know that even some members of his own party actively pursued the idea of the sunset law.
I would like to bring to the attention of the House that when the Leader of the opposition (Mr. S. Smith) asked for support of a resolution that a sunset law be enacted I believe it was our friends across the floor, the government of the day, who stood and blocked the vote, therefore not adopting the resolution and the principle of sunset on the many hundreds -- we think there are 350, there could be more -- of boards and commissions that we have operating in this province today.
I cannot understand why the Chairman of Management Board, a person given the responsibility for the administration of the government and the financial flow of the government, would not stand and support the sunset law, which would enable him to grasp hold of the situation of just how many boards and commissions there are, what their expenditures are and what they are doing on behalf of the people of Ontario.
Mr. Haggerty: It sounds like political patronage.
Mr. Mancini: That could be a good reason. I wonder if the minister, when he has a chance to respond, could possibly answer those questions. I don’t want him to answer to this Legislature and say the reason that sunset law was not adopted by this government and the reason we’re not doing very much about it right now is because his government has established an internal committee
-- and I believe the committee members are the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman), the member for London South (Mr. Walker) --
Mr. Grande: The hon. minister from Lanark.
Mr. Haggerty: The old army ritual is you have sunset retreat.
Mr. Mancini: -- yes, the minister from Lanark. right, and the former Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth).
I believe the government has charged these three gentlemen with carrying on an internal audit to seek and to find out just how many boards we have, exactly what these boards do and what they cost us.
My question to the Chairman of Management Board is why are they doing it internally? Why is not a committee of this Legislature carrying on this task? Exactly what does the government have to hide? Are you afraid that you’re going to be embarrassed; that there are dozens and dozens of boards and commissions that you are not aware of and you don’t know what they are doing; that this will be exposed? Is there something wrong with a committee of this Legislature exposing boards which no longer need to be in existence? There can be no good reason why the investigation into boards and commissions is being done internally and in a hushed-up manner and away from public scrutiny.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s terrible,
Mr. Mancini: I would also like to make comments on zero-base budgeting. I was pleased to see that the Chairman of Management Board stated near the end of his remarks that they have looked seriously into zero-base budgeting and that they are encouraging other ministries to accept and to adopt this policy. One thing that is very important with zero-base budgeting and one thing that is very necessary if we are ever to control the expenditures of the ministries and if we are ever to do it in a fashion that is not ruthless, is that the minister must adopt a system whereby managers and assistant deputy ministers and heads of departments are allowed to carry over some of their budget.
I would like to know from the Chairman of Management Board -- I don’t think I saw it in his statements -- exactly how much of the expenditures for 1976-77 was done in March and April of that year? I’ve got the feeling that it’s been done as it has been done in all the previous years, that the expenditures in March and April of some ministries are as high as 18 per cent to 20 per cent and sometimes higher. How can you call that good financial management?
The reason this happens is because the managers of the departments, the assistant deputies, the deputies and even the ministers are scared to death that if they don’t spend every penny they get from the government they won’t get as much the year after and this will go on forever and they will have lost hundreds of thousands :of dollars. Under no conditions and under no circumstances should the Chairman of Management Board allow such high expenditures in the final two months of the fiscal year. That’s not management of funds. That’s spending so you can get more. Finally, I just want to know why you don’t allow the managers to carry over part of their budgets?
I must confess that I don’t know many of the civil servants in this ministry. I hope to get to know them a little better so that I can become a better critic of the Management Board. Also, I would like to ask the minister if, in the future, he could maybe take special pains to make sure that I get a copy of his statements before he reads them in the House, since I am going to be his critic.
Mr. Haggerty: How many statements do you make a year, Jim?
Mr. Mancini: I would like to say that the minister has lived up to his reputation of being able to smooth things out and lull everybody to sleep. I think I had a better idea of what the Management Board was --
Mr. Hodgson: You are making a good job of it too.
Mr. Mancini: -- before he read his statement; but that notwithstanding I thank the hon. minister for listening and --
Mr. Hodgson: If only your partners would go to sleep too.
Mr. Mancini: -- I look forward to his remarks and I will be questioning him later on. Thank you.
Mr. di Santo: Mr. Chairman, like my colleague from Essex South, this is the first time that I enter the debate on the estimates of the Management Board as a critic for my party. For so many years my colleague the member for Yorkview (Mr. Young) has been critic and has done such an outstanding job.
Yesterday, the minister read in the House a statement on an anti-inflation program which has been phased out as related to the civil service in Ontario. I think what the government told us was that the restraint imposed on civil service wages in Ontario has somehow contributed to contain the spiralling inflation in Ontario. The minister didn’t give us the figures of what was the impact of the wage savings from the government of Ontario on the total budget and what was the impact on inflation as a total.
From the opening statement of the minister today we understand that in the expenditures of last year there was a reduction of $8.5 million in total unexpended salaries and wages for the remainder of the 1977 and 1978 fiscal year; I think that that’s not very much if we consider the total budget of the province of Ontario. Looking at the figures of the inflation we have now in Canada and in Ontario -- which is much higher than expected, the figure is around nine per cent -- I don’t think that as a result of the action undertaken by the government two years ago we had any impact at all in tying the civil service of Ontario to the anti-inflation program of the federal government of Ottawa. I think that it was a wrong decision, like the decision made by the federal government, because we said at that time that the anti- inflation program wouldn’t serve any purpose at all, and in fact two-and-a-half years after the program was introduced, we have higher unemployment and higher inflation in Ontario and in Canada.
Apart from that, what the minister said yesterday was a word of warning to the civil service of Ontario, because that’s what his statement amounted to. He said, “Now that the program is phased out, the civil service should restrict itself and should not ask for unreasonable wage increases.” I think that the whole statement yesterday was in a way an expression of lack of confidence in the civil service of this province because, I am sure the civil servants of this province are not unreasonable people; they won’t go out on strike and block the ministries and the Crown corporations and the agencies of this province just for the sake of asking unreasonable wage increases. I think we have a very responsible civil service and if the minister has faith in collective bargaining, as he stated yesterday, then he must have faith in the civil service because they really don’t need at this time a word of warning. They have been satisfied for two years and I think they have acted responsibly.
The minister said yesterday that we continue to endorse the principle of free collective bargaining in the public sector but it is when an impasse is reached at the bargaining table that some of the differences between the public and private sector become clear. Then he suggested that at some point there is the possibility that binding arbitration may become necessary. I think we should discard that because as I said before, we have a very reasonable and very responsible public service. If we really believe in the collective bargaining process, then we have to rely on both parties, the public service and the government in order to have reasonable solutions to the contract problems that may arise during the negotiations.
In the statement made yesterday, the minister insisted once again, as he did today, that the restraint program is necessary and that there has been a reduction in the total number of public servants in Ontario. I may have the figures wrong -- and the minister can correct me if I am wrong -- but, if we look at the figures for previous years, the total complement was 69,325 in 1973, 70,778 in 1974, 69,081 in 1975, and a forecast 66,537 in 1976. But in the 1977 budget, we could see that as of December 31, 1976, we had 63,210 classified staff, 14,811 unclassified staff and 2,704 Crown employees, for a total of 80,725.
When we go to the 1978 budget, we see that the public service strength in Ontario as of December 31, 1977, was 68,316 classified staff as opposed to 63,210 at December 31, 1976; the unclassified staff was 15,205 as opposed to 14,811 in 1976; and the Crown employees numbered 2,663 as opposed to 2,704; for a total of 81,184.
When the Chairman of Management Board says in his statement that there has been a reduction of 1,988 full-time, continuous employees, of which 1,792 were civil servants, I really don’t understand where that figure comes from.
I am not quarrelling with the minister, because I am not so sure that we best serve the interests of Ontario only by reducing the staff of the ministries. If the staff is needed to provide services to the people of Ontario then we should have the necessary staff.
Mr. Mancini: We just contract them out.
Mr. di Santo: As a matter of fact, I can cite as a small example an experience that occurred to me last Wednesday when I was at my constituency office. One of my constituents came to see me and said that he had made an application to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to convert his driver’s licence from the number one category, I believe, to the D category, the new classification that has been adopted. He applied in August 1977 and he has been phoning the ministry continually since then; they keep saying they are short of staff. That’s from August 1977 to April 1978. Probably this is a minor case, but what is important is that this particular person needs the licence in order to work and to produce for our society. By curtailing the productivity of the civil service, we are preventing a worker in our society from being helpful, from producing more revenue for the government of Ontario and Canada. I would like an explanation, because this seems to me quite a complex way of computing the civil service in the province of Ontario.
Also, I think that we are using a very large number of people in the civil service who are not permanent staff, but who are on a temporary basis. Therefore while they do the same work and the same job as the other staff, they don’t enjoy the same benefits. I don’t have the figures with me, because as I said before, this is the first time that I’ve dealt with the budget of Management Board and I haven’t had a chance to go to the manpower control monthly report. The last time I attended the debates of this ministry was in November 1977, if I recall correctly, but at that time we still didn’t have a monthly report.
According to the individual cases and the people who have been contacted, we see a high number of people who are employed on a temporary basis, but who are not casual or GO temporaries, and who don’t enjoy the same benefits as the other workers. I think that the reason for this is that it helps the government to show that we are reducing the number of civil servants while, in fact, these employees, although they don’t show on the payroll, do show in the general expenses of the ministries. While that may be expedient for the government, it’s certainly not in the interest of the employees in that category. I think the government should review that practice.
Also, I’m suspicious of the figures that we have been getting from the government on total employment in the province of Ontario. Despite the fact that the government is relying heavily on the private sector and despite the government using this rhetoric day after day, what comes out of the government document is that in the province of Ontario in 1978 all the forecasts are that we have to rely on the civil service for the growth of employment in the next years. In fact, I should mention at this point a report issued by the Treasury ministry, entitled, A Long-Term Projection of Ontario’s Industrial Development Pattern.
The report points out that in 1961, in the various branches of our economy, 30.7 per cent of the labour force in Ontario was employed in the manufacturing sector. By the mid-70s, that proportion will fall to 24.6 per cent. The report predicts that by 1985 only 20.1 per cent of the total labour force will be in the manufacturing sector. By 1995, which is only 17 years from now, it goes down to 16 per cent. What that means for the economy of the province is that we have to create jobs somewhere else.
Where will the growth of employment be for the next two decades, according to the Treasurer’s report? This is very ironic. The Treasury ministry predicts that much of it will be in the government sector, in public administration and defence. During the 1970s, while manufacturing employment has stagnated, government employment has grown by 6.6 per cent per year. Over the next two decades, the report predicts, the government sector will continue to grow by three per cent a year. By 1995, government employment will comprise 8.2 per cent of the total -- half as much as the manufacturing sector. As you know, Mr. Minister, this totals 200,000 people in Ontario.
I wonder if you can explain this? It is fine for you to come in front of us and say that we are trying to reduce our expenditures, we are restraining ourselves from expanding the civil service, we are trying to balance the budget, which is very difficult to achieve. The minister was more accurate yesterday when he said that for the fourth consecutive year Ontario’s spending increase will be reduced, rather than today when he said the total expenditure was reduced. There has been an increase in expenditures in the province from $4.21 billion in 1969-70 to $14.50 billion.
That progression has not been stopped by the savings of $8 million in wages which were unexpended in last year’s budget. Therefore, I think that the emphasis of the government should be put differently on how to stimulate the economy, so that we can produce more wealth and can provide more services. By cutting services, by reducing staff, we are also reducing the power of the consumers; and therefore, we are reducing demand and we are reducing revenues. That is the situation we were confronted with last year.
This is on the Civil Service Commission. The minister said today there was some criticism last year because the Civil Service Commission was not prominent in the estimates. Though it is one of the two main features of the ministry, even this year if we want to find the Civil Service Commission, we have to look at the footnotes. I don’t know how to solve this, but since the Civil Service Commission is so relevant I think the minister should find a way to have the commission properly emphasized in his estimates.
The last remark I would like to make is on what is called the merit system that is used in order to have what the Treasurer defines as knowledgeable management. Perhaps the minister could give us more information about the red-circled employees he has and explain the case of the one employee with the Treasury who had complained publicly and who last week left the service in frustration and went back to live on his wife’s farm. Probably he made a wise decision.
We are entitled to know how many of these situations exist in the civil service, and how much it is costing Ontario taxpayers. While I reserve the right to ask more specific questions during the debate on the estimates, I want to thank the members and the minister for listening to me.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Perhaps I could reply briefly in the nine minutes that are left to some of the comments made by the hon. members opposite. First of all, the member for Essex South was speaking about reducing expenditures and suggested that Management Board was not controlling expenditures. I would direct him to the Treasurer’s third quarter statement for the 1977-78 fiscal year, which was sometime in January, when he pointed out that the expenditure target of the government, as announced by his budget in the spring of 1977, was going to be under-expended by $92 million. In other words, there was a revised target of expenditure which was lower than the target which was set out in his original budget. I can’t give the hon. members the figure as yet because the books do not close until next Tuesday on expenditures from April, but I think we may exceed that.
I don’t have it with me, so I won’t read it all, but I gave a fairly detailed statement to the House last summer about the common misconception that every ministry tries to spend any money it has left in the last month of the year. The last month of the year, if I can just say this very briefly, does have more expenditures because we have to get every bill that comes in in March paid before April 10 or 15, whereas bills that come in in January probably aren’t paid until the end of February perhaps. They go through various processes and may be delayed. But if you look at the pattern over the year, you will find there are higher expenditures shown in March every year and far lower than average expenditures shown in April. I will get that statement for the hon. member, and I think he will be surprised. A lot of people have had this feeling for years, and in certain areas it may happen but it does not happen here. The figures are in that statement to make that pretty clear.
In connection with the policies, as I said in my opening statement today, we do not run ministry policies. We look at management practices or personnel practices and that kind of thing. If the hon. member is concerned about the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and some of their programs, then I think he should properly ask the minister why that is one of his priorities, whether it be recipes or so on.
Mr. Mancini: The minister will spend all the money you give him.
Hon. Mr. Auld: We look at management practices. We would be interested to know, for instance, if he produces a lot more recipes than are requested and has a lot left over at the end of the year. But it is not our business -- I don’t believe it to be our business and, in fact, it isn’t our business -- to decide whether he recommends policies which are approved by cabinet to have recipes or to advertise gardening tips and that sort of thing; I must say that I listen to those on the weekend and they are rather good, although that is a public service exercise, which I don’t think he has to pay the radio time for.
On sunset, the committee that is now looking at the agencies, boards and commissions -- consisting of the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman), who is the Minister without Portfolio, the member for London South (Mr. Walker) and others, including the member for Humber (Mr. MacBeth), who I may say was Vice-Chairman of Management Board before he retired from the cabinet -- I suppose comes in the natural course of events. Management Board some time ago took a look at all the agencies, boards and commissions to categorize those that are really extensions of the government and operate in the same fashion as the government and the civil service, and should be bound by the Manual of Administration which is produced by Management Board and which sets out the rules of how to go about things; and those that perhaps are not quite so close and perhaps are quasi-judicial or review bodies -- and I am sure the hon. members are aware that when Mr. Justice McRuer looked at rights, he recommended that for every licensing body and so on there should be an appeal board, and that just doubled the number of groups.
We were looking at all these to decide just how close they are to the government and how much they should be bound by our rules, It was obvious that some of them meet so infrequently that their necessity should be reviewed.
Mr. Mancini: Why is it being done internally?
Hon. Mr. Auld: The question of sunset has to do for the future, and I must say I have noticed a couple of bills introduced by private members of the House which are proposing to set up new boards, commissions and so on and don’t seem to have sunset clauses in them. I just make that observation in passing.
Mr. Mancini: Why is it being done internally?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think I have --
Mr. Mancini: You didn’t answer my question about the internal --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Have I not answered something?
Mr. Mancini: Why is the investigation of the boards and commissions being done internally?
Hon. Mr. Auld: First of all, it is not an investigation, it is a review; and since these are government agencies, it seems to me the government in the first instance should be reviewing them. I want to remind the hon. member that in all these groups there is a great difference between the Canadian system and the US system.
The great interest in sunset in the United States is because in the federal government -- and I was there finding out about it, as a matter of fact -- they have literally hundreds of agencies that don’t report to anybody. They have been set up by Congress. They don’t report to the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Health and Welfare. They are just out there someplace. They have been set up, they are automatically funded and nobody reviews them. The US Congress set up about three or four years ago a congressional office on the budget and that’s where they started to find out where all these people were.
Every one of the agencies, boards and commissions that are in the government of Ontario and the money to support them, and in many cases, their staff, that information is contained in the budgets of the various ministries, with the exception of Ontario Hydro. So there has never been any secrecy or any problem of this Legislature finding out what they’re doing and what their costs are. As I say, they were set up by government and they are being reviewed by government.
It may well be that there will be further reviews when our review is completed, but it seems to me the logical way to go about it, and the most expeditious way, because we expect to have this scrutiny completed by the end of this calendar year.
Since it’s 1 o’clock, perhaps I might comment on the questions of the hon. member for Downsview when we resume on Monday.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Auld, the committee reported certain resolutions.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Auld, the House adjourned at 1:03 p.m.