The House met at 10:02 a.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the honourable members that the 10th International Sculpture Conference is to be held at York University from May 31 to June 3. This year, 1978, is the biennial year of this major art congress, whose honorary chairman is Henry Moore. I am delighted that Toronto has been chosen as the host city, doubly so as this is the first time that the conference has been held in Canada.
The theme of the conference is Sculpture Today. Since preparations for it began two years ago, members of my ministry and its agencies have been extensively involved in the planning and co-ordination of a rich variety of international programs and exhibitions. The four-day conference will bring together over 1,200 sculptors and related experts from Canada, the United States, and 34 foreign countries to explore the full spectrum of sculpture today in a program of workshops, panel discussions and seminars to be conducted by over 150 world-renowned experts.
As part of the planned city-wide celebrations, the works of Canadian and international artists will be on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario, York University Galleries, the Toronto-Dominion Centre, the Ontario College of Art, Harbourfront and McMichael Gallery at Kleinburg as well as private galleries throughout the city.
Of special interest to the honourable members will be an exhibition of the works of 75 Canadian sculptors at the Macdonald Gallery here at Queen’s Park. This show is sponsored by the Sculptor’s Society of Canada in honour of their 50th anniversary. The cities of Dundas, Hamilton, Kingston and Ottawa are also participating with special shows and events.
The conference has the endorsement of the three levels of government, with funding by the Ministry of Culture and Recreation through a Wintario grant, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council and Metropolitan Toronto. I know that the honourable members and indeed all the people of the province will join with me in extending a warm and hospitable welcome to this world community of artists, and that everyone will enjoy the aesthetic pleasures and educational values of this multinational celebration of sculpture and sculptors.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. This has to do with the report that the ministry will be turning down the proposed Nanticoke waste disposal site for liquid industrial wastes. I trust the report is true because we don’t think that’s the proper place for the waste.
Can the minister say, given the rejection of this scheme, what policy is now going to be followed at long last by his ministry to deal with the enormous problem of liquid industrial waste in Ontario? Are we merely to save it in gallon containers? Are we merely to hope that unscrupulous people don’t dump it down the sewer? What policy is going to be followed from now on with regard to liquid industrial waste?
Hon. Mr. McCague: First, there was an announcement that the director of environmental approvals had turned down the Nanticoke site. I think the Leader of the Opposition is aware of that. We are hoping that municipalities and industry will solve some of these liquid industrial waste problems.
Mrs. Campbell: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. McCague: As the honourable member knows, we are having a hearing on the burning of PCB-contaminated materials at St. Lawrence Cement which we are satisfied, as a ministry, is a sensible way of disposing of them. There is solidification at the Ottawa Street site in Hamilton. We will be looking at deep-well disposal. There are a couple of areas in the province where it is felt that that can be done successfully, based on information we have and the results of a couple of sites in the United States.
Mr. S. Smith: Dealing first of all with the Nanticoke matter itself; is the article in the newspaper correct, to the minister’s knowledge, that Mr. Drew and the Nanticoke company spent $125,000 on various fees and so forth? If so, did that money come from the Ontario Development Corporation loan of $500,000 which was made to the Nanticoke company? If so, can we be told whether the minister has any understanding of what security there is for that loan since I gather it was originally going to be a second mortgage, and I would like to know, a second mortgage on what? The company has no other assets.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I have no information as to the amount which was spent by the firm, nor do I have any knowledge of where the money that they did spend came from.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that there is still no space where some of the toxic wastes can be legally disposed of, can the minister say what steps are being taken to ensure that those toxic wastes are put into storage and are not dumped illegally into water or sewage systems across the province?
Hon. Mr. McCague: We have no knowledge of them being illegally dumped into water courses around the province. There has been a case or two where these substances have shown up in creeks. We don’t know how they got there. We are trying to police it to the best of our ability. The honourable member may be referring to what is referred to as “midnight callers.” We will try our best to catch them, but some get away from time to time, as you well know.
Mr. S. Smith: Would the minister be good enough to check with the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) and report at some later date on the status of that ODC loan. It seems to have gone to Nanticoke Waste Management which will now presumably be repaid, or won’t be. I don’t know, but could the minister check on that?
Secondly, could the minister please elaborate on what he means when he says this problem of liquid waste management will have to be solved by the municipalities and the industries? What does the minister expect the municipalities of Ontario to do? What is his ministry prepared to do to assist them in this regard, or coerce them or help them or whatever, so that we have some policy to deal with liquid industrial waste?
Hon. Mr. McCague: In answer to the first question, I think it would be more appropriate if the honourable member were to ask the Minister of Industry and Tourism to get the details on that question for him.
On the second part, as the member knows, Metropolitan Toronto is one of the greatest producers of liquid industrial waste and there is a committee of my ministry and Metro working on solutions to this problem.
One thing I didn’t mention is they are attempting to outfit the sewage disposal plant that is going to be surplus in Durham region for the treatment of waste. We are helping every municipality in the province with the latest technology, which isn’t as good as we would like at this point, but on the basis of what we know and what the Americans know, we are trying to assist them to come up with solutions to this problem.
There have been some major advances. We now know that PCBs can be destroyed successfully by high heat, and they are making advances from day to day on solidification, as the honourable member knows.
Ms. Bryden: Now that the Nanticoke project has been turned down, does the minister still hold to the view that he gave in the House and in a speech recently, that the problem of waste disposal should be left to the private sector, or is he prepared to bring in a plan for government action beyond pilot projects in this field?
Hon. Mr. McCague: We still feel it would best be solved by private enterprise.
Mr. Gaunt: What additional incentive is the minister prepared to give industry to help them cope with this very serious problem, in view of the fact that D and D Disposal allegedly spent about $125,000 to promote their project at Nanticoke only to have it turned down? Would the minister not assume that other industries throughout the province would be discouraged in trying to come to grips with this problem, particularly if they have to put up any of their own money?
Hon. Mr. McCague: That may be so. As I said before, we are willing to assist them with the best technology we are aware of. We haven’t had any proposals that I am aware of from any particular industry for assistance of any type, and if we received that, we would certainly look at it.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Can the minister tell us how he reacts to the charges by some of the witnesses in front of the Krever inquiry that the “real culprits” who are hiring investigators to obtain confidential medical information, sometimes by very questionable and possibly illegal means, that the real culprits are the insurance companies? What action can we expect from his ministry as far as activities of insurance companies to hire investigators to obtain this type of information by these means are concerned?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Of course, those were accusations made by some people, as I understand it, who were involved in getting the information. At the conclusion of that inquiry, if it turns out that insurance companies are the real culprits or if they’re just one of the culprits, if they are at all involved in specifically asking for, seeking or knowing they were going to receive any of that information improperly, then I can assure the House that we’ll have the insurance companies in and take all action appropriate.
Mr. S. Smith: Can the minister tell this House whether the ministry has ever received information which suggested that insurance companies were engaging investigators improperly to obtain confidential medical information? If so, what did the ministry do about it? Pending the final results of the Krever inquiry, does the minister not think that it might be appropriate to call the insurance companies together now to inform them that certain practices are contrary to the law and to caution them against engaging in such improper practices?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The insurance companies are aware that if they are at all implicated in that, it is an improper practice and there has been no shortage of publicity on the matter. We will be taking steps to confirm this in whatever way is appropriate. What was the first part of the question?
Mr. S. Smith: Did the ministry ever receive any information?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Oh, I’m sorry. Last year I think we had just one instance reported to us where there was not an insurance company involved but only the adjuster. That adjuster was called in and a long discussion ensued whereby it was made pretty clear to that adjuster that his licence might well be withdrawn if that activity continued. That was, I must report, before I assumed this ministry.
As I understand it, there have been no further incidents reported either with regard to that adjuster or insurance companies or other adjusters from that date until the date at which this matter was brought up last week at the inquiry.
Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister, since it is investigators who often carry out these investigations on behalf of insurance companies, give an assurance to the House that the government intends to review with investigators and investigation firms and the techniques they use in order to stop the practice of pretext investigation in order to get at confidential data which those investigators should not be allowed to have access to?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I can assure the House that the government as a whole will react appropriate to the recommendations made out of that inquiry or any conclusions that we may draw as a result of that inquiry. The investigating firms, I think, would properly fall under one of my colleagues, not under my ministry.
But I can give this absolute assurance to the House: to the extent that any actions emanating out of my ministry by way of the insurance companies, their adjusters, or what those insurance companies or adjusters are seeking by way of information, or the methods that they are using to seek or obtain that information, we will come down hard and we will react quickly.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, and this is supplementary to the information the minister has kindly given us: Concerning the one case of an adjuster who, prior to this minister assuming his present post, was dealt with by the ministry, can the minister amplify this at all? Can he give us a report on that case or table it in the House? Can he tell us whether this is a case where the adjuster got the information himself or via an investigation agency or investigator of some kind?
Can he also tell us whether this information, this breach of confidentiality, was reported to the Minister of Health, who apparently as recently as the discussion we had regarding confidentiality some months ago knew of no such breaches of confidentiality in the medical system? If investigators were involved, can the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations table a report, and did the Minister of Health hear about it? What further information can the minister give us?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The matter specifically came to the attention of the ministry in June 1977, almost a year ago, in the form of a complaint. The adjuster was cautioned at that time, as I have indicated, to make sure that proper written authorization is obtained from a patient before any medical information is requested.
We turned the complaint over to the royal commission, upon its being set up. As I say, the adjuster was cautioned and this was reported to his solicitor on June 23, 1977. That information was turned over to the royal commission and I presume it will be dealing further with this specific incident and the practice.
Mr. Swart: I wonder if the minister is aware of a Medical Information Bureau disclosure notice which is sent out to at least some policy holders of the insurance company by the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company? I quote as follows two or three sentences from this notice:
“Information given in the application will be treated as confidential. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company may, however, make a brief report to the Medical Information Bureau, a non-profit membership organization of life insurance companies which operates an information exchange on behalf of its members. If you apply to another member insurance company for life or health insurance coverage, or a claim for benefits is submitted to such a company, the bureau upon request will supply that company with the information in its file.”
Is the minister aware of this Medical Information Bureau? Has he made any request to them or done any investigation to see whether they have information which is being turned over to other insurance companies but which should not be supplied to them?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Obviously, I am not aware of all the forms used by all the insurance companies throughout the province. I am not sure, from the member’s quick reading of that statement, that it implies or permits the transmission of any information obtained illegally out of OHIP files.
Mr. Swart: Are you aware of the bureau?
Mr. S. Smith: It was raised in the House two years ago.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As I heard it, I don’t think it did. However, since I can’t report on one particular form being used by one or a series of insurance companies, I can’t give the member a full answer on that. If he will send it over to me, I will be pleased to investigate it and report back.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am not entirely satisfied with the answer I have received so far. Regarding the incident in 1977 with the adjuster, would the minister give a full report to the House? Would he provide to the House the same report that has been furnished to the Krever inquiry, allowing that there may be certain things that the public should or shouldn’t have at this point, and I will rely on the minister’s discretion? Would he, in fact, tell us whether investigators were involved and whether these investigators were themselves questioned to see how widespread the practice was -- whether it was just the adjuster or whether investigators were also involved -- and why was the Ministry of Health not informed of this particular breach?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will, of course, be pleased to provide all information. Offhand, I can’t conceive of why any part of that should not be made available to the public. I will report that as quickly as I can. I should also indicate to the House that my reading of the information I have before me indicates that there was no investigator involved, but that the adjuster had acted on his own to obtain that information. However, I will be pleased to provide all the details to the House early next week.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to put to the Treasurer, arising out of his visit to Geneva last week to consult with the Canadian negotiators in the Tokyo round of tariff cuts, and arising out of the visit in the same week by six representatives of the Canadian Labour Congress, who were also there to warn the Canadian negotiators --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Cassidy: -- that there could be a loss of 350,000 jobs if the tariff cuts went through as proposed in the Swiss round.
I would like the Treasurer to confirm that there has been a document, The Ontario Government’s Submission to the Federal Government on the Effect of the GATT Talks on the Ontario Economy, and that that document, as I understand it, confirms the job loss or the kind of job loss that was warned of by the trade union representative and warns of major deindustrializing effects of such tariff cuts on the Ontario economy. Is that what the document says and can the Treasurer elaborate?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’m not aware of the document. Perhaps the Minister of Industry and Tourism is.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Will the Treasurer undertake to table that particular document in the House since it was prepared in his ministry? Can he give the House a report on these discussions in Geneva and on the effects in Ontario of the tariff cuts that are now being contemplated by the Canadian negotiators?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: No, I can’t give a progress report per se. The negotiations are in the hands of the negotiators. It is fair to say that over the last year and a half successive Ministers of Industry and Tourism, myself and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) have been keeping in touch with what is going on, making known our points of view and alerting the federal government to the impact of the tariff negotiations, specifically on Ontario but, hopefully, from a Canadian perspective as well.
On this particular trip I would only say I was somewhat encouraged that our point of view and our specific concerns have been recognized or are being recognized and, I think, are being borne in mind by our negotiators there, although most of the negotiating decisions are taken by the cabinet of the government of Canada in Ottawa, not in Geneva. I think representations properly should be put there rather than at Geneva. Obviously, it’s a two-pronged affair, but the decisions, so far as I am aware, are very much taken by the cabinet and are taken on an ongoing basis.
Specifically, I think it is fair to say that with the very active interest of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Auld), among others, we have been keeping a close watch on the whole textile area. Our views in that area are well known to the government of Canada. I can only say that I think the concerns we have are recognized by the government of Canada.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: When this matter was brought to the attention of the Minister of Industry and Tourism about a month ago, he indicated that he and a couple of his top aides were going to fly to Geneva to discuss the issue directly with the negotiators. Is it legitimate to ask the supplementary of that minister, Mr. Speaker, or do I have to stay with the original?
Mr. Speaker: If he’s prepared to answer it.
Mr. Sweeney: I would like to know what were the results of those discussions which were about a month ago now.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The results of the discussions have been fairly well put forward by the Treasurer. They’re exactly the same. We go over with our thought to back up the reports we have had.
Mr. Sweeney: Did they give you any guarantees?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: How can they?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I thought your colleague beside you was answering. I didn’t see him there but he might have been there.
Mr. Nixon: What is the matter with you this morning?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We went over with the same proposals that we had made to them originally. We discussed our concerns as they relate to the negotiations, in particular as they relate to industry in Ontario. We talked about some specifics, one of those being the textile industry, which we’re concerned with, and manufacturing in general.
We don’t get any concrete positive response from them because they take their direction from the cabinet in Ottawa. I am satisfied, as the Treasurer has indicated, that they are taking our concerns into consideration. I’m optimistic that we will not find ourselves in any difficulty as a result of these tariff negotiations.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: At the Treasurer’s invitation, I should also like to switch the question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Is the Minister of Industry and Tourism aware of the document called, I believe, The Ontario Government’s Submission to the Federal Government on The Effect of the GATT Talks on the Ontario Economy? Is he aware that it warns of major deindustrializating effects, that is, large losses in jobs in Ontario because of the tariff cuts? Will he undertake to table that document in order that the Legislature and the public can know what it contains?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, I am well aware of that particular document. It was produced in the ministry and was our submission to the federal government and to the negotiating team in Geneva, expressing our concerns and the reasons for those concerns as to whatever the final negotiations come up with.
I will not commit myself to table that particular document because, quite frankly, we have been asked by the federal government that a degree of confidence be maintained. But I have no compunction at all to say to the member, yes, we are very concerned about the number of jobs that could very well be lost if these negotiations go the way that we originally thought they might and so have a very adverse effect on the manufacturing sector in this province.
Mr. S. Smith: Changed your mind, Darcy. You’re not a free trader any more.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister explain why it is necessary to keep confidential that document which contains vital information of enormous importance to communities and workers and businesses across the province? Is there any confidential information in it and if not, why cannot the document be tabled in order that people across the province can know where they stand under the tariff arrangements that are now being made in Geneva?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, some of the comments in that particular document deal with specific sectors and indicate the concerns we have in those particular sectors. We have been asked by the federal government, because of the need for confidentiality in any of the negotiations that are going on, not to have these particular documents made public at this time but --
Mr. McClellan: Why don’t you show it to McKeough?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- I’m quite willing to say to the member that we have indicated our concerns and that we are concerned about the loss of jobs. But I am respecting the request that these particular documents not be made public.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism on a separate subject. Can the Minister of Industry and Tourism explain why, on April 3, he pooh-poohed the suggestion I made in this House that Ontario campground rates are rising to a level which would be far greater than the one in Michigan and that that would hurt tourism in this province, but why last Friday in the Sault Star he was quoted as saying that Ontario campground rates were going to be much higher than in Michigan and that this would affect tourism and discourage it in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I don’t recall pooh-poohing that particular item. I have done it to a lot of things the member has said, but he might like to show me any quotes where I said that --
Mr. Wildman: You interjected. You said, “That’s not true.”
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- because I have continually stated that I am well aware, as one who does a fair amount of camping, that the rates in Ontario are substantially higher than they are in the state of Michigan. I have always said that and I will continue to say it.
Mr. Cassidy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary: In view of the enormous balance of payments deficit we are having on tourism right now, can the minister explain why it is then that Ontario went ahead with that increase in campground rates, and what is he doing in order to ensure that the campground rates can be brought to a level which is both fairer for our own people in this province and is also more attractive and, therefore, will help to maintain tourism from the US and Canada?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I think, as the member knows, the decision as to those particular policies was made after substantial discussion, and the consensus was that it was necessary to increase those fees in order to realize the financial return necessary to keep the parks, with the sort of maintenance they have now, in the condition they are in and hopefully to improve that condition.
As far as the tourism business is concerned, camping is only one part of it. There are many people in Ontario, in northern Ontario in particular -- and the member might check with his colleague from Algoma (Mr. Wildman) on this -- who are not overly enthusiastic about campers coming in trailers. That hurts me personally because I like to trailer but many people are not very enthusiastic about the tourism that is generated; they don’t see it being generated by campers. So I still maintain that our prices are much too high in comparison to Michigan parks and other American parks and --
Mr. Cassidy: The minister disagrees with the Treasurer?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The Treasurer and I don’t disagree on the subject because the matter has been discussed and debated. I feel personally that they are high but that’s what the rates are.
Mr. Samis: Don’t say you are in full agreement.
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: What percentage of our parks is supported by fees and what percentage is subsidized?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have those exact figures but the Minister of Natural Resources certainly would have them. But as a ball-park figure, I think something like 40 per cent of the cost is subsidized.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Revenue is $3 million and they spend $25 million.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The Treasurer advised me that we are trying to get it up; the fees would cover about 60 per cent of the cost of operations. It is about 30 per cent now.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It is about 8 to 1 now; it was 35.
Mr. Wildman: Does the minister maintain the position that he was quoted in the Sault Star as taking in that “a comparison of the facilities in Michigan and Ontario parks does not justify the high fee north of the border,” and added, “Michigan may become a more popular destination for tourists”? If that is the case, what has the minister done to try to convince the Ministry of Natural Resources that its position that the increase in park fees would help the tourist industry and the camp owners in Ontario is an incorrect position?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I know the article the honourable member is referring to. I said that. It’s in the article. Obviously I support my own position, which I might say is not necessarily a position he always takes of staying reasonably consistent.
But I point out to the honourable member that as far as I’m concerned the discussions that I have with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller) and the rest of my colleagues in these matters are between him and me and the rest of my colleagues, and I don’t intend to go into prolonged discussions of what we say here in the House.
Mr. Wildman: You disagree with them then.
Mr. Foulds: Why do you say it for the Sault Star?
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I want to quote from Hansard of April 3, where I quoted the rates for un-serviced campsites of $2 in Michigan and $5 in Ontario. The minister said, “No, no. That is not true.” Then I went on to compare the rates for serviced campsites and to point out the effects on tourism in this province. It’s on the record, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Kerrio: He said no, no -- not pooh- pooh.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On the point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: When I said, “No, no. That’s not true,” I was absolutely correct. The honourable member has probably never done any camping in his day --
Mr. Ruston: Except at Toronto Island.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- but I would point out to him that the rates he quoted are not accurate. If he took the time to find out the rates that are being charged in Michigan, he would see that I was correct in saying, “No, no. That’s not true.” But I certainly didn’t pooh-pooh him. I will now, because obviously he is wrong.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVIEWS
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Treasurer, on the subject of the Hamilton-Wentworth review, whether he would reconsider his position as it relates to the deadline for submissions to the cabinet on the subject of one-tier government and the recommendations associated with that. Would he consider the position taken by the chamber of commerce for the city of Hamilton, which is requesting a delay in the implementation of this, and as well the submissions that I know have been made to the Treasurer by the outlying municipalities which would request a delay till August?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, that is a matter under consideration.
Mr. Cunningham: Supplementary: I would ask whether the minister could confirm or deny the existence already of legislation respecting the implementation of this particular report. Has the legislation been drafted at this point?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t seen it.
Mr. S Smith: You haven’t seen it. Have you felt it? Have you heard it? Have you smelt it?
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In view of the minister’s statement of March 30, 1978, nearly two months ago, in which he expressed his concern about the possible dangers of lifestyle advertising of beer and other forms of alcohol, that statement which was accompanied by a set of directives that were purporting to ban the practice of lifestyle advertising of beer, and in view of the fact that some companies -- specifically and especially Molson’s -- are still airing those ads on television with the acquiescence of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, will the minister instruct that board to immediately institute a ban and remove those ads from television?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, the rule at the Liquor Licence Board is that any ads that were approved previously by the board are entitled to stay on the air waves for 12 months before they come up for renewal, as it were. They don’t have to be checked out, in other words, until they’ve been running for 12 months. Obviously, any of those that are now on will be checked again when they finish the 12 months pursuant to the new guidelines.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Supplementary: Is this an example of the vigour with which the minister will pursue the new legislation he introduced yesterday? Is this what we can look forward to when the minister brings in these supposedly tough laws -- another case of shilly-shallying around and letting the industry move along as they choose?
Hon. Mr. Norton: You should be decisive and take your select committee across the way.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I’m going to ignore the rhetoric. The honourable member has been reading too much of Hansard.
Mr. Wildman: He has been reading your speeches.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The fact is that a lot of the companies have spent a lot of money in putting those ads together. A Conservative government would not suddenly say to a company that because we’ve changed the rules after it has just put an ad on the air waves, which may have cost it a couple of hundred thousand dollars, that it should immediately take it off. That would be retroactive legislation.
Mr. M. N. Davison: They have other ads available.
Mr. Samis: That is pretty feeble rhetoric, Larry.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We are saying the rule has always been that once this government says that ad is okay for 12 months, we mean it is okay for 12 months. One may, if one had the opportunity, be a heck of a lot more dictatorial and say, “We don’t care what the rule was yesterday -- we don’t care if it was 12 months -- we are now cutting it off.” We don’t happen to operate that way and I have no apologies to make for that.
CHAIN STORE DISCOUNTS
Mr. Eaton: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Attorney General: During the past few weeks, he has been asked to express comment and give legal opinion on whether charges might be laid for discounting practices in the food industry. During that period, the Leader of the Opposition had information which might have assisted the Attorney General in making that decision. Would he look into the legalities of the suppression of evidence by the Leader of the Opposition which might have assisted him in making that decision?
An hon. member: Suppression of evidence. That’s all that it is.
Mr. S. Smith: That is no apology. Don’t start apologizing.
Mr. Eaton: Political grandstanding was all the opposition leader used it for. He wasn’t concerned with the farmers.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I would assume, Mr. Speaker, that if the Leader of the Opposition has information that would be relevant to the legal opinion of the law officers of the crown, he would feel it appropriate to give that information to us.
Mr. S. Smith: Absolutely.
Mr. McKessock: I have a question for the Minister of Resources Development.
In view of the minister’s announcement on May 9 pertaining to the reduction in the size of the planning area of the Niagara Escarpment, what exactly is contemplated by the government? Is it a reduction in the planning area by an amendment to the minister’s order which established the area or just a request to the Niagara Escarpment Commission to consider the production of a plan for 40 per cent of that original area?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, the commission is preparing a plan on the reduced area. That proposed plan will be the one that will be published sometime early this fall.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: When this new area is determined, would the minister seriously consider making it definite by an amendment to his original order which would then have to be passed by a resolution in the Legislature? I ask this in view of the fact that if this is not done, the old area can be bounced back at any time within the Niagara Escarpment Act without going before the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: It is not necessary to provide any amendment. The commission has the authority under the act -- I believe it is section 3 -- to prepare a plan, and this is what they are doing now on a reduced area. What they have done so far is strictly preliminary. The proposed plan would be on the reduced area and there is no necessity for any amendments to the act.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary: I am aware that it is not necessary but would he consider making an amendment so that the old area can’t be bounced back. If he is going to determine a new area that is fine, but we would like to be sure that area will be one that is lasting and that we will not go back to the old area that is there now.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: The honourable member knows what is happening now is that the commission has met, and is continuing to meet with the municipalities in the area. It is as a result of these discussions that the new area is being planned. So I do not believe that there is any necessity to make any changes in the act.
DENTAL BENEFITS FOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS
Mr. Bounsall: A question for the Minister of Community and Social Services, Mr. Speaker: Has the minister ever consulted with his colleague, the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott), the honourable dentist from Oxford, concerning current proper accepted dental practice and treatment in Ontario? If so, how can he justify his ministry’s policy of never approving, for adult recipients of provincial benefits, the saving of their teeth through capping and will pay only for extraction?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I have not had occasion to discuss that specifically with my colleague, the Minister of Colleges and Universities. It might be an appropriate thing to discuss with him, given his discipline.
Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: I am glad the minister will discuss that matter with the good dentist. Will the minister, after that discussion, ensure -- if his ministry cannot find the means to pay that directly and build it into the system -- through the welfare branch of the ministry, that the special assistance branches of the welfare offices across Ontario have the funds to provide that additional accepted service?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Obviously there are some economic implications to many of these things. There are a number of enrichments I hope to be able to make this year in benefits to clients of my ministry, although the parties opposite saw fit to do their number on the provincial budget. I must say that has had some impact and will continue to have impact upon what I might be able to do in the course of this year.
I would suggest the member bears in mind as he continues throughout this year to press for enrichments in programs where I do not have money that earlier this year he engaged in an exercise that has resulted in some deprivation to my ministry.
Mr. Kerrio: Stop resisting, take it from the lotteries, will you?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, in response to a question asked on May 15 by the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) -- I’m sorry he’s not here, he was here though, I know -- on the matter of an individual or firm acting as both a buyer and a broker on the same transaction, I wish to make the following statement.
The Ontario Food Council’s report on trade practices in the produce industry recommended strengthening licensing provisions. Accordingly, amendments to the Farm Products Grades and Sales Act were enacted by the Legislature in 1974 and regulations to implement the new provisions were established by Ontario regulation 372/75.
It is my understanding that the amendments for produce dealer licensing were made in consultation with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, and at that time it was determined that the small number of brokerage produce transactions, conducted solely within the province of Ontario, did not warrant special control provisions. However, a requirement was made under section 4, Ontario regulation 372/75, that a dealer shall maintain a record of every transaction including, where a dealer has not purchased the fruits and vegetables on his own account, that a record be maintained of commission charged by him to a producer.
I wish to point out that all transactions of an interprovincial import or export nature, are a federal responsibility and come under licensing provisions of the Canada Agricultural Products Standards Act.
GO TRANSIT SERVICE
Mr. Bradley: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. In view of the heavy traffic congestion which is building up on the Queen Elizabeth Highway each year, the rising energy costs for the operation of automobiles, the uncertainty of fuel supplies in the future; and even under certain circumstances in the present; could the minister indicate to the House at what time does he propose to extend the GO train service to the Niagara Peninsula?
Mr. Wildman: In the fullness of time.
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, I can’t.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: Has the minister undertaken any particular studies to determine the requirement for such a service? If he has not, would he not feel that is an appropriate step, in the light of the fact that the people of the Niagara Peninsula, or at least a number who have indicated they require it, also pay towards the GO Transit deficit?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am not aware of any indication that there is a requirement for GO train service in the Niagara Peninsula. The Niagara Peninsula is serviced very well by the private bus companies that serve that area, and also by the intercity railways whose responsibility it is to supply intercity passenger transportation on the rails.
Mr. Foulds: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of the Environment. Does the minister recall having one of his officials, Mr. Gotts, indicate to me during the estimates of his ministry on April 4 that the reports about the air pollution monitoring program that took place with regard to the mills at Thunder Bay and the one at Marathon and Terrace Bay would be available in about a month’s time? As seven weeks have now passed can he indicate why those reports have not been completed?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I believe one or two of those have been made public, but I will check into it and let the honourable member know on Monday.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: In checking into it can he confirm or deny the possibility that there is a conflict between the people who actually did the research and the people who are doing the writing or editorializing of the report, and the researchers involved are not happy with the editorializing that is taking place and have suggested between five and six revisions are necessary because too much of a gloss has been put on the report?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I would be glad to check into it, Mr. Speaker.
NIAGARA FALLS POWER
Mr. Kerrio: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question of the Minister of Energy. Is the minister aware of discussions taking place between the New York state power authority and Ontario Hydro regarding diverting another 20,000 cubic feet per second flow from Niagara Falls to generate more power?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, yes I am aware that discussions are taking place, but no final report has been issued. We are certainly keeping on top of it.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: In view of the fact that during the tourist season there is a minimum 50,000 cubic foot flow at night and 100,000 flow during the day, taking an additional 20,000 at the low end of the scale would reduce the flow to the point where I ask the minister if he would be concerned about the aesthetic beauty of the falls and if that is being taken into consideration, because we felt that we were at the low end of the scales at the 50,000 and 100,000 foot flows?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am very much aware that the aesthetic aspect of the reduction in the flow has been taken into account, and I have been told that particularly during the tourist season aesthetics come first.
Mr. Kerrio: You’ll be able to walk across.
Mr. Swart: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Will he recall that several months ago he said he would consider my request that Workmen’s Compensation Board disability payments be considered as earned income when computing welfare payments when those people were on welfare, so that they would not have the first $50 and $100 of that disability pension deducted from their welfare payment? Has he considered it, and what is his reply now?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, there has been no change at the present time. As the honourable member knows, the intention of our income support systems in the province is to provide at least a guaranteed minimum income to persons.
Mr. Warner: Guaranteed poverty.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If we take into consideration for some persons sources of income which for others would be exempt -- I don’t mean to confuse the issue but if, for example, we were to say that the kinds of pensions the member cited were to be exempted from the calculation of income but were to continue to be required to consider income from disability pensions under Canada Pension Plan, which is a mandatory requirement under the Canada Assistance Plan, then we would in effect be creating an even greater disparity than would exist at the present time. The disparity would then be based upon the source of the pension -- not the relative needs of the individual but rather the source of the additional income. I suggest to the honourable member that this would be more discriminatory in many instances than to continue with the present system, which does take into consideration additional income without discriminating on the basis of the source of that income.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary: Does the minister not think that it’s discriminatory to deduct this $50 and $100 from welfare recipients when they are receiving this money in lieu of working, since many of them have lost their jobs because they could no longer do that job because of injury on the job? Would he not further reconsider this and see that these people are treated in the same manner as people who are able to work?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I think the honourable member has missed the point I tried to make.
Mr. Swart: No, I understand perfectly. That’s what bothers me.
Mr. McClellan: The minister doesn’t understand workmen’s compensation.
Hon. Mr. Norton: What in fact would be in danger of happening is that those persons who might have been injured in the work place, and who therefore are eligible for workmen’s compensation payments, would be in an entirely different class to persons who might have been injured in an automobile accident and who would be entitled to disability pensions under the Canada Pension Plan but not under workmen’s compensation.
Mr. Swart: They are in a different category.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It would, in effect, be creating classes of people on the basis of the source of income as opposed to looking at the needs of the individual and trying to treat him as equitably as possible, regarding other sources of income. I suggest what the honourable member would set up is a very highly structured class system --
Mr. Swart: But you have it now.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- dependent upon either the locus of the injury that gave rise to the disability, or the source of the additional income over and above the general welfare assistance or family benefits payments that the person might otherwise be entitled to. He would be creating a highly discretionary and highly discriminatory system, I think.
Mr. McClellan: Now it’s equal poverty for everybody.
Mr. Stong: I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Some two weeks ago in answer to my question, the Minister of Energy indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food was conducting a study into the problem of granting relief to those greenhouse owners and operators who had converted to thermal blankets in the interests of energy conservation, only to find that they were, in fact, incurring greater costs to themselves because they were using less natural gas and were placed in a different category which costs them more money.
I’m wondering if the minister can indicate to the House what relief he intends to grant to these people who find themselves in that position?
Hon. W. Newman: I’m not exactly sure I fully understand the question.
Mr. Swart: Possible.
Hon. W. Newman: If the member is talking about the storm damage situation, we dealt with it in the House the other day, right? Is the member fully aware of that?
Mr. Stong: No, no.
Hon. W. Newman: Is the member perhaps referring to the sales tax on thermal blankets which also came up?
Mr. Stong: Perhaps I can clarify the situation.
Mrs. Campbell: Tell him what is wrong.
Mr. Stong: I understand that gas is sold by volume. Those who have converted to thermal blankets are using a lower volume of natural gas and are paying more for it because they are using less. In other words, they are paying an increased amount of money because they’re using less; they are now in a different category. The Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz) passed the buck to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food which he said was conducting a study in this regard. I would like to know what the results of the study are and what relief the minister intends to give these people.
Hon. W. Newman: I will certainly take this up with the Minister of Energy and get back to the member on that matter.
Ms. Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. In a speech on May 5 to the National Solid Waste Management Association the minister said the program to encourage the municipalities to get into solid waste disposal programs has lagged behind schedule with respect to plant construction and that he is now reviewing his policies to determine whether changes should be considered. I’d like to ask the minister if he has yet visited the Milwaukee plant to observe how one city is successfully recycling its solid waste and whether he has completed his review of his policies, which obviously aren’t working, and is ready to bring in changes to get some action before we drown in our own garbage?
An hon. member: Mass fertilizer.
Hon. Mr. McCague: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Recently his ministry announced grants of $700,000 to the Kenora area and $25,000 to the Rainy River area under the children’s services program. Can he explain the criterion on which the grants were made, and can he explain to the House what $25,000 in this day and age is going to do to help children’s services in the Rainy River district?
Mrs. Campbell: Or anywhere else.
Mr. McClellan: Let Leo answer.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the particular grants to which the honourable member refers were in conformity with the priorities that we had also announced some time ago. It is certainly the first time in my recollection that there has been, given the limitation of resources, as clear a statement of the priorities to which we were going to direct the funds available during the course of this fiscal year.
Specifically, the funding that was directed towards the northern priority portion of the budget was to try to improve the level of services, particularly in the area of short-term treatment services or residential services in some communities, to avoid, for example, the necessity that has often existed in northern communities of transporting children away from their homes to southern communities, such southern communities in some cases as Sudbury, and further on occasion.
To the best of my recollection, the specific grant in Rainy River was directed towards the provision of a small, five-bed, community based residence, something of that nature, I believe. I stand to be corrected on that. I don’t have the details of each of those grants before me at the moment.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The grant was supposedly for a mental resource person, whatever that is.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps the best thing would be for me to get the details so that we could discuss it more fully, either in the House or privately. I would gladly review that with the member.
Mr. Nixon: You didn’t have to import mental resources.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Supplementary: We will talk together privately, but does the minister really believe that in this day and age $25,000 supposedly would go for another mental health worker? Doesn’t he feel that $25,000 will hardly provide any services at all to the Rainy River district, as opposed to $700,000 to Kenora, which I understand is going to be used primarily for a detention centre? Isn’t there some kind of disparity there?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Obviously there are differences. One cannot, with limited resources, necessarily apply equal amounts of money for all communities. We had to take into consideration the specific needs that had been manifested by the various communities. Where proposals had been made by residents of various communities for specific projects, specific requests were considered.
Mr. Nixon: A pork barrel.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I want members to understand this is not a matter of my staff in the ministry sitting down and simply developing specific projects for each of the communities themselves. There has been community involvement, there is ongoing community involvement and most of the grants are going to fund specific requests where proposals have come from those communities.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: While the minister is investigating this apparent discrepancy, could we find out whether the money that has been allocated for the Rainy River district supplements the regional centre outreach program in terms of assessment, and does he think that the amount is adequate for even temporary assessment of emotionally disturbed children in the Rainy River-Fort Frances area?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I want the members to understand that this year is, for many communities, the beginning of the development of community based services.
Mr. Foulds: You already had someone going there.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Obviously, we don’t anticipate achieving an optimum level in one year. The member used the word “discrepancy.” I don’t think that there is any discrepancy at all.
The honourable member referred to observation and detention homes. We do have a provincially-operated program there. By their very nature they are often more costly services to provide and often involve physical structures that have to be developed. It’s not surprising and shouldn’t be surprising that if an observation and a detention home is being located for the first time in one community, that is going to be more costly than other community-based services that might be developed for the first time in a neighbouring community. I don’t think one should assume that they can look simply at a dollar figure without looking at the needs we are attempting to meet in those various communities, and suggest that there is any kind of discrepancy.
Mr. Foulds: I asked whether it was a supplement.
Hon. Mr. Norton: There is not necessarily any discrepancy whatsoever.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Is the minister aware of the working group in the Rainy River district which has asked that a pilot project on children’s services be set up in the Rainy River district? Would the funding come under this program and what is the status of that?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, I’m aware that there was a proposal from that area. There have been a number of proposals from northern communities, as I’m sure the honourable member is aware. Given the geography of the northern part of the province and the distribution of population, there are some unique problems that have to be addressed uniquely.
At this point, we have not announced the establishment of any specific children’s services committees. We are continuing to work with the northern communities where they have special problems. We may have to take a slightly different approach there, even in the first year, in terms of the development of specific proposals. We do have staff now working on a consultative basis with a number of northern communities, which will include Rainy River, towards the development, in some cases perhaps, of a co-operative kind of proposal that will involve more than one community. We have no preconceived or magical formula that is going to work in all communities, especially with the unique problems of the north.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wonder if I might make a slight correction in the order of business for next Tuesday. When setting out legislation for next Tuesday, particularly that which is to commence at 8 o’clock, I mentioned Bills 85 and 92. I should have said Bills 85 and 95. I would make that brief amendment with respect to the order of legislation for next Tuesday.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 71, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF NORTHERN AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On vote 901, ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
Mr. T. P. Reid: I have lost the minister. They don’t usually leave until after I get started.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I will do the best I can.
Mr. Chairman: He’s within hearing distance.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Perhaps he could just nod. I would like to ask the minister under item 1 is he on the special committee set up by the Premier (Mr. Davis), on mining communities in northern Ontario? Because I didn’t have an opportunity during the estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources, could I ask the Minister of Northern Affairs to indicate to us how many meetings of that committee have been held, what has been on the agenda and who has attended? Have you really come to any kind of conclusions or are you just feeling your way around the whole situation as usual?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would be glad to answer that question, following a review of what I intend to do at this point in time. At the last sitting on our estimates, I believe I indicated to the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) that I would read into the record the role of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. Perhaps I could do that and then answer your question, if that is agreeable to you. I am sure you will agree with enthusiasm.
The role of the Ministry of Northern Affairs is very clearly set out. I would like to put it on the record for the honourable members. It is as follows:
To recommend policies and programs which respond effectively to the priorities, problems, needs and opportunities of northern Ontario; to ensure that the requirements of northern Ontario are considered and, where feasible, reflected in government policy development, program planning, priority setting and resource allocation; to improve citizen awareness of and access to government programs and services in the north; to facilitate citizen participation in the development of policies, programs and specific projects for the north; to administer specific programs designed to assist the development of northern communities and regional services and facilities; to co-ordinate government programs and services relating to northern Ontario; to undertake research into all aspects of the economic and social conditions of all areas of northern Ontario; and to establish a stronger provincial government presence in the north through geographical decentralization of ministry program responsibilities and decision-making authority. I think that answers the question of the member for Algoma.
If I could just relate to the question from the member for Rainy River concerning the special cabinet committee in connection with single-resource industries and, in particular, the mining industry, one should remember that this is the first subcabinet committee that has been established under the Davis administration to look at a specific problem. I think we should recognize that, because up to now we have been operating in specific policy fields, namely, the Resources Development policy field, the Social Development policy field and the Justice policy field.
To have broken away from that certainly indicates to me, and I am sure to the members of this House, that the government has a very sincere concern about the single-resource industries, particularly the nonrenewable resource industries, in many communities in northern Ontario. The special cabinet committee was established under the chairmanship of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller). The secretary of that committee is my own deputy minister, Mr. Campbell. We have had a number of meetings on a regular basis.
There has been a tremendous amount of research done by a number of ministries. I can’t recall all the ministries involved, but they are a very select group and a very well-informed group. While their efforts have not materialized in a positive policy statement as yet, I can assure the honourable member that we are looking at a large number of areas.
One of them has already been reflected in the budget address made by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) of Ontario as it related to changes in the mining tax. That was a direct result of those cabinet committee meetings relating to this particular problem.
Another area which has been gone into carefully by the Ministry of Industry and Tourism is the possible diversification of the economic base of some of these communities, particularly in the Sudbury area. I think one has to realize that, while we are very much oriented to the extraction of nonrenewable resources in northern Ontario, much of the mining equipment is not being manufactured in this particular province. That review has been under way now for some considerable time, looking at the components, parts of equipment, such as valves and a number of different things, that could probably be manufactured in this province and, indeed, in northern Ontario to supplement their economic base.
As to when we’ll be making a final report, my deputy might have something for me that I could relate to you. We certainly will be bringing something forward to cabinet in the not too distant future.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I appreciate what the minister said, although he hasn’t related too many specifics.
Has your committee been dealing with the problems of the transportation costs -- of which there are multiple studies -- which seems to be one of the highest barriers to any secondary manufacturing in the province. Can you give us some idea, or can your deputy give us some idea, when this report is going to come about?
You mentioned Sudbury. Well, the minister will appreciate that my main concern at the moment is with Atikokan. Has your committee dealt with Atikokan? Do you have any specific programs or policies related to Atikokan -- the situation there with Steep Rock and Caland Ore?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: To be specific, the area of transportation is certainly one that we’re looking at very carefully. In fact, the changes to the Public Vehicles Act, which my colleague, the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) introduced in this House some time ago, were another result of those discussions we had in that committee, where we felt that deregulation in northern Ontario would create more competition and, in some cases, drive down the prices of transportation costs as related to the movement of secondary manufactured products in northern Ontario.
The honourable member is well aware of what happened to Bill 21 and Bill 42. Both have been withdrawn. They’ve been brought together under one specific bill; considerably watered down, I might say, to meet the acceptance of members on the opposite side because of the minority situation. I hope that will go through. I guess there’s even some question about that. I’m not too sure just where the honourable member stands.
That is definitely an area that’s high on the priority list -- the field of transportation costs. As a side issue, I might mention that following the recessing of the session this afternoon, I’m on my way to North Bay to meet with the municipal advisory committee of northeastern Ontario along with my colleagues, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) and the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson). One of the topics there will be the cost of transportation in northeastern Ontario. The issue is certainly not a dead one. It’s one we’re trying to come to grips with. It’s not easy, and we have to have the full support of members on both sides of the House.
I just appeal to the member for Rainy River, who is well aware and very sensitive to these high costs that are causing problems in northern Ontario, that if he would prevail upon some of his colleagues who sit behind him to have another look at that particular bill, I’m sure he will gain some marks back home for it.
With regard to Atikokan, Atikokan is another area that is a frontrunner in our discussions because of the problems, which we’re very much aware of, happening to the mining activities in that community. We, in the Ministry of Northern Affairs, have been given the responsibility, as the lead ministry, for the problems at Atikokan. We have had some ongoing discussions with the municipality. As recently as last week we met the Northern Ontario Municipal Association’s representatives in Thunder Bay and I had a chance to speak to some councillors from Atikokan on this very subject.
I might say, just to enlighten the honourable member, I’m sure he is aware, that they have made a suggestion to us that an industrial commission be established for the Atikokan region at a cost, I think, of some $125,000 a year. I indicated to them verbally, after some discussion with some of my cabinet colleagues and some of our staff and after looking at other projects that we have developed in northern Ontario, that we felt there should be a greater involvement by the community itself. I think the suggestion was that the town itself would put in about $5,000 and other organizations, including the unions, would contribute another $5,000. We felt that wasn’t sufficient and that this individual may be regarded as another government bureaucrat superimposed on their community to resolve all their problems.
It’s not going to be easy. If there was greater financial involvement by the community itself I believe there would be greater support for that person’s efforts and possibly greater emphasis on the direction he would take.
One of the direct results of the cabinet committee on the mining problems of northern Ontario was the immediate response and the direct assistance that we gave to the Sudbury area, grants in excess of $900,000. Six hundred thousand dollars were for the 2001 conference, which the Premier attended -- and to which he made a very moving address, I might admit -- and $300,000 to look at the possibility of diversifying the economy and doing studies with regard to improving and expanding the agricultural base of the Sudbury basin. That’s a direct result of the cabinet committee recommendations.
Mr. T. P. Reid: How much are they putting into it in relation to Atikokan, et cetera?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I could touch on that further. The Sudbury conference committee known as 2001 will be granted $300,000 this year, $200,000 next year and $100,000 the year after. It will be a phased-down program after which they will take over. They expect to raise within the community in excess of $2.5 million to use as a venture capital fund, so their responsibility is significant.
I might add along these same lines, as a matter of interest to the honourable member for Rainy River, we have also assisted the Manitoulin Development Association.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Is it $225,000?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, $225,000 over a five-year period. That brings together nine small communities which have pooled their resources, are taxing their own people on a per capita basis and matching the dollars we are putting in, and are engaging one individual who will help all the small industries on the island develop more expertise in the field of marketing, advertising and promotion. Successes have already been noted with that particular organization.
The point I am trying to make is while we are making these recommendations we are giving some financial support to these organizations. We do think, and a lot of others seem to think, there should be local involvement to a point. We don’t think they should carry the whole burden, we understand that.
In a town like Atikokan of course, in the condition it is, there is the uncertainty, the fear of tomorrow and the investment climate within a community changes in a situation like this. But we think somewhere in the field of maybe two for one as an example, there is an area we would be looking at to assist Atikokan.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I take it then that the minister is waiting for a response from Atikokan, because Steep Rock’s plans, as I recall, are to start layoffs at the end of 1978 or early 1979. The time is getting to be critical. Does the minister have any other plans or any other plans that he has discussed with the municipality in regard to providing employment in that area?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Our plans are still to move ahead with the sewage treatment facilities that are required in the Atikokan area. I think I indicated in Thunder Bay last week that, because of the $9-million cutback, there may have to be some withdrawal on the total package that we wanted to go with prior to that figure. The Bending Lake road will definitely go ahead this year, but again we’ve had to delay because of the cutback.
Those programs are still in place, however. I think the reports in the newspapers may be a little bit fuzzy. I guess they have difficulty realizing that when you have a program in place within a large budgetary process, and you just cut out programs, it takes some time to get them plugged back in and to get them operating again.
We felt strongly, after careful review of all the programs -- and they were scrutinized very carefully by a number of ministries as well as, of course, our own staff -- that we should keep them all in place. We may delay them a little bit, or there may be some changes in the amount of work we’ll do this year, but nevertheless the program is intact and will be moving ahead.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That brings me to my next topic and then I’ll let my friend get in. Does the minister have a list for us today? Has his ministry done all the paring down and found the $9 million? Can the minister give us a list now of those projects that will be deferred, postponed or going ahead?
Parenthetically to that, I would like to ask whether the ministry is going ahead with spending the money on the Marchington Lake road. I trust that would be the lowest priority and would be cut out altogether.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: To give specifics at this point in time is impossible, because we’re only a month into the new fiscal year. While we have the figures before us, we have not specifically said what will happen to these specific projects. They’re all in place. There are always problems with regard to calling a contract. Has the engineering been completed? Has the land acquisition been accepted? All these problems are before us. If we cut our cloth at the start of the year, it doesn’t necessarily fit the rest of the year. So we have a lot of flexibility in moving around those particular projects. We say accelerate one and delay a bigger part of the other one; so it would be impossible at this time to give the honourable member a specific list of what is happening.
Mr. T. P. Reid: But the minister specifically mentioned perhaps cutting back on the Atikokan sewage treatment plant, which has been in the works for almost seven years. Why would he pick that one?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I used that as an example. There would be several others that would come out of the $9 million. I think one has to realize that. We took $5 million out of the community priorities budget. Out of that $5 million I could say that Atikokan perhaps could be cut back by $100,000 out of a $1.5-million program, or something like that. We won’t really affect seriously the programs right through.
With regard to Bending Lake, of course, it’s very easy because we just delay calling the contract; it’s a new project. But ongoing ones have to be carried on.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Like Marchington Lake -- the road that’s going to nowhere?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would have to take exception to that, because the Marchington Lake access is opening up a whole new area of northwestern Ontario, providing the Great Lakes Paper Company with a supply of pulpwood for its new plant in Thunder Bay and the new McKenzie Forest plant at Hudson. In fact, on behalf of the company I would like to extend a very warm invitation to the member for Rainy River to join me in Hudson on June 2 to officially reopen that facility in Hudson and to see for himself the tremendous amount of employment that McKenzie Forest Products has created in the Hudson-Sioux Lookout area, using the Marchington Lake road.
Mr. T. P. Reid: We’ll fly up together.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Okay.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to speak to the minister for a moment on his admitted role as the co-ordinator of programs for northern Ontario. He has been around the northern part of the province all his life. I am sure he knows what has happened in the past leading up to this point in time.
One of the biggest industries in northern Ontario seems to be this boondoggle where we find an academic in southern Ontario, maybe at the University of Toronto, and we ship him up north to do a study and evaluation of the problems facing us as northerners. I feel as though I have been under a microscope for the past 10 years with these people evaluating me, studying me and seasonally adjusting me. They do all these things and write a big fancy report; and nothing ever happens.
You know the Design for Development that was written a few years ago. One of the gems that came out of that was that people in northern Ontario tend to drown a lot if they live near a big body of water. I knew that before the boy came up there but he put it all together and I am glad he did. I know now why we drown so often; it’s because there is a lot of water in northern Ontario.
Then there was the Strategy for Development a few years later. Nothing ever happened as a result of that report; and there have been various others. We have had the Hartt report. Mr. Justice Hartt spent eight or nine months wandering around through the woods. He came back pretty disillusioned, and made certain recommendations. One was that further studies take place. We are going to be put under the microscope again. I think that the minister, as co-ordinator for northern Ontario, should co-ordinate all these disparate studies which are going on and bring them to a conclusion.
You have the cabinet committee as well, studying mining municipalities. Recommendation three from the Hartt report is, “A task force of northern residents should be appointed to investigate and recommend ways for the people of the north to become effectively involved in the making of decisions by government ministries and agencies that affect their lives and communities.” Now that responsibility is already contained in your legislation.
You have these offices scattered all over northern Ontario in order for people in the north to have input. I am surprised that Mr. Hartt didn’t see that we already had that structure in place. I can only assume that your structure is not functioning since Mr. Hartt did not see it operating.
The question is, how are we going to deal, for instance, with the Hartt commission report and those several recommendations -- the recommendation on the West Patricia land development study and the Onakawana thing? Are you involved in co-ordinating these studies? Have evaluations been made?
I would like you to tell me about your role as a co-ordinator of all these things that are going on in northern Ontario that never seem to come into focus. They have been going on for such a long time. As a northerner, the minister is aware of that, I am sure, as well as I am. I would like him to bring us up to date in general terms on what happens in that area.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Let me first point out that I share the member for Sudbury’s concern with regard to studies as they relate to northern Ontario. If there is one thing that we as northerners abhor it is another round of studies or investigations and reviews of a situation or situations with which most of us are quite familiar. There is just no question about that. I suppose that’s the way things are, and with the way governments operate, this will ever be the case.
However, I can assure you that every time I have an opportunity to speak out, I will look to the shelves first to see if those studies have already been completed. If so, we can dust them off and review what has already been done. I think in many cases this could be accomplished.
In going through our role and the impact we are having, I think I have to relate to the comments of my colleague, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), when he replied to the member for Rainy River this morning. He said that his ministry realized that there are special and unique problems in northern Ontario and we may be asked to look at them in a very different way, and I think that message, that thrust, is getting through; albeit not quite as fast as I as a northerner would like, but I think our impact is being felt.
We have had a number of engineering firms, consultants, come to us, wanting to do these studies and surveys to which the member refers. I have constantly said to them: “Don’t come to me looking for work in northern Ontario when you are located in Toronto. If you really want to express the views of northerners and be part and parcel of that type of environment that we have in northern Ontario, then get up there and establish yourself there. Be seen in northern Ontario and be part and parcel of the whole community so you get to know northerners, their language, and the specific and unique problems that we have up there. You will be more conversant, and I think better able to consult and advise the municipalities and the others who are looking for your services.”
Just this last week I was pleased to be informed that three have taken our advice; two will be establishing in Thunder Bay and one in the North Bay area. So that message is getting through as part of our overall thrust to focus more attention on the specific needs of northern Ontario.
Design for Development, I have to defend -- particularly the one for northern Ontario. That is a document which was brought together in 1970 in co-operation with all the municipalities of northwest Ontario, and it contained about 70-odd specific recommendations.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Some of them were very odd.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, and I can say to you that the percentage of accomplishment on those 70-odd recommendations is in the 80 per cent to 85 per cent accomplished.
Mr. Wildman: It proves how inadequate your study was.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: And it became obvious that in the year 1978 the municipal advisory committee looked at Design for Development and said: “Now, we have completed all that, most of that is behind us. Those are accomplishments. We have to update that particular study. Let’s get on with a plan or an industrial strategy for northwest Ontario.” So we gave the municipal advisory committee that responsibility, and last fall we went to the Quetico Training Centre and met with the municipal advisory committee.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Yes, in camera!
Hon. Mr. Bernier: In camera, yes -- to sit down and work with the municipalities, the elected municipal politicians of northwestern Ontario for two full days -- the Treasurer, and four or five of my cabinet colleagues were with us; we sat down there and worked over the very minute details of that strategy with a fine-toothed comb. We went over it very carefully and came up with a report that has since been circulated all over northwestern Ontario.
The response has been very positive, I would say to the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa). In fact the Treasurer has been concerned that there hasn’t been any reaction because normally when there is a report tabled or a plan or a direction brought forward by the government, there are some corners that react violently.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Nobody has read it. It is a nonstarter. It never got to the people.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is something that people are looking at. It is very general. The Treasurer has extended the time when he would accept briefs and comments on this particular strategy. I think he has extended it another three or four months.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s right. I have had three letters so far.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I have had very few. But I think what is in that industrial strategy is what the northerners in northwestern Ontario really want to see happen to their particular area. So they are just accepting it as government policy.
Mr. T. P. Reid: They don’t know what is in it for the people of northwestern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: All they have to do is read it; it has been circulated.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I know, but that’s the problem.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: But it is there, and it is not government policy as yet. I want to make that very clear. So here again we have that kind of direction being extended. In fact, this afternoon, as I said to the member for Rainy River, I am going to North Bay to meet with the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association to talk about an industrial strategy for northeastern Ontario. These groups always like plans, they like to see where the government is going five, 10 or 15 years down the road.
Again, I will say to them: “Look at the northwestern Ontario model,” we are not going to push it down their throats, obviously -- “That is a pattern, and you may wish to follow.” But that will be discussed with them, because we in Northern Affairs, and I can say for all the provincial government in northern Ontario, want that northern input now more than ever before. We are asking for it and we are going up there and we are getting it, and we are pulling it into our decision-making process.
With regard to the Hartt report and the Hartt commission, as the honourable member knows, there has been a recent statement in the Legislature concerning the acceptance of some of those recommendations. The recommendation concerning the West Patricia planning area has been accepted.
The commission will examine and continue to monitor what the inventory is really pulling together in that particular area. Also in the Onakawana area there will be another branch of the commission monitoring the environmental review of the Onakawana development. There is some concern that the Environmental Assessment Act has not been really tested and they would like to look over the shoulder of the study group and the public sessions to make sure that the interests of the native people are carefully considered.
The task force to which the honourable member referred in the Hartt report has not been accepted by the government. The Premier made it very clear that we have 15 provincial members of Parliament in northwestern Ontario and northern Ontario.
Mr. Wildman: Does that include Mr. Maeck?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, that includes Mr. Maeck, the great member for Parry Sound. They are in place, and we have a new Ministry of Northern Affairs. In the Premier’s statement, he felt very strongly that we should tap those resources and give the Ministry of Northern Affairs more opportunity to become involved and to carry that responsibility of additional co-ordination that relates specifically to the problems of northern Ontario.
I think you will see that as we move down the road. I’m not making any apology, but we have been in the operation for only a little over a year. Our impact is being felt within the government and within other ministries, as we go down the road to coordinate and to suggest in a very positive way the things that we would like to see changed in the policy programs of northern Ontario.
Mr. Worton: What happened to your finger?
Mr. Wildman: It got caught in the cookie jar.
Mr. T. P. Reid: What happened to his finger is he tried to get back that $9 million.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I tried.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I want to make a very short statement to the minister about the northwest strategy. I want to say to him that I am extremely disappointed in the municipal people in northwestern Ontario. I want you to listen very carefully because I have said this to them. The Treasurer has the responsibility for the report up to this stage and will, I understand, until it is government policy. Then it will unfortunately come under you, and that’s another problem. The Treasurer has had three letters on that strategy which supposedly, is going to set the guidelines for development in northwestern Ontario until you change it, probably in another five years. I don’t even know of any place where it has been discussed at a formal council meeting or where there have been public hearings within the community to discuss what is in that report.
I can’t unfortunately blame the government for that. I would like to but I can’t. I feel a certain amount of frustration over this. I was wondering if the Treasurer or yourself, or both of you in combination, intend to dig these municipalities somewhat and say you want to have their responses by July 1 or whatever it is. I don’t know what else to do. I have talked to members of council, some who have assured me they will get to it and will talk to it. I do my radio program where I mention that. I have done my weekly newspaper column on the thing. I have not had a response from what has been in there, either yea or nay or it’s a bunch of hogwash.
I just find it a completely frustrating experience that there hasn’t been any response by the northwestern communities per se other than through the municipal advisory committee which, quite frankly, I don’t think really represents all of the communities or certainly not all of the people. It is not getting down to the grassroots for the input, as you are fond of saying, of the northern person who is living there. That person doesn’t even know this thing exists, and yet it’s going to be shaping his life or her life necessarily for the next few years. Are you planning on sending them a letter saying: “Will you hold some community hearings, and will you respond by -- whatever the extension date is?”
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I might point out to the honourable member that at the recent convention of the Northern Ontario Municipal Association, which was held in Thunder Bay a week ago, the Treasurer made a very strong statement to those municipalities present saying they should get their responses in and react to it.
He gave them that extension of time, hoping that they would review the strategy and get back to him with their comments. It may well be that we’ll have to take a more direct approach with each municipality.
This particular industrial strategy is different from the old Design for Development, in that it is brought together with a regional input. It doesn’t have the parochial response the old Design for Development had when it specifically said, “There should be a road built from Sioux Lookout to Pickle Lake. Call it the Marchington Lake road.”
These things were very specific in the old Design for Development. They attracted the attention and the concern of the various municipal governments because they could see how it would affect their municipalities. This is a regional approach to all of northwestern Ontario. It doesn’t have the parochialism that was there in the past. So I can see why the municipal leaders have not been excited about responding to it. It’s very general in nature.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Except for the fact that their own pet projects, or whatever, have to come within the guidelines of this program. It has been my experience in the past that you use these things not to do things as my friend from Sudbury would say, “We want to see some action,” -- but as a reason for not doing things by saying, “It’s not in the plan.” That’s the part that bothers me.
I want to commend the people who were involved in that report because, for the first time, there is, at least from the government point of view, a total government response, from what I can gather from reading it, from all the ministries involved, rather than a selected few. And at least we have some idea of what direction the ministries see themselves as going in.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I certainly want to add my comments about the group that worked on the report. There has been a feeling in northwestern Ontario that Thunder Bay has been the Hogtown of northwestern Ontario. There’s no question about it. I think some of the delegates at Quetico indicated that.
I just want to commend those delegates from Thunder Bay for broadening their scope of thinking and vision beyond the boundaries of Thunder Bay and for looking at the needs of such places as Atikokan, Fort Frances, Rainy River, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, Ear Falls, Geraldton.
As the honourable member points out, it was heartening to see that regional approach to the entire community. I am hopeful -- and certainly I will discuss it with the Treasurer -- that if the municipalities do not respond with much more enthusiasm than they have in the past, we will take a more direct approach with them.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to follow up on what the minister indicated about the role of the ministry in co-ordination, and what my colleague from Sudbury and the member for Rainy River have been questioning, in three major areas.
First, I’d like to know what the ministry’s role is in co-ordinating the response of the government in general to the Hartt commission, and in particular, what the minister’s role is in the various consultations the government has had with interest groups who have wanted to respond to the Hartt commission because they will be affected by both the recommendations that were made and by the government’s response. For instance, I understand that prior to the Premier announcing the government’s response to the Hartt commission, consultations were held with various groups, specifically with the native treaty organizations in the area. There was a meeting held, I understand, with a Ministry of Natural Resources official, a Mr. Dillon, which dealt with a number of things, including wild rice harvesting. What role did the Ministry of Northern Affairs play in that, if any, and what does the minister see his role should be?
Prior to the announcement that a representative of the metis and non-status Indians would be on the committee studying wild rice, I would be interested if the minister could explain, what consultation had taken place with OMNSIA? The president of OMNSIA, Smokey Bruyere, has indicated to us that his organization was not consulted and the first they knew they were going to be involved was when the announcement was made in the House here. I would like to know what the minister’s role is in general in response to the Hartt commission and in dealing with the various groups, including the native groups which are affected by the government’s response, and why there wasn’t more consultation, if there wasn’t, with OMNSIA.
I have a few other questions on the coordinating role of the ministry, but perhaps the minister could respond to that before I go ahead?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The response to the Hartt commission was brought together by the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Brunelle). Mr. Dillon is the deputy minister of that secretariat. He did have discussions with ourselves and he had discussions, as the member correctly points out, with the native peoples. He had discussions with the Ontario Wild Rice Producers Association in Kenora.
The triparty subcommittee which will look at the wild rice issue and the involvement of the Indian metis organization and the Ontario Wild Rice Producers Association are a direct result of our involvement.
We insisted that if we are going to have that northern input, with the entire community providing some of the input, we should have the entire community at the table at the same meeting, and not as separate groups.
You can see that our involvement was very real in getting that changed so that those groups were and will be involved in the decision-making process, at least in making recommendations to the government. I don’t think they will be involved in any decisions. They will be brought together under the triparty umbrella and make recommendations to the government by January 1979.
In getting back to the role of the Ontario Metis and Non-Status Indian Association, the honourable member will recall that they did hold their general meeting here in Toronto two months ago. One of the major recommendations in their submission to the government was that they be considered and have a greater role in the resources of northern Ontario. We accepted that as their desire to participate in these discussions. One of the specific areas, was commercial fishing and wild rice. Because the non-status Indians are very much involved with the harvesting of these resources, I think -- and correctly so -- they should have a say in what the future will be with regard to the development and harvesting of these resources.
Mr. Wildman: The minister’s response leads to one specific question and a general problem that I have had ever since the ministry was created. First, I imagine that the minister knows and is fully aware as a northerner about some of the problems between treaty Indians and treaty Indian organizations and the metis and non-status Indians. I wonder if he anticipates any difficulty in having a group meeting that includes both of those organizations.
That is the specific question. The general problem I have is that when the minister indicates the overall response of the government to the Hartt commission is being coordinated by the Resources Development secretariat under the provincial secretary, that’s where I run into difficulty.
It seems to me that the terms of reference for the secretariat in relation to the development of the resources, which naturally involves northern Ontario centrally, seem to be almost exactly the same as the terms of reference for the Ministry of Northern Affairs. It’s very difficult to determine who is responsible for what and what the relationship is between your ministry, which is a part of that secretariat as well as other secretariats, and your co-ordinating role and the co-ordinating role in terms of resources of the secretariat.
I suppose the Resources Development secretariat would naturally be involved with the Hartt recommendations since the honourable member for Cochrane North (Mr. Brunelle) is also responsible for native affairs. That makes sense, but I would like to have some clarification on that before I go ahead with a couple of other examples of problems I see with co-ordination.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, if I can answer the first question that the honourable member put forward in connection with the concern that he has with regard to the tripartite meetings; will the status Indian accept the non-status Indian around that table and the Ontario Wild Rice Producers Association. That question did come up, there is no doubt about it, in the presence of Mr. Justice Hartt and he indicated very strongly to us that he felt the native people would accept that. They were anxious to get on with the job of looking at this particular resource and he felt most strongly. We accepted the feeling that they would sit around as one group to look at the resource in the interests of the entire community, so I have no real fears that that will break down. I’m hoping it won’t.
In connection with our rule, I think the honourable member touched on it in winding up his comments when he said that the provincial secretariat does have direct responsibility for the native people in this province. They are relating directly to the native people and they have the exclusive responsibility of carrying that with the federal government. We, as the Ministry of Northern Affairs, don’t, so it was obvious in the Hartt report, which dealt so strongly with those native people north of the 50th parallel, that the provincial secretariat has an overriding interest across the province that takes in the interests right across the province from Windsor to Ottawa to Kenora. Our basic area of jurisdiction is that area of Parry Sound north -- is that what we’re supposed to use now? Where is the honourable member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck)?
Mr. Wildman: It must be the French River.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The provincial secretary’s area is much broader than ours and it specifically relates to the native people, so it was a natural place for the Hartt commission response to be generated.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, in relation to the co-ordinating role of the ministry in terms of policy and planning, and then in delivery of services as a result of those plans -- that is, when a policy is decided upon -- last year in the estimates of both the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Northern Affairs, I raised some concern about the relationship between the two ministries and what appeared to be, at least in the beginning, some strain on the part of officials of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in their feelings about the rule of Northern Affairs in planning what roads would be built or not built, what roads would be improved or not improved, and then in turning it over to Transportation and Communications to deliver the goods after Northern Affairs had made a decision.
I used the example the last time of the proposed Highway 555 between Blind River and Elliot Lake, the Granary Lake road, which has been talked about off and on for about 20 years at least, and which Transportation and Communications -- the Department of Highways before that -- had sort of been studying and doing surveys on for a long time. Then, just prior to the last election, the Minister of Transportation and Communications made a statement. First they were going to review all their studies again and look at the situation to see if that thing would go through. He seemed optimistic that it would go through.
Subsequent to that, I contacted the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the North Bay office, and was informed in a rather testy way by one of the officials that it was up to Northern Affairs now -- Northern Affairs was responsible.
The desire of the people in the area is obvious and the minister is aware of it. The town council and the citizens of Blind River have presented a petition to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. This was in the last few months, I believe at the time of the Good Roads convention. The minister at that time said he was aware of the desire but it was now out of his hands and was up to the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
Subsequent to that, every municipality and most chambers of commerce on the north shore, from Sault Ste. Marie to Elliot Lake, and including Elliot Lake, and Spanish -- I think Spanish; all the way at least to Iron Bridge, Thessalon, Bruce Mines -- all those communities and Sault Ste. Marie have passed resolutions in support of the desire of Blind River to have that road built.
I think they have sent their letters to both the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and the Minister of Northern Affairs, because I think they’re not sure who’s really going to make the decision. It’s significant that the township of Elliot Lake has agreed that this should be a road that should be built, especially in relation to their housing conditions. I’ve raised the issue in the House with both ministers and both have indicated that it relates to the Environmental Assessment Board hearings in Elliot Lake and whether or not the housing development can go ahead. That board has now made a decision.
I’d like to ask two questions: First, who is really responsible for determining whether roads in general are built -- where they are built, when they will be built, what priority they have? If it is Northern Affairs, what role does Transportation and Communications have in affecting a decision that might be taken by Northern Affairs? Can the minister now give a specific response on Highway 555, the Granary Lake road?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think the simplest way to respond to the honourable member’s question is to examine the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
I think we all realize the power lies with who has control of the money. That’s pretty basic, really. If the honourable member will examine the estimates -- I’m sure he already has -- he will see that about $46 million or $47 million is located within the Ministry of Northern Affairs -- plain and simple.
We have the responsibility for setting that priority. We have the funds. We work in close consultation with the engineers and the planning branch of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications because we don’t want to duplicate what they’re doing -- because they have that staff in place now as it relates to the southern part of the province. I think it would be a little ridiculous if we set up a large bureaucratic staff to do the work in northern Ontario while there is a different group doing the same work in southern Ontario. This would be a complete waste of the taxpayers’ dollars and a duplication of work.
We work very closely with MTC people in the planning and with the information that comes forward from their people and the information that comes forward from our people. But the decision as to when that road will go forward, how it fits into the five-year program, is with the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
I might add that we also have the budget for the resource access road, which is in excess of $7 million. Most of that work is being done by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the co-operation has been 100 per cent as far as we’re concerned. It’s moving ahead. In fact, MTC has been excellent with us in puffing together their information and our information and in sitting down together and working out what the priorities will be. But the final decision, as I said earlier, is with the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
I have just been informed that the cost of the Granary Lake road is estimated at about $8 million to $12 million, and it would just give a saving of about 12 miles. My deputy informs me that our latest review does not give this particular road construction a high priority. Our recent budget cutbacks have further aggravated the situation, of course. All I can say to the honourable member is that there are no immediate plans at this time to get on with that particular road. Certainly if things change or the budget eases up, we will be glad to reconsider; but at this time it does not have a high priority.
I think the honourable member would sooner see us spending those valuable dollars in other areas of his riding rather than maybe go on with new construction. I am sure there are passing lanes, bridges or something in the immediate area of Blind River that we could do with existing dollars rather than go into a major reconstruction program that would provide a minimum amount of benefit to those people in that area.
Mr. Wildman: I won’t prolong this, Mr. Chairman, except to say that I disagree with the minister on that last part. I’m sure the minister has received copies of resolutions -- I’ve received them -- of not only Blind River and Elliot Lake but also every community along the north shore right to Sault Ste. Marie in support of the housing problem in Elliot Lake but to the overall economic development of the north shore.
Elliot Lake is expanding, as the minister fully knows, perhaps even to the point in the future of 40,000 people -- almost the size of North Bay. Especially with these contracts that have gone through, Elliot Lake is going to be a major centre and the better the communication between Elliot Lake and the very small towns that have suffered economic depression for some time along the north shore, the better the chances of a spinoff of those kinds of economic development of Elliot Lake spreading around; the shorter the communication distance between those communities, the better.
I agree that the mileage difference is not that great; but when you are commuting 24 miles a day, it does work out to be significant over a year. But it is not just the distance; it is also, even though there have been improvements to Highway 108, the rather circuitous route that the people who commute have to follow from Blind River to Elliot Lake. Twenty-four miles a day may not look like much, but over a working year it adds up to a lot of mileage; and at our gasoline rates in Elliot Lake and Blind River, that is a significant amount of money. I won’t prolong that; I am just disappointed in the minister’s position and I would hope that the ministry will reconsider it, in the next five-year study, for the good of the economic development of the whole north shore.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I might just point out that the five-year program is under constant review. In other words, we don’t plan for five years and then cut it off; it is under constant review. As I said earlier, should there be changes in our budget or should there be new information come forward -- and we are very cognizant in this government and this ministry of what is going to happen at Elliot Lake; some of the projections I have seen are for 35,000 people in the mid-1980s.
Mr. Wildman: There’s only one way in and out now.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s right. We are very cognizant of that. We will be watching the situation very closely, because we want to be part and parcel of that massive development that is going on there.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Chairman, I would like to mention two matters before we go on to the next vote.
One is, what input does the minister have now, or does he have any, in the question of supplying doctors and dentists to northern Ontario? I see Mr. Speaker has come out; it is a topic that is almost as near and dear to his heart as it is to mine.
The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health said at the NOMA convention a couple of weeks ago that it was a matter of lifestyle to attract doctors and dentists to northern Ontario. I understand the dental association is working on a program to provide dentists to northern Ontario, but there’s still a shortage in places like Emo and Rainy River, while Ignace particularly could use another doctor or two. What input and impact are you having on that particular issue, which is one of the basic necessities in northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s a very good point, I’m glad the member for Rainy River brought it up. It’s one area that we identified very quickly, after our ministry was established, as an area of priority. One area of priority that came to the surface immediately was the lack of dental facilities in northern Ontario. We had a significant budget and we looked at it very carefully.
I might say as an offshoot that I am particularly pleased to have in my ministry a deputy who was formerly with the Ministry of Education and who was the founder of the northern core of teachers that operates in northern Ontario. That’s Tom Campbell’s brainchild. He is from Chapleau.
Mr. T. P. Reid: He’s a very impressive fellow.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: This problem of needed dentists and doctors blends right in with the concern he responded to when teachers were being called for in the remote areas of northern Ontario. It’s an area in which he has expertise and in which we’re working very carefully.
To move into the specifics of our efforts, we embarked on an ambitious program to meet with the Ministry of Health on the dental needs of northern Ontario. We indicated to them that we were prepared to buy the hardware, that we had funds and that we would buy the mobile dental units if they would provide the experts and the personnel to operate them, to which they’ve agreed. I think there’s a unit going into Hornepayne, one going into Matheson relatively shortly and one going into Ignace to provide dental services there. We’re discussing the area of medical practitioners very seriously with the Ministry of Health. I might give you an insight into some of the things we’re thinking about and working on. There’s the possibility of setting up bursaries for students over the period of their studies at the medical institutes. They would obtain bursaries from the Ministry of Northern Affairs or from the Ministry of Health on the express understanding they would provide us with X number of years of service in northern Ontario. The deputy is working on that and we’re just starting that round of discussions. That’s the kind of thinking we’re doing because these are the specific and unique needs of northern Ontario.
I think the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health was quite right when he said that in his riding of Peterborough there is a surplus of dentists. He asked how do you get those people to move up to the places like Ignace, Rainy River and Ear Falls? They’re just not interested. They’d sooner operate on a much lower salary and stay in Peterborough. On a general basis, he informed the group at NOMA that when we look at the total population, we’re not badly served when it comes to doctors and dentists. The thing is that they’re all centred in southern Ontario. That’s our problem and that’s what we’re trying to come to grips with. It’s something that we have high on our list.
Mr. T. P. Reid: As the minister knows, the Kenora-Rainy River District Health Council did a report on dental needs of your area any my area and found that the children there had the highest rate of cavities in the province. I forget exactly what the dental term is for cavities. I can remember it sounds obscene.
Mr. Gaunt: Caries.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I hope we could speed this program up. What specific co-ordination is there between your ministry and the Ministry of Health? Secondly, is there any kind of information or recruitment program going on at the colleges of medicine and dentistry? I know there is something going on at some of the medical schools, particularly Hamilton. But does anybody from the Ministry of Health or Northern Affairs go to the colleges around graduation time, or prior to graduation, and say look, this is what is available around northern Ontario; the lifestyle is a little bit better in northern Ontario?
When I talk to officials in the Ministry of Health, I am constantly told there are some dentists in Toronto who have two practices at opposite ends of the city and they bounce back and forth between them just to make an average salary. There is the one problem of the dentists, then; there is the other problem with doctors and the two seem to be different animals, obviously; but where is the co-ordination between your ministry, and is there any active recruitment by either yourselves or the Ministry of Health in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The actual recruitment and the direct contacts made with the students at the various universities are by the Ministry of Health. We have not moved into that particular field and I don’t think that’s our role. Our role is to deal with the senior officials of the Ministry of Health, to point out to them what the specific needs of northern Ontario are and to impress upon them the urgency of getting on with the program. In essence, if funds are required, then we have the regional priority budget to give them those dollars to get on with the job.
The discussions at this point in time have been at high level with myself and the minister, and with the deputy and his counter-part in the Ministry of Health. So those discussions are going on. Dr. Copeman, I believe, is the gentleman we have been working with also. He has a very ambitious program, of course.
When specific problems come to our attention, we are immediately in touch with him. The co-operation, here again, has been excellent. We will continue that liaison and that co-ordinating responsibility of putting increased pressure on those people in other ministries to bring about the changes we need regarding the social amenities in northern Ontario.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I am glad to see that Ignace got $95,000 for its dental clinic.
Mr. Germa: In the minister’s statement, he said they were acquiring five new dental coaches. I think it is a sad commentary on our times when people in northern Ontario have to receive dental services in such a fashion. The people in northern Ontario are taxpayers just like the people in the southern part of the province. They heavily subsidize these educational institutions. Yet, they don’t have access to the benefits that are supposed to accrue as a result of them subsidizing the universities.
Notwithstanding that complaint, I understand the present dental car service is on a circulating system and it takes seven years to go around its route and back to any specific location, which means that anybody in that community would get dental services once every seven years.
That in my mind, is just not adequate. Maybe the minister could tell us what kind of upgrading of service is going to take place as a result of the five new coaches? Are we going to have to wait maybe five years now before the dental coaches comes back to town? I would hope these five new coaches would in fact be able to speed up the circulation of the service.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think we are very sensitive to the specific needs of those small communities in northern Ontario, but of course we have to be very practical. I think the honourable member fully realizes we couldn’t put a major dental facility in every community.
We have assisted, as the member for Rainy River mentioned, in doing something in Ignace when we gave them direct financial assistance of $95,000 to set up a medical clinic which would attract a dentist to their particular area.
We have embarked on a joint study with the district health council in the northwest to further that dental study to which the member for Rainy River referred, in the amount of about $15,000. The eventual goal of our ministry is to provide a total of 10 mobile dental units right across the north. With these 10, and I believe the two or three that are on the railway system, we think we can accelerate the rotation of those units in many areas of northern Ontario.
The emphasis at this point in time will be with the children, there is no question about it. I think that has to be our responsibility and priority. We will go into the smaller communities and deal basically with the school children. The adults will have to make their own way, at least for the time being. On an emergency basis, certainly they will be looked after; but on a general preventive program they will have to wait in line, as the priority will be with the children. But I can assure the member for Sudbury that our goal is to accelerate the rotation with the increased number of mobile dental units.
Mr. Germa: I wonder if the minister has any projection of what the time span will be to complete a circuit.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have about $600,000 earmarked for those units. I think five were purchased this year and can be brought in later this year or early next year, so that the full ten will be in operation. I think it is fair to say that the Ministry of Health is having some difficulty in providing the dentists for those units. Here again we may be co-operating more fully with them in a financial way to make sure that they are manned. But those are some of the problems.
Mr. Germa: In keeping with the minister’s statement that he would welcome suggestions on how to solve some of his problems, we recognize there has been a shortage of medical personnel in northern Ontario since day one. We have done and tried everything to resolve our problem with GPs and dentists; and particularly with specialists, who just will not come up north.
I am reminded of the problem that the Premier of Newfoundland faced a few years ago and how he resolved his problem when he couldn’t get medical personnel to go into the isolated outposts of Newfoundland. At that point in time the student doctors in Saint John’s were willing to accept free education in Newfoundland. But immediately after they were graduated they ran off to Montreal where the big bucks were and left the people of Newfoundland stranded, and Premier Smallwood had to take some drastic action.
I know it is not your responsibility to run the medical system in Ontario. But in view of your problems, you might suggest to the Minister of Health that he has to start thinking in more positive terms and take a look at what the Premier of Newfoundland did. His program, I understand, was quite successful.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We are very much aware of that. In fact we have not only looked at the Newfoundland situation but also the dental program that is functioning in Saskatchewan. Manitoba, as the honourable member is no doubt aware, has embarked on a dental nurse program within their school system in the northern part of that province. I don’t think it is as ambitions as the one in the province of Ontario; nevertheless they are moving ahead, with dental nurses working in co-operation with the schools, and we have looked at it. We are very cognizant of what has happened in other provinces and hopefully we can gain from some of their experiences.
Mr. Hodgson: I attended a convention of NOMA in Thunder Bay a couple of weeks ago on behalf of the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett). There is quite a serious problem in that area, and maybe the minister could shed some light on why it happened. Here in southern Ontario senior citizens apartments are built at an average cost of from $16,000 to $20,000 a unit. Most of them are below the $20,000. In a township like Keewatin they put out a tender for a senior citizens apartment, it came in at about $26,000. They were asked to re-tender. I had a call yesterday from the mayor and he said that in re-tendering they got a low bid of $28,000 per suite.
Is it because there is a shortage of contractors in the north to build this kind of project? Are the contractors not hungry enough up there? Is there a lot of other development they can put their time into? Is it a soil condition which causes this tender to come in at $28,000, which is quite a high price? What can we do to help them out, because they need senior citizens apartments and there doesn’t seem to be anybody willing to build them any cheaper?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, this is an area of real concern to us in the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I think it is fair to say we are concerned, and not only with the problem at Keewatin as it relates to a second call for the 21 senior citizens units there which saw an increase in the tender. I think the feeling was that if we recalled it the contractors, after a very lean winter, would come in with a much lower bid. But that has not happened. It is not happening in a number of cases, I would say to the member for York North. I would just like to relate to the member some of the problems that we are having.
In Hornepayne after some considerable amount of examination and engineering studies with qualified engineers and consultants, we designed an airstrip that would take the norOntair service. We recently called for tenders. I think the estimated cost of that airport, complete with paving, was something like $750,000. The bid came in at $1.2 million -- $500,000 over the estimate. How do you really justify that? Either the estimate was too low or the contractor came in too high. And that was, of course, the lowest bid.
I have to look at the Speaker’s riding. I regret that he is not with us today, but I just want to put it on the record, in case he has an opportunity to review my remarks. The town of Schreiber is desperately in need of an extension of sewer facilities to their new arena that they are planning. We worked very closely with that community -- with their consultants, with their engineers -- and the original suggestion was that they would need about $30,000 to extend the sewer line and water lines to their arena. It’s a short distance, but further studies were undertaken and the engineer came up with a figure of about $51,000. That seemed to be not too far apart, so we went along with it. The bids came in at $106,000.
Mr. Gaunt: Double.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Just double what the estimate was. This is of real concern to the municipalities. I know the mayor of Keewatin, Bob Kahoot, is most concerned; because his community is in dire need of senior citizens units and the Ministry of Housing has, of course, set a level of costs which is reasonable right across the province, but here we are in northern Ontario coming in at a rate something like $5,000 or $6,000 per unit more.
Mr. Hodgson: About $7,000.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: About $7,000 a unit more. I wish I had the answer. Perhaps the contractors are in the position of not being competitive; if there isn’t enough competition it could be one of our problems. I would hope that the estimates are not coming in too low for the development of northern Ontario. We have to accept the fact there are increased and added costs in developing programs and services for northern Ontario; but I fail to see that and I fail to accept that difference, that wide difference between the estimate and the actual cost. It’s just causing us some concern.
It’s one area which, I can assure the members, we are going to have a very serious look at it. Right now we’ve got three major projects -- I guess it’s four because there are two projects in Hornepayne. The major town hall concept which has been called twice -- and the second time it came in considerably higher; and the Schreiber situation which I think we were going to agree to because we feel there is some urgency to get on with servicing for the arena which could be built later this year.
Keewatin is another area that gives us concern. I have to say to the member for York North that the conditions in Keewatin are tough, there’s no question about it. The soil conditions are not as nice as you would find down here in --
Mr. Hodgson: The sunny south.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The sunny south; I suppose you might say that today, and just today. Nevertheless, I just find it hard to accept that great difference. It’s an area we’re going to spend some time looking at to see if we can come up with some solution. I hope we wouldn’t have to modify and reduce the quality of services in northern Ontario because of these high costs.
I think we as northerners -- and I would hope the honourable member would agree -- should be entitled to the same level and the same quality of services and buildings that you have in southern Ontario. I won’t accept anything less. Nevertheless, the spread in costs is giving us a great deal of concern. I just don’t have the answers to these problems at my fingertips.
The mayor of Hornepayne recently expressed his concern -- I’m glad the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) is back; I was mentioning both the Hornepayne projects, the town hall and the airport, of which I am sure he is aware, coming in at a cost so much higher than we estimated.
Mr. Wildman: The town centre.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It certainly disrupts the budgeting process, I can assure you of that. When you have X number of dollars and X number of projects and then find that you don’t have the dollars you originally thought you had; that is one area I can assure the members we’ll be looking at very carefully.
Mr. Wildman: In relation to that, can the minister indicate the differences between the estimates on the Hornepayne airport and the actual costs they are looking at now, and what the ministry’s plans are in relation to that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I did in my earlier remarks. I’m sorry the honourable member wasn’t here. As I indicated, our estimate was about $750,000 and I think the bid came in at $1,200,000. Because of our desire to get on with the Hornepayne airstrip -- there’s no question about that. We’ve established the need, we think it is certainly warranted, and we have budgeted certain funds for this year -- it may well be, as I said to the member for Rainy River, that we’ll have to drop off certain parts of the project, such as the paving and maybe a certain amount of clearing.
I met with the low bidder in Timmins yesterday, Mr. LaBelle, and I expressed my concern to him about the high cost of the development of the Hornepayne airstrip. He indicated to me that he is prepared to look at dropping some portions of the project in order to get on with it this year. One, as I said, is the paving of the strip itself, and I think the other involves 300 acres of clearing that they wanted, on which he came in with a figure of about $500 an acre.
My immediate response was, having been involved in clearing in the timber business myself, that $500 an acre just for straight clearing was a little high. His immediate response to me was: “We put that bid in and never forget the fact that we were still the lowest bidder. I don’t know what the other fellows bid we were the lowest. We put it in at $500 an acre because of the demands placed on us by other government ministries. We really don’t know what the Ministry of Natural Resources will want and what the Ministry of the Environment will force us to do. Can we actually burn the timber? Do we have to bury it? Will we have to do all these things to meet the environmental requirements of a number of ministries? To take that risk, we have to have the dollars to do it.” He admitted that it was an exceptionally high figure.
Mr. Gaunt: That’s the cost of too much government.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The cost of too much government? I think you’re right on. I hope the honourable member for Rainy River is listening to me. The more deregulation we have, the better.
Item 1 agreed to.
On item 2, analysis, research and planning:
Mr. T. P. Reid: During the minister’s estimates a few months ago I asked him if his staff would provide a list of the studies that were going on within his ministry, or which had been commissioned from other ministries.
We discussed one that had been under consideration or had been done in regard to labourers or working people commuting to their jobs over relatively long distances. Although I haven’t gone back to look at Hansard, I was under the impression that those studies or that particular study would be made available to us. It has been some six months or so and we haven’t seen that study.
I have also had a question on the order paper since April 18, asking that all studies that you are doing within your ministry be tabled in the House. I am with the minister on this one, and with Mr. Germa from Sudbury, in that we seem to study ourselves to death, but there are some areas that are valid for research and I certainly would like to know what they are. Can we get that list and can we have those studies tabled so that information is available to us all?
In regard to that, I would like to know specifically if there are any studies going on, let’s say of a micro-economic nature that deal particularly with small industries? I think all our concern in northern Ontario is with the fact that we are so dependent basically on one industry, usually forest or mining or perhaps tourism. In the case of mines, when the mine is depleted or becomes uneconomic, there isn’t much left for people to do except to move out. The same is true to some extent with forest industries where the equipment is out of date and the technology hasn’t been updated.
What I would like to ask specifically, therefore, is has your ministry done any studies, taking one small industry, that might be viable in any number of northern communities? What I am thinking of specifically, and the minister himself is aware of this, is that in northern Minnesota and northern Michigan, which have the same relative transportation problems and the same relative geographical problems with distance from markets and distance from some of their sources of supply, to my knowledge there are certain industries that seem to be able to develop and grow and compete all over the North American continent.
I can think of Marvin Windows at Warroad, and there is a hockey stick factory at Warroad. There are all kinds of small communities which have one or two of these small industries that seem to be able to survive, despite their distances from markets. Their situation, as I said, is the same as many of our communities in northern Ontario. There is another one, I believe, at Hibbing, in which there is a canoe manufacturer that ships all over North America.
Has your ministry done any micro-studies of these specific industries? Our study on the strategy for northwestern Ontario, as has been indicated, is more of a macro-look at the region as a whole. I think where we have been missing the boat is that we haven’t got down to the specifics, right down to the small industries that might be able to employ 15 or 20 or 30 people with the concomitant spinoff, rather than looking at large projects, like Bending Lake or some kind of industry like that. What we need really is smaller industries to cushion the blow when something happens, for instance as in Sudbury. There is nothing to soak up the people who become unemployed. In the case of smaller communities, like Atikokan, there really isn’t anywhere else for those people to go but to move completely out of the community.
If there were a number of small industries, there would be an opportunity for them, one would think or hope, to soak up some of the excess labour. The question is have you got any studies of that sort?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have embarked on a number of areas with regard to the general economic activity of northern Ontario.
I might just remind the honourable member that in the field of tourism as an example, a number of ministers and ministries have been talking to the tourist industry of northern Ontario, saying: “The time has come in our life when we should start taking a look at the emphasis we have placed on the wildlife of northern Ontario. Let’s move into a different field and shift our emphasis away from the hunting and fishing lodges that we have. Maybe there are other areas to go into. Maybe we could go more into a family type of vacation. Maybe we should promote more of the historical aspects of northern Ontario. Maybe we should promote more of a recreational type of a holiday.”
The industry immediately responded and said to us: “It’s great for you fellows to talk that way, but what security is there, or facts and figures do we have, that if we did make this shift, there would be the economic strength and the base for us to continue to make a living here in northern Ontario?” In response to that, we provided NOTO with about $85,000 to do a study in that particular area to see what’s in place today, whether that shift is warranted, what would happen if that shift did come about, and whether the tourist industry could support and maintain it.
The other study we’re involved in is the Big Trout Lake employment strategy study -- in the Big Trout Lake area, believe it or not -- with another group of ministries.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I’m glad you can get something out of it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Here, again, we’re looking at that particular area as it relates to transportation and to creating a broader economic base.
As I pointed out earlier, Manitoulin is a typical example. Again, I have to say to the honourable member: Our emphasis has been in some instances to put the emphasis and the onus on the local municipality, because they have the interest at heart, as I said, with regard to Atikokan. Manitoulin has brought nine municipalities together. We have assisted them with some financial resources, not only to look at their present industries -- and they’re small industries; there are only four or five people in many of these places -- to give them some assistance and expertise, but also to look at other industries that could be brought into Manitoulin Island. We are looking at this as a pilot project.
In Sudbury, and I hate to belabour you with the problems Of Sudbury, but they’re very real --
Mr. Wildman: Don’t be gloom and doom now.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, we’re not; we’re being very positive. I think, as I said in my opening remarks, the attitude has changed tremendously in Atikokan. They’re very positive and very sincere.
Mr. T. P. Reid: In Atikokan or Sudbury?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: In Sudbury; I’m sorry. Did I say Atikokan?
Mr. T. P. Reid: They’ve always been positive in Atikokan.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they have.
We have two major studies going on in Sudbury; there’s the 2001 conference where the community will look at itself to diversify its present economic base, and the $300,000 we’ve given the regional municipality to do something in the field of agriculture and to look at import substitution. There are a number of products which they rightly felt could be manufactured right in the Sudbury basin and could be used not only in the Sudbury basin but perhaps exported to other parts of northern Ontario. I’d like to see that expanded into the northwest region. A place like Thunder Bay could look at that whole region again in import substitution; there is no question about that, we’d be glad to look at that.
We have an industrial opportunity study going on in the Sault Ste. Marie area which we’ve funded to the tune of about $50,000. In the field of recreation, we’re also working with Canadore College in the study of cross-country skiing as a tourist attraction for that particular area.
So we’re involved in a number of areas. I would encourage the municipalities to come forward, as Atikokan is doing, because if you’re going to get the weight and the interest and concern of an area, they should be involved. I don’t think it should be our responsibility to superimpose ourselves on them with an idea and say, “Here, you make it work.” I’d like to see the idea ferment within that community, and if they need some resources in a number of different ways, then we’d be glad to look at it. But that’s the thrust that we’d like to go with, and we would give them every encouragement that we could.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The minister has done it again, with his Pollyanna outlook -- which I appreciate, I’m an optimist myself. But do you think you could try to answer my specific question? Do you have any studies going on on specific industries as to why some of these small industrial concerns -- like Marvin Windows in Warroad or any of these small industries employing 15 or 20 or more people, a hockey stick factory, a canoe paddle factory -- have been successful in other places having similar circumstances to Atikokan, Fort Frances, Rainy River and such communities? Is there anything of that aspect going on?
I look over to my right and I see three blank faces. What is the answer?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have not embarked on any specific examinations of any specific hockey stick factory, say in that field. I think if that thrust were to come forward from a municipality, specifically like Atikokan, saying, “We’d like to look at ways and means that we could use the warm water from the Marmion Lake hydro development and we’d like to” --
Mr. T. P. Reid: They’re doing that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they are doing that; it’s the kind of thing, where the thrust and the initiative come from the local municipality, we would like to do.
I think that responsibility should lie with the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) since he’s directly involved with specifics. He would know what the market potential is, and certainly the Ministry of Natural Resources would look at the resource aspect of it. That’s an area he’d be looking at. We’d be involved in a very general way.
I might say before I sit down that the report to which the member made reference a few moments ago will be tabled next week.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Will all the reports you’ve been doing be tabled?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I appreciate what the minister has said but I’m not sure he understands fully what I’m saying. He may be right that perhaps this is a responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism.
Mr. Gaunt: With all that hot water you might have greenhouses.
Mr. T. P. Reid: My friend from Huron-Bruce, who obviously comes to the point much quicker than the Minister of Northern Affairs, has indicated that with the warm water Atikokan could have a greenhouse industry. That’s something they’re looking at and have been looking at primarily on their own.
I don’t want to belabour this point but I feel that maybe the minister didn’t quite grasp what I was getting at. Maybe it’s something that should be farmed out to perhaps Lakehead University or even Confederation College in Thunder Bay. When you come to set up a business like window manufacturing or a hockey stick factory, all these things, using the natural resources we have in abundance, we always run into the problems of markets, geography, transportation costs and so on. Nobody really has any answers other than to say it’s too damned expensive to do it.
My point is that they’re able to do it in the United States, in these northern border states. Somebody must look at them on the basis of one industry, rather than sort of the whole general sweep that we talk about in the Design for Development program; look at one specific industry and study it, analyse it to find out what the factors are that make it a viable operation in Warroad -- I keep coming back to that -- or Hibbing, or any of these places in northern Minnesota.
We can then relate that to places like Sudbury, like Atikokan, like Rainy River and find out what are the factors that make it economical there. I’m sure we’d probably find the same factors in our areas, but there must be a vital ingredient missing somewhere or other problems such as cost. Let’s at least identify them and find out what the differences are on an individual basis. I think that’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere.
The minister talked about the Sudbury conference. I’ve read the report. There were some good ideas that came out of that, particularly in relation to import substitution. I think there’s a whole range of products that could be manufactured in some of these smaller communities across northern Ontario. I would like to suggest to you that maybe one of your more worthwhile studies might be on an individual enterprise in northern Minnesota so that we can relate that to northern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That point is very well taken, there is no question about that. There have been a number of small industries established in northern Ontario. In my own area, the Naden boat factory in Vermilion Bay bought the patent for Naden boats, aluminum boats. I get very disturbed when -- that plant employs anywhere up to 25 people -- I go 20 to 25 miles away from Vermilion Bay and see beside the road in some dealer’s yard, Lund or Starcraft boats, identical to what is being built 25 miles away at Vermilion Bay, imported from the United States, really. Maybe it’s a better boat, and the cost is a little cheaper, but yet there should be a loyalty to the supplier or product or something, I don’t know what it is, but sometimes you have to look at the industry. I have made the point to the industry, let’s support local industry. We don’t even do it up there sometimes.
The purchase of stoves is a good example. In Kenora, there is a small factory producing wood stoves and it’s doing very well, but now it finds itself competing with prices in Quebec or in BC where they are building stoves, maybe a little differently. But here he is established locally. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, and you know something that is farther away always seems to be a little better, but that’s another issue.
Mr. Gaunt: He should charge a higher price.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Maybe he should, that is right. He is employing local people and I wish the general public would look at that because really it all helps to maintain our economy in northern Ontario.
I will consider that suggestion. I think the suggestion that we look at universities, to review that in minute detail, is an area we should be thinking about helping with.
The member I am sure is aware of the sash and door plant, that is anxious to get under way, and I hope he is giving it his full support, I believe it is in Pinewood. That gentleman is anxious to get running. He assures me he has the markets, he has the product, but he is short of capital. I understand he is working very closely with NODC so that anything we can do of course to help that kind of an industry in a small community is most advantageous.
As was pointed out by one of the members from the third party, while we can look at the large mining operations and the large pulp and paper mills, the small factory that employs five or 10 people is a big factor in some of our small towns. There is just no question about that and we are trying to get that point across to the other ministries. Even the moving of government offices from small communities has an effective impact, so we are very cognizant of these special needs.
Mr. Germa: Sometimes when you get too close to the picture, Mr. Minister, you can’t see the trees because of the bush in front of you.
Mr. Ruston: He’s already used that.
Mr. Dukszta: It is a new phrase.
Mr. Germa: That is how it is sometimes. We are all familiar with the problems and maybe a reckless and innovative approach has to be taken. Some person not familiar with the problems might see potential in northern Ontario. Maybe we just don’t see it. I am thinking of some people who seem to be able to make something out of nothing. Japan, for instance, is a major force in the world, without obvious resources, through their ability as entrepreneurs. They have been able to compete and put things together.
Maybe we should be thinking in a sort of a reckless fashion and we should find ourselves probably one of the most vicious entrepreneurs we can find; probably he would be a Japanese, a really vicious one. You would give him probably one of the worst townships in northern Ontario. You put him in this miserable township, with a few willow trees, a bunch of poplar trees, a few wolves, a couple of moose, a deer or two, the odd bobcat, a rabbit and you tell this man, “Take a look at this township. What would you do, Mr. Entrepreneur, to make a living and create some jobs in this circumscribed area of the township?” This is just a thought I’ve been having. We don’t seem to be having the answers. The traditional answers we’re searching for in such areas as tourism are not working.
I don’t have too much faith in that thrust, because there are too many other exciting places in the world for tourists to go. You know the deterrents to tourism in northern Ontario -- the blackflies, the mosquitoes and the severe winter weather. Even if we do develop tourism for a couple of months in the summer I think that is not a viable alternative. We have to find some way of identifying the potential which is on that land in northern Ontario.
I think you’ll have to do it in a microscopic fashion such as that. You will get someone who has never seen the place before, has no preconceived ideas of the hazards or the pitfalls that he might stumble into, and who knows? -- he might come out with the answer and that township might blossom. Then all we’d have to do is repeat it in all the other townships.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It would be good if the member can find us an entrepreneur of that calibre.
I want to touch on the comment the member made with regard to tourism. I can’t accept in total his comment that tourism doesn’t mean that much to us in northern Ontario, because I think it does. One thing the tourist industry has difficulty doing is proving to the public at large the impact that industry really has on northern Ontario. We see all kinds of figures being poured out. We’ve heard all kinds of statements being made of what the tourist industry means to northern Ontario in financial return and, of course, in employment, but there’s always that doubt that it is not doing what they say it is. I’m convinced that it is; there’s no question about that.
I made an effort this spring to accelerate my promotional travels in the United States trying to get more tourists into northern Ontario. My first venture was down to Fort Lauderdale to meet with the travel agents of that area -- I think there were about 150 in total -- where in co-operation with the Manitoba government and the federal government we were kicking off a summer package tour. It would see tourists coming from Fort Lauderdale to Winnipeg and into northwestern Ontario for a 10-day trip.
It came to us loud and clear from the major travel agents that there were hundreds and hundreds of people who were anxious to go north. There was the uncertainty of the Middle East. There was uncertainty about going to Portugal, to France and to other countries. That was losing its appeal, not only because of the political activities in those countries, but because of the extremely high cost. Many of the tourists were looking to the North American continent. They made it very clear to us that we were missing the boat by not expounding the excellent potential we have here in Canada. Of course, with the premium on the American dollar and with the seven per cent reduction on the sales tax on accommodation, it made it very attractive for American tourists to come to Ontario this year. So we have embarked on a very ambitious campaign.
I’d note that in co-operation with my colleague, the member for Sault Ste. Marie, we also went to Minneapolis and to Milwaukee to meet --
Mr. T. P. Reid: But they don’t go to the sport shows.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We were at both sport shows -- both of us. We met with the tourist operators, met with the media and the travel agents in both of those areas and did a selling job. I’m convinced that we will have a bang-up year in northern Ontario as it relates to tourism. There’s just no question about it.
As I said earlier, the industry itself must find some way to prove to the public in general that they have an impact, that they contribute handsomely to the economy. I think once they’ve done that in a positive way we’ll get that acceptance. In other words, there’s that feeling that they’re not contributing what they say they’re contributing, and I share their concern.
Item 2 agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: I’m advised the House has another order of business before 1 o’clock. It might be an appropriate time for the committee to rise and report.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Bernier, the committee of supply reported progress.
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty, the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her chambers.
Clerk of the House: The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour has assented:
Bill 1, An Act to amend the Trustee Act;
Bill 20, An Act to amend the Public Vehicles Act;
Bill 22, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act;
Bill 69, An Act to amend the Racing Commission Act;
Bill 71, An Act to amend the Judicature Act;
Bill 72, An Act to amend the Juries Act, 1974;
Bill 76, An Act to amend the Change of Name Act;
Bill 77, An Act to amend the Corporations
Bill Pr3, An Act respecting Crossroads Christian Communications Incorporated;
Bill Pr16, An Act to revive Hillport Motors Limited;
Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Township of Tilbury West.
ANSWER TO QUESTION ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I would like to table the answer to question 53 standing on the notice paper.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Grossman, the House adjourned at 1:02 p.m.