The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
INCREASE IN OHIP PREMIUMS
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, it remains my conviction that the fiscal plan which I detailed in my March 7 budget is appropriate and responsible in terms of the financial requirements of the government and the economic interests of Ontario. I believe that we must reduce the deficit, that we must further discipline our spending and that we must keep to our target of a balanced budget by 1981.
However, one important element of my fiscal proposals has come under serious attack. The increase in OHIP premiums is believed by members of both opposition parties to be too large. Their leaders have advised us that, without accommodation on this matter, the government will not continue to enjoy the confidence of the Legislature. It is our view that an election now would be wrong. The people of Ontario want all of us to keep working and stick to our responsibilities.
In our kind of a system, I do not believe that we will ever settle all of our differences, but I would like to outline our solution to the OHIP impasse, which I am confident will get us back to work.
If we are to honour our obligations today without mortgaging tomorrow, government must not only spend wisely but must have the courage to tax. Therefore, an acceptable solution to the impasse must ensure that the deficit does not increase. We cannot call time out in working to balance the budget.
The economic strategy of this government itself involves careful choices. However, I was and I remain convinced that it requires an increase in revenues to keep us on track. I considered many options for raising revenues. Uppermost in my mind were two objectives: a fair distribution of the burden between people and employers and the most moderate impact on the economy.
Furthermore, I could not ignore the particular problem of health financing. Health costs are immense and they are growing faster than all other direct services of the government. Nevertheless, as I have stated, there is no consensus in this Legislature that OHIP premiums should be raised to the extent originally proposed.
I still believe increasing premiums maintains a “visible link,” because it maintains that OHIP is, to a real extent, an insurance scheme, and raises essential debate about how we use it and how we run it. I acknowledge the sincerity of the opposition parties in their concern for the impact of the premium increase I proposed on those of modest incomes, without employer coverage. However, I wish they would acknowledge the facts underlying the premium system. Let’s look at some of them:
Fact 1: Better than one in every five people in Ontario receive 100 per cent free coverage;
Fact 2: Almost two million or nearly one in four people, receive free coverage or partial assistance;
Fact 3: Employers pay almost one-half of the total revenues received from premiums as a fringe benefit;
Fact 4: The premium system is made more progressive because employees pay income tax on employer-paid premiums; and
Fact 5: The proposed budget increase, expressed in percentage terms, ranged up to 37.5 per cent -- let me repeat, up to 37.5 per cent. The weighted average increase on people was 14.4 per cent.
On Wednesday, April 19, I informed the standing committee on social development of a change I was introducing to ease the burden of the OHIP premium increase. This change substantially enriches the level of premium assistance for some 220,000 people, of which 100,000 receive partial assistance for the first time. It means that a single individual with up to $6,950 of gross income, or a family of four with up to $11,128 of gross income, can have anywhere from 100 per cent to 25 per cent of their premiums subsidized. The elderly and those with low incomes automatically receive full assistance.
It is clear that my April 19 proposal did not go far enough for the committee or for a majority of the members of this Legislature. Consequently, I have asked my colleague, the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), to again alter the regulation reducing the budget increase from $6 and $12 per month for single and family subscribers, respectively, to $3 and $6 effective May 1, 1978. The assistance enrichment I announced March 7, and increased on April 19, will go ahead to improve the equity of the whole scheme. In total, I am meeting the opposition demands more than half way and lowering the percentage of insured services financed by premium revenues to 29.6 per cent. This will reduce the weighted average increase on people to 7.2 per cent.
It has been suggested that, with a budget of some $14.5 billion, it should be relatively easy to find additional savings to avoid any increase in OHIP premiums or other taxes.
Mr. Speaker, I will not go over the record again, but I assure you and this House that we are well beyond that kind of exercise. Restraint is deeply entrenched in the Ontario government and our agencies. New spending cuts cannot be absorbed without real and permanent reductions in programs or capital spending. There are no automatic or easy savings to be had simply at the stroke of a pen. Moreover, when I appeared before the committee on April 19 I said that any savings would be applied towards meeting unavoidable in-year increases in spending, to offsetting any deterioration in revenues, as well as to defray part of the cost of the sales tax cut.
My colleagues have again carefully reviewed the 1978 estimates. We have concluded that any expenditure cuts must be permanent and not just in-year savings. Accordingly, we are now announcing seven major reductions to the 1978 estimates amounting to $73 million. This will cut our total spending plan for 1978 from $14,555 million to $14,482 million. Details of these changes are provided in the attached appendix, including a freeze on replacement hiring in the Ontario public service, which goes into effect immediately.
Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and I believe that we cannot, in conscience, go further with spending cuts. Therefore, I have reluctantly decided that we must raise other taxes for the remaining $72 million of the OHIP shortfall if we are to maintain the capacity to pay our way and to moderate the inflationary bias in government.
I rejected raising personal income taxes because it would undermine the positive effects of Ontario’s retail sales tax cut, jointly financed with the government of Canada, of which our share of this boost to consumer spending is $144 million. This leaves only one other major tax, the corporations income tax, which I now propose to raise. Effective March 8, 1978, Ontario’s CIT rate will be increased to 13 per cent for large companies and 10 per cent for small businesses, generating the required $72 million in this fiscal year. My colleague, the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck), will be introducing the necessary bill today or Thursday.
These proposals keep the integrity of our fiscal plan by refinancing the full $271 million. Members must recognize, however, that the distribution of the OHIP burden has shifted: individuals will pay less, government services will be reduced and employers will pay $11 million more.
With the measures I have announced today, our fundamental economic goals and fiscal integrity remain in place. We have been able to frame a responsible and reasonable alternative because of the hard work and co-operation of my cabinet colleagues. The necessary spending cuts will be difficult, and I thank them for their understanding and common purpose.
The resolution of this issue affords us the opportunity to carry on with the business of Ontario. It demonstrates to our fellow citizens that we are serious about tackling the all-important tasks which face us in the days and months ahead.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, later today I am going to introduce for first reading a bill to amend the Judicature Act and a bill to amend the Juries Act, which together will lay the foundation for the further development and expansion of French-language services in Ontario courts.
The Judicature Act amendments qualify the existing law which provides that “writs, pleadings and proceedings in all courts shall be in the English language only.” They provide for the official designation of courts and of counties and districts in which French-speaking litigants may elect to have the right to testify in their own language and to have their evidence received and understood by the court without the intervention of an interpreter, whether that court is composed of a judge sitting alone or a judge and jury.
Although it is anticipated that such proceedings in designated areas will be bilingual, provision is made for unilingual French proceedings where circumstances warrant. Evidence given in the French language in such proceedings will be transcribed in that language for purposes of appeal. Because of the special nature and role of small claims courts, and because litigants are often unrepresented there, documents filed in those courts in designated areas may be in the French language.
Authority to prescribe bilingual court forms for use in or relating to proceedings in designated courts is included as well. Finally, the Juries Amendment Act authorizes the sheriff to prepare two jury rolls, one listing English-speaking jurors, and one listing bilingual jurors.
These are landmark measures which will add impetus to our established program of developing French-language resources and capacity in our court system. I would be remiss, therefore, if I did not acknowledge the invaluable assistance of those representatives of the bar of Quebec and of the Law Society of Upper Canada who served on our special advisory committee on French-language services in Ontario courts. They are all eminent practitioners who contributed generously of their time and talents in the deliberations of the committee which developed these proposals.
Mr. Speaker, I committed my ministry in 1975 to the development of French-language services. We began this as a pilot project in Sudbury in 1976 in the provincial court criminal division, the court that deals with 99 per cent of the criminal and quasi-criminal matters. Last year we expanded the service to the judicial district of Carleton, to the united counties of Prescott and Russell and to five communities in northeastern Ontario -- Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearst, Hornepayne and Smooth Rock Falls. With this expansion we were able to serve 66 per cent of Ontario’s population who speak French only, our citizens whose needs in this regard are, of course, the greatest.
In addition to this service in the criminal division, last fall we began the service in the provincial court family division in Sudbury. I hope to be in a position to announce a further expansion of this family division service to other areas of Ontario in a few weeks’ time.
Mr. Speaker, this program and the legislation I am introducing today is positive evidence of this government’s continuing commitment to improve services to our French-speaking citizens.
Mr. di Santo: It’s a response to Mr. Roberts’ speech.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, in relation to the minister’s [first] statement on the amendments to the Judicature Act and the Juries Act, I rise on a point of privilege or a point of order. I wonder if there is an omission in the minister’s statement on page one. When he talks about the accused’s right to testify, does that omit the question of pleadings and writs in the French language?
Mr. Speaker: I’m sure if the minister wanted to include it in his statement he would have done so. There’ll be ample opportunity during the question period to ask the minister to elaborate on that particular feature.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have a second more brief statement.
As you are perhaps aware there was an appeal launched recently by my ministry from the acquittal of two accused persons in the Emanuel Jaques murder case. The statement issued by the ministry which announced the appeal unfortunately omitted a statement which I had instructed be made at the same time, which was just prior to my visit to Israel.
This inadvertent omission, which I now wish to relate, referred to a Toronto news report, following the verdict of the jury, that certain members of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department were dissatisfied with the way the prosecution was conducted by Crown counsel.
Shortly after that report and on several occasions, I discussed the matter with Chief Harold Adamson who assured me that the police department is and was very satisfied with the manner in which the prosecution was handled by the two very experienced and able Crown counsel. I, too, have no doubt that the case was prosecuted in the highest traditions of the Crown and that the case was ably, forcefully and fairly put forward by both Mr. Rickaby and Mr. Armstrong.
The fact that Crown counsel conducted the case in such a diligent manner is evidenced by the numerous complimentary letters and comments that I have received from those in a position to know about the handling of the case. As the case is still before the courts, I feel that it would be inappropriate to say anything more about the matter, but I do want to make it perfectly clear that I am completely satisfied with the way Crown counsel handled the case, and that they conducted the prosecution in a manner that I would have expected.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Hail, Napoleon.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, will you dock all the time for applause from the time on the question period?
Where’s your enthusiasm over there?
Hon. B. Stephenson: For him?
Mr. S. Smith: I think I might be better to sit down at this point.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Nice to see you, Albert. Did they fly you in?
Mr. Roy: Nice to be here.
Mr. S. Smith: Will the Attorney General report to the House on the contents of a letter that he has supposedly received from the commanding officer of the ROMP “O” Division, as reported in the Globe and Mail of last Friday? Does the letter indicate any wrongdoing on the part of the RCMP? Were any of the 400 break-ins we have heard about in Ontario and are they referred to in that particular letter? What are the questions that the Attorney General apparently has for the commanding officer regarding these matters?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will be meeting with the commanding officer of “O” Division, Assistant Commissioner Sexsmith, within the next few days. I will be quite happy to report to the Legislature after my meeting.
My information at the present time is that none of the 400 break-ins or surreptitious entries referred to in the press did happen in Ontario. I will be able to more accurately advise the members of the Legislature after the scheduled meeting.
Mr. S. Smith: Of course, we will wait for the outcome of that meeting.
By way of supplementary, the Attorney General is quoted as saying that he had certain questions for that gentleman, Assistant Commissioner Sexsmith, and that there are still a number of matters which remain in doubt in the Attorney General’s mind, despite previous assurances that no such surreptitious entries or other illegalities occurred in Ontario. Is the Attorney General in a position to share with the House what his doubts are and what questions he intends to ask and in the present letter these questions will be based on?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, I don’t think it would be a helpful exercise at this time because I have not determined in my own mind all of the questions I intend to ask. I don’t think it would be in the public interest for me to speculate as to the questions before the time that they are in fact asked.
Mr. S. Smith: The last supplementary from myself, Mr. Speaker.
Would the Attorney General care to comment on the statements attributed to the Solicitor General of Canada who, in today’s Globe and Mail I believe, indicated that he does not expect that there will be punishment or action taken against those officers who may have disobeyed the law? Does the Attorney General wish to comment on this? Does he stick by his previous statement that there will be actions taken against any wrongdoers, be they in the police force or outside?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I must admit that I have some difficulty in understanding how the federal Solicitor General would be in position to make such speculation.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the statements by the Attorney General, have investigations begun on the part of the Ontario government through the OPP or their agencies in order to determine the extent and whether prosecutions would be justified to carry out the statement of the minister?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition a few moments ago, my information at this point in time is that none of the entries that were referred to in the press occurred in Ontario. It certainly is not within our jurisdiction to investigate entries, illegal or otherwise, in other provinces and perhaps the leader of the New Democratic Party should understand that.
In so far as the extent of any investigation is concerned we’ll await further developments before the McDonald commission. I have instructed my staff to obtain transcripts of the evidence given before the McDonald commission and we will watch the proceedings closely.
Mr. Breithaupt: After the minister has spoken with the assistant commissioner, will he enlighten the House by the making of a statement as to the results of those conversations, in which no doubt most of us are quite interested?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, I will have a further statement to make after my meeting with the assistant commissioner.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition with his second question.
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of the Environment concerning the matter of solid waste disposal in the Metropolitan Toronto area. I believe I have the minister’s attention, thank you.
The minister is undoubtedly aware of a recent Environmental Assessment Board ruling against both the landfill sites that were being considered in the area of Maple. Given the fact that the Beare Road site would no longer be accepting solid wastes after the end of this year and that Pickering is under great pressure, what is the minister’s plan with regard to dealing with the enormous problem of solid waste in the Metropolitan Toronto area? Can he tell us what percentage of solid waste is presently being recycled in Metropolitan Toronto, given the ministry’s commitment of some years ago to move to an 80 per cent recycling and 20 per cent landfill policy?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows the matter of waste disposal is still with the municipalities, even though the Robarts report did recommend that it become a provincial responsibility. As far as the Maple site is concerned we do have the recommendations of the board. We do not yet have a report from the director; that will be coming along in a few weeks. I think in Metro we are moving towards recycling, but the percentage now is probably in the order of 10 per cent. I am not exactly sure of that figure.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: I must say the figure strikes me as high, but if the minister will be good enough to table some facts and figures we would be grateful.
Can the minister tell this House what plans his ministry has with regard to this growing, very pressing problem? Is he aware that in the Metro plan the statement is made that the most significant physical services problem that requires resolution in the immediate future is refuse disposal? This is becoming something other than a joke. What is the ministry doing to make sure that we move to recycling and to make sure that Metropolitan Toronto has some way of handling its enormous solid waste problem now that Beare Road is going to be closed at the end of the year?
Mr. Breithaupt: It is all going to go to Alliston.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, to Kitchener.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows we have a plan for grants to municipalities for the construction of resource recovery plants -- 50 per cent provided by the government and the remaining 50 per cent financing, we finance the balance for the municipalities. While the member may feel that we as a government have an obligation, I suggest there is also an obligation on the municipalities and they have been a little reluctant to come forward. We would hope they would do so.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the decision of the Environmental Assessment Board on the Maple project is partly based on the assumption that resource recovery technology will be put in place instead of landfill, will the minister consider increasing the rate of grant to resource recovery plants, and also consider the possibility of raising the money for such grants from the creators of industrial waste, liquid and solid -- in this area?
Hon. Mr. McCague: We are not considering increasing the levels of assistance. As I just pointed out to the Leader of the Opposition, it is 50 per cent grant and financing for the balance. We feel that would enable municipalities to construct the plants and be competitive with the cost of establishing waste disposal sites under the kinds of conditions we are demanding at the present time. What was the second part of the question?
Ms. Bryden: Would the ministry consider financing additional grants, which haven’t worked so far at the present rate, by a levy on the creators of industrial waste in proportion to the amount of waste they create?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The matter of “the polluter pays” policy is being considered on a continual basis by the ministry. I think the hon. member is probably referring to the California system. We are looking at that, but there are no plans at this time.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, rather than increasing the grant to the municipality for the construction of a waste recovery system, would the minister consider broadening the terms of reference under which the municipality might qualify, to allow each municipality to choose the kind of technology which is most suited to that particular area and therefore give the municipality the opportunity of perhaps selecting a technology from as wide a possible base as is available now in North America?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is referring to the opposite of a front-end plant, which happens to be a back-end plant. A company has made a proposal to the Halton region but I would not want to comment on that until I have the comments of the region. When I have the comments of the region, I will be very glad to meet with both parties and have the hon. member sit in, if he so desires.
Mr. J. Reed: Thank you.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister saying that the current liquid and solid waste dilemma with which Metro is now faced rests entirely with Metro; or is the minister prepared to acknowledge that some of the responsibility resides with his ministry because of the lack of leadership that has been coming from the ministry over the years in respect to waste management and resource recovery?
Hon. Mr. McCague: We have always been very co-operative and will continue to be so.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: We have had enough supplementaries. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre with his first question.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mike; a two on the applause meter, a two winner on the applause meter.
Mr. Cassidy: I feel pretty good about that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order; order.
Mr. Cassidy: As a matter of fact, I hope the Attorney General will be coming back into his seat in a minute because there is another change of policy on the part of the government which I wanted to comment on in relation to bilingual courts.
FIRING OF UNION OFFICIAL
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question right now of the Minister of Labour; it relates to the firing of Joel Dworski, who is the chairman of the inquest committee of Local 6500 of the United Steel Workers of America at Inco up in Sudbury. I want to know if the minister is prepared to intervene to seek the reinstatement of Mr. Dworski, who was fired last Friday due to alleged unsafe mining practices shortly after calling for the removal of a provincial mining inspector, Balfour Thomas, in connection with the death of a miner at the Frood Mine.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be entirely inappropriate for the Minister of Labour to intervene in this dispute, which most certainly can be handled by the grievance system which has been established between the company and the union.
Mr. Wildman: Would you like to comment on the principle, though?
Mr. Germa: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the minister would care to comment on why her mining inspection branch interrogated this man for five hours last Thursday or Friday afternoon in relationship to this matter and prior to his being fired by Inco.
Mr. MacDonald: You are not involved, eh?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am not sure that there was any relationship at all, but I shall be pleased to explore that and report to this House.
Mr. Wildman: I thought you said you weren’t going to get involved.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Is the ministry in fact collaborating with Inco in order to get Mr. Dworski fired, or is the ministry prepared --
An hon. member: That’s silly.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s the most ridiculous statement that has been made in this House this week.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Better resign, Michael.
Mr. Roy: Bette, it is only Tuesday.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that the minister finally spoke up in relation to the rights of the workers at Fleck after six or seven weeks of saying nothing, is she prepared to speak up --
Mr. Warner: The only time you’ve ever spoken up.
Mr. Cassidy: -- on behalf of the rights of a worker who was defending fellow workers in the Frood Mine?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as a result of all the background noise provided by the hon. leader of the third party’s colleagues I did not hear the question.
Mr. Cassidy: Then I will repeat it, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that after seven weeks of the labour dispute at Fleck Manufacturing the Minister of Labour finally came out and said that she thought the women who were on strike there were justified in seeking union security, is she prepared to speak out publicly as well and say that the rights of Joel Dworski should be protected in view of his efforts to protect workers in the Frood Mine?
Mr. di Santo: You should be ashamed.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I do not have any feeling at all --
Mr. Warner: Offer an apology.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- that I have not acted on behalf of the rights of the workers in terms of occupational health and safety throughout the length and breadth of this province. I shall continue to do so.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I have simply said that there is a recognized mechanism established for dealing with such situations as this and it should be allowed to operate.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the hon. member for Sudbury.
Mr. Germa: Is it not a fact that this man is causing extreme embarrassment to this ministry as a result of identifying weaknesses within the minister’s inspection branch; and would it not be to the minister’s benefit to get this man removed from his post?
Mr. Lewis: That’s right.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There is one simple answer to that question. The answer is no.
Mr. Germa: Why don’t you fire Balfour Thomas then?
Mr. Rotenberg: We’ll fire you.
Mr. MacDonald: You are neutral, but the question is who are you neutral against?
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Attorney General, who made a statement on amendments to the Judicature Act and the Juries Act. I would like to say, first, a word of welcome for this particular piece of legislation which has been sought by New Democrats since 1971 or long before.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I’ll buy that. You have been searching for years.
An hon. member: Another victory.
Mr. Lewis: Have you no shame? Do you do everything we recommend? Everything?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Why couldn’t you get it done? A fallen leader, a has-been.
Mr. Lewis: We dispatch and you distort.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. Rotenberg: You’re going to strain your shoulder, patting yourself on the back.
Mr. Cassidy: I would like to ask the Attorney General which additional areas of the province the government intends to declare as bilingual areas in relation to the Judicature Act and the Juries Act, in order that people may be able to have their court proceedings in French as well as in English.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There has been no decision yet as to what the designated areas will be.
Mr. Bounsall: Another seven years.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Will the minister at least confirm that the areas where bilingual courts are now being provided will be designated bilingual, so we do not go backwards in terms of the provision of bilingual services?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think that’s a probability.
Mr. Bounsall: What? Going backwards?
Mr. Warner: He should move back to the Maple Leaf Gardens, he was doing better there.
Mr. Roy: I, too, welcome the statement of the Attorney General. I’m surprised that the NDP didn’t say they were advocating this as far back as Cartier.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You have been asking for it since 1969.
Mr. Roy: The question to the Attorney General is this: Is this a simple omission in his statement or is it frankly what he means to say, that in his amendment to the Judicature Act, section 127, what he is going to allow is that the proceedings be either in French or bilingual, but he is not going to allow writs and pleadings to be either bilingual or in French? Is that the Attorney General’s intention?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: So far as pleadings are concerned, not at this time. I might say that in arriving at a decision we had the input of several francophone lawyers from Ontario who have experience in the courts. They were of the view that this could cause a lot of unnecessary controversy at this point in time.
For example, in view of the fact that probably close to 95 per cent of the lawyers practising in Ontario do not have a great deal of facility in the French language, to require or permit pleadings in French to be delivered between the firms would, as I mentioned a moment ago, likely cause a great deal of needless controversy, because the substantive right -- and this is the view of francophone lawyers whom we consulted about the province -- is in relation to the actual hearing, the giving of evidence and the ability of the tribunal to understand the French language.
It was felt, for example, that if law firms which are not now equipped with translation services were going to have to wrestle with this added dimension at this point in time, there was a danger of creating an unfavourable reaction to what we think is a very progressive step in the province. This was felt, particularly as the requirement of French pleadings, or the ability to exchange pleadings in French, really did not relate to what was considered to be the substantive rights of the people who were appearing before the courts. This is excluding small claims courts, where people do often appear by themselves. It’s very rare, as the hon. member for Ottawa East knows, for litigants to be preparing and delivering pleadings in other courts. So this was a conscious decision that was reached on the advice of our advisory committee.
Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary: Is the minister prepared to assure the House that in those areas of the province that are not designated bilingual, provision will be made that, where occasion warrants, there can be a travelling court that will allow defendants or people who are involved in court proceedings to have bilingual court proceedings where they will be able to testify in French without the intervention of interpreters?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That suggestion is not encompassed by the legislation which we’re introducing. I should point out that the federal government, by Bill C-42, has introduced legislation which will apply to criminal proceedings which, when passed, will give the right to accused persons to be heard by bilingual tribunals regardless of where the offence takes place, although it contemplates the change of venue for trial. At the present time, what we are trying to accomplish with respect to bilingual trials will be restricted to the districts that are designated as bilingual districts.
Mr. Roy: I have a supplementary. In regard to the leader of the NDP’s question, could the litigant who wanted to testify in French not elect to have a trial in a designated area? I wonder if the Attorney General could give that some consideration?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In civil or criminal proceedings, or both?
Mr. Roy: In both. I’m answering the Attorney General’s question now, Mr. Speaker.
If I might ask a further supplementary, would litigants before the courts be allowed to testify either bilingually or in French in proceedings such as preliminary hearings, discoveries and things of that nature under his legislation?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Of course. The individual litigants have always, to my knowledge, been permitted to testify or give evidence in French.
Mr. Roy: Through interpreters. The Attorney General knows what I mean.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In many cases, obviously, it has usually necessitated the use of interpretation service. I just want to repeat that so far as the criminal law is concerned, the federal Parliament is addressing its collective wisdom to the problem with respect to the introduction of Bill C-42.
In relation to civil matters, there are many considerations. For example, obviously, if there is a French-speaking litigant on one side and an English-speaking litigant on the other side, how does one decide where to hear that trial? Do we make a decision favouring one or the other? I think the member for Ottawa East can appreciate the enormous practical difficulties in civil litigation.
Certainly, in so far as the criminal justice system is concerned, there are going to be a number of practical problems in respect to the implementation of Bill C-42. While we don’t state that this legislation we’re introducing today is a final answer or the final response to French-language rights in the courts, we do believe that this goes a very long way to meet the needs of our Franco-Ontarian citizens.
Mr. Roy: Agreed. We’re just trying to make it better, we’re trying to help the minister.
Mr. Speaker: Before I recognize the hon. member for Nipissing, I would like to call the attention of hon. members that in our gallery we have Mr. Alan Reece, chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission and the present chairman of the Integrity Review Commission, along with his colleagues, the Hon. Karl de la Bastide, Dr. Stephen Moosai-Maharaj and Mr. Leo Seebaran, from Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. Bolan: My question is of the Minister of the Environment: Last Wednesday the district court in Sudbury, when overruling a decision of the Environmental Appeal Board, held that the director of waste management branch was not empowered to order the Crown and the Canadian Pacific Railway, on whose right of way an oil spill had taken place as a result of a derailment near Onaping Falls in the Sudbury district, to clean up some 1,000 gallons of transformer oil which contained PCBs. As the result of the district court’s decision to overrule the Environmental Appeal Board, what proposals does the minister have in mind to deal with similar situations should they rise again?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, as a result of that decision, we have some work to do within the ministry to have a contingency plan for situations such as that. I will report to the member at a later date.
Mr. Bolan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does the minister not feel that in such situations, instead of proceeding under section 42, or bringing about changes under section 42, that the matters can be better handled if he proceeds under section 17 which empowers the minister to intercede and to authorize the cleanup of the spill, rather than put himself in the position of having the director try to make recommendations or appointments, which according to the district court judge, he does not have the right to do?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I will take that under consideration, Mr. Speaker.
ABSENCE OF TREASURER
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wanted to ask a question of the Treasurer and for the second or third day in a row be disappears right in the middle of the question period.
Mr. Breaugh: He is a little squeamish.
Hon. Mr. Welch: He will be back.
Mr. MacDonald: The Treasurer will be back? Well he’s not here now.
Mr. Nixon: That is not a point of order.
Mr. MacDonald: Can you intercede on his behalf?
Mr. Roy: Give him a break. It has been a bad day for him.
FIRESTONE TIRE HAZARD
Mr. Swart: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Is he aware that there are serious allegations in the United States that the Firestone steel-belted Radial 500 tire has been the cause of serious accidents because of blowouts and distortions of the tire, and that the Firestone company there has even stopped a survey relative to this tire? Is the minister also aware that problems of the same type exist in this province, and that a Mr. Edward Hay of Niagara Falls had four tires on a new car go distorted in the first 20,000 miles? If he is aware of this has he done any investigation about it?
Mr. Kerrio: Who’s looking after your people in Welland?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The answer to all three questions is no.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary then: Will the minister investigate this matter, because there are apparently reasons to suspect that there are real faults in this tire and that the federal Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs is also concerned about it?
Mr. Breithaupt: It sounds like a lot of hot air.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Well indeed they should be concerned about it, because, of course, it more properly falls within the federal jurisdiction than ours, as the member is surely aware. However, I will bring to their attention Mr. Hays’ problem and the problem the member has raised to see how they respond.
LUNC CANCER CASES
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, during question period yesterday, a charge was included in one of the questions by some of the hon. members opposite -- which was a reflection of what had appeared in the press -- that the Workmen’s Compensation Board had in its possession a secret document from Eldorado Nuclear Limited upon which the board had formed the basis to reject a lung cancer claim on behalf of a former Eldorado employee, Mr. Ronald Hills.
Mr. Speaker, this is not entirely factual.
Mr. McClellan: Only partially.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The board does have a document from Eldorado, detailing the work history and the exposure to radiation suffered by Mr. Hills. This document was presented to the Workmen’s Compensation Board on December 7, 1977, and was reviewed at a meeting at that time by officials of the Eldorado company, a member of the University of Toronto medical school teaching staff, representatives of the radiation protection branch of the federal Department of National Health and Welfare, a representative of the Ontario Ministry of Health, a representative of the occupational health and safety division of the Ministry of Labour, and a representative of the medical and claims division of the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Lewis: Who was there for the union?
Mr. Warner: Who was the worker’s representative?
Hon. B. Stephenson: A summary of information relevant to the work experience of Mr. Hills --
Mr. Lewis: Sure, we know your summaries.
Mr. McClellan: Summaries aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- from this Eldorado document was included in the development of a claim file in the Hills case, but the document itself was not placed on that file because it included a great deal of information about other workers at Eldorado.
I should point out that in such cases the procedure in setting up a claim file includes preparing a summary of the reports on radiation exposure and other engineering data. This summary is placed in the claim file and the original document, in this case the report prepared by Eldorado, is maintained in files held by the board’s senior medical staff. In the event of an appeal such a document is readily available for the parties involved in the case, or their representatives, and is produced on request.
I would point out that the registrar of appeals, who is the avenue to such information at the board, has received no formal request from any party to look at the document in question. I would also stress that the material from Eldorado was checked independently by board staff. They visited Port Hope, they visited Eldorado --
Mr. Martel: A real Dracula.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and confirmed Mr. Hills’ work history with Mr. Hills’ fellow workers --
Mr. McClellan: No request to see the secret document.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and with others within the plant. There is no doubt in my mind that the handling of the data from Eldorado conforms completely with the established procedure which has been used for years by the Workmen’s Compensation Board. The board has not hidden this document, nor has any board official removed the document from any file.
Mr. Lewis: How do you request it if no one knows of its existence?
Mr. McClellan: How do you go about requesting a secret document?
Hon. B. Stephenson: This document is in the files of the senior medical staff at the board in the same place and under the same restrictions as those which are applied to any other document of this nature.
Mr. Cassidy: Make it available.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It will be made available to any and all parties directly involved in an appeal --
Mr. McClellan: Yes, now that they know it exists.
Mr. Lewis: Now that we know about it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- on this matter, in the same way that other information about other cases brought before the appeals board is available.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary; if I may, Mr. Speaker, a two-fold supplementary: Number one, can the minister indicate to us, perhaps on some future occasion, exactly what reference was made in the file to the secret or the private document which she described; and secondly, I want the minister to go back and look at --
Hon. B. Stephenson: In the file?
Mr. Lewis: Yes, in the worker’s file. What reference was made to the document that the minister now talks of? Secondly, I want her to go back and look at her words this afternoon very carefully. Does the minister realize that by making a value judgment on the quality of the board’s scrutiny of the material, which they looked at in private with Eldorado without any representative of the worker present, she is making it extremely difficult for that appeal to be successful? The minister should stop being so partisan on behalf of the board.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The information on the file regarding the worker’s work experience is drawn directly from the information provided by Eldorado. It is also, as I said, checked out completely with the fellow workers of that individual in the plant in order to confirm that the estimate and the computation established --
Mr. McClellan: You’re hopeless; absolutely hopeless.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- in that committee is indeed as accurate as it can be.
Mr. Lewis: Oh Jesus; you are arguing the board’s case.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would remind the hon. member that it was not just members of the Workmen’s Compensation Board medical services staff, nor of the claims division, and Eldorado --
Mr. McClellan: You are the employer’s adviser you know.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- who held the meeting to examine all of these details. It did include others -- representatives from the radiation branch of the federal Department of National Health and Welfare, representatives of the University of Toronto medical school, representatives of the Ministry of Health of the province of Ontario --
Mr. Lewis: Everybody but a representative of the worker.
Mrs. Campbell: What about the union?
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and of the occupational health and safety branch of the Ministry of Labour.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: On March 28, the hon. member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) asked a question concerning the confidentiality of criminal files and records maintained by police. The hon. member made reference to a situation in Ottawa involving a private investigation firm, Universal Investigation Services, and the alleged sale of police information to private companies considering employment applicants.
I now have a report on the investigation of this matter. The report indicates that the Hudson’s Bay Company in the Ottawa area screens job applicants who will be employed in sensitive areas and that Universal Investigation Services is retained to assist in this process. As part of its screening process, the Universal Investigation Services has obtained information from the Ottawa Police Force. The police force has supplied the information verbally and no moneys were paid to police personnel. The persons supplying the information apparently felt that they had some obligation to assist the prospective employer in assessing an applicant, who would be performing security work or other sensitive work.
The report also indicates that the Ottawa police force did not supply any information concerning offences committed by juveniles.
While the police personnel were not prompted to pass on information by any improper motive, I must confirm my comment of March 28, 1978, that it is improper to pass police information to private agencies as was done in this case. I am asking the Ontario Police Commission to take steps to terminate this practice any place that it exists.
Mr. Roy: Having asked the question on March 28, Mr. Speaker, could I ask a supplementary? In view of his statement here today, would the minister advise whether he has investigated, and whether he is satisfied, first of all, that in the Ottawa area that information did not emanate from any other police force but the Ottawa police department? Secondly, is he satisfied that this type of practice was limited to the Ottawa area and was not going on across the province?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The investigation of this matter did not indicate to me that there were any personnel of any other police force other than the Ottawa police force involved. It was civilian personnel, as the hon. member may know, rather than police constables. We issued a directive some time ago from the Ontario Police Commission indicating that this type of information was strictly confidential. As the hon. member knows, the Police Act itself would apply in circumstances like this; therefore we would assume that other police forces are not carrying out this type of practice.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier. I wonder if the Premier would be kind enough to accept, compliments of Smith and Stone Limited of Georgetown, these four Canadian-made electrical connectors? Would he be good enough to give one to the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) and ask her to contact the Construction Safety Association with a view to changing their safety advertising campaign and stop using an American connector and use one of these? Would he give one to the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) to let him know that this is being made in Canada? And perhaps he would give one to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz) so that he would know what an electrical connector looks like.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would ask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether it is appropriate for a member of the House to accept a gift of this nature. If it is proper to accept it, as I said to the hon. member in those very contentious discussions late yesterday afternoon, I would be delighted to receive it. I’m very familiar with Smith and Stone, and perhaps for as long as he has been. I’m not sure exactly how I use this; he might give me some indication; but perhaps on some other occasion, not necessarily this afternoon.
Mr. J. Reed: We can help you with that.
An hon. member: We can give you a demonstration later.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Here it is. It’s marked, “Dead Front Caps.” That’s very appropriate coming from the hon. member. I now understand why he wanted to give it to me.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What does it do?
Mr. J. Reed: Plug it in and you’ll find out
HANOVER AND ANNEXATION
Mr. MacDonald: A question of the Treasurer: Recently the OMB turned down a request of the town of Hanover to annex 200 acres of prime agricultural land and directed that 200 acres to the north of the town, which is not agriculturally productive and is partially developed, should be annexed instead.
My question to the Treasurer is this: Since the OMB was implementing government policy to protect agricultural land and redirect development on to less productive land, why has he intervened and asked that the OMB should rehear this case? Secondly, why in so doing has he engaged in the unprecedented move of directing which members of the OMB should hear the second case?
Some hon. members: Shame.
Mr. Breaugh: The Treasurer should have quit this morning.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge the second part of the question is completely wrong. The question about the reasons for the decision made by the government to ask for a rehearing or to direct a rehearing should be directed to the chairman of the legislation committee of cabinet, who is the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson).
Mr. MacDonald: May I so redirect it, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. W. Newman: He’s not here.
Mr. Warner: We all know who runs the OMB.
Mr. MacDonald: By way of supplementary to the Treasurer since Farm and Country, normally a very authoritative magazine, --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh?
Mr. MacDonald: -- states specifically, “It also directed what members of the OMB should sit on the new hearings,” would the Treasurer inquire to find out whether the government didn’t engage in that unprecedented direction?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: He said no.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’m sure that we didn’t. The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is the minister responsible for the Ontario Municipal Board.
Mr. Warner: Put him on the hook.
Mr. McClellan: He is incriminating everybody.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would think he would be aware, and he is mumbling sotto voce that it is not correct.
Mr. Foulds: Three of you are in the soup over this.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am a great respecter of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, but there used to be articles written in that journal by one Gordon Hill which I never thought were always as truthful as they might have been.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Didn’t the Treasurer --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. MacDonald: -- think they were in order until Mr. Hill decided --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. MacDonald: -- to run for the New Democratic Party?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s true.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Grey with a supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s controversial, Donald.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary to the Treasurer: Would the Treasurer agree it is time in Ontario that we came up with a plan for agricultural land so we won’t have to have appeal after appeal every time a municipality gets into thinking about annexation or somebody gets into thinking about where he should dump his garbage? Doesn’t he think we should have a plan so we know exactly what farm land is to be used for?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s a very wide-ranging question, but to say we are going to plan every last acre of this province, my answer would be no.
Mrs. Campbell: Just start with a few.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Not even in the Escarpment.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary to the Treasurer: If the cabinet didn’t appoint the hearing officers for the rehearing, could the Treasurer explain why, on the notice of rehearing, the board members were named specifically? If the cabinet didn’t appoint or name the hearing officers, who did?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The chairman of the Municipal Board, presumably.
Mr. MacDonald: We will cheek that out.
PROVINCIAL SCHOOLS TRANSFERS
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, last week the hon. member for Port Arthur asked me some questions about the Children’s Psychiatric Research Institute in London. I just wanted to tell him that some discussions have taken place between my ministry and the London Board of Education regarding the educational component of the Children’s Psychiatric Research Institute and between our ministry and also the Kent County Board of Education regarding the educational component of the southwestern regional centre.
In each case, I want to point out that ministry officials discussed the matters with the teachers at the centres and their federation immediately following initial discussions with the representative boards. This, I am told, is consistent with the collective agreement we have with the federation.
However, I must also say that there appears to have been some misunderstanding that has arisen. Also, there have been some real concerns expressed to me about these proposed transfers. I’ve looked at them and I’ve decided these concerns are such that we’re not going to proceed with any more talks with the London and Kent county boards at this present time, pending further study of the whole matter. So, in effect, any talks that were going on concerning that matter have been suspended.
Mr. Foulds: May I ask a supplementary on that question, Mr. Speaker? Can the minister give us the assurance that if he is discussing the transfer of facilities in other areas or with other boards, not only the letter of the collective agreement with which his ministry has complied will be lived up to, but a more generous spirit will be lived up to, in that if this transfer is to go smoothly it is far better to discuss that with the employees and their federation in advance, or perhaps coincidentally with boards and the other agencies involved?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, that has already been done. I have indicated that not only the letter but also the spirit of any collective agreement should be adhered to in any discussions that go on in this matter between our provincial school teachers and any local boards concerning switching of responsibilities. That will take place.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me further answer a question raised by the hon. member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis) regarding the education department at Surrey Place Centre.
I would like to say that we have reviewed and carefully reconsidered this whole matter. In view of the many recent concerns that have been expressed in responding to the needs for services by parents and agencies located in the catchment area of the Surrey Place Centre, I have decided to maintain the educational services at the Surrey Place Centre itself rather than providing the service from the Thistletown Centre, as was originally contemplated.
I am asking, however, that an independent review of the service be made for the purpose of bringing forward recommendations regarding the nature and dimensions of the educational program required there for the future.
During the past few years there has been an improvement in consultative services provided by school boards and it is our intention to support this expertise as it, of course, continues to develop. When this service has been sufficiently developed by the boards in Metropolitan Toronto and the recommendations of the study that I have just referred to have been received, we will consider any changes or modifications that may be necessary in the educational services provided at Surrey Place.
I know the members of the House will support our attempts to ensure that an efficient and effective educational service will continue to meet the needs of retarded children who are referred to the Surrey Place Centre. That, of course, is our intention.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Once again, in terms of the independent study the minister has outlined, could he ensure that the parents and the teachers involved will be consulted while that report is being drafted and studied?
Hon. Mr. Wells: That has already been contemplated in the study that will be done.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: Will the minister also try to identify in his study the value of outside or independent assessments for children with severe learning disabilities apart from the school, as are now being given at Surrey Place?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not sure how that relates to what I have just indicated, but I will certainly look into that. I don’t know how it relates to the matter that I just referred to, about how the service is going to remain there.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I have a question for the Attorney General about hockey violence. Has he given any direction to the law officers of the Crown or has he had any personal conversations with anyone relating to the NHL regarding the latest Stanley Cup playoffs and what has, in fact, happened there, culminating in one player being out with an eye injury for the rest of the season?
Mr. Deans: That had nothing to do with violence, Pat, and you know it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t issued any instruction to the law officers of the Crown. An understanding was reached with the Metropolitan Toronto police department at the beginning of the 1975-76 season that it would be in the public interest to monitor the games, particularly at Maple Leaf Gardens, where there had been some very unfortunate incidents in the past. To my knowledge, the Metropolitan Toronto police are still monitoring these games.
If, in the opinion of experienced police officers, there appears to be a clear breach -- I emphasize the word clear because of the obvious difficulty in making this determination in a game that is played at high speed with a lot of bodily contact -- of the Criminal Code then they will lay charges. I am confident that the local police department is quite capable of carrying out its responsibilities in that regard without any additional advice or instruction from me.
Mr. T. P. Reid: By way of supplementary, I realize the Salming incident was an accident, but in view of what is going on in the playoffs, does the minister not find it somewhat of an anomaly that the government should be concerned about censorship of movies, set up a $2.2 million royal commission on violence on television, and yet allow these kinds of things to be shown on television and take place in the hockey rinks in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t know the extent to which these matters are related, Mr. Speaker. I have expressed my concern on a number of occasions with respect to outbursts of mindless violence, whether it occurs in the hockey arena or any other sector of the community --
Mr. Foulds: Bring hockey under the Ontario censorship board.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and I will continue to express my concerns in this area. Obviously professional hockey players have a responsibility in view of what they must know to be their continuing influence over the young people of the country, and I am confident that most professional hockey players will act responsibly.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Resign, David.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I was beginning to feel as though I was working on an elevator.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: A short elevator.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You don’t look as if you were.
Mr. Warner: I have a question of the Minister of --
An hon. member: Just a short one.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We thought you were a yoyo.
Mr. Warner: To the Minister of Industry and Tourism, I am standing up.
SCARBOROUGH CENTENARY HOSPITAL
Mr. Warner: I have a question of the Minister of Labour and she may require the help of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). Since Scarborough Centenary Hospital appears unwilling to ensure safe working conditions for all of its employees, and since the hospital apparently refuses to co-operate with the Metropolitan Toronto police force who are attempting to investigate the beating of a hospital worker by a patient and two visitors, will the minister ensure that Scarborough Centenary Hospital will co-operate with the police and the worker involved so that charges can be laid in this very serious matter?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It has been my experience that those responsible for the administration of hospitals throughout this province have demonstrated a very responsible attitude in all matters related to public safety and the safety of their staff.
Mr. Martel: Except Michael Starr.
Mr. di Santo: That’s not the question.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I shall be pleased to discuss this with my colleague the Minister of Health and provide whatever assistance I can.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I believe there is a role for the Minister of Health to play in this and I would appreciate the co-operation of both ministers. Since the source of the problem is unsafe working conditions, and the management of the hospital does not want to co-operate with CUPE Local 1320, what will the minister do to ensure that a properly constituted occupational safety and health committee is set up and can function properly?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It would appear from the question posed by the hon. member that the unsafe work condition is a violent temper on the part of a patient and two of the visitors to that patient, and I am not absolutely sure that an occupational health and safety committee could solve those problems. But I will investigate it and I shall be happy to do what I can to assist in that area.
Mr. Roy: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I wonder if the minister could advise whether he has responded to an Ottawa lawyer who has made a complaint to the minister involving the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa. The lawyer was involved in a situation where he was clearly on record for a juvenile client -- a client for whom the Children’s Aid were trying to get an order of Crown wardship -- and after he was clearly on record and known to be representing this client, the officers of the Children’s Aid Society had a meeting with this juvenile without advising the lawyer. Has the minister responded to that or is he aware of the fact that this is apparently the practice whereby the Children’s Aid Society have meetings and discussions with juvenile offenders or people before the courts at a time when they are represented by counsel and their counsel is not invited?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do recall receiving a letter. Whether or not it is the specific one to which the hon. member refers I cannot be certain. But to the best of my recollection I have not yet responded to that letter, although it is my intention to do so.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the letter addressed to the minister was dated February 7 and there is a very important principle here -- the duty of adults to respect the rights of juveniles, just as we should respect the rights of adults -- does the minister not feel that as a matter of policy he should make a statement discouraging this type of practice? Does he not feel he should advise Children’s Aid Societies across the province that they respect the rights of juveniles just as we expect our other courts to respect the rights of adults?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, I don’t disagree with what the hon. member is suggesting. But with respect to the specific response, I hope he would understand that, prior to acting entirely on a letter I might suggest some prior investigation before a response is not only prudent but the responsible thing to do. That is the process in which I am presently engaged.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Energy. Is the minister aware that in the town of Oba, Ontario, on the CN-ACR junction in northern Algoma where Hydro recently installed generators to provide a reliable source of electricity for the homes in the community, the CN houses in the community are being charged the commercial rate, rather than the residential rate? If he is aware of that, could he explain the reason for it and why these people living in those homes are having to pay substantially higher than they would normally have to pay in other parts of rural Ontario for residences?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Yes, I have heard of this incident. We are looking into it and we will get a full report on it in due course.
An hon. member: When?
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: Could the minister indicate if Hydro is prepared, since these small communities under the northern program are being subsidized, to subsidize to a level where the rate would be in line with other residences in rural Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: There are a number of possibilities that we are looking at.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CORPORATIONS TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved first reading of Bill 68, An Act to amend the Corporations Tax Act, 1972.
Mr. Kerrio: Why don’t you share the wealth?
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, this bill is consistent with the remarks made by the Treasurer earlier today.
RACING COMMISSION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved first reading of Bill 69, An Act to amend the Racing Commission Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, perhaps a short introduction would be appropriate at this time.
One of the problems we are dealing with in this amendment is the situation created by the number of hearings the commission has been handling. It has doubled in the last four years. This creates a problem because a majority of the seven-member commission is now required to sit on each hearing or appeal. Therefore, the amendment changes the necessary quorum from four to three, one of whom must be the chairman or vice-chairman. Obviously, the immediate effect is to allow two hearings to be conducted simultaneously.
Secondly, the amendment would validate a procedure which the commission has been following and which has recently been challenged. That procedure emanates out of the fact that the Racing Commission each year adopts the rules and regulations of the Canadian Trotting Association for harness racing in the province as long as they are not inconsistent with the commission’s own policies and rules. Some of the rules adopted confer discretionary and quasi-judicial powers on the Canadian Trotting Association and its officials, and the commission’s right to adopt such rules has been questioned.
To clarify these matters, the amendment substantiates the commission’s power to delegate responsibility to other recognized government bodies of racing. It also validates the present practice requiring persons not satisfied by decisions of judges, stewards or other officials to appeal first to an appeal board set up by a recognized governing body of racing before appealing to the commission.
Finally, the intent of the legislation is to ease the work load of the commission and the senior administrative staff to allow for the implementation of new strategy.
JUDICATURE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 71, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
Motion agreed to.
JURIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 72, An Act to amend the Juries Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
NURSING HOMES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Cooke moved first reading of Bill 73, An Act to amend the Nursing Homes Act, 1972.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to require all nursing homes licensed under the Nursing Homes Act, 1972, to be incorporated as charitable, non-profit corporations. When the bill is enacted, the director shall refuse to issue a licence to an applicant unless the applicant is incorporated as a charitable corporation under the Corporations Act. On or after January 1, 1978, the director will refuse to renew a licence if the applicant for the licence is not a charitable corporation incorporated under that Act.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before calling the orders of the day, perhaps I should indicate that by agreement we are going to call the 19th order at 5 o’clock. This is as a result of the request from the New Democratic Party to give some consideration to matters related to that particular report. In the meantime, we will go to some legislation. Perhaps we might call the 17th order now, which is the report of the procedural affairs committee and which has been standing by for some time, subject to some amendment which the chairman wants to make to that report.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the April 6 report of the standing procedural affairs committee.
Mr. Breaugh: After some consultation with members on the committee, we have decided to insert the words which were included in the debate during the course of the committee but did not make it in the former recommendation.
Mr. Breaugh moved that the second recommendation of the April 6 report of the standing procedural affairs committee be amended by adding: “subject to the approval of the Board of Internal Economy.”
Mr. Breaugh: That has agreement on all sides.
Mr. Nixon: I know there are many important things that will be concerning us later in the afternoon, but I did want to say a few words about the report.
I am stating a personal opinion only, sir. While I like to see every dignity attend you and your office, I have felt for a long time that anything artificially associated with that dignity is sometimes hardly worth the effort. I am referring to one of the recommendations that would see your presence, sir, leave the office and come into this chamber and preside over prayers by means of a procession.
I’ve got no objection to that really, but I simply want to bring to your attention, and to that of anyone else who might be interested, that I feel the dignity of the office resides essentially in the man. I personally am not terribly enamoured of Mr. Speaker’s procession. I feel the same way toward that as to Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor, coming from the Royal York to these buildings in a landau we rent from E. P. Taylor. It’s all great but the traditions here are somewhat different to what they have been in other jurisdictions.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think we rented that.
Mr. Nixon: We should be careful that we do not try to paint dignity into something which is inherently dignified. Anything other than that is somewhat a little bit unacceptable.
There is just one other matter in that report that concerns me, that is, that I believe very strongly that the committee should be provided with staff. The motion by the Legislature has given to them the responsibility to review agencies, boards and commissions of the Legislature. This could be more than a full-time job. They could start now with a huge complement of staff and very hard-working members of the committee which, it goes without saying, they are and they couldn’t get 10 per cent of the way through that list if they met every day of the year.
The thing that really concerns me is that while we are hiring staff for the chairman of that committee and the committee members to undertake a review of the agencies, boards and commissions, at the same time the Premier has established some select group headed by the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Wiseman) to do the same blooming thing. This concerns me, frankly, as a duplication of effort. Personally, as a member of the opposition, I am somewhat offended that the Premier has not got sufficient confidence in the committee that was established by the House to undertake that very review.
For him to set up some sort of a backroom group of politicos to look over who might be dismissed or whose services might be discontinued doesn’t strike me as any kind of a healthy and democratic way to approach a problem that has been growing in this jurisdiction for 35 years and maybe longer. The problem as I see it is a certain lack of confidence by the Premier and by the government in the activities of the committee.
There’s another side to the story, because this committee may in fact become very busy indeed. It replaces the old privileges and elections committee and no one can predict how often something of grave importance may be referred to it from this House, in which case the committee would have to put aside their tremendous duties in reviewing the efficacy and efficiency of the agencies, boards and commissions and deal with matters that we in this House would want them to consider on a priority basis.
One of the things that must concern us all is that we are still operating in this House under what you might call temporary or interim rules. Somebody is going to have to review those rules. I mean, we can all do it individually but that committee is obviously where it’s going to have to happen. I have the greatest faith in the hon. member for Oshawa. I have seen him at work on committees before and I know how diligent he is --
An hon. member: You are stretching a point.
An hon. member: Careful.
Mr. Peterson: Did Hansard make note of sarcasm?
Mr. Nixon: -- and I don’t see really how he is going to do all of the things in that committee that we in this House would like to have done.
Frankly, I am very much concerned at the duplication of the review of the agencies, boards and commissions. I resent the fact that the Premier would undertake to set up some sort of an ad hoc bunch of politicos to review this on another basis, which I don’t think is a healthy approach, almost with the idea that it can’t be done effectively by this committee and if he wants something done, he’s got to have the good old Minister without Portfolio leave the shoe store and give it the kind of review that it should have.
Mr. Breaugh: You aren’t going to leave the store, are you, Doug?
Mr. Nixon: I lost simply don’t buy that alternative. I am also concerned that we are going to come to the end of this session and come into another one, assuming that an election is not called tomorrow or next week or next month, and we will not have thoroughly reviewed our provisional roles. I, for one, feel that they really do require a thorough review.
I just wanted to put that to you, Mr. Speaker, not that I am intending to oppose the motion but I feel that there are ramifications in it which we ought to keep in our minds.
Mr. Ruston: Old campaign managers never die. They just go to the provincial senate.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the report, as amended, be adopted?
Motion agreed to.
ONTARIO LOAN ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved second reading of Bill 24, An Act to authorize the raising of money on the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I might just say one or two things and I will send over some notes to the critics.
On April 3 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) asked a question as to why it was necessary to increase the reserves. There are two pages of notes which would indicate why. There is also a short answer. The reduction in the reserves for the last two years is roughly the amount for which we seek to increase the reserves this year.
There is one other question, sir, which is normally asked to which I might indicate the answer now. Let me put it this way. The unused authority as of April 1 last was $625 million. This Loan Act authorizes loans of $1.1 billion and against that authority we expect to do borrowing from the Canada Pension Plan for $910 million, the Central Mortgage waste control loans of $56 million, and an increase in Treasury bills of $195 million, for a total of $1,161 million, which would leave an estimated carryover at April 1, 1979, of about $564 million.
Mr. Peterson: I am happy to respond for our party, Mr. Speaker. I am disappointed I didn’t get this answer before because I don’t have a chance to check it and I won’t be able to deal with it in my remarks. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, this is a change in procedure today to be called at the last moment to discuss this bill at this time and I point out to you that the Liberal Party is very happy to be accommodating in these circumstances. We try as best we can to make minority government work.
We are prepared to accommodate our friends to the left who are now out caucusing to figure out what they are going to do at 5 o’clock. We respect the fact that they need time. It was pointed out by my colleague from Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), they had to send out for a coin to see which way they are going to deal with the issue of the committee report at 5 o’clock tonight.
Mr. Laughren: We’re glad you’re speaking to the bill.
Mr. Peterson: Of course, we’re very happy to accommodate the Treasurer, who would rather be here than facing the press out in the hall, and I respect that right. There is no question this has been somewhat traumatic for the Treasurer. In our budget response of some six weeks ago, I predicted then the start of the demise and the decline of the Treasurer. I think that everything we said then has subsequently proved to be true.
It’s not as if we have taken his scalp, because I don’t think we have. But there is no question that we have taken some very large tufts off his head.
Mr. Nixon: The sun just doesn’t seem to be the same.
Mr. Peterson: There isn’t all that much left to go, but we will keep pursuing it, because we are a party dedicated to fiscal balance, to fiscal responsibility, and to decent restraint in this province.
Let me point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that at the time of the budget response, we said there were ways to cut fat out of the budget. Today, some six weeks later, we were presented with a list of ways the Treasurer is going to cut expenditures. There is no question -- the way of the future is not going to be the way of the past. We are going to have to clearly draw current expenditures in line with current revenues to create the kind of balanced budget that I, at least, would anticipate is meant by the words “balanced budget.”
The Treasurer has substantially deviated this year from some of the rules of the past. As we discussed earlier in our budget response, he is now starting to sell off the assets of the province, taking below-line transactions and above-the-line transactions in order to generate the kind of revenues he feels he will need to balance the budget in 1981.
When I think back on the whole borrowing history of this province, I think it was almost a tragedy that we had the availability of these large pools of funds, as encompassed in Bill 24, from which the Treasurer can borrow to meet current revenue needs. One only has to think back and ask oneself what would have happened to the budgetary tradition and the budgeting of this province had that money not been available, had they had to go to the open market, had they been subjected to market discipline in order to borrow that money that they spent, by and large, on current consumption over the past six or seven years under the Treasurer’s regime, and under the person who filled in for him for a couple of years.
The Treasurer will argue, of course, that this money has gone into capital works in this province; and he will argue that he has always spent more on capital works than he has borrowed that particular year. When one looks carefully at the expenditure of some $614 million on capital works in this province -- and I am talking from memory here, but it was spent on land, an overbuilt hospital system, an overbuilt capital infrastructure and in so many areas -- one has to question very seriously whether all these capital funds were necessary. Could he not have exercised far more restraint in spending over the past few years and not have got us into the terrible financial bind that this province is in today?
We will vote with this bill but I am almost tempted to vote against it. Because I would like to see a different kind of discipline brought to bear on this Treasurer, saying, “You can only spend up to certain limits.” This gives him another $1.1 billion to continue with the deficit financing. We will not know for a goodly number of years the grave impact this very heavy borrowing is having on this province. In fact, the Treasurer -- although he talks right, he spends left -- is leaving our children with a very serious financial responsibility in the future. There is no question that that money is going to have to come out of the productive capital of the generations that are coming after us.
It is going to mean higher tax rates. When you look at the demographics, Mr. Speaker -- you look at fewer working people and you look at more people on the dependency rolls -- there is no question that unless we have dramatic cutbacks in spending and we start accumulating surplus budgets, we are going to see necessarily higher taxes, and we are going to see more robbing of the initiative of the working people of this province. And that is because of the excesses of today, 1978.
I am awfully tempted not to allow the Treasurer to borrow the kinds of money that he wants to borrow. I am not the only one concerned about this. The Auditor has addressed his mind to this whole matter in his last report, and I almost wish that this debate was not up until the Treasurer had an opportunity to come to the public accounts committee and explain.
I want to mention a couple of sections in the Auditor’s report, and I understand from the chairman of that committee we will be discussing the matter some time in late May, subject to the availability of the Treasurer.
In section 30 of that report, the Auditor has listed principal amounts of debt starting with the year 1977-78 and finishing in the year 2006-07 -- some $13 billion worth of capital that is going to have to be repaid somehow. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that’s got nothing to do with unfunded liabilities that at this point total somewhere in the area of $2 billion for the teachers’ superannuation fund or public service superannuation fund. It’s got nothing to do with accelerating interest payments we’re paying in this province.
When we look at the growth of this province and we see hospitals go up four per cent, or another area going up six per cent, we’re seeing, generally, restraint across the board, we see the biggest single increase in expenditure yearly. This year, of course, is a perfect example of 15.5 per cent, as I recall, for interest payments. We’re now paying interest of about $1.2 billion. He’s violated, in the process, many of the guidelines established both by himself and the Smith committee rules from some years ago.
We’re now spending 8.5 per cent of the provincial budget on interest payments and this is growing. Our debt is now running over 11 per cent of our gross provincial product -- again, a violation of his own rules, the Smith committee rules from some years ago. These are alarming numbers. When people chart trends, far more alarming than the specific number in a specific year is the trend if one charts the history of some of these movements. Heretofore, the trend has been alarming to those thoughtful people who are looking at the finances of this province.
I would say there is no easy way out. We have dug ourselves a hole that’s going to require years to get out of. It’s going to require a new kind of discipline and a new kind of economic leadership that we have not seen from across the floor.
I want to address my remarks to another consideration expressed by the Auditor. In section 101 he questions the purpose of the Ontario Loan Act. In fact, this bill gives the Legislature of the province no power over the borrowing of the government.
As I recall -- he can correct me if I’m wrong -- the Treasurer said in his statement he now has an unused portion from past years of $660 million. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: As of April 1, 1978.
Mr. Peterson: So in fact not only is the Treasurer entitled to borrow $1.1 billion this year but he can also use the unused portion from past years of some $660 million, which gives him, in effect, about $1.7 billion. That in no way allows this Legislature to have control or jurisdiction over the borrowing practices of this government. The Auditor very succinctly points that out. In fact, we have delegated control to the government through the manipulation of borrowing from year to year. In fact, the truth is this bill is worthless and doesn’t mean anything, and I’m sorry to say the debate we’re having today really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in what it accomplishes.
Mr. Foulds: At least your contribution doesn’t.
Mr. Peterson: With the exception of my contribution, of course.
I’m looking forward to having the Treasurer before the public accounts committee to explain these things. I have tried to extract answers from him in the past in estimates and in various other places. I’ve asked him where he is going to get the money, the principal amounts of money he has to repay, and how those amounts are going to be refunded.
It’s common knowledge that we’re running out of pension fund availability. We’re going to be into a negative cash flow situation in about 1981. That’s the principal reason he’s forced to balance the budget that year. He says -- and I don’t recall exactly from Hansard, so if I’m misquoting him I apologize, but I don’t think I am -- “We’ll worry about that later. The economy is expanding. It will probably be twice as big in a few years and the money will be available somewhere.”
There’s no cash planning that I can determine. Maybe there is, but I have not been able to extract it from the Treasurer. I have not seen how he is going to either refinance or pay back these moneys. The pension plans are virtually consumed. At this time we owe CPP about $7 billion. We’ll borrow $910 million, as he says, this year. Our interest payments back this year are something like $500 million or $600 million. We’ll be in a negative cash flow situation with that fund by the year 1981, as I said.
The interesting thing about that fund is those debentures, as I understand it, are subject to call so they might mature far faster than the public auditor thinks they will. If you accept conventional wisdom it says that the CPP funds will be totally depleted and the fund will be bankrupt according to current contribution rates by the year 1990. Then we are going to have accelerated cash demands on this province. From whence we get that money, as far as I can understand, the Treasurer has made no provision.
We owe the teachers’ superannuation fund about $2.5 billion. We owe public service superannuation about $1.1 billion. Those are massive amounts of money. There’s no question that many studies have been done on this issue. Had we apportioned that money into the capital markets of this country to build the capital infrastructure we need to develop our economy we would have had a more productive economy today than we have. We would have had less unemployment. We would have had higher real incomes and we would probably have had less inflation.
I, for one, regret the way this province has decided to consume these funds. Even the great province of Quebec has, through its caisse de depot system, deployed about 30 per cent of the available funds into private capital markets and they have been more successful at developing private enterprise than the government of this province has been. One could argue -- not without some justification -- that the government of the province of Ontario has been one of the worst enemies of private enterprise, in spite of what they say.
Mr. Foulds: Oh, oh.
Mr. Peterson: I am concerned -- I don’t expect my socialist friends to understand this because --
Mr. Foulds: Now that is a bit of hyperbole.
Mr. Peterson: -- my socialist friends can’t add and subtract all that well, that I have seen.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Doesn’t it get you?
Mr. Peterson: But there’s no question. The Ontario Economic Council supports my view. There are various other agencies that support this view. What the Ontario Economic Council has said in recent reports is that with the availability of these massive amounts of funds the Treasurer and the government have had no incentive to balance the budget. Indeed it’s been what is called an availability fed demand. They have looked at how much money is available -- cheap money, cheaper than market rates would demand -- and they have taken that amount of money and they have spent that amount of money.
So if we are moving towards a balanced budget -- and we hope we are -- it’s going to be not so much out of any kind of principle. It’s more out of a sense that there is no money available without going to the public capital markets. Without further intruding and competing with private capital, there is no other source for those funds today.
So the only discipline that the Treasurer is subjected to today is a reduction in the availability of those funds and nothing else. It has led to some speculation by the Treasurer -- and I believe I have press quotes to prove it, he may disagree with me -- that we must have an increase in the contribution rates for some of these funds in order to make up these deficiencies of capital in the future.
Of course, that may be, but what concerns me is if we do increase the contribution rates, particularly for something like CPP, then it will be just more money for the government to borrow and postpone our financial problems another two or three or five years. In essence this does not come to grips with the fundamental problem, which is that on a current basis -- matching current expenditures with current revenues -- we are spending more than we should be and we are mortgaging our future to do so.
I just want to quote something from the Ontario Economic Council about the effect on business investment of this proliferation of borrowing policies the Treasurer has had. “As the level of investment gradually accelerates, led by energy and resource development, the need will arise to redirect a larger percentage of domestic saving from the government to the private sector and from short-term investment instruments to long-term investment instruments more suitable for financing long-term capital investment. An increased flow of private savings from the public to the private sector could be encouraged in several ways.
“The largest flow to the government sector occurs through the medium of the Canada Pension Plan. Consideration should be given to depositing at least a portion of the net contributions to a special trusteed fund in each province to be available to the private sector on a competitive bid basis. To ensure the maximum availability of such funds to finance business capital investment, it might be desirable to limit the use of such funds to equities or debts with a term of 10 years or longer.”
That relates exactly to what the Liberal Party has been saying about the deployment of these pension funds. We are happy to see the experiment with OMERS. The OMERS experiment has been a good experiment. It has proved that there is a higher return. As I recall the figures, and I am talking from memory, I think it is better than two points higher return than provincial debentures have paid in that particular area. That guarantees automatically beneficiaries of the pension plans higher rates of return.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Dead wrong!
Mr. Peterson: It gives them more assets. It gives them something to call on if indeed there is going to be a higher demand for benefits in the future. That is a worthwhile experiment. We have suggested it in the past and we hope that the Treasurer continues with the experiment.
As I recall, the figure in OMERS in the private capital market is something like a couple of hundred million dollars, absolutely peanuts compared to the total amount of money that this province has borrowed over the years.
I have spoken to some extent about the very high level of debt, about how we have violated almost every principle in the past that we have stood for, about how the Treasurer has changed the rules to accommodate his current borrowing practices and about how we have in fact shuffled over onto the people who will follow after us, a very high level of debt from which they are not going to escape easily.
At the time of the budget response, I looked at a chart that we bad prepared. Fortunately, the Auditor is going to prepare a similar account so we can check our figures to make sure we are all talking about the same thing. When we add on all the capital repayments over the next 20 years, when we add on the unfunded liabilities, when we add on the interest payments, then there are going to be billions of dollars discharged from the public purse back to the people to whom we owe money. What is particularly alarming as you look at the trend -- it is about $175 million. I don’t want to read all these numbers into the record because I have done it before, but when we get to about the year 1990, there is going to be over $1 billion a year in capital repayments that are going to have to be extracted out of the hides of the taxpayers of this province.
Mr. Foulds: No one was listening the first time.
Mr. Peterson: That is alarming! I am tempted not to allow the Treasurer to borrow these funds. Obviously we are going to support the bill because we don’t think an election is the appropriate thing. He has to extract himself from it and the sooner the better on this particular issue.
As I said earlier, had this money not been available for the past six or seven years, be assured that the finances of this province would be in infinitely better shape than they are today. It is like giving catnip to a cat. They get all excited when they see this money and they run around and look for ways to spend it. Now we are paying the price.
Mr. Foulds: What are you talking about?
Mr. Peterson: I don’t expect you to understand it because you are an economic pygmy of the worst dimension.
Mr. Foulds: No, you are quite right. I don’t understand what you are saying because Adam Smith was more progressive than you are.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer understands what I am saying and I know deep down that he is worried about this. I expect, hopefully, that he is going to address his mind to this far faster than in fact he is.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am worried about what has happened to the great party of reform with reactionaries like you taking over. The great reactionaries of our time.
Mr. Peterson: Your party is going down the pipe and you are the cause of it. We’ve got you.
Mr. Foulds: You make Adam Smith and Darcy McKeough look like progressives.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The great party of reform.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: I have no further contribution.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You didn’t have any when you started.
Mr. Peterson: We will look at the great contribution that the member for Port Arthur can make on this issue and then we will look for the Treasurer’s response. I am happy to have participated today. These are very serious concerns and unfortunately they don’t have enough attention.
I have heard the Treasurer say the people of this province really don’t care whether the deficit is $1.1 billion, $1.2 billion or $1.3 billion. He fools around with numbers on such a massive scale.
Hon. B. Stephenson: When did he say that?
Mr. Peterson: I have heard him say it. Ask him if he said it. Don’t be so facetious over there because if you knew anything about economics you would know --
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am not facetious. I asked you a question.
Mr. Peterson: -- that he has committed in fact almost a fraud on a massive scale. It is just the little frauds he can’t get away with.
Mr. Foulds: I think he should withdraw that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Peterson: I’ll tell you, Mr. Speaker, I wish more attention was paid to some of these very large numbers that pass unnoticed before this Legislature and before the press of this province, when people are picayune about far less significant things. We have to address our minds to these problems, and I see far too little attention paid to it.
Mr. Foulds: You are an economic nonentity.
Mr. Laughren: I must say the member of the Liberal Party is correct in one sense. There does need to be more attention paid to this kind of legislation. Some day someone is going to have to tell me, and hopefully in graphic terms, the difference between a provincial Liberal and a federal Conservative. What I hear from the member for London Centre in criticizing the Conservative government is the same thing as the federal Conservatives say in criticizing the federal Liberal government. I don’t expect the government members to like that kind of observation, but it is true.
Mr. Breithaupt: They may both be right.
Mr. Laughren: I really wonder when I hear the provincial Liberals talking in classical Conservative terms. They are truly 19th century Liberals in swift retreat. I have never understood the economic policies of the provincial Liberals.
Mr. Peterson: You have never understood anything.
Mr. Laughren: That’s unfair. I have yet to say anything unfair about you.
Mr. Peterson: Go ahead. Find something unfair and say it.
Mr. Laughren: I am trying to be objective in my comments.
Hon. B. Stephenson: And that is difficult.
Mr. Laughren: It is very difficult; yes, it is. I am a very partisan politician and I am proud of that. I have always wondered why this bill isn’t tied together with the Financial Administration Act which gives the province these kinds of borrowing powers. I have wondered why that is not combined as one Act. Perhaps it is because this brings it back to the chamber automatically every year. I am not sure. The whole question of what is known as inhouse borrowings is an intriguing one. I believe the member for London Centre has a point when he talks about the expenditure of pension funds. I think that is a debate that is going to take an increased significance in the years to come. There is a strange kind of contradiction in the whole pension argument, I find.
First of all, the people whose pension moneys are being used want to obtain the highest possible return from them. We saw that with the OMERS debate and we saw it with the teachers’ superannuation fund as well. I understand that. Opposed to that is the need for a society -- in this case Ontario -- to use those funds for development of the province for social and capital requirements. That is why the side I come down on is that those are pension funds that can be usefully and better used in the public sector than in the private sector. I know this is where the Treasurer and I would part company because the Treasurer sees these kinds of funds being used by the private sector to create jobs and generally to stimulate the private sector. I understand that approach.
What bothers me is that the needs of the private sector may be another shopping centre around the corner, while the needs of the public sector might be another hospital or another school or another university or another nursing home or any other kind of thing that would be demanded by the public. When it comes down to the crunch like that, I say the public sector requirements tend to add more to the general well-being of society than that new shopping centre.
There is going to be an increasing debate on this in years to come. The sad part is that the people whose money is being used are going to be left out of the debate. They will not have a say, whether it is Canada Pension or OMERS or teachers’ superannuation or particularly the non-contributory funds of employees. I think of the funds of the workers at Inco. It is a non-contributory plan, although in fact it is in lieu of wages or some other kind of benefits. They have no control whatsoever over how their pension money is invested, what kind of return it gets and so forth.
I see an interesting debate and a very critical one coming in the years ahead, plus the paying of the pensions as an increasing number of people draw upon them and a smaller number pay into them. That is obviously going to be a problem in the years to come.
Surely there is nothing wrong with using pension funds in the public sector; it adds to the capital stock of the province. I agree with the Treasurer’s observation, for example, that our current income should pay for our current expenditures; but that is not what we are talking about when we talk about building up the capital stock, and that is the kind of thing that pensions can legitimately be used for.
As we proceed down the road, and the Treasurer sees his goal of a balanced budget by 1981 becoming harder and harder to obtain, he is going to resort to increasingly regressive measures in order to ensure that his promise is realized.
We have seen already, just since March 7, the kind of problems that the minister is running into. His projections, for example, are not the projections of other economic forecasting bodies in this country, and at some point he is going to have to come to grips with that. One hopes he’ll do that in a public way. He cannot use the argument that it is the opposition that has forced him to abandon his goal, because that is simply not true.
The minister is shifting both revenues and expenditures around internally in order to achieve the goals already laid down in his budget. That is not the problem. The problem is that, because of the state of the economy, he is not going to achieve his projected revenues in corporation tax. He is not going to achieve his revenues in retail sales tax -- and I don’t mean because of the reduction in sales tax; even without that, he was not going to achieve his projections there. He is not going to achieve his projections in personal income tax either.
The minister was overly optimistic when he brought down his budget. That is going to come back to haunt him, at some point and he is going to have to come back to this Legislature and admit the error of his ways so that we can deal with him yet again.
We are going to support this bill, but I hope the Treasurer does not get in a position of automatically abandoning pension funds in the public sector. That’s certainly a legitimate use of pension funds, because the people who are paying into them will also receive benefits from them as will future generations as well.
Personally, I would like to see the whole matter of the raising of funds tidied up in the province of Ontario so that it is more understandable to the public at large. The public at large has really no concept as to how the province raises money through things like this Ontario Loan Act or like the supply motion that was passed a couple of weeks ago. That’s the kind of thing that I think can be made understandable to the public at large, but it requires some work by the people who draft legislation.
We in this party are going to support this bill. At the same time, there is no doubt but that we disagree with the way the Treasurer has used the funds that are at his disposal, not just this year but in years gone by, and I presume we will continue to offer our typically constructive suggestions so that he can better run the province of Ontario.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I shall be brief. I just have a question to ask of the Treasurer. When this debate began this afternoon, there appeared on my desk a response to a question asked by my leader, the member for Hamilton West, with respect to liquid reserves; it is a question that was asked on April 3. Might I ask the Treasurer whether this answer was given in the House and just what its date was?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: No. I indicated in the answer to that question that I thought I would give an answer at the time of the debate on the Ontario Loan Act, and so I sent it over. I didn’t read it all this afternoon; I just sent it over.
Mr. Breithaupt: I understand this then. I was looking for it in Hansard and was unable to find the reference. I thought, perhaps, it had been answered and I thought that the information contained therein would be useful, simply to have the reference of the date of the answer on the record. But this is the information now with respect to the reserves and I presume the matter is at an end and the Treasurer is not going to repeat this information.
Mr. Charlton: I’ll be very brief as well. I think we’ve been over most of the points that have to be made. I’d just like to re-emphasize quickly a couple of the points that were raised by my colleague from Nickel Belt.
One point I’d like to emphasize is the public view of what goes on here in financial terms. Some of us who are new here have had difficulty in understanding the procedures. Largely, there is no effective way the public can really understand the kinds of procedures that we go through. On that basis I would like to re-emphasize a point my colleague made, that perhaps the Treasurer and the government should be having a look at some way of dealing with the finances of the province all in one manner as opposed to the supply motions that we have and the Financial Administration Act and the Loan Act.
I don’t have the answers for the Treasurer but my experience obviously isn’t as great as his. I’m just making the point that we should be looking down the road to some way of making the whole procedure a little clearer to the public.
On the point about the use of pension funds by the government in the form of borrowing through this Loan Act, I would agree also that it’s a legitimate use of pension funds. I feel very strongly that I would much rather see employees’ pension funds being borrowed by government for use in terms of capital construction for things such as hospitals, nursing homes, and so forth, as opposed to whatever other things the private sector might feel are profitable at that given point in time. I would much rather see employees’ pension funds used for things that all of those employees can feel they have access to.
On the other hand, I’m a bit concerned about the fact that to the largest degree the employees whose pension funds are being used have absolutely no input into how much of their funds will be used, the way in which they will be used, and the rate of return their funds will receive. Again, I don’t know exactly how one would accomplish that either, but it concerns me that civil servants in this province, teachers, and all of those people who contribute to the Canada Pension Plan, have no effective way of saying “yes” to some uses of their pension funds and “no” to others that may or may not be in the best public interest. I would like to see the Treasurer, the government and, I guess, in the case of the Canada Pension Plan, the federal government as well have a serious look at ways of allowing some kind of approval, other than political approval by politicians, for the things that those pension funds will be used for in the future.
I don’t have too much else to say, Mr. Speaker, except that we will support this bill. We don’t take the same view as our Liberal friends beside us that this use of pension funds is, in the long run, detrimental to the province. We feel that this is a constructive use of employees’ money.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any other members who wish to participate in the debate? If not, the hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I might just answer one particular question. The member for Nickel Belt asked why this wasn’t wrapped up with the Financial Administration Act. The purpose of the Loan Act is very definitely to bring the Treasurer into the House once a year to lay out what his requirements are, and I think there is merit in that. In fact, from the point of view of the Legislature there is borrowing authority contained in several other Acts which perhaps at some point should be brought into the Loan Act, but we can discuss that at public accounts.
It isn’t a wide open amount that we are granted, although we started off this year with about $600 million authority. Already, over $400 million of that is gone as we have committed I think $250 million of Canada Pension Plan money since the first of April and have announced the running up of the Treasury bill for $195 million. So the amounts we bring to the House each year are not in any way inflated and they are an honest estimate of what will be required in the 12 months, leaving a margin of error for really April and May, in case the bill doesn’t go through or the House isn’t sitting, or for whatever reason; because in the case of Canada Pension Plan, particularly, we would be losing money by not taking it up.
With respect to the rest of the debate, most of it I think would have been better in my estimates. Suffice it to say this: This afternoon we had the classic division of opinion between the two parties opposite. That great reactionary from London Centre (Mr. Peterson) would have us borrow nothing. The socialist party would have us borrow much more. Mr. Speaker, as you well know, we simply go down the centre and look after the interests of the people at all times, as we do again in Bill 24.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
COMMODITY BOARDS AND MARKETING AGENCIES ACT
Hon. W. Newman moved second reading of Bill 48, An Act respecting Commodity Boards and Marketing Agencies.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, as a result of certain legal challenges made against the agricultural marketing system, this government directed a reference to the courts, asking the courts to rule on a number of questions on agricultural marketing regulations. That reference has now been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Supreme Court upheld a validity of all the systems except in the case of levies. The court reversed its own past decisions in this area and held, contrary to what that court had formally said, that the federal government could not impose levies on products that are marketed interprovincially. In making this ruling, the court recognized that its decision would create a problem and suggested that this Legislature correct them.
Bill 48 does two things. It provides provincial authority for levies on interprovincial products. It provides for a valid collection of levies imposed over the past years, which is necessary because the decision overruled the law under which those past levies were imposed.
I hope that all members will support this legislation which will maintain the orderly marketing system that we have in Ontario.
Mr. Riddell: Bill 48 is before the Legislature as a result of a Supreme Court decision, as the minister indicated, which ruled that Ontario egg producers are not legally bound to pay levies to the provincial Egg Producers’ Marketing Board. In order to understand the significance and importance of this bill with respect to commodity board levies, a little bit of history should be stated.
Under section 92 of the British North America Act, the provinces can only impose indirect taxation, whereas under section 91 the Dominion Parliament may impose either direct or indirect taxation. Back in 1933, the legality of imposing and collecting levies was challenged in the case of Lower Mainland Dairy Products Adjustment Committee versus Crystal Dairy Limited, and the Privy Council held that provincial legislation which purported to impose levies with respect to the marketing of farm products was invalid because the imposition of the levies constituted direct taxation beyond the powers of the province.
In 1957, the Ontario Department of Agriculture sent a test case to the Supreme Court of Canada which requested that Ontario be allowed to enact legislation to cover marketing board levies collected and used in Ontario. The Supreme Court of Canada found this request unnecessary under the provisions of the Agricultural Products Marketing Act, which is federal legislation, and further suggested to the Parliament of Canada that an amendment covering this request be incorporated in the Agricultural Products Marketing Act.
In order to correct the consequences of the judgements of the Privy Council and the Supreme Court of Canada that levies constitute taxation, in 1957 the Dominion Parliament, relying on the above-mentioned judgements of the Privy Council and the Supreme Court of Canada, amended the Agricultural Products Marketing Act by providing that the Governor in Council could by order grant to any provincial board or agency the authority with respect to the marketing of any agricultural product locally within the province to fix, impose and collect levies or charges from persons engaged in the production or marketing of the whole or any part of any agricultural product, and to fix the levies or charges and to use such levies or charges for the purposes of such board or agency, including the creation of the reserves, the payment of expenses, losses resulting from the equalization or adjustment among producers of any agricultural products of moneys realized from the sale thereof.
By recent judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada in the egg marketing reference, the court held that the Crystal Dairy case in the Privy Council and its own judgement in the farm products reference were wrong, and that levies on agricultural products do not constitute taxation, but rather a part of a marketing scheme, so that in the result the Supreme Court of Canada held that the 1957 amendment of the Agricultural Products Marketing Act referred to above, and introduced shortly after the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the farm products reference of 1957, was invalid.
In effect, the Supreme Court in January 1978 reversed the decision of the Supreme Court in 1957, but not without consideration being given to a number of similar cases which were tried in the court since that time. In the recent decision handed down by the Rt. Hon. Bora Laskin, he stated, and I quote: “The authorization of levies in respect of local marketing purports to put in place a cardinal feature of the marketing plan as it operates intraprovincially. If the levies are to be characterized as taxes, they are being applied here not as having any integrity of their own, as is the norm in taxation, but as elements of a marketing scheme which Parliament could not itself prescribe, namely a scheme of intraprovincial marketing. In short, the so-called taxes do not themselves reflect the pith and substance of the marketing plan, of which they are a part, but rather take their colour from the scheme.
“Beyond that, it is in my opinion a mistaken view to regard the various types of levies associated with marketing schemes as species of taxes. They are integral to the operation of the schemes, and are in the context thereof related either to their administration or to their price mechanisms designed to make the schemes tolerable and equitable for those compulsorily brought within their ambit.
“This view is at variance with what was said by the Privy Council in the Crystal Dairy case, but that case was itself reduced by later cases, and in my opinion ought no longer to be regarded as stating the law on the subject of marketing levies.”
Later on in the judgement pronounced by Laskin on January 19, 1978, he states: “This court put a final piece in place in its examination of the relationship between an intraprovincial marketing statute and price adjustments as provided therein in its judgement in Crawford and Hillside Farm Dairy Limited versus the Attorney General of British Columbia, the reasons of a unanimous court being delivered by Locke J.” The point I’m trying to make is that there were three cases, including the Crawford and Hillside Farm Dairy case, which moved away from or reduced the Crystal Dairy case.
Referring again to the judgement handed down by Laskin, he said: “It is said, however -- and this was strongly argued by counsel for the respondent Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board -- that this court has made a choice in the Farm Products Marketing Act reference of 1957 to stay with the Crystal Dairy doctrine and that as a matter of stare decisis the doctrine should not be overthrown, especially when amending federal legislation in 1957 was based squarely upon its validity. This argument would give me considerable pause, if the Crystal Dairy case had not been attenuated in succeeding cases and if I were not firmly persuaded that it was mistakenly based on the taxing power instead of turning on provincial regulatory authority in relation to intraprovincial transactions.”
The Ontario government had every reason to believe that the former decision of the Supreme Court could well be altered due to the decisions which had been made on the three cases which were tried since the Crystal Dairy case. Someone within the Ministry of Agriculture and Food was not doing his homework. As a result, the minister has been caught in the awkward position of trying to remedy a situation which 22 dissident producers had proven to be invalid.
The Supreme Court ruling ended a battle started about three years ago by dissident producers who challenged the authority of the federal agency and the provincial board to impose quota and collect levies to pay for handling of surplus eggs. When the case was referred to the Supreme Court by the provincial government, the minister should have stated his intention that he would introduce legislation to make the collection of levies legal, if the Supreme Court found them to be otherwise, and to deem that all levies or charges imposed or collected by a commodity board or a marketing agency, pursuant to the Agricultural Products Marketing Act or the Farm Products Marketing Agencies Act, to be valid and where they were imposed but not collected, may be collected as if they had been imposed under this Act.
The minister did not do this. Through this legislation, he is endeavouring to recapture the $1.25 million in unpaid levies which he has some reservations about, I’m sure, and for which he is prepared to sacrifice a principle for political game play. If the minister gets support on this particular aspect of the bill from all sides of the House, he will have won the battle without as much as a chink in his armour, although I firmly believe that the war is far from over. If he can force the opposition members to amend the bill by deleting the retroactivity, he can blame the opposition should there be some flak from the producers who faithfully paid their levy. I guess that’s all part of politics.
I don’t think any member of this House is opposed to the main principle of the bill which empowers a commodity board or marketing agency to collect levies under provincial legislation. It is apparent there is some controversy over the retroactivity of the levy in this new legislation. It is my view, which is certainly not shared by all my caucus colleagues, that this requirement is essential to a cohesive atmosphere in marketing legislation for the future. Therefore, the rectifying of an action made ultra vires by the Supreme Court of Canada must be upheld in a retroactive atmosphere due to past history covering levies and levy usage.
Mr. Speaker, let me give you my scenario and the justification for the collection of the levies held in reserve. The levies collected by the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board in whole or in part where collected under the legally upheld legislation of 1957 until January 19, 1978, when a different Supreme Court of Canada overturned the previous decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada. Hence the reason for this new legislation and retroactivity requirement.
The Supreme Court of Canada, on page three of their judgement, stated in reference to what should be done: “It is obvious that it will not be more difficult for the Legislature of Ontario to cure the situation created by this decision than the somewhat similar situation due to one of our conclusions in the anti-inflation reference.”
I understand that the Supreme Court of Canada found a part of the federal Parliament’s AIB legislation ultra vires due to jurisdictional responsibilities similar to the levies and levy usage situation. Rather than have the AIB legislation break down, they suggested that the provincial legislature enact parallel legislation to cover provincial jurisdiction and make its starting time coincide with the federal Act.
This is all we ask of this Legislature, for the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board did collect levies under a legally upheld statute of the day until ruled otherwise by a new Supreme Court decision on January 19, 1978. The Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board orders were found valid by the Supreme Court of Canada and therefore one cannot find any excuse not to adhere to these orders.
The egg producers of Ontario were under severe financial strain in the early 1970s when prices and the quality of the bird population created severe loss to the producer segment. The producers were on the verge of bankruptcy. A request to establish a marketing system for eggs in Ontario was presented to the minister and a vote was called. The opponents to the plan -- many of whom challenged the board’s right to survive by collecting levies -- created an atmosphere that cancelled the vote. The minister thus created a commission to hold hearings and the commission wrote its recommendations on what producers of eggs required. This delay of a year or so in finding a solution allowed some producers to expand against all economic conditions of the day and solely for gain under a hopefully better solution of a marketing plan.
The Judge Ross report was tabled by the minister in April 1972 and a marketing plan for eggs was then developed which included registering producers and their capacity for a quota basis, the pricing of eggs and the purchasing of surplus product. A levy for these functions was required and was collected under the Agricultural Products Marketing Act’s legal authority. It is also worthy of note that all producers paid their levies, which they deem necessary for this program. It wasn’t until late 1974 that the challenge to levies was introduced as a method of hampering orderly marketing of eggs.
It also must be understood that levies did increase to a high level due to heavy surpluses produced within the province as well as to imported product not purchased by family farm producers but by those from other segments of the marketing chain, such as the grading stations, brokers, processers, et cetera, operated by some of the same producers who refuse to pay their levies yet reap benefits of a marketing system which incorporated a surplus-removal program.
The producers of eggs in Ontario finally refused to use their levies to remove surplus eggs directly from grading stations handling eggs from non-paying producers. There wasn’t any effort, however, to refuse these producers rights to produce eggs, which is contrary to what many organizations would do to non-paying members.
In 1975, controversy over the position of Ontario in a national plan, the friction among producers in Ontario and other related issues precipitated a producer vote called for by the minister. The results as announced on October 22, 1975, were overwhelming in favour -- about 89 per cent -- with a very high turnout, surpassing greatly the 66 per cent required to sustain the plan. Attempts were again made to collect the levies from those producers who were holding them in reserve.
The producers in Ontario, with the exception of a few, have supported the marketing system through a difficult and costly development period. All producers in Ontario have benefited from the marketing system. The plan provides a method to change through democratic means the placing of members on the directorate. Therefore, if changes are required these can be developed by resolution and solved by directorship change. Therefore, all producers have a democratic method to change the course of a marketing system development. Producers also have the ultimate method to reconfirm or deny the continuance of a plan through a vote. The producers have all benefited alike and when one hears that some have been aggrieved by the system one wonders what special status they seek.
The board did refuse to accept surplus eggs from grading stations that handled non-paying producers’ eggs and I remind members that some of these producers were owners of the stations. However, one can expect that the grading fraternity and the marketing abilities of these stations remove these eggs in a manner acceptable to the non-participating stations.
The levies withheld as of December 3, 1977, amount to $1.25 million, from 19 producers. Of this amount, $646,000 has been deposited into a special board account by six producers, with an agreement that it will be returned if legislation does not pass retroactively.
The Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board has from time to time suggested that those producers who withheld money deposit the same in a savings account for future collection. Therefore, there is no need for any producer to go under for lack of funds, because to have listened would have prevented such bankruptcy or embarrassment.
In this connection I hope that if this legislation passes those producers who did not heed the warning to invest their levies in a trust fund will be given a reasonable period of time by the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board to pay their back levy. No one wants to see them forced out of business as a result of this legislation which, simply stated, is legalizing the collection of levies which the egg board was given to understand was the only way it could collect levies by the first Supreme Court decision.
We must never in this Legislature even appear to wish to discourage any member of the public to seek his or her proper redress through the courts. Accordingly we must be assured that all costs of the successful appellant will be paid from the reserve levy fund.
As you can sense, no doubt, Mr. Speaker, I do have some reservations about passing retroactive legislation, but in this case I firmly believe that consideration has to be given to the 936 egg producers who religiously paid their levies, and to the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board which endeavoured to carry out its functions in the best interests of all producers in very difficult times with a shortfall in their financing of $1.25 million. Surely we cannot expect these producers and their boards to be penalized because the Supreme Court reversed a former decision and because the Ontario government was derelict in its duties to correct the situation, which became very obvious as a result of the several cases which were tried since the Crystal Dairy case.
Had the minster and his predecessor acted at the time to solve an obvious problem by bringing in legislation authorizing the collection of levies by provincial statute on products moving within the province, we wouldn’t be in the position of having to debate the pros and cons of retroactivity at this time. I think it is important that the pros and cons which all members of this Legislature had to consider be highlighted at this time, just to indicate that our decisions are not always easy ones to make.
In considering the reasons for not collecting the levies a number of points had to be taken into consideration, and they are as follows:
The dissident producers won their case on the validity of the levy. Even though it is logical to provide for a valid levy for the future, they should be allowed to retain the moneys they withheld as the fruits of their victory. The dissidents withheld levies on the basis that the levies were invalid. The court’s decision has confirmed their view. To collect those moneys now would be to punish them for having acted correctly.
The egg board would not allow those who withheld levies to participate in the surplus removal program. Such persons, by having to bear the cost of disposing of their own surplus eggs, are from a financial point of view in much the same position as those who paid levies.
While it is not unusual to have retroactive legislation to validate those moneys previously collected, the proposal to retroactively impose and collect the levy is a very extraordinary step which could create a dangerous precedent
Let us consider the reasons for collecting back levies.
The dissident producers did not really win their case. The judgement came about because of a reference directed by the government. The dissidents did not bear any of the risk of legal costs because the bills for the opposition counsel were borne by the government. If these levies are not collected, it would be an affront to all the producers who over the years supported the plan and paid levies. Those producers in the marketing board would be extremely upset by such a decision since it would be construed as rewarding defiance. The producers who withheld levies benefited from the plan all the time they did not pay. The plan during that time provided a stable and profitable level of egg prices from which they benefited.
It is also not entirely true to say that none of them could participate in surplus removal. There is some ground for belief that some at least disposed of their surplus by shipping them to grading stations that were participating and thereby got the benefit of the surplus removal program.
Where the government itself has asked the courts for direction, there is nothing extraordinary in the government acting on the court’s findings, particularly where the court suggests, as it does in this case, retroactive legislation.
I believe that the above reasons fairly represent the positions of the two sides. And in weighing each situation on its own merit, I have personally come to the conclusion that we must support the retroactive section of this bill.
I am inclined to agree with John J. Robinette, one of the best constitutional lawyers in the business, when he states: “In considering the scope of proposed provincial legislation to validate the levies, which have already been made by the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board, acting under the 1957 amendment to the Agricultural Products Marketing Act, the following considerations are of importance:
“1. By its recent judgement the Supreme Court of Canada departed from prior decisions which the Parliament of Canada had relied upon in enacting the amendment to the Agricultural Products Marketing Act in 1957.
“2. The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada affects all marketing boards, including the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board and the Milk Marketing Board, and any legislation should cover all marketing boards.
“3. The Supreme Court of Canada specifically intimated in the reasons for judgement that the Legislature of Ontario had power to cure the situation created by their decision. Chief Justice Laskin, in his reasons for judgement, in holding that section 2(2)(a) of the Agricultural Products Marketing Act is invalid, said: ‘This result is not, however, catastrophic because it is left to the provincial legislatures to deal with price arrangements, including provision for adjustment levies in the context of other valid legislation in relation to intraprovincial marketing. The power is where it should be in this respect.’
“4. In 1972 the Supreme Court of Canada gave judgement in the Brant Dairy case and held that certain regulations made by the Ontario Milk Marketing Board were ultra vires. Following that decision, the Legislature of Ontario enacted retroactive legislation declaring the regulations to be valid and to be deemed to have been valid and binding for all intents and purposes from the date on which the regulation was filed. Reference is made to the Statutes of Ontario, an amendment to the Milk Act, 1972, chapter 155, section 2.”
Continuing to quote J. J. Robinette: “It is essential that the proposed legislation provide that all levies or charges heretofore collected or imposed by the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board or any other marketing board purporting to be pursuant to the Agricultural Products Marketing Act of Canada or the Farm Products Marketing Agencies Act of Canada, in respect of products marketed locally in Ontario, shall be deemed to have been validly collected or imposed.
“In my view it would be most inequitable for the Legislature to validate levies which have been collected and not validate levies which have been imposed by the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board or any other board and not paid. This would create, in my view, a grave injustice against those who have faithfully paid their levies, particularly considering that when they paid their levies the law was considered to be as stated by the Privy Council in the Crystal Dairy case, and by the Supreme Court of Canada in the farm products marketing reference.”
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for this rather lengthy dissertation but I thought in all fairness, and as agricultural critic for the Liberal Party, whose guidance is generally respected --
Mr. Roy: Where would the government be without him?
Mr. Riddell: -- that I should present sound and impartial reasoning for supporting this bill, which basically does two things. First, it authorizes the imposition and collection by commodity boards and marketing agencies of levies on products marketed within the province; second, it proposes measures to deal with the fact that the court’s decision affects levies imposed over the past years. If the latter is not considered to be part of the principle of the bill then I would suggest that the minister send the bill to standing committee so that all parties who may be affected one way or another may be given an opportunity to be heard. This is part of our democratic system and I wouldn’t want the farming community to think that we as legislators railroaded something through despite a Supreme Court decision.
However, if the minister considers the collection of back levies to be part of the principle of the bill, then I would hope that the bill would go to committee of the whole House. It is certainly in the best interests of marketing boards and, consequently, the producers and consumers in this province that we move forward without further delay with this bill, so that marketing boards may be legally entitled to collect levies. That of course was the intent of the legislators when they first dealt with marketing boards legislation. I would hope that all members of this Legislature will recognize the importance of getting this legislation through the House as the continued operation of marketing boards and agencies which depend on levies hangs in the balance.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, the minister spoke at some length and the member for Huron-Middlesex has spoken exhaustively in terms of the legal background of this bill and I am not going to take the time to repeat any of it before the House. I just want to make one comment: This surely is a classic example of the extent to which the courts can bedevil life and particularly orderly marketing. Because all of this problem has emerged because the court changed its mind, as has been pointed out by the two previous speakers.
We had operated on the assumption that levies which were authorized by federal legislation were applicable not only for international and interprovincial trade but also for intraprovincial trade. That has been the case for 30 or 40 years. It was reaffirmed in an application before the courts in 1957. Now, suddenly, those God-like creatures -- forgive me for being a little earthy in my aspersions -- changed the rules in the middle of the game. They state that for trade within the province the raising of levies up until now had been illegal.
Fine. We now know what the new rules of the game are. They also pointed out, as has been noted by the previous speakers, that the legislature of a province may validly enact legislation authorizing a commodity board to fix, impose and collect levies or charges respecting the marketing of a regulated product locally within the province. They also inferred such authority may be granted to the marketing agencies of Canada.
So what the government has done is to bring in a bill which in effect responds to the changes in the rules of the game the courts have now brought forth. We in this party will support the general principle of this bill because I think circumstances demand that it shall be. I have some reservations, and some of my colleagues have even stronger reservations -- and if time permits they undoubtedly are going to express them -- with regard to the retroactivity. But I must say at the outset, and then I will just document it briefly, that I have come up with the final conclusion that the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex has -- that the retroactivity is justified.
There is, for example, about $1 million that has not been paid. I understand that about half of it would go to the national egg marketing board and about half of it to the provincial. There are some 900 to 1,000 egg producers in Ontario. The overwhelming majority of them had been living with the orderly marketing procedures. They had been paying their levies. There are numbers that are variously estimated from 18 to 24 so-called dissidents who hadn’t been paying their levies.
But I think it is interesting that all of those dissidents, even though they hadn’t been paying their levies to the board, have been putting the money in trust so that they recognize the fact that at some time they might be legally obligated to pay it and that they would have the money and they wouldn't be bankrupted. There are only one or two who didn’t do that and now, obviously, they face some serious consequences. I’d be inclined to agree with the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex that the one or two should be given some time to make their back payments so they’re not penalized.
There are just two or three arguments that I want to touch on briefly and then I will leave the matter to those who want to speak against the retroactivity principle, because we’ve got unanimity, as far as I can see, on the general principle of the bill.
It is argued, for example, that it is unfair to penalize these dissidents because of the fact that they took the matter to court. They won in court and now they’re going to be penalized by having to pay retroactively. Mr. Speaker, I just want to suggest to you that it isn’t strictly accurate to say that they won in court. The court didn’t say that the levies, per se, were illegal. What the court said was that the levies for trade within the province had to be based on provincial legislation and not on federal legislation. But up until the time they said that, previous court decisions had said it was legal. It seems to me you can’t change the rules of the game and suddenly say that these people were being penalized. They won on a technicality, the technicality being that the court had changed its mind and now said that they must have provincial legislation to authorize levies for trade within the province itself.
As a matter of fact, I don’t know that I would be even as harsh on the minister -- I trust that the minister will appreciate this.
Hon. W. Newman: I can’t believe it.
Mr. MacDonald: I don’t think I will be as harsh on the minister as the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex has been on some of the dissidents who have argued that if the government were going to bring in legislation now to make it retroactive, they should have indicated they were going to do that some time ago. It seems to me one has to operate under the law as it is now interpreted by the courts, and the interpretation was that it was legal to raise levies on the basis of the federal legislation. It seems to me that there was no obligation on any government to rush in with legislation to deal with a hypothetical possibility, namely, that the court has changed its mind.
I’m not willing to even go along with the argument that the government has created some of the problem by not bringing in legislation. Great heavens, if this government were going to sit down and anticipate every court decision that might be made down through the years and to bring in legislation to deal with each one of those eventualities, we would have our statutes cluttered up with an awful lot of unnecessary legislation.
Another argument that has been raised is that the size of the egg levy is too large today. I’m constantly having this coming in in letters with regard to this legislation; this, what I deem to be an extraneous issue, is being drawn in. It is not for us in the House here to decide whether or not the amount of the levy today is too large. I suggest that is something for the egg producers through the normal operation of their board and the various representatives -- the democratic representation that they have within that structure -- to decide, whether it is too large.
I think it is only fair to point out that the levy is larger now than it used to be because the board is trying to come to grips with the problem of how you cope with surpluses. When they have solved the problem of coping with surpluses, and they get an effective quota system in production, they may not have as many surpluses or the surpluses may not be as large, and that levy can be reduced.
In short I think everybody would agree that the rights of a minority have to be respected. However, I would suggest that on occasion the rights of the majority have to be respected. The rights of a minority don’t extend to the point of frustrating and making it impossible for the majority to implement a collective decision. The collective decision has been made by the egg producers, 900 or more of them, apart from the 18 or 20 or 24 who are dissidents, that they want to decide to bring order out of the infinite chaos that characterizes their marketing. I don’t think there is any right on the part of the minority to frustrate the implementation of that collective majority will.
I, for one, have no objection to retroactivity, while in principle it is questionable, being imposed in this instance because it just means that all the producers, not just those who paid their levies, are going to be sharing in the cost of developing that more effective orderly marketing plan.
Mr. McGuigan: I understand we are going to other matters at 5 o’clock, so I am going to have to leave aside part of my preparation.
Mr. Deans: Don’t leave the preparation apart. Just leave what you prepared.
Mr. Roy: We’ll be prepared to debate at 5, no problem.
An hon. member: Let her go.
Mr. McGuigan: I rise to support Bill 48, An Act respecting Commodity Boards and Marketing Agencies. For the benefit of the uninitiated to farm marketing, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act came into effect in 1937 as a result of a series of events. Beginning in 1920, farm prices and incomes fell very low. Even during the boom of the late 1920s, the recovery of raw material prices was modest. Voluntary pools were popular in the 1920s and these failed. These pools rewarded those who sprang out of the pool on to dry land and they drowned those loyal souls who remained in it. Hence we had a need for compulsory marketing.
During the 1920s, especially from 1927 to 1929, Canada witnessed a birth of consolidation in the canning, meat packing, milling and food product industries. Canadian Canners, now owned by California Packing Corporation, absorbed many of the small fruit and vegetable canning companies, particularly in Ontario. Canada Packers absorbed four meat-packing companies. The royal commission on mass buying and price spreads in its hearings in 1934 had widely publicized certain aspects of large-scale buying, which convinced farmers that the full weight of the depression of the 1930s was falling with undue weight upon their shoulders. But because the voluntary co-ops and the pools were a failure, farmers demanded a different form of organization. Canada joined those countries in 1934, then 38 in number, which had passed legislation to facilitate compulsory marketing Acts.
The Dominion Natural Products Marketing Act had wide powers, including the time and place of marketing and control of the quality and quantity of marketing. The board could delegate powers to local boards to control intraprovincial and export trade. Through provincial authority, they were to be authorized to control intraprovincial trade in their products. In 1935, the Act was referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion as to its validity. In June 1936 the Supreme Court questioned the validity of the Act and their opinions were referred to the judicial committee of the Privy Council for confirmation. That body declared the Act unconstitutional on the grounds that it infringed provincial jurisdiction.
The Act was repealed by the House of Commons during the spring session of 1937. In 1934, if I can refer to British Columbia -- I am sure my friends on the left would appreciate this -- they passed the Natural Products Marketing Act. A previous Act in 1927 had been declared ultra vires in 1931 because it infringed federal jurisdiction in matters of intraprovincial trade. In 1938, the provincial council upheld the vires of the British Columbia Natural Products Marketing Act. This important decision established the right of each province in Canada to provide for the effective regulation and control of the marketing and transportation of natural products within the province.
Also, as soon as the Privy Council declared the Dominion Natural Products Marketing Act unconstitutional, the Ontario Legislature passed the Ontario Farm Products Control Act in 1937 in order to allow Ontario marketing plants operating under the Dominion Act to continue without interruption. The Act in this chamber had the unanimous approval of all members of the Ontario Legislature when it passed in 1937.
The Act was amended for clarification in 1946, and in 1955 major amendments provided for a wide extension of the powers respecting the appointment of marketing agencies.
The Act was rewritten in 1957 in a more orderly form, and in 1958 amendments were made to define the method of conducting plebiscites on proposed marketing plans. In 1959, the Act was amended to deal with irregularities in the conduct of plebiscites. In 1960, the Act was amended to empower the Farm Products Marketing Board to take over the assets of a marketing agency.
Going back a bit, in 1949, the government of Canada passed its Agricultural Products Marketing Act. Under this Act, provincial local boards and marketing agencies may have the same power granted to them by the provincial governments extended into intraprovincial and export fields by the government of Canada. Regulations over the marketing of a farm product anywhere were now believed possible under a combination of provincial and federal laws.
I have briefly outlined the background of agricultural marketing in Ontario from the 1920s to the 1960s. I do this to impress upon the members of this chamber and the people of Ontario that Canada and the province of Ontario recognized the problem of primary producers by enacting legislation as early as 1927 in British Columbia, in 1934 in the federal Parliament and in 1937 in Ontario.
The intent was clear then, and it’s clear now, that both federal and provincial governments intended to give certain powers to farm marketing plans. The marketing Acts are in place because they have been supported by a majority of our population. While they have been proposed and fought for by farmers, they have over the years received general support. Consumers have recognized that it was important to them and to the security of a healthy Canadian, and more particularly Ontarian, agricultural producing industry. That system has provided the widest choice of high quality, reasonably-priced foods that could be grown under Ontario’s climatic conditions.
The poultry industry is important to Canada. In 1976, Canada’s poultry industry was responsible for some 7.7 per cent of total cash farm income -- I am including all poultry. In dollar value, that amounted to $762 million. In 1976, Canadians consumed 423.6 million dozen eggs. This is equivalent to 19.1 dozen eggs per person over the year. Under the rules of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, prices of eggs are set by a pricing formula related to the cost of production. Consumers are paying less today than they were last year because production costs were reduced.
Our agricultural critic, the member for Huron-Middlesex, has adequately dealt with the case in point, that of egg marketing, which has precipitated the introduction of this bill, An Act respecting Commodity Boards and Marketing Agencies. I do not intend to cover the same ground. I would like to explain to our non-farm members on all sides of the House and to the people of Ontario the reasons why I support this bill.
The basic reason is a restatement of the law of supply and demand, that is, given no restriction such as lack of capital or lack of raw material, production costs and selling prices always come to the same point. Certain cycles of production will produce times when production is profitable and times when production is unprofitable, but the average position is always no profit.
In Canada, a country with the greatest acreage of arable land per capita of any country in the world, there are no restrictions imposed by a shortage of land. There is relatively no shortage of capital. Investors recognize the advantage of integrating into agriculture. An example is the brewing industry, already heavily involved in the grain business, becoming involved in the feed business and thence, in the poultry and livestock business.
In recent times, investment in farm land has been a far better hedge against inflation than investing in the stock market. In 1977 the Dow Jones industrial average -- a measure of stock market prices -- declined by 26 per cent to a low of 742 in late February.
Mr. McGuigan moved the adjournment of the debate.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE REPORT
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the April 20 report of the standing social development committee.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, this has been a very important day in the conduct of minority government generally and a most important day in the short history of this particular Parliament
The fact is that the government’s budget, a budget which certainly in one respect, was ill-conceived, has been substantially altered today to bring it into line with the wishes of the opposition parties representing the majority of the citizens of Ontario. This is not something that happens every day. It’s a momentous occasion. It’s one we have been working toward, preparing ourselves for, and one which we feel a certain sense of accomplishment about having succeeded in seeing it to fruition.
I want to say right off that it will be my intention to speak for one-third of an hour. What I would like to do is to review the history of this matter and say something about the events of today and what we hope to see in the future.
As to the history of the matter, premiums as a way of paying for insured health services have certain strong and weak points. The general feeling in most parts of Canada, however, has been that the premium route, because of its regressiveness and because of the administrative factors involved with that method, has very significant disadvantages. Fairness and administrative efficiency dictate that the costs of health care are better borne by general revenues which can be administered in a way to suit the needs of each particular province.
I believe only three provinces still rely on the premium route and Ontario relies more heavily than either of the other two in this regard. With the proposed increase in OHIP premiums, Ontario would have become the province which taxes most heavily those people earning income at the level of about $10,000 to $14,000 a year. We would have been taxing them, including the premium, at a rate vastly in excess of the situation in any of the other provinces, rich or poor.
It is, therefore, very significant and very important that on a matter of this fundamental principle, the opposition parties forced the government to reconsider its policy and to come in today with a substantially rewritten budget.
In any event, once the 37.5 per cent increase was presented to the Legislature, there then ensued a number of comments and a fair bit of discussion. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we chose at that time to have the matter referred to a standing committee of the Legislature. My colleague from Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) presented a petition to you, sir, on behalf of 20 of our members so that the expenses of the Ministry of Health might be looked at more carefully and so that we would have the benefit of the many studies done within that ministry regarding possible cost savings and, for that matter, regarding reasons for rejecting some of those particular alternatives.
Once we were at the committee we then -- I don’t wish to recount in great detail the story of the document of the Ministry of Health’s response to the Taylor commission report, but in one way or another we were made aware of the fact that within the Ministry of Health there were very substantial objections to raising the premiums. In fact, the wording of some of these objections was not very different from those objections raised by members of opposition parties. In point of fact, it was clear that although the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) as a member of cabinet felt that he had no choice but to support the increase which cabinet had agreed to, there was no great enthusiasm for such increases on his part. Certainly with his ministry, I suspect, there was even less enthusiasm -- at least that is the appearance from the strategic planning and research branch of that ministry.
We felt, very simply, that people at the very bottom level of society should not be taxed in a dollar amount equal to people at the top income level in society. To us, it’s simply an unfair way of trying to raise revenues and it’s something which, as Liberals, we have always been against.
With regard to the matter of what the money was to be used for, we found very quickly that two years earlier the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) had stated that health costs could be borne by a number of sources of revenue, but that insured health services should be financed to the degree of 28 per cent by the revenue which comes from premiums. That was what he called a suitable long-run norm. We drew the attention of the House to that statement, made only two short years ago, and we were surprised when the Treasurer came to committee to say that that long-run norm had absolutely no validity and we were challenged to say why the long-run norm shouldn’t be changed at any time for any revenue-raising purpose.
It seems very clear that actual health costs have not risen as much as the proposed 37.5 per cent increase, and it was obvious that the OHIP premiums had been increased largely to create revenue for the province of Ontario -- revenue which the Treasurer had decided he did not wish to collect via the corporate tax route, a route which he said was the least desirable in many ways -- and that he did not wish to collect it via sales tax or income tax.
The debate in committee came down to a question of the regressivity of the tax and to the fact that no constructive purpose was served by such a vast increase in the premiums. It also came down to a question of proving that the revenues were not really needed for health but were required for general revenue purposes, the various purposes that the government of Ontario naturally has.
Despite certain setbacks and certain chaotic days in the Legislature, we took upon ourselves the job as official opposition of providing alternatives to the $271-million increase in OHIP premiums. We accepted, as few opposition parties ever do, the challenge that one of the roles incumbent upon us is not just to say what we’re against, but also to say what we were for.
Mr. Martel: Real grab-bag.
Mr. S. Smith: What we did was, we put forward a package of alternatives, which included a six per cent increase in OHIP premiums, as you know, Mr. Speaker, certain reductions in government spending related to manpower costs and to what we consider to be a padding in the Ministry of Health budget. We also suggested that some revenues could be raised via the corporate tax route and from the lottery funds that are available in Ontario.
Having done that, we then felt we could stand very firm and with considerable pride and go to the people of Ontario, if necessary, if it came to that, have an election on this very matter, because we felt that very important principles were involved in this instance.
We recognize that in minority government the government must recognize that it cannot govern as though it had a majority and ignore the wishes of the other party. We recognize at the same time that neither of the opposition parties has been elected as the government. Therefore, while the government must yield some ground to us, it was clear that we might have to yield some ground to the government. That is what is required if we are to meet here as adults and make the minority government situation work and not go to the people for elections every time there is a difference of opinion. The matter comes down basically to determining a line beyond which one cannot cross without being untrue to one’s principles.
As to actual suggestion put forward by the government today and the change in policy which the government has introduced, we are not totally satisfied with that. The fact of the matter is we put forward our own package of alternatives. I say very honestly to the members opposite that I do believe very sincerely that whatever criticism might be possible regarding our package of alternatives, whatever criticism might be levelled at these, we believe that the package of alternatives we put forward was in fact more defensible than the package which the Treasurer read to this House today as his response. We believe that had we been in government we would not have raised OHIP premiums 37.5 per cent and we would not have raised them 18¾ per cent either. We believe we would have raised them six per cent, which in our view would have been in keeping with the Anti-Inflation Board and a much more defensible thing to do indeed.
Mr. Cooke: I thought you were against premiums.
Mr. S. Smith: Our particular view, however, of what we would have done does not stop there. We also would have cut government spending more than the government did today.
Mr. Warner: Where?
Mr. S. Smith: Sooner than make some of the decisions the government has made with regard to where they chose to cut, our choice would have been to cut differently, but more severely.
Furthermore, had we been in government, we would have used lottery funds, as I have already mentioned. We believe that in a time of severe economic restraint, in a time when people are suffering, when things are difficult, it makes a lot of sense to use those funds, to the extent that they can be taken from other needs, for health purposes and for general revenue.
There are those who say that would be sort of gambling with health, but that is very misleading and untrue. In point of fact, the predictability of lottery revenue had been considerably more stable and considerably more accurate than the predictability of either income tax revenues or corporation tax revenues. In fact, the income tax revenues and corporation revenues were down almost half a billion dollars last year, whereas lottery revenues have been fairly predictable as a source of government income. If anything, they have been higher than originally anticipated.
That is our view. There will come a time when the people of Ontario can, if they so desire, choose us to be the government of Ontario and they will know where we stand on these matters.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Sad thing.
Mr. S. Smith: The fact is that the package put forward by the Treasurer does not in that way correspond to what we would have preferred. We would have preferred a different package, as I have already outlined to you and to the hon. members of the Legislature, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No idea.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No idea at all.
Mr. S. Smith: However, there is another important matter that we believe in very deeply. That is the matter of a committee to look into the health costs and health financing over the longer term, a committee which we think is referred to in the report from the social development committee and something which we believe in very deeply.
Although the Treasurer did not include mention of it in his statement, I am assured on a personal level by the Premier that such a committee is something which the government is prepared to see exist and will move in some reasonable time to set up in keeping with the wishes of the various parties in this House. I thank the Premier for that commitment. We look forward to participating in that.
We hope that committee will set to its task, once its terms of reference have been established, in a constructive and co-operative way so that we can help achieve what economies are possible within the health field, so that we can save money where possible and so that we can rationalize the whole system and find alternate methods of financing, if that proves to be possible, and we trust and hope it will be.
So where do we find ourselves in this instance? We find ourselves in a situation where we have stood as a responsible, solid and constructive opposition, and where the government has today responded. They have responded, not with a response that we consider perfect and not with a response that we ourselves would have done in government, but with a response that as far as we are concerned moves sufficiently, and sufficiently substantially, towards the goals which we have been espousing so that we can, as a responsible opposition, not demand an election at this time on this issue. I have communicated that to the Premier, I have communicated that to the press and I am very pleased to communicate it here. I would have communicated it here earlier, except for the delay in this debate; which was brought about, I believe, at the request of the other opposition party, a request which we were quite happy to respect.
What have we accomplished, really?
Mr. Gregory: Nothing.
Mr. S. Smith: We have been able to reduce the government’s increase in premium revenue from an originally desired $271 million down to $126 million -- a very substantial, more than 50 per cent, reduction. They have met us more than half way on this matter, and as far as I am concerned, although it is not as much as we would like, it is a very substantial movement. We feel we have made a substantial saving and created a substantial benefit for the citizens of Ontario. We are very proud of that.
Mr. Roy: Victory for the people.
Mr. S. Smith: We have obtained from the government a movement in the sense that they have reduced the expenditures of their government.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Wait until you see how much it costs the people to do it.
Mr. S. Smith: They have not reduced the expenditures as much as we would like to see. They have chosen certain priorities which would not have been our priorities, but they have at least begun to understand that we are beyond the day when governments can grow at will and simply present a cheque to the people of Ontario and have the people sign that cheque; the time has come for government to realize that day is over.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Would you care to tell your kissing cousins in Ottawa that?
Mr. Hodgson: Cancel that $35 million you asked for yesterday.
Mr. Conway: Bette Stephenson, the gramophone of the OMA.
Mr. S. Smith: They are so unruly, Mr. Speaker.
An hon. member: And it is a broken record too.
Mr. T. P. Reid: A little sensitive today perhaps.
Mr. S. Smith: We have succeeded in directing the attention of the Legislature to the whole matter of health care financing and health care costs in the longer term, and we look forward to a constructive debate. We have helped to achieve something for the people at the very bottom of the income ladder who were being hit very severely by the premium increase. We have encouraged and to some extent forced the Treasurer to bring in a better provision for the so-called notch group --
Hon. B. Stephenson: He sounds as sanctimonious as --
An hon. member: Don’t be so negative over there.
Mr. S. Smith: -- namely those people who have to pay the full shot while really having very low incomes. These people have been assisted.
Furthermore, the people who are still the hardest hit, the ones who have to pay an 18¾ per cent increase, when the Anti-Inflation Board would have permitted last year eight per cent and this year six per cent, are still paying somewhat above what the AIB would have allowed. However, even for those people and we are still concerned about them -- the increase they are now paying is precisely half of what it would have been had the government remained stubborn and kept to its original increase, which was most unjustifiable indeed.
So we look at this on balance. On balance we feel we have achieved our objectives. We believe the people of Ontario can compare the government’s package with our package, and frankly I think ours is a better one. If we were in government I believe we would have done better. Our priorities are better. The way in which we would have conducted the whole budgetary process would have been better. But the government was elected, it is the government. Our decision is that they have met us more than half way.
Mr. S. Smith: They have made substantial alterations which are to the benefit of the people of Ontario and we as an opposition, by being constructive --
Mr. S. Smith: -- have obtained more for the people of Ontario than ever could have happened by mere posturing and mere negativity. We note with some disappointment that the other opposition party in the House has up to this point made really no constructive contributions.
Mr. S. Smith: It is never too late and some day they may learn to be a constructive instead of a totally negative opposition.
An hon. member: Never.
Mr. S. Smith: We have done our job. We will continue to do our job --
Mr. Warner: You make silly putty look like cement.
Mr. S. Smith: -- and we look forward to the continued life of this Parliament.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have the feeling that the New Democratic Party has been doing its job too and that’s the reason we are here today and why we have in fact gotten the concessions from the government.
An hon. member: You’re off the hook now.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You are not even a bit player in this one.
An hon. member: What are your alternatives?
Mr. Cassidy: What we are seeing is a success for minority government, even though it is also a continued failure of the government’s budgetary strategy and it is to be seen in that light.
An hon. member: Just like in PEI.
Mr. Sweeney: Distant third.
Mr. Roy: Let’s give the radicals a chance.
Mr. Cassidy: Dear me, I don’t know what got into those people.
There has been a recognition by the government of the minority situation to which it was elected back in 1975 and to which it was re-elected back in 1977. On behalf of my party I want to say that now it seems for the first time they understand what has happened in two elections. We welcome the fact that they now understand that minority government is here in this province and it should be adhered to and accommodated.
The government has gone forward with a rollback of the premiums which is more than half way on the original increase which we said from the beginning was outrageous. They have also accepted proposals we made that the corporation tax was an appropriate way to find revenues rather than the regressive tax they were imposing on individual taxpayers. And the notch proposal which the Treasurer came forward with the other day is an improvement at the lower end of the scale. We welcome the evidence that minority governments can have that much impact and we hope that impact continues in the future when other issues arise.
I don’t think that we would have come to this point without the intervention of the New Democratic Party --
Mr. Cassidy: -- because it was our original opposition, and the fact that we dug our heels in, that created this as an issue and ensured that the Legislature would act rather than simply let the whole issue slide by.
An hon. member: You sure sound great now you’re off the book.
Mr. Cassidy: We have said that we would use all parliamentary avenues in order to ensure that this premium was rolled back. I don’t apologize for the fact that we used all those avenues and that ultimately we were, at least in part, successful.
Mr. Breithaupt: What a game.
Mr. Nixon: You were just kidding.
Mr. Cassidy: Perhaps I should acknowledge that we’ve had some help from the government in terms of helping to keep the issue alive. It might even be possible, if there had not been doctoring of the documents within the Ministry of Health, that this issue would not have been kept alive to the point where it became so fundamentally embedded in the minds and the hearts of the people of the province that the government got to the point where it had to back down.
Mr. Cassidy: I think it’s also fair to say that whereas the Liberal Party, on four occasions, backed down on this particular issue --
Mr. Nixon: You mean we didn’t support you.
Some hon. members: Flip-flop.
Mr. Cassidy: -- fortunately the official opposition decided on the fifth occasion that they were prepared to hang in --
Mr. S. Smith: I thought those were just devices. You said they were devices.
Mr. Bradley: Not even your own members believe that.
Mr. Breithaupt: Those were just devices, weren’t they?
Mr. Cassidy: -- and effective on Wednesday of last week, for the first time in this Parliament, we had a situation where the opposition parties were combining in order to put the will of the people to the government and the government was then able to respond.
Mr. Martel: It took four weeks for the Liberals to screw up their courage.
Mr. Roy: We had the responsible approach; that’s the difference.
Mr. Cassidy: With all I’ve said, Mr. Speaker, I want to turn now to the budgetary strategy which has been confirmed by the government in the statement of the Treasurer today.
Mr. Nixon: You are against corporation taxes. I understand.
Mr. Cassidy: It may be that the statement of the Treasurer was a bit belligerent in tone --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Never.
Mr. Cassidy: -- even though he and his cabinet were prepared to accommodate the will of the opposition parties.
Mr. Bradley: Repentant is the word.
Mr. Cassidy: It may be that the Treasurer was trying to vindicate an economic and budgetary strategy with which we are still in fundamental disagreement. We made our disagreement clear from March 7 and we disagree with it today.
We disagree with the government’s budgetary strategy for a couple of reasons, and perhaps I can lay them on the table before the House today.
In the first place -- and I think the government understands this -- our basic position, whether you talk about 1969 when they were first introduced, or today, or two years ago, or with what the government has had to say in its rollback announcement, is that we are opposed to premiums as a means of financing health costs. That is a fundamental and unalterable position of the New Democratic Party, and we are not prepared to see an increase of six per cent or 12 per cent or any kind of increase like that.
We differ from the government and, I guess, from the opposition party in this --
Mr. Kerrio: I hope so, Mike. I hope so.
Mr. Cassidy: -- because we believe that the premiums are a regressive and inequitable means of raising revenues; and this is an opinion in which we are backed by all of the authorities, including the senior experts within the Ministry of Health.
Mr. Bradley: Lots of brave talk now; you’re off the hook.
An hon. member: Why don’t you be responsible?
Mr. Cassidy: I’m being responsible, as a matter of fact.
Mr. Breaugh: We’re trying to help you out.
Mr. Cassidy: We’re trying to help you out; that’s right.
Mr. Cassidy: We believed at the outset that the 37.5 per cent increase in premiums was outrageous, and we said so. We believe that any increase in premiums is unacceptable and would be felt that way across the province.
Where we part company with what’s happening today -- and I want this to be clear -- is that at the time of the establishment of the committee, the committee was asked not to respond to the NDP’s budgetary strategy, which was the creation of jobs and a response to the economic situation of the province, but to respond to the question that was posed as follows: “If health premiums are inequitable and regressive, then what other means was there of raising revenues which might be a better means of proceeding?” That is what the committee then proceeded to come up with: It looked at other sources of revenues and at savings that might be made.
I want to recall that what we have now is in effect a response to that committee in the sense that the government is coming forward with other means of raising taxes and of saving money in order to come up with the $271 million which the Treasurer originally wanted. This is an economic question. It’s significant that the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) did not take part today in the statement by the government in any respect at all.
We now face that question about the fundamental economic policies of the government. We don’t believe that the original position of the Treasurer, to destroy jobs in the budget and to come up with a budgetary strategy which called for the creation of only 142 new jobs across the province, was an acceptable strategy with the economic crisis that we face in Ontario today.
In addition, we want to be noted that in the past few weeks nothing has happened which will lead us to change that position. A federal budget has been introduced which even the Treasurer admits will not reduce the rate of unemployment here in this province or in Canada as a whole. Both the Conference Board and other forecasters have revised in a downward direction their projections of economic growth for Ontario and for Canada. We wanted -- and we have said so to the Treasurer -- a budgetary strategy that would rebuild the economy of this province and get the people of Ontario back to work. We didn’t see that on March 7, we have not seen it since, nor do we see it today. I have to express regret on behalf of my party for that fact.
An hon. member: You’ll never see it.
Mr. Martel: In fact, the government destroyed jobs today.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: The Treasurer’s statement today is unrepentant in the sense that, despite three major changes in his budget since March 7 he still is unrepentant about premiums as a principle; he’s still unrepentant about the so-called visible link, which was utterly demolished in the committee; and he’s still unrepentant about his desire to put a balanced budget before the needs to balance the economy. We say we should balance the economy and that should be the priority for the people of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Premiums don’t destroy jobs. You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Cassidy: That leads me to the statement on the spending cuts and the job proposals which was put before the Legislature by the Treasurer today. One of the reasons we decided to spend a few minutes looking at those after the statement and after questions today was that we were disturbed over the spending cuts and over their economic impact. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, and members of this House may recall, that the Treasurer himself, in the course of the papers which were tabled in the budget, indicated that the machinery tax credit was going to destroy 15,000 jobs in Ontario this year. Now we come along with spending cuts which will have the effect of eliminating a further 6,000 jobs in Ontario at a time when we have 345,000 people unemployed in the province.
Mr. Cassidy: That really is not an acceptable budgetary strategy, in our opinion. It’s not progress forward in economic terms. It’s regressive; it’s going backward in economic terms and that’s why we are upset about it.
Mr. Cassidy: The hiring freeze which the government has come forward which will have the effect of eliminating 4,400 jobs in the civil service this year. That is a more substantial reduction in government jobs than we have seen, I believe, in the last three years of freeze and squeeze on behalf of the government of Ontario. We now have some 65,000 civil servants in the province of Ontario. The government is saying that within a year it intends to cut back, after all the cutbacks that have taken place up to now, by a further seven per cent.
Mr. Eaton: Go out and tell the public you don’t want it to happen.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s going to have a real impact on employment, the economic situation generally and on the standard of public services --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Do you want to go back to the old situation?
Mr. Cassidy: -- which we believe should not be made victims of the mismanagement of the government in running the economy of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: They are great economists over there.
Mr. Cassidy: We are concerned that the other cutbacks will also have a substantial impact on jobs. We estimate that the cut in ODC spending will cost about 222 jobs. We estimate that the cutback of $5 million in highway construction will cost about 300 jobs this year. We estimate that the cutback in government buildings of $2 million will have an effect on jobs over the year of 65 jobs. We estimate a cut of 100 jobs in universities through the cutbacks there.
Mr. Cassidy: And 538 jobs may be lost in northern Ontario due to the cutbacks in the northern regional priority budget. Also, 400 jobs may be lost through the cutback in the Ontario Housing Corporation’s building program.
Mr. Bradley: The Treasurer still has his job though.
Mr. Cassidy: What is particularly significant is that while the government decided not to take one particular --
Mr. Bradley: We saved the Treasurer’s job.
Mr. Cassidy: -- spending cutback that would sort of put the knife in and twist it as far as New Democrats or people across the province are concerned, it chose instead a policy of decelerating the economy by attrition. It chose a number of cutbacks, all of which will have a very damaging impact on the people of the province, who need work right now, not unemployment.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You are experts at that over there.
Mr. Martel.: They don’t understand that.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: You should have supported the budget.
Mr. Cassidy: I just want to say that we part company from the Liberal Party at this point where they are saying that they wanted from the beginning to find the $271 million through spending cuts, or through tax increases, and therefore they were prepared to seek this kind of negative impact on the economy which is having the impact in terms of jobs lost that I have just outlined.
Mr. Bradley: Money is no object.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to recall to this House that back in March we proposed a very concrete and positive policy of job creation. We proposed that we could have at least 10,000 jobs that would have enormous impact over the long term for the province, through apprenticeships and training programs in industry across the province.
We proposed the creation of jobs in the area of energy saving, in the areas of home insulation, in the areas of rehabilitation of houses to improve people’s standards. We proposed funding for co-operative and non-profit housing to help the interests of people on low incomes who are not being served by this government’s housing policy. Where the government is cutting back on OHC, we proposed the addition of more OHC spending, in order to create more housing for people who need assisted housing, with the federal funds which are available.
Mr. Bradley: Money is no object.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: How do you pay for it?
Mr. Martel: That 90 per cent from the federal government that you don’t use.
Mr. Cassidy: We have proposed that instead of cutting back on northern projects it should be possible to accelerate some projects of infrastructure in northern communities.
Mr. Martel: You’re from the dark ages, George.
Mr. Cassidy: We proposed the possibility of accelerating provincial and municipal projects which are now going to be decelerated by the action of this government with the spending cuts which it is putting forward.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Buy uranium mines. Buy, buy, buy.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Print money.
Mr. Roy: All it takes is money. What are you guys worried about?
Mr. Swart: No courthouse in Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to suggest that once the official opposition accepted, along with the government, that it was simply a matter of taking a bad tax that was regressive --
Mr. Bradley: We saved you 20 seats, we saved you from annihilation.
Mr. Cassidy: -- and finding a bad tax that was slightly more progressive, well we’ve moved in that direction, thanks to what the government has done.
Mr. Nixon: You say you don’t like corporation taxes.
Mr. Cassidy: What the government and the opposition have failed to recognize is that this economy needed stimulation at this time. Therefore, that $271 million was in itself a bad tax overall, whether it was collected by more progressive or by more regressive means.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: You are against the corporation tax.
Mr. Martel: Give it to them.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to conclude by saying that we in the New Democratic Party welcome the suggestion that there should be further study in the area of health financing, in order to do a couple of things. In the first place, the official opposition has indicated before, as it has indicated today, that whatever it does in the short run -- which means six per cent increases on an annual basis, I suppose, in health premiums -- whatever it is prepared to do in the short run about allowing premiums to climb, it thinks they should come down over the long term. In fact the Liberal leader dredged into the sands of history the other day in order to find that statement of policies from the 1971 election, which apparently committed their party to rolling back or eliminating health premiums.
The position of the New Democratic Party in terms of health premiums is one that we’ve had ever since the beginning. We think they’re wrong; we don’t think they should exist. We therefore think that a study should go forward within this Legislature to find alternate means of financing health costs through progressive tax sources on the basis of general revenues rather than an earmarked tax.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: More free stuff.
Mr. Rotenberg: You want something for nothing.
Mr. Makarchuk: Six provinces have no premiums.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: We remain concerned at the fact that six provinces don’t have health premiums at all; and that despite the shift, the health premium income in this province will still be just barely short of the corporation tax income in this province.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I read that in Pravda, same baloney.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s better than having more money coming in from health premiums than from corporation tax, but we bear in mind the fact that this Treasurer, unrepentant as he is --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Repent, Darcy, repent.
Mr. Rotenberg: Repent, Cassidy is coming.
Mr. Cassidy: -- still thinks, and told the committee the other day, that he wants to find new ways of getting new tax concessions for corporations to offset what is being done to the budget today.
I would like to propose that rather than referring this to the standing committee with the kind of rushed work that it may be doing over the course of the next two or three weeks, rather than having just five or six more sessions looking at health finance, maybe a smaller body of members of this Legislature, through the form of a select committee that could work over the course of the summer, could be charged with the responsibility of looking at the alternatives to health financing and could do this in a constructive kind of way with a view to bringing in recommendations some time in the fall when the House gets together as well.
Mr. Bradley: Like the Wiseman committee.
Hon. B. Stephenson: All we need is one more select committee. Where do you want to go to, Great Britain, Sweden, West Germany?
Mr. Foulds: You might learn something there, Bette.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I have been there; you won’t. Not on taxpayers’ money, on my own; just like I pay my own OHIP premium.
Mr. Cassidy: I welcome the fact that, in the spirit of minority government, the Premier has indicated he is prepared to go along with that particular proposal that originally flowed from the standing committee on social development, just as we welcome the fact that minority government has now had an impact on the government with the rollback that was brought in today.
Mr. Speaker: Will the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) stop hollering across the floor?
Mr. Cassidy: In conclusion, I want to say that while minority government has shown that it can work in Ontario with the concessions the government has made today, we will still work by the means at our disposal to try and convince the government that what this economy and this province needs today is a budgetary and economic policy that is designed to create jobs rather than to eliminate them.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly want the members opposite to hang on every word I say.
Mr. Nixon: This occasion doesn’t come too often.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m the first to acknowledge that this is something of a different experience. I would not suggest for a moment that it isn’t. I tried to convey yesterday when we were debating the estimates -- and I missed the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), as I missed him last year, but there’s still another day.
Mr. Martel: You will miss him Friday, too.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I was observing, I think in discussions with the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) and one or two others, some of my concerns, and on occasion frustrations, with the problems of minority government. I don’t think I need to re-emphasize this to the members of this House. I have said this and will repeat it fairly often: that the people of this province made a judgement not too many months ago; it’s a judgement I have accepted, it’s a judgement --
Mr. Deans: Reluctantly.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Certainly, reluctantly. Who’s kidding who?
Mr. Roy: I think they made that decision in 1975.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Some members opposite thought they would have made a different decision in 1971. But while the members opposite do represent a significant percentage in terms of the popular vote of the people of this province -- and I don’t minimize this for a moment -- please don’t forget the fact that they don’t represent as many as the members on this side of the House in terms of public support.
Mr. Deans: I have never been able to understand how that happened.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I extend at the outset my acceptance of the manner in which the leaders of the two opposition parties have indicated their -- support may not be the right word -- the acceptance of the variation made in the budget of the province of Ontario.
I have followed these discussions in the past several days, as we all have, with interest. I’ve read the press reports, I’ve read about personal integrity or credibility. Maybe I’ve become a little bit philosophical, but I guess the determination of the government to accept a more reasonable solution to the impasse which we faced comes from the fact that I really don’t put it on the basis of my personal credibility or that of the Treasurer or that of the government or the party I lead. I am supporting the position of the Treasurer very simply because it is, I think, the desire of the people of this province to see some solution found to the problem. I’m not saying this in any aggressive or belligerent sense, but in terms of the ongoing responsibilities of this Legislature. I don’t want the members opposite in any way to feel we are any less reluctant as a government or as a party to test the will of the people whenever that occasion may be. I want something else.
Mr. Martel: Beat your breast a little more.
Mr. Breithaupt: Be as reluctant then as you are now.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I happen to be a fairly competitive person by instinct, as I assume all members of the House are. Politics is a competitive profession. That’s what makes it stimulating. I like to be stimulated that way as much as anyone else in this House.
An hon. member: You don’t turn me on.
Mr. Makarchuk: Every time you get stimulated it costs $20 million.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just don’t want there to be any feelings by members opposite that if it is the desire of all of us to make minority government function, that there be any sense across the House that this party is not prepared to face a test, because it may come as a bit of a shock to them to realize we are.
I think it is also incumbent upon us -- and I look at the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and I say to him in a particular sense; no, I don’t, really --
An hon. member: We are glad to see you are the boss again anyway.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I want to clear up one other bit of press discussion in the past four or five days. I understand the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) made some reference to this in his press conference. I guess we’re all a bit captives of our environment. We reflect on editorial writers, noted columnists, et cetera. They make an impression. How great an impression, I don’t know.
In case there is anybody in the press gallery or anybody in the public who at any time thought that the --
Mr. Deans: How about the Sunday Star?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- Premier of this province was not in support of or in any way contemplating an alteration in terms of that person discharging the onerous responsibilities as Treasurer of this province, then I want to disabuse them of that here and now.
An hon. member: Let’s hear it for the Treasurer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, he’s got a wife and family to look after, as I have. I think it’s also important to point out that I hope we’ve learned something in this exercise.
Mr. Martel: Has the Treasurer got his friends over there?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m not sure that the New Democrats have totally learned this yet. I don’t care what sort of sleight-of-hand people suggest and I don’t care what alternatives are presented, we get back in one very fundamental fact of life in the province of Ontario at this precise moment, and it has never been any different, whatever moneys that government spends it must in some fashion or other raise. It’s as simple as that.
Mr. Peterson: Now we get insights like that. Way to go. After 35 years, you’ve learned it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would think the member for London Centre probably was ready to agree with the Treasurer’s budget several weeks ago but couldn’t persuade his colleagues to do it.
Mr. Peterson: On a point of privilege, the Premier must retract that statement. He's absolutely incorrect. I think he’s got an obligation as a gentleman to retract that.
Mr. Deans: The reason he didn’t agree is he didn’t understand it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m quite prepared to retract that statement, except I would remind the member for London Centre that there are probably fewer secrets in his caucus than there are in ours, and there aren’t a lot of secrets in ours.
An hon. member: There are more trained seals in yours.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I was just making a judgement. Maybe I was thinking of some of the speeches he has made over the last two or three years which were really --
Mr. Peterson: Great speeches.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well never mind; I was going to describe them.
Mr. Sargent: He writes his own anyway.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the member for Grey-Bruce there’s no doubt about who writes his speeches.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t say that critically. I may even say that with a bit of envy on occasion. I’m not sure.
Mr. S. Smith: They are originals.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There’s no question that everything the member for Grey-Bruce says is original. It may not be relevant, it may not be right and it may not make any sense; but certainly it’s original. No, that’s not true.
Mr. Sargent: You’re whistling in the dark today.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is an original statement and it is only because he doesn’t have his sunglasses on that he can tell the difference today.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The gospel according to Greer.
Mr. Cunningham: Let’s give Darcy equal time.
An hon. member: You’re going to pay for that one.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I listened to the interjections from the member -- what is his riding?
Mr. Cunningham: The member for Wentworth North. You’re welcome to come back again.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh yes, I was always made most welcome -- not always by the member but others.
I would point out to the members opposite that when one looks at the alternatives as we did and we looked at them very carefully; I hope the Leader of the Opposition recognizes one very fundamental thing in the Treasurer’s statement today, it is something that I think must be understood by everyone. We looked for ways to further cut, and that’s what we are talking about, the budget of this province.
I hope the members opposite understand when certain things do not happen, and I have assured the Leader of the Opposition that all ridings will be treated with equality --
Mrs. Campbell: Here it comes, here it comes.
Mr. Makarchuk: Did he believe you?
Mr. Martel: Some are more equal than others.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- that there will be the same measure of understanding when those sometimes tougher decisions have to be made.
And I hope members opposite sense something else, because in the proposals coming from the official opposition was the suggestion that there be a $50 million reduction in the Health budget of the province. I have to say it here, and in very clear terms: we sweat blood in terms of the budgetary process; the Minister of Health has done the best he can in terms of budget restraint.
Mr. S. Smith: You have got $300 million of expenditure from last year.
Hon. Mr. Davis: When I look at some of these news reports -- about the Sick Children’s Hospital, for example -- l say to the Leader of the Opposition, he might as well know it from me right here and now, we’re not going to alter the budget as it relates to Health. We are committed to an ongoing, first quality health delivery program in Ontario, that is what the people want.
An hon. member: You fellows would wreck it.
Mr. S. Smith: Where did you cut $300 million last year?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We are still going to take care of senior citizens too.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just want the members opposite to know, and I haven’t heard anything from the New Democrats on this issue --
Mr. Wildman: We are concerned about jobs.
Hon. Mr. Davis: So are we concerned about jobs. Let’s not forget that is very fundamental.
In terms of the committee that the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the New Democratic Party have referred to, and I am not preaching any sort of lecture, I am concerned that a committee that is appointed -- and I think it should be a select committee, I don’t see it starting its task in the next two or three weeks -- has to get at the substance of some of the matters that were not discussed by the standing committee on social development.
I think the committee has to function without the gamesmanship or the one-upsmanship that sometimes becomes part of the way we do business.
Mr. Bradley: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t say that the fault lies in any single direction on these issues, but I think it is important in terms of what the committee may be doing that they assess their responsibilities in this fashion. I also think, just so there is no misunderstanding, that we can’t have it both ways in terms of our own personal activities in the Legislature. It is not going to be very palatable for me to explain to some people reductions in some government programs at the same time as we have had substantial counsel fees or an expert fee for select committees.
It even raises a question about hiring a research assistant for every member of this Legislature. I think we have to preach restraint not just outside, I think it applies here in the Legislature.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s about time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I see the member for St. George nodding her head.
Mr. S. Smith: Why don’t you get a medium-sized car?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It may mean the member for St. George may not have that 40 by 40 office she has been after so vigorously for the last week.
Mr. S. Smith: How about your cabinet driving the same medium-size car that I do?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What about your imported car, Stuart?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have checked the Leader of the Opposition’s estimated miles per gallon and, while it is a smaller car, the actual probable, if you have power steering --
Mr. S. Smith: The total cost is smaller.
Mr. Nixon: You drive two at the same time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But the consumption of energy, he may find, is just as high. Check the ratings.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Where is it made?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, by that, I am not in any way saying what the members of the Legislature should do, but I think the select committee that is going to assess this should not embark upon large geographic excursions.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Right.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think it is important, because the study can be done within this province. I don’t think it is necessary to go to Sweden or wherever to have this sort of assessment made.
Mr. Cunningham: Italy.
An hon. member: How about Greece?
Mr. Makarchuk: How about Saskatchewan?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am all in favour of visiting our sister provinces. Certainly if the member for Brantford wants to go on a personal holiday to Saskatchewan, I would be all in favour of it.
Mr. Makarchuk: I want to visit the old farm.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Quite obviously none of the NDP members were in Prince Edward Island yesterday. Their party didn’t do very well down there.
Mr. Breaugh: We were there.
Hon. Mr. Davis: How many seats did you get?
Mr. MacDonald: Where were the Tories in British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, we came very close.
Mr. Martel: Where were you in Quebec?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Kerrio: What did we do? We’re stuck with them all here.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Who?
Mr. Kerrio: The NDP.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t want to comment on that to the member for Niagara Falls. It is not my intention to go through the mathematics --
Mr. Cunningham: You never did understand maths, did you?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, as a matter of fact, I would say to the hon. member that mathematics was not one of my better subjects at school, I confess that.
Ms. Foulds: Neither is public speaking.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I won a medal for public speaking. And do you know why I won it? I won it because my father was the one who authored --
Mr. Foulds: He was the judge.
Mr. Martel: He was the judge.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s right; and they figured that if I didn’t win it, ultimately he would cut off the medal. That is the sole reason I won, no question about that.
Mr. Foulds: It has been the story of your life.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Certainly it has been the story of my life. However, I would say, as it relates to that, I take some sense of satisfaction that maybe we have accomplished nearly as much as the hon. member in that limited period of time.
Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to debate the mathematics, the premiums or these other issues. I have accepted the acceptance of the members opposite.
Mr. McClellan: Tolerance.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I hope now we can give our energies to those other relevant matters that face the members of this House.
Mr. Sargent: So you’re off the hook, eh?
Hon. Mr. Davis: We are committed to moving towards a balanced budget that is crucial to the fiscal strategy of this province. The hon. members opposite can’t have it both ways. There will be reductions in expenditures.
But I would like to say a final word before I sit down, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Warner: You’re going to resign?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- because there are other issues that are coming before us. I mentioned this yesterday -- the Leader of the Opposition could not be here yesterday -- there is a tendency, and there are two or three matters in front of us now, where those who oppose tend to make their point of view known to the members opposite perhaps in greater numbers than they might otherwise do. There is a tendency for people opposed always to go to the opposition.
Our responsibility is to try to weigh the objectives of the government; and I am referring, as an example, to Bill 70, where I suggest, with respect, we have demonstrated today our sincerity in making minority government work, our measure of flexibility. But it has to be a two-way street if, in fact, we are going to see this continue.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: He doesn’t even know what it is all about.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would hope that we have all gained something from this experience.
I have to say to the member for Rainy River, I was ready to go into his riding next week to campaign and say, “You re-elect Pat Reid, nice fellow that he is -- ”
An hon. member: Time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- “and you will not have the generating stations because his leader has said there will be no more capital expansion.”
Mr. T. P. Reid: They won’t be blackmailed, that’s right.
Mr. Sweeney: You tried that in Kitchener last time and it didn’t work.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I was ready.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Watch this time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, I wouldn’t have made more than half a dozen speeches in his riding on that subject.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am being interrupted here.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Speaker: According to the rules, I can leave the chair.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No. Mr. Speaker, it being 6 of the clock I just want to say to the leaders opposite that I appreciate and respect the decision they have made to accept, although they aren’t totally happy with it, the flexibility but the maintenance of the integrity of the budget of the Treasurer of this province.
Mr. S. Smith: It has been annihilated.
Mr. Sargent: It has all been hacked up.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would anticipate that starting Thursday we can devote our efforts to resolving other issues that are also important in the same spirit of co-operation --
Mr. Bradley: That we have shown all along.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- in the same give-and-take and with the same measure of flexibility demonstrated by the members opposite.
Mr. Bradley: Nice to see it on that side.
On motion by the Hon. Mr. Welch, the debate was adjourned.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch orders 18 and 19 were discharged from the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Welch: By way of indication, this evening when we come back at 8 o’clock we will take into consideration Bills 50, 49, 28 and 31 in that order.
Mr. Martel: How about 70?
An hon. member: I thought it was going to be Bill 70.
Mr. Martel: In that order.
Mr. Speaker: Just before I leave the chair, I want to remind hon. members that a sum of money has been found down at the far end of the chambers --
An hon. member: Give it to Darcy.
Mr. Speaker: -- speaking of fiscal matters. You can get in touch with the Sergeant-at-Arms if you can identify it.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.