The House met at 2 p.m.
DEATH OF MEMBER FOR SAULT STE. MARIE
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that I have received during the period of adjournment notification of a vacancy which has occurred in the membership of the House by reason of the death of the Honourable John R. Rhodes, member for the electoral district of Sault Ste. Marie.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I know that all members of this House have had an opportunity in some formal way during the days that have followed that very tragic circumstance to express their sympathy to members of the Rhodes family; indeed in some public way we have had the opportunity to participate in the service of thanksgiving for the life and the work of the former member for Sault Ste. Marie.
It would perhaps be appropriate at this time to find some way, in having to acknowledge this tragic event, to have the record of the House show some expression in the Votes and Proceedings for today further acknowledging the work of the former member. In doing so, I am sure that we all recall him with a great deal of affection. His reputation for humanity and concern and caring, and his great sense of humour, will go on as his most important memorial.
We regret the circumstances which make it necessary to make some reference to this particular announcement today, but I think all members of the House would want once again to take this formal opportunity to express our feelings in this inadequate way and to convey these feelings to the members of the family.
Mr. S. Smith: I want simply to add, on behalf of members sitting on this side of the House, comments of condolences to the Rhodes family. Condolences have already been expressed more formally, but not in the House itself. Not to be lengthy about it, Mr. Speaker, I’d merely like to say that for most of the time I had the pleasure and for all the time that everyone else here had the pleasure to know the late Mr. Rhodes, we regarded him as just a very decent, hard-working, intelligent, honourable human being with a great deal of warmth, something that this House benefited from very greatly. I simply want to add my words to those of the government House leader in indicating that it is a great loss to all of us and to the province and that the family has our most sincere condolences.
Mr. Cassidy: On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I also want to add a few words of sympathy to the family on the loss of John Rhodes and as a tribute to the contribution which he made in this Legislature and in the province over the seven years that he was active in politics at the provincial level.
John Rhodes was not only respected on all sides of the House; he was also liked on all sides of the House. He brought to politics not just his ability, his competence and his energy and vigour but also a sense of humour, which perhaps we sometimes miss in politics and which certainly helped in this House and across the province. He was also an able and forthright spokesman on behalf of the people of northern Ontario. His passing has reminded me, and I think all of us, of the mortality of us all and of the burdens of political life which can bring a man to such an untimely death. He will be very much missed.
DEATH OF FORMER MEMBER FOR NIPISSING
Mr. Cassidy: I want to say, in addition, on behalf of all members of the House, a word of condolence to the family of Dick Smith, the Liberal member for Nipissing, who also passed away during the time that this House was in adjournment. A number of members were present at the funeral in North Bay a few days ago. In his case as well, politics was a heavy burden on his life but he made a noteworthy contribution and that should be marked.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I had intended as well to make some reference to the passing of the former member for Nipissing. I certainly want to associate myself with remarks that already have been made. Those of us who worked with Dick Smith in this House when he was first elected know something with respect to the dedication which he brought with him to the discharge of his responsibilities and the interest he had in many areas of government activity. Notwithstanding that we knew he was in poor health, when ultimately you learn of the passing of a former colleague, you do so with a great deal of regret, and many of us have already had the opportunity to express those regrets either by attendance at the funeral service itself or by writing to Mrs. Smith and members of the family.
We join as well in extending our sympathy to members of the family who themselves must rejoice in his public service and in the contribution to public life in Ontario which her husband and their father has made.
Mr. S. Smith: The loss of Dick Smith, for us as for all members of the House, was a deeply personal one. I know it is not given to too many members opposite to know exactly what happens in our caucus meetings all the time, although perhaps some of the time, but in our caucus meetings, as well as in the House, Dick Smith’s was always a voice of moderation and reason. He seldom opened his mouth without actually saying something that was true, to the point, hit the mark, was human and was accurate. That is something which is very rare in all of us.
To see Dick in his last few days in the House, when he could hardly stand and make a speech because of his shortness of breath; you would not believe this, but even as he was practically confined to being seated most of the time, he insisted upon taking a role in the public life of Ontario, he insisted upon being part of the policy-making at the party level but always with an eye, not just to partisan considerations but also to the people. To his last day he remained very much interested in these matters and willing to contribute. When breath failed him, he still was thinking of policies to better the people of Ontario, particularly the poor and those in difficulty.
Just simply, on behalf of all of us, I want to pay tribute to the memory of a very fine and, to some extent, an unsung hero of this Legislature, but a very fine citizen of Ontario who has passed away.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Mr. Ziemba: The member for Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta) and myself, on the occasion of the assumption of the chair of St. Peter by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, who comes from the land of our ancestors, would like the members of the House to join with us in expressing our joy and congratulations to Pope John Paul II and in wishing him every success in his pastoral work.
Mr. B. Newman: As the first member of Polish extraction to be elected to the Ontario Legislature since its inception, I would like to join with my colleagues in the New Democratic Party in expressing our best wishes and good health to Pope John Paul II.
Mr. Yakabuski: Being the first member of the Progressive Conservative Party who is a descendant of the Polish pioneers who came to this land, I too would like to associate myself with the remarks made by the other members across the way and to say that Pope John Paul II has not only endeared himself to the 700 million Roman Catholics in the world, but yesterday he endeared himself to the entire world.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, perhaps you would allow me to interrupt my statement to welcome the successful warrior from Chatham-Kent, Andy Watson, and his wife Marion.
Mr. J. Reed: That looks like Joe Clark over there.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It should not go unnoticed that they are accompanied by another great public servant, the former member for Chatham-Kent and the former Treasurer, Darcy McKeough.
Mr. Cassidy: His ghost lives on.
Mr. Martel: How come the government members don’t stand for him?
Mr. Lewis: Who is that, you say? What’s his name?
Mr. Eaton: Michael, you were telling me you wanted to see him in the gallery; he’s there.
Hon. Mr. Welch: You’ll be hearing a lot more from Darcy McKeough. Don’t worry about that.
Mr. S. Smith: Darcy knows what the debt is.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Was the member for Scarborough West really serious?
Mr. Lewis: Certainly.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We will be looking forward to welcoming Andy Watson in a more formal way about a week from today. He already has been assigned a fair amount of committee work. We’re really looking forward to having him in this caucus and this House.
Mr. Martel: Have you made him a minister yet?
Mr. Roy: You need all the help you can get.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Any time you would like to arrange a by-election in your constituency just try us; we’ll be very happy about that.
Mr. Breithaupt: Anyone for five?
Mr. Makarchuk: That goes for the minister too.
Mr. Ruston: Five hundred and four thousand, that’s all.
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, no, the honourable member has missed the count; over 700 was the majority in Chatham-Kent.
Mr. Speaker: Was that part of the minister’s statement?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I wouldn’t want the record to show that incorrect amount, Mr. Speaker. That wouldn’t do.
Mr. Ruston: I just wanted to clear up the Premier’s fascination with the budget. He was out that amount last week on the budget in Chatham.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It was the budget of last Thursday night that was relevant.
Mr. Martel: Is this some kind of filibuster?
Mr. Lewis: Is this some new kind of question period?
Mr. Cassidy: You should go into television.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I want to join you in welcoming back the members and wishing us all from our respective vantage points a very successful and productive completion of this particular session.
The government, for its part, is aware of the volume of work facing ministers and other members over the next eight weeks. We are charged with the responsibility to complete both the supply process and the bulk of our legislative program by the time of prorogation. In addition, we will work to arrange for appropriate debate of a number of special issues emerging from committees which, I am sure, we will all agree are as important to the government as the members opposite.
Members should note that the motion to extend interim supply will be a week tomorrow afternoon, clearing the way for the vote in December on the main budget motion. The Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) will be making an economic statement tomorrow which, combined with the November federal budget and first ministers’ conference, will obviously revive economic debate which, I am sure, we can provide during estimates and before the vote on the budget motion.
Our recent custom has been to arrange these so-called special debates for Thursday evenings. Competing with the economy, however, are a number of other matters or reports which are important to us all and for which time will be sought in our scheduled business. The government would like early debate and resolution on the report from the select committee on health costs and financing which reflects commendable attention paid by its members to the cautions of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) and the Treasurer.
Mr. Lewis: That’s not what the Minister of Health said.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Other important debates can be expected on the report from the resources development committee on environmental issues, which the minister and the committee recently jointly discussed; and on reports from the statutory instruments committee, the Ombudsman select committee, the procedural affairs committee reviewing agencies, boards and commissions; and then possibly a report from the Hydro affairs committee, and one on the order paper from the members’ services committee.
It is our intention to follow the same weekly schedule of House and committee meetings as was pursued in the spring, with the addition of Monday night House sittings beginning next week to help complete estimates; and later, perhaps, to accommodate legislation.
With respect to legislation, the House has about 20 sittings available over the next eight weeks. The government will try to have all the bills which we will call, and others for notice, on the order paper by next week at the latest. We propose to exercise our responsibility towards this public business by calling such bills on a fairly clear priority basis, about which I can make a few observations now.
Tomorrow we will take up three new bills needed to regularize some procedures in this fall’s municipal elections in the province and to support particular situations in the region of Niagara and in Hazeldean-March in Ottawa. Then, because our new rules don’t allow us to take up social policy field business until tomorrow evening, we will hold up the package of children’s care bills in the name of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) and call instead Bill 112, The Discriminatory Business Practices Act, and if time permits Bill 136 dealing with employment of tradesmen in the construction industry.
Mr. Martel: That’s important.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We will take up the bills of the Minister of Community and Social Services in the evening, and resume them Thursday night if necessary.
On Tuesday of next week we will call Bill 136 if it’s not completed. Other business will be arranged through the usual channels this week, but I can indicate some general priorities which are now in sight. Acts to establish the two new ministries of Treasury and Economics and also Intergovernmental Affairs are needed early, preferably before entering upon their estimates. Then there will be Bills 74 and 75, standing in the name of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), dealing with the courts and provincial offences. The new tenant protection legislation which is needed in place by the end of November will have to be called at an early date. Legislation to extend the start-up date of market value assessment will be taken up, to be in place by late November.
Mr. Cassidy: Ten years.
Mr. Laughren: How do you have the nerve?
Mr. Martel: McKeough promised that nine times.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Our last budget bill, Bill 29, The Mining Tax Amendment Act, should be put in place before the budget vote.
A package of bills dealing with metrication is needed in place before the new year to meet commitments among governments. We’re anxious to proceed with legislation from the new Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea). If I can recall some of them just off the top of my head: dealing with condominiums, Bill 103; vital statistics, Bill 11 -- that’s, of course, using metrication --
Mr. Martel: A bit of a coverup.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- and then co-operative corporations, Bill 122.
It was indicated by the new Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) here in the House last month that he wishes to settle the discussions associated with Bill 70 concerning occupational health and safety in a satisfactory manner.
Other legislation to follow this will shortly be before the members of the House and it may add up to more than we have time for, but I hope not too much more. My colleagues, the House leaders for the other two parties and the whips, have really spent a great deal of time as we have attempted to accommodate all that has to be accomplished in this period of time. I do quite sincerely acknowledge the work of my fellow House leaders and the whips of the other two parties in approaching the work of these eight weeks in the House, and of course the very extensive committee work yet to be completed.
MINISTRY OF TREASURY AND ECONOMICS
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time, I am introducing today a bill entitled An Act to Establish the Ministry of Treasury and Economics. As a very brief word of explanation, the new act follows the framework of the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs Act, 1972, with the obvious changes required now that my former ministry has been divided in two.
As before, the bill I will be introducing continues those provisions relating to the tabling of public accounts and estimates, and deals with the fiscal time-frame for lapses of appropriations. It also details the Treasurer’s individual administrative responsibilities.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS LEGISLATION
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I will be introducing three bills which I suppose could fall into the category of housekeeping bills but because they are a little unusual I am mentioning them now.
The first one is a bill to amend the Municipal Election Act. That bill contains three amendments: The first concerns the supplementary nomination day provided in the act. At present, if there are no nominations for an office by the close of nomination day the clerk may receive nominations on the Wednesday following. It is proposed to broaden that provision to include the instance where a sole candidate or all the candidates to an office withdraw their nomination on the Tuesday after nomination day leaving the office vacant. If such a situation arises, additional nominations may be received.
The second amendment clarifies the intent of the legislation that each elector be informed where he or she votes. It states clearly that resident electors will be mailed or delivered the appropriate notice, and that nonresident electors will be mailed theirs. I assume, of course, that in the event the mail isn’t operating the municipality will find some other procedure to take care of that requirement.
The other provision concerns the time provisions in the Municipal Election Act. As we all know daylight saving time continues until October 29 this year. The Time Act provides that all references to time in any provincial statute refers to standard time.
My final amendment to the Municipal Election Act provides that the time referred to in the act is the time commonly observed in the municipality. As municipal election procedures are now under way, these three amendments will be retroactive to January 1, 1978.
I also have a number of amendments to the City of Hazeldean-March Act which was introduced last June. At that time it was anticipated that some amendments would be necessary if only to fit the new act in with the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton Act and other general legislation. Among the new provisions is one for adjusting the official planning areas, one for continuing traffic and other bylaws and another for assuring the continuance of municipal electrical services in the Bridlewood subdivision pending further study of hydro arrangements.
In the original act there was an ambiguity in the description of a boundary. This has been corrected.
I would like to tell the House that, last week, staff of this ministry met with the three municipal councils to iron out any last-minute details. Certain minor adjustments in this bill which is being presented today were made, and I understand that all three councils are in agreement with the legislation as it now stands.
I would also at this time like to commend the councils and staff of the townships of March, Goulbourn and Nepean for the spirit of co-operation that has marked all the transitional discussions. Their efforts, I think, will greatly facilitate the work of the new city’s pioneer council, which of course will be those successful candidates who take office on December 1 of this year.
Finally, I also have amendments to the Regional Municipality of Niagara Act. We are increasing the size of the regional council by one member from 29 to 30, with the additional member coming from the city of St. Catharines.
The other amendments relate to this procedure. One alters slightly the nomination procedure in St. Catharines this year to allow for this late change, most importantly by extending the closing date for nominations for the position of regional councillor from October 23 to October 30. Another increases the quorum on the regional council from 15 members to 16 members.
On September 21, 1978, the Niagara regional council passed a resolution by unanimous vote supporting these changes. I therefore hope that the honourable members will give speedy approval to this bill and the other two which I have just mentioned so that they can all be enacted and have effect for this year’s election.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, as my first official duty in the House since assuming the role of Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to table my ministry’s first annual report. Obviously, the report was a fait accompli by last week, and the credit should go to my predecessor, the present Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman). As a matter of fact, the annual report bears his photograph and his message, and it is eloquent testimony to the work he did in this ministry while he was the minister.
Because of the diversity of my ministry, a report which provides comprehensive information about the many program areas was needed. This document has accomplished this as well as providing useful background information on the ministry.
Highlights of achievements over the past year include the creation of a consumer information centre, which is already helping about 100 consumers daily; nearly $1 million in direct redress for consumers; and numerous stories of increased efficiency and productivity.
I look forward to comments from all sides of the House once the honourable members have had the opportunity to read the report.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I have a short second statement for the information of the House, Mr. Speaker. Probably as early as next week I will be tabling for first reading a new piece of residential tenancy legislation which combines the residential aspects of the Landlord and Tenant Act with a revised form of the existing rent review program.
My predecessor, now the Minister of Industry and Tourism, was prepared to proceed with introduction of the bill today. However, since carriage of the legislation will rest with me, I want to be fully conversant with the content before I go ahead.
This bill is timely and important, and I look forward to the co-operation of the entire House to assure speedy passage.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time today I shall be presenting for first reading a bill entitled the University of Toronto Amendment Act, 1978. This bill has two purposes.
First, it allows the University of Toronto to grant degrees in theology, thus making the federated theological colleges and universities eligible for increased provincial operating grants.
Honourable members will recall that the government agreed to increase operating grants to theological colleges provided that a provincial university would guarantee the academic standards of the program and grant the degrees.
I am pleased to report to the Legislature that agreement has been reached between the University of Toronto and the six federated theological colleges which will fulfil the conditions necessary to obtain the increased grants. Under this agreement, the University of Toronto and the theological colleges conjointly will grant theological degrees.
The bill also implements the recommendations made by the university governing council’s review of its new governing structure, as established by the University of Toronto Act, 1971. The University of Toronto Act, 1971, required the governing council to review the experimental unicameral structure. The university now has had six years’ experience with the new structure and has requested that some changes be made. These recommendations are the basis of the bill which you will have before you.
The amendments are designed to streamline the decision-making process by providing for increased delegation of authority, thus providing for more participation by members of the university community in their government. In particular, this bill should meet the faculty’s desire for greater involvement in academic matters.
Mr. Speaker, this bill comes before you at the request of the university and its theological colleges. Its passage will ensure that theological education at the federated colleges will be strengthened and that the university’s government will be better able to face the challenges of the future.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time, I will be introducing a less controversial bill than most of the other ones mentioned, the amendments to the Assessment Act, 1978. The main purpose of the bill, of course, is to provide for the continuance of the freeze on assessed values at their present levels for one more year.
Mr. Nixon: Darcy’s hanging over the railing. He is not going to stand for that.
Mr. Gaunt: He has to be restrained.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I knew it wouldn’t be controversial.
Mr. Martel: Now I know why Darcy quit.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The continuance of the freeze is made necessary by the fact that consideration of municipal tax reform by this House has been postponed for further study.
The government is encouraged to take this action for several compelling reasons.
1. Support for tax reform as proposed was less than overwhelming by the municipalities, school boards and the general public. While the elected local government representatives who reviewed the proposals and who reported to cabinet and the caucuses of all parties in April last supported the recommendations in principle, at least 10 of them expressed substantial and varied reservations.
2. The committee’s report made it clear to the government and all honourable members that there were a number of areas in which more study was required before a completely acceptable system could be developed.
3. It was also clear that the municipalities and school boards could not endorse the proposals in their entirety unless and until the government was prepared to fund fully increased payments in lieu of taxes, payments of taxes on behalf of farmers, and to buy off any tax shifts that might occur. The overall cost in 1979 of these particular measures to the province would be in excess of $400 million. As the Treasurer stated at that time, it was simply impossible for the province to provide the additional funds.
However, given that implementation of property tax reform has been deferred and the fact that I must therefore continue the freeze on assessments for one more year, I am intending to use the provisions of section 86 of the Assessment Act to redress glaring inequities in assessment in certain municipalities. In this way I am hoping to correct the more serious inequities without disturbing the balance between classes of property. This solution is available to municipalities upon request and will neither adversely affect existing shared-cost arrangements between municipalities nor the distribution of provincial grants. I wish to make it clear, however, that the program under section 86 is not intended to replace the much-needed municipal tax reform and is available on a priority basis only to those municipalities with the more visible assessment inequities.
BOARD OF INTERNAL ECONOMY
Mr Speaker: Before we get to oral questions I beg to inform the House that, in accordance with section 82 of the Legislative Assembly Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council has appointed Hon. Mr. McCague in place of the Hon. Mr. Auld on the Board of Internal Economy.
TORONTO ISLANDS HOMES
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister prepared to propose legislation similar to the bill put forward back in 1975 by the now Ministry of Industry and Tourism, a bill which would transfer ownership of that portion of the Toronto Islands now occupied by the island homes back to the city of Toronto in order to settle the matter and save the residents in these homes on the island from eviction? This was the bill presented by the minister’s present cabinet colleague as a private member’s motion two years ago or possibly three. Would the minister now consider proposing similar legislation and settling the matter in this way?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think my friend is expecting a very simple answer to something which is a very complex problem that has been going on for about 20 years. About 20 years ago the locally-elected people of this area decided they wanted to make a very fine municipal park out of the Toronto Islands, and such a park is now there. I’m sure my friend has attended the CHIN picnic, along with probably a number of other things, in that park, where all the people of Metropolitan Toronto enjoy that facility.
During the formation of that park, many residences were taken over and bought by Metropolitan Toronto to create that facility. We now have a few residents still there. Some of them are long-time and some of them are people who have moved there recently, even though this shadow was hanging over the whole area. I don’t think it is quite as simple as just saying, “Will the minister bring in a bill to change the ownership of that land?” The people in this area decided they wanted the park there a long time ago. There are still some residents who live there. I think there must be some way of working out that situation.
A court case was decided last Friday, I think, that gives Metro the right to evict those people who are presently living on the island. I understand those people are meeting tomorrow to consider whether they will appeal or not. I think we should wait and see what they want and what the Metro chairman has in mind, and see if there isn’t some way of accomplishing the needs of all, keeping in mind that I think it has been stated over and over again that the needs of this area are for a large park that all two million citizens can use, and have used well, on the island, but at the same time remembering that there are people living there. Perhaps something can be worked out that will at least protect those who have been living there for a long time.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, does the minister not realize that this attempt to come down on both sides of the issue is not going to help the people who are about to be evicted? Will the minister seriously consider, first of all, at least putting off any eviction, or asking Metro to put off any eviction, until the new Metro council is elected, inasmuch as there may be a change of heart?
Secondly, why is the minister repudiating what I think was an excellent principle in the bill presented by the now Minister of Industry and Tourism, to let the people decide, but let the people of Toronto, the city of Toronto, decide? The land was transferred to Metro back in 1956; attitudes have changed. Is the minister not aware now that these are people living in homes and that it seems a very unreasonable thing to demand all that land for park land when it probably is not necessary?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think we have all given people support there. Obviously, this has been in court and we have been waiting for certain determinations. I have already talked today with the Metro chairman. I don’t think anybody is going to be down there evicting anybody tonight or tomorrow morning. We are going to wait and see what happens at the meeting tomorrow, we are going to wait and see whether the residents want to appeal; then I think the proper course is for the residents to talk to the Metro chairman and Metro council and see what their opinion now is.
I certainly will be willing to carry on talks, as I know my colleagues from the area will. We have already talked about this. Certainly his bill was a good bill, but I think at this point in time, having seen the kind of use that has been made of that island, that the transferring of title of those lands over to the city of Toronto, rather than Metro, would not solve anything at this particular time. I think the people of Metro have come to believe that that should be a park for all the people of Metropolitan Toronto.
That’s one side of the issue. The other is what about the people who are living there now?
Mr. S. Smith: Which side is the minister on is the question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m on the side of seeing if we can’t help the people who are living there now, but not by destroying the concept of a park there. I would be totally opposed to someone coming along and saying, “We transfer the ownership”; and then the city of Toronto saying, “We are going to put housing on the island.” I would be totally opposed to that.
I think that all I’m looking for is some accommodation for those long-term -- and I emphasize long-term -- residents who live on the island at the present time, for whom I might say I would be willing to work out something so that they can stay there. I think there is plenty of park land over on the island now.
Mr. S. Smith: Yes indeed; do something.
Mr. Breithaupt: Right.
Hon. Mr. Wells: But I wouldn’t want to see any reverse. Let’s wait and see what happens at their meeting tomorrow night and we’ll carry on our talks with the Metro chairman.
I emphasize nobody’s rushing to force those people out right now, today or tomorrow.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary to the minister: In view of the desperate shortage of housing for people on low and modest incomes in the Toronto area; in view of the support over many years of Toronto city council for the preservation of the island homes; in view of the fact that that support has also been matched repeatedly in public opinion surveys of residents of all of Metro; and in view of the fact that the chief protagonist who has been trying to remove the island homes has been an unelected official, the Metro chairman, Paul Godfrey; can the minister say specifically what steps will he and the government take in order to make his commitment that people now living there should be allowed to stay a reality? What specific steps does the ministry intend to take?
Mr. Handleman: When did you move out?
Mr. Cassidy: I didn’t go to Alberta.
Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, I think my friend is wrong in saying that the chief protagonist is the non-elected chairman of Metropolitan council. There are thousands and hundreds and millions of people in Metro Toronto who want that as a park.
Mr. McClellan: How many?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would have to say that the majority of people would not want to see --
Mr. Lewis: Millions of people?
Mr. Breithaupt: Hardly millions.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- the majority of people would not want to see that decision reversed and housing put on the island -- that is new housing. Let’s get that issue to one side, because that particular part --
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’ve been around here a long time and grew up in this city. I’ve been over on that island when it was completely a small community of summer homes and I’ve been over, as my friend has, when it’s been a park serving all of Metro. It’s now serving all those people of Metro -- many, many more than it ever served and in a much better way -- particularly those people that live in the city of Toronto. It serves them very well, as a recreation place within easy access. Certainly we wouldn’t want to see that destroyed.
All I’m saying is -- and I make a distinction which my friend doesn’t make, I make a distinction between those who are long-term residents and those who just happen to have moved there. People who just happen to have moved there recently --
Mr. Roy: Like who?
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I think should have been aware that perhaps they would not be able to stay because there certainly was a cloud hanging over --
Mr. S. Smith: So what? There are homes there. People are living there.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- the residents’ requirements there.
Mr. Makarchuk: Are you listening, Larry?
Hon. Mr. Wells: All I’m saying is that I think there should be some kind of an arrangement worked out that could allow the people -- at least the long-term residents who are there -- to remain there for the foreseeable future until they wish to vacate and sell their homes. Then Metro should be the party to whom they could sell their homes.
I don’t think we should see those homes on Toronto Island as the solution to any housing problems in this area. I really would take exception to my friend’s comments that there is a dire shortage of housing in this particular area. I don’t think there is.
Mr. Martel: Affordable; isn’t the word affordable?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Even affordable housing; I don’t think there’s a shortage of affordable housing in Metropolitan Toronto.
Mr. Makarchuk: You should have been at the committee hearings, you would have learned something.
Mr. S. Smith: I’d like to direct my second question to the Minister of Housing. Could the minister tell us, concerning the hearing officer’s report to the minister in appeal to the Niagara Escarpment Commission -- the reports from the hearing officer that go to the minister concerning these appeals from the NEC -- how many copies of such reports and related documents exist and where are they? Has the minister called any of them into his office, into his central headquarters? If so, why?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The copies of documents, first of all, are with the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Secondly, they are with the hearing officer if and when a hearing is required. Thirdly, the document from the hearing officer reporting to the minister is in my office. I have not called any of them into my office other than in the controlling of their dissemination after the report is made by the hearing officer to myself.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary and concerning this control which the minister is trying to exert over the information being available, I wonder whether the minister can tell us what public access he is prepared to grant to these particular documents -- where one should go to examine these files, both people on this side of the House and people from the public? Could the minister explain why it is that the senior hearing officer in Burlington was prepared to grant access to his copies and then was told not to do that, by the minister apparently? The escarpment commission in Georgetown saw no problem in letting people look at the files but was then told that we had to have the minister’s permission to do this. Why is it that the Deputy Minister of Housing agreed to allow certain people to see the files in Burlington and yet today changed his mind over that and said these files can be looked at only in the minister’s office? What is the minister trying to hide? What is the reason for this excessive amount of control and secrecy? When and where can the public gain access to these documents?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the information the Liberal leader discusses today was given to his research officers a week ago and has been followed up. In addition, the entire requests for the documents in the particular cases they referred to were filled by Mr. Jamieson, the hearing officer of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. I have indicated clearly through my office to the research office of the Liberal Party, and indeed to those who requested the information, that the files in this particular case, as with hearings on any other planning matter, are available within the community planning division of the Ministry of Housing for review by any individual who wishes to have the opportunity of doing so.
Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary to the minister: Since the Liberal leader’s question clearly referred to the Cantrakon decision at the Forks of the Credit, in making that decision on economic grounds, can the minister inform the House what economic studies he had prepared within the ministry or he had made available to him by Cantrakon or by other bodies about alternative locations for the executive conference centre in that region but which would not violate the escarpment?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the House knows very well that this matter is now before a judicial review and on the advice of the Attorney General’s ministry --
Mr. S. Smith: Not another one.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am sure this House is aware of the fact that when it is before a judicial review, that it is entirely within the court’s purview at this time and I do not intend to be involved in answering this question specifically at this time.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, without touching on the matter before any court, since the minister is aware that his own decision has presumably been based on his idea that the Cantrakon development would be compatible with the natural environment, since that is what the law demands of him, and since he admits that he has never seen the environment where this particular matter is to be built, and since the only way we can possibly know what evidence exists to show the compatibility would be through the hearing officer’s report that we have been asking to see, can he explain to this House why it is necessary to come to his office to see what he purports to be are the actual copies of reports? Why can we not see them in Georgetown or in Burlington, as those people would have been quite willing to allow without his intervention?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, without going into the specific case or going into the general fact that there have been roughly 100 cases before me since I became the Minister of Housing, those files are centrally located in Toronto because of the accessibility for people from all over the Niagara Escarpment. I do not intend to get specifically into the one deal referred to by the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Since the minister has raised the matter of sub judice in connection with his decision to override the Niagara Escarpment Commission and permit the building of this edifice on the edge of the escarpment against the recommendation of the commission, it has not been made known to many of us on this side that the whole matter has been referred to a judge for a decision; maybe it didn’t get to the Brantford Expositor, I don’t know. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you should use the advice that has been given to you by the committee of this House having to do with sub judice matters. Surely this does contain a good deal of information, matters of importance to the members of this House, and we should not be put aside simply by a reference by the minister to the fact that it is under some kind of judicial review about which we know nothing or at least very little.
Mr. Roy: What is a judicial review?
Mr. Breithaupt: Who is reviewing what?
Mr. Speaker: The Speaker is not in a position to know what is sub judice and what isn’t; and of course we have to leave that up to the judgement of the minister responsible as to whether or not --
Mr. Bolan: That’s the problem.
Mr. Speaker: Order. If there is anything that the minister or the Attorney General would like to provide for the House by way of elaboration, since the Minister of Housing has indicated he is acting on advice from the Attorney General, I am willing to listen to it, but the member can’t place the chair in the position of saying what is before the courts and what is not. We have to rely on the minister himself to decide whether or not anything he may say in the House is prejudicial to something that may be before the courts.
Mr. Nixon: If you will permit, Mr. Speaker, I simply reassert to you that it is your responsibility to see that no minister -- in fact no member -- hides behind the sub judice indication so that he then is not in the position, he feels, to give the information to this House which we are asking for, and which I believe we have the right to obtain.
Mr. Renwick: Surely, Mr. Speaker, the statement made by yourself about this whole question must have been made in some haste. Surely it is important that if a minister takes refuge behind the sub judice rule, which many of us believe to be unnecessarily rigid and stringent in this House, there is an obligation on the minister to inform the Speaker so that the Speaker can ascertain, not as a matter of opinion but as a question of fact, as to whether or not under these rules the matter is before the courts and that therefore precludes discussion here.
Mr. Speaker: I have no such knowledge as to whether or not this particular item is or is not before the courts.
Mr. Nixon: Nor do we.
Mr. Renwick: Nor do we.
Mr. Roy: Could I ask the minister what court or judicial review has taken place at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s in the paper.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, my understanding is that notice of this application was served upon the Attorney General, the Minister of Housing, the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the firm that was concerned with the decision. It’s before the Supreme Court and will be heard by three justices of that court, I believe sometime in the month of December.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the application to the courts is an effort by the Caledon ratepayers to have a judicial inquiry into the decision on Cantrakon, rather than hiding behind the sub judice rule will the minister now tell the House whether the government is prepared to give the judicial inquiry or provide some other means of reviewing this decision which has attracted so much opposition, both in the area and across the province?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I have already said that I have not been asked to reconsider the cases in that particular position, nor has the Attorney General to the best of my knowledge. May I say that in making my decision I supplied to the members of the opposition parties, as well as in a public statement, the exact conditions of approval of the particular application.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to examine the application of the rules of sub judice in this House and your responsibility in that connection. I was always under the impression that simply because a matter had been brought by way of suit it did not legitimize a statement by the minister that he could give no further information. If it were actually being heard by the courts then it might well be that that is the time when it should not be discussed here; but there is a real concern on the part of the opposition that the rule is being used needlessly, and in this instance unfairly, for the minister to hide behind in the kind of high-handed action that he has taken in reversing the board.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Of course, you people wanted a reversal of everything a while ago.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I want to remind the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and the member for Riverdale that a minister can answer a question in any way he chooses. If he wants to hide behind the sub judice rule, as you put it, that’s a decision that he wants to take.
Mr. Nixon: What do you mean I put it? That’s the way he put it.
Mr. Speaker: I have no way of demanding that a minister answer any questions. If he chooses not to answer it and chooses to give his own reasons, so be it.
A new question from the member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Warner: You could ask him to resign.
Mr. Roy: He is not responsible.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Premier affecting the same area we’ve just been discussing In view of the fact that the proposed Cantrakon development at one of the most scenic locations on the Forks of the Credit on the Niagara Escarpment has been opposed at every stage of its proposal by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, by its planners, by the planners for the town of Caledon, by the Ministry of the Environment --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That’s not right.
Mr. Cassidy: -- and by the special hearing officer appointed by the Ministry of Housing to look into this matter -- in view of that opposition at every level, does the Premier support the actions of his Ministry of Housing in overruling all of those other bodies and allowing this development to go forward on the brow of the escarpment?
Mr. Breithaupt: Is that in the old Peel North riding?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is oversimplifying the situation.
I can recall, although I didn’t participate in the discussions myself because it was a private member’s bill, some observations in this House as they related to the Niagara Escarpment generally. I am not saying they are the observations of the honourable member, but I look directly across the House and I do recall some from that party. This leads me to believe their questions today on this issue are somewhat contradictory to some observations they made not too many weeks ago.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s nonsense. The escarpment has never been an issue and you know it.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That isn’t what you were saying previously. Short memory, Stuart.
Hon. Mr. Welch: You want to be on both sides, don’t you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am relatively familiar with the area in question, as well as the concept of the escarpment generally. I think it was understood by most people when the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the planning area were established, that during the course of the development of the plan and approvals for possible development there would be some, perhaps only a few, situations where the judgement of the government -- in this case the Minister of Housing -- would need to be exercised. I don’t think anybody ever debated this.
I think when you have thousands of acres involved in a planning area, one must anticipate that no matter what planners may suggest -- and government has done this, in fact were urged to do so by the opposition on a number of occasions -- it must overrule planners, depending on which particular situation it is.
Mr. Nixon: You overruled the Oxford planners.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We have overruled the odd planner. Certainly we have.
Hon. F. S. Miller: And with the advice of members opposite.
Hon. Mr. Davis: On the city of Toronto bylaw members opposite would have had us not only overrule the planners, they would have had us upset the whole OMB hearings, if memory serves me correctly.
Mr. Nixon: No, no; we wanted them to have hearings, not --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I think you would have.
Mr. Speaker: Order; the question has nothing to do with Oxford county.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, you are quite right.
Mr. Nixon: Just using it for an example.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can only go by what I have just now heard from the Minister of Housing and what I have read in the press. Like every issue there is no total unanimity on this issue.
Mr. S. Smith: The minister’s own hearing officers --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Some ratepayers have brought an application before the divisional court. The matter will be discussed before the court, I assume some time in December.
If the honourable member is asking me whether a minister of the crown has the right or obligation on some occasions to disagree with those people whose responsibility it is --
Mr. Cassidy: Do you support it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- to recommend, where the ultimate political responsibility lies with the minister of the crown and subsequently with the members of the House, then I have to say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that is what the political system is all about.
Mr. Renwick: And with you. With the leader of the government.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, ministers of the crown not only have the right --
Mr. Foulds: All right, let’s refer this one to the House.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- but they have an obligation on occasion to disagree with those groups which are in an advisory position. That is part of the responsibility; it is right in the legislation. So as a matter of principle, not dealing with this specific issue --
Mr. Foulds: Deal with the specific issue.
Mr. Swart: Nice skating, Bill.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- because I cannot comment either in terms of the facts of the situation -- the minister does have that right and, as I say, on occasion an obligation.
Mr. Nixon: And you have the right to reverse him.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since I take it from the Premier’s response that he does support the Minister of Housing on that particular decision, however much it may make the Premier choke, may I ask him how he reconciles his support for this decision, which is in such violation of the escarpment, when he was writing to the president of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists in August along with many other people expressing concern about the escarpment and assuring them that the Ontario government has no intention of withdrawing its basic commitment to the conservation and intelligent use of the Niagara Escarpment?
The Premier continued: “We remain committed to our original objective in establishing the Niagara Escarpment Commission, which was to preserve the unique natural characteristics of the escarpment for the enjoyment of future generations of Ontarians.” In view of the contradiction between the decision of the Minister of Housing and the assurances that have been given by the Premier to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and to many others, will the Premier resolve that contradiction by bringing this decision up for review and reallocating the responsibilities of the Minister of Housing by putting him in some other ministry or having him resign?
Mt. Foulds: Put him in the back benches.
Mr. Roy: Don’t you dare. We don’t want him back in Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Same old song, eh, Michael? You got your answer last week down in Ottawa Centre.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I could be wrong in my recollection but I think the legislation, which I believe some of the members opposite voted for --
Mr. Nixon: So did some of your cabinet ministers.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- certainly it was approved -- did provide for the possibility of, I think the phrase was “development permits”; I forget the exact terminology. I think the legislation is fairly clear that the Minister of Housing has that responsibility and that responsibility was given to him by members of the House. Apart from the leader of the New Democratic Party attempting to put words in my mouth --
Mr. Cassidy: It’s signed “Bill Davis.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- I would only reiterate what I said to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists or to any other group in this province: This government, in spite of some of the criticisms we are presently receiving, particularly from the Liberal Party of Ontario --
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s right.
Mr. S. Smith: You are right.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, you people are leading to separation. Can’t you acknowledge that a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal? What’s wrong with you fellows? Are you embarrassed?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, when I saw that sign in Chatham-Kent, “Ontario Liberal Party,” I just about had a mild coronary.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the Premier have anything further to add that is germane to the question?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, I do, Mr. Speaker. I just want to restate this party’s government’s commitment to the environment, which includes the Niagara Escarpment.
Mr. Nixon: Sometimes.
Mr. Makarchuk: You forget about Sudbury.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We are the ones who are in the process of preserving that very important part of the province of Ontario and usually with very little help from across the House.
Mr. Martel: That’s why you got rid of the member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. McCague) so quickly.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Not much help.
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the Minister of Housing overruled the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s decision on this big project --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order. I’d like to hear the question.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, you see before you the definition of “chutzpah.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That’s too complimentary. It’s gall.
Mr. McKessock: In view of the decision of the Minister of Housing to overrule the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s decision on this big project, is this an indication that the Niagara Escarpment Commission might soon be disbanded?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Dream on, McKessock, dream on.
Mr. McKessock: If this is not the case, and in view of the fact that the Niagara Escarpment Commission is like a puppet with the Minister of Housing holding one string and the Minister of Natural Resources holding the other, has there been any thought given to bringing the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act under one ministry only?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, while I know it would be the desire of the member for Grey and probably the Liberal Party to disband the Niagara Escarpment Commission --
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s not what he asked at all.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and perhaps do away with the escarpment in his plan altogether, that is not the intent of the government.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That’s exactly what he asked.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary to the Premier: In view of the obvious, arbitrary nature of the powers given to the Ministry of Housing under this act, which has now been revealed by the Cantrakon decision, what amendments does the government intend to bring forward to the escarpment act in order to ensure that there is a right of appeal by local residents or other interested parties against the kind of decision that Cantrakon got from the minister?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would have assumed the honourable member would have carefully read the act and really wouldn’t have been that surprised by the fact that a minister of the crown, as is true in other situations, has the right and obligation, as I said before, as a minister to exercise the judgement that is required. There are many pieces of legislation where this is done. This isn’t the only one. I’m surprised that the leader of the New Democratic Party has just discovered this recently in the act. It’s been there for quite a while.
Mr. MacDonald: It’s an abuse of power.
Mr. Foulds: I’ll bet the Premier has just discovered it.
Mr. Speaker: One final supplementary from the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: Accepting, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Housing has the right under the legislation to make the final decision, because that’s his responsibility, does the Premier not acknowledge that he, as the prime minister in this government, has in fact responsibility as well? Is he prepared to state very simply whether he endorses the decision of his minister in this regard or whether he is prepared within cabinet to try to get his minister to change that decision? I want a very simple answer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think if the Leader of the Opposition checks his research officers, or whoever gives him advice, he will find that once the minister makes a decision the act doesn’t provide for a change in that decision.
Mr. Nixon: Just a resignation.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s what I call real leadership.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre with a new question.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of the Environment relating to the situation at Smithville, with PCBs. In view of the fact that Chemical Waste Management Limited has been issued a certificate of approval to build and operate a transfer and storage station in the town of Smithville, without the municipal council having been aware of the fact that PCBs were there and without the public having been aware of the dangers of PCBs being in the transfer facility, will the minister undertake to have this proposed facility and its operation suspended until the certificate of approval has been referred to an extraordinary hearing of the Environmental Assessment Board so that all of the dangers and implications of this approval can be thoroughly assessed?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, we discussed this item at some length last week in committee. I think the leader of the third party knows that such a certificate is issued by the director of the environmental approvals branch and is not by legislation the responsibility of the minister.
Mr. Deans: Of course it is.
Mr. Martel: George McCague tried that
Mr. Foulds: Anything is not your responsibility.
Mr. Makarchuk: Is anybody responsible for anything over there?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: If you’ll just be quiet for a moment, please.
Mr. Martel: The Premier removed McCague over that statement.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I would like to elaborate a little more on that, Mr. Speaker. We did discuss this at great length, obviously, as a concern of myself as the minister. I was making the point, and I think it was quite clear in my statement, that technically the director of the approvals branch issues that permit. We have discussed it; I have discussed it with the director. Indeed, through the request of the member for the area, the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall), we have agreed to meet with the mayor from that municipality and discuss what can be done on that particular problem. I wanted to make two points: the technical process of approval required in the act; and, secondly, the point that I’ll meet with these people as requested by the member for that area. We’ll do that tomorrow morning.
Mr. Hall: Under the unusual circumstances that exist there in connection with the provisional certificate of approval, I would ask that the minister would also discuss with ministry staff and the director, Mr. Caplice, in particular, whether or not it would be wise to consider as well the application of many and several further restrictions to the terms of the provisional certificate. I wonder if the minister could comment on that at this time?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Yes, I think that’s a very valid request on the part of the member for Lincoln. We will consider that; we will have the director of the approvals branch there and that is a possibility. I think we should first convene that meeting and go into the various possibilities with the municipality. At that time I think we would be in a more favourable position to make a reasonable amendment, if such is the logical answer to the problem.
Mr. Deans: I wonder if I might ask the minister whether he would be prepared to review the objectivity of Mr. Turner of his ministry in dealing with matters related to Mr. Drew and his various enterprises? Mr. Turner saw fit in the early part of this year to write a glowing letter of reference with regard to Mr. Drew to a Mr. G. Barden, the managing director of Murray Clayton Limited in Twickenham, England. Now Mr. Turner is faced with the possibility of making some objective analysis and recommendations with regard to the appropriateness of Mr. Drew and his company doing business in the province of Ontario and making some reasonable objective analysis of whether Mr. Drew will live up to the requirements of the province of Ontario with regard to pollution control.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I don’t think there is any doubt that Mr. Turner of our ministry is a person who attempts at all times to give an objective appraisal of the various situations that come to his attention.
Obviously, the situation may change with time and he must consider many aspects. I am quite confident that Mr. Turner is that type of person and that he does attempt at all times to give objectivity to his considerations.
Mr. Deans: Does the minister think it is appropriate that the assistant director of the pollution control branch, given that he has to deal with applications from these companies, should be engaging in the writing of letters of reference to any place on behalf of companies such as this over which he has some jurisdiction?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I would think if the director of the division were asked for an objective appraisal of the performance of a particular enterprise that it would be well within his jurisdiction to make that kind of objective appraisal.
ELLIOT LAKE RADIATION
Mr. Nixon: A question directed to the Premier having to do with the environmental hearings in Elliot Lake pertaining to the radiation from the extension going on for the removal of uranium ore: Is he going to correct the order in council which established the hearing so that it will be empowered to subpoena certain witnesses and pay their expenses so that the other side of the environmental problems will be more forcefully and completely put to the hearing board?
Hon. Mr. Davis: This matter has been raised. It will be considered and perhaps before the end of the week either the Minister of the Environment or one of us will have some information for the House, but I have no information that I can impart today.
Mr. Nixon: Is the minister aware that the testimony before the select committee on Hydro affairs -- statements made by the representatives of the United Steelworkers at the hearing and even information in Dr. Porter’s most recent report having to do with this matter -- all indicate that the hearings are perhaps more important than most people have thought? He indicated the problems of radiation pollution from the tailings in the mine may be one of our greatest problems and it is imperative that these hearings be as complete as possible.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have had some discussions and, as I said to the honourable member, when we have something further to add, we will. I really can’t this afternoon, but perhaps before the end of the week we will have something further to say.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: Is the Premier aware that the representatives of the United Steelworkers of America left the hearing in protest over the fact that the board could not require a witness to reply to questions put to him by people before the hearing? If that is correct, will the Premier recommend that the board, in its considerations, be given the power to require answers?
Mr. Roy: That goes on here all the time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I hadn’t heard that. Perhaps that happened last Thursday or Friday but certainly up until my last discussions, I think of Wednesday, that had not occurred.
Mr. Foulds: That was two weeks ago.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If it has occurred, it is regrettable, but as I said to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, this matter has been raised with us and I expect we will have something further to say.
I can only say to the honourable member I am not sure just what question was asked and what the chairman said.
Mr. Foulds: It had to do with the cost of processes, what it costs to produce a pound of uranium.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think that all parties before the hearings recognized there are some potential problems of a legal nature but these have been raised with us and, as I say, we will have something to say, I expect before the end of the week.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege, just so there is no misunderstanding I have had a note. I am sure the member for Algoma wouldn’t want the impression to be left that the United Steelworkers left the hearing if they did not. I am informed that in fact they didn’t and that they were represented -- I assume by counsel, I can’t read the note -- until the hearing was adjourned. There was some discussion before the hearing as to the expansion of the powers of the commission that is sitting, but the United Steelworkers were represented until the conclusion of those discussions.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, on the point of privilege, I believe that is correct. The leading representatives of the United Steelworkers did leave the meeting and then subsequently returned at the next hearing. Counsel did remain, however.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I knew the member would want to clear it up.
Mr. MacDonald: A question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Since his ministry has opted for route C in the extension of highway 400 down though the borough of York -- the route which is least approved of by the local council -- what is the response of the minister to the motion passed by the council on September 25 that the government should give some alternative monetary consideration for the parks that are going to be destroyed in that area and for their failure to eliminate pollution -- the undesirable scrapyards which originally were going to be eliminated by an alternative route which the government has rejected?
Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I don’t think it is my ministry’s responsibility to align a highway over a particular route because there happens to be a scrapyard in that location that the local municipality would like to have removed.
I would also like to say to the honourable member that the selection of the route that has been decided upon has been done fully in conjunction with a very complicated process of planning and meetings with representatives of the boroughs involved and with the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and to my knowledge the final decision on the routings involved has been acceptable.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Has the minister not received the motion passed by the council on September 25 indicating that he has chosen the route which they least desire and asking what he is going to do about two things, replacing the parkland which is going to be destroyed and alternatively the scrapyard -- at least the parkland. What is the minister’s response to that?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I recall receiving that resolution rather recently, Mr. Speaker, but I stand to be corrected. I think I have given my remarks with regard to the scrapyard. It seems to me that the parkland that the honourable member is referring to is land that is already owned by the ministry and which the municipality has been using for park purposes on a temporary basis pending construction. I would like to check into that further though.
Mr. Cunningham: I would like to ask the minister if he personally has examined these plans and has he met with the mayor, Mayor White, and his council to discuss the ramifications of what might be an improper route at this time?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, I am only too glad to confirm that I have met with Mayor White and his council and with the works committee of Metropolitan Toronto. My officials have also had many meetings and to suggest that this is the wrong route at this time I don’t think is a proper suggestion at all.
Mr. C. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Correctional Services: In view of the fact that the minister has had a recent tour of the provincial jail located in Barrie, has he got any recommendations now on this 135-year-old structure to relieve its problems with accommodation and over-taxing of the services there?
Mr. Nixon: Close it. Gordon will fix that in a hurry.
Mr. Cassidy: That sounds like a plant.
Hon. Mr. Walker: That sounds like a setup.
Mr. Speaker, I hope the --
Mr. Peterson: Write a letter and leak it to the Globe, Gordon.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Since this is his first answer, perhaps you would give him the courtesy of answering the question.
Hon. Mr. Walker: It’s all right, Mr. Speaker. That gave me additional time to think.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I needed it.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I need two days, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the member for Simcoe Centre and I had an opportunity on Friday to tour a very outdated facility. The only real solution up there to the difficulties that we have experienced over the last year particularly -- the so-called “mini-riot” of last December and the incidents of the last few weeks -- ultimately is going to be a brand-new facility, and ultimately a brand-new facility will be built. If we started today, it would take three years to do that and that will not resolve the problem because there are just too many people there.
On Friday there were some 62 people for a 39-bed facility; so the problem is to attempt to resolve it in the interim. In that regard, I think we have the basis of some solution in the form of a cross-discipline committee that has been established, made up of the judiciary, of the entire administration of justice and of the bar association in Simcoe, which will attempt to reduce the number of people who are on remand to a number that is probably more acceptable and more in keeping with the size of the institution.
That at least will alleviate the problem until the relocatable jails are installed next April.
Mr. Stong: I have a question for the Solicitor General. In the aftermath of the four tragic incidents over the past few months involving fatal shootings by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department, would the minister supply to this House a complete and comprehensive report on each incident so that members can be satisfied as to what procedures were used; that they were recognized and proper police procedures; and that there was in each case no other alternative than to resort to inflicting the fatal wounds?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It is my present belief that in each and every one of those very unfortunate and tragic incidents there has been an inquest ordered. One would expect that the matters, therefore, will be fully reviewed at that time. I think it would be inappropriate of me to provide any reports to the Legislature until these inquests have been conducted.
Mr. Roy: That makes sense, but not before the divisional court like your colleagues in Ottawa.
CANDIDACY OF ASSESSORS
Mr. Swart: Particularly because today is the last day for municipal nominations, I would like to pose a question to the Minister of Revenue.
Mr. Peterson: Is the member running again?
Mr. Swart: The minister will be aware that on August 1, 1975 the regulation of section 11 of the Public Service Act was amended so that assessors employed by his ministry were no longer prohibited from being candidates in municipal elections. Why then is the ministry blocking three assessors in the Niagara Peninsula from holding public municipal office, namely, Bob Caines for alderman in St. Catharines, Leonard Hallborg for alderman in Port Colborne and Michael Aceti for alderman in Niagara Falls?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member would also realize that under the Public Service Act the deputy minister is given the power to make that type of decision and that type of investigation. The deputy minister investigated that matter thoroughly. He has discussed the matter with the ministry’s assessment division itself, with the legal services branch within my ministry, with the Civil Service Commission and with the Ministry of the Attorney General. All of the advice was simply that should these people be elected to a municipal council, certainly they would have a conflict of interest because of the information that is available to them that is not available to other councillors within the assessment division.
Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary: May I inform the minister, if he is not already aware, that by letter dated October 12, 1978 to the three persons, he stated: “I consider that your candidacy for municipal office would not contravene section 11 of the Public Service Act.” Then he further stated: “However, in the event that you are elected to municipal office I would consider, as I’ve already pointed out, that you would be in contravention of section 11 of the Public Service Act.”
Finally, he states: “I wish also to draw to your attention that under section 16 of the Public Service Act a contravention of section 11 of that act is ‘deemed to be sufficient cause for dismissal’.”
Doesn’t the minister consider that that kind of a latter is slightly asinine? A person may stand for public office -- and if they’re defeated, okay; if they’re elected they are going to be fired. By what sort of distortion can the minister say that an assessor would have a conflict of interest in an area like Niagara, where he could provide his services in areas other than the one to which he is elected?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: First of all, there is certainly a difference between being a candidate and being an elected person.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mel Swart should know that better than anyone.
Mr. Foulds: He has got a right to lose, is that it?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Until you are elected, the act, of course does not apply. It’s only after you’re elected that this section would apply. That’s what the deputy means in this letter.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: And that is what the letter says.
Mr. Martel: You should do the same to doctors and fire them once they become members of the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It must also be borne in mind that these people have the right, if they were elected and dismissed, to go to the grievance board and the final decision would be up to it. In the meantime, they are eligible for all kinds of information within the assessment branch that other people on councils are not privy to. They have all kinds of information regarding taxes and other things that other ones do not have. In my estimation and the estimation of the deputy minister it would be a conflict of interest. However, as I say it’s subject to appeal.
Mr. G. Taylor: To the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker: I noticed in reviewing a document of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, a would-be so-called independent agency but yet one that advises the Minister of Education from time to time, there is funded in there by John Sweeney, a Liberal caucus study. Could the minister tell us if such body is so independent that it can fund studies to question the decisions of the Minister of Education and reorganization of its ministry?
Mr. Roy: Somebody has to.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: If I may, I believe that the study was carried out by members of the staff of OISE. I am not at all sure that indeed the funding for that study was supplied by the staff of OTSE. In fact, I believe that the Liberal caucus of this Legislature provided all of the funding for that study.
Mr. G. Taylor: Supplementary: Does the minister know, if and when the study has been completed, will it be marked “Not Confidential,” “Confidential Within Government,” “Public Document,” “Public Document as Available,” “Confidential,” “Confidential to Anyone Outside Government,” or any other label?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes, I think I can be fairly sure about that, because very shortly after I took on the role as Minister of Education I was sent a copy of the original draft. Just today Mr. Sweeney has delivered to my desk a copy of the final draft. 1 would like the member for Simcoe Centre to know that in the final statement made within this draft there is a delightful suggestion that “in the final analysis chances exist for your party or even for the government to advance new departures so that educational enterprises may serve the public well in rough times ahead.”
Mr. Breithaupt: Marked “Please Read.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Indeed, the honourable member has supplied me with copies of the study, which was carried out by OTSE on a contractual basis with that institution. If I may say so, OISE does an excellent job through this province, throughout this country and throughout this continent, in providing contractual research in education to many interested bodies. It is an institute of which I believe we can be proud.
ONTARIO PLACE FRAUD
Mr. T. P. Reid: I have a question for the Attorney General. Is the Attorney General acquainted with the facts in regard to one Leonard Casey and his role in Ontario Place, his conviction, and the fact that some $91,000, plus I understand some $40,000 in gold bullion, apparently has not been recovered from the said Mr. Casey, who will be eligible for parole very shortly? Is the minister aware of the facts in this case? Is he giving any instructions to his law officers to proceed to get that $91,000 and the $40,000 in gold bullion back from Mr. Casey?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The only facts about which I am aware are that, first of all, Mr. Casey was prosecuted and convicted. I don’t remember the circumstances relating to the matters that the honourable member just mentioned. I will look into them and report back to the Legislature.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Supplementary: While the Attorney General is doing that, would he in fact also look into the procedures that allowed Mr. Casey to defraud Ontario Place and the Ontario taxpayers of anywhere between $250,000 and $500,000 and report as to how he was able to do this without in fact it having been ascertained by the auditors who did the audit on Ontario Place?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t think that this is a question that should be directed to the Attorney General. I’m sure that the Ministry of Industry and Tourism is very much concerned with the matter. I know it was, of course, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism which, as I recall, referred the matter to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. I am confident that that ministry has adopted the necessary procedures in order to avoid any such repetition.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Could I redirect that question to the new minister? Would he look into that and report?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Obviously, I don’t have the details of just what charges have been made. I’ve been told that the successors who are now in charge of Ontario Place have totally overhauled the system and that they are rather satisfied that that couldn’t happen again, even if things fell into the hands of those who might do it, which I can assure the House won’t happen.
Mr. Foulds: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Can the minister indicate what steps he and the government have taken to determine the validity of the Inco shutdown at Shebandowan? Specifically, can the minister indicate why all the hourly rated employees have been laid off, except for the 18 that will be kept on for maintenance, when none of the non-union employees have been laid off?
Secondly, can he indicate what steps the government will take so that when a shutdown of this nature, although technically a temporary shutdown, is in fact of an indefinite nature, the workers are given far more notice than the three weeks they were given with regard to this shutdown and that the standards at least of regulation 251 would apply?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I did have a meeting with representatives of Inco regarding the closure. From discussions with them and with my staff, I was satisfied that other events had forced the temporary shutdown of Shebandowan. I think that answers the first part of the member’s question.
At the moment, I’m not in a position to answer the other two parts but I’ll be pleased to get the information and report to the member.
Mr. Epp: I have a question.
Mr. Speaker: You have one minute.
Mr. Epp: I have a question for the acting Solicitor General. Given that there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding appointments to various police commissions across the province; and given that there have been numerous requests to have the composition of the police commissions changed so that regional municipalities might appoint three members to police commissions rather than only two, thereby taking the majority of appointments away from the province, I wonder whether the acting Solicitor General would give serious consideration to this change?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am the Solicitor General, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This is a matter that is being reviewed, and no final decision has been made.
I might say that it is my view at the present time that police commissions as presently constituted, with very few exceptions, have worked rather well over the years. But the matter is under active review and if there is going to be a change the members of the Legislature will be so advised.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMIITEE
Mr. Gaunt from the standing social development committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 116, An Act to amend the Unified Family Court Act, 1976.
Your committee begs to report the following bills with certain amendments:
Bill 113, An Act to amend the Training Schools Act;
Bill 114, An Act to revise the Child Welfare Act;
Bill 115, An Act to revise the Children’s Mental Health Centres Act;
Bill 117, An Act to revise the Children’s Institutions Act;
Bill 118, An Act to revise the Children’s Boarding Homes Act;
Bill 119, An Act to amend the Provincial Courts Act.
Mr. Speaker: Shall those bills be ordered for third reading?
Some honourable members: Committee of the whole House.
Mr. Speaker: So ordered.
STANDING ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mr. Philip from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bills with certain amendments:
Bill 89, An Act respecting French Language Services in Ontario;
Bill 112, An Act to prohibit Discrimination in Business Relationships.
Your committee further recommends:
That the Premier reconsider his decision to prevent Bill 89 from proceeding further and instead have it brought forward for third reading and proclamation during the fall session.
Mr. Speaker: What disposition with regard to those bills? Shall they be ordered for third reading?
Some honourable members: Committee of the whole House.
Mr. Speaker: Committee of the whole House. So ordered.
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Mr. Breaugh from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee has carefully examined the following applications for private acts and finds the notices as published in each case sufficient:
Town of Exeter;
A. M. Crawford Co. Limited;
Moran Pharmacy Limited;
Ross and Ross Grains Limited;
The Brockville General Hospital;
City of Mississauga.
Your committee has carefully examined the application for a private act from the Lincoln County Board of Education and finds that the notices, as published, incomplete; however, your committee recommends that the bill be introduced and sent to committee.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that Mr. J. A. Taylor be substituted for Mr. G. Taylor on the standing procedural affairs committee.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that for the balance of this session or until further ordered, the following committees may sit Wednesday mornings: the general government committee; the resources development committee; the administration of justice committee.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the estimates of the Ministry of Housing be considered in the committee of supply for a period not to exceed 15 hours.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the estimates of the Ministry of Energy be considered prior to consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications by the resources development committee.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Ms. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I’m not unmindful of the fact that this next motion is creating some concern, particularly with the opposition, but may I move it for discussion?
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the estimates referred to the standing administration of justice committee be considered in the following order: Attorney General, Consumer and Commercial Relations, and Justice policy.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if you would clarify for the members of the House whether or not in your opinion the carriage of that motion would change the order of estimates. I am sure you are aware of discussions in this connection, that the order of estimates established under the orders of the House are considered as a part of those rules and orders and cannot be carried simply by a majority vote but are subject to unanimous consent.
Mr. Speaker: I think it does, in effect, change the order as ordained under the procedures laid down in standing order 28. I am willing to hear argument on either side prior to making a decision as to whether or not, in the view of the chair, it would require carriage by majority vote or unanimous consent.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to the point of order, but I am hoping we are dividing our discussions into two parts, because I want to speak to the motion as well.
Speaking to the point of order raised by the House leader for the Liberal Party, there is no question but that in the provisional orders there is an established procedure for the selection of the order in which estimates will be considered. Certainly the rotation as settled in that order is well established. I would like to argue that, that being part of the provisional orders, indeed one would have to have the consent that is referred to with respect to making a change in the orders; although, if one carried that argument to its logical conclusion, it would be interesting to argue as to whether or not the House can be involved in establishing new orders without the unanimous consent of the Legislature. Surely we are not saying that the Legislature has to be unanimously agreed with respect to its standing orders. I would raise that for your consideration. Certainly, although the provisional orders that are currently in place may well have been approved unanimously by the House, we are not trying to suggest that the House would be saddled with its rules if any one member of the House continued to raise some objections. That way, I am wondering whether or not we are asking the procedural affairs committee or a lot of our committees to be working with respect to that. Surely to goodness the House is in control of its own rules and its own orders and, by the usual procedure of majority vote, can change them.
It is interesting to see this particular point now being raised with respect to this order, although I’m not speaking to that point exactly now because we’re talking about the rule that provides for rotation. I would question whether or not you have to have unanimous consent to change the rule anyway.
Secondly, the results of the procedure are another matter. Whether now we impose on the result of the implementation of the procedure the fact that one member, two members or any number of members -- something less than a majority -- can influence the conduct of the work of the House is something I would seriously question. I repeat, I’m speaking to the point of order and would like to share with the House the reasons why we’re bringing the motion in the first place with respect to accommodating some circumstances which are certainly beyond our control.
I would repeat, speaking to the point of order, am I hearing argued at this time the fact that even the present situation that we have, because we are now coming to a place in our business this session when we’re expecting some reports from the procedural affairs committee, if that goes to change any of these standing orders we’re going to have unanimous consent of the House? I find that a little difficult to comprehend.
Mr. Martel: The motion bothers me a bit in that we’re in a position, as a result of something in which we had no choice, to decide whether or not we’re going to proceed with an order which had been agreed to. I understand the Speaker’s dilemma in that he can’t go by the agreements reached at the House leaders’ meeting. But if we follow the route being suggested, any time the government, if it were in a majority, wanted to come in with a motion it could change the rules as we go along. That’s what it is forcing on us. If we make that ruling today and vote on this particular motion, in future we could be subject to a rule change without a discussion on the rules themselves. I had hoped we would not change that order by a formal motion but that there could be some sort of agreement simply advising Mr. Speaker that we were prepared to give unanimous consent to proceed with the new order, based on the untimely death of our colleague, the member for Sault Ste. Marie. I understand it inconveniences the member for St. George a little, but we had no real option on that matter. I would ask that we withdraw the motion and by concurrence of this House move ahead with a new order without changing the rules as we go along, which would be the case if we voted on that particular motion.
Mrs. Campbell: I am going to address myself only to what I believe to be the situation so far as these rules are concerned.
The whole idea of the change of rules was to give first the official opposition and then the third party a voice in the way in which we would proceed with estimates, an opportunity which had never been accorded to them before. It is a fact that we have no precedent. I’m sure the government House leader is aware that to my knowledge this is the first time the matter has been raised since the provisional rules went into effect. But the principle is a very important principle.
There was a great deal of discussion in the Justice ministry prior to establishing the procedures for the estimates. Every member of our caucus in the Justice field was asked to review his position as far as the procedures were concerned. As a result, we based our decision in accordance with that which is before us.
We are dealing with the Justice field. We’re not dealing with any other field. In reviewing the matter as I have done with those charged with some responsibility in this area, it was the conclusion that the House leader, in putting this proposal forward, was asking for a waiver of the rules of this House, notwithstanding that they’re provisional rules. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to give consideration to what the procedures are, if we are asked to waive the rules of the House. Those procedures, of course, require unanimous consent.
It is unfortunate that in the circumstances this matter has come to us at this time. I would suggest for the benefit of the proceedings in this House and to set that very precedent which we are all seeking today, it is urgent that we maintain our rules, subject only to waiver by unanimous consent. If this is to be changed in any other way, then I would suggest all our rules may well be in jeopardy when there is a desire on somebody’s part, presumably the government’s, to waive the rules. This is far more important than anyone can really understand, it seems to me, because we could then be in the position where the opposition has only a token kind of response to make in the establishment of the estimates.
As I say, the estimates in Justice were very carefully reviewed. We are only talking about the estimates in Justice. To waive the rule without unanimous consent would in my opinion be a very bad precedent for the future.
Mr. Deans: I want to support my colleague’s position with regard to the motion before us and to suggest to the House leader that it might have been more appropriate had he simply asked for the unanimous consent of the House in order to make the change, given that on this side of the House there is a reluctance, and I think there ought to be reluctance on both sides of the House, to set a precedent which would mean the rules can then be changed by a simple majority.
I don’t think that would serve us well in the long run, lit is important if we are going to have a debate and establish rules that those rules must be held fast. I would also appeal to the members of the House in the circumstances, given what has occurred, that unanimous consent should not be withheld in this instance.
While I recognize that there is the need to --
Mr. S. Smith: He is supposed to be speaking to the point of order, not to a substantive motion.
Mr. Deans: I am speaking to the point of order. I am agreeing that unanimous consent is --
Mr. S. Smith: Save the remainder of your remarks for the main debate.
Mr. Deans: I won’t do that, but that is a good point nevertheless.
Mr. Foulds: Are you embarrassed by Pierre Elliott’s myth?
Mr. J. Reed: Stranger things have happened.
Mr. Deans: I would like to suggest that it is true, as I said at a meeting prior to the House today, that it is important. It is important for future consideration.
The truth of the matter is that many of us remember other days when all was not quite as co-operative as it is today in terms of the rules of the House. In those days, there was very little consideration paid to the effect of changes on the opposition parties. While we would all want to be the government, it is not possible for everyone to be there at the same time. Quite obviously, there will always be opposition parties and the opposition parties have to be given protection against a government which could, if it wished to, run rough-shod over the opposition by changing rules by a simple majority vote in the House as the result of a motion not unlike the motion before us now.
I am reluctant, nevertheless, to sit down on this matter without saying that the circumstances in this instance justify unanimous consent. I would hope that no member would be so petty as to stand in the way of unanimous consent, given the importance of dealing with the matters before us and the circumstances which brought this about.
Mr. S. Smith: He is out of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Renwick: If I may just add a comment or two about the ambivalence that has crept into the discussion of this particular point of order because of its importance, I don’t think there is any question that the substance of the reason why the government House leader introduced this motion carries the general approbation of at least the majority of the members of the assembly -- that is. to call a minister before an estimates committee of this House when he has only held the portfolio for a short period of time is not helpful to the transaction of the government business and that, therefore, the substantive reason makes very good sense. We run, on the other hand, into a procedural question that in the absence of those matters that can be dealt with by the majority rule that are certain ones that require unanimous consent.
The thing which bothers me is to hinge the discussion today on whether or not any individual member thinks that some other member has or has not a valid reason for refusing unanimous consent. In other words, there’s no point in having a unanimous consent provision if the full weight of disapprobation by other members of the House is going to be brought to bear on the particular member who, for whatever reasons or motivations, decides -- and we must accept that it’s in good faith -- that unanimous consent not be given.
I think really that there must be a way out and I am sure my colleague, the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), and the procedural affairs committee, if a matter such as this -- I don’t mean this particular motion -- were referred to them, could come up with some kind of a solution. The solution, of course, would be to establish by way of preamble or in the body of a resolution such as the motion put by the government House leader the substantive reason why the change is being made and, therefore, if such a motion were carried on a majority vote of the assembly it could be used as a precedent in the future that if that kind of substantive reason existed it made sense to permit the House to alter the rules only on a majority vote.
I think the point which has been made, of course, and it wouldn’t matter whether it was the prior government or whether it’s a future majority government, it’s the desire of the members of the assembly collectively to make certain that we are not faced with arbitrary decisions by the government and, therefore, that we are going to lose the right of denying a change by way of unanimous consent.
I have not talked with my colleague, the member for St. George, about this matter, but it would seem to me that a rephrased motion could be passed citing the exact reason why this change is being made in this instance, on the clear understanding that this is not a precedent in the House and immediately thereafter the government House leader asking that the matter be referred specifically to the procedural affairs committee to find a solution. There’s no question that the substance of the work of the House requires this motion to be passed, but on the other hand we cannot give up and have cited to us in the future, “On such and such a day at such and such a time a motion was passed which altered the rules and therefore we can alter them here,” again at some future date.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know if I am entitled to speak again but if I might have the permission of the House, just simply on the basis of the discussion to date, I think perhaps it’s wise that we have had the particular issue raised so that there could be some clarification. There’s obviously some need to clarify whether or not changing the order does, in fact, involve us in the provisional order. The provisional order, as I was attempting to argue before, had to do with the establishment of the order and so to that extent the case is being made that the extension, i.e. the established order to be changed would require et cetera, et cetera. The confusion that seems to be in some of our discussion is the difference between changing a rule and waiving a rule, which, of course, is very important to establish.
It’s obvious that we have to get on with the work of the House. I can appreciate, and I say this quite sincerely, the concern that’s being expressed to protect the rights of members with respect to the rules of this House. If you thought it would be wise for this matter to stand down for a day so that you could give some consideration and we could go back at it tomorrow, if in fact we could get whatever we need to proceed, it would be Wednesday before this committee would be able to start with estimates.
The concern of the official opposition was communicated to my office late on Friday, so we weren’t caught by surprise. However, on the strength of this, a lot of work has gone into the preparation of books and the rescheduling of appointments for the minister who has been called in earlier to do his estimates. In fairness to that particular apparatus, I would like to give them some notice.
There’s no sense pushing forward with something in this confusion, so if the Speaker is agreeable I would be very glad to move some adjournment of the motion to provide the Speaker with an opportunity to reflect upon this. Maybe tomorrow the House could deal with it and we could get on with some satisfactory solution.
Mr. Speaker: I’m not prepared to give an unequivocal decision now on the basis of what I have heard. I would like to take it as notice and will report back to the House by tomorrow afternoon.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Would moving the adjournment of the debate on that resolution, be the procedural thing to do at this time?
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr, Welch: With your permission, we have two government motions standing on the notice paper which just appeared today. They are procedural, and if the House would concur, I would like to deal with 15 and 16, particularly 16 since that committee has some work to do on Wednesday. Is it in order to call government motions 15 and 16?
VITAL STATISTICS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the order committing Bill 11, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act, be rescinded, and that the bill be committed to the committee of the whole House.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: This was to free the justice standing committee of the necessity of doing the clause-by-clause in committee so they would have more time for estimates. The work therefore would be done in committee of the whole House. It was part of the reorganizing of business to give the Justice committee more time for its other work.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that for the balance of this session all applications for private bills be referred to the general government committee.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I see the Minister of Housing is in his seat, arid I would like to give him notice under standing order 27(g) that I am dissatisfied with his answer, most especially dealing with the sub judice rule and his failure to respond to a question. I would like to give the chairman and the Speaker notice that the matter will be raised at the adjournment of the House, which I understand is tomorrow evening.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to remind the honourable member that there is a formal way to give notice within standing orders.
Mr. Roy: I appreciate that, but as I read the standing order, I should give oral notice as well.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, that point of order was not heard by all members of the House as the member’s microphone was not on.
Mr. Speaker: It really wasn’t a point of order. He has a perfect right to get up and give notice of his dissatisfaction with a question.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MINISTRY OF TREASURY AND ECONOMICS ACT
Hon. F. S. Miller moved first reading of Bill 142, An Act to establish the Ministry of Treasury and Economics.
Motion agreed to.
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 143, An Act to amend the Municipal Elections Act, 1977.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF HAZELDEAN-MARCH AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 144, An Act to amend the City of Hazeldean-March Act, 1978.
Motion agreed to.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF NIAGARA AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 145, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Niagara Act.
Motion agreed to.
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved first reading of Bill 146, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
Motion agreed to.
UNVERSITY OF TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Miss Stephenson moved first reading of Bill 147, An Act to amend the University of Toronto Act, 1971.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I know the House would like to welcome a distinguished guest. We have with us, in the gallery to my left, Mr. Chavda, a member of Parliament in the Indian House who is the deputy chief whip. He is a member of the Janata ruling party of India. He is a delegate to the United Nations and has dropped in to visit us here this afternoon; so we all want to welcome him.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ONTARIO AGRICULTURAL MUSEUM AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. W. Newman moved first reading of Bill 148, An Act to amend the Ontario Agricultural Museum Act, 1975.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. W. Newman: The purpose of this bill is to present the moneys received by the museum by way of donation or grant to be held by the Treasurer in trust for the use of the Ontario Agricultural Museum.
MORAN PHARMACY LIMITED ACT
Mr. Johnson moved first reading of Bill Pr36, An Act to revive Moran Pharmacy Limited.
Motion agreed to.
LINCOLN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION ACT
Mr. Hall moved first reading of Bill Pr40, An Act respecting the composition of the Lincoln County Board of Education.
Motion agreed to.
TOWN OF EXETER ACT
Mr. Gaunt, on behalf of Mr. Riddell, moved first reading of Bill Pr33, An Act respecting the Town of Exeter.
Motion agreed to.
ROSS AND ROSS GRAINS LIMITED ACT
Mr. McKessock moved first reading of Bill Pr41, An Act to revive Ross and Ross Grains Limited.
Motion agreed to.
BROCKVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL ACT
Mr. Villeneuve moved first reading of Bill Pr39, An Act respecting the Brockville General Hospital.
Motion agreed to.
A.M. CRAWFORD COMPANY LIMITED ACT
Mrs. Campbell moved first reading of Bill Pr35, An Act to revive the A.M. Crawford Company Limited.
Motion agreed to.
CORONERS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. M. Davidson moved first reading of Bill 149, An Act to amend the Coroners Act, 1972.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. M. Davidson: The purpose of the bill is to provide a means of ensuring that sufficient serum is produced in Ontario for the treatment of persons in Ontario who suffer from a growth hormone deficiency.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF HOUSING
House in committee of supply.
Mr. Chairman: In the discussion of the estimates of the Ministry of Housing, I’ll ask the minister if he has an opening statement.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: In opening the debate on my ministry’s 1978-79 estimates, I propose to use this opportunity to identify and discuss the major policy issues in the field of housing. In doing so, I shall endeavour to place in perspective the highlights of the estimates, leaving aside more detailed discussion until the individual votes are considered.
In my view, the context within which the policy issues arise consists of three principal components: changing economic and demographic trends; the need for budget constraint at the provincial, municipal and federal levels; and the extensive housing policy and program changes being proposed by the federal government which impact directly, not only on the role and function of my ministry and that of the Ministry of the Environment, but on the municipalities and on the province as a whole.
It is also my view and that of this government that the resolution of these issues must focus on facilitating the maximum use of private sector expertise and private sector investment so that the construction and development industry can maintain and enhance its traditional role as the principal provider of housing in this province, and a very well-housed province it is.
I have no doubt that the members of this House are aware of the rather significant changes which are occurring, both in the total growth of our population and in its structure. The 1976 census would indicate that the population is aging and, according to our friends at Central Mortgage and Housing and others, by the year 2001 something in excess of 12 per cent of Canadians will be 65 years of age or older.
Immigration is down to the relatively low level of about 25,000 a year from the peak of about 86,000 which occurred in 1973-74.
Mr. Foulds: Is this your swan song?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The birth rate is at a very low level at this time in Canada and Ontario.
Mr. Foulds: Is this your last speech as minister?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: All these factors indicated to us the likelihood of a reduction in the total requirements for new housing --
Mr. Foulds: Just read the text. It is the only way you will stay out of trouble.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- as well as some change in distribution of units required between ownership and rental. In parenthesis, I should add that although the census was taken in the year 1976, it was not until the first part of this year that the results on which a housing demand forecast could be based became available.
As soon as they were available, my ministry prepared a new medium-term housing demand forecast for the period 1976-1981. In addition to being able to use the most up-to-date population factors, this forecast also built in the impact of economic conditions on rental demand. As we had expected since seeing the census results, this new housing forecast predicts that at least for the next three years or so the total number of dwelling units required will be less than was previously thought. Also, the tenure split between ownership and rental is likely to be different with fewer rental and more ownership units being demanded.
The range of total units likely to be required annually until about 1981 is from approximately 84,000 to 71,000, with about 78,000 being the most likely figure. Of this total, 20,000, or about 26 per cent, would probably be rental and about 58,000, or 74 per cent, ownership units. In the earlier housing forecast, prepared for the ministry by Peter Barnard Associates, which was released a year and a half ago, it was assumed, based on the long run trend, that approximately 46 per cent rental and 54 per cent ownership units would be required.
This change in tenure requirements is accounted for largely by changes in the age structure of our population. The number of households whose head is aged 65 or more is increasing, but this is more than offset by a steep fall in the number of young households, which are headed by persons in the age group from 15 to 24 years. At the same time, the so-called “middle” age groups, from about 25 to 65 is increasing. We all know from observation and experience that young people selling up their first household tend to go into rental accommodation and then later on, when they become more established, to seek an ownership unit.
The earlier forecast to which I referred, Mr. Chairman, was prepared in 1977 and was entitled Ontario Housing Requirements 1976-2001. The new forecast which I am now discussing produced results lower than this previous forecast for two main reasons. The first, as I have already mentioned, is that more up-to-date population factors were available. The second is equally important. The Barnard forecast covered a period of 25 years while the new forecast deals with only five years.
I wish to emphasize here both the facts that the method used in producing the new forecast is not applicable for a period of longer than five years, and also that it in no way implies that the present low birth rate and immigration figures will hold true for the rest of this century. In fact, quite the opposite is likely. We don’t expect another baby boom of the post-Second World War proportions, but large numbers of those baby boom children who are now young adults are still in the family formation age, so it is quite likely that the birth rate will again increase in Ontario and in Canada. Also, immigration has traditionally been higher at times when the overall economic growth rate is higher.
We are, therefore, of the opinion that the long-range forecast remains a useful planning document. What the medium-term forecast does is show the immediate effects of those factors which can and do change more rapidly. For the purposes of formulating housing policy, it is important to have both medium and long-run predictions available.
The 1976 charter for Ontario called for the production of about 900,000 housing units over a 10-year period. No one can pretend to say exactly how housing requirements will change from year to year, but it is quite possible that while the new forecast indicates a total demand of about 10,000 fewer units a year until 1981, after 1981, with a more buoyant economy and a higher birth rate and immigration rates rising, the need for housing units will again increase moderately.
My ministry intends to publish the new forecast so that all interested persons can see for themselves the expected differences between long- and medium-term housing requirements of Ontario.
I am sure I do not need to belabour the current economic problems of inflation and unemployment being faced by most of the western world, but I do wish to re-emphasize the determination of this government to play its part in solving these problems as quickly as possible by keeping public expenditures to a necessary minimum, thus leaving both room and the incentive for the private sector to revitalize.
The estimates I bring before you today reflect this determination. The printed estimates which were released with effect from April 1, 1978, show total expenditures of $284.2 million, a reduction of $28.6 million or about nine per cent down from last year’s spending. Since April 1, 1978, my ministry has accepted additional constraints of approximately $26 million for a total reduction in expenditures from last year of $54.5 million. Also, last June, the Ontario Land Corporation was transferred from the Ministry of Treasury and Economics to the Ministry of Housing, adding approximately $29 million to this ministry’s budget.
Mr. Nixon: It follows you around wherever you go.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You can say that again, Rob, let me tell you. There are a few parts of it I wish would follow certain fellows that -- no, I won’t go on.
Mr. Nixon: Come on; it’s your baby.
An hon. member: He was here in the gallery today.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The net decrease is therefore $25.9 million.
The major reduction of approximately $69 million over last year was made possible by again reducing the mortgage lending role of the Ontario Mortgage Corporation. This is a deliberate continuation of the policy of reprivatization in an area where ample private mortgage funds are now available.
Not all of this amount could be reflected as a total saving by the ministry. Our combined costs of the rent-geared-to-income and rent supplement programs increased from $80.6 million to $97.8 million, an increase of more than $17 million, or about 21 per cent. This reflects an increase in the number of units available, particularly to our senior citizens. But to the members of the House it also reflects the severe cost increases in maintenance and utilities being faced by all landlords.
I’m sure that all members will share with me my concern that cost increases would, at this rate, rapidly constrain my ministry’s ability to take action in other equally important areas of housing.
I am glad that other areas of increase are in just such an important category. Expenditures on the combined rehabilitation programs are increased by about one-quarter. These are programs which enable people to repair and renovate their homes; improve their neighbourhoods; revitalize downtown and main street areas, thus encouraging the preservation of assets, the ability of people to continue living independent lives in their own homes and increased business activity in our smaller and medium-sized centres. It is my sincere hope that we can go on fostering this type of conservatism.
An additional reason for my concern in these matters lies in the federal policy and program changes which have been under discussion now since last February, right through the construction season, and are as yet unresolved.
These proposals which are intended to implement a global funding approach to housing programs across Canada are both extensive and somewhat complex. I propose to deal with them in three parts: social housing; moderate income ownership and rental assistance; and the community services program.
Members will be aware that traditionally Ontario has built its rent-geared-to-income units under section 43 of the National Housing Act which permits us to borrow 90 per cent of the capital cost from Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The federal government has advised us that they will not be providing funds for new construction under this section after December 31 of this year, although they will continue to share the operating costs of all existing units under contract with them.
In its place is a proposal for nonprofit housing which could be provided by the province or by the municipalities, or by private nonprofit corporations which are already producing this type of unit.
The concept calls for a mix of tenants. In the case of families, about 75 per cent are envisaged as paying market rent, and the remainder as low-income families paying on a geared-to-income scale. In the case of seniors, the proportions proposed are about 50/50.
Socially, the concept has merit. Most people, I think, now would agree that it is preferable to mix low-income tenants with those paying market rents; indeed, this seems to be the principal reason for the success we have had in the rent supplement program. But there are difficulties with this concept.
The federal contribution is to take the form of an interest writedown to one per cent in the case of 90 per cent borrowed capital or two per cent if 100 per cent of the capital is borrowed. This capital would be borrowed from the private market, with the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation remaining as lender of last resort. Again, I would like to applaud the federal initiative in seeking to use available private sector funds.
In theory, the interest writedown would provide the subsidy necessary to maintain the 25 per cent or 50 per cent of tenants paying according to income. But our calculations and those of other provinces -- indeed, all the provinces -- indicate that the federal writedown alone would not be sufficient to allow this; so additional provincial and municipal support would be required to make the concept work in this province.
In fairness, I must say that the amount of provincial support per unit would be less in the early years -- we estimate in the first five to seven years -- than we now pay on existing geared-to-income units, and that the federal government has undertaken that the provincial-municipal percentage share of these costs would never be more than half the total subsidy required.
I might add that that was an amendment sought by the province of Ontario at the last federal-provincial ministers’ meeting and has been accepted, I understand, by the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Minister of State for Urban Affairs.
My concern is that, whether a development corporation is nonprofit or not, the development process is a complex business and not learned overnight. At the moment, only five municipalities have nonprofit corporations; so that even if other municipalities and other private nonprofit groups not yet involved in the provision of housing are willing to participate in this new program, it seems reasonable to me to expect a startup time for those companies and organizations to come into being of about 18 months or two years.
I must say I cannot ever see small municipalities or small nonprofit corporations in those municipalities being able to take on so large a matter as the development, construction and ongoing management of a housing project. This means there could be a gap in the production of rental units in the first few years of the proposed program.
The old rent supplement program will remain in place. But before the rental of units can be arranged on this basis, they must first exist, and at the moment we are experiencing a relative shortfall of rental starts in some areas of Ontario.
Alternatively, the province could borrow in the private market to construct new buildings and then fill them with 100 per cent rent supplement tenants. The CMHC interest rate is now the same as the market interest rate. The federal government would share the operating costs on the same basis as under the old program. One disadvantage is that the public debt would be increased.
The province will endorse the new federal nonprofit housing program. It will continue to encourage and support both the municipalities and the private nonprofit groups to produce and maintain as much housing as their expertise and the federal budget will allow and itself utilize either the nonprofit or rent supplement programs for the improvement of Ontario.
The next group of program changes I would like to discuss concerns moderate-income ownership and rental assistance. These are the federally assisted home ownership program, on to which the province had piggybacked its own home ownership made easy program, and the federally assisted rental program, on to which the province had piggybacked the Ontario rental construction grant.
The latter was always intended as a short-run expedient, and I think it is worth stepping back for a moment to recap the combination of events in the early years of this decade which led to a rather drastic fall in private rental starts in this province.
Firstly, in 1972, 1973 and partly into 1974, the private sector overbuilt. Obviously they realized this, and a fall in starts was then to be expected while this inventory was absorbed.
In the ordinary course of events, private rental investment would have picked up again after some 12 to 18 months, but several factors compounded to prevent this happening. There was a growing disparity between market and economic rents, that is, between the actual costs of building, maintaining and operating rental buildings, plus a normal profit, and the rents which the market would bear.
At the same time, condominiums became such a popular form of ownership that developers found they could obtain a better and faster rate of return by converting buildings intended for rental into this form of ownership. Developers were also of the opinion that a reasonable rate of return, with much less hassle, could be obtained by building commercial and industrial space than by building rental housing. Members will no doubt recall that part of this problem was due to public opposition to the construction of highrise rental buildings, but I think it fair to say that a design solution has now been found to this particular problem in terms of medium density housing.
Also, for a period in the early part of this decade, the federal government removed some of the depreciation provisions on rental construction from the Corporations Income Tax Act. These have now been restored, although the special capital cost allowance for multiple unit residential buildings, usually referred to as MURBs, will terminate at the end of this year unless it is extended by the federal government.
In addition, the major overhaul of the Income Tax Act, which was implemented at the beginning of the decade, has included a capital gains tax on virtually all forms of investment except for the principal place of residence of private families and individuals. Until the depreciation provisions were restored, private rental investment therefore faced a double tax disincentive.
The land transfer tax was intended to discourage offshore investors from purchasing and managing rental buildings but, combined with the other factors I have mentioned, it also left firms which did not wish to retain the ownership and management of rental buildings with a limited market and contributed to the conversion of rental units to condominium ownership. This tax was removed from rental investment in April of last year.
I am sure members know that the conversion of rental buildings to condominiums has virtually stopped and there are indications that the trend is reversing. My ministry has recently completed a study of the condominium market and estimates that in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area about 6,000 condominium units, owned by bona fide single-unit purchasers, are in fact rented, and that a further 7,000 to 8,000 unsold condominium units, still in the bands of developers, might be considered as potentially available for conversion to rental.
Also, the incentive to build commercial and industrial space in preference to rental investment is not as great as it was. Thus, there are some encouraging signs which may begin to move the private sector back to providing the bulk of rental housing for this province. Unfortunately, the disparity between market and economic rents remains and has worsened in the last few years. The construction and development industry cannot be blamed for this entirely. It results from the overall high costs problem which we are all facing.
As regards rent review, from the point of view of the private sector the most difficult aspect is probably that large real estate companies cannot carry out their traditional approach to portfolio management. The private sector has always recognized that new buildings cost more than old buildings. They have also recognized that the market will pay a premium for new accommodation, but this premium was not usually sufficient to cover the actual increased costs of new accommodation. Therefore, it was customary to operate new buildings at a loss for the first few years and to offset or partly offset this loss by rental income from older buildings, but under rent review rents are determined building by building so that this portfolio management, as it is called, cannot be practised.
Rent review alone did not cause the fall in private starts. That was due to the combination of factors which I have outlined to you, but inability to practise portfolio management does make it difficult to rent new high cost apartments, and so few are being built.
In 1975, the public sector stepped in on a short-run expedient basis to offset the fall in private starts because the ability of many people to afford the basic necessity of shelter was being affected. The federal government introduced the assisted rental program under which developers were provided with an interest-free loan for 10 years which, coupled with the capital cost allowance provision for multiple unit residential buildings, enabled units to be brought to the market without investors incurring a loss. The program worked well in all but the province’s highest-cost areas; to offset this, we added the Ontario rental construction grant.
These buildings now are appearing on the ground, and their impact will peak next year. As far as we can tell, the program has prevented a serious shortage of rental accommodation. Compared with the new demand figures, this year and next we will be within 1,000 or 2,000 of meeting requirements; and, for the province as a whole, that comes very close to being in balance.
Some members may also know that CMHC published vacancy rates currently are rather low for some centres, particularly Metropolitan Toronto. The question of what the normal vacancy rates for centres of different sizes should be is a very difficult question indeed. Based on the work concerning vacancy rates which my ministry is doing, we conclude that the CMHC published vacancy rates are probably understated. The reasons are technical and lie in the way in which the survey is carried out. However, the point is of major policy importance, not only for the guidance of the private sector but also particularly when public money is being used to fill a temporary gap. We are in touch with CMHC concerning this problem and are working with them towards improving their survey and reporting.
Let me return to the main theme of this rental assistance. With effect from May 1, 1978, the federal government cancelled the assisted rental program; that, of course, unilaterally abrogated the Ontario rental construction grant which was piggybacked on it. In its place, the federal government submitted a graduated payments mortgage program, which does not contain any federal financial assistance.
In the initial years, payments under this form of mortgage do not even cover the full costs of the interest. The unpaid interest is added to the principal, so that at the end of 10 years, when level payments begin, the principal is larger than it was originally and payments for the rest of the life of the mortgage are higher than they would have been under a standard mortgage. The concept is that the lower payments in the early years will reduce costs and therefore rents.
I have had several concerns about this program change and have voiced them to the Hon. André Ouellet. For one thing, I do not think that the cost reduction in the early years is sufficient to attract the required number of rental starts in Ontario. The figures so far seem to bear this out: Less than 300 units have been definitely committed under the new program -- and that’s for the entire province of Ontario.
Also, private financial institutions generally do not like the concept. It is, of course, new to Canada and sometimes new financial instruments take a while to gain acceptance. In the meantime, we face the prospect of very few rental completions in the second half of 1980, by which time most of the units committed under the old federal-provincial assisted rental program will be on the ground.
I do not think that the private rental sector in Ontario needs to be supported indefinitely, but I do think that some assistance may be required in keeping supply and demand in balance through 1980 and possibly into 1981.
Starts under the old ARP program, including the provincial piggyback, were running at about 12,000 units a year; this, combined with social housing and private sector starts, could have been enough to keep the market in balance through 1980 and 1981. As it is, completions of rental housing will be severely affected by the termination of the federal program. Of necessity, we are seriously considering alternatives to and some support for the new graduated payments mortgage rental program as proposed by the federal government.
The province, of course, could step in and, for high-cost areas, make the new program as attractive as was the old program. Naturally, this would mean compensating for assistance formerly split between the federal and provincial governments; so the burden of the province would be much higher than under the old program. Also, to get rental construction moving again, we would probably have to offer assistance which could be tied either to a graduated payments mortgage or to a standard mortgage.
The other problem is that, even if the province does somehow find the money to pick up this burden, our efforts may be unsuccessful unless the federal government is willing to extend the MURB provisions.
It was the combination of federal and provincial financial assistance and the MURB provisions which made the former program highly successful. I do not consider that shifting the burden on to the province is a valid way to reduce the federal budget, nor do I think that this shift in burden can be explained away merely by calling it disentanglement or reprivatization. I must say I am therefore continuing my efforts to persuade the federal government to reconsider this proposal. There is no doubt in my mind that this program ought to be extended, at least to the end of the fiscal year 1979-80, to provide an adequate supply of rental housing through 1980 and 1981.
I would add for the information of members that my ministry’s fourth annual rent survey is expected to be ready for publication by the end of November, providing up-to-date information on current rent levels.
I’m glad to say that I am less concerned at this point in time about the similar changes made to the companion ownership pogrom, AHOP and HOME. Also, with effect from May 1 this year, new units designated under this program will receive only the relief afforded by the reduced payments in the earlier years of graduated payment mortgage. But, in this case, the federal government agreed that all units which had been designated as under the AHOP price limits for National Housing Act insurance purposes prior to May 1, 1978, would remain under the old program. This means there is still an inventory, not only of completed units, but of units under construction, to which both federal and provincial financial assistance to moderate-income home buyers remains applicable. It seems likely that this inventory will meet requirements for months to come.
Under the new plan, 50 per cent of the maintenance payments for a condominium unit, as well as principal, interest and taxes, must be taken into account when calculating eligible income. This has the effect of raising the income level eligible for condominium purchase by about $1,600.
Mr. M. N. Davison: What do you think about that?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Since the report of the Ontario Residential Condominium Study Group pointed out that lower-income families have experienced difficulty in meeting maintenance payments, this is probably advisable. Still, it must be realized that once the inventory of units to which the old program still applies is used up, the ability of these families to buy a home will be even more limited.
You may recall that under the former AHOP/HOME program the federal government has undertaken to review the position of participants who experience financial difficulty at the end of the five-year assistance period. Under the new program, which provides no federal financial assistance, no such provision exists.
My ministry will, of course, continue to monitor the inventory of units which remains available under the old program. When it has been used up, the decision as to whether or not the province should add additional assistance to the new GPM ownership program will of necessity depend not only on our general budgetary constraints, but on the demand for assistance in the rental area and the extent to which the federal government has re-entered the market.
The last group of federal program changes concerns the community services program. This proposed program comprises the funding of three previous programs: sewage treatment, neighbourhood improvement and municipal incentive grants. Under it, funds were to be available for almost any municipal capital expenditure and for the repayment of municipal debt. Each province would designate which municipal services would be eligible for the federal grant and each province would accept responsibility for equity in allocation between municipalities. I might add that this is the only revised program to which the federal term, global funding, has any real applicability.
So far, doubt, uncertainty and delay have been the main themes of this program. At the meeting of the federal-provincial housing ministers held in Toronto last June, it was agreed that due to anticipated delays in startup the funding deadline for the 1978 allocation would be extended to April 1, 1979. At that time, Ontario’s share for the 1978 estimate was $51.6 million and $86 million was projected for 1979.
That was last June. It is now almost the end of October. We’re going into winter and in addition to the construction difficulties which winter brings, the newest doubt is whether the June allocations will survive the federal-provincial negotiations regarding a reduction in transfer payments from the federal government.
This is serious from every point of view. Although the proposed funding under the new program would all be in the form of grants, the total funding would be less than the grants plus loans which applied to the earlier programs. This would mean that making the allocations between municipalities and between types of projects would have to be approached very carefully. If total funding is now reduced, this situation can only get worse.
Of course, so far we haven’t received any money at all and what we don’t have we can’t give to the municipalities. I know there is a great deal of concern at the municipal level as to how much will be available under this program, when it will be available and what it will be available for. I wish at this time I could inform them.
The program changes are to be covered by one master or global funding agreement and two operating agreements, one for social housing and one for the community services program.
Last August, the ministry returned the draft agreements, with our comments, to Ottawa. Despite our continuing efforts, we have recently been advised that Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation still is not in a position to resume discussion of the operating agreement covering social housing. The agreement covering the community services program is in abeyance until after the November 2 meeting of the federal-provincial ministers of finance.
Changes and discussions have gone on now for about nine months, while uncertainty and confusion have greatly reduced housing and housing-related activities in this province. Because of the time which construction takes, it could very well be that we will feel the effects of this particular delay in the year 1980, and if matters aren’t finalized soon, we may still be feeling the effects in the year 1981.
I think it a fair criticism to say I find it regrettable -- and I expressed this to the federal minister at the time -- that the federal government chose to cancel old programs before having negotiated new ones to replace them. Ontario was not alone in that degree of criticism of the federal dropping of programs.
There is one other federal program I want to mention, the residential rehabilitation assistance program, usually known as RRAP. The province doesn’t contribute funds to this program but, to the extent that it occurs in Ontario, we are concerned with its success or otherwise.
Among the innumerable program changes which the federal government announced last February was “universal RRAP,” that is, RRAP was to be universally available in any municipality which had previously designated a neighbourhood improvement area. Later on, it turned out that 90 per cent of the funds in “universal RRAP” were to be used in designated NIP areas, which according to my calculations shrank the universal part of the RRAP to 10 per cent -- a mini-universe. But I have to say, Mr. Chairman, that as of Thursday of last week the federal government has changed that particular program and it has now grown to some 25 per cent outside of neighbourhood improvement districts.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Are you rapping RRAP?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: No, I am not rapping RRAP; they rap themselves.
We are concerned about this. Earlier in the statement, I mentioned the emphasis which this government places on rehabilitation, and the neighbourhood improvement program, to which we have been contributing substantial and increasing amounts, and which has been very successful, now also loses identity and is bundled in the proposed community services program.
We are just as concerned that standards under the RRAP program seem to be going down with the funding level. We have told Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation that the new RRAP standards fall substantially below most municipal bylaw standards, and that this could eventually undermine the whole philosophy behind maintenance and occupancy standards in Ontario.
These standards have been built up rather carefully in Ontario over the years. They apply to NIP, to the Ontario home renewal program, to the downtown revitalization program and to the main street revitalization program. It’s difficult to see how the renewal of an area, which may be partly under the federal programs and partly under the RRAP program, can be successful using two sets of standards for rehabilitation.
I am rather pleased to say that recent discussions with federal officials indicate that they are considering our objections and we are hopeful that this problem will be resolved shortly.
The next issue I would like to discuss with members this afternoon concerns land policy. The report Down to Earth, the work of a joint federal-provincial task force chaired by Mr. David B. Greenspan, was released on September 12, 1978. Ontario, together with other provinces and the federal government, contributed to the cost of this study. I think it makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of issues related to the supply and price of residential land.
Members who have had a chance to read the report will know that one of its major findings is that the housing price boom of 1972-75 was the result of demand pressures, stemming partly from the large number of new and young householders who were looking for housing at that time, partly from the high level of economic prosperity we were experiencing and, of course, partly from the fact that expectations became rather too high.
The report criticizes some government actions -- such as the federal exemption of places of principal residence from the capital gains tax, ownership assistance programs and first-time home buyers’ grants, to which various governments, including Ontario’s, contributed, and the high-ratio mortgages that were usually part of these programs -- as having aggravated this demand pressure.
To a large extent, the criticism is fair. It is also fair to add that the type of unit supported by the ownership assistance programs brought more moderately priced housing on to the market and did much to improve municipal acceptance of these particular units.
The report also finds that some municipal servicing standards are too high. My ministry recognized that some time ago, when it published the urban standards report and presented it to this House. The task force recommendation that the province impose maximum standards on the municipalities is one of the issues being considered as part of the Planning Act review at this time.
One of the more controversial findings of the task force is that it is the number of approvals, and not the time taken to complete them, which affects the supply and therefore the price of land. The report argues that the difference in carrying costs between, say, six months and two years makes very little difference to the total cost of the land. That may be so. But many, including my ministry, would argue that a long delay in the approvals process does also directly affect the supply of land available for building at any given time, and in the last couple of years we have done a good deal to speed up the approvals, as many members will know.
Another finding likely to lead to some differences of opinion is that landbanking did not have any substantial effect on lowering land prices during the boom period of 1972-75. I think events have borne that out. Our policy focus now will be on keeping an adequate supply of serviced land coming on to the market; naturally, our current land holdings will play a very important role in this area.
The thing I most regret about this finding is the irrelevant use the federal government has chosen to make of it. They have used it to discontinue funding for the acquisition of sites intended for social housing. This is not the same thing at all. Municipal nonprofit corporations have depended on this funding to buy sites, which is obviously step one in providing social housing, and cutting off the funds to do so will add to the problems of getting an adequate supply of social housing.
My ministry has already taken steps to make the best use of our land holdings in the changed circumstances we now face. Last June, a new land development wing was established, headed by an assistant deputy minister who is also chief executive officer and vice-chairman of the Ontario Land Corporation.
The Ontario Land Corporation, which was formerly attached to the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, has been transferred to the Ministry of Housing and will hold title to lands and facilitate the financing, development or disposition of special projects.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Why are you trying to destroy your ministry from within? Why are you trying to get rid of your ministry?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If you’d listen, you might find out a little bit about the ministry that would really shock you.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Your problem is that you don’t want to listen to what is being done in the ministry. You would rather just make flippant remarks at the minister and the ministry.
Mr. M. N. Davison: This is gobbledegook.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Let me tell you, this ministry has served this province well, and there are very few provinces in Canada and very few other political jurisdictions that have a better housing policy and a better-housed public. And that has been achieved through the contribution of this government.
I will say this much: It wasn’t all achieved by the government of Ontario, because we do have a partner known as the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation in the federal government. I give some credit to that organization as well for having seen the wisdom of requiring certain types of housing. The NDP think they are the only social conscience in this province. But they wouldn’t know a social conscience if they saw one.
Mr. Foulds: You are just taking potshots at the ministry. Come on; be consistent. You have just taken potshots at them. You are destroying your own ministry from within and from on top.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The Ontario Land Corporation, which formerly was attached to the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, has been transferred to the Ministry of Housing and will hold title to lands and facilitate the financing, development or disposition of special projects, including things such as Townsend.
The purpose of the new wing is to consolidate, within the Ministry of Housing, responsibility for co-ordinating land-use planning, development and marketing of provincially-owned residential, industrial and commercial lands. Naturally, this will also improve the efficient use of financial and manpower resources within our ministry.
Mr. Wildman: How?
I would like now to bring members up to date concerning the Planning Act review. Considerable progress has been made over the last year. Following the evaluation of some 300 submissions concerning the review, which the Ministry of Housing received prior to December 31, 1977, a draft white paper has been prepared. This draft is now being reviewed within the community planning wing of the ministry and also by an interministerial committee. The completed white paper will then form the basis of new planning legislation. Both the white paper and the draft legislation will be published early next year.
It seems clear that several major principles already have widespread support. For example, there is support for the Ontario Municipal Board essentially retaining its present role, although the appeal process could be improved and speeded up. There is also support for the role of municipal planning being defined as primarily concerned with the rational management of physical development, and for my ministry continuing to work towards the transfer of more decision-making authority on planning matters to municipalities able to assume such authority.
Mr. M. N. Davison: How many houses did you build this year?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: In this connection, I would like to add that my ministry has published a series of administrative guidelines to assist municipalities and other affected agencies to carry out their new responsibilities.
Mr. Mackenzie: No houses, but lots of guidelines.
Mr. Foulds: That’s very nice. How many houses did you build?
Mr. M. N. Davison: How many houses did you build this year?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The last topic I wish to discuss this afternoon concerns the revitalization of the downtown and main street areas of our smaller and medium-sized municipalities.
The latest addition to the ministry’s family of revitalization programs is the main street revitalization program which I announced in August. As its name suggests, it is aimed at smaller centres, towns of 30,000 population or less, and like its companion program, the downtown revitalization program, which is aimed at centres with a population of up to 125,000 and which has been in place since 1976, it is designed to help communities help themselves.
Mr. Foulds: Actually, this is the one area where you have done something.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Our main street program takes advantage of existing business improvement area (BIA) legislation to spur communities to upgrade their downtowns.
Mr. Foulds: Why did you leave this to the last? This is the best part of the speech.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: As members may know, the BIA concept is a device whereby merchants and business people can designate business improvement areas and tax themselves for improvements to streetscapes and related facilities.
Mr. Mackenzie: It’s a good program.
Mr. Foulds: Why did you leave the good wine until the end?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We know that many smaller communities lack the capability to generate the necessary front-end funding for initiating improvement projects under the BIA approach. Therefore, my ministry will provide low-interest loans of up to $150,000 to help the community improve and beautify municipally-owned lands and buildings in eligible areas.
The objectives of this new program are to encourage and support downtown improvement projects started by municipalities, to provide co-ordination and joint planning by the municipalities, business groups and the public at large, and to demonstrate that the province is committed to supporting the existence of viable and attractive downtowns in small Ontario communities.
Like the related downtown revitalization program, a municipality must have an approved official plan, including statements related to housing, commercial-residential mix and heritage factors. A municipality must also be able to demonstrate broad community support for such undertakings.
The main street program has a total budget of $5 million until March 31, 1981. Eligible costs include improvements and beautification of municipally-owned lands, buildings, other structures and parking garages. Some may say that the funding is perhaps inadequate and that more should be made available. I would respond that this need not be the case. Our position is that we at the provincial level do our best when we provide the needed stimulus. I might say that there have been a number of communities in recent days where a number of members of all political parties have come to me to ask that this program be expanded. At the moment, we are seriously considering it, but until we see exactly what the response is we will not have any final determination.
We feel that the input of the local sector is important. Too often the business community finds it easy to ask governments to supply the money and take a back seat. We believe that providing some portion of the money involved and having some come from the private community will make these undertakings successful.
In this period of fiscal constraint we believe that in the long run this will be the best approach for restoring the faith and ensuring the future of main streets in Ontario. If there is a lack of local support and financial commitment, the spending of the provincial funds will most likely be ill-advised, and where the right climate exists at the local level, large amounts of provincial funding are not required.
From November 29 to December 1, a three-day international conference on downtown revitalization, called Downtown Forum ’78, will be held at Toronto’s Inn on the Park. My ministry is co-ordinating the program, which will stress the exchange of ideas between people concerned with reviving community core areas. It will include municipal officials, planners, architects, developers, retailers and general public. We hope there will be more than 800 participants at this conference.
Eighty-five speakers will take part in the 20 workshops and panels and will cover a wide variety of topics including planning, urban design, development, legislation, business improvement areas, tourism, heritage conservation and rehabilitation.
Presentations will be made on successful downtown revivals across Ontario, in other areas of Canada and the United States. We have invited more than 25 exhibitors who will feature products used in downtown improvement projects.
Among the 16 participating agencies will be the International Downtown Executives Association, the US Downtown Research and Development Centre; the International Council of Shopping Centres and the US National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
The forum is being organized in response to the increasing revitalization activities of small- and medium-sized Ontario communities. It is the second of its size and scope to provide the value which we feel municipalities are placing on revitalization programs.
I would like to extend to the members of this House an invitation to participate in this conference on the dates mentioned.
In summary then, I have outlined this afternoon the demographic and economic changes against which housing policy must now be developed. I have described the major program changes which the federal government is proposing and the impact they are likely to have on housing planning and development of this province, and indicated the strong steps my ministry continues to take in the vital areas of planning and revitalization.
I shall welcome members’ comments on this important matter of keeping Ontario residents among the best-housed people in the world.
Mr. Foulds: Why did you leave the good wine until the end?
Mr. Epp: I want to congratulate the minister for his relatively short statement. He promised to be an hour and a half and I think he was about 45 minutes.
I expect to be relatively short in my remarks for two reasons. It’s the first time that I’m appearing on the Housing estimates and, unfortunately, I’ve not had the extensive time to prepare for the estimates as I would like to have had. Secondly, I would like to reserve my remarks for the in-depth study of the estimates which are going to take place a little later on.
The Housing minister has indicated through his statement how important the Housing ministry is. However, this doesn’t seem to be in agreement with some of the comments I’ve read in the press where he feels that the Housing ministry should be phased out.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Why didn’t you tell us about that, Claude?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I answered your question.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Why are you trying to get rid of your own ministry?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You can’t read too well.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Epp: For instance, I understand that according to one article, he said: “The day is fast coming when we could very well recommend to the Premier that the Ministry of Housing could disappear.”
Mr. M. N. Davison: Did you say that, Claude?
Mr. Wildman: I wish he would.
An honourable member: You don’t want to give it to Jim over there.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Are you talking about the minister or the ministry, Claude?
Mr. Epp: He’s indicated that the Ministry of Housing should disappear and, of course, we feel that the Ministry of Housing should not disappear. It’s a very important function but perhaps it could very well be combined with some other function, for instance, with a municipal function. Nevertheless, the housing function in this province is important and should very well be continued.
The minister has also indicated that the rental accommodation in this province now occupies, I guess, about 46 per cent and the home ownership about 54 per cent. This is a very sad commentary on the present situation in the province. There are a lot of people in this province who would like to own a home very much but who don’t have the wherewithal, the financial resources, to own those homes, as opposed to those people who deliberately and consciously rent units because that is the way they want to live. We don’t take exception to that, however I think the ministry should seriously look at the possibility of increasing the home ownership figure, because it is my sincere feeling there are a lot of people in the province who would like to own homes but don’t have an opportunity to do so.
The minister also commented about the rent supplement program and said there was, “a relative shortage of rental starts in some areas.” He failed to indicate why there is a shortage of these rental starts; and secondly what he is trying to do about it as the Minister of Housing. I hope he is going to answer those questions later on.
It is good to see the minister give some kind of credit to the federal government by indicating --
Mr. Wildman: I thought you guys didn’t want to have anything to do with the federal government.
Mr. Yakabuski: Glad to see your recognition of your association.
Mr. Epp: -- that a lot of the money for provincial housing projects comes from the federal government.
Mr. Wildman: A voice from the Kremlin wall.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: It all comes from the Ontario taxpayer.
Mr. Epp: In fact I guess there is an agreement that 50 per cent of the total comes from the federal government, with seven and a half per cent often coming from municipalities and 42½ per cent coming from the provincial government. I have a number of other questions I hope the Minister of Housing could clarify in his response a little later on. Some of these questions have to do with the planning process and some with the housing process.
One of them concerns the report often called the Greenspan report, otherwise referred to as the report of the federal-provincial task force on the supply and price of serviced residential land. It focused on the restrictiveness of the existing planning process, arguing that planning restrictions will contribute to continued high lot prices in the future and expressing the fear that restrictions will increase.
At the same time, the report recognizes the need for planning restrictions to ensure patterns of development that minimize environmental damage, or long-term added service costs such as transportation.
Greenspan argues that we must “balance adequate planning with adequate protection.” I am wondering how the Minister of Housing proposes to do this? What is the minister’s response to Mr. Greenspan’s conclusion and how does he propose to make the planning system less restrictive and more efficient without jeopardizing these legitimate concerns?
In the same report, Mr. Greenspan argues that the province should impose maximum servicing standards on the municipalities as upper limits beyond which the municipalities could not demand anything. I am wondering whether the minister agrees with Mr. Greenspan’s findings that municipal powers in this area should be reduced?
The third item in the task force report strongly criticizes the Ontario government for the land-banking activities. As we know, the government has land-banked thousands of acres. There are over 3,000 acres sitting in my own regional municipality of Waterloo. There is an escalation in prices because the government bought the acreage at higher prices than they were currently selling for at the time in the early 1970s and nothing has happened to the land. No agreement has been made with the regional municipality for servicing and no agreement has been made for getting low-cost homes and serviced lots onto the market.
The province bought many of these large-scale assemblies badly and at the wrong time and is ripping off the public and selling at market prices.
The report fully vindicates the Liberal Party’s scepticism about large-scale government land banking on the urban fringe. I hate to tell you that we said so, Mr. Minister, but that’s the case. Now what is the minister planning to do with these large land banks that are currently in the province that the ministry has assembled over the years? What is the status of these existing land banks? How much exists and how much has been sold since the government abandoned land banking in March of 1977?
With respect to public housing in the province, maybe the minister could outline for this committee the present eligibility for public housing in the province in order that those who are being discriminated against -- for instance, the single people and couples without children -- might also be able to get some of the public housing. As you know, the priority goes to those who have families. I am wondering whether the minister would seriously look at equalizing the status of the various people so that those people who don’t have children and those people who are singles could also obtain some of these units.
Does the minister propose to review the current point rating system for public housing occupancy applications so that this system will more aptly reflect the problems of affordability? One further point, Mr. Minister, we have learned that the Industrial Disposal Limited landfill site for Oshawa is due to be phased out in the near future -- in fact, I guess by December of 1979 -- and the site will be used for residential development. The developers have already apparently appealed to the OMB to have this industrial dump zoned for multiple housing. Do you approve of this application despite the reservations of the Oshawa and Durham regional planning authorities, and can we anticipate another Love Canal situation?
Lastly, I wonder whether the minister would table before the estimates committee the expenses and budget of the Niagara Escarpment development control hearing office in Burlington? We would very much like to have an opportunity to look at those. I know the minister has indicated he wants to be very co-operative, and I am hopeful that he will table those before this committee.
Mr. Dukszta: It’s ironic to begin a debate on the estimates of the Ministry of Housing when the ministry appears to be scheduled to be abolished, and for that matter the present minister’s political future is uncertain.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: By your estimation only, as in most things.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You just wish you had the same security he does.
Mr. Dukszta: I have polls to support me. What the present government does about the Ministry of Housing is a minor point. Applying the words of Mallarmé to the present climate of uncertainty about the future of the Ministry of Housing: ‘Un coup de des n’abolira jamais le hasard.”
I would say to the Premier that counselling the minister’s physical existence does not counsel the recognition that housing like health is a social right of every resident of Ontario and that it is a responsibility of government to ensure adequate housing at reasonable cost. It doesn’t change the fact that workers who build houses can never afford to live in them now. It does not change the fact that the central issue in housing policy is the affordability of housing and that the community of Ontario is now occupied with such political issues as the rent-to-income scale for public housing, the need for public land assembly, funding of non-profit and co-op housing, assistance for home ownership and general widespread need for financial assistance in meeting the shelter needs of lower and middle income families. Abolishing the ministry will not change the growing awareness of citizens of Ontario of the need for land-use control expressed in general concern for the environment and the future of agricultural, urban and recreational land in Ontario -- in effect the future of Ontario. Nor will it change the growing demand for political accountability and for protection of individual rights, or for increasing the predictability of regulating decisions regarding development of land and land use.
Abolishing the ministry will not silence the chorus of criticism of the Conservative government which is seen clearly as having abandoned the basic responsibility for the protection of land as a public and community resource in its entrusted role as guardian of the public weal.
Finally, the Minister of Housing and the government he participates in have failed to perceive the crucial role the housing and construction industry plays in the overall economy of Ontario and have neglected the needs of the workers in those industries. No, abolishing the Ministry of Housing will not abolish the housing problem.
As much as I have disagreed conceptually with the previous Treasurer’s approach to the economy, Darcy McKeough presented the need for central economic planning and began collecting under his aegis at the Treasury various government departments charged with responsibilities for economy. He failed in his attempt to actualize economic planning situations and to introduce the necessary structural changes in Ontario’s economy that would reverse the rapidly deteriorating situation and correct the existing and possibly fatal flaws in the economic structure of progressive de-industrialization with consequent unemployment and foreign ownership which keeps Ontario’s economy firmly in the neo-colonial mode.
Since McKeough’s departure, even the attempt to introduce essential economic planning has been abandoned. There is an abysmal lack of planning in the economic sphere in the government and a reliance on the outdated concepts of the free enterprise system -- nowhere more personified than in the person of the present Minister of Housing and the leadership that he provides to that segment of the economy that he is responsible for. This year, as a result of the ministry’s policies, 220,000 too few houses will be built in Ontario. The minister’s own consultant, Peter Barnard, said in his study that the minimum housing needs for Ontario for 1978 were 70,000 new units. The quality of the minister’s leadership over the Ministry of Housing, a minister who directly and indirectly exercises control over a very significant portion of Ontario’s economy, can be judged by juxtaposing the extent of possible responsibility of the minister and his minimal awareness of his basic contribution and potential economic leadership in land use and the construction industry.
“In the Canadian Construction Industry,” a discussion paper issued by the government of Canada, states that the construction industry is an important sector of Canada’s economy in terms of employment, output and wages, and as a consumer of manufactured goods. It also bears a basic relationship to all other industries accounting for some 25 to 30 per cent of capital investment in the manufacturing sector, and approximately 60 per cent of all capital investment in Canada. The total value of construction activity in 1976 amounted to $31.7 billion, and from reliable estimates this figure will exceed $80 billion in current dollars annually by 1985. The Canadian construction industry is large, diverse and complex. Construction activity accounts for about six per cent of gross domestic product, compared to about four per cent for mining, three per cent for agriculture, and 23 per cent for the entire manufacturing sector.
The industry employs more than 700,000 workers, some seven per cent of the total Canadian labour force; and construction accounts for 60 per cent of the total investment in fixed assets in the economy. Of approximately 700,000 construction workers in 1975, between 450,000 and 500,000 constituted a regular body of tradesmen and labourers employed in construction, with the remainder entering and leaving the industry in response to cyclical and seasonal conditions. Much of the manpower response to those conditions comes from a supplementary construction labour force -- students, workers from other industries and unemployed tradesmen.
To illustrate the problem of the construction worker in an unplanned economy, let me cite some employment figures. In August 1977, 276,000 people were employed in Ontario’s construction industry. Six months later, in February 1978, there were 30,000 fewer employees. Unemployment in construction in Canada doubled between August 1977 and February 1978. There are reasons for seasonal unemployment, but this does not relieve the government from its responsibility to plan housing in a way to promote stability in the construction economy.
The construction industry makes an important direct contribution to Ontario’s economy and is an important purchaser of materials and services of other sectors. For each $100 of output, the construction industry spends approximately $39 on materials, $36 for labour, $14 on the purchase of services and $11 on taxes and capital. In other words, for each dollar of labour cost, an additional $1.08 is spent on materials, primarily from the manufacturing sector.
Construction purchases have made the greatest impact on iron, steel and fabricated metal products, lumber and wood products, non-ferrous metal products, cement and concrete and other non-metallic mineral products such as clay brick, asbestos products, et cetera. Quebec and Ontario supply most of their provincial production material requirements and also a large proportion of the needs of other regions.
A 1975 publication of the Economic Council of Canada indicates $100 million spent on new residential construction would add $28 million to other construction, $50 million to manufacturing output and $85 million to other sectors of the Canadian economy. Simply put, $100 million spent on construction generates an additional $163 million in other spheres. Moreover, there’s a cyclical effect derived from the initial investment which usually leads to another round of construction. The study shows the initial investment of $100 million would create over 13,000 lobs.
The construction industry is not only important because it’s a vehicle for providing housing for Ontario, but because it’s a significant segment of Ontario’s economy, an industry which now, like the rest of the economy, is seriously troubled and has 82,000 unemployed in Canada. Faced with this double responsibility and an over responsibility for shelter for all this and for management of his sector of the economy, what does the minister do?
Let me give you some examples. During the tenant protection hearings, where the minister was present for an extended period of 22½ minutes, he said, when I asked him to stay to learn, “Not from what I have learned so far,” dismissing out of hand the closely reasoned arguments in favour of some kind of rent control as articulated by Mr. deKlerk, a chief spokesman for the Federation of Metro Tenants, representing approximately one million people. Of course, he might just as well have added, “Tenants are not my responsibility.” In a perverse sense, he’s right. The government does not formally recognize the housing needs of Ontario tenants as a problem in housing.
During his participation at the London housing workshop on May 16, 1978, as reported in the August edition of the Canadian Real Estate Reporter, the Minister of Housing said that “his ultimate goal is to remove the need for a housing ministry and thus the need for a housing minister.” He may have misunderstood the widespread feeling among his colleagues that the Minister of Housing himself should indeed return to municipal politics and not that the Ministry of Housing should be abolished.
To quote from the magazine: “Warming up to the topic, he told the housing workshop that abolishing the housing ministry can be done in three steps: First, sell off the 100,000 acres of land owned by the province. Second, sell the 90,000 public housing units in Ontario. Third, dismantle the $1-billion Ontario Mortgage Corporation. (This process has already begun).”
We must attempt to differentiate, in the Throne Speech statements and subsequent ministerial actions, the vainglorious personal style and otiose thinking of the present minister from the trend of basic decisions that have been taken by the Davis government. I intend to show later in my speech that it is the government’s fragmented economic policy that is reflected in dismantling of co-op housing programs and the bias towards capital- oriented development.
The Ministry of Housing and the minister have two important tasks. The two themes which complement each other are responsibility for provision of housing or shelter as a basic social need for citizens of Ontario. Shelter is as important a social and human need as food, clothing and health care. Secondly, the ministry has a direct and indirect responsibility for management of the important economic sectors, which include land use, housing and the construction industry. The point of public sector planning is to ensure the future wellbeing of our people.
The Cantrakon decision shows the complete lack of concern which the present minister has for our future environment and recreational lands. For the most questionable reasons, he has used his arbitrary power and overturned the decision of the Niagara Escarpment Commission hearing officer and allowed the building of the Cantrakon resort. A site characterized by unique natural beauty is sold to a friend of the minister who intends to build a profitable conference centre for international executives. The minister will have great difficulty telling this House why, of all spots available, he had to give away one of the best.
The minister has squandered the power of government to plan in the public interest and used his powers to subsidize private interests. What do the people of Ontario gain that they wouldn’t have gained if Cantrakon had been located elsewhere? Ontario and Canada badly need ministries that understand the need to provide high-quality shelter for all citizens and to plan for their future recreational, transportation, cultural and economic needs. Our Ministry of Housing does not need abolition. It needs direction.
Let us examine in detail the functioning of the Ministry of Housing in those two broad categories: housing as a basic social right, and land-use planning and housing as an important sector of the provincial economy.
Good, affordable housing is a basic right but the recognition that decent and affordable housing is a social right is long overdue. It is as fundamental as the right to health or education. Housing as a social right is familiar as a slogan. But just as the recognition of health and education as a basic social right required government to accept progressively more responsibility for the provision of those services, the recognition of housing as a social right requires direct government intervention in the housing field.
To date, the provision of housing has been dependent almost entirely on private enterprise. The housing industry traditionally has been viewed as nothing more than one part among many of the productive sector. Overmortgaged and barely managing home owners, and the one in three Ontarians who are tenants, play a role as consumers subject, like other consumers, to the usual market fluctuations and to the usual ineffectual consumer protection mechanisms. The fact that housing is also a social good is lost in the quest for private profit.
Government has been involved in housing, but more often than not the effect of that involvement has been to enhance opportunities for profit rather than to establish social rights.
Historically, the public-right-versus-private-profit debate began several decades ago. In 1935, a report of a special parliamentary committee on housing accepted that the provision of adequate housing should be a social responsibility.
In 1964, “Good Housing for Canadians,” a study by the Ontario Association of Housing Authorities, stated: “A constant claim of the proponents of pure private enterprise, that it could solve the housing problem, should be considered against the historical evidence of ineffectiveness. Private enterprise seems to be at its most dynamic level when presented with extensive loan guarantees and substantial borrower’s equity, and when properties are all sited in a bustling urban market.”
The election of 1975 opened a new front in the battle for housing as a social right. The Ontario government was forced to introduce rent review legislation which, in intent though not fully in application, introduced the concept of governmental intervention on behalf of tenants in the private rental market.
But the most significant change has occurred in the perception of most Ontarians about the nature of the housing industry. Although housing as an industry is a part of the productive sector, housing and access to housing is a right like the right to health. As a consequence, a consensus is developing that a different set of assumptions govern it than other productive activities.
Furthermore there has been a general recognition, not only among tenants groups and various social agencies that serve tenants, but also amongst landlords, that access to good housing is indeed a social right. Many of the landlords are prepared to accept the principle of rent review and focus their concerns on the kind of program needed -- coverage, the guidelines and other pragmatic considerations.
Although rent review is an essential part of any integrated housing policy, by itself it will not make housing a social right. After establishing rent review and landlord/tenant reciprocal rights and obligations as a permanent feature of the housing legislation in Ontario, it becomes imperative to extend government intervention to other aspects of the housing sector.
When the government recognized health as a social right it entered the health field by building hospitals, ensuring that standards in health care were maintained and stimulating the growth of small private nursing homes with grants. The government must now do the same to establish housing as a social right in Ontario.
Mr. Mackenzie: Getting through to the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey).
Mr. Foulds: Nothing gets through to the member for Armourdale.
Mr. Wildman: The member for armadillo.
Mr. Dukszta: As part of accepting housing as a social right, the government must at least face up to the fact that tenancy has become a way of life in this province. I hope you understand this better now than the first time you listened to those words.
Mr. McCaffrey: Listen, if I had understood you this well five years ago, I’d have run then.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Dukszta: One-third of Ontario’s homes are rented. The prohibitive cost of a single family housing guarantees that tenants will grow in number.
Mr. Foulds: How come Williams got up to the front bench and you didn’t?
Mr. Mackenzie: How come Williams beat you to the front bench?
Mr. Dukszta: As one of the tenant groups put it so well to the committee, an apartment is also a home, it is no longer merely a way-station on the way to home ownership.
Under the PC government, because of its lack of leadership and its outmoded land-use planning policies, we have seen home ownership slip away from most working people. In 1961, 28 per cent of income earners in Ontario could afford a new detached home in Toronto. By 1971 only 11 per cent of income earners could afford such a purchase. In 1976 only 4.4 per cent of individuals had incomes great enough to afford an average house, according to MLS statistics in Toronto.
Mr. Mackenzie: The member for Armourdale wants to give it all to the rich.
Mr. McCaffrey: Save the middle class.
Mr. Dukszta: The government position on rent control was foreshadowed by the green paper entitled The Policy Options for Continuing Tenant Protection issued by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. Foulds: Bring back Sid Handleman.
Mr. Makarchuk: How do we know he is alive?
Mr. Dukszta: But my criticism of the ministry has not stopped, nor will it be stopped by interruption. He still is not doing his job. The fact that yet another ministry was charged with responsibility for what is basically a housing problem is an example of the government’s arcane method of dealing with housing.
Though another ministry was charged with writing the report, nevertheless the green paper contained pertinent information about the housing programs and the Ministry of Housing. The green paper contains data on both spending levels of the provincial government per se and the monetary value of combined government financing. As one can see, provincial involvement relates primarily to financial assistance to builders. As a review of the public accounts since 1973 shows, this assistance is concentrated in such programs as rent supplement, Home Ownership Made Easy; the now-going Ontario Housing Action Program; the now-gone municipal land assembly; the about-to-go Ontario Mortgage Corporation, Ontario Housing Corporation, home buyers’ grant, assisted rental program, Ontario rental construction grant, et cetera. While some of these programs have ceased operation, scathing references in the green paper to their effectiveness in the supply area are reported: “Despite public efforts, production levels remained below desirable levels; ... rental production could be as low as 30 per cent over the next decade; the 30 per cent rental target results in a 26,000 unit-a-year rental production figure. The total starts for 1976 of 15,900 units fell well below this level.” That comes from the government’s ministry.
The question one must ask is how sound is this investment of hundreds of millions of dollars when there is no return on it? If instead the money had gone into direct building programs, the government and the public would now have an investment in publicly-owned housing to show for it. The physical housing stock would then form part of the public’s equity.
The second section is land-use planning and housing as an important part of the provincial economy. The importance of housing and construction and development industries, the whole of the built environment, to use Harvey’s terminology, has already been stated in the beginning. The importance of planning has been recognized widely.
The preface to the Ontario Economic Council’s discussion paper Reforming Planning in Ontario: Strengthening the Municipal Role by J. Bossons begins with this statement: “The nature of the municipal planning process and of the institutional structure in which political decisions on land use controls are made has important implications for urban and regional development, for the perceived quality of the environment and for stability of employment in an important sector of the provincial economy. Moreover, changes in land values caused by political decisions can result in significant redistribution of wealth. Any proposed changes in the institutional structure of the planning process should therefore be examined closely.”
The impact of political decisions in distribution of wealth becomes evident when one realizes the role the built environment plays in Canadian and provincial economies. The built environment, which in some senses is coterminus with the definition of urban growth in Canada, is responsible for between one fifth to one quarter of the gross domestic product and is largely directed to fixed capital formations. Of this, two thirds goes into the built environment. That means that in Canada on an average between 1966 and 1971 about one seventh of the gross domestic product was consumed in the construction of the built environment, not including its maintenance and operations.
The built environment is now a primary field of struggle between capital and labour over what is good for accumulation as opposed to what is good for people. The conflict in the living place in the city, which is the built environment, is over the creation, management and use of the built environment. This is expressed in community conflict over speculation in the housing market; over siting of factories in residential areas and the social cost involved; over inflation in housing costs; over inflation in the costs of servicing a deteriorating urban environment; over congestion, the quality of living, and aesthetic features of the city; over lack of accessibility to employment; --
Mr. Foulds: The minister should be listening to this.
Mr. Dukszta: -- over opportunities of services; and over highway construction and urban renewal.
The government performs a pivotal role in this process. Provincial and municipal governments could act to institute people-oriented planning to achieve community goals; however, through direct complicity with and support for the propertied classes, inequitable structures have been produced so that housing and the land are now too expensive and too much of workers’ income is spent on servicing someone else’s capital.
It must be recognized that land-use planning decisions are intensely political in nature. Just as war is too terrible a matter to be left only to generals and health too essential to be left to doctors, so planning is too important to be left to professionals.
Planning decisions are never only technical and value-free; the far-reaching consequences of such decisions not only affect what kind of physical environment we have but also our life in it and the very way society is structured. So-called expert decisions, made without open community involvement, usually reflect the biases of professionals and coincide with the vested interests of landowners.
Historically, land-use planning became a responsibility of government in order to transfer to the community the enormous costs of capitalist development.
As Michael Goldrick states in his seminal article on Toronto:
“Indeed, government provided direct and essential support for the industrial production process. This occurred through collectivization, that is to say, the assumption by municipal government and the public at large of many costs of production to be borne not by the owners of capital but by the workers directly through the municipal taxes and indirectly by injurious living conditions. The cost of training workers, of providing facilities for the transport of goods, of investment in power supplies and the costs of residential despoliation by industry were all paid by municipalities and communities at the behest of industry’s spokesman in and out of government.”
Such is the political character of land-use decision-making in the interests of the owners of land and capital, and not on behalf of the labouring public. This must be changed. There must be a qualitative transformation of the goals and institutions of land-use planning.
First, the province must frame an overall land-use plan which would specify the guidelines for urban, industrial and transportation development and also the areas for agricultural, recreational and historical preservation. Then, the municipal governments would prepare comprehensive local land-use plans which would conform with the general provincial plan.
Second, the role of the OMB must be changed so that it is no longer a costly delaying body which intervenes in nearly every land-use decision, but becomes a real means of assuring implementation of provincial goals.
Third, we must ensure the continuing openness of the planning process. Ordinary citizens must have the same access as developers, consultants and lawyers to the planning process.
Let me now turn my criticism of the community development program. This is the type of program I and my colleagues would enthusiastically support if it were run by a government and a minister who understood housing as a social right.
Land banking by the public sector has much to offer. Interestingly, Greenspan found that programs operated by socialist governments in Manitoba and Saskatchewan worked much better than programs initiated by the present rulers of Ontario.
Mr. Foulds: That makes sense.
Mr. Wildman: Those people in Saskatchewan realize it too.
Mr. Dukszta: I am sure this government is so strait-jacketed by the non-interventional ideology that it will not directly engage in land banking, no matter how great the need for affordable housing becomes. Nevertheless, there are still important actions which I hope it will consider.
Mr. Foulds: They are bound by their ideology.
Mr. Dukszta: There is always a role for short-term land banking of sites which must be held for a couple of years while awaiting rezoning or servicing. Non-profit and co-operative organizations depend on public land banking in those instances and should be able to ask the province to act on their behalf to acquire land on a short-term basis.
The current stock of provincially-owned land-bank sites should be made available firstly to co-operative and municipal non-profit corporations at book value -- acquisition plus carrying costs.
The minister must accept that speculation in land is the role of his friends in the private sector and not the role of government.
Mr. Wildman: Quit trying to rip off the public.
Mr. Dukszta: In other words, if you must reprivatize public resources -- and I’m in total disagreement with that -- at least do it in a way that achieves some social good.. Either aid co-ops or induce the private sector to provide affordable housing. The proceeds from the sale of land banks should be funnelled into a revolving fund which can operate as a capital source for land acquisition for the short-term land banking required by co-ops.
The federal provision of capital for land banking which gets channelled through the province to the municipalities has been cut in half for 1978 and it appears that it will be totally eliminated for 1979. What has the minister done to ensure that the municipalities, especially the small and medium size ones, will have a proper access to a landbanking program?
Regardless of the debate on the value of long-term land banking, there is no question that short-term land banking is of critical importance for the municipalities which wish to revitalize core areas such as Toronto’s St. Lawrence neighbourhood. The land must be acquired, usually needs to be serviced and often needs rezoning. Then the municipality is free to parcel it up and develop it as it chooses, including making it available for non-profit, co-operative, municipal non-profit or home ownership housing.
The disintegration of the federal program would suggest that the province should be re-entering the land banking field in some way.
The co-op housing program has an embarrassing history for the government. Set up in the spring of 1974 with half a million budget, not a penny was spent on funding resource groups until four years later, March of 1978, for the Labour Council Development Foundation.
Every year the funds are budgeted, every year there were funding applications, and every year not one penny was spent for that purpose.
Where did the ministry shuffle those funds? Will this year’s budget be fully spent since there are at least six active resource groups in the province requiring financial assistance?
Were there not other applications in from the Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto, from Homestarts in Peel, from Lodgepole in Thunder Bay, et cetera?
Why did it take 11 months to get approval for the Co-op Housing Federation application when it conformed to the federal-provincial criteria for the sector support program?
Can the minister not set aside his fear of enterprise that is not based on the principle of exploitation long enough to at least show himself capable of effectively administering the piddly sum he allocates to co-operatives?
In terms of rent supplement, will the minister commit himself to ensuring that rent supplement will continue to be made available to the non-profit and co-operative housing program? While it is clear there is no new federal program being negotiated for co-operative housing, what is required is the willingness of the Ministry of Housing to ensure that any gaps in the federal funding will be filled. This should be no problem, since the minister supports supplementing low-income households in the private sector rather than building more public housing.
Since the provincial government has the capacity to lend mortgage funds through the Ontario Mortgage Corporation, and since the new federal program for all non-profit and co-operative housing will require projects to borrow funds from insured lenders, and since it is unclear that these non-profit and co-op organizations will have access to sufficient private mortgages, will Ontario agree to act as a lender of last resort through the OMC? I hope that the minister was taking notes and will be able to answer some of the questions in his response next Friday.
I would like to deal with the public housing section in your ministry’s estimates. When we come to vote 4, we will discuss the operation of public housing in Ontario. Because this government has never understood that decent affordable housing is a social right, you as a minister have never understood public housing.
The provision of decent housing should be the means of improving the lives of all citizens. The government has made public housing a means of social control. I intend to ask the minister to table the manual of administration used by OHC. I hope he will not again refuse to make public a document which shows how patronizing Ontario Housing Corporation is towards its tenants.
Last spring senior members of your department refused to be interviewed by Rogers Cable TV without first approving all questions to be asked about Ontario Housing Corporation. So indefensible are the policies of our ministry that only carefully contrived answers can defend them.
Public housing affords progressive governments unique opportunities to deal with a whole range of social needs. Working people deserve decent homes. Low-income people need housing for their families. Children need communities in which they are able to enjoy a healthy childhood and develop their abilities. What this government has done is that first it builds ghettoes where no one wants to live. Then it creates a bureaucracy that it takes a full-time advocate to penetrate.
You change your policies and the style of your buildings. You privatize the management but the attitude is the same: public housing is a hand-out and not a social right. Housing is a means of transferring wealth to landowners and not a means of meeting human needs. You are more willing to guarantee and subsidize the investment of developers than you are willing to guarantee a basic standard of housing for the people of Ontario.
I hope the minister will be prepared to explain why people need medical evidence to justify a transfer in public housing. Should the price of living in public housing be that people must forever forgo their right to have a say in their affairs?
An NDP government could save a fortune in administrative expenses by introducing substantial self-management into all Ontario Housing Corporation projects. OHC tenants themselves tell me that your bureaucracy creates more problems than it solves. We will at a later date pursue in these estimates some very specific concerns about OHC, but at present I would like to briefly outline our goals for public housing.
A public housing program should assure that low income people have access to housing they can afford. Public housing should encourage residents to manage their own affairs either through the creation of co-operators or the self-management of state-owned or subsidized agents. Public housing authorities should plan for the needs of disabled people. Public housing should be integrated into the community. Public housing developments should be geared primarily to meeting the needs of the residents and not to meeting the needs of the development industry.
Decent housing means homes fit for family life, set in well-planned neighbourhoods with adequate community services and with access to shopping, schools, work and recreation. New Democrats believe that every person has a right to decent housing, regardless of income.
Mr. Chairman, may I ask your guidance? I am not yet finished. Shall I adjourn the debate since I shall continue talking at some length on Friday?
Mr. Chairman: Is this an appropriate place for you to adjourn your remarks?
Mr. Dukszta: Yes, I would like to adjourn the debate.
Mr. Chairman: That’s not necessary.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee of supply reported progress.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 6 p.m.