The House met at 2:06 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
OPP SALARY INCREASE
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that a settlement has been reached in contract negotiations between the government and the Ontario Provincial Police Association. The new agreement runs from April 1, 1978 to March 31, 1979. It will provide a salary increase of approximately 5.7 per cent for all members of this bargaining unit, except for probationary constables. The probationers will receive 5.5 per cent. In addition to these salary increases, there will be improvements in the manner of payment for work performed on a statutory holiday, a $50 increase in the plain-clothes allowance and a number of contract improvements of a non-monetary nature.
I had the pleasure of making a similar announcement last year. I reminded the House at that time that the parties to these negotiations have never in all the years they have been negotiating -- some 15 years, I believe -- required the assistance of a third party to resolve their differences. Such a record speaks for itself.
At a time when members of our Provincial Police force have been subject to certain criticisms, as have members of other police forces in the province and in other parts of the country, I feel I should make particular reference to the very responsible attitude adopted by the Ontario Provincial Police Association in these negotiations and to say to my colleague, the Solicitor General (Mr. Kerr), that he has further reason to be proud of all members of his Provincial Police force, commissioned ranks and bargaining unit members alike.
HYDRO CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM
Hon. Mr. Baetz: On February 22 of this year, I promised this Legislature that I would inform the members of any public policy implications arising from Ontario Hydro’s revised load growth forecast.
This reduced demand will result in the Hydro system generating about 2,000 megawatts or eight per cent more electricity than the market in Ontario is expected to require during the period 1981 to 1985. In some respects, this reduced demand is very encouraging since it can be attributed to the success of our individual conservation efforts. In other respects, it is less encouraging since it also reflects the impact of reduced economic activity and, obviously, has significant employment and economic implications. It is less encouraging also because a reduced Ontario Hydro construction program could, in turn, exacerbate an already depressed economy.
Over the past few weeks I have met with the chairman of Ontario Hydro on a number of occasions to review with him the progress Hydro was making with respect to its analysis of the implications of its revised load forecast for its construction program. Last Friday, April 14, 1978, the chairman of Ontario Hydro formally advised me of the recommendations of the Hydro board. A copy of Mr. Robert Taylor’s letter is attached. It deals with the implications of the lower demand on committed stations. Hydro’s long-range forecast beyond 1987 is still being evaluated.
Basically, the Hydro board recommended two options to government for its consideration. The choice of the appropriate alternative from between these two would depend, in Hydro’s view, on one’s perception of the likely economic climate over the next few years. On the basis of its analysis and assuming a rather pessimistic economic outlook, the Hydro board would recommend that one generating station be cut from its program. However, assuming a more optimistic outlook, the Hydro board would recommend reducing its planned installed capacity by 1,100 megawatts.
At the present time, Ontario Hydro has under construction at various stages of completion eight major generating stations, all of which will come into service between now and 1987 or shortly thereafter. These are Bruce A, the rehabilitation of the Keith Generating station in Windsor, Thunder Bay, Pickering B, Wesleyville, Darlington, Atikokan and Bruce B.
It is not practical or economic to defer or cancel projects which have progressed beyond a certain point of design, procurement and construction. The first four projects listed above, all fall into this category.
The state of completion for the remaining four projects -- Bruce B, Wesleyville, Darlington and Atikokan -- suggested that these stations were more amenable to some change. But even here, it is important to remember that not all of these stations were designed for the same purpose, use the same fuel, serve the same market, come into service at the same time or have the same level of expenditure made or committed to them. It is, therefore, not possible to view them as being totally interchangeable.
Clearly, though, a number of alternatives were available to Hydro and to the government, including the cancelling or deferring of Atikokan, Bruce B or Darlington. However, after considering Hydro’s recommendations and the confidence the government has in the inherent strength and vitality of the Canadian economy, the government has decided the prudent course is not to cancel a station but rather to reduce by 1,100 megawatts or 50 per cent the planned capacity of the Wesleyville oil-fired, peaking generating station, effective immediately. While this action will result in a potential penalty cost of up to $25 million, it will reduce by $400 million the capital investment required for the station.
I should also like to state that the level of employment at Wesleyville, while less than previously forecast, will still result in about 1,100 site-related construction jobs during the peak employment period of 1979. At the present time, there are 400 site-related construction workers on the job, and by the end of 1978 there will be an estimated 800 workers on site.
Construction on all other committed generating stations up to 1987 will continue. We are satisfied that these projects will guarantee the security of Ontario’s continued electrical energy needs and, at the same time, stimulate the province’s economy. They involve a total investment of over $11 billion for the Ontario economy. They will produce an average of 10,000 jobs per year in construction, engineering and related fields and an average of 4,000 to 5,000 direct manufacturing jobs per year. They will also add thousands of indirect jobs across this province.
We are satisfied too that Hydro will have adequate reserve capacity to the year 1987 to meet any domestic need resulting from an improvement in the economy. In addition, the government is requesting Ontario Hydro to begin negotiations with other Canadian and US jurisdictions to develop potential export markets in order to capitalize on the remaining surplus capacity which will result from this revised generation program, particularly during the period 1981-85.
While our policy not to build generating capacity solely for export markets has not changed, I hardly need to remind the members of this House that Hydro earned about $200 million gross revenue from the export of electric power in 1977, resulting in a benefit to electrical consumers through reduced electric power bills in 1977 and 1978.
This modification to Ontario Hydro’s construction program reflects the realities we face in these uncertain times -- realities of reduced demand, lower economic growth and related higher unemployment. It reflects the need for Ontario Hydro to maintain a diversified fuel capability and a production flexibility in anticipation of an improving economic climate. Most of all, this modification reflects the confidence this government has in the future of this province and the strength we have gained in the past from having abundant and relatively inexpensive electrical energy.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of Energy based on the statement he has just made to the House. Can the minister explain, given the fact that the present load forecasts indicate there will be an excess reserve over the present situation -- an additional 3,000 megawatts by 1986 -- why he has chosen to cut the capacity by 1,100 megawatts when, after all, even the 3,000 megawatt prediction is based on the assumption that no further conservation measures would be introduced? Since he knows as well as anyone else that our efforts in conservation have been very minor indeed up to now, why would he not instead go for a major conservation policy and cut all 3,000 megawatts, remembering that 3,000 megawatts is approximately $4 billion in capital costs?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: First of all, I should like to remind the Leader of the Opposition that the 3,000-megawatt reserve is normally established as a safe reserve. That is the standard which has been set by Ontario Hydro over many years. That’s the kind of reserve we must have to avoid brownouts, blackouts and so forth. It is a legitimate reserve generating capacity.
Secondly, I must say I am really quite flabbergasted that the Leader of the Opposition should suggest a dramatic conservation program, which at this particular stage in our history would result in the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs in this province --
An hon. member: What nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- at a time when all we hear from across the road there is make-work projects. It would result in a tremendous loss of jobs, both on construction sites --
Mr. Nixon: You sound as if you had rehearsed this.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- and in the industries in every city across this province. I am astounded that we would hear this kind of talk from a party that has been saying, “Make jobs.” I don’t understand it.
Mr. S. Smith: The one clear part of that answer was the fact that the minister doesn’t understand. Would the minister please try to get his reserves straight and answer the following question: Since, in addition to what is already considered a safe reserve, the load forecasts indicate the previously expected load will turn out to be 3,000 megawatts less than expected by 1986, and since the capital expansion was based on the previous expectations, so that there are 3,000 megawatts with which he can make some alterations, why has the minister chosen to remove only 1,100 megawatts of what will now be excessive reserve over and above what Hydro now maintains is a safe level?
Why has the minister done that when it’s going to cost him billions in terms of capital outlay, money which will have to be taken away from the private sector which, I understood, is where the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) wanted to create jobs? Why is the minister creating capacity we may well not need instead of using that money now to re-create high technology industry in this province and using that money in the private sector where it can create jobs instead of going to the market to borrow in the United States the way Hydro has to do?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to get into an argument about this reserve power, because obviously the member doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I wish that perhaps tomorrow he would come and personally study the reserves that we require. We are talking here about an extra 1,100 megawatts of reserve that admittedly is a surplus. That’s the real surplus. If he wishes at this time here for us to take an entirely pessimistic look at the economy and simply look in the future with doom and gloom, as his party is preaching all over this province all the time, then of course we would say yes we must really cut back and lay more people off work.
I don’t quite understand what he means by loosening or freeing more money for the private economy. Who does he think is building the turbines and generators? Who is building the electrical equipment in this province? It’s private business that’s doing it, but that party doesn’t understand that.
Mr. S. Smith: It is the people who pay the electricity bills, that’s who is paying for it.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, the minister will remember the report of the original select committee stated that if this government wanted to do something about lowering hydro rates the only way it could be done was to reduce the size of the system so that it wouldn’t be greater than was necessary. That being the case, how does the government now justify the endorsation of an expansion of the program which the minister concedes is going to be much greater than our needs, and in the process the government is going to reverse its policy and export it to the United States, when hitherto the policy was that we wouldn’t generate specifically for export?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, first of all, on the latter part of that question, the policy for export of power to the United States has not changed one iota. It has been for years that if we had a surplus we could export some of the surplus on an interruptible basis to the United States and I think the member opposite knows that full well.
Mr. MacDonald: It’s just been breached, that’s all.
Ms. Gigantes: You’re making that surplus.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: That has been the policy. That policy is not being changed at all in this regard.
Mr. MacDonald: It is being changed.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Perhaps the member would repeat the first part of that question?
Mr. MacDonald: The policy is being changed. They are specifically stating they are going to generate beyond our needs and going to export it. That’s a change of policy. My original question was, since it was clear from a study done by a select committee in this Legislature that the only way that we could reduce rates was to reduce the unnecessary size of the system as a whole, why is the minister now coming in with proposals for expanding that system far beyond what we need for ourselves and saying we are going to export it and reverse his policy in the process?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I thought that was the question. We are, of course, not expanding. We are not proposing in this system to expand Hydro at all. We are proposing here that there should be a reduction in the present generating capacity from six per cent to 5.5 per cent. If that’s expansion then the member’s mathematics are a little different from mine.
Mr. Kerrio: A new minister, a new policy.
Ms. Gigantes: You are continuing expansion.
Mr. MacDonald: It is greater than it needs to be.
Mr. Swart: It’s a 5.5 per cent expansion, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I find it really remarkable at this stage in our economy, when our dollar is sliding right out of sight in relationship to the American dollar, that we hear from across the floor some great concern that we are ready to offer for export some of our surplus hydro. I don’t understand that kind of argument at all.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would please get his terminology correct. When he is talking about reserves, for purposes of clarification it would be nice to have it expressed in percentages. Three thousand megawatts doesn’t mean anything as far as our relationship to the whole system is concerned.
Regarding his remarks about the loss of jobs if a conservation effort were really undertaken in this province, has he not read the Middleton report which was submitted to the Porter commission on electric power planning? Does he not understand that a conservation effort could mean more jobs for the people of Ontario instead of fewer?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Again, Mr. Speaker, that question, as is so often the style of questions from that particular member, is convoluted. It doesn’t make any sense. I still don’t understand how you can create jobs through a massive conservation program and cutback on Hydro’s expansion program. I just don’t understand that kind of logic at all.
Mr. J. Reed: Read the Middleton report.
Mr. Cassidy: The minister is in trouble already.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the recommendations of the select committee on Hydro, which said the only way to get power rates down in the province was to reduce the size of the system, can the minister say what the impact of the government’s decision today will be on increased hydro rates in the 1980s and what that will do to the competitiveness of our industry at that time?
Hon. Mr. Davis: We will have lower rates than any competing jurisdiction, except maybe Quebec.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The only person who has the floor is the Minister of Energy.
Mr. S. Smith: So that means you can throw away energy?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Premier already has partially answered the question, but I can assure members opposite --
Mr. Nixon: The Premier doesn’t like faint praise.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- that the impact on the rates for this coming year, next year and beyond is negligible. It’s less than one per cent.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister a supplementary question. Is he aware that the difference between the demand forecast created in 1975 for the year 1985 and the demand forecast in 1978 for the year 1985 is 3,500 megawatts, not 1,100?
Mr. S. Smith: He is not aware.
Ms. Gigantes: Given that difference, how can he justify going ahead with Darlington without an environmental assessment?
Mr. Yakabuski: “NDP Against Job Creation.” That will be the headline in the Sun tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: If one reads Hansard, the question of having an environmental assessment before going ahead at Darlington has been raised and raised; it repeats itself like a grecian chorus; it comes up ad nauseam.
Mr. Swart: And rightly so.
Mr. Cassidy: We keep getting the same dumb answers.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We have explained time and time again from this side of the House why there is no further need for an environmental assessment at this time.
Mr. Warner: Why don’t you just resign? You don’t understand anything.
Ms. Gigantes: We haven’t got time.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: If the members opposite are ready to tell several thousand workers that they are to be laid off and will not have employment at Darlington, then perhaps we can start talking about an environmental assessment.
Mr. Swart: What about the rest of your cutbacks? Didn’t they lay off people? What a phoney argument.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: The environmental impact has been studied by Hydro itself and, as the hon. members opposite should also know, nothing will happen at Darlington without meeting the strict requirement of the Atomic Energy Control Act of Canada.
Mr. Cassidy: The government has delayed for two years.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: They know all of that, and yet they are prepared to extend the two- or three-year environmental assessment -- and that’s the time it would take -- and in the meantime thousands of construction workers would be sitting idle. That’s what they’re prepared to do, but that’s not what we’re prepared to do.
Mr. Yakabuski: The NDP is against job creation.
Mr. Martel: The minister is worse than Taylor.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We are looking for ways and means to create jobs and employment.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Minister of Energy but not on this particular matter. In view of the fact that a number of matters seem to be occurring in the field of uranium which indicate clearly the need for the province of Ontario to have control of this resource, and I refer to three matters in particular -- the recent uranium contract with Denison and Rio Algom, the possible use of uranium prices and contract arrangements as incentive tools for the sales of the Ontario-made Candu reactor, and the recent decision of the federal government to permit Rio Algom to expand, apparently despite the better judgement of our own Ministry of the Environment -- what is the minister now doing to press, in a determined manner, to have uranium redeclared as a provincial resource?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I am not prepared to go into any details with an answer on that at this point. I would say, however, that we are in constant contact with the Atomic Energy Control Board and with the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. I’m sure that, before the end of this summer, we will be able to report further on some of our negotiations. But, beyond that, I cannot and do not wish to respond in detail at this time.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, can the minister explain why he’s not prepared to put forward the policy of his government regarding the reprovincialization of uranium as a natural resource? Can he tell us what the policy is and what steps he has been taking to press for it? Surely he understands that control of uranium prices is important to Ontario and that such matters as selling the Candu reactor, a vital industry in Ontario, can be affected by having control of these matters. What is he going to do to make sure that Ontario controls its own resources?
Mr. Makarchuk: Nationalize them.
Mr. Cassidy: These guys voted for it.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would like to assure the Leader of the Opposition that we will do everything we possibly can on this side in so far as we have the power to do so. But I must also say we have a government in power at Ottawa at the present time that has such a screwed-up kind of energy policy and uranium policy that it is exceedingly difficult to deal with it.
Mr. Martel: Is that parliamentary language?
Mr. Kerrio: It takes one to know one.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that uranium came under federal jurisdiction at a time when national security considerations were paramount; and in view of the fact that the federal government is now talking about selling Canadian uranium even to the Soviet Union, so that the national security argument is clearly no longer paramount; when is this government going to act in order to ensure that our uranium is under provincial jurisdiction in the same way as Alberta’s oil is under provincial jurisdiction and hydro-electricity is under our jurisdiction in this province?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: As I said before, I am not prepared to reply in detail today.
Mr. Swart: In the fullness of time.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would only like to assure members opposite that we are very much aware of this problem and that we are pursuing a solution diligently. They will get their reply in due course.
Mr. Sargent: Supplementary: In support of my leader’s question regarding the Denison uranium contract, how does the minister react to the fact that after the select committee had sat for many weeks on this to make decisions, and the Premier had to make a decision by midnight, the next day after the richest contract in history ever written in this world, the stock market fell --
Mr. Rotenberg: Question.
Mr. Sargent: -- and they asked the stock exchange what happened that the stock market went down? He said: “What a joke! That select committee was a charade because the deal had been made many months ago to finalize the uranium contract.” How does the minister react to the fact that the deal had been made, the minister makes a decision and the stock market goes down? What happens there?
Hon. Mr. Davis: What would you have asked if it had gone up?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: My reaction to that statement is it doesn’t make any sense at all. It was not a question, it was a statement; and a statement I thoroughly disagree with.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the conflicts which are increasingly becoming prevalent between provincial interests and the federal government on the matter of uranium -- to cite one specifically, the decision of the federal government to permit expansion of Rio Algom at Elliot Lake, despite the fact that the environmental assessment the province was doing was not complete on the project; what action is the minister prepared to take to ensure that assessment is carried out, or is it simply being trampled by federal jurisdiction?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: That is, again, part of the broader picture. As I promised a few minutes ago, I will report fully to this House as we go along and work out a modus operandi with the federal government on these questions.
OHIP BENEFITS SCHEDULE
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Health, which arises out of his statement of last Thursday concerning the negotiations with the doctors and relating to the OHIP schedule of benefits. In the minister’s statement, he said that the agreement was to cover the eight months ending December 31, 1978. I would like to ask the minister whether in that case the new schedule of benefits for 1979 will take effect on January 1 of next year; and if so whether the 6¼ per cent increase is for eight months only?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The agreement is for eight months only, to be conterminous with the complete expiry of the Anti-Inflation Board controls over physicians. I indicated later in that statement, I believe, that we would be entering into negotiations again in May for the period after December 31, 1978.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the doctors have, therefore, been given an OHIP fee increase equivalent to nine per cent or more on an annual basis, how can the minister defend that when the government is holding civil servants down to a level of only four per cent in its negotiations elsewhere across the province?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am not sure where -- and this is usually the case -- the hon. member gets his figures.
Mr. Mancini: From the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Auld).
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Oh no; I am keenly aware of his ability to figure things when he cuts away at my budget all the time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All of our budgets.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That’s right. The agreement is for the eight-month period, but certainly it is my intention to advise the cabinet to instruct our negotiators to go into those hearings with the position that the 6¼ per cent should prevail for a full 12-month period. The negotiated settlement had to do with eight months simply because the final expiry date of the AIB control over physicians’ incomes is December 31, 1978. Our position going in, or at least my advice to cabinet -- and I assume they will take my advice on this -- is that we take the position it will be for a full 12-month-period.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Do I then take the minister to say that there has been no recognition by the OMA on their side that this 6¼ per cent is for a period of longer than eight months, so that whatever understanding the government’s negotiators may have for the negotiations after January of next year, as far as the OMA is concerned they have won an increase which is equivalent to nine per cent at an annual rate, in addition to getting the permission of the government to have any fee increase they want by imposing their own schedule of benefits through doctors who want to opt out?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I’m not quite sure what the last part of that question meant. No, it is certainly not anyone’s understanding that there is anything of the order of a nine per cent increase. It’s 6¼ per cent.
Ms. Gigantes: For eight months.
Mr. Rotenberg: It’s still 6¼ per cent.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s still 6¼ per cent.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Then the period runs out and we must enter into negotiations again, except that if the expiry date had been earlier or later, we would have had an earlier or later period of time. We will enter into negotiations again next month and I have clearly indicated what my advice will be to the cabinet for direction in the negotiations.
Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary: Can I first give the minister a basic lesson in the way to negotiate contracts?
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s a hypothetical situation.
Mr. Cassidy: Any labour leader will tell the minister that if one gets six per cent over eight months, it’s equal to more than nine per cent over 12 months.
Mr. Speaker: That’s not a question.
Mr. Cassidy: Therefore, it is an annual nine per cent rate of increase. That is what the government has given away, in addition to allowing doctors to write their own ticket through the OMA fee schedule. How does the government square that, given the kind of wage restraints it is imposing on other people who benefit from provincial payments, such as civil servants?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As usual, the hon. member makes certain assumptions, as wild as they may be, to support an even wilder point. His allegation is that we have given away something on this business of their writing their own fee schedule. They have had the right in law as far as I know, for as long as there has been a law in this province practically, to write their own fee schedule.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Since 1880.
Ms. Gigantes: It is more attractive now though, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Nothing has changed. They will write their own fee schedule. The difference is that we will not, as of May 1, gear the payments from OHIP for the scheduled benefits to that fee schedule. We feel that the increase in that fee schedule is an unconscionable increase and we certainly could not justify basing an OHIP schedule of benefits on that schedule.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since the minister says he is going back to the bargaining table now to talk about the OHIP benefits, rather than the OMA fee schedule, and since he has now accepted that the OMA fee schedule is no longer on the table to be discussed -- that’s something separate now -- under what law or regulation is the minister negotiating OHIP benefits, since the regulation only tells the minister he has got to sit down and discuss the OMA fee schedule? Is this something be is doing on a voluntary basis or does the minister see himself having some authority to do so?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We went through this on Friday, at which time we discussed section 31, which requires that they give us six months’ notice --
Mr. S. Smith: Of the fee schedule.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- let me finish -- of the change in the fee schedule. I also pointed out that when one combines that with section 51(j), which grants the power to make regulations to the Lieutenant Governor in Council prescribing the schedule of benefits, it is clear that we are not bound in setting that schedule of benefits by the schedule of fees.
Mr. S. Smith: I agree, but why discuss it at all?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It may be that as we enter this new period we will have to amend that one small section I don’t think it will be necessary, since it is clear what our course is from here.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa Centre with a new question.
Mr. Cassidy: Can I have a final supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: No, you have had four already.
Mr. Cassidy: Well, I would like to -- that comment of the minister’s about “unconscionable fees” being charged by doctors is something, I think, that should be taken up.
Mr. Speaker: Is this a new question?
Mr. Cassidy: No, it is not, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That isn’t what he said.
Mr. Speaker: I have already said we have had enough supplementaries. I will listen to the hon. member if he has a new question.
Mr. Cassidy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have --
Hon. Mr. Davis: He didn’t say “unconscionable” -- on a point of privilege.
Mr. Cassidy: I just was quoting what the minister had to say.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let’s have it clear, Mr. Speaker. I will not have my words twisted in that way. I will not in any way aid and abet the efforts of that party, and sometimes the other party, to try to walk into power on the corpse of the medical profession of this province.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: What I said was --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. That’s not a point of privilege. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre with his second question.
Mr. Foulds: You’d better read the Hansard, Dennis; and don’t “correct” it.
Mr. Cassidy: I think we all heard the minister refer to the new OMA schedule as being unconscionable, and that is on the record.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. Hodgson: Oh, come on. Throw him out.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the hon. member want to ask a second question?
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Well, please do.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In view of the two recent controversial decisions by the theatres branch of the ministry on the films Pretty Baby and A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich, can the minister tell us whether he is considering a review of the role of this branch?
Mr. McNeil: I would hope not.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, I’m not considering a review; and I’d be interested to hear from the leader of that party whether he thinks the one film should have been permitted in and if the second one should have been changed in category to permit young people to see it.
Mr. Breaugh: We can’t even see it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the third party leader wants to take that position, would he mind taking it so I’ll understand.
Mr. Foulds: What about Ilsa of the SS?
Hon. Mr. Norton: What did you think of them, Michael?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh yes they have. They have had private showings all over. How did you like them?
Mr. Speaker: Order. This is not the place to carry on a conversation such as that. Does the hon. member for Ottawa Centre have a supplementary?
Mr. Cassidy: Will the government consider changing the present system of classification and censorship to one of classification only, particularly in view of the public discussion which has surrounded those two recent decisions?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I might point out that Mr. Sims reports to me that the reaction he’s receiving -- you may be getting a different reaction -- is overwhelming support for the decision he has made.
Mr. Foulds: Of course.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He also has the overwhelming support of this government for the action he has taken, and we have every confidence in his ability to continue to do his job as well as he has done it up to the present time.
If the member is suggesting we should drop censorship and move to classification only then I have two comments -- he is indicating yes; that’s the position of his party, is it?
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, it would certainly be open to that direction, yes.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, no. Is it yes?
Mr. Martel: You are answering the question.
Mr. MacDonald: Yes, no.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He can check with his colleagues, all of them, before he gives that answer.
Mr. Warner: He’s asking you.
An hon. member: You’ve got him over a barrel; he said yes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Next thing you will want to do, you will want to sell Hustler down in the main lobby.
An hon. member: Go ahead, take a stand, Mike.
Mr. Warner: Question period is for the opposition.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, the member doesn’t want to state a policy; he doesn’t want to take a position.
Mr. MacDonald: Are you against coffee prices, yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Okay, we’ve got the position; now he can go out and defend it.
Mr. Kerrio: You’ve got a million positions.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am prepared to defend the position of this government, both that Mr. Sims and his board have done a fine job and we support their decision.
Mr. Cunningham: Have you seen it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I can’t resist commenting that I suspect the leader of the third party has not seen either of the movies in question when he takes this position.
Mr. Martel: Have you?
Mr. Breaugh: You can’t see them; you have to go to Quebec.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You have to go to Montreal.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The answer is, of course, that I haven’t, because it is Mr. Sims’ job and his board’s job to exercise their discretion as they screen each and every one of those movies.
Mr. Sargent: Jimmy Auld used to see them all.
Mr. Nixon: No, just the cuts.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I don’t want to replace them with myself or with anyone else, therefore I don’t see it as within my responsibility to screen those movies --
Mr. Kerrio: You just do the shorts screening.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and take a position that they should or should not have been permitted in. The leader of the third party wants to take the position, not having seen those movies --
Ms. Gigantes: How do you know he is doing a fine job?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- first that the two movies should be permitted to be seen by everyone, apparently; and second that we should not have censorship.
Mr. Lewis: He didn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Scarborough West wasn’t here; he said that.
Mr. Martel: He did not say everyone, so don’t be so stupid; he didn’t say everyone.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He said that, members can see it in Hansard. In any case --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The hon. minister has already answered the initial question.
Mr. Martel: And he has distorted it terribly.
Mr. Speaker: Do you have a final supplementary?
Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary: I would just like the minister to explain why it is that the theatres branch has over the years allowed an endless number of films with more and more explicit scenes of violence in them without raising the kind of objections which have been raised to these two particular films? Could he explain why it is that now, when a film comes along -- I don’t know the merits or demerits of the film, but it is clear that it does not contain any explicit sexual scenes and that it seeks to deal sensitively with a difficult subject -- they should turn on that, when they have allowed so many films which contain explicit and degrading scenes of violence to come in and be shown in this province? What kind of standard is involved there? Perhaps the minister can explain.
Mr. Foulds: What kind of consistency?
Mr. Yakabuski: Which one was that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Really, I’m quite interested to hear the member suggest that there are other films with more explicit sexual scenes in them, or whatever, when he acknowledges that he has not seen Pretty Baby, or whatever.
Mr. Laughren: Oh come on, answer the question.
Mr. Lewis: We have all read the reviews, don’t be silly.
Mr. Martel: You beat the old man.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am frankly not prepared to undermine Mr. Sims or overrule him, or suggest that he was wrong or inconsistent, without having seen Pretty Baby.
Mr. Philip: How do you know he is doing a good job when you haven’t seen the film?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And with respect, I don’t think the leader of the third party should suggest that Mr. Sims was wrong or inconsistent.
Secondly, I want to point out to the leader of the third party that, given the system which makes it totally impossible to delineate each and every type of incident that Mr. Sims and his board might see in a movie, which would enable them to take these sets of predetermined criteria and apply them in each case to films as yet unmade, we must opt for a system where we pick, we think, six of the best people and ask them to apply their own individual judgement to each and every movie that comes through.
Having adopted that approach, I don’t think we should pretend that each and every citizen of the province is going to agree with each and every decision which that six-person board makes. Obviously, that is not going to be the case. Obviously, if the hon. member were asked to sit in judgement, or six of his colleagues were asked to sit in judgement, on all of the 800 or 900 films that this board of censors sees in the course of the year, the decisions would be different to theirs.
Mr. Lewis: We wouldn’t let in Ilsa the She-Wolf of the SS, for example.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I would be no more prone to say that you are wrong than they are wrong; simply that you are exercising the judgement that we have given you authority to exercise on those movies. I might add that if it were six of my colleagues or any six members of this House, no one would agree with all the decisions they make.
On balance, I have to point out that the track record has been excellent. You don’t hear about Mr. Sims too often and that is the way it ought to be. It must mean that the vast majority of decisions they are making are accurately reflecting the desires and the needs of the people of this province, or else you would be standing up regularly and complaining about his decisions.
Looking at the track record I have to believe that he is at this point in time, and has for some period of time, been accurately reflecting what society wants to have happen at the board of censors, because if he weren’t we would be hearing about it. For those reasons, I and our party and government strongly support his continuing role and the way he is exercising that discretion.
Mr. Cunningham: I wonder if the minister would comment on the efficacy of the showing of The Chain Saw Massacre, in the light of the comments he has made this afternoon.
Mr. Lewis: Or Taxi Driver.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I haven’t heard of the movie and I haven’t seen the movie. As I just said I don’t suggest you are going to agree with each and every decision that the board of censors makes. On balance, I have to say that of all the movies they have reviewed, I have heard only about three or four complained about in my time in office. That is the first time I have heard a complaint about that one. By and large, I am sure that the member would agree with me that they are doing a pretty good job.
WINDSOR CHILDREN’S CENTRE
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services concerning the Children’s Achievement Centre. Now that the minister has had an opportunity not only to familiarize himself with the press article but also to look into the situation in the Windsor area, what actions does he plan on taking to resolve the problems in the operation?
Hon. Mr. Norton: At this point in time, as I believe I indicated to the hon. member last week, the Children’s Achievement Centre has instituted most of the changes that were requested as a result of our initial investigation. On, I believe, three of the recommendations, they have made alternative proposals, which at this time my senior staff have found acceptable. The situation is being very closely monitored by our staff and, aside from the fact that there is, for want of a better expression, a dissident group of former board members and people who were formerly involved with the centre, my information is that the children are receiving good service from that program under careful supervision.
At this point in time I have no information indicating that I ought to intervene beyond the point we have already intervened. I want to reiterate that I do not see it as my primary responsibility in this ministry to attempt to bring together groups of adult individuals who have chosen to disagree with each other, and to attempt to reconcile those kinds of conflicts between them. I can assure members there has been a thorough investigation of the kinds of allegations that are being made by the dissident group. Most of those allegations relate to a time frame prior to last summer when we undertook our investigation and the report was made.
I have had a further request from the hon. member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) and have just received some additional correspondence in the mail from him. I will certainly undertake to follow up on that as well and respond to his request; but at this time I do not have information from any source that would justify further intervention on my part now.
Mr. B. Newman: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: How would the minister explain the numbers of parents with excellent reputations having withdrawn their children from the program if there wasn’t some type of a problem with the operation of the centre?
Hon. Mr. Norton: That can be a very complex question to answer and I am not sure that this is the proper forum in which to go into that kind of detail; but it is my understanding that there are some rather longstanding differences between certain individuals in the two groups involved. One of the individuals, for example, I understand was actively involved in the association and was dismissed from the staff and became a member of the dissident group.
I am not familiar in detail with the circumstances surrounding the dismissal, I was not present at the time, but I am sure there are those kinds of factors that are operative in this situation. I don’t wish to get involved in discussion of the personalities involved and what may underlie that kind of dispute, but there have been reports of resignations recently which, when I followed them up, I discovered were not true. In one case there was a constructual relationship with another agency which was not renewed because of staff shortages within the other agency, for example. So there are quite legitimate explanations for some of the allegations that are currently being made, things like resignations and firings that on investigation don’t appear to be what they are alleged to have been.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community and Social Services: Would the minister not agree that with the publicity this matter has now received in Windsor the reputation of the Children’s Achievement Centre has been seriously damaged, if not destroyed? If the minister agrees with that, would he not agree it is essential that his ministry implement the major recommendations that were a result of his investigation -- that is the hiring of a clinical director, and the hiring of an adequate supervisor for the behaviour modification program? Would he not agree that is the only way the reputation of the centre is going to be restored?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would agree with the initial statement of the hon. member. I suppose whenever this kind of situation develops in a community surrounding any kind of agency damage to the reputation is inevitable, because of the confusion that occurs when allegations are exchanged. Also, perhaps less than full information is exchanged along with the allegations.
I am not at this time of the opinion, on the basis of the information I have, that the appropriate thing for me to do would be to take the action the hon. member suggests.
Mr. Cooke: The minister doesn’t agree with his own staff?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Some of the most senior staff in the ministry were in fact --
Mr. Speaker: That wasn’t a part of the supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is related, Mr. Speaker; I think it is rather significant, if I might just comment before concluding: Some of the most senior people on the staff were part of the investigation team. They were also part of the team that followed up in terms of the implementation of their recommendations. When alternatives were proposed on three, I believe, of the recommendations, by the centre, and when they were seen to be reasonable alternatives and subject to ongoing supervision from the ministry, it was agreed that those alternatives would be pursued, and they are being pursued. I have no indication that since that has begun there is any further evidence of the children being in jeopardy, aside from the natural kinds of problems that result when you have a conflict between two dissident groups in a community.
Mr. Samis: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: In view of reports in last Thursday’s and Friday’s Toronto Star regarding the problems of Ontario truckers in the province of Quebec, could the minister set the record straight on the exact status of Ontario-Quebec reciprocity agreements, regulations, and the general situation described in the two articles I am referring to?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I could send the hon. member -- and I will -- a copy of the agreement signed on February 2 between Hon. Mr. Lessard, the Minister of Transport for Quebec and myself. I hesitate to take the time of the question period to read the agreement into the record.
In an article in last Thursday’s Toronto Star reference is made to an incident that happened a year or two ago -- it is not a recent situation -- where a trucker was held in jail in the province of Quebec. The reciprocity agreement that we have signed is not as complete a reciprocity agreement as I would like to have with the province of Quebec. Mr. Lessard and myself have agreed to further negotiations and further discussions, which are going on at the staff level, and we hope to add a further degree of reciprocity in the not too distant future.
The one instance referred to in the article is that of the movement of uncrated, household goods through the province of Quebec; the conveyance of uncrated household goods is now totally exempt. The situation may be that the truck in which the individual was carrying the household goods was not his own truck; it was a truck owned by a leasing company and presumably that leasing company may have had offices in both Ontario and Quebec, in which case they do not fall under the reciprocity. As I understand, only if it were owned by a company that had its place of business in the province of Ontario, would there be reciprocity for the vehicle to travel through Quebec to New Brunswick, for instance, or vice versa a vehicle from Quebec to travel into Ontario or through Ontario to Western Canada or to the United States.
I think we were successful, in the agreement in early February, in clearing up some of these problems; but I must say we have more that must be worked upon.
Mr. Philip: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister agree with the select committee’s report which suggested that under the old agreements Quebec trucking companies had a considerable advantage operating in Ontario as compared to Ontario companies operating or trying to operate in Quebec? And would the minister comment on the system of regulation in Quebec in which an Ontario trucker, or any other trucker for that matter, violating registration has to post a bond, whereas those in Ontario found violating the registration law can simply go on and report in court at the appropriate time. Has there been anything in this agreement that would rectify that kind of enforcement imbalance?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, this is a very complicated situation. It may very well be, as suggested by the hon. member, that Quebec truckers coming into the province of Ontario have been treated differently to Ontario truckers going into Quebec. And rightfully so, as far as I am concerned; I would not wish to see truckers from any other province treated in the way that I have heard some have been treated in the province of Quebec.
These are matters we are looking at. There have been many years with no progress made in eliminating these problems. I think that over the past few months the negotiations and meetings we have had with Quebec and the signing of this agreement indicate significant progress.
As I said earlier, there are commodity problems that we are dealing with. There is a suggestion, I believe, that the province of Quebec would like to implement some type of border zone. I have some considerable doubts as to whether this would be in the best interests of the people of Ontario; but we are looking at all of these suggestions and Mr. Lessard and I will be meeting again in the not too distant future.
WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION ACT
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, on March 30, the hon. member for Windsor-Riverside made a suggestion that the vocational rehabilitation officers of the Workmen’s Compensation Board required a certain number of job visits on behalf of each individual worker involved in that program each week. I promised the hon. member that I would investigate this and I have to report that there has not been at any time an official instruction given to any vocational rehabilitation officer about the number of daily or weekly job contacts which an injured worker has been required to make.
Mr. Cassidy: Just an unofficial one, eh?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Unofficially, I am not sure that this has happened either. In fact, I have no information that would lead me to believe that there has been any quota set for any injured workman at any time. However, there has been a requirement that a job search record be kept in order that this might be discussed with the vocational rehabilitation counsellor at the time of the subsequent visits of the injured workman to that counsellor. In order to ensure that everyone is completely clear about this, a document has been prepared and distributed to all vocational rehabilitation officers to ensure that they are aware of the policy of the board that there is no such quota.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary to the Minister of Labour: First of all, I’m surprised that the Minister of Labour doesn’t know about the three jobs per day that the individuals are required to visit. If I’m a backbencher and I can find out about it, I’m surprised the Minister of Labour can’t.
I would like to know if the Minister of Labour has followed up at all on the suggestion that I made when I asked the question, that because of the high unemployment in this province, and in particular in certain cities, is the minister now prepared to remove any requirement for a job search for people who are receiving workmen’s compensation on rehabilitation? Further, would the minister be prepared to table the information and the directive that she has sent to the Workmen’s Compensation rehabilitation officers?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I shall certainly be happy to obtain the directive, since I do not send out directions for the Workmen’s Compensation Board; the chairman of the board is responsible for that.
Mr. McClellan: Table it, table it.
Mr. Swart: He didn’t ask you whether you sent it out, he just asked you to table it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as I said, there has never been a quota system for injured workmen in this province related to the vocational rehabilitation program of the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Cooke: There sure has been in Windsor.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Therefore it would be very difficult to send out any kind of directive to say that that quota is going to be reduced when there hasn’t been one. But in view of the suggestion of the hon. member for Windsor-Riverside, I would have to remind him that section 41 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act states that the injured workman must be seen to be complying with a vocational rehabilitation program, and as long as he is doing that in the judgement of the vocational rehabilitation counsellor he will be indeed reimbursed, or at least be compensated, for that period of time.
Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Speaker, if this is not the case, how can the minister justify the regular procedure at the Workmen’s Compensation Board that injured workers have seen their benefits cut to 50 per cent in relation to this particular issue?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding that indeed the benefits related to compensation during the period of time in which an injured worker is co-operating in a vocational rehabilitation program cannot be cut by 50 per cent. They are either there or they are not there.
Mr. Lupusella: That is nonsense.
Mr. McClellan: You don’t know what you are talking about.
Mr. Warner: That is nonsense and you know it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: If the worker is indeed complying with the program then the benefits remain at the level at which they have been issued, If he is not complying with that program, then that additional benefit is not available to him.
Mr. McClellan: You don’t know what you’re talking about, you have no idea.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, the members don’t understand.
Mr. McClellan: I understand more about it than you do.
Mr. Foulds: How many WCB cases do you get in your riding?
An hon. member: Really, you don’t know what you are talking about.
Mr. di Santo: I have a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A point of privilege? The hon. member for Downsview.
Mr. di Santo: The minister said a few minutes ago that there was no quota imposed on the workers in order to qualify for the supplement. In the March 16, 1978, report of the debate on the 1976 report of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, on page 821, the chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board stated: “We asked them [the workers] to go around and see more than just two employers [a day], but they have to be actively engaged in looking for work.” Does that mean there is a quota in this case? Is the chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board right or is the minister telling us the truth now?
Mr. Lewis: More than two. That’s a blessed quota.
Mr. Warner: That’s Michael Starr.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Grey-Bruce with a new question.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the official policy of the board is that there is no specific number required.
Mr. McClellan: Tell us the truth.
Mr. Lewis: What is true?
An hon. member: What’s unofficial?
Mr. Warner: The chairman does what he pleases.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The policy of the board as it has been translated by the vocational rehabilitation officers has been related to their experience with the individual workers. There is no policy that states there is a specific number of visits per day which is required.
Mr. Martel: Two or more.
Mr. McClellan: Three a day. There will always be three a day.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It has been suggested by vocational rehabilitation officers in a number of areas, not just at the Workmen’s Compensation Board, that the job search is an important aspect of rehabilitation for all kinds of workers in order to improve their confidence in job search; and they are requested to keep records of the searches that are carried on so they may discuss them with their rehabilitation counsellors.
Mr. Foulds: It might be an important aspect in Michael Starr’s case. Ask Michael Starr to get a job.
An hon. member: The minister is talking out of both sides of her mouth.
Mr. Martel: She’s unreal. How many times is it she has had to backtrack?
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE CANADA LIMITED
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister aware that the so-called passenger vehicles used by United Parcel Service Canada Limited on the highways of Ontario, allegedly under the exemption contained in the Public Commercial Vehicles Act, were imported into Canada not as passenger vehicles but as multipurpose passenger vehicles as shown on the attached sheets with licences and serial numbers? That is, these vehicles are and were designed by their manufacturer in Kalamazoo as multi- or dual-purpose vehicles and, therefore, are subject to licensing under the PCV Act.
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of that.
Mr. Sargent: Now that the minister knows that it is completely illegal what he is doing here -- he has imported these vehicles illegally and is using them illegally, without licensing -- is the minister prepared to take action to enforce the rights of the Crown and the people of this province to force UPS to cease and desist in the unlicensed operation of these vehicles? I will send over to the minister all the data here -- the importation customs, the whole ball of wax -- to show him that he is running a pretty shaggy operation over there.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would appreciate it if the hon. member would send me the information he has.
Mr. Makarchuk: He will send it to his barber.
Mr. Sargent: What are you going to do about it, though?
Hon. Mr. Snow: If the member will sit down for a minute, I will tell him.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You are smiling today, Eddie.
Mr. Makarchuk: You will call your barber in as a consultant.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I withdraw that remark, Mr. Speaker, in case it wasn’t parliamentary.
Secondly, I did not import the vehicles, as the hon. member stated. I have nothing to do with that.
Thirdly, I would say that any approval to import those vehicles, I presume would be through the normal channels of the customs department of the federal government. We would not have any input into the importation of those vehicles any more than any other passenger car or truck, of which a great many are imported into Ontario and a great many are exported. So I am not sure that the point the hon. member is making is connected.
It is my understanding that these are passenger motor vehicles that are exempt under the PCV Act. If they are not passenger motor vehicles, if they are operating illegally, I certainly will see to it that our officials take the appropriate action to stop them from operating.
WHOLESALE GAS PRICE
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Will the minister recall that the farmers and their organizations have complained to him on many occasions over the past few months that the wholesale price of gasoline charged to them is more than the retail price of gas at the pumps in many areas of this province? Is he aware that this practice is still continuing? What steps has he taken and is he taking to prevent this injustice?
Hon. W. Newman: I’m well aware of what is happening as far as the gasoline price in the agricultural community is concerned, and I brought it to the attention of the appropriate minister, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz).
Mr. Swart: What happened?
Mr. Makarchuk: He’s done nothing. Would he tell us the reply he received?
Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary, may I ask the minister, first of all, if he realizes that this excess in price is caused by the fact that the oil companies will not sell to the farm distributors at the same price that they sell to the retail distributors?
Secondly, has he himself, in the interests of the farmers, made any representation to the oil companies to lower their prices and to give some guarantee that their wholesale price to the farm distributors will be no higher than what they are charging to the retail sales people?
Hon. W. Newman: If the member would listen to a few of the things I’ve said from time to time I’ll tell him exactly what I have been doing.
Mr. Swart: That is what bothers me.
Mr. Warner: That won’t take long.
Mr. Sargent: He should tell you in advance.
Hon. W. Newman: I would just like to point out to the hon. member that the farmers in many parts of this province have organized themselves together to make a conscientious effort to get a reduced price at their farm tanks --
Mr. Swart: The distributors aren’t at fault. The minister knows that.
Hon. W. Newman: -- and have been successful in many cases in doing just that.
I have written to and have talked to the Minister of Energy on this matter. He has looked into it. I have quite a lengthy explanation. If the member would like a copy of the letters dealing with it I’d be glad to send them.
I am as concerned as anyone else that the farmer should get gasoline or diesel fuel delivered to the farm at a fair price.
Mr. J. Reed: I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Would the minister advise his ministry to stop discouraging the installation of wood-burning furnace add-ons and instead advise the consumers as to the safest way to install this conserver-oriented equipment? In future, would he liaise with the Ministry of Energy -- hopefully he can learn a little there -- before taking positions which discourage individual energy conservation initiatives?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say that the member won’t be surprised to learn that I was not, and I still am not aware that we are giving advice which does not promote energy conservation. I will look into the matter and consult the Ministry of Energy because, I might add, both the member and I could probably learn a lot by consulting the Ministry of Energy.
An hon. member: Did you say ministry or minister?
Mr. Foulds: Not the minister.
Mr. S. Smith: The ministry consults him.
Mr. J. Reed: Could I make the minister aware of a letter which was sent to the city of Barrie? it’s marked “received” by the city of Barrie and reads, “Safety information for homeowners.” Under item three in the first sentence it says, “it is recommended that add-ons should not be installed.”
Would the minister please join with the Minister of Energy and do what was recommended by the Association of Major Power Consumers to the Premier about two weeks ago and stop jaw-boning about conservation and get serious about it?
HIRING OF STUDENTS
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Can the minister inform the House if some 170 Orillia high school and university students are being denied summer staff jobs at the Huronia Centre this year and were only so notified last week, even though many of them had worked there from one to six years and had expected to work there again this year?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I’ll redirect that question to the minister responsible for the Huronia Centre, the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Mr. Martel: That is you, Keith; wake up Keith.
An hon. member: It’s too hot to handle.
Mr. Mackenzie: Can the minister inform the House if some 170 Orillia high school and university students are being denied summer staff jobs at the Huronia Centre this year, and were only so notified last week, even though many of them had worked there from one to six years and expected to again this year?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of that. I would be pleased to inquire and find out more about it. I, obviously, don’t personally control all the summer employment in the ministry and I don’t know of any reason why such employment would be being denied to specific individuals if the jobs are available in that particular facility.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: Can the minister, when he’s looking into it, also assess the fact that most of these students have worked as volunteers with the patients over the years during the course of the year at that centre and this makes it a double blow for them when they are told at the very last minute that they are not going to be employed? I am surprised the minister is not aware. There has been a public meeting about it in the area.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am surprised too.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: While the ministry is reviewing this, would the minister review the hiring practices which are said to favour graduates of a certain university and also have no particular relationship to the programs which certain students at that university are taking?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I would be delighted to know which university the hon. member is referring to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Waterloo.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I certainly shall.
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Mr. Breaugh from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the committee’s report, which was read as follows:
Your committee recommends that provisional standing order 21 be altered to read: “A full Hansard service shall be provided to committees considering estimates and a tape recording with transcription shall be made of all standing committee proceedings if at the close of each meeting the committee deems it necessary.”
In the matter raised by the member for Rainy River, your committee finds that there has been no breach of privilege. However, in future, dissemination of information relating to the expenses of select committees shall be under the direction of the Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The first part of the report causes some problems for Hansard inasmuch as, if you haven’t decided whether or not you want a transcription until after the meeting, it means they haven’t got sufficient staff in there during the course of the meeting and it’s extremely difficult. I am just wondering --
Mr. T. P. Reid: They have changed their position.
Mr. Nixon: They could run through the meeting again.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, in our considerations we had the Hansard staff present. They informed the committee that that was a workable proposition. It does mean, however, that there will be a time lag necessary before they can have the staff on duty and that, in fact, they would keep the tapes rolling and they would have to have a Hansard reporter at all committee sessions. At the end of the session, the committee could decide whether or not it wants it printed. So it appears from the Hansard staff point of view that that is a workable concept.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, this may not be quite to the point, but in my travels I was in Halifax and they have a same-day service for Hansard in their Legislature. I think the time lag here is totally unproductive and not part of the printing technology we have today. I think we should have same-day service in Ontario, as they have in Halifax.
Hon. Mr. Newman: They don’t talk as much as you do, that’s why.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I rise to address myself on two points to the report. First of all, I don’t agree with the committee on the item regarding privilege. But, secondly, am I to understand from this that there will be a printed Hansard of each meeting of the procedural affairs committee, or was it just this meeting?
Mr. Speaker: That’s not what the report says. It says, “If it is determined at the conclusion of each meeting that a transcript ... ” There is always a recording of it, but it is my understanding that if a transcript is required, that will be determined at the conclusion of each meeting.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Well, may I say something to that, Mr. Speaker? For some years the standing public accounts committee has addressed itself to this matter and we decided about a year ago or so that the committee should be transcribed and Hansard made available. We had Mr. Brannan of the Hansard service down and we decided at that time that because of the cost of having it printed on a weekly session we would forgo that pleasure, if I may put it that way, and that at this time we would not request such a service. In view of this, my committee will have to go over this matter again.
Mr. Speaker: Any further debate?
If not, shall the report be received and adopted?
Report agreed to.
STANDING ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mr. Philip from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill Pr11, An Act to revive White Queen Limited.
TRANSFER OF PRIVATE BILLS
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that Bill Pr3, An Act respecting Crossroads Christian Communication Incorporated, and Bill Pr38, An Act respecting the Borough of Scarborough, be transferred from the general government committee to the administration of justice committee.
Motion agreed to.
ANSWER TO WRITTEN QUESTION
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the interim answer to question 25 standing on the notice paper.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: At this time, I would like to serve notice that we have to rearrange the order for the calling of legislation tomorrow. I will meet shortly with my colleagues, the other two House leaders, and I will be able to indicate to the House what that order will be later on this afternoon.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ESTIMATES, MANAGEMENT BOARD OF CABINET (CONTINUED)
House in committee of supply.
Mr. Chairman: I believe when the committee adjourned the other day, the minister still had a few remarks to continue with.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Yes, Mr. Chairman. First of all, the hon. member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) was speaking about year-end spending. I indicated I had made a statement about this previously. I have sent him a copy of my remarks from the Throne debate last November, and I would refer him specifically to pages four and six which in essence say this -- I had mentioned this the year before, in 1977, about the 1975-76 estimates and I will repeat what I said about the 1976-77 estimates.
In the Provincial Auditor’s report in 1976-77, it included an analysis of total government expenditures by ministry and by month. Overall, 13.4 per cent of the province’s spending took place in March 1977, the last month of that fiscal year. In some ministries higher percentages were experienced, up to 29 per cent in one instance. This pattern has held true for a number of years.
It is unfortunate that such statistics are interpreted as having some sinister connotation. Governments have been depicted as engaging in year-end spending sprees in an attempt to use up unspent allocations. The facts clearly show that substantially all of these apparently heavy March expenditures are nothing more than reflections of events in the normal course of government business and of the government’s accounting system. In fact, the comments appended to the Provincial Auditor’s table describe some of these factors, both in general and for specific ministries. None of the Auditor’s comments implies that a less than responsible approach was taken to year-end spending.
The relegation of a larger proportion of the year’s expenditures to the month of March, as opposed to other months, arises from three basic features which are built into Ontario’s system. First, under the Financial Administration Act, payments made in April which pertain to goods and services received by the government in March, which is at the end of the preceding fiscal year, are to be recorded as expenditures of the last month of the preceding fiscal year, March. This obviously is in addition to expenditures normally processed and paid in the month of March for, say, the month of February or January, as well as March. Thus, the normal month’s expenditures are for about 30 calendar days of business and, in contrast, March expenditures represent up to two months’ spending for goods and services provided or rendered up to March 31 of that year.
Secondly -- and this is quite important -- consistent with the first point, the first provincial payroll in April normally includes pay in respect to the previous month and thus is charged to March expenditures. This results in the March salary costs including three payrolls, rather than the normal two, and in April 1977 added $41 million to the month’s salary expenditures.
Those first two features would suggest that the expenditures for the month of March should be somewhat higher than average and that those for the month of April should be lower than the average. This is indeed the case and is borne out by the statistics presented in the Provincial Auditor’s report. It shows that for the month of March 1977 13.4 per cent of the provincial spending took place, while only 6.8 per cent took place in April 1976, the first month of the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977.
Finally, certain expenditures, including some transfer payments, either by custom or by formula tend to be heavier in March than in other months of the year. For example, $77.4 million of the municipal roads budget of $272.7 million was recorded as paid to municipalities in March 1977.
I hope the hon. member will agree that it’s clear, given these three factors, the expenditures in March of any fiscal year are bound to be higher than those of other months. This is, as I said on Friday, a totally normal situation, implies no mismanagement and is consistent with official government accounting policies.
The hon. member for Downsview (Mr. di Santo) raised a couple of questions to which I didn’t have an opportunity to reply. First of all, he raised a question concerning what is commonly known as “red circling.” Actually, we don’t use that term in our policies. The proper term is “salary protection for employees.” I’d refer the hon. member to a statement I made in the House on March 6, 1978, in answer to a question from the hon. member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) on the number of civil servants who enjoy that salary protection. That was 439, or 0.69 per cent of our staff.
The hon. member also made reference to a specific employee in the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, who I assume was Mr. Branch. I’d refer the hon. member to a statement made by the Treasurer and Minister of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. McKeough) on Monday, March 6, 1978, in which he outlined in considerable detail the employment history of the employee. I would like to point out that we believe the salary protection rules we have are extremely generous. They are designed to ensure that the employee’s salary is protected when either his job has disappeared and he has moved to a lower-paying job or the job has been reduced in responsibility due to reorganization. Administration of these policies as they apply to employees is the responsibility of the individual ministry.
Finally, in answer to the hon. member for Downsview’s questions about complement and staff and the confusion which exists, which I can understand, I have tried to condense my reply as much as I can but I hope that it is clear. Just going back, on March 14 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) asked a question in the House, in which he quoted the Premier (Mr. Davis) as saying on May 17, 1977 in New York: “We have increased government efficiency and in the last three years reduced our civil service by 4,200.” The Leader of the Opposition then asked the Treasurer how this statement could be reconciled with table 7 of budget paper C which shows only a reduction of 1,350 since March 1, 1975.
I would ask hon. members of the committee to remember that at the time the Premier made his statement in New York, the system which existed for controlling manpower in the Ontario government was based on the control of complement. Complement is defined as the count of the number of full-time continuous places and represents the maximum entitlement of ministries to employ classified, that is so-called permanent staff, members of the regular civil service. The control is, therefore, over this entitlement. The degree to which that entitlement was actually staffed depended upon the recruitment practices of the various ministres.
Most ministries had a chronic rate of staff vacancies due to time lag between the departure of the civil servant and his replacement by another, although by no means was that time lag the same throughout the service. In reducing complement by 4,200, it was recognized by the ministries that attacking these chronic vacancy rates could mitigate the severity of the manpower cut. However, the severe reduction of complement to the extent of 4,200 served as a management tool towards achieving a real reduction of 1,792 regular civil servants over the period March 1, 1975, to December 31, 1977, as shown for the classified staff in budget paper C, table 7.
There is a second category of employees who were paid from the consolidated revenue fund, and that is important, but who are not appointed by the Civil Service Commission under the Public Service Act. Some examples of these are the provincial judges, sheriffs and others connected with the administration of justice, land registrars and certain employees of the Ontario Housing Corporation and the Ontario Mortgage Corporation, all of whom are appointed under their own appropriate legislation.
These employees are not defined as civil servants but their numbers have been generally, but not exclusively, subject to the same complement controls that govern the entitlement to classified staff. They are described in that same table 7 as “Other Crown employees.” Their number over the same period, March 1, 1975, to December 31, 1977, has been reduced from 2,859 to 2,663, a real reduction of 196. Thus the reduction in complement entitlement of some 4,200 in these two categories of full-time employees has resulted in a real reduction in the regular payroll of 1,988 employees over that 34-month period.
The third category of employees to whom table 7 refers is the unclassified staff. This group of employees consists of those who are hired under individual contract for various professional or special purposes, or to work on projects of a non-recurring kind or who are employed on projects of a seasonal or recurring kind that do not require their services on a full-time year-round basis.
The Public Services Act assigns to individual ministers and not to the Civil Service Commission the responsibility of making appointments to the unclassified service. Their numbers vary from day to day and from month to month according to the fluctuating peak load and seasonal commitments of the ministries. In 1977 the size of that unclassified staff varied from a low of 14,426 in January to a high of 29,309 in July.
The local circumstances which give rise to the hiring of unclassified staff have made it impossible to have the numbers subject to complement control. In my statement to the Legislature of April 13, 1976, I outlined the controls which the board had decided to exercise over the hiring of the unclassified staff. These controls were strengthened further by the new comprehensive manpower control policy which was tabled in the Legislature on April 26, 1977. In essence -- and this is the important thing -- the policy brings under one single budget of payroll dollars all those employed by each ministry, whether they be members of the classified staff, the unclassified staff or other Crown employees, and whether they be full time, part time or seasonal.
This control by payroll budget will not control the actual number of employees on the payroll, but it will ensure effective control over the growth of the civil service and its cost to the taxpayers.
As a further step in the exercise of this new policy, I announced on September 16, 1977, that some $8.5 million would be reduced from the total unexpended payroll budgets of the ministries for the remainder of the 1977-78 fiscal year, and these reductions have been carried forward into 1978-79.
To ensure that these reductions were achieved over every salary level, the elimination of 25 senior positions -- that is branch director and above -- was required by March 31, 1978, and that has been achieved. These reductions were in addition to the 55 senior positions which had been eliminated during the period January 1976 to March 1977.
In summary, the size of the Ontario public service has been under increasing restraint since 1975. Its rate of growth has been reversed and its size reduced. The use of a payroll budget has firmly controlled the fluctuating size of the unclassified staff, the number of unclassified staff on the payroll has been reduced by 1,792, and a number of other Crown employees on the payroll has been reduced by 196.
Mr. Chairman, I think that deals with things I wanted to say arising from the comments of the two critics and I assume we can proceed with vote 501.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I don’t see a quorum.
Mr. Mancini: Oh, come on.
Mr. Chairman called for the quorum bells.
Mr. Chairman: There is now a quorum.
On vote 501, ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
Mr. Mancini: I want to ask the minister about his manpower control policy. He stated in his opening remarks: “Our aim in all such exercises must he on controlling the cost of salaries and benefits.” I wonder if the minister could once again verify his position on this. Is it really just salaries and wages or is it salaries, wages and benefits? There’s a big difference there.
Hon. Mr. Auld: The control is on salaries and wages. The benefits relate to the salaries and wages; they are shown separately. But if you increase the salaries and wages, you increase the benefits. It becomes the same thing.
Mr. B. Newman: Some of the benefits; not all of them.
Hon. Mr. Auld: You could have more money in benefits but if there are no salaries and wages to pay the person, then the person won’t get the benefits.
Mr. Mancini: I also wanted to mention that the minister stated there was no sinister plan to spend large sums of money at the end of the fiscal year. We don’t believe there is a sinister plan either. We believe that the civil servants are forced into this. We also believe that if they had the opportunity to have a carryover of their budget, this would not necessarily happen. I just wanted to reemphasize that. Do you have any comment on that?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think it is the Financial Administration Act which prevents the government from carrying over money from one year to the next by vote. There are certain funds -- sinking funds and so on -- set out by statute where the funds can be handled differently, but the government of Canada, the provincial government and the municipal governments are in virtually the same situation in that way. Once the fiscal period has ended, any unspent funds lapse -- other than funds committed for services or goods that have already been received -- and you start out from scratch again.
There have been suggestions -- in fact, at one time in this Legislature there was great opposition from the benches where the hon. member sits to what was then called the highway reserve account; it had been established many years ago because highway projects --
Mr. Mancini: Sounds like a slush fund.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It was established in the 1930s, I think, and the hon. member remembers who was in office at that time.
Mr. Bradley: Maybe it didn’t start out that way.
Mr. Mancini: That’s right. Maybe it didn’t start out that way.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It permitted the government to put money in if the government had surplus money, or to take it out if the government didn’t have surplus money, to pay for highway construction and land acquisition. I gather it was originally established to permit that very thing -- carrying over money because contracts had been delayed on account of weather and that kind of thing -- but as a result of the opposition from the official opposition that account was wound up and abandoned.
Mr. Mancini: I cannot accept totally the remarks of the minister because we know that the Tories had majority governments then and were under no compelling reason to change anything. They made these changes because the majority of the government wanted to make them. That’s the first point.
Secondly, could the minister give us any examples of any of the government ministries returning funds at the end of the fiscal year if he believes that his managers do not do all they can to try to make all their expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Auld: It would be difficult at this point in time to say what will happen as far as fiscal 1977-78 is concerned, but there are funds that will be unspent because Management Board has recommended that they be constrained; in other words, they have not been allowed to be spent for a purpose because it was announced those dollars were to be used to cover an overexpenditure in some other vote which was uncontrollable, as I mentioned in my opening remarks.
If the hon. member will reflect on it, he will realize that in an item -- and I will pick one at random; I hate to do it in my own ministry, because we are particularly efficient. In vote 501, item 1, we show an amount of $300 for reciprocal sales tax, which would be federal sales tax on things that we purchased. I will be very surprised if it comes out right at $300.
Mr. Mancini: Probably it will be $350.
Hon. Mr. Auld: On the other hand, let us say the best estimate at the moment was something similar and it was a round sum. Let us say it was $3 million; very likely that could come out at $2 million.
In these days of restraint, if that’s the amount that is in there, people are very concerned about overspending. They don’t know whether a bill is going to get in before the end of March or whether the goods themselves are going to get in by the end of March, so the chances are after the beginning of March they won’t order. There may well be more underspending in current years than there has been in the past when we weren’t perhaps as right about authorizing additional expenditures.
I think that’s the best I can do. When we have had all the accounts and the accounts have balanced -- the books close this Friday and then the final counting starts to take place; probably by the middle of June we’ll know exactly what our expenditures will be.
I think I said on Friday that because of constraints and as shown in the Treasurer’s statement in December for the third quarter, we anticipated that we would be underexpended by about $92 million. It may well be that it will be a little higher than that.
Mr. Mancini: I’ll leave that area right now. I wish to thank the minister for his answer.
There was a question I wanted to go back to concerning the boards and commissions. The minister stated that, of course, he knew how many boards and commissions there were, because they were responsible for making year-end reports and they were responsible for sending in budgets. If that is the case, how many boards and commissions do we have here in the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Auld: There are 367 to which the province appoints members, including the regional police commissions, but not all the other police commissions, and including all the health units as individual boards. I’ve just forgotten how many there are of those -- 40-something?
Mr. Mancini: There are too many.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Those are the county boards of Health. The regional health councils haven’t all been formed -- or at least all that we thought of haven’t been formed; I can’t remember how many there are of those. But the figure is 367 and that includes a number where there is one commission named but, perhaps, there are half a dozen.
Ah yes, the conservation authorities. We’re counting them as one. If every agency, and that includes some general hospitals and universities where the province, by the private bill, I assume, that set up that hospital or university, appoints one or more members, there would be 660 bodies in the province, but in a great many of those the province has no direct financial implications because of the appointment of that person. The taxpayers of the province support hospitals, but we don’t have a provincially-appointed member on every hospital board, for instance.
Mr. Mancini: Okay, that’s fine. Thank you. I want to talk about the contingencies and I would like to know --
Mr. Chairman: Would the hon. member just wait until we got down to item 4?
Are there any other questions on item 1? The member for Downsview.
Mr. di Santo: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for answering some of my questions. I’d like to raise again one of my concerns on which I spoke on Friday; the minister didn’t respond today. Perhaps I can better qualify my question today so that you will have a chance to give me a more comprehensive answer.
On April 13, 1978, when you made your statement in the House, you said that the Ontario government is geared to the principle that employees in the public sector should be treated no differently than those in the private sector and shall continue to hold to this principle. I remember there was a question raised by the leader of my party at that date and we were unable to get a satisfactory answer. I think we have a problem here because in the budget the Treasurer said on continued control of a number of civil servants that if civil service salary and wage settlements exceed four per cent, the additional payroll costs will have to be offset through staff reductions or savings in administration.
The average negotiated settlements in the fourth quarter of 1977 across Canada were for seven per cent and in Ontario the average settlement in all industries was 6.8 per cent. If you are putting a ceiling of four per cent on civil servants, don’t you think you are treating them differently from the workers in the private sector? If that is not the case, was the Treasurer inaccurate in his budget paper statement or can you explain to us what his position now is?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Yes. What the Treasurer said was, “If civil service salary and wage settlements exceed four per cent, the additional payroll cost will have to be offset through staff reductions or through savings in administration.” What I said on Thursday was: “The Ontario government has adhered to the principle that those in the public sector should be treated no differently than those in the private sector, and we shall continue to hold to this principle. In other words, there will be no discriminatory actions -- no special rules -- devised for Ontario’s public sector employees in the post-control period.” I said further along: “To this end, the government endorses the conclusion of the conference of first ministers that the compensation of public sector employees should, wherever possible, be based on comparisons of total compensation with persons doing equivalent jobs in the private sector.”
As I recall in answer to a question from the leader of the third party, when he asked me if we were holding everybody to four per cent, I said I didn’t say that. What I said was the government was restricting itself to a four per cent increase in the budget over which we have total control of our own operations, rather than those which we support by way of grants or payments of some other kind. I think I attempted to quote from the Treasurer’s statement the part that I have just read. I said that if salary settlements were in excess of the amount that has been budgeted, than they would have to be found from the only two sources available: the reduction in the number of people employed or the reduction in some other part of the administrative overhead. That is the position.
Mr. di Santo: Thank you, Mr. Minister. I appreciate your answer even though it is somehow puzzling to me that wage settlements that are negotiated should cost the jobs of other civil servants. I think the principle on which the negotiations are based is that the two parties -- in this case the government, and the civil servants -- in bargaining for a new contract try to achieve the conditions which in this case are comparable to the wages and benefits of the private sector. We think that shouldn’t cost the jobs of other civil servants, because we think that job security should be one of the principles we should respect, even in the public service --
Mr. Grande: It almost amounts to bad-faith bargaining.
Mr. di Santo: -- if we think that the public servants are performing a useful role in providing services to the people of Ontario.
The other point that I’d like to go back to for a moment is the number of civil servants. I want to thank the minister for his explanations, but I have to say that I am still at a loss. Even making a comparison between last year and this year, we see there isn’t the difference the minister was talking about in his opening statement. I can’t see a reduction of 1,900 employees which he mentioned in his statement. The only reduction is in “other Crown employees”; which on January 31, 1976, was 2,704, while on December 31, 1977, it was 2,663. But as far as the other categories are concerned, classified staff increased, unclassified staff increased, and the total number as a result has increased.
I understand that there has been a change in the classification of the public employees and the way they are recorded. But wouldn’t it be possible for the minister to give us the total number of all public employees -- classified, unclassified, other employees, temporary help -- so that we might have an idea of how many employees we have in the public service now? I think later on we are going to discuss a change in definition for temporary help services which have been removed from service standard account and are now under salary standard account. Wouldn’t it be possible for the minister to give us in detail the number of each group of public employees, so that we know exactly how many there are?
Hon. Mr. Auld: First let me say very frankly that since we are in the process of moving to the classified structured ceiling -- I think we have everybody moved except Community and Social Services, who are still digesting their reorganization -- we will go through a period now, in fact there are a couple of items on the agenda for Management Board tomorrow, where ministries are transferring, or proposing to transfer, people from the unclassified staff to the classified.
The hon. member will perhaps recall questions and comments by his colleague from Algoma (Mr. Wildman) about employees of Natural Resources and, I think, Transportation and Communications who, for many years, have been on the unclassified staff, which meant they were unable to get pension benefits among others, and who were doing a variety of things but were really working permanently in everything but name. They might be working at one job for a part of the year, and they’d be off for a couple of days and then on another one, or something like that. Those people are now being added to the classified staff; consequently they’ll be shown as permanent employees, which is what to all intents and purposes they have been. So we will see an increase in the classified staff and we will see a decrease in the unclassified staff.
As I mentioned a moment ago in that somewhat lengthy answer that I gave this afternoon to the question that the hon. member asked me on Friday, the unclassified staff varies from hour to hour during the day. There are some people who only work say, two mornings a week in the administration of justice.
If the hon. member will look at table C-10 in the 1978-79 budget, page 28, he will see how the staff stood as of December 31, 1977, by classified, unclassified, and other Crown employees. But on January 1, that figure of unclassified staff could have been vastly different, because up until we started looking at a new system we never used to attempt to find out how many unclassified people there were. We knew how much money was being expended, except for GO Temporary services or temporary services of that nature was shown under the service part of the estimates rather than the salaries and wages. But we never really knew.
Now we know how many people there are on the last day of every month. If that day is a Monday, there will probably be more than if that day was a Sunday, unless it happened to be a Sunday where there happened to be a big fire some place in the north.
There are all kinds of variations and it just isn’t administratively -- well, I suppose anything is possible, but the cost of finding out how many unclassified people are working each day of the year is just not considered to be worthwhile, because of the variety of working periods for unclassified staff.
I do believe, and I can say this very frankly too, that with the system we now have, the classified structure ceiling, we will have a greater control, because, for instance, people won’t be able to have a complement and fill it with either a deputy minister or a cleaner and change jobs. That’s an extreme. We notice if there is more than one deputy minister. But you can reorganize in a minor way and have extra directors. With what we used to call one complement, with a director or with a stenographer -- and the salary implications are very great -- once that person has been on staff for a year and has passed the probationary period, providing that person’s job doesn’t disappear and providing that person is competent, it is very difficult to separate that person from their job.
I think what we have adopted is a great improvement. I’ll be surprised if it’s perfect, but I think it will be a great improvement and give far better control, both short term and long term, than the old system of complement.
I repeat, the figures you see now for classified staff are higher because some people who were unclassified are now shown as classified.
Mr. di Santo: Were the 1,968 full-time employees part of the classified? In your statement you said there was a real reduction of 1,988. Were they part of the classified?
Hon. Mr. Auld: As to the net reduction of classified, as I say, I couldn’t tell you how many, but there would be some additions to the classified staff which would give that net total reduction. In other words, it might have been 2,400, while perhaps 300 unclassified people have been transferred over to give a net reduction of less.
Mr. di Santo: Would it be fair to say that on December 31, 1977, we had more classified staff than on December 31, 1976, even though there was a reduction of 1,988 classified staff?
Hon. Mr. Auld: There was a net reduction. Let me get that for you because it is important to take the same periods, obviously. From December 31, 1976, to December 31, 1977, there has been a reduction in the classified staff -- rather in the total between classified and unclassified; I am looking at that total -- of about 115. On the other hand, from March 1, 1975 to December 31, 1977, which is the figure I was speaking about today, and including other Crown employees, the complement which would be classified employees, other Crown employees, whom we consider to be in the same position except that they are not civil servants, and unclassified, including the senior positions, the number of classified staff on the payroll has been reduced by 1,792 and the number of other Crown employees on the payroll has been reduced by 196.
As I say, if you picked a different point in time, you will have a variation. The example I gave was for unclassified staff between summer and winter, July and December I think it was. Last year, 1977 the size of the unclassified staff varied from a low of 14,426 in January to a high of 29,309 in July. As I say, it is very difficult to make comparisons unless you make a comparison with the same number of people over the same period, in other words, from January 1 to December 31 or from April 1 to March 31. As I said at the outset, until we have the classified structure ceiling completely in place and all the anomalies sorted out, we will go through a period when the figures that I might quote for January, 1977, would be based on a different formula than for January, 1976.
Mr. di Santo: I am still at a loss, because I was comparing, really, one group called the public employees, which is homogeneous with the other one. In the budget of 1977, the number of classified staff was 63,210. In the budget of 1978, the same classified staff on December 31, 1977, was 63,316, which means an increase of 106.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Excuse me, I think perhaps I might assist. As I mentioned in the opening answer to your question on Friday, I explained the difference between complement and people actually on staff. The figures that you are speaking about here are people on staff. I don’t have the complement figures, but my guess is that the complement figures are considerably higher for the previous year. We have shaken out some of the vacancies and they surely weren’t being filled.
Mr. di Santo: The only reason I was pursuing this question was that I couldn’t understand how there was a reduction of 1,988 jobs while the budget doesn’t show that. Thank you very much for your explanation.
The other point that was raised was the payments in March. Your explanation is technically acceptable, but every year the opposition critics and the people who take part in the debate are trying to get, instead, a clarification. It seems that every year in March we have an increase in expenditure. I think you are right when you say that they can be explained technically because of the payments made in April, the payroll and the other reasons that you gave before.
I think that the suspicion is that each ministry in March tries to spend the budget of the previous year so that it can get more money for the next year. I know that you spoke in your introductory remarks on zero-based budgeting and management by results. We think that since there hasn’t been any substantial example of ministries which actually returned unspent money, then it may be that this is a technique that you have adopted but it doesn’t show in the facts; the experience is that every year each ministry gets more money on the basis of the money allotted the previous year. I think the minister should give us a more convincing explanation.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, I don’t know how to have another go at this.
The consumer price index covers a variety of things. Perhaps it is not as applicable to government as it is to some other businesses and to domestic purchases, but if it has a validity and if it increased in 1977 by -- I think it was nine point some per cent -- and if the provincial budget this year increases by 7.5 per cent, which includes all of the transfer payments and covers the increases in some very large items, where say five per cent is the equivalent in dollars of 15 per cent in some other ministry, and if the provincial expenditure this year over last year for the things which we control ourselves is four per cent, then I would say that not only do we have fewer people working for us but we are buying fewer typewriters and we are buying smaller cars and we are using less gas and a whole host of other things. Otherwise, our expenditure would be considerably higher.
I realize that in inflationary times it is very difficult to compare this year’s expenditure with last year’s. All I can say is that I think that we are doing a better job than most other governments in North America, including the government of Canada. I repeat, that in the Treasurer’s statement, for the first three quarters of fiscal 1977-78, at the end of December, he said that our expenditures were going to be under the budgeted estimate by $92 million. I said a little earlier today that I think it will be in excess of that.
Last year -- that is the end of fiscal year 1976-77 -- our expenditures were $109 million less than had been budgeted for in the expenditure estimates. That is because we have been controlling our expenditures, even those already budgeted, very carefully. If we found that something was overestimated it has been constrained and those funds used for uncontrollable increases in, for instance, the health system or in education or in the social field, where most of the big money is. Or we would simply reduce the amount of the total estimated expenditure and consequently the deficit.
Mr. Mancini: A few moments ago I was asking the Chairman of Management Board about manpower cost control and we were speaking about wages and salaries; and wages and salaries and benefits. The minister informed the House that these two rise in correlation with each other. If we look at the expenditure sheets we can see, for example, that the office of the Premier spent $1,101,000 in salaries -- this is 1977-78 -- and $102,900 in benefits; in 1978-79 we can see that the office of the Premier spent $1,194,000 and $170,000 in employee benefits. So we do see a rise in both salaries and benefits and we can see that in just about most of the sheets here that show the expenditures of the government ministries. However, Mr. Chairman, when we get down to the Ministry of Correctional Services, we see salaries and wages for 1977-78 of $97,666,200 and employee benefits of $11,893,300. Now, for 1978-79, we see Correctional Services, salaries and wages, $79,623,800, but employee benefits $13,189,700. So we have approximately $20 million less in salaries and wages, yet we have almost $2 million more in employee benefits.
How does the minister explain that? Then we get back to our first point: Is he talking about wages and salaries or is he talking about wages, salaries and benefits?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I guess the person of whom one should ask that question is the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea), but I will give you a couple of possibilities. One of them is that there would be a great many unclassified staff, as I know there used to be in Correctional Services, and that there was a great deal of overtime. Whether the overtime was paid to the unclassified or the classified staff, or more likely both, I don’t know, but those are the variables.
I think I said that there is generally a relationship between salaries and benefits. There would be if all the salary money was paid to classified staff, because classified staff have more benefits; so benefits to classified staff cost more than the cost of benefits to unclassified staff. If the proportion of classified to unclassified, and the -- I hate to say classification, but if the people in the same kinds of jobs remain constant, then there would be a constant relationship between salaries and wages on the one hand and benefits on the other.
But that will not apply to every ministry. For instance, Transportation and Communications will, I assume, always have a fair number of unclassified people because they have a lot of people on winter maintenance, as perhaps the hon. member knows. Those people are called in, depending on the part of the province, in October or November. And there can be a lot of overtime there too, depending on the weather, and they leave in March or at the end of February, depending on the weather.
Natural Resources, on the other hand, have an awful lot of extra unclassified people, and I suppose always will, in the summer time for tree planting and for fire fighting, fish census -- a variety of things -- so they will always have a number of unclassified people.
The whole purpose of the classified structure ceiling is to control both the classified and the unclassified. That’s a little away from your question as to why there is that variation in Correctional Services. I suggest you ask of Correctional Services your questions as to why the variation between those two years and why the percentages of dollars for benefits to salaries and wages varies so much. I am just giving you a couple of reasons why it might.
Mr. Mancini: First of all, I think that the Chairman of Management Board should be able to explain this during the estimates.
Hon. Mr. Auld: In that case I guess the Chairman of Management Board would do everybody’s estimates and I certainly don’t pretend to be competent to do that.
Mr. Mancini: We are not asking you to do anybody’s estimates, we are just asking you to back up what you have said. That’s all we are doing. In your opening remarks you said that “our aim in all such exercises must be on controlling the cost of salaries and benefits and control simply on the numbers is not an answer in itself.” And I assume you’re talking about the numbers of civil servants. So what we’re asking you to do is just to back up what you have said.
I don’t think it’s fair for the Chairman of Management Board to come into the House, make an opening statement like that and then, when we find a discrepancy in his statement, then tell us to go and see a different minister. I wonder if the Chairman of Management Board can undertake to find out why there is this discrepancy and have information tabled in the House and not ask me to go after the Minister of Correctional Services, because I’m asking him a question on his own statements?
Hon. Mr. Auld: A couple of other things that would affect these ratios too have been drawn to my attention. First of all, year by year there is a changing cost of individual benefits; in fact, we negotiate benefits with the bargaining unit separately from wages. We negotiate wages with the eight groups in eight different and individual negotiations. We negotiate benefits in one package for the whole of the bargaining unit and we negotiate working conditions in one package.
The change in cost of individual benefits, like insured benefits, would be another factor. And we’ve negotiated cost-sharing differences from time to time between employer and employees within a year. Of course, the rates are different for classified and unclassified, as I mentioned.
In the statement I made some time ago about the new manpower policy, I said: “The second change” -- and it’s another one which is taking place this year -- “involves the budgeting for the unfunded liability payments in the Public Service Superannuation Fund which we used to show singly, I think, in the Treasurer’s estimates.”
That’s a pretty large amount. I think last year it was about $32 million, which was shown as a single item, rather than having these costs absorbed by the budget of Government Services only, as has been the case up to now, we decided it would be more informative to allocate them to individual votes and items of the employees’ ministries in order to show the full cost of employee benefits for each program and activity.
Mr. Mancini: Just a short supplementary: will the minister undertake to get the information that I asked for and table it in the House about why there is this discrepancy and not all the hypothetical answers of why it is?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, I’ll pass that request to the Minister of Correctional Services, who should probably answer the question. I’m sure he will provide that for the hon. member.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Do you have further comments?
Mr. Mancini: I just wanted to know if it was in order if I could ask a question about the federal and provincial reciprocal sales tax agreement at this time.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, I can answer it. It is a matter for the Treasurer, but we entered into an agreement with the government of Canada last year to take effect September 1, 1977, which is mid-year. What it amounts to is that the Crown in right of Ontario will pay federal sales and excise tax on building materials -- well, all things they tax; fuel -- it will save them a lot of paper work by giving us exemptions. we in turn will charge them provincial sales tax, which they will pay.
I wouldn’t want to swear to the result but it seems to me that there is a net benefit to Ontario of something in the order of $10 million, estimated. In other words, the feds will pay something in the neighbourhood of $10 million more to the province than the province will pay to the feds, although that could change if we get into a lot of construction, I imagine.
Mr. Lupusella: Considering the scenario in relation to wages and benefits of civil servants, presented to the minister by my colleague from Downsview and the member for Essex South, I would like to relate to the minister a particular situation which was brought to my attention a few years ago. I am not sure whether this particular situation is existing now -- in relation to the seniority rights of civil servants when they are transferred from one branch to another one. I am sure the minister is responsible for this item, if he will confirm that, then I am going to elaborate on the point.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, I think we might deal with that under staffing in vote 502.
Mr. Lupusella: we have been talking about classification and reclassification of civil servants, and I hope the point I would like to raise is appropriate at this time.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Minister, would you think this is more appropriate under vote 502, item 2?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I would prefer that. The hon. member is aware there are competitions for all openings and there is a grievance procedure but, if it’s possible, I think I would be better prepared to answer in detail in the second vote.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I would point out to the member for Dovercourt that under vote 1, item 1, we take general items on about everything. But if it’s a particular matter that belongs to another vote, I would ask him if he would hold it until we get to the next page.
Mr. Lupusella: Okay, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Worton: Mr. Chairman, during the past year or so there has been considerable discussion about indexing of pensions, and last summer I received a letter from a constituent who was upset about the indexing of these pensions. Quite frankly, I was of the opinion that he was referring to Ottawa; I wasn’t aware that it was happening in Ontario. But on making an inquiry of the Civil Service Commission, I believe, they did indicate to me that there was such a policy for senior civil servants, I believe, and I think they make a contribution towards this.
If this matters comes within the minister’s jurisdiction, or maybe because of the experience he has had here in a number of ministries, perhaps he can enlighten me as to how this program works and how many people it would cover; whether it’s just for senior civil servants or whether it’s open to every civil servant who wishes to participate.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Again, Mr. Chairman, this comes under vote 502, but I think the hon. member is referring to the Superannuation Adjustment Benefits Act, which was introduced in 1975. It is different from the federal system in a number of ways. Perhaps, if the committee agrees, I could just --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Minister, I would think employee benefits comes under every vote, so that would be in order in this situation.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Okay. The Act, as I say, was introduced in 1975. It provides for the equal sharing of all costs of pension adjustments between employer and employees. It starts with a contribution of salary of one per cent from each. It imposes a ceiling of eight per cent on the employee’s pension under the Public Service Superannuation Act, and it is related to the consumer price index. If, say, there is an increase of five per cent, the fund would pay that. If there was an increase of nine per cent, it would not pay it. It would pay eight per cent and in the following year, if the funds were available, and the increase was only seven per cent, it could still pay that seven plus the one owing from the previous year.
The Superannuation Adjustment Benefits Act is one that people opt into, and to date the Ontario public service has opted in. For a while, the bargaining unit did not, and it was not until last year that they decided to opt in. I assume there were probably a number of younger employees who did not want to contribute that one per cent.
The Liquor Control Board employees have opted in, the Liquor Licence Board, the teachers, and the Ontario Provincial Police Association. It is different, again, from the federal Act, as I understand it, because it will not pay a benefit unless the fund has the money. It is not a fully-funded plan; it is quite different from the Public Service Superannuation Act, in that there is an equal contribution from both the employer and the employee, and to increase it, it can only pay out what is in the fund.
If, for instance, salary or benefit increases got to be more than what was available in the fund, the fund would only pay what was in the fund. If the fund went broke, the payments would cease. This would happen unless both sides, employer and employees, agreed to increase the rate of contributions. It is guaranteed up to 1981 -- on the basis of the actuarial figures that we have it is safe up to then. At that time there will be another review. It is governed by the Ontario Pension Benefit Act, and one of the purposes of that Act is to protect the employees from insolvency of the fund.
Mr. Worton: I see nothing wrong with the way it is going, but what fails to come across to me is how each can contribute one per cent, and yet in a way eight per cent could be paid out. It could be that one year you would benefit for the total amount, and the next year -- as you say it is not actuarially sound -- you may end up with not getting anything.
Hon. Mr. Auld: That is because it is not fully funded. We assume it is round, based on the projections made when it was brought into effect, until 1981 at least. At that time there will be another review.
Mr. Worton: But you do contribute something on top of the one per cent? Does the government put something into the pot?
Hon. Mr. Auld: No. As I mentioned, that’s why it’s quite different from the Public Service Superannuation Fund, which is to be fully funded and the province picks up the deficit.
Mr. Worton: And we are also now giving the advantage to all employees of the government departments? In other words they have opted into it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Yes.
Mr. di Santo: Just a question: the Public Service Superannuation Adjustment Act provides for benefits to be tied to inflation up to eight per cent. Have you given any consideration to removing the ceiling or do you think it is still right to have a ceiling, regardless of the rate of inflation each year?
Hon. Mr. Auld: No, we haven’t considered that. It would require a change in the legislation, in the first place. But as the hon. member is aware, there is a royal commission looking at all pension funds, public and private, in the province. I would be surprised if there were any changes to any of the provincial plans -- the Teachers’ Superannuation, the Public Service Superannuation, the OPP, the Liquor Control Board funds -- until such time as the royal commission has reported.
Mr. di Santo: Thank you. Is your ministry going to make any presentations to the royal commission? Also, what is your personal position in this regard? Do you think that the inflation rate granted by the Public Service Superannuation Adjustment Act should be related to the cost of living, or do you think that eight per cent is still the right figure for the time being? I mean regardless of what the rate of inflation is each year? Has your ministry got any position vis-à-vis the royal commission and the problem itself?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I could say very generally that I’m in favour of as good a pension plan for all the people of the country as the economy can afford.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Any further discussion on item 1?
Mr. Mancini: I’m going to try one more time with the minister concerning the manpower cost control.
First of all, I wish to state that all the reasons that he gave for the increased benefits which he tried to make applicable to the Ministry of Correctional Services could be made applicable to all the ministries.
Secondly, it still doesn’t explain how the salaries and wages could decrease while employee benefits could increase by $2 million.
Thirdly, I wonder if the minister still maintains that his cost control policy applies to salaries and wages, or does it apply to salaries, wages and benefits? Just a yes or no would be fine.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I’m just reminded, of course, that there was a great move; a number of the Correctional Services people are now in Community and Social Services.
Mr. Mancini: But that’s not at question.
Hon. Mr. Auld: But there is no effect -- of overtime, for instance -- on a lot of the benefit costs, and there was to my knowledge a lot of overtime in Correctional Services a year ago.
Mr. Mancini: I just want an answer to the question, if it’s possible.
Due to the discrepancy in the Ministry of Correctional Services, where the salaries and wages have decreased by some $20 million while the benefits have increased by $2 million, and due to your statements concerning manpower cost control, could you please explain to the House if your policy is only for wages and salaries or does it include wages, salaries and benefits? That’s the only question.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It’s wages and salaries.
Mr. Mancini: How about benefits?
Hon. Mr. Auld: They’re not included. Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Mancini: What’s not included? Hon. Mr. Auld: We’ve done a little figuring. If, first of all, the benefits in 1976-77 were at a rate of 13.5 per cent, and in 1977- 78 benefits were at a rate of 17.1 per cent, then 13.5 per cent of $97 million turns out to be $11 million, and 17.1 per cent of $80 million turns out to be $13 million.
Mr. Mancini: Okay, so what the minister is telling the House then, if I understand him correctly -- and please say if I’m not -- is that your manpower cost control policy applies to all of the salaries and wages and benefits across the board.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It applies to salaries and wages, but as I’ve said, salaries and wages determine benefits.
Mr. Mancini: I wish to take severe disagreement with the minister. It doesn’t seem logical for the minister to stand in the House and get advice from his highly paid staff to say those things when, in effect, it says right here that salaries in the Ministry of Correctional Services have gone down by $20 million and yet benefits have gone up by $2 million. So that little scenario there doesn’t hold water for this ministry.
What we want to know is, does your manpower cost control policy just take into account salaries and wages, or does it take into account salaries, wages and benefits, because of this large discrepancy within the Ministry of Correctional Services?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I will say it again. It applies to salaries and wages. Salaries and wages dictate benefits but benefits can vary, depending on the factors I mentioned. They can vary from ministry to ministry, if a ministry has a lot of unclassified people. One does and one doesn’t.
Mr. Mancini: In view of the large discrepancy we have here, I would ask the minister to please table this information.
Hon. Mr. Auld: As a matter of personal privilege, I am not required nor am I expected to answer the questions of other ministries. We are here dealing with my estimates and the various policies of my ministry.
Mr. Mancini: I understand totally what we are here to deal with. I just hope that you do. We are here to deal with some of the statements you made. You have talked about, and I have heard about it two or three times in the House already, your manpower control policy. What we are trying to do is figure out exactly what is your manpower control policy, but you are refusing to answer one of the most basic questions. Does your manpower control policy deal with just salaries and wages or does it deal with salaries, wages and benefits?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The hon. member has asked that question several times and it has been answered several times.
Mr. Mancini: The minister won’t answer the question.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: He has answered the question.
Mr. Mancini: Also, in view of the discrepancy we have, why doesn’t the minister table the information in the House, which would clarify this matter? All we ask is to clarify it and we will stop asking the question.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I undertook to ask the Minister of Correctional Services to give the answer to the question to the hon. member and, as I said, I am sure he will.
Mr. di Santo: Under this item I would like to ask the minister another question. As your background material says on page eight, temporary help services will be under salary standard account rather than under services standard account. I think that this is an improvement because at least now we know how much we pay for salaries. What we used to see in past years doesn’t happen when the salaries of temporary help were confused with stationery and other expenditures.
Would it be possible to know the number of temporary help service people who have been used during the last year and for what period of time? I understand that for temporary staff the number varies during the different months of the year. Do you have the total number of temporary staff used by the government last year, month by month?
Mr. Chairman: Does the minister have that handy or should this come under vote 505?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think it should be under vote 505. I don’t have that here. Perhaps I can dig it up. I know without looking it up that it is difficult to say how many people there are because there are not the same number working on any one day. We have a list of people and sometimes that list changes. People withdraw and then people are added.
In 1977 we had about 1,500 people who were prepared to take assignments. I really couldn’t say, and I think it would be a mammoth administrative job to try to find out, how many people were working on any one day and where they were working. As I say, it varies from day to day and from half-day to half-day. I know there are fewer people this year because we have budgeted fewer dollars and the rates are higher, so I don’t have the number of people we presently have on our list.
Item 1 agreed to.
On item 2., personnel:
Mr. Worton: I wonder if the minister could give us an explanation for the wide variance between the estimates and the actual? I noticed the 1976-77 estimate was $82,600, the actual was $85,000. Then in the 1977-78 he had $201,800 and the estimate this year is $159,000. In other words we have gone to the extreme and now we seem to be cutting it off halfway from where we originally started in 1976-77. This would be personnel of your ministry who advise you, would it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: It is just those who deal with personnel for the commission and Management Board. It is a combined operation for dealing with our own personnel.
As for the reconciliation in the briefing book, we started out in 1977-78 on the same basis with $201,800. Then the general government staff constraint took place last September. The hon. member will recall we announced that we were going to reduce salary payout -- in other words, reduce staff between then and the end of the year -- by $8.5 million, which I think was some 2,300 man-years and worked out to be about 2.7 per cent, and that that constraint for half the year 1977-78 would be applied to the base on which ministries would submit their estimates for this year.
So, as I say, we start off with estimates for 1977-78 of $201,800; the general government staff constraint reduction of $11,100; the salary awards that will be effective this year are an add-on of $3,200; the increased cost of benefits this year are an add-on of $3,300; an estimated reciprocal sales tax -- in other words, federal sales tax that we will have to pay on things that we will be buying -- of $200; a decrease in separation payments reserve of $39,300 -- with a small staff we are able to estimate fairly accurately how many separations we may have, particularly retirements, and we don’t anticipate as many retirements this year as we had last -- and program changes of $1,000, which gives us the total that you see of $159,100.
Mr. Worton: On your estimate of $201,800, what would be the actual? You have the estimate of course for the previous fiscal year which has now ended; March 31 was the last day of 1977-78. What would be the actual?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Unfortunately that is one of the problems of doing the estimates before the books have closed for fiscal 1977-78. I can’t tell the hon. member, although I am not aware that we are going to be over, so I assume that we are at that figure or probably a little under.
Mr. Worton: You indicate by the estimates you have set this year that it must have been somewhere between $159,100 and $201,800?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Don’t hold us to this, but the latest estimate we have is that instead of $201,800, it will be $193,000.
Items 2 and 3 agreed to.
On item 4, contingencies:
Mr. Worton: There’s another question I’d like to ask, Mr. Minister, about the difference with 1976-77. Is this new, when you have no actual in that column? The estimate last year was $78 million, and now you’ve estimated $99 million. Why the variance there again?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Again, in the briefing book there is some information on this. The salary awards are a little different this year than they were last year. The hon. member might recall that two years ago we had a very large amount, when we first set up the contingency fund.
Mr. Worton: This was used --
Hon. Mr. Auld: Yes, before the AIB came into effect, we were still negotiating and we were negotiating the October changes -- we didn’t get those settled until February or March.
Mr. Worton: I recall that, yes.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It was a long time. So when we saw that it was going to be a long time we set up a contingency fund to deal with salary and wage increases that had not yet been settled. Of course, with the AIB last year’s were settled prior to the expiry of the old contract. This year, even though we were still under AIB for both the October and the January classifications, we didn’t have them all settled. So the contingency fund this year is higher because it shows all the salary awards for January which were not ratified before the estimates of the various ministries had to be printed.
Mr. Worton: It is estimated for 1978.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Last year, the contingency fund only -- I’ll do this slowly because it’s a little complicated. The $99 million fund here provides for salary awards and related employee benefit costs estimated for 1978-79, and it is $21 million higher than last year. That’s because, the bargaining unit awards for January 1978 not having been settled in time to be printed, it was necessary to provide money for them -- something over $50 million -- and there was no equivalent division last year.
However, last year the 1977-78 contingency fund contains divisions for costs of that new federal-provincial reciprocal tax agreement, that is the payout that we would make. The Treasurer shows revenue we would collect, so it was the net of the gross of what we would pay out, as well as the youth employment program which was some $27 million.
This year, the federal sales tax is shown in each ministry’s individual estimates, and the youth employment program is shown in the various ministries. So the remainder of the difference in the 1977-78 amounts includes the extra day of pay charged on the 1977-78 payroll. There was one day in which the payroll cheques that went out should have been charged to this year, and they have been.
Does that clarify it a little?
Item 4 agreed to.
Vote 501 agreed to.
On vote 502, policy development and analysis program; on item 1, compensation:
Mr. Mancini: I take it that the area of compensation includes separation payments that we have with our civil service, does it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: The policy regarding separation payments? Yes.
Mr. Mancini: I was wondering if the minister in general terms could explain what the policy for separation payments is, and then I will work from there.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Generally speaking there are two different arrangements, one with the bargaining unit and one with the management class:
“On resignation, you will receive the cash equivalent of any vacation leave and overtime owing to you. However, if you have less than six months’ continuous service, your vacation pay will be four per cent of your total earnings during your period of employment.” Depending on years of service and age, you may or may not be eligible for an immediate annuity or deferred annuity and that is shown in the pension booklet that each employee has.
“You are entitled to UIC unemployment benefits if, on termination, you are genuinely unemployed, available for work and have worked the required number of weeks in insurable employment.
“If you were hired prior to January 1, 1970 and have 10 or more years of continuous service, your attendance credits will be converted to a gratuity payment on the basis of a half day for each unused day of accumulated credits to a maximum of one half of your annual salary. If you were hired on or after January 1, 1970, you are not entitled to any termination payments.
“Subsidy for this insurance stops at the end of the month in which you resign. In order to have no break in your coverage you should arrange to make direct payments immediately upon resigning.
“Supplementary Health and Hospital Insurance:
“This insurance stops at the end of the month in which you resign. However, if you are totally disabled, or an eligible dependant is confined to a hospital on the date this insurance terminates, benefits continue to be payable until the earliest of: --
“ -- the date of the total disability ceases;
“ -- the date the dependant is discharged from hospital;
“ -- the expiration of six months from the date of the termination of the insurance.” And there is a note that so you don’t have a break in this type of coverage, “if you are aware in advance that you are going to resign, it is possible to obtain individual coverage under the Blue Cross Extended Health Plan.”
“Basic Life Insurance:
“This insurance coverage stops at the end of the month in which you resign. You have the option of converting this insurance to an individual policy without taking a medical examination if you do so within 31 days of termination. You must pay the full premium for any converted coverage.” There is a note that the minimum amount of life insurance that can be concerted to an individual policy from your basic life insurance and supplementary life insurance -- if you have it -- is $2,000.
“Dependant Life Insurance:
“This insurance coverage stops at the end of the month in which you retire. You have the option of converting this insurance on your spouse to an individual policy without evidence of insurability if you do so before your 65th birthday and within 31 days of your retirement. You must pay the full premium on this converted coverage. Insurance on your dependant children cannot be converted under any circumstances.
On retirement -- again bargaining unit employees.
“1. Public Service Superannuation Fund/Canada Pension Plan ...
“Pension income will likely be your main source of income at retirement. For your entitlements from the [public service superannuation fund] please refer to your pension booklet, Your Retirement Income. For CPP benefits, you must apply directly to the local Canada Pension Plan office.
“On retirement, you will receive the cash equivalent of any vacation leave and overtime owing to you.
“3. Unemployment Insurance:
“A special lump sum benefit is payable upon reaching age 65 even if you continue to work. To be eligible you must have worked in insurable employment for at least 20 weeks during the last 52 weeks, or since the start of your last unemployment insurance claim, whichever period is shorter. It’s important that you apply for this benefit as soon as you reach age 65.
“4. Termination Payments:
“(1) If you were hired prior to October 1, 1965, your remaining attendance credits will be converted to a gratuity payment on the basis of half a day for each day of accumulated credits.
“(2) If you were hired between October 1, 1965, and December 1, 1969, and
“ -- you have less than 10 years of continuous service, you are entitled to severance pay equal to half a week of salary for each year of service up to December 31, 1969, and one week of salary for each year of service after that day.
“ -- you have 10 or more years of continuous service, you are entitled to either an attendance credit gratuity calculated the same as in (1) or severance pay as calculated in (2).
“(3) If you were hired on or after January 1, 1970, and had a minimum of one year of continuous service, severance pay equal to one week of pay for each year of continuous service from your date of employment will be paid.”
Probationary staff are not eligible for severance pay, only for termination pay. Note: The amounts payable under those last three things “may not exceed one-half of your annual salary.”
“If you qualify for a pension from the [public service superannuation fund], you and your eligible dependants will receive free coverage under this benefit to age 65. After age 65, free coverage is provided for all Ontario residents and their eligible dependants upon application to OHIP.”
“If you qualify for a pension from the [public service superannuation fund] you and your eligible dependants will receive free coverage under this benefit” -- Supplementary health and hospital insurance.
“1. Basic Life Insurance:
“(a) If you have 10 or more years of credited service:
“This insurance coverage will reduce to $2,000 on the 32nd day following your retirement date; $1,750 on the October 1 coinciding with or next following your retirement, and to $1,500 on the next October 1. You may convert the difference between this reduced amount and your preretirement coverage to an individual policy without taking a medical examination if you do so within 31 days of your retirement. You must pay the full premium for any converted coverage.
(b) If you have less than 10 years of service:
“This insurance coverage stops at the end of the month in which you retire. You have the option of converting your insurance to an individual policy up to the amount of your pre-retirement coverage without taking a medical examination if you do so within 31 days of your retirement. You must pay the full premium for any converted coverage.
“(2) Supplementary Life Insurance:
“This insurance coverage stops at the end of the month in which you retire. You may convert up to the amount of your preretirement coverage to an individual policy without taking a medical examination if you do so within 31 days of your retirement. You must pay the full premium for any converted coverage.” There’s a note that says:
“The minimum amount of life insurance that can be converted to an individual policy from your basic life insurance and supplementary life insurance, where applicable is $2,000.” The same thing applies for dependant life insurance as it did on resignation. I have more, if you would like to know about management and excluded employees.
Mr. Mancini: Maybe you can just send it over.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Under “Public Service Superannuation Fund Canada Pension Plan,” it says: “Pension income will likely be your main source of income at retirement. For your entitlements from the [public service superannuation fund], please refer to your pension booklet.”
Vacation and overtime. “On retirement you will receive the cash equivalent of any vacation leave and overtime owing to you.”
On unemployment insurance it mentions the same special lump sum benefit as in the bargaining unit. It goes on: “Termination Payments:
(1) “If you were hired prior to October 1, 1965, your remaining attendance credits will be converted to a gratuity payment on the basis of a half-day for each day of accumulated credits, and you will receive severance pay of one week per year of continuous service from January 1, 1976.
(2) “If you were hired between October 1, 1965, and December 31, 1969, you will receive either an attendance credit gratuity as calculated in (1) and severance pay of one week of salary for each year of continuous service from January 1, 1976, or a half-week of salary for each year of service up to December 31, 1969, and one week of salary for each year of continuous service after January 1, 1970.
“(3) If you were hired on or after January 1, 1970, you will receive severance pay equal to one week of salary for each year of continuous service from the date of appointment.
“Probationary staff are not eligible for severance pay only for termination payments based on attendance credits. Regular staff are eligible for severance pay after one year’s continuous service.” In a note it says: “The total amount payable ... may not exceed one half of your annual salary.” Medical benefits are the same as for the bargaining units as is supplementary health and hospital insurance. Insurance benefits, basic life appear to be the same, as are supplementary life and dependant life.
Mr. Mancini: I sincerely thank the minister for the vast and extensive answer he has given me. Could the minister inform me what has been the largest payment ever made on separation to a civil servant?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I am afraid that that might take a little digging out. I don’t have that figure.
Mr. Mancini: I will just hope that you undertake it and have it before us before these estimates are over.
Hon. Mr. Auld: If I don’t have it before we finish the estimates, I will put it on the order paper or give it to the hon. member. I guess that will be the easiest way.
Mr. Mancini: Fine.
Mr. di Santo: It is the policy of the government to transfer to local authorities the responsibility for many of the services the government of Ontario now provides, such as psychiatric care and rehabilitation care in particular, in order to protect the government’s own employees. The government introduced and this Legislature adopted successor rights legislation. The successor rights legislation doesn’t apply to pensions and pension escalators.
Will the minister give assurance to the committee and to the House that in future, as a condition of transfer to another authority, the government will require that such authorities provide comparable pensions and pension escalators and working benefits as were provided prior to the transfer? That is one of the questions.
Do you want me to ask all my questions, Mr. Chairman, or would you prefer that I ask one question at a time? I would like your advice.
Mr. Chairman: If you would like to place just the one question, that would be fine.
Hon. Mr. Auld: The only thing I can say is that these transfers take place occasionally; and each one is dealt with on its merits, depending on the circumstances of the transfer. I could give no assurance that any employee who at present works for the province as a civil servant, or in any other capacity, could transfer to any other public body -- or private body, for that matter -- and be sure of taking the same benefits with that person.
Mr. di Santo: I hope the minister realizes that, as in the case of the Mackinnon Phillips Hospital, if there is a transfer to a different authority, we will be faced with a group of public employees who have the expectation of being provided with certain benefits but, because of the transfer, they will be penalized. That is highly unfair.
It is also unfair in the cases where the government is tendering services to private companies as in the case that was raised several times last year, the case of Consolidated Building Services, which not only hired people at minimum wage but also had unfair labour practices; in fact, they were exploiting the workers they were using to clean government buildings such as the Macdonald Block.
In both cases the government should provide some assurance; in the case of government public servants transferred to another authority, that their benefits be guaranteed after the transfer; in the case of tendering services, that group of workers be protected. I regret that the minister does not want to give any assurance, but I think the government is wrong because, as I said before, it is penalizing a group of employees who have done nothing wrong except to have been transferred to another authority, for reasons that the government thinks are valid.
We should not sacrifice workers who may have been employed with the government for many years. In fact, in the case of the Mackinnon Phillips Hospital at Owen Sound, we have workers who have been employed there for 25 and 30 years; and all at once they will lose benefits that they legitimately thought they had because of the collective agreement they have with the government. I think the minister should reconsider his position. I don’t think it is fair.
The second point I would like to make under this vote is that the public service is not covered under the existing occupational health and safety legislation. Therefore the union representing public employees cannot obtain information from the Workmen’s Compensation Board regarding accidents of employees in the bargaining unit.
Can the minister tell us whether the government will instruct the Workmen’s Compensation Board to turn over to the union such information as is relevant to the worker who gets injured on the job? In fact, I’d like to point out to the minister that workers in the private sector in the same group as public employees such as those in hospitals, now have that right, although the information for the Workmen’s Compensation Board is requested through the employer.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It’s my understanding -- I’m not an expert on it -- that the Workmen’s Compensation Board doesn’t turn over medical records of a claimant to anybody except perhaps that claimant’s physician.
Mr. di Santo: I’m talking about public information related to the case, not medical records.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Again, I’m not familiar with what the Workmen’s Compensation Board policy is. I assume that the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) would be the one to ask that question of.
Mr. di Santo: Since this pertains to public employment, I think the Chairman of Management Board is responsible for this kind of information which is related to its employees. I know the Workmen’s Compensation Board is not your ministerial responsibility, but what I’m talking about is the protection of the rights of your employees. That’s why I’m asking that you, in conjunction with the Minister of Labour, or in a way you may think more advisable, ask the Workmen’s Compensation Board to extend to your employees the same rights that comparable employees in the private sector are enjoying.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I’ll inquire about this. I’m not familiar with the point that the hon. member raises, but I’ll look into it.
Mr. di Santo: I have a last point to raise. The minister is aware of an advisory committee on pension matters which was set up recently. The committee comprises representatives of the unions and representatives of non-bargaining unit civil servants. We know that the OPSEU opted out of the committee because they thought it wasn’t a worthwhile exercise. Can the minister then tell us whether the committee made recommendations and is he giving consideration to those recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I’m sorry, I’m not sure that I caught the last part of the hon. member’s question. As he is aware, the review committee consists of not only representatives from OPSEU, but also from the Ontario Provincial Police Association, the Ontario Liquor Board’s employees union, and CUPE Local 767 which represents some of the staff of the Ontario Housing Corporation.
The information I have is that about a month ago, at the most recent meeting, the OPSEU representatives indicated that since pensions aren’t negotiable they were opting out of the committee. I think it is regrettable they did that because the committee was set up to deal with the views of the various representatives of the various people in the bargaining unit, as well as the non-bargaining unit employees of whom there are a number. I am hoping they will return because we want to continue to discuss a number of matters -- even though we are discussing them and not negotiating with them.
I think the hon. member will agree that we are in a somewhat different position than most employers, inasmuch as we are not only negotiating with our employees on a number of things but we are also making some of the rules under which they must operate. I just don’t see how we could effectively negotiate pensions when we set up the Canada Pension Plan and when we legislate in that field and maybe legislating some more when we see what happens from the royal commission.
Mr. di Santo: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your comments, Mr. Minister, I realize there are other unions on that committee -- CUPE, OPPA, liquor board employees, as well as employees in the non-bargaining unions. My question was that since the OPSEU opted out then I gather that the work of this committee, at least from that point of view, was not expected to be very valuable. I don’t know at what stage the committee is right now, and I agree with you in hoping that all the unions will be at the table when they discuss such an important matter for civil servants.
Do you have at this moment any recommendation, any interim report, from the committee? If you do, have you given any consideration to what stage the committee is at now?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I am informed that there isn’t any specific interim report or recommendation from the committee. I think they still had a number of things to discuss. That is one of the reasons I am hopeful that the representatives of OPSEU will return, so that we can get on with the discussion.
Mr. di Santo: Since one of the largest unions in the public’s employment is not now taking part in the work of the committee, how do you think you can overcome the impasse? I think the OPSEU will not take part in the works of the committee from now on and the results of the committee will be jeopardized by their absence. Are you trying to get back with all the parties or are there serious obstacles you cannot overcome yourself?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think we are anxious that the one party that opted out would opt back in again and continue the discussion. In the absence of that, I suppose we would have things at a standstill and we would wait to see what transpired from the report and recommendation of the royal commission although that may be some distance away. I think that it would be preferable to go back to the discussions we were having.
Mr. di Santo: My last question; in other words you are not doing anything actively now to bring back the OPSEU representatives? You don’t think the exercise is worthwhile to bring them back, If you are doing something, what are you doing?
Hon. Mr. Auld: In the last discussion I was involved in, I believe we were going to invite them to come back again. I am not sure what has transpired since then.
Mr. Worton: The member for Essex South was requesting some information in regard to the largest separation payment that was made. What I would like to be informed about, and with your experience here you could perhaps give me a briefing on it, is the position of employees in a number of cities around the world where we have offices established for trade and communication, tourist information et cetera. I believe there are these in Germany, Italy, United States and the United Kingdom. Except for the UK, are the offices permanently staffed by civil servants? Is the only one where there is a political appointment the one in the United Kingdom or not?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think the only order-in-council appointment would be the Agent General, who is a Crown employee as opposed to a civil servant. In Ontario House and in other offices of Industry and Tourism, there are both career civil servants and local employees. The civil servants are treated in the same way there as they would be here, with the exception that there is a foreign living allowance modelled on the federal government’s rate of payments for a variety of things.
Mr. Mancini: That justifies it.
Hon. Mr. Auld: The non-civil servants, who are generally clerical and service people, are paid according to the going rates in their own countries. As far as working conditions are concerned, they are governed by local laws rather than the Public Service Act or the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act.
Mr. Warner: Does that include Ross DeGeer?
Mr. Worton: I don’t know if there has been an official announcement, but I understand there is a new appointee to Ontario House in London. I don’t know whether it has been made official in the House or whether it is just what I have read in the newspapers. For example, what type of separation is a person who has spent five or six years there entitled to, or a person in a similar office in another country, whether it be Germany, Italy or the United States? They have been away from their active participation in business or maybe profession. Is there a separation payment there?
I recall there was one gentleman that got an exceptionally large separation. I think maybe he was dismissed. I am not sure of the particulars. When a man leaves that position, what benefits is he entitled to, to come back into his own business again or to have to look for another position? Is that a responsibility he takes on as part of that job and there is nothing available for him when he comes out of the position?
Hon. Mr. Auld: It would generally depend on the conditions at the time of his or her appointment. It is an appointment by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. It sets out the salary and it may well set out living expenses and a variety of things, depending on the job. We don’t have anyone else outside the country who is a Crown employee, a Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council appointment, other than the Ontario Agent General in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Haggerty: What about the trade office in Paris, France?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I couldn’t tell you about those. Ask the Ministry of Industry and Tourism for the number of staff and how many are civil servants and how many are local and in effect contract employees, unclassified staff, who are not Canadian citizens. They are not subject, as I say, to the Public Service Act or the Crown Employee Collective Bargaining Act. They would be subject to whatever labour laws and rules there are --
Mr. Haggerty: They usually have large severances.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Are you speaking in the planning sense?
Mr. Haggerty: Normally when they are appointed --
Hon. Mr. Auld: No, if the rules are that they have to give somebody 30 days’ notice, that’s what they would receive. If there were some suggestion that they should receive something other than is normal in their country, it would have to be authorized, I assume, by a deputy minister and, if it was unusual, by Management Board. I don’t recall any for local employees.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) could tell you whether there is any particular severance pay or any obligation towards the retiring age in general. I’m not aware of anything. In most cases where Crown employees’ appointments end, they go back to some other business or retirement without a benefits that a career civil servant would have had. But in the original appointment there may well have been a provision to treat that person to some sort of an annuity or something, or a lump sum payment on retirement. It can vary with the appointment.
Mr. Worton: With your experience in dealing with these types of separation, Mr. Minister, would it be possible, rather than taking it to the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, for us to have the policies that are set down for officials who are appointed, such as Mr. Cornell -- if he has retired; I’m not sure -- or previous people?
Could we have, through your ministry, the policy that is set down for these people? In other words, I suspect the general office staff in these different offices in many countries are local people, but I suspect the key person is a person from Ontario who goes there to manage the office.
I wonder if we could have some idea of the rules they operate under as to what they are given in the way of separation pay, if this come under you. Perhaps you could give the information in your answer to the member for Essex South so we don’t have to bother each minister.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism’s estimates haven’t been debated as yet, to my knowledge, but the information should come from the minister responsible. It would be in his estimates that whatever funds are required would be found, and he or his deputy would be aware of whatever conditions apply when an appointment is originally made, because in effect it is contract employment rather than civil service.
Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Chairman, I’m not sure whether I’m in order to raise the issue of the seniority clause which I mentioned earlier. Is this the right vote or the right item to raise this particular issue?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Minister, would this be the place, or would it be item 2, staffing? This would be the place? Okay.
Mr. Lupusella: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to be brief in relation to this particular issue, not because of the importance of the issue, but because I think the whole situation should be clarified in the Legislature about the attitudinal position taken by each branch of ministries representing the government when they are dealing with civil servants.
Considering that this particular clause falls under your jurisdiction, Mr. Minister, I would like to relate a particular scenario that was brought to my attention during the time when the government was applying the so-called restraint programs in which a lot of civil servants lost their jobs. As a result of that they moved into branches of other ministries.
What I didn’t understand at that time when these civil servants got in touch with me was the particular procedure which was implemented by the government. On one side they were talking about restraint programs in which lower civil servants suffered the consequences as a result of that. On the other hand, lower civil servants applied to other ministries and they were hired. So what I understood in those days was that in some way the government used this particular issue to kill the seniority rights of the civil servants employed by the government. I was completely shocked and very surprised when those civil servants, as a result of the restraint program, moved into different branches -- not because particular ministers told them to move but just because there were vacancies created as a result of the layoffs.
We have been talking about classifications of duties in the particular ministries and the particular branches. My colleague has been raising this particular issue -- we have been talking about transfers of duties from one ministry to another, from one branch to another. We have been talking about different classifications of jobs. But I don’t understand the government’s position in relation to seniority rights of each individual civil servant. I really don’t understand that.
Even when we are talking about a particular ministry, even though we are talking about a particular branch of each ministry, when those people are reclassified, I don’t understand where seniority rights stand in relation to this transfer of a position--either to the same branch or if the civil servant is applying for a different kind of job with another ministry and they have to start the seniority all over again. I don’t understand that and I would like to raise this particular problem to the minister to have some kind of answer about the position of the government. I would like to hear you in relation to that.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, first of all, in the collective agreement between Management Board and OPSEU, on page 18, article 25 deals with seniority. It says under Length of Continuous Service: “An employee’s length of continuous service will accumulate upon completion of a probationary period of not more than one year and shall commence from” -- and it says when -- “the date on which” -- and it’s either the date of appointment to the classified service for those employees with no prior service in the Ontario public service or the date on which an employee commences a period of unbroken, full-time service in the unclassified service immediately prior to appointment to the classified service -- “unbroken service is that which is not interrupted by separation from the public service and full-time is continuous employment as set out in the hours of work scheduled for the appropriate classifications.”
Article 25(2) says: “Where an employee has been released in accordance with article 24 and rehired within two years, the period of absence shall not be computed in determining the length of continuous service. However, periods of continuous service before and after such absence shall be considered continuous and are included in determining the length of continuous service.
Article 25(3): Continuous service shall be deemed to have terminated if
“(a) an employee resigns or retires, or
“(b) an employee is dismissed unless such dismissal is reversed through the grievance procedure, or
“(c) an employee is absent without leave in excess of 10 working days, or
“(d) an employee is released in accordance with article 24 and remains released for more than two years.”
Article 24 deals with releasing an employee on account of a shortage of work or funds or the abolition of a position or other material change.
First of all, at the outset of his remarks, the hon. member said that a lot of employees had been fired. That is incorrect. My information is that 242 civil servants resigned because they were offered jobs elsewhere but were unable or not inclined to move to accept those positions. I can understand that there might well have been cases where it would mean breaking up the family. If both spouses were working in Guelph, for instance, and one was offered a job in North Bay, it’s pretty hard to commute. To my knowledge, no one separated without having being offered another job somewhere within the service.
The problems have occurred mainly, as the hon. member mentioned, in the changes as between the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Correctional Services. Specifically, they related to people with more years of service in the ministry that was transferring a function to the second ministry. The employees who were being transferred had more service than some employees with whom they were to work and were junior to in the ministry to which they had been transferred.
There has never been a provision in the Ontario public service, to my knowledge, that seniority was, in effect, service-wide. It is not a matter that is set out any more than I have mentioned in the agreement as between ministries. It is not a primary factor in promotions, for instance; as part of the agreement, we have agreed that all jobs be advertised and that the best qualified person is the one who should be selected. Sometimes that may be the person with the most seniority and sometimes it may not.
Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Chairman, if I may, I would like to reply to the minister’s statement. I don’t particularly want to dispute the number of people and civil servants involved in the issue at that time.
I agree with the second part of the minister’s statement, in relation to the Ministry of Community and Social Services; it was part of the problem, but I was making particular reference to other branches of different ministries and, in particular to some civil servants working within the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
I’m not sure about the number. I don’t want to dispute the number of civil servants who were transferred to other branches of different ministries, but I remember there was a reasonable number of civil servants who came to see me some two years ago; some of them found jobs with the Ministry of Revenue outside of the Metropolitan Toronto area, somewhere around Mississauga.
What I don’t understand is the seniority rights of individual civil servants. I don’t want to make any particular dispute, and I don’t want to interfere; I don’t even want to interfere in the bargaining process involving the union and the government because what you told me should be taken within context. I don’t want to make any particular reference in my remarks about what the union is doing and what the government is doing when it signs the contract in relation to civil servants.
Let me ask you a simple question. What about a civil servant working with a particular ministry for 10 or 15 years who is not quitting the job? Let’s pull out a hypothetical case where, in view of the restraint program applied by the government, he has to leave a particular branch and is going to find a job with another ministry where there are certain job vacancies. What are the seniority rights clauses in relation to the transfer of this civil servant from one ministry to the other one? Can I have an answer to that?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Perhaps I should read article 24, which has to do with job security. I wouldn’t want to surmise that it’s the ministry that closed the toll booth or something like that.
Article 24, which is job security, says: “Where it is proposed to release an employee by reason of shortage of work or funds or the abolition of a position or other material change in organization, the employee shall, where possible, be transferred to another vacancy or work assignment in the ministry having the same classification, or, with the consent of the employee, having a classification with a lower maximum salary as per section 5 of article 5.
Article 24(1) (2) says: “Failing placement in article 24(1) (1), the ministry shall make every reasonable attempt to arrange a transfer of the employee to a position for which he is qualified in any ministry in the same work at the same classification, or, with the consent of the employee, to a classification having a lower maximum salary as per section 5 of article 5.
Article 24(2) says: “Notice of release with copies to the Civil Service Commission and the union shall be sent to an employee who is to be released in accordance with the following: (a) two weeks’ notice if his period of employment is less than five years; (b) four weeks’ notice if his period of employment is five years or more but less than 10 years and (c) eight weeks’ notice if his period of employment is 10 years or more.”
Article 24(3) reads: “An employee shall not be released while there is an employee who is in the same classification or position or in another classification or position in which the employee has served during his current term of continuous employment, and for which he is qualified, and was employed in the same administrative district or unit, institution or other such work area in the same ministry, and who has similar qualifications and who has a shorter length of continuous service.”
Article 24(4) states: “Where an employee has had at least one year of continuous service, is released and his former position or another position for which he is qualified becomes vacant in his ministry within one year after release, notice of the vacancy should be forwarded to the employee at least 14 days prior to its being filled, and he should be appointed to the vacancy if: (a) he applies therefor within the 14 days, and (b) no other employee who has similar qualifications and a greater length of continuous service applies.”
There’s a bit about technological change and a matter being referred to the joint consultation committee.
Mr. Lupusella: If I may, I would like to make a short interjection. We are not dealing specifically with the issue of seniority. As far as I understood, what you have been reading is that if a civil servant is leaving a particular ministry or a particular branch of the ministry and is going to move into another branch of another ministry, if it falls in the same classification, then the seniority rights clause is saved, otherwise it is lost. Is that what you have been trying to say?
Mr. B. Newman: Portability of seniority.
Hon. Mr. Auld: The same or similar. What I have been trying to say is what I have read, which is part of the collective agreement. As I point out, when an employee transfers from one ministry to another, he carries his seniority with him but seniority relates to what I have read.
Mr. Lupusella: It falls in the same classification. Is there any way, for example, that your ministry is going to undertake a particular action to keep the seniority clause based on the number of years the civil servant has been working with the government? Is there any way this particular procedure will be introduced to save fully and completely the seniority rights clause, based on years?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I am a little at a loss. This is what the collective agreement says, namely, what I have read. It gives in effect the definition of seniority and how it relates to job security.
Mr. B. Newman: Seniority is portable.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I don’t propose to change this. It may well be changed in negotiations at some time, but I don’t think the hon. member expects me to say I am going to change this myself.
Mr. Lupusella: Before I complete my remarks, I don’t want to try to make any particular reference to the collective agreement because I am not aware of each particular clause which has been incorporated within the collective agreement between the union and the government, I want to be clear on that point.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, it being almost 6 of the clock, before moving that the committee report progress, may I indicate to the House the business for Tuesday?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Might I suggest we rise and that you do that when we are in the House?
On motion by Hon. Mr. Auld the committee of supply reported progress.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, may I indicate to the House the business for Tuesday as of 5 o’clock, as reported to me by the House leader (Mr. Welch). First of all, Bill 31; secondly --
Mr. Martel: Motion 9, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: This is Bill 31 standing in the name of the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson); then Bills 26 and 28 in the name of the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) and Bills 22 and 24 in the name of the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow). Tomorrow night, we’ll have Bills 49 and 50 in the name of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry).
Mr. Martel: Might I ask the acting House leader a question? It is my understanding as of 5 o’clock that the first order tomorrow would be government motion 9 in the name of the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch) on page 4 of the order paper. It was my understanding that that would be the first item called tomorrow, and then we would go to Bill 31.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, my note handed to me by the House leader five or 10 minutes ago, says: “Okay to the Liberals, the NDP and all ministers.”
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I was at the meeting and it was my understanding that the order of bills is correct, because we had some problem there, but that government motion 9, the resolution standing in the House leader’s name, was to be the first order of business tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, since both the third party House leader and I, and I assume the House leader, will be meeting at another meeting a few minutes later, perhaps we can thrash it out there.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Auld, the House adjourned at 6:03 p.m.