The House resumed at 8 p.m.
TRAINING SCHOOLS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 113, An Act to amend the Training Schools Act.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the honourable minister have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, Mr. Speaker. I will wait and perhaps respond. I’m sure the honourable members opposite have some comments they’d like to make.
Mrs. Campbell: Could the minister repeat what he said? Nobody heard it.
Mr. Blundy: I think he said that he would wait until the honourable members on the opposite side responded.
Mr. Sweeney: Responded to what?
Mr. Blundy: I don’t know. At this point I could sit down and I would have responded as long as the minister’s statement lasted.
Mr. Sweeney: And more eloquently.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The mike wasn’t working very well.
Mr. Blundy: However, to get down to the bill at hand, An Act to amend the Training Schools Act, I look upon this bill as a bill that is in some way a housekeeping bill to conform to the amalgamation of children’s services within the ministry.
Mr. Haggerty: He has gone.
Mr. Blundy: Did I say something that made the minister go home?
Some hon. members: Yes.
Mr. Blundy: Oh, there he is. He’s still here.
I have read the bill over. I am not an expert on this bill or the programs that it is governing, however, I am willing to go for second reading of the bill on the understanding that we will have every opportunity to have an in-depth discussion of it, clause by clause, in committee.
Personally, I want to congratulate the minister on the reorganization of children’s services --
Mr. McClellan: When is it going to happen?
Mr. Blundy: -- and when we see the product of it, we will be able to be even more congratulatory on that matter.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That depends on how you handle this legislation.
Mr. Blundy: However, I hope that this evening, in this House, we are laying the ground rules that will provide a well thought-out amalgamation of children’s services.
The one thing I want to say in my opening remarks, Mr. Speaker, is that anybody who has known me for any length of time will know that I have been decrying the cost of government, government budgets and government deficits. I have been all for restraint and I am still inclined that way. But there are certain areas within the purview of government where people are in such a position that they cannot have great restraint practised in caring for them. I would like to point out to the minister that this evening we are talking about a number of bills to do with children’s services. Who else in this province could more rightfully be thought of as requiring all of our diligence and a good deal of the money available for social services in this province?
I just want the minister to know that I will not be carping at every nickel being spent if it is being wisely spent and if it is directed to an area where these expenditures are warranted. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, there are many such areas. So in speaking to Bill 113 I am doing so in very general terms and I will look forward to being able to have a more positive and definite input into the bill at the time we are studying it clause by clause in committee.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part in this debate in the first of a series of bills introduced by the minister to complement whatever he’s doing over there.
Mrs. Campbell: That is the mystery of life.
Mr. McClellan: Sweet mystery of life, as the member for St. George quite aptly puts it.
This bill before us, Bill 113, is the first of a series of bills in the package that has to do -- this bill, at least in part -- with the chaos in residential children’s services. I see nothing in the package of bills that leads us out of the chaos. The promise of salvation is certainly at hand once again, but we have been hearing those promises with great regularity since the minister was appointed and since he first announced his intention to undertake the reform of children’s services in this province.
Much remains to be done because virtually nothing has been done. This series of legislative proposals before us now is, in fact, the first concrete legislative step that the ministry has taken.
With respect to Bill 113, we in this caucus are prepared to support the bill. In a sense the bill drops the other shoe, I suppose you could say, from the repeal of section 8 of the Training Schools Act. I’m frankly very pleased to see the amendment to section 9 of the Training Schools Act, which in this bill changes the legislation so that instead of the language being that the judge may send a child to a training school, the language is changed so that the child is firstly made a crown ward and then, secondly, may be sent to a training school; but, I suspect, more likely would not be sent to a training school, would be sent to a more adequate treatment facility. This amendment in my view quite clearly establishes ministerial responsibility for the care and treatment of children who are brought before the court under section 9, and I think that is an important measure to be established in law.
The other measures in this bill, as the member for Sarnia said, are by and large housekeeping amendments with which we can take no exception. The overall problem, as I have said, remains that the chaos in children’s residential services, which was described and documented in the report of the interministry committee on residential services, remains. Child welfare services are still very much a shambles in this province and all of the minister’s task forces and studies and position papers and green papers and white papers and policy papers have not undone that shambles.
I am convinced that the ministry, or at least his division of the ministry, is making a sincere effort to deal with the problem. I question the commitment of his government however to provide the backup support and resources to make these reforms meaningful. That remains to be seen, and the slowness of the pace is perhaps a reflection of the schizophrenia of the government saying on the one hand that they wish to reform children’s services, but on the other hand being really in the business of constraining children’s services.
The ministry has moved in a direction that we approve of in, firstly, repealing section 8 then, more recently, announcing its intention to phase out the training school program in this province, and then, as we heard tonight, making a further change in the language of section 9 of the Training Schools Act. That is all well and good, but I say again to the minister that reform is not a matter of laws; reform is a matter of services and of the structure of services. When section 8 of the Training Schools Act was repealed the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) made some promises with respect to the development of alternative services. That was December 9, 1976, to be precise. The minister said, when she announced the removal of section 8 of the Training Schools Act, and I quote: “I would like members to know now that our priorities include the establishment of a small secure-treatment unit for severely disturbed adolescents.”
Of course, if you are going to close the training schools, you have simply of necessity to provide small, closed secure-treatment facilities for severely disturbed adolescents. Nothing was done on that promise for the best part of a year or a year and a half. The minister finally announced his intention to redesignate the Oakville assessment centre as a secure-treatment unit for severely disturbed adolescents. I don’t know whatever happened to the concept of “small,” which was in the original promise, and I’ll repeat it again since the minister looks quizzical: “a small secure-treatment unit for severely disturbed adolescents.”
I would think that intelligence would dictate that a number of small secure-treatment units for severely disturbed adolescents would be established. As a matter of fact, not a single one has been established. As a matter of fact, even the Oakville facility that was promised to us -- I think in February, if memory serves me correctly -- was taken away with the same easy facility that it was given. It was taken away in response to pressure, I assume from the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), responding to concerns of people in his riding who didn’t want that kind of a facility in their community. Sooner or later the minister and the government are going to have to decide which side they are on and decide what their policy really is.
If they are saying they want to move away from institutional incarceration of children then they have to be prepared to put their money where their mouth is and to have the courage of their convictions to go ahead and provide alternative facilities. If they knuckle under to every bully-boy vigilante citizens’ group that wants to keep alternative group facilities out of their neighbourhood, they might just as well reopen the training schools and, in fact, build some new training schools.
Until they come to grips as a government, not just as a minister in his pious pronouncements, but as a government and as a cabinet, until they come to grips with the issue of making sure that alternate group facilities are not zoned out, or pressured out -- even by your cabinet colleagues -- then the minister’s rhetoric is simply that; so much rhetoric.
The minister said on May 1 that his decision not to proceed with a secure-treatment unit in Oakville was, if I can paraphrase, merely a temporary setback -- that the government would be announcing a new location almost instantly. One would have thought the minister would have announced it before the transcript had been printed, he was so insistent.
To my knowledge that facility has still not been announced. I hope the ministry will assure me I am wrong. I hope the minister does know where the first of these small secure treatment units for severely disturbed adolescents is going to be located. I hope he will tell us in the course of this debate exactly what he intends to do by way of providing concrete alternatives to training schools. Without those alternatives, the minister’s program is a sham and a mockery, and I think the minister realizes this.
The minister said in his response to me, “There are so many alternatives and there are a number of communities that would dearly love to have the facility located in that community.” Yes, he nods his head and says that’s true. I assumed he was telling the truth, I always do, and he usually does; in fact, he always does. But the question is, where is the facility? I hope he will tell us.
Just a brief final statement: I am pleased to see that in the licensing statute, the Children’s Residential Services Act, the standards will apply equally to provincial facilities. I think that is a progressive step. We can talk, when we come to that statute, about what the standards are, because again, no one seems to know. Nevertheless, this is certainly one of the most well-intentioned ministers that I know and we certainly continue to applaud his good intentions.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I just have a few brief remarks and I am confining my remarks to Bill 113. I am, I guess, terribly disappointed that really all we are doing in this bill is reworking for the most part that which is already in effect. There is no imaginative approach in this bill, nothing really to indicate a new look at training schools. I happen not to be dwelling so much on alternatives. While I very strongly believe in alternatives, I also feel, and I am sorry that my experience makes me feel this way, that training schools of some sort must be kept in place.
I had hoped after all these delays there might have been something in this bill which would indicate that we are concerned in the facility itself, quite apart from the alternative facilities suggested. I trust that before this bill gets out of committee it will not look the way that it does now. I trust it will look not just as a bill in legal semantics virtually, or as a housekeeping bill, but that it will carry us forward to a new look at the way in which we treat children who are unfortunately in need of a training-school type of facility.
Certainly I have a great deal of concern with reference to section 13(4)(m). I see that as another way of passing 0ff responsibility from the ministry to whomever out there will take on the responsibility if we cut back on funding. As I see it, that cannot stand as it is presently indicated.
I won’t labour the point. I would invite the minister to respond to what I’ve said. But I will say I trust that when we get into committee we will have an act to amend the Training Schools Act which will stand as an example for the whole of Canada in our approach to this very important aspect of the Child in conflict with the law.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is there any other honourable member wishing to participate in this debate? If not, the honourable minister.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps I ought to emphasize in responding to the comments of the honourable members opposite what I have said and maintained from the time of the transfer of responsibility to my ministry back on July 1, 1977, that what we are dealing with in this package are interim legislative amendments.
Mrs. Campbell: Not good enough after all this time.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In spite of what the honourable member opposite may feel, a great deal of work has gone into the development of these amendments and the development of standards which is under way in the ministry, which I’ll refer to more fully later in responding to some of the specific comments of the honourable members. When we think in terms of the longer term omnibus changes which we have discussed previously, I’m sure the member for St. George realizes a task of that magnitude is not something that can be done in a matter of a few months.
I do want to point out that although these amendments may be viewed and referred to as housekeeping amendments, I view them as considerably more than that. I think they have to be viewed in the context of the policy statements I made earlier this spring relating to training schools. If there is any general policy categorization or principle embodied in this particular act, it is to do two things. One is to further the decentralization of the program within our ministry and the establishment of an area administration, which is consistent with what I have stated earlier in terms of our goal of reducing the numbers of training schools and having them serve the children of the province on a regional basis. Second, it is to allow for the program changes I indicated in terms of the development of alternatives.
As the member for Bellwoods has noted, the change in section 9 is significant. It’s not just a housekeeping change. It’s quite significant in that the wardship of the child who was formerly a ward of the training school will now be with the crown. That will permit a greater degree of flexibility in terms of placement of that child in the most appropriate treatment setting available. It will not preclude what the member for St. George has suggested. We’re not suggesting the complete elimination of training schools. I recognize the validity of the point she has made, that there will be a continuing need for a secure setting in a training school setting for some children.
The point I have consistently tried to make is we have historically had more children in training schools than was necessary. There were children there who were perhaps inappropriately in training schools.
Mrs. Campbell: Because there wasn’t any place else.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In some instances, that was so.
Given the reality, in terms of the economy and so on, I want to emphasize as well that we recognize that there are not, at this point in time, adequate resources in the communities to deal with the problems of these particular children.
The progressive reduction in the numbers of training schools will, I hope, free up existing resources which can and will be allocated to the development of community resources. At the present time our existing training schools are approximately at half capacity; so theoretically, at least, we could reduce the numbers of training schools by half, without having to remove any children into alternative settings immediately, by that process freeing up resources to be allocated to the development of community alternatives.
I’m well aware of that, and I want to emphasize that this legislation to this extent will enable our ministry to move in that direction.
The member for St. George also expressed some concern, I believe, about section 13(4)(m), relating to funding. I want to assure the honourable member that it is not our intention to shift funding responsibility by virtue of this provision. If she recalls the discussions that have taken place in terms of children’s services committees and bears in mind the development of alternative resources in the community, it’s important that we have the flexibility to provide for the funding of those alternative resources and at some point in time, with the development of the children’s services committee, if there is to be a coherent and co-ordinated approach to the --
Mr. McClellan: What do you mean “if?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, when; I say “if there is to be” --
Mr. McClellan: I say “when”!
Hon. Mr. Norton: I intend that there shall be, if members are co-operative on the opposite side. If that is to be a reality, then it’s also going to be necessary that we provide for a funding mechanism which at this point in time, it would be my intent, would be vested with the children’s services committee, which would be monitoring the progress of children; this provision presumably would allow for that kind of flexibility as well.
I think that we must not fall into the trap, perhaps, of developing legislation which is so rigid as to preclude the very kind of flexibility that I know the honourable member wishes to see within the system in order to meet the diverse needs of the children of this province.
I have just one final comment; it really doesn’t relate to the principle of the bill, but I would like to make a brief response to the member for Bellwoods and the concern he expressed relating to the pace with which change has been overtly evident. I suggest to him that, as he always assumes that he knows what I am thinking, I am sure he is well aware of the approach we have taken, recognizing -- in terms of consultation right now --
Mr. McClellan: It’s called flying by the seat of your pants.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- that there are literally hundreds of agencies and thousands of committed and dedicated individuals across this province who are involved in the provision of care for children whose understanding, commitment and support is essential to the success of the kinds of changes of magnitude that we have undertaken. If the honourable member has at any point been a participant in that consultation process, he will understand that there is a great divergence of opinion as to the pace that should be followed.
There are some -- very few, I suggest -- who are saying, “You’re going far too slowly.” There are far more people who are saying, “Don’t move too quickly.” I think that we have hit a very good pace. It’s a happy medium, but it’s a realistic pace at which we can proceed, and, I believe, at the same time ensure that those people who are most concerned and most involved in the province of Ontario are aware of what is happening. We have an opportunity to encourage and develop not only their input but their support to see this through to fruition.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for the standing social development committee.
CHILD WELFARE ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 114, An Act to revise the Child Welfare Act.
Mr. McClellan: Is the minister not going to make a statement?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No. Go ahead.
Mr. Blundy: I thought the minister would want to try to do a selling job on those of us present on this bill to revise the Child Welfare Act, but I guess he is going to wait and see what we have to say and how strongly we feel about it.
I would like to make a few comments about the bill. As I said in regard to Bill 113, I want to support the bill and send it to committee to have it thoroughly studied, but when I come to a bill such as this I can’t resist the opportunity to speak to the minister and the members of this House on the need for more money for children’s agencies and societies in the province of Ontario.
I was speaking to a person just recently and I said I thought that in my community of Sarnia we had one of the highest caseloads of children’s aid societies in Ontario and the problems being confronted by them were very great. I ended up by saying that of course I was sure that the children’s aid societies of Metro Toronto must have a great deal more trouble than a relatively small municipality has.
This person, who is knowledgeable about these things and who is professional in the field, told me she thought that many of the smaller municipalities were experiencing even more problems than the large municipalities such as Metro Toronto because there are such a diversity of agencies in a city like Toronto as compared to a municipality such as my own.
I do want to make a very special plea to the minister in regard to children’s aid societies concerning the staffing and the budgeting, which, of course, makes possible the staffing. I think a good deal of prevention might be practised with considerable success if the workers within the various child agencies, in particular, the children’s aid society, had the time and opportunity to really work with a child and work for the child to the point where there might be some corrective help given and as a result some prevention of problems farther on down the line.
Bill 114 is quite an extensive bill. I know there are many areas in the bill that will need to be discussed at some length. I am looking forward to that opportunity in committee. I will be quite happy to have the bill referred to committee for study at a later date, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McClellan: Goodness, everyone is being so brief. I will try to remedy that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We can always count on you.
Mr. McClellan: For me, this is really very delightful to be able to take part in this particular debate and the review of this particular act. I am especially pleased the minister has brought forward not simply a series of amendments to the Child Welfare Act but that he has in this bill repealed the Child Welfare Act and brought forward an entirely new Child Welfare Act. That opens the legislation to the House for a serious and intensive scrutiny and gives us the opportunity to put forward some things that, hopefully, will strengthen and improve the legislation.
By and large, the suggestions I want to put forward or the issues I want to highlight tonight are not issues in which I think there is a partisan difference, but they are simply problems which we as legislators are attempting to solve. I think they will be approached by all parties in that spirit. In particular, we look forward to the opportunity to have hearings on the child Welfare Act. I gather that they are tentatively scheduled for some time in the early fall and then proceed through the bill clause by clause.
There is one issue I do want to deal with first before I proceed through the bill to try to address a number of particular concerns that I have. We in this party have argued for a very long time that the focus of child welfare services in Ontario needs to be turned around; it needs to be turned away from the traditional crisis orientation and the traditional focus on prevention and needs to become preventive social service. That is not simply a matter of redrafting laws. It is a matter of restructuring social services in this province in a very radical way, and developing social services in the province which do not exist because our social service system is reactive in nature. Our social service system is crisis-oriented, and this legislation doesn’t deal with prevention, or seek to prevent family breakdown. This legislation is designed to help society deal with families that have broken up and with children who are already damaged. That is what this bill is about.
I have only to refer you to section 6 of the new bill where the function of children’s aid societies are spelled out, and prevention is simply a subordinate clause of section 6, sub 2(c). It is not one of the functions of children’s aid societies in this province to prevent the circumstances which may require the protection of children, to quote the bill. Even the wording of the bill talks about prevention in terms of protection.
There is no notion of prevention in Ontario and I know the minister, who is jotting down notes, will respond that Ontario does have a preventive child welfare system. He can redefine items in the child welfare budget until he is blue in the face and until he can pretend that they total up to something in the order of $25 million -- I believe he said the other day -- of child welfare funds allocated for preventive services, he has simply redefined what social agencies are doing and labelled it prevention. But it is not prevention.
We do not have a legislative framework for the provision of preventive services. We do not have a structure which can provide social services on a preventive basis; that is to say, to provide support in an anticipatory way which would serve to prevent family breakdown and physical and emotional damage to kids. We don’t do that.
As a matter of fact, when you look at the record of this ministry over the last 10 years or, more gruesomely, over the last three years since the Conservative social service constraints began, you can see very clearly just how little commitment this government has to preventive social services.
It’s worth noting at this time, before we get into a discussion of the legal niceties of the child Welfare Act, that the minister can make his laws as nice as he pleases, but when he cuts back on visiting homemakers’ services in this province he is telling us where his priorities really are. We read in the estimates book, the minister’s own material, that the level of visiting homemakers’ services, which is one of the most effective preventive social services that we have, has fallen 25 per cent in this province since 1974-75, that measured in hours of service it has fallen 25 per cent since the government started its social service cutback program. Then the minister has the nerve to talk to us in other documents about a priority on prevention; he has the nerve to talk to us about prevention in child welfare services.
We read in the minister’s estimates book that the level of home nursing services has fallen 31 per cent since 1975-76, and that measured in visits per year it is actually lower in 1977-78 than it was in 1970. Then he has the nerve to talk to us about preventive social services or about prevention.
When the minister puts constraints on day care, when he makes it necessary for parents to go to the welfare office and fill out demeaning means tests in order to claim daycare subsidies, when the minister brings daycare capital expansion to a complete halt, when the minister turns day care into a welfare service -- and we’ll talk a lot more about that during the debate on the Day Nurseries Act -- then the minister is not in the business of providing supporting and organizing preventive social services.
Those two service areas, nursing services on the one hand and daycare services on the other, have been most brutally savaged over the last three to four years by this government’s social services cutback programs. They are precisely the kinds of preventive social services that need to be strengthened if we are to develop a social service system which focuses itself on prevention rather than protection and restoration of already damaged families and individuals.
Mr. B. Newman: Carried.
Mr. McClellan: As I said, this legislation simply deals with the disposition of damaged kids and the disposition of damaged families.
The major reforms that the minister talks about will never be found in a statute like this but they will only show up in the front line of social services, in the communities and neighbourhoods. That is precisely where services, to the extent that they exist at all, remain in a state of shambles.
The legislation deals with a number of issues that I’d like to proceed through, highlight, perhaps express concern on, and try to identify areas where the legislation is going to require the benefit of expert testimony at the hearings and very thorough scrutiny in clause by clause discussion. Some of the measures, clearly, we applaud. For example, the provision requiring the reporting of child abuse, with penalties attached to professionals and the statutory requirement attached to everybody, is a good reform. That is long overdue. Just how overdue and how desperately needed it is we saw in the Solicitor General’s annual report this year.
We read in the section dealing with reports of child abuse by the coroners, that even though the number of child abuse cases has increased dramatically since 1974, from 562 in that year to 1,045 in 1977, we would still expect, according to studies, Ontario, with its population, to have something in the order of 2,000 reported child abuse cases per year. That hideous statistic makes us comparable to other jurisdictions. That means that 50 per cent of the child abuse cases I are still not being reported. I believe that the statutory requirement, with penalties for negligent professionals, is going to be helpful in dealing with that problem.
Much has been made, since the Ellis inquest, of the issue of admission of evidence in child-abuse hearings. I have to say that I’m disappointed that the admission of evidence of past maltreatment was made discretionary rather than mandatory. That’s something that we will be moving to amend when we get to committee.
I’m also surprised at the way the ministry has handled another issue that emerged in the Ellis case, that is, the question of exchange of information between social agencies. As a social worker, I don’t have very much use for the excuse of confidentiality between social workers and social agencies to cover up their blunders. I have no use for that at all. As a matter of fact, I hoped the ministry had stuck to its guns and required an exchange of information between social agencies in protection cases.
Mr. Martel: You would think they were out not to help the child
Mr. McClellan: I think, frankly, that the minister has been snowed by the agencies.
Hon. Mr. Snow: You be careful how you use that word.
Mr. McClellan: I predicted some time ago that he would be snowed --
Hon. Mr. Snow: Be careful how you use that word.
Mr. McClellan: You snowed them the worst of all, but we have talked about that already.
Mr. Martel: I think that was Bill 21.
Hon. Mr. Snow: A great bill.
Mr. McClellan: That’s one area where there is no justification for a kind of a conspiracy of silence which benefits nobody.
Mr. Martel: Except the children’s aid society.
Mr. McClellan: It places children at risk. It’s not just children’s aid societies that are involved in that kind of nonsense; and it is nonsense. We can deal with it in the hearings, because we will hear about it; and we can deal with it in clause by clause where we can do something about it.
Again, this relates to my concern about preventive care and preventive services, but I am not satisfied with section 29 (5) which allows the judge to take into consideration work in the home, because there are no provisions in the act to set with any kind of specificity what those services really are. Until there is a structure of preventive social services in place in the province so that Mrs. Jones in such and such a neighbourhood can reliably expect to get -- almost on the basis of a contract between the social service delivery system and herself -- can get the services she needs with a certainty they are there in place and are provided on the basis of adequacy and competence, then it is dangerous to return children under supervision orders on the basis of a very nebulous notion of some kind of work being done in the home.
It’s my understanding that all of the children who have died and whose tragic deaths have been publicized, that trail of hideous deaths that has led to this legislation being here tonight, were under supervision orders and that all of those children were receiving some kind of work in the home. We have a case in this morning’s Globe and Mail of Lessard being visited by the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society, I believe as recently as a week before the death of the child. I suppose you could call that work in the home. There are an enormous number of questions related to that whole area.
In case you are getting restless, Mr. Speaker, I intend to take a fair bit of time on this bill, because it is the full Child Welfare Act and it’s something that comes before this House very rarely. I don’t expect it to be back before another 10 years, despite what the minister has said.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Are you speaking of third reading or are you speaking of --
Mr. McClellan: I don’t believe this is an interim bill, in other words; I believe that this is it.
Mrs. Campbell: I don’t think any of them are.
Mr. McClellan: This is the bill. Whether the minister intends otherwise or not, I put no stock in his good intentions. What I have before me is the Child Welfare Act and I intend to deal with it. I intend to operate on the assumption that we won’t have it back before us for another decade. All of us had better do the best job on it that we can while it’s before us, because we won’t have another crack at it.
Mr. Haggerty: Just like the election of regional chairmen.
Mr. McClellan: I don’t believe the question of legal representation for children is dealt with in this bill in an adequate kind of way. It’s dealt with in line with the recommendations of the Attorney General’s committee, which as everybody knows was a compromise between a series of compromises. They came up with the most compromised compromise they were able to compromise.
I think we can do better. I think the model presented to the ministry in the brief from justice for Children makes a lot more sense, assuming -- and, I think, assuming correctly -- a desire on the part of most members to secure legal representation for children. I think the best way to do it is to establish a separate entity -- call it the official advocate or whatever you want to call it -- some kind of body that’s outside the hurly-burly of private law practice and will be able to develop a particular expertise and sensitivity to the needs of children in child welfare hearings for legal representation.
I don’t believe that the official guardian is in any sense at all the appropriate body to act in this capacity. The official guardian’s function is very clearly defined to protect the property interests of those who are incompetent to do it. This is an entirely separate function that we are talking about that does not properly belong with the official guardian at all.
Again, I am looking forward both to deputations during hearings and to clause-by-clause consideration to see whether we can’t come up with something better than the appointment of legal representation, solely at the judge’s discretion. It begs too many questions to be an entirely satisfactory way of dealing with this issue.
There have been an enormous number of changes in the draft legislation for the Child Welfare Act from the time that the green paper first came out until the time that Bill 114 was tabled in the House last week. Many of those changes, I think, were for the better.
There was a curious philosophy underlying much of the green paper. I have never read such a thorough-going defence, firstly, of the ultimate rights of biological parents, almost the proprietary rights of biological parents over their children. It was stated, restated and overstated in the green paper. It is a matter of considerable interest that at least some of that feeling with respect to the biological parents was weeded out.
When we look at the best-interests section of the legislation, we really see once again a very strong statement of the pre-eminent rights of biological parents. I don’t think that is adequate. When you look through that whole section 1(b), where the six considerations are listed, the section states and restates the need for continuity and family structure. There is no mention of the notion of risk in the best interest definition, which I thought was curious.
I would have thought one of the factors that a judge would take into account would be the degree of risk and the vulnerability of the child. I think the preoccupation with the rights of the natural family, which was so characteristic of the green paper and which has permeated most of this government’s pronouncements on the family, is contained again within the legislation. I hope we can deal with that in hearings.
It showed up most bizarrely in the provisions on adoption where the rights of the natural parent were stated to extend past the time of adoption placement. That would have jeopardized the entire adoption process in this province had it been allowed to stand. Fortunately the ministry moved off that position, and we are grateful that they did. There are a number of other issues that I will simply mention for the sake of brevity. I have concerns about the use of non-ward care, even in the amended legislation. All of us are familiar with the charge that non-ward care has been abused by the children’s aid society. I will want to raise the question of whether non-ward care should ever be provided in a situation where there is a need for protection. If there is a need for protection, I am not sure the successor to non-ward care, or temporary care by agreement, is any more appropriate than non-ward care was.
If there is a need for protection, that is to say if a child is at risk, and this is a matter where I have an open mind, I am not sure it is appropriate that a child be involved in a decision-making capacity with respect to the nature of that agreement. The problem around that whole section has to do with its application and the protection situation, and I will want some clarification from the ministry concerning the circumstances in which temporary care by agreement will be used.
The brief from Justice for Children is particularly useful on this point in talking about the need to concretize temporary care through both provision and identification; and I would add to the development of concrete contracts between agencies and people for the provision of specific identifiable services, so that we are not in some realm of never never land with respect to the needs of the family but we know precisely what it is we are talking about.
We don’t have, if I can use the Ellis example again, a family like the Ellis family getting the service that doesn’t meet the need, that is inappropriate for the need. I don’t think there is any doubt about the inappropriateness of that intensive therapy in that particular family.
I have concerns about the notion of place of safety. I don’t know why the ministry would use an observation and detention facility as a place of safety. We are burdened with a notion of criminality in child welfare in this province. I don’t know how we can escape from it, it’s part of the historical development of this service, but I really wish we could.
The Danish child welfare system manages to function as a model system without any notions of criminality or without any reference to the criminal justice system at all. Here, we are quite prepared to confine children who come from a disordered family in an observation and detention home as though they were criminals. We seem incapable of separating out criminality from family breakdown. I suppose in this society there’s still a lingering notion they’re one and the same thing. We certainly treat damaged children often enough as though they were criminals.
I’m concerned about the issue of adjournments and the kinds of delays that result from the adjournment provisions of the act. I’m concerned about the minister’s suggestions with respect to crown wardship. The amended bill doesn’t go as far as the green paper, as I understand it, but he’s still changing the notion of crown wardship in a very fundamental way. Crown wardship was always seen to be both permanent and secure. The minister is proposing to make it something that is not permanent.
I think I’ve touched on all the basics in a kind of a rambling, and I hope not exceedingly disjointed presentation; it’s difficult to deal with this kind of a bill in any coherent way.
I have other matters, but I won’t take the time of the House to deal with them now. We will have the opportunity to go through them in hearings. I hope I’ve at least indicated the complexity and range of matters that will have to be dealt with by this Legislature in committee. None of the matters I have touched upon are issues of partisan difference, leaving aside the larger issue of prevention versus crisis orientation. They are problems we will have to come to grips with and try to solve.
In conclusion, I come back to the point of political difference. You have not, in almost two years, even begun to address yourself --
Hon. Mr. Norton: Barely one.
Mr. McClellan: How long is it? It seems like two years; is it only one?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Barely; it isn’t even one.
Mr. McClellan: My God; it seems like an eternity.
Mr. Blundy: It seems longer.
Mr. McClellan: It does seem longer, doesn’t it?
Mrs. Campbell: Like forever.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That’s because you listen to yourself.
Mr. McClellan: It seems almost as long as this speech.
The fact is that in the three years since the interministerial report came down the pipe and was immediately suppressed in April 1975, this government has done virtually nothing to reform the mess in child welfare services.
There’s a reason for that. One cannot undertake a fundamental reform and restructuring of child welfare services on the cheap. It’s as simple as that. The government can’t say it is going to transform a system which has developed over a period of 80 years, and which is dysfunctional at almost every level -- and the degree of dysfunction within child welfare services is almost unimaginable.
It’s still true that a kid coming into the child welfare system from any of a dozen possible different routes is disposed of by the equivalent of a toss of the coin. There are still no structures in place adequately to assess treatment needs of children and to place children in the treatment facility appropriate to their assessed needs. That elementary structure of matching needs and service simply doesn’t exist. Nothing that the ministry has done so far has changed the service delivery system one jot.
To his credit, the minister has managed to create in his ministry a good place to work. I know a little bit about fads and fashions in social work and how social workers move from one groovy job situation to another. The grooviest place in town these days is the children’s services division; that’s no mean accomplishment.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Don’t you wish you were still around?
Mr. McClellan: I would enjoy it very much. I would probably be there myself, more’s the pity. But in terms of the service, it hasn’t meant a damn thing. Given this government’s commitment to social service restraint and given this minister’s propensity to capitulate at every possible opportunity to the demands of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) for cost reductions, I’m very doubtful that any meaningful social service reform in child welfare will ever be achieved.
The truth is -- and people had better face up to it -- that a fundamental reform of the child welfare system will be expensive. There’s no point in trying to deceive ourselves, there’s no point in lying to ourselves; it costs money to transform an entire service delivery system. It costs money to put in place a network of services that are truly preventive. It will cost money to provide visiting homemakers’ services adequate to the needs of the people of this province; the interministry report tells us that in most communities they don’t even exist. The ministry is not about that business, the ministry is about cost reductions and cost savings; and to his eternal shame, the minister managed to save for the Treasurer a total of $44 million in unspent social services money in the previous fiscal year.
Mr. Martel: On the backs of the poor.
Mr. McClellan: That indicates more than green papers, white papers, policy papers or draft pieces of legislation just exactly where this minister’s priorities are.
Mr. Martel: He will get a stripe for that.
Mr. McClellan: He will maybe get the Darcy McKeough stooge of the year trophy. I always thought it was going to go to Dennis Timbrell.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: When referring to another member, would the honourable member refer to him by his riding or ministry rather than by the surname?
Hon. Mr. Norton: And the award you anticipate he gets.
Mr. McClellan: My apologies.
Mrs. Campbell: I think the stooge award is fitting.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Not you too.
Mr. McClellan: I’ve forgotten his riding.
Mr. Martel: Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. McClellan: Kingston and the Islands.
Mrs. Campbell: You must remember it will have to be made out of something very cheap.
Mr. Martel: Rather cheap, like the rest of the ministry; plastic perhaps.
Mr. McClellan: The second problem this ministry has, aside from the fact that they are constrained at every turn, is that it is prevented on the basis of adequate funding from shifting responsibility to the municipal level, which is the only way, as everybody knows, that these kinds of reforms will work. If the minister proceeds with a program of decentralization which does not provide full funding to local levels of government to assume additional responsibilities for child welfare services, all he is doing is adding a further constraint on the expenditure of social service dollars. As a matter of fact, the mechanism by which the government has managed to achieve savings in the order of $44 million in fiscal 1977-78 has been simply to increase the burden on the municipality. They have made it necessary for municipal politicians to choose between providing extra social services or stabilizing the tax rate; and that is simply a mechanism for constraint.
That is precisely how the minister proposes to go about reforming child welfare, as nearly as we can tell, through the development of local children’s services committees and increased responsibility to the municipal level. The government’s fiscal policy will ensure that reform will be an unmitigated disaster if it is carried out on the basis of anything other than financial generosity.
If it is carried out on the basis of cost sharing, even the existing cost-sharing arrangements, or, more likely, if it is carried out on a more punitive cost-sharing arrangement, I can predict that it will be a disaster for social services. It will result in the kind of reduction of service levels that we have seen in visiting homemakers’ and visiting nursing services.
The second problem the ministry has is that they don’t know what they’re doing. The minister is engaged in one of the unique experiments in modern government. He has announced a series of reforms as intentions to reform.
Hon. Mr. Norton: They are proceeding very well.
Mr. McClellan: He then put together a task force of exceptionally competent people to try to figure out what it is what the minister was talking about when he said he was going to initiate reforms. Normally what one does is to appoint an independent body to perform the task of assessing, planning and making the recommendation around what it is you are intending to do.
The minister is certainly in a unique position. I won’t be uncharitable to it because it is unique and interesting. He has a lot of very talented people --
Hon. Mr. Norton: Which independent body does the member have advising him? Who are his advisers? He is suggesting people should set up independent bodies to advise them.
Mr. McClellan: I am referring to the Castonguay commission in Quebec. I refer to the Seebohm committee --
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am talking about the member’s.
Mr. McClellan: I am not the government.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member is purporting to draft legislation.
Mr. McClellan: If I were the government, I would have preferred to go the route of the British government in 1969-70 with the Seebohm committee or with the Quebec government with the Castonguay commission in the 1970s.
The minister’s problem is that he is tripping over himself. His administrative responsibilities and the process of running a royal commission from inside the government, trying to figure out what the hell he is doing, are conflicting functions.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I haven’t tripped at all; I have a good sense of balance.
Mr. McClellan: The minister has the same staff in positions of responsibility for ongoing programs in administration, simultaneously engaged in the function of trying to figure out what they are doing, where they are going and what social service reform is.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is fundamental if you sit on this side of the House. That’s because we don’t plan as though we are talking about pie in the sky.
Mr. Mattel: You don’t plan at all.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We do.
Mr. McClellan: The minister shouldn’t dwell on it too much, because it is truly a bizarre process, and increasingly seen as a bizarre process. We are no closer in June 1978, than we were in April 1977 when it was first announced, to understanding what a local children’s services committee is; and we are no clearer about how the minister intends to reorganize social services --
Mr. Mattel: The amazing creature.
Mr. McClellan: -- than we were when he announced his original intention to decentralize somehow.
Mr. Martel: The whole thing is just a delay process.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Why don’t you pay us a visit sometime? We will brief you.
Mr. McClellan: It is every bit as ephemeral in June, 1978, as it was when it was first announced.
Mr. Martel: Get another green paper and you can postpone it indefinitely.
Mr. McClellan: The reality is that I don’t believe this government has any real commitment to do what the minister says he wants to do; and I don’t have very much faith in his capacity, or the capacity of his government, to pull it off.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, again I shall try to be brief. I suppose my approach to this particular bill may be somewhat different from that of my colleagues in the House, in that for years we have been looking forward to a new Child Welfare Act. Having in mind that which we have now, and have had for some time. I have to say that I view this with some sympathy, if not with endorsement, because I believe that at last we have an opportunity to review the whole range of the child welfare philosophies, which is important at this point in time.
Like my colleague, I am disturbed that we are talking about prevention, we are talking about protection, and there is nothing, really, in this legislation, that gives teeth to that kind of a philosophy or gives funds for that kind of philosophy. Of course we have such things as the child abuse provisions, but there is nothing, anywhere, of a commitment really to try to prevent that very serious indictment of our society.
Let me just go to some of the specifics. I am somewhat pleased, unlike my colleague, that we do have the best interest definitions in this legislation. But I must say that I don’t think it is there for the judges, because I think the judges, in their own special way, have operated rather on the principles of those definitions. What I do think it does is help society come to grips, in very real terms, with the parameters of their problems in addressing the situation, and I think that may well be helpful to them.
I note that while there are provisions as to what the ministry can do if it has a recalcitrant municipality or an agency which is somewhat less than efficient in presenting its budget, but I don’t see one darn thing that protects the rest of us from a ministry that doesn’t deal with the budget adequately and on time, and we have seen enough of that. So I would like to have some kind of assurance of a new type of procedure so we will not see the ministry dealing with children’s aid societies’ budgets ex post facto, but rather that they may indeed deal with them in advance so a society may have some idea as to what, in fact, is part of its protection budget and what is its crisis intervention budget.
I think that has been one of the major issues, as far as I am concerned, ever since I entered politics in 1958. We have never been able to come to grips with giving to the children’s aid societies, or to anyone else dealing with children, the kind of budgeting necessary for proper protection and preventive kinds of approaches to family breakdowns, to the problems of children in our society.
I don’t see any new steps forward here. I suppose we couldn’t expect the minister to acknowledge the inefficiencies in his own ministry, but I would at least have liked to have seen him address himself to some kind of limitation period on the ministry itself.
One of the problems and one of the dichotomies of judges is really not addressed in this particular piece of legislation. It is a very difficult thing to be a judge sitting in a family court, dealing with a matter of contributing to juvenile delinquency or a juvenile delinquency aspect of legislation, and to recognize that there should be at some point in time -- if I do not have the ear of the minister I will await his pleasure.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can listen as I speak to my colleague.
Mrs. Campbell: I would hope that the Deputy Chairman might recognize that his function is not to interrupt debate.
Mr. McClellan: He doesn’t understand his function at any time.
Mrs. Campbell: I will await the pleasure of the minister.
Mr. McClellan: We can wait all night.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Martel: You now have his undivided attention.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Don’t you distract me.
Mrs. Campbell: I was saying it is a difficult thing for a judge who is dealing with a matter in some other aspect of the family court function to know what to do when he or she recognizes there is a real need for the protection of a child before the court in another capacity. I would have hoped that somewhere the minister would have addressed himself to this matter and perhaps have provided for some function related to child welfare so that judges don’t somehow feel they are letting a very important matter slip because they do not feel they can sit in judgement perhaps on the parent under contributing legislation and then ask a society to take a child into care. A judge then becomes something other than a judge, he becomes a police officer or an enforcement officer at the same time. That situation is in desperate need of addressing by the ministry in this particular legislation if the overriding concern is concern for the welfare of the child.
We have some pretty express references to children being before the courts in some of these proceedings. It strikes me that it would be a better provision if we recognize that a child might be talked to by a judge, have conversation with him and be produced for the purpose of an in-camera discussion rather than to see the matter spelled out as formally as it is in this legislation.
Judges normally are people who are able to talk to a child, without any direct questioning on the specifics of a matter but to draw a great deal from the attitude of the child and the answers to questions which may seem irrelevant but which are not. I would like to see a strengthening of that particular area of provision so that the hearings may be quite flexible so far as the judge is concerned.
I can’t be quite as negative as my colleague has been about the role of the official guardian in view of the fact that that role has changed and expanded over the years and, as I understand it, the official guardian in his intervention in the divorce courts has been quite useful. However, that is a matter which can be discussed in depth as this goes into committee.
When I look at the child abuse provisions, I despair. The minister could not advise this afternoon as to what funding, if any, had gone to the Sick Children’s Hospital. Certainly, we know that his predecessor, in some kind of effort at political PR -- and that’s all it could ever be deemed to be -- put a little money here and a little there and a little money someplace else instead of really zeroing in on the problem as it has been addressed at Sick Children’s Hospital and the kinds of expertise which they have, I think, extended beyond the original Denver Module. It always seems to me that if you really want to address yourself to a problem, you certainly might start somewhere ahead of zero, if you know that there is something ahead of zero, rather than taking people back to zero just for the fun of it.
I really am not very happy with the provisions insofar as they pertain to child abuse. I raised all those questions on the private member’s bill of the member for York East (Mr. Elgie). I thought it was a thoughtful bill that he produced, but again the weakness in that was the lack of provision for prevention.
I don’t think I need to go through all the aspects of this bill. I welcome it being before us. I would have hoped, too, that the minister might have discussed with his colleague the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) some way of trying again to overcome the difficulties where you don’t have a unified court between the function of a provincial court judge in child welfare cases and the function of the surrogate or Supreme Court in custody matters. It seems to me that should be worked out, because it must be very disturbing to a child, particularly a child who is of an age to understand what is happening, to be in the middle of a child welfare hearing -- and only to have the whole matter washed out because some third party has gone to another court and applied for custody.
I think this is something that should have been addressed by the minister, not alone but in conjunction with the Attorney General, if we’re talking about the best interests of the child. The jurisdiction is confused. It’s overlapping, it’s awkward and it doesn’t help a child.
Having said that, I am prepared, as my colleague has indicated on behalf of this party, to support this bill in principle, again with a view to returning to this House a bill which is vastly improved and which can spell out something of a philosophy of protection both for the family and the child, a philosophy of concern for prevention rather than for crisis intervention, a philosophy which could make us leaders in Canada instead of followers, as we so often are in these very difficult areas.
Mr. Mattel: Mr. Speaker, I will not take a great deal of time on this bill. I guess the only saving grace about the bill is the fact that it is wide open and it will go to committee where we will have an opportunity to amend it, because as I look at the bill I am dismayed. You know it was 1971 when I started to agitate for some reform to the Child Welfare Act and as the critic for this party continued that for four years.
In fact in 1975 we finally had hope that we would get a chance to look at some meaningful reform in the Child Welfare Act. The then minister (Mr. Brunelle), on suggestion of the former member for Nipissing, Mr. R. S. Smith, the member for St. George and I, invited Judge Thomson to a meeting over in the Macdonald Block with a group of people. The minister was kind enough to say to the opposition parties -- maybe he had a premonition of what was coming -- that they could bring in people to take part in that first hearing or first discussion. Judge Thomson was one of three to address the group and all of us had people there because there was some hope that the minister of the day would have the act rewritten with the emphasis on prevention, and ultimately, if need be, rehabilitation.
Well, we all know what happened. The minister of that day was --
Mr. McClellan: Thrown out on his ear.
Mr. Mattel: -- moved to another area of jurisdiction. We had a new minister who scuttled the whole idea of looking at the Child Welfare Act. We now have this bill before us; it comes as a result of a number of green papers and this is supposed to be just the interim legislation, because the real stuff is coming somewhere down the road.
Mr. McClellan: In the sweet by and by.
Mr. Mattel: I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that those of us who have been here a few years longer than the minister thought, in 1971 to 1975, that the effort in 1975 was going to lead to something meaningful. There were all kinds of amendments, and like this bill they really didn’t deal with prevention. Here we are today with the same sort of bill, which doesn’t deal with prevention. In fact we will still deal with crisis-oriented situations; there’s nothing in the bill that alters that one jot, nothing. Look at the bill; you know it’s the most ridiculous thing. So what if we let the press in, and that’s a great move forward. How is that preventive? Just take any one you want; curfew in street trades, abuse registry -- my golly, that’s nice stuff, but what does it do to prevent the destruction? It’s not going to do a lot.
For example, it’s not going to get a field worker to spend, as I have suggested for a long time, three or four days if need be in the home to try and assess where the difficulty is; to determine what’s creating the problem; to determine if it can be resolved without splitting up the family. That’s not going to happen under this act, and don’t tell me it could happen before because most of the social workers involved in the field have too big a caseload and they can’t cope. They can’t cope with spending that much time with a family or making the number of visits necessary.
What about rehabilitation, getting some assistance for the child once he’s been released from wherever to make sure that the same thing doesn’t occur once he’s back in the natural setting? What about trying to utilize the schools to detect problem areas and prevent a crisis situation from occurring? Surely that’s what we should be talking about, how to try to prevent the crisis from occurring if at all possible. Teachers are well aware or can detect when a child is having problems. It shows up in his attitudes; it shows up in his marks; it shows up in such a variety of ways. All of a sudden his total personality changes, and one has to understand there is a problem developing somewhere.
How does one work under the terms of this bill with all its nice amendments to prevent that crisis from developing? It’s not there. That’s why my colleague speaks happily about the possibilities that are going to occur as a result of the hearings that will take place in the fall with the possibility of moving a good number of amendments. I suggest we get together very quickly in the game, I say to my friends in the Liberal Party, to assess where we want to go. That’s the way, without voting against each other, to rewrite the Child Welfare Act in totality so that it is prevention-oriented and not crisis-oriented any longer.
We should move to move amendments that will make it possible for there to be some meaningful rehabilitation once the child is back in the natural setting. I say to my friends to my right we should do that readily and quickly for the sake of the child. As I read through the various amendments in this thing that I have before me -- and I call it a thing; really, after this many years it is almost ludicrous. It includes the society’s budget, capital grants payable to societies, definition of parents and place of safety.
Hon. Mr. Norton: What are you going to do, abolish the society’s budget?
Mr. Martel: Now there’s one. I want to tell you that sometimes the place of safety certainly wouldn’t be the children’s aid society, if it is anything like the children’s aid society in Sudbury and the way it can respond, as it did with the Savard case. A more distasteful exhibition I have never come across in my life than what was done, not only by the society to me on an agreement, but what was done to the minister’s own staff by that society. It was a disgrace what that children’s aid society did. There should have been a house cleaning. My golly, a place of safety!
The bill deals with transfer of proceedings to another court and independent legal representation of children. It goes on and on for 30 amendments. If the minister can find for me in there some real effort at prevention and some real effort at rehabilitating the child, then we have moved a long way. I don’t see it; maybe the minister can explain to me where it is. If it’s short-term legislation, I can assure him that by the end of September or October, whenever it may be -- unless of course we get the big threat to withdraw the bill, which has been known to happen in the last couple of months, as we have with Bill 70 sitting there --
Mr. Sterling: With 52 amendments.
Mr. Mattel: Yes, but it’s not being recalled. Isn’t that interesting? We could have 152 amendments. The government isn’t prepared to bring back Bill 70, it continues to sit on the order paper.
Mr. Gregory: He is not speaking to the principle.
Mr. Martel: When we talked about Bill 19, the Mental Health Amendment Act, the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) said: “I won’t bring it back.”
Mr. Gregory: Is that part of the principle?
Mr. Mattel: I say to my friend the minister that he might end up in the same position as his colleague the Minister of Health, his colleague, the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson); and I understand the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) --
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is in your hands to put me in that position.
Mr. Mattel: It is in our hands to bring in positive legislation which will be preventive in nature. I hope the minister is prepared to join in that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In the spirit of cooperation in a minority government.
Mr. Martel: I haven’t seen that work in those very important bills like the Mental Health Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Mr. Sterling: Maybe this will be the first. Mr. Martel: Maybe this minister is prepared and maybe some of the people who were instrumental -- maybe Judge Thomson who sat in that first meeting in 1975 prior to the 1975 election and I think was intrigued with the idea of rewriting the whole act; and I suspect that is ultimately what we will have to do, rewrite much of the act in order to bring it in line with what we need today. I am sure the minister is prepared to co-operate with that, being the fine fellow that he is --
Hon. Mr. Norton: Co-operation is a two-way street. I’ve been open, responsive --
Mr. McClellan: You got your amendments; we should get ours.
Mr. Martel: We have given the minister an opportunity. He has moved 28 or 29 or 30 amendments and we are prepared to accept them, all right? We were prepared to accept most of these amendments and I hope the minister is prepared to accept most of our first 29 or 30 --
Hon. Mr. Norton: I should hope so.
Mr. Martel: -- and being the co-operative fellow that he is I know --
Hon. Mr. Norton: Not sight unseen.
Mr. Martel: No, not sight unseen.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: May I suggest that the member for Sudbury East and the minister withhold this discussion until a more appropriate time?
Mr. Martel: I am speaking to the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker, and some of the recommendations that will make it a meaningful exercise.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We have six more bills before 10:00.
Mr. Martel: I suspect that won’t occur. To save time, just to let the minister know that we will be back with our 29 or 30 or so amendments, in the spirit of co-operation to get this done and try to leave the minister in a good frame of mind so he will accept our amendments. I will pass this on to whoever wants to become embroiled in this battle.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. I just want to make a few comments. I, too, am very pleased that this entire bill has been brought in front of the Legislature. I think this will provide an opportunity for workers in the field and other people who are interested, clients as well, to come before the committee and give their impressions of how the child welfare system in this province is working. It is something that we have asked for many times over the last year that I have been here and the government has not seen fit to look into the administration of the Child Welfare Act. I suggest to the minister and to the government that maybe now we will find out what really is happening out there. I think the government will be convinced by finding out what really is happening that some of the amendments we will be putting forward are needed and should have been put forward by the government.
I would like to comment on a couple of the amendments and my reaction to them. Certainly we will get into them and other issues in much more detail during the committee hearings.
I was very disappointed to see that the care by agreement, or the non-ward agreement, has not been changed to a greater extent. I know from when I worked in the field that particular process-non-ward agreement -- is abused by the societies. The agreements are used in an effort to stay out of court.
In my opinion they should be used only in cases not involving protection -- short-term care when maybe a parent has to enter a hospital for a few weeks or something like that. They should not be used in a case of protection: those cases should go before a judge and the court system should make the decision. I really think that care by agreement or non-ward agreement provides for little or no accountability. Therefore I think very strict guidelines have to be drawn up to make sure the societies do not abuse them.
I also was somewhat disappointed in the legislative changes about the adjournments. I know, again from experience, there are too many adjournments taking place. I like the original proposal -- I think a 30-day adjournment was going to be provided, although there were no limits on the number of adjournments as I recall. I would think this is something that will have to be looked at very closely. It is very traumatic for a family and a child to have to go into court. They come out of court after a five-minute session in which the judge adjourns the whole thing and they are still in limbo. I think we will have to look at that very closely and see if somehow we can limit it to a much greater extent.
I was pleased to see that the terms and conditions of supervision can form part of a supervision order. I think that builds in a great degree of accountability and provides a measurement for the courts to find out how much progress is being made by the children’s aid societies. However, I was a bit disappointed to see that maybe the supervision order should be included as part of the two-year period whereby a child is left in limbo. Under the suggestions, I believe a child can be in care under a non-ward agreement and society wardship for up to two years. If we’re going to leave it at two years for intervention on the part of children’s aid societies though the courts, supervision orders also should form part of that two years. That’s something we can possibly look at in committee.
I noted the minister had changed his suggestion of reviews of crown wardship and made them administrative reviews. That’s a whole area we will have to look at again. As my colleague from Bellwoods said, crown wardship up to this point has been something where a child was relatively secure, whether he was in a group home of children’s aid or whether he went on to adoption. What is happening through some of these suggestions is that crown wardship is becoming a form of temporary wardship and that worries me.
The main problem that is not addressed, as has been noted by other members of the Legislature tonight, is the problem of prevention versus protection. If the minister examines what children’s aid societies consider to be prevention, they basically say that prevention is preventing a child coming into care. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s not too good. There are many cases where children are left at home when they shouldn’t be left at home. The children’s aid chalk it up as a success case if the child remains in its parents’ home for a certain length of time rather than coming into care. I think this leads to some of the problems we saw earlier this year and last year with child abuse cases.
I know from experience. At one time, when I worked at children’s aid, I had the unfortunate experience of having to go into a home to remove four children because their baby sister, a 15-day-old baby, had been killed by the parents. That’s not a pleasant experience. The children’s aid society had been involved with that family for about three months, working with the other children with suspected child abuse.
When the other children were examined in detail at the hospital it was found that there had been broken bones that had healed over.
In my opinion, there was no excuse for that case. Those children should have been taken into care long ago. But this type of thing happens because of the philosophy of the children’s aid society, and of the ministry, that children are best with their biological parents at all times and that prevention and success mean leaving the kids in their home with their parents. That has to be looked at very carefully.
I personally don’t feel children’s aid societies can do the type of job of prevention many of us would like to see. The types of prevention I look at are the types my colleague from Bellwoods mentioned, such as day care -- that’s a real form of prevention -- or other forms of teaching parents how to be parents, teaching them skills of parenthood. I think those are things that can be provided by other agencies, and I don’t think they can be adequately provided by children’s aid societies.
The primary purpose of children’s aid societies should be to aid and protect the child. If we’re going to talk about prevention, as I hope we will, I think we might have to look at another agency; we might have to look at separating the functions somehow within the child welfare system.
I want to comment about one final thing. I know we want to get on to other bills.
Last year in estimates, when I mentioned in-service training for those working with families that are suspected child abusers or families that have abused their children, I suggested to the minister that in my opinion the children’s aid workers in most agencies across the province were not skilled or trained to work with these families. I still think that.
A social worker who goes to work for a children’s aid society might have a bachelor of social work degree or a bachelor of arts degree, but there is no specific training where the social worker can learn a specific skill of how to work with specific types of problems.
The in-service training I have seen within the societies has been inadequate, to say the least.
As I said to the minister last year in estimates, when I started at the Essex County Children’s Aid Society, in my orientation period I had more time spent with me by the administration in teaching me how to use the switchboard and the phones than I did on how to work with children-abuse families. I think that’s something the minister and the ministry are going to have to say to children’s aid societies: “Your primary purpose is the protection of children and you are going to offer these types of in-service training.”
Last year the minister said that’s not his responsibility, and that children’s aid societies are private agencies. I think the Child Welfare Act is a provincial law. The government funds the children’s aid societies and the minister can take that kind of responsibility and provide that type of direction. I hope we’ll see that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I certainly would hope they would hire a social worker who already knew how to handle a telephone.
Mr. Cooke: They did that; that might say something about the Essex County Children’s Air Society, and maybe it’s intended to.
Those are some of the things I wanted to talk about. There are many other issues that are addressed in the green paper and then in the legislative amendments that I hope we’ll get into in great depth. I might say to the minister that I’ve already spoken to some social workers in different children’s aid societies and told them that the entire bill had been introduced. All of them were elated that they would have the opportunity to come and speak to the social development committee and suggest their amendments.
Mr. McClellan: This is an historic event.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In the time remaining I don’t know how I can possibly respond to all of the matters that were raised by the honourable members opposite.
Mr. M. Davidson: Don’t try. Just take five minutes.
Mr. Cooke: Just agree that we’re right.
Mr. McClellan: Concede -- capitulate.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I shall try to abbreviate my remarks. I would first of all like to express sincere regret that the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell), who was so concerned that I be attentive to her remarks, was unable to be present so that she could be attentive to my responses.
Mr. M. Davidson: Don’t say it, Keith. She’s right outside the door.
Hon. Mr. Norton: However, in the absence of the honourable member --
Mr. McClellan: You will be sorry you said that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I might well be.
Mr. Cooke: Here she comes.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would like to initially indicate that I bring these legislative amendments before the House, as I think the honourable members opposite will acknowledge, in good faith --
Mr. McClellan: Are you going to take that lying down, Margaret?
Mrs. Campbell: I didn’t hear what he said. Are we dealing with mala fides?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, I had commented that I regretted very much that the member for St. George wasn’t here to be attentive to my remarks since I had been brought to attention for not being attentive to hers. I’m very pleased to see that she is now in the House.
Mr. B. Newman: She heard everything. She heard it all.
Mr. McClellan: Your abject apology is accepted.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In terms of the concern that some of the members opposite had expressed relating to the extent and the speed with which the amendments have appeared, I want to emphasize -- and I’m sure the honourable members opposite understand --
Mrs. Campbell: We didn’t say speed. It was the lack of it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: All right, the lack of it, then is what was expressed. I think that the honourable members opposite really do understand that when dealing with an undertaking of the magnitude --
Mr. McClellan: Sort of like property tax reform -- it takes time.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- that we have undertaken -- and I say “we,” because I fully recognize that although the initiative was a government initiative, it is something that can only see fruition with the support of the whole House. I realize that I and the government, if we are to see the changes in terms of children’s services in this province through, must depend upon that support.
Mrs. Campbell: And we on yours.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would hope that the honourable members opposite would also realize, as I indicated almost a year ago now, or perhaps even a little more than a year ago, that the kinds of major changes or complete restructuring that they may wish to see at this point in time, I really do believe take very careful planning and forethought. As I indicated a year ago, I do not see that there would be interim amendments, and we have already begun work on the development of the omnibus legislation which will take a longer period of time.
I think it’s important that we bear in mind that original commitment and the fact that so far we are still essentially on schedule in terms of the commitments that I made to this House. I would hope that I could rely upon the honourable members opposite –
Mr. McClellan: You keep changing the schedule.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- to be as sincere in their commitment that they have expressed to the restructuring of the children’s services system in this province. If they should think that it is something that can be totally restructured in the course of a few weeks of a committee sitting, then I would urge them to take the --
Mr. McClellan: Don’t be silly.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, there were certainly suggestions made tonight that the restructuring would take place in the course of the committee deliberations.
Mr. Cooke: It would probably take a new government.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I think it is important to realize that what we have before us tonight is not something which was hatched and grew up in an ivory tower.
Mr. McClellan: Don’t set up straw men.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is based upon proposals brought forward --
Mr. McClellan: Don’t set up straw men; you’re beating your gums for nothing.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It resulted in at least 126 briefs, in many cases very comprehensive ones, coming from people involved in children’s services across this whole province -- the very agencies you refer to, and in some cases individuals. Those were carefully analysed, digested and responded to and gave rise to the very changes that some of the honourable members in their comments tonight have observed between the green paper and the form of the legislation.
The consultation process so far has been very successful. I think it is one of the most important things that we have undertaken, certainly in the time that I have been a member of the Legislature -- which is not a very long period of time I must admit. It is a very important undertaking and it is a larger undertaking than most other jurisdictions in the western world have undertaken with respect to children’s services.
Mr. McClellan: Rubbish. That’s just rubbish.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I have looked and my staff have looked at the experience of other jurisdictions. I would urge opposition members to do so as well, because more jurisdictions have failed than have succeeded in the kinds of undertaking that we have made. I really do believe very sincerely in the question of the timing and the opportunity to involve --
Mr. McClellan: If you only do what you were going to do, it would not matter how long it took.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- the persons upon whom we ultimately are dependent for the execution and the carrying out of children’s services throughout this province. It cannot all be done centrally by members opposite and I and others.
Mrs. Campbell: You were right when you said execution. We like to think of it as implementation.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I say execution in the best sense of the word.
I do think members have to bear in mind the sensitivity of this whole process in terms of contemplating amendments. It is when the member for Bellwoods talks about a radical restructuring that I take some solace in the more moderate approach of his colleague from Windsor-Riverside, who doesn’t refer to radical restructuring. I would hope that we be careful that --
Mr. McClellan: Does “radical” terrify you? Does it give you palpitations?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps that word in his mind means something different from what it means in mine.
Mr. McClellan: I hope we didn’t scare you too badly.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am prepared to accept radical change, but I think that the important counterbalance to that is that it be change that takes place within a context of planning and forethought, that really is sensitive to the delivery of this service across the province, not the kind of thing that one sitting in a committee or in an ivory tower somewhere decides, with a stroke of a pen, that they are going to do to restructure the whole thing; that’s just not realistic.
I urge members to work co-operatively with us to see this through. I am open to constructive suggestions with respect to amendments. I think there are a variety of things which we realistically must bear in mind in terms of the rate with which the change can take place. I hope that before it goes to committee to have an opportunity to speak to members more fully on the concerns that I have in that area.
Mr. McClellan: Sounds like a threat for Wednesday.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Certainly the amendments that the member for Bellwoods referred to, well reasoned amendments that would strengthen this legislation, I would welcome.
The other thing I would welcome -- and there have been a number of references tonight to the absence of any legislative framework for prevention -- I would implore members that if they have or can develop proposals for a legislative framework for prevention, please present them to me if they can before committee so that we can give them very careful consideration. I assure the House that if there is any way in which we can act more effectively in the area of prevention, and I think that it requires far more than simply legislative framework --
Mr. McClellan: Oh we will.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If there is any way in which we can do more tell us. There was repeated reference to absence of a framework in the legislation, so if members have proposals please present them to us at the earliest date so that we can give them careful consideration. I do wish to be co-operative in this process. I do hope that members are sincerely intending to reciprocate.
I won’t get into the discussion that arose at times. For a moment I thought we were dealing with our estimates in the estimates debate when we got talking about homemakers’ services and nursing services and started to go through that whole process.
Mr. McClellan: They are preventive services in case the minister doesn’t know.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I agree, of course they are; and I am not denying that. I would only ask the member for Bellwoods, when he issues these outrageous press releases also to take the time to read the press response, because each of the things on which he had, uncharacteristically, superficially drawn conclusions, I did have an opportunity to respond to. It was one of those rare occasions where the press actually presented both of our arguments quite faithfully.
Mr. McClellan: The press always does that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Obviously the member for Bellwoods did not read the responses, even as presented in the press, because he still is labouring under the same misapprehensions that somehow I magically returned $44 million to the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough).
Mr. Makarchuk: Your response comes from the Treasurer. It doesn’t come from you.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, my response comes right from me.
Mr. Makarchuk: No, it doesn’t; it comes from over there. You pick up the crumbs.
Mr. McClellan: You are simply a puppet.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can assure members that I will leave those matters for the estimates debate.
Mr. Makarchuk: You dangle at the end of a slender string. You are a puppet on the end of a string.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I very much regret I have only had one day of estimates during this session. I was looking forward to them very much.
Mr. Speaker: Order. All members of this House have had an opportunity to discuss this bill on second reading. Show some courtesy and allow the honourable minister to reply uninterrupted.
Hon. Mr. Norton: My last comment was simply that I had been looking forward very much to the estimates debate, which unfortunately will be very brief this session I gather.
Mr. McClellan: I hope the minister is going to be brief.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I just point out that in terms of specific responses to the honourable members opposite, as I say I simply haven’t time to go through all of them. With respect to the best interest test -- and I believe it was the member for Bellwoods who expressed concern about the absence of any specific reference to risk -- I would think that risk is one of the primary concerns; and perhaps that is why it was not expressly provided, because it is assumed that would be the primary concern under those circumstances.
Mr. McClellan: Yes, but that is not what happens.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The reference here, if one looks at it, is suggesting that it is in the best interest of the child in the circumstances, having regard, to all other relevant considerations. It then lists some seven considerations. It is not in any way exhaustive; it is simply to offer some guidelines. As the member for St. George has suggested, it may be of as much value to the societies as to the judges. I hope those are the kinds of things we can discuss reasonably in committee and go into in more detail than we have tonight.
On the concerns that are expressed on the proposals for care by agreement, a continuation with slight modifications from previous provisions, I am certainly willing to consider the concerns the honourable members opposite have expressed. My feeling is the provision for an involvement on the part of a child after a certain age is a recognition of the rights of that child to a degree that some reasonable involvement is important. One of the concerns I had in practising in the law courts in the province was that at times there was too little consideration given to the child and the child’s concerns.
Mrs. Campbell: Precisely.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The point that the member for St. George has made tonight relating to the opportunity, at least for the child and the judge to have some exchange, whether it is in the context of the full court hearing or not, is an important consideration. I don’t believe there is anything at the present time to prevent that, but if some express provision would help, then that certainly is something I would support. But we must not fall into the trap of forgetting, whether we are social workers, lawyers, legislators or whatever, that sometimes it is amazing at what tender years a child can have very valid concerns to express.
Surely if we are concerned about children’s rights, it has to extend at least to the right of the child to be heard and to understand, to the fullest of his capacity at his age, what the proceedings are about. I think we have only to look at some of the early history of the juvenile courts to understand some of the travesties that took place in the interests of the child, if you wish -- at least, that would be the opinion of those who participated.
Mr. Speaker, I don’t wish to go on at great length. Perhaps one final thing I would comment upon -- again, I’m willing to discuss this with the honourable members in committee -- is the question of crown wardship and the concern that there might be an undermining of the security of crown wardship. In fact, the reverse was the intention; that is, where a child might end up in limbo, where there was a lack of a clear plan for the child, where the child had become a ward and no planning had been made for placement in an adoptive home, or perhaps no concrete or specific plans were worked out in a period of two years, I would think it would be reasonable under those circumstances to review that, so there is some degree of accountability as to what in fact is being done with a child who has become a ward, who has not been placed for adoption. I’m not suggesting that if there has been an adoption the child be brought back for a review, not that kind of uncertainty, but to ensure that something constructive has been done on behalf of that child.
Mr. McClellan: That wasn’t my understanding of it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps, again, we can clarify that in further discussions. We certainly have no intention of bringing adopted children back to be reviewed.
Mr. McClellan: No, no.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is to ensure that something constructive is done and that there are not long periods during which the child may sit in limbo, if you wish.
Mr. Speaker, I will terminate my comments at this point.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for the standing social development committee.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH CENTRES ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 115, An Act to revise the Children’s Mental Health Centres Act.
Mrs. Campbell: Surely the minister has an explanation of this bill, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable minister have any opening comments?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I hadn’t intended to make any.
Mrs. Campbell: We invite them.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I wonder if the honourable member could point specifically to what areas she would like me to discuss.
Mrs. Campbell: No, I’d like the minister to explain this bill.
Hon Mr. Norton: One of the concerns that has been expressed by the members opposite relates to funding.
Mr. McClellan: Don’t anticipate. Why doesn’t the minister let me make my remarks before he responds to them?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I had suggested that I would. Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe there is any requirement that I go through the bill first.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to this bill on second reading?
The honourable member for Sarnia.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to see An Act to revise the Children’s Mental Health Centres Act. I know that in this area there certainly is great room for improvement over what now exists. There are certain items in this act, that if they had been in force in previous years might have prevented some of the difficulties that have been encountered with certain groups or centres in the past. It is hoped that this bill will provide for proper supervision and regulation, and the minister will have the prerogative to step in to look after any situation that is not being handled in the best way for handling children’s mental disabilities by the centres that care for them.
I’m very interested to hear what the minister has to say about this bill. I want to see it given second reading and referred to committee, of course, so that at that time we will be able to study it in depth.
That is all I have to say about this bill at this time, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I’ll be mercifully brief. I appreciate the indulgence of the House during my last speech, which I appreciate was boring in the extreme.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I wasn’t here.
Mr. McClellan: Do you want me to give it again?
Mrs. Campbell: No!
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I promise to read it in Hansard.
Mr. Makarchuk: I want that in writing.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Bellwoods said he would be brief.
Mr. McClellan: I’m rising to oppose Bill 115. I’d like to set out very briefly the reasons for doing so.
In the first place, I have a minor but important objection which I think refutes the remarks of the member for Sarnia that this bill will redress the abuses which have taken place in the past.
The green paper proposed that children’s mental health centres be non-profit corporations. Unfortunately, “non-profit” has been removed from Bill 115 and they have simply to be corporations, profit or non-profit. I feel that the green paper was correct in the first instance, that children’s mental health centres ought to be non-profit corporations. Should this bill pass on second reading, as I guess it will, we will move in committee that “non-profit” be reinserted in section 5 where it originally was. The policy and the principle have been stated on numerous occasions -- on both sides, I think, but quite clearly in this party at any rate -- that these kinds of services ought to be provided on a non-profit basis, period.
The major objection I have to the bill has to do with the funding provisions, which are really the central part of this bill. There’s no mistake about it. What this bill does is to remove funding for children’s mental health centres under the Mental Health Act, through which they have always been funded, and to place the funding provision in the regulations with no indication whatsoever how children’s mental health centres are to be funded in the future. All it will do is place the funding mechanism in the regulations, and we are asked to pass the bill and to rely again on the good intentions of the minister --
Mrs. Campbell: It’s like a blank cheque.
Mr. McClellan: -- blank cheque, as the member for St. George rightly describes it -- to come up with a funding proposal that is fair, just and equitable. I’m sorry, that’s not good enough. I know what the funding sections of the interministry committee on residential services had to say about funding residential services. They talked about the dichotomy between services like children’s mental health services which were funded under Health on an insurance principle, on a universal basis, and, on the other hand, services within Community and Social Services which were financed on the welfare principle.
I am not prepared to see any children’s services moved from the insurance principle, from the universal principle, to a welfare principle. What welfarization of services means is that services become available on the basis of means testing, or needs testing, or income testing, and the history of funding within the Ministry of Social and Community Services on the welfare basis is mean and nasty. There is no other way to describe it.
Their record is mean and punitive. They like to provide services on the basis of humiliating and discriminatory tests applied to individuals as a condition of eligibility. They like to provide funding to groups, organizations and municipalities on the basis of inadequate cost-sharing provisions. Their record is one of meanness and cheapness.
We are not prepared to see this happen to the one program in the children’s services field which has up to now been funded on the basis of adequacy and on the basis of 100 per cent funding without any screening, without any humiliation and without any demeaning means tests or income tests. We are not prepared to take the chance that the Ministry of Community and Social Services will standardize the funding mechanism on the basis of its mean and punitive penchant for means testing or income testing.
That may or may not be the minister’s intention, but I have no intention of giving carte blanche to that ministry with its record. If the minister has a proposal to standardize funding, he has to tell me what it is before I will vote for it.
Mrs. Campbell: I invited the minister to address the assembly on this bill because I had some very deep reservations. They have been expressed in part by the member for Bellwoods. There is another aspect to the bill itself which really seems to feed in to the uncertainties of funding. If one looks at sections 5 or 6, we seem to be dealing with whether or not a corporation is financially capable and so on. There is nothing addressed to the quality of care, there are no criteria in this area.
Ever since I have come into the House we have complained about the fact that in so many of these cases the standard seems to be the physical standard and the physical plant and not the type of program or the kind of care which in our view is very important and fundamental to the care of children in this area.
I see that the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Brunelle) is with us. I’m sure he will recollect that kind of debate which took place year after year in his estimates as we concerned ourselves -- not in this case because it was otherwise constituted -- about areas where we felt there was more emphasis on the physical plant than there was on the care and the program within the institution or within the framework of it.
Mr. Haggerty: The honourable minister had great understanding of the problems.
Mrs. Campbell: Yes, he had indeed. One certainly regrets that his concerns, which were real concerns which everyone recognized as such, were not shared by other members of the government at the time when he bore the responsibility for this ministry.
There is no question, as I see it, that the minister must be prepared to spell out in this statute in very clear terms the type of criteria for funding and the basis for the funding so that we may be assured that there is stability in the funding and that it relates both to the physical plant and also to programs to be conducted within the plant. I am not going to, and my colleague, speaking for the Liberal caucus, has said we are not going to refuse this bill at this time. But the minister most be absolutely certain that he must meet these very real concerns as the bill goes to committee or I believe that we can all assure him of a very rough passage in that particular field. If he wants our co-operation, I have to point out that we too need to have his co-operation in meeting our concerns in this area.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other honourable member wish to speak to this bill? If not the honourable minister.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In fact, I think I can probably do it in three minutes.
Mrs. Campbell: Good. The amendments are all ready.
Hon. Mr. Norton: First of all, addressing the issue of funding. I am not sure if the honourable members are aware that there is no change in the provisions of this legislation in funding procedures from either the Children’s Mental Health Centres Act or the Mental Health Act.
The concern the member for Bellwoods addressed himself to, if I understood it correctly, does not represent any change in authority as far as funding is concerned. Precisely the same provision exists in both of the other acts. If he felt that somehow this act was giving to me or to my ministry greater discretion, then I would be prepared to show to him the provisions in the other legislation which are identical to that. It is not a change in terms of the present funding for Children’s Mental Health Centres or the provisions under the Mental Health Act.
As to the concerns expressed by the member for St. George relating to standards and so on, I can assure her it is my intention that if this bill does not go to committee until -- I don’t think there is a firm schedule yet, but I’ve heard suggested some time in September, perhaps --
Mrs. Campbell: Or October.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, whichever. I hope it is before the House resumes. And I hope the committee will soon tell me so I can plan my summer. We hope by then to have standards available for consideration, which could be looked at by the committee as well at that time.
Mr. Speaker: All those in favour of second reading of Bill 115 will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Call in the members.
Some hon. members: No, stack it.
Mr. Speaker: Is there an understanding?
Hon. Mr. Welch: The understanding was to stack this until the completion of all of the minister’s bills.
Mr. Martel: It’s what they call a one-shot vote.
UNIFIED FAMILY COURT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 116, An Act to amend the Unified Family Court Act, 1976.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for the standing social development committee.
CHILDREN’S INSTITUTIONS ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 117, An Act to revise the Children’s Institutions Act.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have some remarks to make on Bill 117.
On motion by Mr. McClellan, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, it was my undertaking that we would keep members advised on a daily basis.
Tomorrow afternoon when the orders of the day are called, we will start with the 13th order, which is Bill 112. Once second reading of this bill is completed -- that is going out to standing committee -- we will return to the Minister of Community and Social Services for the balance of his legislative package, Bills 117, 118, 119 and 120.
Following that we will go to second reading of Bill 124, Bill 126 and, hopefully, have time to complete Bill 35 in committee of the whole.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, have we in fact directed Bill 115 to the social development committee?
Mr. Speaker: Yes.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.