The House resumed at 8:05 p.m.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Speaker: L’honourable député de l’Oriole.
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, I don’t see a quorum in the House.
Mr. Speaker called for the quorum bells.
Mr. Rotenberg: Come on, fellows. Stay and take your punishment.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the budget debate this evening. In so doing, there is an area of concern that I would like to discuss at some length with the members of the Legislature.
Mr. Germa: Dispense. Dispense.
Mr. Williams: As you well know, the budget that was brought down by the provincial Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) earlier in the year was one of restraint, while still recognizing the need to meet the essential services, the soft and hard services to people.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s a good thing the federal government bails you out.
Mr. Williams: There has been a great deal of criticism levelled at the government for exercising this program of restraint, but I think it has been clearly demonstrated by the budget presentation that, while staying within responsible fiscal guidelines and limiting the amount of increase of budgetary allocations to each of the ministries and services provided by these ministries, the government has at the same time struck a responsible balance in regard to these services.
Mr. Bradley: The government has struck out, that’s what they’ve done.
Mr. Williams: It’s quite apparent from reviewing the summary of budgetary allocations that the government continues to provide a high priority to the social services field.
Mr. Germa: Dispense.
Mr. Williams: In the past several budgets, the largest allocations of money have continued to be directed towards the soft services, as they’re so often labelled. In the social development policy field, of course, Health, Education, Colleges and Universities, Community and Social Services and Culture and Recreation, again, received the greatest amount of attention in the current budget.
While I think this is laudable and that the proper priorities have been established within the budget continuing a strong emphasis in this field, still we must not overlook the fact that there are the hard services too that the public needs and demands from the government and which this government will also continue to recognize and meet and provide.
I’m referring to the hard services that fall under the policy field of resources development. In this area, we have the ministries of Transportation and Communications, Natural Resources, Housing, Agriculture and Food, Environment, Industry and Tourism, Labour and Energy. While all of these ministries have received some budgetary increase over the preceding year, their increases have collectively and individually been determined to be somewhat lower -- in fact, considerably lower -- than the money’s that the government is continuing to provide to meet the essential needs in the social services field.
Having set these priorities in the budget, this is not meant to minimize the importance, as I indicated a minute ago, of the provision and expansion of the hard services to the people throughout our province. One of the areas of particular interest and concern, and one on which I think this government has a creditable record, is with regard to the provision of the transportation and communications services within this vast province.
There is no doubt that Ontario has one of the finest roadway systems anywhere on the continent. In addition to that, through the same ministry we have our involvement in the intraprovincial provision of rail services in some of the areas of the province, as well as air services.
What I would like to do is give an overall perspective to this all-important field, because I think it’s one that has not received the most immediate attention that it otherwise would have, had it not been for budgetary constraints. Undoubtedly, we are going to have to address and expand the services in the areas of transportation and communications in the coming years as we anticipate that more revenues will become available to us and we can loosen the purse strings to permit new and additional, essential transportation services to be provided within all areas of the province.
We take for granted that there are three conventional means of transportation available to people; you travel by land, sea or air.
One of the great difficulties we have in a nation such as ours is the great distances involved. Consequently, some of the preferences shown for land travel or sea travel in some jurisdictions will not necessarily hold true in a province and a nation that has huge geographic territories to service, with many urban communities hundreds and hundreds of miles apart.
Over the years, our technical people have conducted many studies in all these areas. One that has intrigued the experts in the transportation field relates to sea travel and the use of water.
One would wonder why it hasn’t been developed more fully in a province where such a large portion of it borders one of the largest inland lake systems in the world.
The simple fact of the matter is that even though we do have the benefit of the shoreline along Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, the time factors involved and the facilities needed to service the far distant points by water are impractical. That is considering the conventional type of boats in existence today. It is not practical for people to use them for commercial purposes so they have been limited to vacationing and summertime use.
The new concept of the hovercraft was introduced on a trial basis in the Lake Ontario area about two years ago. That was a novel and bold undertaking. The commercial value and use of that type of sophisticated watercraft has proved its worthiness in European countries, particularly in channel crossings between England and the Continent. The use of hovercraft on a regularly scheduled basis is a matter of fact.
We tried it here in Ontario during the summer period to provide a novel form of service from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake so people could enjoy a vacation period and visit the theatre attractions at that location. Unfortunately, we met with a tragedy there which put a damper on the whole concept and, in any event, it is apparent that because of the climatic conditions, a year-round transportation service by water in this jurisdiction is not practical.
Mr. Haggerty: You can do it in Lake Ontario.
Mr. Williams: The other conventional means of transportation is by land, in which the most favoured means of transportation is still the private motor vehicle. I guess upwards of 75 to 78 per cent of all transportation movements within the province are by that means.
That is not to say there isn’t a great demand and use made of the conventional common carrier services that are available, whether they be by bus, railway train or aircraft. The fact of the matter is we do indeed have a very comprehensive common carrier system in the bus services available through government financed and operated facilities, as well as through private public carriers in this province. They fully utilize the fine roadway network we have throughout the province. Those services are, I think, being utilized to the maximum and, in fact, there has been some controversy over the ways and means by which we would expand those services in the province to meet determined needs that have been growing over the years.
Another area that has been of considerable concern in the area of common carriage for getting people to different intercity destinations is the railway train which, unfortunately, has lost favour in the travelling public’s mind over the years. Whether it’s because of the retirement of some of the noble people who served in that system, or for reasons of lack of updated technology, it’s hard to determine. It’s probably the fact that, indeed, no innovative measures of any consequence have been taken in recent years to significantly diminish the travel time between the major cities of Ontario. There’s no question that a great deal of attention has been given to ways and means of improving the system.
Mr. Laughren: It’s about time.
Mr. Williams: Both the federal and the provincial authorities have involved themselves in many studies in this field. These studies endeavoured to find ways and means of making better use of the existing trackage and rolling stock in the corridor between Windsor and Quebec City. The federal government has undertaken a number of major studies in this field. The most noted study, I think, was the one undertaken back in 1970 when the Canadian Transportation Commission undertook a comprehensive study to consider the different alternatives and examine intercity travel in detail, specifically between Montreal and Toronto, with extensions to Quebec and Windsor.
As a result of that study, it was determined that new technology in that field could be brought onstream, but it would have to be done at great expense. The governments have already involved themselves in consideration of the high speed rail systems and, to some extent, that has been implemented.
The other major consideration, of course, is going to a much more novel type of rail transportation, the track air-cushion vehicle mode. But the fact of the matter is, whether you go to the more sophisticated, or rely on the conventional emphasizing improvement of the existing routing is a matter of speculation as to how far you can go and achieve in this area.
It’s been determined quite clearly that to move from the more conventional type of train such as the Rapido, into the turbo and into the track-vehicle type of train envisaged, the cost would increase dramatically in proportion to the extent to which those technologies were developed. It’s been clearly determined that to move into a field of the track air-cushion vehicle, for instance, the cost involved in redesigning, redeveloping and building the new trackish modes to accommodate that facility would run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s estimated that undertaking, indeed, would cost in excess of half a billion dollars, so that the cost weighted against the time saved by the introduction of the higher-speed trains is open to question. Whether you use the present trains, which run from Toronto to Montreal in about four and a half hours, or coming to the concept of the tracked air-cushion vehicle, which perhaps would reduce the travel time by as much as an hour and a half, still leaves a great amount of travelling time involved. Beyond that, it’s just physically impossible to reduce the travelling time further; so there are limitations.
In this day and age, it’s not really conceivable that any government at any level would embark upon an ambitious program of expanding the rail system that would involve the acquisition of new rail rights of way in different parts of the province. We have enough difficulty in providing new roads and highways, let alone acquiring rights of way for new rail lines, So there are limitations in that regard, and we would have to limit ourselves to existing trackage in expanding that system.
These are certainly two of the options that one takes into consideration in taking into account the responsibilities of this government to provide and meet the needs of the travelling public of Ontario from now through to the end of this century.
It appears that we have one other alternative open to us when we come to the common carriers and to consider the options; that, of course, brings us to the matter of air travel. I would like to spend some time discussing this aspect of the travel modes within our province, because it’s one that for some period of time has been underrated and misunderstood.
Air travel in recent years has become one of the most acceptable forms and modes of transportation. The number of aircraft and airlines serving not only the nation as a whole but also the province specifically has grown in considerable numbers in recent years. I think the travelling public, in considering air travel, thinks of Air Canada --
Mr. Warner: Best safety record in the world. Did you know that?
Mr. Williams: -- and the high-performance jet aircraft that fly from Toronto to Montreal or to Windsor or to other continental and intercontinental points. But air travel and the provision of air services goes much beyond that common concept. In fact, what has happened in the past 20 years in the field of aviation and in the provision of services to the travelling public has been remarkable. It perhaps has been as dramatic but not as highly publicized and recognized as the advent of the jet engine. I refer to the new field of air service associated with the small, commuter type of air service that has gained such prominence in the past two decades.
There has been too little talk and too little information, I suggest, provided to the travelling public to let them have a full appreciation of the potential of this type of service. It’s one that I think bears some elaboration upon so that we can have some better appreciation of the potential of this service, at least as far as the members of this House are concerned.
It is important to understand that there are different types of air services just as there are different types of rail services that are available to the public. The day and age of the concept of utilizing the high-performance jet aircraft such as currently travel on what is called the local or trunk flight routes to places such as Montreal, Quebec City and New York and beyond from Toronto is only one aspect of a large field of air service that not only can be made available, but is being made available in a very fast-growing way.
For the public to appreciate just how important a field this has become and to understand why it is has not really received the appreciation and understanding of the public is largely attributable, as I have suggested, to the short-time span within which this new technology has evolved and developed and become a sophisticated viable means of transportation.
In order for one to understand and differentiate between the conventional type of aircraft and air service that is provided and relate it to the type of commuter air service that I am going to speak about, I must really identify the nature of the beast, if I can use that term. The whole concept of resorting to small types of aircraft, rather than using the large, high-performance, jet-powered aircraft is one that I guess has evolved to the greatest extent with our neighbours to the south.
For that reason, I would like to point out to the House and provide what I feel is some relevant and useful information with regard to how successful the use of commuter service has been in that jurisdiction. Following that, I wish to comment on the fact that commuter service is not an unknown factor in our own province. There are differences, and important differences, and there are great potentials in both jurisdictions that have yet to be developed.
The commuters are really a form of air taxi that specialize in providing charter services with small aircraft. This type of service first commenced in a very limited way with a form of schedule servicing between small communities and hub airports in the late 1950s in the United States. It presented a problem to the aviation authorities in the United States at that time, particularly the Civil Aeronautics Board, that has the responsibility of controlling and administering the air services in that country.
In 1969 -- and I stress it was recently -- the Civil Aeronautics Board in the United States created the commuter air carrier industry as it is known today. It did this by issuing an order defining a commuter air carrier as, “an air taxi operator which performs at least five round trips per week between two or more points and publishes flight schedules which specify the times, days of the week and places between which such flights are performed.”
In July, 1972, the Civil Aeronautics Board in the United States issued an order permitting commuters to operate aircraft seating no more than 30 passengers with a payload capacity of no more than 7,500 pounds. However, under its exemption authority the board has also had the right to permit commuters to operate larger aircraft to satisfy the needs of specific markets.
Mr. Warner: You should have worn your leather helmet and silk scarf.
Mr. Williams: I must interject here that this information as it pertains to the US market will be quite relevant to the Ontario situation as I foresee it, as members will find as I comment on the domestic situation. I would point out that in the United States the Civil Aeronautics Board has under consideration proposed regulatory reform legislation which provides on a permanent basis for air carriers to engage in interstate air transportation with aircraft having a maximum passenger capacity of less than 56 seats or a maximum payload of less than 18,000 pounds, provided, of course, that air carrier performs all the necessary financial responsibilities and conforms with all the air regulations of that jurisdiction.
Mr. Warner: Is that part of Darcy’s budget?
An hon. member: The Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) should come down from the gallery.
Mr. Warner: No wonder he is hiding.
Mr. Williams: The fact of the matter is that the introduction of this commuter air service in the United States has been so successful that, while in 1970 the number of commuting passengers in the United States was about 4,260,000 people, in 1976 the total rose to more than seven million passengers, representing a 71 per cent increase in passenger usage of the commuter airlines. This presents an average annual growth rate of 9.4 per cent.
Mr. Warner: Keep this up and we’ll buy you an air ticket -- one way to Cairo.
Mr. Williams: That contrasts with what the conventional airlines are providing in the way of a five per cent growth factor on an annual basis. I think that is significant.
Mr. Sands: Don’t forget Botswana and Zaire.
Mr. Warner: With this knowledge, you could head up Idi Amin’s air force.
Mr. Williams: I would point out that today in the United States, while there were no more than five such commuter air companies providing services in 1961, today there are more than 150 such airlines providing services to travellers in the United States. As I pointed out a moment ago, they are carrying in excess of 7,000 passengers a year, which is a 60 per cent increase over what the 1970 traffic figures were.
Mr. Warner: You know more about airplanes than Otto Lang.
Mr. Williams: An interesting consideration is that these commuter airlines are providing services into airports where the large commercial jets cannot go because of the size of the airport facilities and because of the high-performance characteristics of the larger jet aircraft.
Mr. Warner: Even the Speaker is chickening out.
An hon. member: Come on, Lorne, do something about this.
An hon. member: Come on down, Frank, give Rene Brunelle a break.
Mr. Williams: In the United States, in excess of 600 large and small cities are serviced by these small commuter aircraft and airline services.
Mr. Warner: Page 93.
Mr. Williams: What is of great interest is the fact that the development of the commuter service has largely been in the area of a replacement service to offset the losses that were being experienced by the larger carriers trying to serve the smaller communities on a frequent scheduled basis.
In the United States it was found that the only way they could be encouraged to operate and maintain these services was through large subsidies provided by the federal authorities. It was found, however, to be an impractical way to continue; so the new technology has developed with the provision of the small commuter aircraft.
If I might, I would like to point to the fact that in the replacement service field the success has been without qualification. One of the most significant examples I can give of this success is related to the service provided by one of the neighbouring airlines immediately to the south of us. That is the one furnished by Allegheny Airlines which has developed one of the most sophisticated forms of air services anywhere on the continent.
Mr. Warner: Are you related to the Wright brothers?
Mr. Williams: They have indeed provided a high degree of sophistication to their service -- which, since its inception in 1967, has provided for commuter service between 28 points, involving 81 different cities within the Allegheny routing system. That largely covers the northeastern sector of the United States. In fact, Allegheny operates 50 commuters-type aircraft, serving a total of 43 communities.
I might point out, Mr. Speaker -- and I think this is significant -- that of the 50 aircraft that Allegheny uses, 15 of those, or approximately one third are de Havilland aircraft. We have Allegheny using 13 Twin Otters and two Heron-type aircraft in their operations. I think this is significant. It’s important to know that one of our domestic aircraft manufacturers has an aircraft that has wide appeal in other countries, as well is in our own.
The provision of service in the Allegheny system is interesting in that it’s totally operated by the private sector. There are no government subsidies involved whatsoever. It’s really a small group of 12 air companies working under the Allegheny commuter group system. Each of these carriers contracts with the Allegheny Airlines company to provide this service in a fashion so that they can feed local passenger traffic into the major hub airports. In this way, passengers can make their connections to go on to other, more distant destinations if that is their wish. The service is used extensively, of course, to serve intercity needs within the United States, just as it is provided within certain areas of this province to simply serve intraprovincial needs.
Mr. Warner: This was the part of the budget that Darcy left out; budget for part of the airplanes.
Mr. Williams: The importance of the system can readily be appreciated if one simply --
Mr. Warner: Get a job as a travel guide.
Mr. Williams: -- visits any one of the multitude of local airports that exists in the northeastern states. I guess the most notable state is the state of Ohio, which probably has the most intensive number of airport facilities of all sizes of any of the states in the union. The availability of those facilities has indeed contributed in no small way to not only accommodating the travelling public, but in providing new markets for the industry and commerce in those areas.
The success and importance of the commuter air system in today’s society and in the coming years towards the turn of the century, is a matter that is not reserved to our neighbours to the south. It is one that we in Ontario have also taken some note of, and indeed in which we have participated in no small way.
Mr. Warner: The aircraft industry is about to take off; that’s what you’re telling us.
Mr. Williams: I think that this indeed is a credit to the foresight of the government, particularly the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, in providing and initiating this type of commuter service within our own province as well.
I must point out, however, that the introduction of commuter service into this province was perhaps founded for different reasons and operates under somewhat different circumstances, but the basic principles still do apply. I am referring, of course, to the norOntair system, which the government introduced on an experimental basis in October 1971.
Mr. Warner: Ah, now we’re into Ontario.
Mr. Samis: It has taken 40 minutes to get to Ontario. What a shame for those poor people listening up there.
Mr. Williams: The experiment was intended, when it was introduced in 1971, to test the benefits that would accrue to the region of northern Ontario as a result of improved local air service to small communities. Northern Ontario has long suffered from serious economic problems, including slow growth, below-average income, a narrow industrial base and high emigration.
Mr. Warner: And a lot of Tories.
Mr. Williams: The government, without the prodding and pushing of opposition members --
Mr. Samis: Without? We’re going to make you listen to this speech, John.
Mr. Williams: -- although they have seen fit to engage in that in recent budget debates by suggesting that northern Ontario is being ignored and not given the support that it deserves from the government -- notwithstanding those criticisms, this government on its own initiative has recognized these needs and has shown the foresight and initiative to introduce the commuter system into northern Ontario.
Mr. Warner: It was a crash program.
Mr. Williams: As a consequence, a program of improved local air transportation, because of its special attractiveness to the business community as well as to the huge size of northern Ontario, was introduced in 1971 by the government of Ontario and has proved to be an extremely important and worthwhile regional development tool.
Mr. Samis: Carried.
Mr. Warner: We should vote on this one.
Mr. Williams: The scheme, when it commenced, featured a local and feeder service to and from regional airports and airports in small communities. Since October 1971, norOntair, working with Air Canada and Trans Air, has developed the service to the point where the present network involves 16 cities and the use of seven DHC-6 or, as they are commonly known, Twin Otter aircraft.
It is a credit to the domestic aircraft industry, notably de Havilland, of course, that in the Twin Otter they have developed an aircraft that has received such high worldwide acclaim for use in the commuter field of air service.
As in the American experience, the growth of the commuter service in northern Ontario has been significant and encouraging. Since the inception of the service in 1971, when fewer than 500 passengers were carried in the first month of the operation, it has grown to the point today where it is handling in excess of 7,000 a month, which is a startling performance. The figures show that in 1977 norOntair carried in excess of 90,000 passengers, up from 82,000 passengers in 1976. This is being done with the full complement of seven Twin Otter aircraft in use in the 16-city system.
It is interesting to note that the service that utilizes the norOntair system is divided between 25 per cent private travel and 75 per cent business travel. That is an extremely important and relevant statistic, because one of the main purposes and functions of introducing the service into northern Ontario was to establish a viable means of communication, and particularly transportation, between, geographically speaking, the widespread urban areas of northern Ontario.
Mr. Haggerty: Just get something in the Bruce Peninsula and in the Niagara Peninsula and we’ll all be happy.
Mr. Warner: Have you ever been to northern Ontario? Do you know where it is?
Mr. Samis: Tell us about Air Congo.
Mr. Williams: The detailed surveys that have been conducted by the officials of norOntair have shown without exception that the service has proved its worth by increasing travel in the north in a marked fashion. Today 85 per cent of the people travelling in that area are utilizing the services for business purposes.
I must say that the norOntair program is unique, for it was introduced into a sparsely populated area with few large urban areas. As such, this is defying convention because it is contradictory to the introduction of a service in areas where it can be made to pay, in large, heavily-populated areas, such as the Allegheny illustration I commented on a few moments ago.
While this is a departure from the conventional, that does not mean that the system continues to remain experimental and of limited value. The norOntair system has probably proved to be one of the most successful systems developed and in operation anywhere in the world.
Mr. Warner: This is quite a filibuster.
Mr. Williams: As a consequence of that success, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has continued its negotiations with the federal authorities and other commercial airlines to look into ways and means by which it could expand this service to meet additional and growing needs in those communities.
With regard to the norOntair system, I might summarize, if I could, the essential results of the five years of operation of that system. I would point out that the norOntair system is both a local and a feeder carrier. It is local in the sense that it carries traffic between the regions of large centres such as Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, and feeder in the sense that it feeds traffic from the region’s smaller communities for connections at the region’s hub airports, an example being Kirkland Lake to North Bay for connections to Toronto.
Statistically, the traffic is 55 per cent feeder, that is interline services, and 45 per cent local. From that, perhaps the most important lesson of the norOntair experience to date is an appreciation of the vital necessity of full integration with the region’s larger carriers. Another important development last year in the system in northern Ontario was the introduction of pro-rated fares for the smaller communities. This program, developed by Air Canada and norOntair, has led to reduced fares to the small communities of the norOntair network to make it that much more attractive to the populace in that region.
As I stated earlier, the larger carriers in the United States, and Canada as well, are beginning to recognize the benefits that can accrue to them by virtue of interline arrangements with the local and feeder carriers.
I have pointed out that while the commuter air service concept is relatively new, it has indeed proved itself during the short period of time during which it has been in operation. It’s interesting to note that this province was very nearly in at the beginning of this program in the United States. It really got under way in a meaningful way in the United States in 1969 and the norOntair experimental program, which is no longer experimental, started in Ontario in 1971.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and I think it’s quite evident --
Mr. Warner: They tried it for a while without the engine; it didn’t work so well.
Mr. Williams: -- that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and this government are indeed in step with the times.
Hon. Mr. McCague: What’s the score?
Mr. Martel: Two to nothing.
Mr. Warner: Two to nothing for Boston.
Mr. Samis: We’ve got a big zero over in that corner though.
Mr. Worton: It’s not much better here either.
Mr. Warner: The lions -- two----
Mr. Williams: What I would like to draw attention to are two recent developments which indicate that this government, in recognizing the worth and success of the norOntair program, intends to --
Mr. Warner: Tell us, Orville.
Mr. Williams: -- review and study the greater potentials in servicing the more heavily populated southern regions of Ontario. The two occurrences are ones that have occurred during this calendar year. One was at the time of the speech from the throne when one part of that speech pointed out --
Mr. Warner: You and the Red Baron strike fear into our hearts.
Mr. Williams: -- that this government intended to undertake a series of studies related to a commuter air service for eastern Ontario, linking key agricultural and urban areas to other parts of the province.
Mr. Samis: That was a biggie all right.
Mr. Williams: It was stated in the throne speech that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would be undertaking this study with the idea of pursuing the matter with both private and public options in mind. More recently, the member for Owen Sound raised a question as to what progress was being made in the development of the air system in southern Ontario, when he asked the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) during the question period what the current situation was.
Mr. Ruston: What member is that? There’s no member for Owen Sound.
Mr. Warner: Is that a new riding? That must be a new riding.
Mr. Ruston: Do you mean the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent).
Mr. Williams: The member for Grey-Bruce, who lives in Owen Sound --
Mr. Warner: He owns Owen Sound.
Mr. Williams: -- raised the question with the minister. At that time, the Minister of Transportation and Communications pointed out that in establishing the terms of reference for the study that was referred to in the throne speech, his staff had determined, in consultation with people in many parts of Ontario, that it would not only be necessary to look at eastern Ontario, but it would be necessary to look at the whole of southern Ontario if we’re going to consider the provision of some form of commuter air service throughout the southern region.
The interrelationship between southwestern Ontario, southeastern Ontario and mid-southern Ontario --
Mr. Haggerty: There has been a study already completed. All the government has to do is act upon it. There’s Bradley’s Air Services.
Mr. Williams: -- is so important that the minister stated at that time that the study that was being implemented as stated in the throne speech is now to be broadened to incorporate all of southern Ontario.
Mr. Haggerty: They go from Gore Bay to Owen Sound to Toronto Island airport.
Mr. Williams: At that time, in responding to the member for Grey-Bruce, the minister indicated that even Wiarton was being given consideration as part of the facilities in the integrated system that is at least under consideration. It is encouraging that the government continues to show leadership in this field --
Mr. Haggerty: You don’t believe that now? You’re not serious.
Mr. Williams: -- because it’s apparent that the provision and need for commuter air services is going to continue to grow at an accelerated rate in the months and years ahead.
It is important that the government at this time do the proper planning and studies to ensure that the best of systems can be introduced to meet the greatest potential of the travelling public needs in this province.
The province is looking closely at this matter, which is not to minimize the importance the federal authorities also place on this mode of air transport.
That is clearly demonstrated by the experimental program the federal government introduced with the STOL study and service that was provided between Ottawa and Montreal. The importance of that particular experiment cannot be overlooked. This demonstration was undertaken beginning in July, 1974, and was carried through to April, 1976. During that period, because it was an experimental program, great pains were taken by the federal authorities to glean as much study material and technical data as was possible to satisfy themselves that the STOL concept of air commuter service, because that is what we are talking about although I haven’t made reference to that term yet this evening, is not only a concept but a reality that has economic viability.
The STOL demonstration, that is the short take-off and landing demonstration, between Ottawa and Montreal, proved to be a successful undertaking. I would like to refer to the preliminary conclusions arrived at from that experiment because they add importance to the concept and allay the fears of many sceptics who suggest such a service would not be in the public interest or would have serious environmental or economic factors that would not justify its implementation, development and expansion.
Mr. Warner: He should make a crash landing.
Mr. Samis: Now.
Mr. Williams: The preliminary conclusions of that particular demonstration are fourfold.
Mr. Warner: All that is missing is the leather helmet and the silk scarf.
Mr. Williams: Firstly, the STOL demonstration provided a downtown-to-downtown transportation service between Montreal and Ottawa, involving 24,000 flights and carrying 158,000 passengers through airspace close to Montreal International Airport without incident, thereby demonstrating very clearly the technical operational and safety characteristics that can be achieved.
The government, in introducing that experimental system, elected to utilize the services of the de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft and six were pressed into service for that particular undertaking. There is no question as to the acceptance and appropriateness of the use of this type of aircraft in this type of service.
Not only did that STOL demonstration show the technical operational safety characteristics, but it showed very clearly that despite extremely severe competition from conventional air services, the railways, the buses and the automobiles on this relatively short 100-mile route between the two cities that the STOL service proved highly attractive to a segment of the business market. They appreciated not only the time saving achievable but also other features, such as the frequent departures and the --
Mr. Warner: You should stand at the end of the runway.
Mr. Williams: -- convenience of the airport facilities --
Mr. Warner: Tell us about the Pickering airport.
Mr. Williams: -- particularly with regard to their access and egress to centrally located terminal points.
Mr. Warner: Tell us about Pickering.
Mr. Foulds: Are you still speaking? Pardon me -- ramble on.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Williams: This has been a part of the difficulty. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) still doesn’t appreciate the difference between the use of conventional aircraft and a conventional airport facility like Pickering, and the use of the smaller airport facility which can be utilized by the smaller commuter-type STOL aircraft.
Mr. Foulds: We are going to talk about transportation generally.
Mr. Warner: It doesn’t matter to me which plane you’re on.
Mr. Hodgson: Go home if you don’t like it.
Mr. Elgie: Resign.
Mr. Williams: If the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere would care to listen for a while I think he might get an education this evening.
Mr. Foulds: Do I have to suffer him all night?
Mr. Warner: This is cruel and unusual punishment.
Mr. Foulds: Do I get danger pay for this?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Hodgson: We won’t miss you, go home too; nobody will miss you, go home.
Mr. Elgie: Why doesn’t the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere resign?
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t we adjourn the House?
Mr. Williams: I’m glad the member for York East (Mr. Elgie) clarified who he was asking to resign.
The third important and significant conclusion of that demonstration was the fact that there was an in-depth analysis of community reaction taken with regard to the experiment. It showed that in the residential areas in which these two airport facilities were located that the proportion of opposition to those operations was small. In fact, the statistics would show that the majority of residents in the adjacent communities proved favourably disposed to the STOL experiment in Ottawa and Montreal. In fact it’s interesting to note that following exposure to the STOL demonstration, what opposition there had been initially to the concept was reduced considerably after the program was in operation.
I must say that the major opposition to the service was a matter of costliness of the service. The remaining opposition appears to centre around that element, and it’s in this respect that the public seems, at least according to this demonstration, to favour continuing government funding of this type of air service operations.
But outside of that consideration -- it’s a very important one, I must admit -- the residents in those areas who were questioned on these operations were largely favourably disposed to the concept of an economically sound STOL service. The residents did recognize it as a new transportation system that was -- and I think this is important -- devoid of the undesirable environmental side effects associated with the other forms of transportation, particularly the operation of the larger high-performance, conventional type of aircraft.
The fourth major conclusion derived out of that demonstration was that the analysis of the economics of the service indicated that, while indeed there was some initially significant startup costs involved because of the shortness of the demonstration route and because of its preciseness to serve the two cities, the population of some three million plus, it was determined that a complete route network could support the infrastructure cost of such an airline operation with such STOL airport facilities as were built and used in the Montreal-Ottawa demonstration. The conclusion --
Mr. Foulds: You’re concluding?
Mr. Williams: -- of the federal experts who studied this matter was that the total cost need not be as high as for conventional air services, and this again is an important consideration. I think it will be interesting to see the final report that is issued by the federal authorities when they have completed their overall analysis of the STOL demonstration.
Mr. Warner: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: What is your point of privilege?
Mr. Warner: Does the chair see a quorum?
Mr. Worton: If he does, he is seeing double.
Mr. Warner: I shouldn’t be the only one to suffer.
Mr. Deputy Speaker called for the quorum bells.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I would like to inform the members in general, and the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere in particular, that there is a quorum. Will the member for Oriole continue?
Mr. Williams: There are a few additional points I would like to stress with regard to the demonstration project undertaken by the federal authorities, because the pieces of statistical information I can provide are extremely relevant to matters I will be discussing in a few moments when we come to consider what the posture of the Ontario government and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications could well be in the coming months and years.
An interesting consideration of the demonstration project which proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the viability of the system in the Ottawa-Montreal corridor, was the fact that the system attracted a number of people away from the other conventional modes of transportation. It appears there was a 10 per cent reduction in the amount of bus travel that took place between the cities of Ottawa and Montreal --
Mr. Bradley: Gray Coach fares have gone up.
Mr. Williams: -- there was a reduction of approximately 28 per cent in automobile usage; there was a reduction of 22 per cent in rail usage. This fact is important, because it differentiates between the conventional type of air travel and the STOL system in the fact that it took away 36 per cent of the business of the conventional system operating between Ottawa and Montreal using the DC-9 aircraft and the other types of jet operated aircraft.
Mr. Warner: Also a decrease in pigeons.
Mr. Williams: That is a very significant statistic, the importance of which cannot be lost sight of.
Mr. Warner: Those airplanes killed all the birds.
Mr. Williams: There is no question that a large percentage of the users of that facility during the demonstration period were businessmen who found the convenience of the shorter travelling time of paramount importance. But that is not to say it wasn’t as well utilized by the travelling public at large for other than business purposes.
The demonstration indicated the majority of the travellers left either Ottawa or Montreal and returned the same day. In fact, over half the travellers completed the round trip in a single day, which indicated one of the major features and attractions of the service was the ability to go intermediate or long distances, do business, and return the same day, an accomplishment available by no other means. Certainly trains and buses are ruled out in providing for that type of need.
The other major consideration in the time factor was the proximity of the airport facilities to the downtown business centres of those two cities. That is an essential ingredient for the use of the STOL aircraft. We have highly sophisticated and proved equipment, and I suggest we in Canada are leaders in this field in the production of this type of aircraft, as demonstrated by the Twin Otter and more recently the introduction of de Havilland’s Dash-7.
To make utilization of the commuter air services reach its full potential, we must also have the appropriate airport facilities. This does indeed go hand in glove with getting the maximum benefits out of such a system.
This was clearly demonstrated in the Ottawa experiment where they had the facilities located in the heart of downtown Montreal and Ottawa. As a result of that, it was shown that the total time that elapsed for travelling was less than by utilizing the conventional high-powered jet aircraft. This was of considerable importance to the travellers and was the main reason there was such a high drain off of travellers from the use of the conventional aircraft to the STOL.
Also, the fare rates were more moderate and this, too, has to be an attractive feature. These smaller aircraft can operate much more efficiently. This has to have a large bearing on the extent of usage they would receive in any competitiveness between the use of those aircraft and the conventional aircraft.
It’s been clearly recognized that the concept of STOL operations would improve terminal access by locating the STOL ports close to the origin or destination of potential air travellers. That’s the key to the success of such a program.
Speaking from a local point of view, in the Toronto environment it would also alleviate a worsening problem with regard to the overcrowded usage of the Toronto International Airport. The use of STOL equipment and aircraft would permit the use of airports other than Toronto International, so as to alleviate the air and ground congestion that exists at that facility.
Mr. Lupusella: I knew that, we understood the message.
Mr. Williams: This benefit applies to all of the other major airports as well.
Mr. Foulds: Let’s cut down the trees at Queen’s Park and put it here.
Mr. Bradley: And finally, my last point.
Mr. Lawlor: Johnny, who are you trying to convince?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Williams: The whole STOL strategy is based upon the idea that aircraft will become available which possess --
Mr. Lawlor: You convinced me hours ago.
Mr. Williams: -- suitable low noise and short take-off and landing characteristics, thereby enabling them to operate from these smaller airports located within the developed urban areas. These are the essential ingredients to a successful program.
Mr. Foulds: Carried.
Mr. Williams: It can be and has been shown that with regard to the comparison of the conventional aircraft and the STOL aircraft operating between Toronto and Montreal, the total trip time is less using the smaller STOL aircraft than it is using the conventional aircraft --
Mr. Lupusella: What about air pollution?
Mr. Lawlor: Everybody knows that.
Mr. Williams: -- by a considerable amount of time. This, too, is significant.
Mr. Foulds: Are you talking about the Twin Otter?
Mr. Lawlor: For heaven’s sake, that’s elementary.
Mr. Bradley: Nothing on OHIP payments?
Mr. Worton: Not just yet.
Mr. Williams: I can’t emphasize enough the --
Mr. Foulds: You have, you have.
Mr. Williams: -- key part that the STOL airport facilities themselves play in the overall system and that the facility has to be located within easy access of the passenger’s origin and destination.
Mr. Lawlor: Have one in everybody’s backyard.
Mr. Foulds: Let’s put one on your front lawn, John.
Mr. Williams: There’s been a great deal of controversy recently because of the announcement made by Mr. Lang as to the intention to utilize the Toronto Island Airport facilities for the purposes of implementing a STOL system between Toronto and Montreal, and ultimately Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa.
Mr. Foulds: Where we really need it is Manitouwadge, Geraldton and Longlac.
Mr. Williams: To the member from Thunder Bay, those services are being largely provided, if he’d been here earlier, by norOntair.
Mr. Foulds: Not to the three communities I mentioned. There is a big gap between Wawa and Thunder Bay.
Mr. Williams: I think it’s only reasonable and fair that the government provide equal services for the people and residents of Ontario living south of North Bay.
Mr. Foulds: It’s a pity the member doesn’t know his geography in northwestern Ontario.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I’ve talked at some length about the federal demonstration --
Mr. Foulds: You think the northwest is Etobicoke.
Mr. Williams: -- and experiments and have pointed out in a statistical way some of its achievements. The question now, Mr. Speaker, is what is the role of the provincial government in analysing the potential and providing, where they can demonstrate the real needs, such service within our own province?
Mr. Foulds: If it’s like the auto pact it’s zilch.
Mr. Williams: We have on the statute books an act entitled the Airports Act, which I guess is one of the shortest statutes on record. It is a one-page document, which if really considered --
Mr. Bradley: It lists the government’s accomplishments.
Mr. Williams: -- with regard to its full potential merits more than a one page presentation. The Airports Act, of course, does give the provincial government the authority to provide or assist in the development of airport facilities in any one or more areas in Ontario.
There is the municipal airports development program that was developed in conjunction with the Airports Act. That was implemented by this government in 1968. To date, of course, the program has been largely, in fact I would say almost exclusively, limited to northern Ontario. It ties in with the norOntair program I spoke about at some length earlier this evening.
Mr. Foulds: You are never going to get a cabinet post, you know.
Mr. Williams: But the fact of the matter is the municipal airport development program has equal merit in southern Ontario as it does in northern Ontario. I would hope in the coming months and years the full potential of that program can be developed in southern Ontario, in conjunction first of all with the placement and then the expansion of --
Mr. Foulds: Are you a parliamentary assistant yet?
Mr. Williams: -- a viable commuter air service system.
Mr. Bradley: He will be the new MTC man.
Mr. Foulds: I know you are bucking for Jim Snow’s job; watch it, Jim.
Mr. Bradley: Yes, you’ve got it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Williams: The importance of the municipal airport development program is one of which the Ministry --
Mr. Foulds: We are going to be saying bring back Jim Snow. I can see it now.
Mr. Williams: -- of Transportation and Communications has been mindful. It is undoubtedly an integral part of the overall study that is being undertaken by the ministry at this time, and to which the minister alluded in the question period two or three weeks ago when he indicated the study program was being expanded to take in virtually all or southern Ontario and not just southeastern Ontario. The extent to which the ministry is developing these studies is not to be minimized.
Hon. Mr. Snow: The southern portion is going into Stratford international.
Mr. Foulds: Why isn’t the minister making this statement?
Mr. Williams: I think one of the examples of how thorough an assessment the ministry is making of the potential of this service, is of course found in the study team report that was done by the ministry and issued in January of 1976. It deals with local and feeder air transportation services. This study was a very comprehensive, well documented study, and points out the viability of the introduction of such a system. What I would like to do is to simply point out basically what that initial study determined. I am sure it will be made use of in the new study that will be coming forward.
This particular study concluded there should be further government of Ontario involvement in air transportation as a desirable means to effect viable improvements in transportation efficiency and convenience and as a means of contributing to local and regional development That is a significant and important finding that came out of the study to which I have referred.
Mr. Foulds: Why is the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) leaving?
Mr. Williams: With Ontario’s northern air program at an advanced stage of development, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, in having initiated the 1975 study, was taking the next step down the road to providing a totally integrated air service system in the province as the need arises, or at least to providing the mechanism and the plans for implementation as quickly as possible of any such system that was determined to be needed to serve the needs of the travelling public in Ontario.
Mr. Foulds: The trouble is the program never got off the ground; it got one step down the road but never got off the ground.
Mr. Bradley: And in conclusion!
Mr. Williams: The study in question dealt specifically with the STOL system amongst others and was very laudable of the benefits to be derived from the used of that type of system. I would commend the reading of this report to any people who suggest we have not come of age in the development of a commuter type of air system for this province.
Mr. Foulds: You have become so much of age you are getting senile.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Why don’t you read it to us, John? It is interesting.
Mr. Williams: Time doesn’t permit, George; otherwise, I would. It has been suggested I read the report. I will certainly refrain from doing that, but I will perhaps highlight one or two of the salient features of the report.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you start reading the telephone book?
Mr. Williams: In particular, I would point out that the study in question did take into consideration many of the smaller airport facilities in southern Ontario, including Owen Sound, Gore Bay, Parry Sound, and many of the other facilities that the travelling public may not normally consider to be potentially part of a regularly scheduled airline service.
Mr. Foulds: You are driving out the Minister of the Environment (Mr. McCague).
Mr. Williams: I suggest that the full potential of the system, however, cannot be fully realized without the provision of a hub facility or core. In the same way that a wheel will collapse without an axle so, too, in the same fashion the local and feeder commuter air system would not operate realistically without having access to a central hub or core, which, realistically and obviously, has to be the city of Toronto, which is the capital of the province in many respect.
Mr. Foulds: I think you have just mashed, and not merely mixed, your metaphors.
Mr. Williams: The industrial, commercial, convention and political base of the province is found in Toronto, as well as the majority of our population. There appears to be a real need to serve not only the people who want to come into Toronto to make use of these services that are available but also to serve the needs of the people who are resident within Metropolitan Toronto and have business and pleasure to engage in, in other sections of our province.
Mr. Foulds: Would you mind repeating that? Business and pleasure to engage in, in others sections of the province?
Mr. Williams: I am speaking of flights for business purposes or for vacation purposes or personal trips that might be made for visitations between families and friends, which is a large percentage of users of the commuter airlines such as we have in place today.
Mr. Foulds: What’s wrong with the word “visit”?
Mr. Williams: This has been determined by some of the studies that I have discussed earlier this evening. It has clearly been shown that a significant part of the travelling public is using it for personal reasons, although it’s clearly recognized the large balk of travellers are using these lines for business reasons because of the large distances between our business centres.
Mr. Speaker, as I started to say, the whole hub and success of the commuter program revolves around the realistic recognition that the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto would have an important role to play in the full development of this system.
Mr. Foulds: Let’s move it up to Barrie and use rapid transit, light rail transit.
Mr. Williams: It’s interesting that Mr. Lang made a public pronouncement several weeks ago about the intentions of the federal government to introduce a commuter system utilizing Toronto Island Airport facilities in establishing a commuter link between Toronto and Montreal.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you use the word “use” instead of “utilize”?
Mr. Williams: And it was prior to that time that I gave consideration to this whole field of commuter airline service and what it means to Ontario. That public statement has increased public awareness and interest in the whole concept and so it is more than timely that I bring my remarks to the Legislature this evening in this debate.
Mr. Breaugh: To a close, perhaps?
Mr. Williams: Unfortunately, a great deal of publicity given to the use of the Toronto Island Airport is out of proportion to what the realities of the situation are. When the federal minister made the announcement the news media gave a considerable amount of press coverage to those who immediately rose in protest to the usage of that particular airport for part of the system he was introducing.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you use the military airport at Downsview?
Mr. Williams: It is important to provide a proper perspective to this whole issue because it is going to become a heated issue again, at least at the local level.
Mr. Foulds: Not while you are speaking on the subject.
Mr. Williams: It has found recognition and acceptance federally, and perhaps it will provincially as well, at least based on some of the preliminary comments made by our own Minister of Transportation and Communications. He has indicated there appears to be a great deal of merit to the introduction of such a system utilizing the Toronto Island Airport facility. It remains to be seen to what extent the government will support that particular undertaking --
Mr. Foulds: The Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) has been driven from the House.
Mr. Williams: -- although it is largely a federally initiated undertaking at this time.
Mr. Breaugh: You drove the Minister of Labour out of the House.
Mr. Williams: The whole problem with regard to the Toronto Island Airport developed back in the early 1970s when it became apparent that the Toronto harbour commissioners, who have the responsibility of administering the operation of the airport, were running at a deficit. That body questioned whether the air services on the island should be done away with or whether some remedial steps should be taken to recognize and use the full potential of that facility.
As a consequence, four levels of government were brought into a comprehensive study program to give full and comprehensive consideration to the future of the Toronto Island Airport.
Mr. Foulds: Did that include Neptune’s kingdom?
Mr. Williams: Representatives from the federal government, from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, from the harbour commission, representatives from the city of Toronto and representatives from Metropolitan Toronto participated in a comprehensive study of the options with regard to the use of the Toronto Island Airport facilities.
One of the most significant documents to be published on the subject was one that was issued by the well respected and recognized bureau of municipal research when they issued, in November, 1977, in their ongoing series of articles entitled Civic Affairs, a complete study and analysis of the Toronto Island problem, if I can use that term. Their particular document was entitled Should the Island be an Airport?
I would say that this document has to be the most authoritative and comprehensive piece of resource material that has been developed to date on the subject, pulling together the findings of the provincial and federal authorities and the views that had been expressed in the studies published by the provincial government. This report has condensed many of these findings into a convincing argument that the Toronto Island Airport facility deserves to be continued as a general aviation facility. The recommendation found that to be the most responsible use for that facility.
Mr. Worton: Mr. Speaker, could we have a quorum call, please?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Wellington South has asked if there is a quorum.
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, there is no quorum.
Mr. Deputy Speaker called for the quorum bells.
SEEING A QUORUM
Mr. MacDonald: Point of order: May I plead with you, Mr. Speaker, that henceforth you indulge in that British parliamentary practice of seeing a quorum from now until 10:30, so that the bells don’t ring, and in effect disrupt the committee work by bringing us up here?
An hon. member: Far more valuable than what you’re doing up here.
Mr. Hodgson: Tough luck, MacDonald.
Mr. MacDonald: I am sorry, it is not tough luck. We can do the job in the committee if you don’t call quorums here needlessly.
An hon. member: You are speaking about one of your own members.
Mr. MacDonald: I don’t care who I am speaking to. I am speaking to all of them who are calling quorums.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I appreciate the honourable member’s comments. However, we have to operate by the standing orders and if a quorum is called by any member, I have to say it is up to the Speaker to have the quorum called.
The member for Oriole.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight some of these extremely important findings of the airport study that was done with regard to the Toronto Island Airport.
Mr. Haggerty: How about getting it off the ground?
Mr. Williams: I think the most fundamentally important statistic that can be placed before the House tonight to show the importance of the development of the smaller airport facilities within our province can be found in the following statistic.
Mr. Warner: The best thing you can do is resign.
Mr. Williams: Canada has 900 airports, of which only 70 -- that is less than eight per cent -- accommodate scheduled air services. That I think is an astounding statistic. Less than eight per cent of the licensed airport facilities in Canada accommodate scheduled air services.
The joint committee on the Toronto Island Airport concluded in its October 1974 report that the consequences of closing the Toronto Island Airport to aviation would be the need to develop an airport with similar facilities in another location.
That report pointed out the difficulties of finding another location with comparable accessibility to the business district and to public transportation. The unique advantages of the island site lie in its largely over-water approaches, its closeness to the Toronto business district and downtown hospitals, and accessibility to the Toronto-wide public transportation system.
It is interesting to note, if you look at large metropolitan areas like New York City, Boston or Philadelphia, that they all have airport facilities that are in the inner core of the city, primarily because the airport facility itself is located with over-water approaches and not over heavily populated areas.
Mr. Haggerty: We’ve got one in Fort Erie.
Mr. Williams: I should mention, of course, the airport at Washington, District of Columbia, and the major runway there; one access is over water as well. The reason these airports have been able to thrive and continue in the large metropolitan areas, with ready access to the central core of the city, is that the facilities have largely over-water approaches or approaches that are away from built-up residential areas from which complaints would normally arise, as they have with regard to the Malton facility.
Mr. Warner: Try to get into the city centre.
Mr. Williams: One of the main reasons why the federal government has deemed it inappropriate to expand the facilities at Malton is that there is no way of expanding that facility without encroaching upon the residential areas as far as noise and environmental pollution are concerned.
Mr. Bradley: Without sending the jets over the Premier’s house.
Mr. Williams: A further consideration, of course, as I mentioned earlier, is the relief that would be provided to the Toronto International Airport facilities; while they have not attained their maximum as far as provision of facilities is concerned, they are close to approximating the maximum usage to which that airport can be put. It has been determined that up to 18 to 20 per cent of the aircraft using that facility, providing local or intraprovincial services, could well use the Toronto Island Airport facilities or airport facilities of that stature.
The important consideration in making use of the Toronto Island Airport would be -- I stress this again -- that we would be utilizing, according to the federal statement, the smaller aircraft and not the high performance jet aircraft we associate with Toronto International Airport and the larger airport facilities around the country.
There has been some criticism levelled at the federal authorities since they issued their statement about using the Toronto Island Airport, suggesting that it was being done simply to accommodate the interest they have in the de Havilland operation. I think it’s regrettable that this type of perspective be applied to this situation. There’s no question that the federal government does have a vested interest in the de Havilland facilities and in the development of the commuter type of aircraft that the Twin Otter represents and now the Dash-7.
There is no reason for the federal government to be ashamed of the fact that they would like to see proven aircraft like the Dash-7 and the Twin Otter put to full use, domestically as well as abroad, because the irony of it is that these proven aircraft, developed by the de Havilland corporation, are being used extensively around the world by other nations who recognize that they are the most highly respected type of STOL aircraft on the market today.
If it can be demonstrated through the studies that will come forward from our ministry and have been brought forward earlier, indicating that a commuter airline service system could be developed in southern Ontario, I suggest we should be turning to our domestic manufacturers. I think we should be proud of the fact that Canada has one of the best aircraft manufacturers in this area, and I think we’re privileged to have that facility located in our own province. True, it would contribute to the economic well-being of our community if the federal government did decide to use the Twin Otters and the Dash-7s if, as and when it does implement the program. There’s no question that there are thousands of job opportunities and jobs at stake in this venture. It should be only appropriate that they should utilize and deal with an aircraft company, all factors being equal, that can provide the type of aircraft they are looking for. For people who are in opposition to the Toronto airport to suggest that it’s being done simply to accommodate de Havilland Aircraft and to justify the government’s continuing investment in that company is not fair comment at all.
The development of the airport system and the short take-off and landing aircraft utilization will prove itself, I believe, in the coming years. Whether it is Toronto Island Airport that is utilized or another airport facility within the Metropolitan Toronto area, although I can’t think of a replacement that would better serve the community than Toronto Island Airport, I am satisfied in my own mind that there is a need to provide the service, not only in the Windsor-Toronto-Montreal-Quebec City corridor, which is the most heavily used and the one that will receive the most immediate attention, but in the other areas to which the Minister of Transportation and Communications referred the other day, as well in speaking of other airport facilities in such hub airports as North Bay, Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Windsor, Peterborough, Wiarton, Core Bay, Elliot Lake. All of these facilities are under consideration and are deserving of the same type of commuter service that the people of northern Ontario enjoy today.
An hon. member: An airport in Scarborough?
Mr. Williams: Since the announcement made by Mr. Lang, as I pointed out a few moments ago, there’s been some support in the local press given to those who would oppose the Toronto Island Airport without really presenting to the public the advantages to be gained and providing a clear presentation of the pros and cons that exist today. To date we have heard of the so-called disadvantages espoused by the known and active opponents to such a facility. That opposition has led some of the local writers and the news media to suggest that with the introduction of 25 STOL trips daily from the island Airport it would turn what is at present a small plane airport, where flying is nothing more than a picturesque and quiet undertaking, into a noisy intrusion upon one of our finest parks.
That observation was made by one of our local journalists. Mr. Speaker, if you really sit down and assess that statement, what he is saying is that 25 additional landings and takeoffs a day will make the difference between acceptable airport facility and one that is going to be completely unacceptable from an environmental point of view to the people of this city.
Those many takeoffs and landings can take place at that airport within an hour of the whole 24-hour day, let alone throughout the whole of the day. To suggest that all of a sudden 25 additional flights out of Toronto Island Airport is going to make it a completely unacceptable facility that will offend the residential community, such as they are within the proximity of the airport, I think truly flies in the face of the realities of the situation.
I have had the opportunity of visiting a number of the smaller airport facilities in the United States where they do have these commuter services, to witness the operations of these aircraft, such as the Twin Otters coming to and from these airports. There is no question that they provide a much more efficient and a much quieter operation than would be experienced in the use of the conventional aircraft.
The fact of the matter is that the STOL aircraft such as the Twin Otter are much quieter than some of the single-engine aircraft that are used and owned by private pilots operating out of these local airports for solely pleasure purposes. I think that is a factor that has to be taken into consideration. With regard to the Toronto Island Airport, there is no residential community within the immediate proximity. Even the remaining residents on the Toronto Islands are some distance away -- much further than you would find residents living in proximity to Toronto International Airport.
The studies that were undertaken clearly show that the environment of the Toronto Islands as a park reserve and passive recreational area would not in any way be encroached upon by the continued use of the Toronto Island Airport. Nor would that feature in any way be diminished by reason of the fact that an additional 25 or 30 flights a day were originating out of the airport using presumably either Twin Otters or the Dash-7.
I would wish that the editorial writers and the journalists who are so down on this concept and this method of air transportation would first partake of a flight on these aircraft and learn from first-hand experience how efficient and how quiet these aircraft are, and how different they are from the conventional type of aircraft that perhaps they are used to using in their business trips around the province and the country. I certainly know at the time the Dash-7 was commercially brought on to the market after receiving certification there was a great deal of interest shown -- the news media did make a lot of positive comment on the advantages and the worth of this type of aircraft. I would hope they would retain that perspective when they do their overall assessment on the use of those particular types of aircraft in the Toronto Island Airport facility.
It is interesting to note that one of the papers recently editorialized on the decision to use the Toronto Island Airport, pointing out that there was no need to develop a “hectic air hub,” as it was classified, with the introduction of an additional 25 flights a day in and out of Toronto Island Airport, and there was no need to squander energy that purportedly is used up by planes and no other forms of vehicles that transport people around the country, particularly when it would serve, supposedly, only a limited market and reduce the potential of the islands for recreation.
First of all, I think it has been clearly and statistically shown by the numerous studies that have been undertaken, a number of which I have spoken to at length this evening, that a large percentage of people using these aircraft are in the business community. There is a demand there for the use of these aircraft to make their business time more efficient.
As to the squandering of energy, in some minds it’s suggested that the aircraft are using up hundreds and hundreds of gallons of aviation fuel when a bus would be using maybe a hundredth of the amount of gasoline as would an aircraft. The fact of the matter is that, particularly with the STOL aircraft, there is a very small increase in the amount of fuel that would be utilized. This is well offset by the advantages of the time savings involved in the movement from distant points that are not realistically attained by bus or train.
Mr. Speaker: I take it the member for Oriole is against flying for fun.
Mr. Williams: To the contrary, as one who engages in the sport, as you call it, I gain a great deal of pleasure out of flying. In fact, it’s the shortsightedness of the federal authorities who have imposed so many restraints in recent times against the private pilots and owners in Canada that they’re almost going to put the private aircraft industry out of business.
Mr. Ruston: You’re going to put this place out of business the way you are going. I would hate to listen to you every day.
Mr. Williams: I would get somebody in their operation down there who would start to rethink and realize the harm they’re doing to the aviation industry in Canada --
Mr. Haggerty: Is he getting through to you, Jim?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Exactly.
Mr. Williams: -- save and except the one bright light in the overall attitude of the federal authorities with regard to the merits they see in the STOL program. Short of that, they’re certainly making it very difficult for private aviation to develop and grow in this country to the extent that other recreational pastimes have. That is regrettable.
I was about to comment on the fact that the criticism coming from one of the Toronto papers was that the development of the STOL market would take away from the expansion and development of the rail service between --
Mr. Ruston: You are not talking about the budget.
Mr. Williams: -- the Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa market. It’s been suggested that the rail services and the improved rail services they’re talking about and hoping to bring into service would be -- “devastated” is the term that was used in the paper. Yet in the same editorial they were pointing out that there appeared to be a limited market for the use of the STOL services. There seemed to be a contradiction there.
Surely, it has been demonstrated that the rail service still commands a very substantial part of the travelling marketplace. I think it’s ludicrous to suggest that the introduction of a STOL service would put the rail services in this province or across the country out of business. It’s just not so.
I think there is, however, most certainly an obligation on the part of the railway companies, both in the public and private sectors, to improve their service to compete with the airlines. Certainly the introduction of the STOL program would make them have to compete just that much more.
Each of those types of transportation services will continue, regardless of what happens. Each serves a particular market. People will continue to have need for rail service, just as people will continue to have need for existing and expanded air service.
I think the economies that will be brought to the expansion of air service with the introduction of the somewhat larger commuter type aircraft as represented by the Dash-7 has to be recognized. The Dash-7, for those who are unaware, is a 50-seat aircraft as contrasted to the smaller Twin Otter which I think has a maximum of 15 places for passengers; perhaps it’s 11 with the aircrew.
An hon. member: Nineteen.
Mr. Williams: The viability of using larger intermediate-size aircraft such as the Dash-7 has been recognized in the United States, as I pointed out in my opening remarks. It was made clear that the Civil Aeronautics Board in the United States was already moving in the direction of broadening the restrictions it imposes upon the size of commuter aircraft to include aircraft of under 56 seats and certainly the Dash-7, as an example, fits well within those proposed broadened terms under which they could operate commuter aircraft in the United States.
The de Havilland people, in developing this aircraft, have not only recognized the potential market here in this size of aircraft, they’ve shown leadership in providing a smaller Twin Otter in earlier days and have contributed in no small way therefore to the overall success of commuter airlines on this continent -- not just in Canada but in the United States as well. My understanding is that the Dash-7 is already receiving accolades in the United States since it went into service with one of the commuter airline operators in the mid-west, out of Denver, Colorado, I believe. I understand that one of the private carriers in this country, Wardair, will be shortly taking delivery of one of the Dash-7s to introduce it and include it in its overall air services within the country.
I think there is an important need to have a total perspective of the importance of air services within our province. It’s very easy to take a negative approach and suggest that airports and air services are for the rich and the exclusive class and that they are built to the detriment of the general public at large. That is a fallacy that has to be refuted; it can’t go unanswered.
The fact of the matter is that many people from all walks of life, from all incomes, find the convenience and the affordability of using air services, as well as bus and trains. It would appear that the future perhaps appears brighter for the expansion of air services because of the lesser capital cost to start up with regard to provision of airport facilities than for the expansion of existing railway rights of way with regard to competing railway lines, which is a tremendous capital cost. It has to be recognized that in this respect and in others it can be more economical to provide expanded air services than the expanded and more sophisticated experimental, if you will, rail services --
An hon. member: Only air services left now.
Mr. Williams: -- but I’m not downgrading the rail services nor the other competitive services. I just don’t want to see the air services downgraded and minimized because they have their rightful place in our community as well.
I hope that in having reviewed the whole field of air services and in particular the importance of commuter air services, in having identified those services and made the important distinctions between those services and the conventional services that the travelling public is used to and identifies with will clearly demonstrate that the Toronto Island Airport is not a local issue, but one that has provincial consequences as far as meeting the travelling needs of the public now and into the future.
I would hope, therefore, that as this issue develops and unfolds it will continue to be looked at in the total perspective. We do have to weigh the disadvantages -- and I am not suggesting there are none -- but we also have to look at the advantages. They have to be fully publicized and made known to the public as well. I think we get too much anti-development of all sorts these days without giving equal credit and recognition to the advantages in the development of programs. This is a classic example of where we have to look at the positive sides of a program as well.
In drawing a conclusion, I would hope --
Mr. Williams: -- that I have presented a balanced and reasoned argument.
Mr. Haggerty: You forgot about the bridge that has to be constructed at the Island Airport.
Mr. Williams: I will come to that in a moment. Thank you for reminding me of that. I feel I have presented a balanced and reasoned presentation of the whole concept, the whole future and the immediate presence of air services to the public of this province.
One thing I didn’t emphasize enough, because I directed my remarks primarily to the transportation of people, is the location --
Mr. Renwick: Let’s put the airport in Oriole.
Mr. Williams: -- of smaller airport facilities in the smaller urban communities of the province is of great importance as well. It has been clearly demonstrated when one visits some of these smaller facilities in our adjoining states that the local governments very aggressively promote the development and use of commuter services in their areas.
Mr. Haggerty: Even to include the mail service would be welcome.
Mr. Williams: That is one way in which the services are used in the United States. I presume that the introduction of expanded commuter services in Ontario would assist in the delivery of mail as well.
An example of how the introduction of airport facilities can assist in the economy of a community is Tillsonburg. In Tillsonburg, they have a number of industries. One of the major industries there two or three years ago made a decision that either the existing airport facility had to be expanded or they were going to close down their Tillsonburg operations.
After due consideration and consultation with the local elected officials in that community, recognition was given to the fact that it would be to the economic advantage of that community and region to expand the existing airport facilities. This was undertaken and, as a result of that, in excess of 200 jobs were preserved in that community. The major industry in that town has expanded since. That is just one example of many that I could recite if I had the time.
Mr. Renwick: You have the time. Give us a few more examples as specious as that one was.
Mr. Williams: There are many instances of where a positive initiative and attitude by local municipalities can attract industries that otherwise would not consider coming into some of these marginal areas. This has been demonstrated on many occasions. As I say, in the United States the state of Ohio is a classic example where many industries have moved to the smaller satellite cities outside of the major areas simply because of the existence of airport facilities.
Coming back to the matter of the Toronto Island Airport --
Mr. Renwick: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, are you restless or just bored?
Mr. Williams: -- and the point raised by the member from Welland --
An hon. member: Erie.
Mr. Williams: -- I’m sorry, the member for Erie -- as to the bridging of the eastern gap; of course this is a --
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I draw your attention to standing order 16(a): “In debate a member will be called to order by the Speaker if he persists in needless repetition or raises matters which have been decided during the current session.” I would suggest that the member should be called to order for needless repetition.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You guys would be out of order all the time.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened extremely carefully to the member for Oriole and I fail to see where he has been repetitious; perhaps a little verbose but never repetitions.
Mr. Warner: Has he been relevant?
Mr. Foulds: Right on the beam.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, if you would listen, David.
Mr. Warner: Well, that score is 124 to 1.
Mr. Williams: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is no question that is one of the major logistical problems with regard to full utilization of that airport facility -- to the extent envisioned by the federal Minister of Transport, but it is one that can clearly be overcome with some initiative and I think Mr. Lang has indicated they will indeed come to grips with that particular problem.
So, Mr. Speaker, I will now --
Mr. Warner: Resign?
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s your option, David.
Mr. Williams: -- conclude --
Mr. Ruston: Hurrah.
Mr. Williams: -- conclude my remarks by suggesting that perhaps --
Mr. Ruston: In conclusion.
Mr. Williams: -- I have initiated a debate on an issue that I feel will warrant much more attention from this House in the coming weeks and months ahead --
Mr. Warner: If anyone can understand what you said.
Mr. Foulds: Anybody would get more attention than you have.
Mr. Williams: -- because I’m sure that the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) will be bringing forward --
Mr. Foulds: Where is he?
Mr. Ziemba: You have driven him out.
Mr. Warner: You drove him out of the House, I think he is on an airplane.
Mr. Williams: -- a most interesting study in the next few weeks that will give added strength and support to the views that I have expressed here this evening as to the viability of the introduction of expanded commuter air services within the province of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to participate in the budget debate this evening --
Mr. Warner: That’s your own opinion.
Mr. Williams: -- directing specific attention in so doing to an area that has not received the attention it has deserved in recent times, but which, I feel --
Mr. Warner: Cruel and unusual punishment for us.
Mr. Williams: -- through reasoned and broad debate on this subject, this will --
An hon. member: You are not finished?
Mr. Williams: -- be corrected in the weeks and months ahead. So, Mr. Speaker, I trust that these remarks --
Hon. W. Newman: There are still 11 minutes.
Mr. Warner: You should be part of a crash program.
Mr. Foulds: Can’t you keep going for 10 minutes, John?
Mr. Williams: -- and considerations will be taken under consideration and will be used to advantage in an ongoing debate on this very important subject.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, since time is getting late I really wouldn’t like to get into the main part of my speech. As you can see it is rather lengthy, but I don’t think it will be quite as lengthy as the one we had tonight.
I was just thinking, at $51 a page from 8 o’clock it has been a pretty expensive night, and the member speaking I don’t think mentioned one word about the budget.
Mr. Warner: Not a single word.
Mr. Ruston: At any rate, I would adjourn the debate. I’ll get into the budget when I return to this next week.
On motion by Mr. Ruston, the debate was adjourned.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Brunelle, the House adjourned at 10:25 p.m.