The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: If I could have the attention of honourable members for a moment or two, I would like to remind them that the pages who have been serving us for the past four weeks are due to finish their tenure here tomorrow. As has been the custom in the past, we would like to read their names into the record for posterity.
They are as follows: Catherine Atkins, York West; Andrea Boyd, Lambton; Steven Cusimano, Oriole; Sacha Davidson, St. Andrew-St. Patrick; Sharon Ellis, Elgin; Kimberley Farrell, Scarborough Centre; Geoffrey Fillmore, Huron-Bruce; Walter Fine, Oakwood; Mark Chesquiere, Haldimand-Norfolk; Randy Giroux, Mississauga East; Rudy Goller, Scarborough East; Brian Harte, Scarborough-Ellesmere; Katherina Janczaruk, York South; Kimberley Johnson, Durham West; Jill Long, Oshawa; Susan Lougheed, Eglinton; Nuala MacDonald-Ross, Victoria-Haliburton; Alison McLoughlin, Wentworth; Paul Perak, Kitchener; Mark Prescott, Prescott and Russell; Jerry Taylor, Algoma and Michael Wohl, London North.
Will you join me in thanking them for the dedicated way in which they have served us.
Mr. Speaker: On Thursday the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) rose on a point of privilege. I reserved my decision at that time in order that I might study the Hansard carefully.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere quoted a public statement made by the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) on October 4, in which he said: “When I send a memo to the inspection branch asking for a report, the member will get exactly the same report as I get.” The member went on to say that he posed a question to the Minister of Health and received a written answer which stated in part: “The member should be aware that it is not the policy of the inspection branch of my ministry to make inspection reports available to the public.”
The minister in response stated that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere had received the same report as had the minister. The minister said: “The actual reports in the files are not released, but the information I get from the staff is exactly what I imparted to the honourable member.” It appears that there is a dispute over what was expected when the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere posed his question. I am sure the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere will accept the minister’s word that the reports in the files were not released to the minister and the minister transmitted to the honourable member a report which is identical to that which the minister received.
On that basis I can find no question of privilege.
Mr. Warner: On the point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that you have deliberated on it.
Mr. Haggerty: Are you challenging it?
Mr. Warner: I understand what you have said. It is highly unfortunate if the intent of it or the content of it is that ministry officials are hiding information from the minister. Perhaps he can clear up the matter and we’ll get the inspection reports which are needed to solve the problem in the nursing homes in Ontario.
Mr. Havrot: Hallowe’en is over.
Mr. Breaugh: No, it isn’t. There is a pumpkin up.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would have hoped that it wouldn’t be necessary to pursue the matter further here. Later this afternoon I will be continuing estimates and we could discuss it there. But the honourable member knows, or should know, that one of the prime concerns we have is for confidentiality of information about patients and also about sources of complaints.
Mr. Breaugh: It’s all a matter of finding the right garbage can.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is for those two particular reasons that the actual files aren’t received. They contain information about patients’ names and their condition and information about the names, addresses and details of complainants. For their anonymity and for the confidentiality of patients’ records, that is the reason. I repeat again that every time a member writes to me or asks for information, I ask for a report from the branch and that is exactly what goes to the member.
Ms. Gigantes: Speaking to the same point of privilege --
Mr. Speaker: I have reflected upon the alleged point of privilege raised by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere. I’ve allowed him more than enough latitude to react to what I have said. The minister has too. This can go on indefinitely. If you have a new point of privilege, I would be happy to hear it, but the one that I dealt with which was raised by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is for all practical purposes closed.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question that pertains to the environment, but perhaps in the absence of the minister I might direct a question to the Premier. Is the Premier aware of the situation at Port Loring, where some two years ago it was discovered that gasoline was present in the drinking water in the wells? One year ago this was reported to the Ministry of the Environment.
When one considers the degree of the contamination, can the Premier explain why it is the people in Port Loring have still not received fresh water and why it is that it has taken this much time, and yet they have not been given any assistance with regard to the obtaining of counsel? Given that the matter -- leakage of gasoline -- has been traced to the Gulf service station, can he explain just how it is that this amount of time can go by without proper redress in this situation? I hasten to add, lest anyone be misled, the sample I have here is from a well which is so bad the people living there have been evacuated and told not to live there any more. No one is drinking this, but there are nearby wells which smell of gasoline when the tap is turned on. Young people are consuming that water in the cooking and I want to know why there has been this kind of delay in redressing that problem.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t know all the particulars. The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) may be here a little bit later. If the Minister of the Environment is not, I will have an answer for the Leader of the Opposition tomorrow.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of brief supplementary: Could the Premier, when he is looking into this matter with the minister, find out why the ministry has not applied for a repair order, as they can do and did in the Dowling situation? Why it is that the matter has been left to the poor people who live there, many of whom are economically impoverished, to get their own lawyer to fight for some kind of compensation? And will he undertake to arrange health tests for the people who have consumed this water, given the potential carcinogenic nature of the contents of gasoline?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will get as full a report as possible for the Leader of the Opposition. I really cannot give any undertakings until such time as I have all the facts, or the minister can deal with it himself.
SCHOOL BUS INSPECTION
Mr. S. Smith: My second question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Can the minister explain to the people of this province why it is that the practice continues whereby mechanics who are employed by operators of school bus lines can be the people who inspect those very school buses and give certificates of approval? Given the fact we had a situation at McLeod Motors in the Hamilton area and given the fact there is an obvious conflict of interest for these mechanics, why does the ministry not simply put an end to this ridiculous practice and make sure that independent inspectors are looking at the buses that carry our children to and from school in this province?
Hon. Mr. Snow: If the Leader of the Opposition would consult with the gentleman slightly to his rear, he will discover we have had considerable discussion on this matter during my estimates over the past two weeks. I feel that because you find one bad apple in the barrel, you don’t throw out the whole barrel.
We have, without a doubt, the very best and most satisfactory school bus certification program in the province of Ontario that you will find anywhere. I fully admit we ran into a problem with the McLeod Motors situation. That is one instance among several hundred school bus operators in the province. My staff carried out spot checks on practically every operator in the province over the three-week period from mid-August to Labour Day prior to the school buses going into operation for the current year.
The member must remember the new legislation requiring these certificates only became effective on September 1, 1978. We did not find another situation like the McLeod Motors case. We found that case and my officials took very strict and prompt action. I happen to feel the professional mechanics in this province take their jobs very seriously. They’re being very conscientious about their inspections and they are not approving vehicles that are not safe. I can quote the member instances where mechanics refused to certify vehicles, even though their employers wanted them very much to do so. I could quote instances on that.
I am fully satisfied that our program is an excellent one and I am not prepared to suggest that we throw it out and create a huge bureaucracy which the Leader of the Opposition might wish us to do. We could have government inspectors inspecting every one of the 10,000 school vehicles in the province of Ontario.
Mr. S. Smith: You could have private-sector inspectors.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I think it is truly and totally the responsibility of the operator of the system to make sure that his buses are safe. We have made it the situation where the mechanic has to sign a certificate. The mechanics who signed bulk certificates, shall we call them, for McLeod Motors have been charged under the act. We have not found this in other places. I think we have a system we can be very proud of.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, given the fact that the way these matters come to light is very frequently in very tragic circumstances, and given the fact that there is an obvious conflict when a mechanic has to serve two masters in this instance, the public on the one hand and his employer on the other, is the minister saying basically that he disagrees with his own Ontario Licence Suspension Appeal Board chairman, D. F. Meyrick, who criticized the law which allows bus operators to have their own mechanics inspect their own vehicles for mechanical fitness? Surely it’s possible within the private sector for mechanics who do this inspection simply to be those who are employed by other persons, rather than those employed by the operators of the vehicles themselves.
Mr. Cunningham: It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have not seen that quote and he has not said it to me, but if that is what Mr. Meyrick said, I totally disagree with him, yes. I’ll tell him that too.
Mr. Wildman: Why does this government start blaming civil servants?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Is the minister prepared to respond to the very substantial public concern about the safety of the children who ride in school buses by taking two specific measures: one, to ensure that independent mechanics not employed by the operator do the inspections on the school buses; and, two, to require safety belts or seatbelts to be worn by school children, as has been proposed by the member for Welland-Thorold?
Hon. Mr. Snow: The answer is no to both questions.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: Surely even the minister can understand the conflict situation raised by my leader. In every other endeavour we try to avoid this conflict. Why doesn’t the minister agree at least to have mechanics who check the vehicles have some independence from the owners? Doesn’t he understand that? For instance, if the minister disagrees with that policy, why wouldn’t he allow motor vehicle owners to give themselves certificates of mechanical fitness for their own vehicles?
Mr. S. Smith: If they’re mechanics, why not?
Hon. Mr. Snow: That is totally possible. A licensed mechanic who has a licensed inspection station can certainly give himself a certificate.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, by all means.
Mr. Roy: Give himself a certificate?
Mr. Breaugh: Why don’t you just institute an honour system?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have about 100 licensed mechanics throughout the province of Ontario who are inspectors under the mechanical fitness program. They inspect trucks on the highways and buses and do spot checks on mechanical fitness certificates that are issued by garages. We have a situation which, I’m satisfied, with the spot checks my ministry staff are doing, which are totally independent, is under total control.
Mr. Roy: You don’t see the conflict.
Mr. S. Smith: Doctors should license themselves then.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Lawyers do. Lawyers license themselves.
An hon. member: Lawyers are responsible though.
SAFETY OF PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL STAFF
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Minister of Health arising out of the tragic death last Friday of Mr. Robert Guillemette, an attendant who was attacked at the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital in June and who had been in hospital since then. In view of the evidence that this was not an isolated incident of assault by a patient on an attendant in a psychiatric institution, will the minister agree to having a public inquiry into the problems both of staffing and of patient care at psychiatric institutions in the province?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We have had a number of meetings in recent months between officials of the ministry at individual hospitals and at the ministry level and officials of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, locals of the union and the provincial organization.
I would have to say that in the most unfortunate incident to which the member refers, which occurred on June 6, 1978, at North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, it was a most unusual situation inasmuch as there were two staff injured, and at the time there was something in the order of 16 or 17 staff surrounding this particular patient.
When we discussed the subject back in June -- I believe it was discussed again in the select committee in September, and certainly I anticipate that it will be discussed again when my estimates come up -- I indicated several things. First of all, improvements in staff ratios have occurred over the last five years -- I think that was the period for which we had figures -- and the number of incidents involving injuries to staff from patients has shown a marked improvement.
Given that we are working with the union, given that the staffing patterns have been improving over the years, and given the number of incidents, I think we have the matter well in hand and there is no need for an expensive inquiry. The work that needs to be done is being done on an ongoing basis by the ministry and on a co-operative basis with the union.
Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary: The minister seems to be content with the situation, but is he not aware that the hospital accreditation authorities have found that there is inadequate staffing in the case of the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital? Will he not agree that that and other evidence suggest there is more of a problem and that there is clear and present danger to the health and safety of employees? If he does agree, what action does he intend to take, rather than dismissing the question?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I certainly don’t dismiss the question. In point of fact, my first visit of any kind after coming Into this ministry was a secret visit, if you will, on a Sunday morning to one of the psychiatric hospitals to see for myself what was going on there.
The one subject that was discussed at great length with the administrator of the hospital at that time, and which has been followed up on a regular basis on my instructions, is the question of injuries to staff. So I certainly don’t dismiss the matter.
If I might, I would suggest that the member should be careful too on the Lakehead question, because all of the points raised in that accreditation report have been or are being addressed in terms of offers of employment to fill various positions, be they for recreation, physicians, psychiatrists and the like -- a dentist has been hired, as the member for Port Arthur knows now.
Mr. Foulds: Within the last week, and you have known for a year it was going to be vacant.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: At the time of the accreditation report there were 17 nurses who were off, either on maternity leave or on vacation leave or for one reason or another. They are all back. In fact, others have been added. So in that particular case I would caution the member that it has been well looked after.
Mr. Foulds: Has a psychiatrist been hired?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would further caution the member that the same accreditation team that wrote that caution on that hospital went to another of our psychiatric hospitals which has a lower ratio of registered nurses to patients and gave them a three-year accreditation. So it is all part of a complete package that results from these reports; but all of those things have been addressed.
I certainly don’t dismiss the matter. It is very serious; it is extremely serious. In our hiring policies and in our training policies with the staff in the psychiatric hospitals, we have to take every possible precaution to ensure that we have the right number and mix of staff and that our staff are properly trained to deal with these situations, because they can be extremely volatile at times.
Mr. Bolan: Has the minister been in consultation with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) with respect to the implementation of Bill 70 so that at least we would be able to put some distance between the type of tragedy that happened in North Bay and a similar tragedy happening in the future? Is the minister speaking to his colleague the Minister of Labour with a view to getting Bill 70 passed in this House and to bring some relief to the workers in situations such as psychiatric hospitals?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would reiterate that many of the procedures and the organizational matters that the member would anticipate are already in place. In this particular incident, as unfortunate as it was, it was not what one would consider to be the usual kind of patient-inflicted injury on a staff person, given all the other circumstances.
Mr. Warner: You are ducking the question.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes, the question of Bill 70, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, is one that has been discussed extensively in recent weeks and months and it will be looked after by my colleague in the fullness of time.
Mr. Warner: You don’t even say whether you support it.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister table all the accreditation reports for all the hospitals under his jurisdiction, and can he tell us how it was the situation deteriorated to the extent it did in June? Was the ministry not aware of that? Why were all those positions vacant at that time, including the 17 nurses he just mentioned? Why weren’t they replaced, even on a temporary basis?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had the figures with me for all of the questions at the Lakehead, but they have been taken out of my notes. As I recall it, most if not all of those 17 nurses were either on maternity leave or on vacation leave and they were on a system to cover off the situation with the rest of the staff. The member and I have corresponded for a number of months about the other positions. He has been concerned about a dental position. We did, 10 days or more ago, offer employment to an individual who has apparently accepted.
Mr. Foulds: Who doesn’t accept --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: He has accepted. The member must accept that it is very difficult particularly to get dentists to work in psychiatric hospitals.
Mr. Foulds: You knew it a year ago.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, it does take a great deal of time on occasion to get some of the professionals we require. We are no less determined to find them because of that difficulty and we have been able to, over the last six months, hire a dentist, take on additional recreational staff and fill our complement of positions in psychiatrists. It is my understanding that we are up to five now. The figure I saw was five.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Minister of Labour: In view of the study by the Workmen’s Compensation Board which showed that workers having four back operations have a nine-in-10 chance of getting worse, and that workers having two operations are just as likely to get worse as get better, will the WCB now reinstate benefit for those workers who have had their benefits reduced or eliminated because they refused back operations as part of their program of medical treatment?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member for Ottawa Centre knows, that’s an extremely complicated problem. I will be delighted to take it up with the board and come back to him with a statement with regard to the policy.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister table the study which has been reported this week and will he say what changes in policy are planned within the WCB in order to prevent workers being forced to have operations which may well be either unnecessary or harmful to their condition but are being imposed upon them as a condition of continuing to receive benefits?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I can only reiterate that I share at this time, and I have shared as a physician, the member’s concern. As I have indicated, I will find out what the board’s position is in the aftermath of this study and report to the House.
Ms. Gigantes: Table the report.
Mr. McClellan: Table the report.
Mr. Mackenzie: Who will buy the study this time?
Mr. di Santo: Will the minister also find out why it is that there is such a number of injured workers who are constantly referred to psychiatrists? It’s becoming a common practice in the Workmen’s Compensation Board. Could the minister see if there isn’t a different method of assessing people who most of the time have only physical injuries?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would be pleased to obtain that information for the member.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) asked me some questions about a public opinion survey conducted for the Workmen’s Compensation Board by the institute of Opinion and Market Research Limited of Don Mills. He also requested that I table a copy of that survey. Actually, the survey has been public for some time and if he wishes to phone the communications division, it’s available to him or to any member or to any person at any time.
Regarding the member’s inquiry as to whether the WCB is currently carrying out any surveys to discover public attitudes, I have spoken with board officials who assure me no other similar survey is presently being undertaken.
In addition, Mr. Speaker; I would like to clarify aspects of the project in question. First, it was not solely an attitude survey. The study was primarily an awareness study or a benchmark study because the board is developing new and improved communication programs and prior to the release of any new material, it was believed that public awareness of the basic facts concerning the compensation system should be measured.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Would the minister make it a policy of his ministry then, to make public all such public opinion surveys done under the aegis of his ministry and at public expense?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I will be pleased to review each survey as it is conducted and make a decision at that time.
Mr. T. P. Reid: By way of further supplementary, doesn’t the minister feel that if the surveys are done at public expense, with tax dollars, information should be available to all members of the Legislature and the public at large?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As I indicated to the member before, I think it would depend on the reason for the study. Each study has to be assessed on its own merits.
DEATH OF TRICIA PAQUETTE
Mr. Blundy: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. In the Tricia Paquette child abuse case now before the Ontario Supreme Court, can the minister explain why the stepfather’s apparent pleas for help were ignored by the Brantford Children’s Aid Society?
Hon. Mr. Norton: We have attempted to confirm, if I understand the member’s question correctly, the contact that had allegedly been made by the person having custody of the child prior to this incident, from the time, I believe, when he was in Winnipeg or in western Canada. Our investigation at this point has led to no confirmation of any contact having been made. The society has no record of any contact having been made by the individual in question.
We continue to remain in communication with the society on that issue, but it appears to be impossible to confirm it.
Mr. Blundy: Supplementary: It is alleged by the stepfather that he had approached children’s aid societies in Prince Rupert, Vancouver and Brantford and so forth. Has the children’s branch of the ministry made any attempt to connect with a national network of children’s aid societies with a view to sharing information in suspected or proven cases of child abuse? If not, would the minister not agree that the use of such shared information might have been a matter of life, rather than death, for that eight-year-old Brantford girl?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Although there is no formal mechanism in place at the present time that would automatically lead to the sharing of that information, in some specific cases, it has been our practice to engage in the sharing of information with jurisdictions as far distant as British Columbia when we had reason to believe that someone who had previously abused children had relocated in that jurisdiction. We do attempt to do that, although there is no formal mechanism. I’m not sure that a more formal mechanism is necessary at this point.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt with a new question.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: It is not automatic that you can have an unlimited number of supplementaries. I have a lot of questions to get through here this afternoon.
Mr. Makarchuk: Point of order: It is the first supplementary from this side of the House.
Mr. Speaker: There is nothing in the book that says every party has to have a supplementary to every question that is asked. Go ahead and ask your supplementary.
Mr. Makarchuk: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the minister: In view of the fact that this child and the family have been dealt with by the children’s aid society in Brantford for a period of years with a rather tragic result, is the ministry considering looking at the reports from the agency to discover whether this case was handled properly, or whether something else could have been done to ensure that child survived?
Hon. Mr. Norton: We have already engaged in that with the society. I don’t have the details with me at the moment, though my recollection is that at the time of prior contact with the society which was two or more years ago, there was no reason to suspect nor was there evidence of abuse at that time. The contacts with the society at that time were for entirely different reasons.
Mr. Laughren: I have a question of the Minister of Labour concerning the strike at Inco in Sudbury. In view of the fact that during the last year this government has given Inco processing exemptions to allow them to ship their ore overseas, has allowed them to lay off workers as they saw fit, despite the recommendations of an all-party select committee of this Legislature, has allowed them to continue to pollute --
Mr. Handleman: Is this a speech?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Speech.
Mr. Laughren: -- despite a control order to the contrary; and has more recently given them 60,000 acres on which to explore and develop without competition, does the minister not think it’s finally time to say to that company, “You make a decent offer to the workers,” so the message goes out loud and clear that there are limits to the arrogance and power of that company?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the member for Nickel Belt knows the interest and the effort I put into trying to solve that strike problem originally.
Mr. Laughren: No, I don’t.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: That interest and that effort are there and I’m able to use it at any time --
Mr. Laughren: I saw the results, too.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: -- the parties indicate a wish that I intervene. There’s no question about that. He knows that and that interest remains.
Mr. Ashe: Ask Stephen what he thinks.
Mr. Laughren: Show us where.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary: In view of the fact Inco offered an extension of an existing contract for one year, and then proceeded to withdraw a number of items which had been won over previous years in negotiation, does the minister not consider that’s bad faith bargaining? Is the government prepared now to move against Inco to get them to bargain in good faith?
Mr. Laughren: Stop being a pussycat.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I’ve never been accused of that.
Mr. Laughren: You have just been accused of it right now.
Mr. Warner: You’re going to have to get tough with them -- mean and vicious.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The question of bad faith bargaining, as the member for Sudbury East knows, is a question that can be raised before the Ontario Labour Relations Board at any time. It has not been raised by any party. If there is an indication of that, then let some party so do it. But as to my interest in that particular problem, the member knows my interest and my willingness to accept any invitation to intervene.
Mr. Laughren: We know the results, too.
Mr. Germa: Supplementary: When the minister and the Premier were putting together this beautiful four-cent offer, and taking into consideration all of the concessions and all of the profits that Inco has had out of Sudbury, did he think that this was a realistic offer to put before the workers?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: While you were in Florida.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Some of your colleagues thought so.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I believe there were many people who felt that that offer was the best compromise that could have been obtained at that time under the circumstances. I’m not the only one who felt that.
Mr. Speaker suspended proceedings of the House from 2:39 to 2:47 p.m.
VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER BEGIN
Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Premier, I will address my question to the government House leader. In view of the fact that a state dinner was held in Ottawa for Menachem Begin early last week, and in view of the fact that it’s customary to hold one state dinner for any visiting dignitary to any nation, I am wondering why the government of the province of Ontario or the city of Toronto did not host the dinner that was held in this city on Thursday night last. Was the Prime Minister of Canada endeavouring to use Mr. Begin for political gain?
Mr. Nixon: That’s of urgent public importance?
Mr. Samis: What a setup!
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the Deputy Premier have an answer?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, it would be very difficult indeed for the government House leader to understand what the motivation of any host may have been in connection with that --
Mr. Nixon: Hospitality, presumably.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, yes?
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- but I have no comments with respect to that particular function.
Mr. Nixon: Poor old Roy didn’t get to run that one.
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I would like to ask the honourable minister, why was the Premier of the province not invited to the signing in front of Her Honour the same day?
Mr. Roy: Of his own bill.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The honourable member is obviously making some reference to the royal assent that went on with respect to that bill.
Mr. Nixon: That’s right; you know, the boycott bill -- the anti-Arab bill.
Mr. Mattel: Why wasn’t the Premier there?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Do you want an answer to the question?
An hon. member: If the minister has one.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Do the members opposite really want an answer to that question?
Mr. Roy: Tell him we want an answer, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The honourable member will know that at that time the Premier was at the airport welcoming the Prime Minister of Israel.
An hon. member: Here comes the Premier now.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Secondly, as the honourable member will know, it’s very customary simply for a representative of each party to go down for royal assent. There were no special invitations issued to anyone from the office of the government House leader.
Mr. Nixon: The Premier goes to almost all those royal assents.
Mr. Conway: I thought Phil Givens had retired.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities: With respect to the Ross report and possible changes in tuition fees, what opportunities does the minister plan to extend to students and other interested groups to be consulted before any final decision is made with respect to that report?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the Ross report has not as yet been received by me. When I do receive the report and look at its contents, then I shall be pleased to consider the type of consultation which is necessary. I can scarcely do it without knowing the content of the report.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: Would it then be reasonable to believe that any changes contemplated could not take place before September 1980, rather than in 1979?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I don’t know the answer to that question because, as I said, have not seen the report. I have had some discussion both with the Ontario Federation of Students and with the Committee of Presidents of Universities of Ontario on this subject, but it has been cursory discussion, without the benefit of the substance of that report which I understand was carried out in a manner which would suggest a great degree of consultation with a very large number of students, faculty members, presidents of universities and members of the general public.
Mr. Cooke: How can the minister possibly expect proper input into this report in the development of a new tuition scheme, which is obviously what we’re leading up to, if she is still considering the possibility of this new scheme being implemented in the fall of next year? How much time does she expect to allow students and other groups to react to the Ross study?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I would like the opportunity to read the report before I make any decisions at all about the method of consultation, the period of time necessary, or the groups that need to be consulted.
Ms. Gigantes: I have a question of the Premier. Does the Premier know how much money Mr. Stephen Roman has realized personally on his holdings of Denison shares as a direct result of the Premier’s approval in February of Hydro’s uranium contracts with Denison Mines?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I must confess to the honourable member I don’t know. Perhaps if she were to communicate with Mr. Roman, he might share that information with her and again he might not. He might also share with her the possibility of losses over the years in some of his ventures, I don’t know. But it has not been my practice to invade the private lives of private citizens of this province, much as the honourable member would like us to.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: If the Premier showed as much interest as is possible by reading the newspapers, he could have figured out that by the end of this year --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Ms. Gigantes: -- Mr. Roman would realize $50 million. Perhaps the Premier would like to consider preparing a statement to this Legislature so the public of Ontario can better understand how its interests have been served by this generous benefit to Mr. Roman.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’d be delighted to be as helpful as I can to the honourable member. But I will not undertake to prepare such a statement.
THE JESUS TRIAL
Mr. G. Taylor: I have a question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation. Considering The Jesus Trial has cost TV Ontario a considerable amount of money visiting more places than the Ombudsman’s committee in filming the operation, and considering the large amount of commercial advertising going into this operation -- I notice a press release that Norman Griesdorf’s company, Co-producers Fund of Canada Ltd., has rights to sell The Jesus Trial --
Mr. Speaker: I have yet to hear a question.
Mr. G. Taylor: -- will the Ontario TV corporation be returning any money to the province of Ontario as a result of selling these rights? Or will this movie bomb, as has been aptly put to us?
Mr. S. Smith: You don’t want others to see it if we can’t.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I cannot answer that question at this time.
Mr. G. Taylor: Supplementary: Could the minister tell us what percentages will be arrived at by selling the commercial rights to The Jesus Trial?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I’m not in a position to answer that question at this time, but I will take it under advisement.
Mr. Riddell: I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food before he gets away on me. At the risk of jeopardizing the national milk supply management program, which could eventually lead to its demise, does the minister think he should be making such strong statements as, “The Ontario dairy industry is in a crisis situation,” without more factual information, and without the concurrence of the major farm organizations in this province and the Ontario Milk Marketing Board?
Hon. W. Newman: I think the speech the member is referring to was the one I made to the Ontario Dairy Council yesterday at noon. I pointed out the problems we face in Ontario as far as industrial milk supply is concerned. I feel very strongly about that. I’ll go on to say one more thing in answering the member’s question. Yes, I think we should have more quota in the province of Ontario. I think we’d be saving his friends in Ottawa millions of dollars that they use to dispose of the surplus powder. I said that that milk should be put to better utilization --
Mr. Makarchuk: They don’t recognize their friends in Ottawa.
Hon. W. Newman: -- so we can have the milk in Ontario to produce the cheese we need for the consumers of this province --
Mr. Bradley: Where’s Andy Watson?
Hon. W. Newman: -- and also to allow for the specialty cheese manufacturing which we have the capability of producing here to replace imported products.
Mr. Wildman: Why is the minister so cheesed off?
Mr. Riddell: Supplementary: Is the minister then basing his remarks on the cost-benefit study on the participation of Ontario in the national supply management program? If so, or even if he is not, if that study has been completed would he table that report so that we in the Legislature might ascertain the validity of his concern?
Hon. W. Newman: My concerns do not come from the cost-benefit analysis study. It’s a research document which is in the hands of the committee that’s working on it. I’m waiting to hear from them with their comments on it. My comments were based on the fact that most of our dairy operations in Ontario today are processing operations which are operating at 50 per cent of capacity. Some are running at less than 50 per cent of capacity.
We cannot allow new plants to start up to produce specialty cheese products to replace the imported products that come in here because we cannot guarantee a supply of milk. I have met with many of the processing industry people in the last two weeks. They tell me they’re going to have to do some consolidation or close their plants if they can’t get milk. Those were the areas that I based the facts on, when I spoke to the Ontario Dairy Council yesterday.
Mr. Riddell: Will the minister table that study?
Mr. Speaker: The member for York South with a final supplementary.
Mr. MacDonald: I have a supplementary to the minister on the basis of his first reply. What is the point of screaming from the rooftops for a larger quota for the province of Ontario when we’re only meeting 90 per cent of the quota we now have?
Hon. W. Newman: It’s quite obvious that the member comes from Yonge Street.
Mr. MacDonald: Answer my question. Your offices are on Bay Street.
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, our offices are on Bay Street. That’s quite right. I’m glad the member knows something. I’d just like to point out that milk production is down this year.
Mr. Bradley: Andy Watson is here again.
Mr. MacDonald: Answer my question.
Hon. W. Newman: I will.
An hon. member: He will if you let him. Be patient.
Hon. W. Newman: Do you want the facts?
Mr. MacDonald: Yes.
Hon. W. Newman: All right. The first reason is the inflexibility of the national program. Last April when our dairy farmers got their milk cheques, many thousands of them were penalized for oversupply of milk. So when beef prices got a little better, they moved out a lot of their cattle.
Secondly, we had a very dry summer in central and eastern Ontario this year. Thus, production is down somewhat because of that. Because we have developed an export market for our fine Holsteins, that has something to do with it too. I don’t blame the farmers for doing that at all. Until we can get some more flexibility built into the national MSQ program and get the milk that we need so that the farmers know where they’re going, we’re going to have problems.
Mr. Cooke: I have another question of the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Is the minister at all concerned at the recent fall in the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds attending university? I understand the rate has dropped from 13 per cent in 1974-75 to an estimated 11.5 per cent this year. Is she concerned about that, does she have any explanation for it and what does she plan to do to increase participation?
Mr. S. Smith: I asked that question a few weeks ago.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: For the member for Windsor-Riverside, I will repeat what I said, I think at least 10 days ago or two weeks ago. I said that there is a decreased participation rate in that age group at the university level this year. It is to be anticipated, I would think, because of a number of factors, including the economic conditions which seemed to prod students towards job-oriented, post-secondary education. I think it accounts primarily for the increase in the numbers of students in that age group at the community college level where they are participating in programs which will lead them directly to a form of employment which they see as satisfactory.
We are looking at this very critically and attempting to develop accurate figures about the situation, as well as to find out the reasons for it, if there are specific reasons which can be developed.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary: The minister will be aware that the participation rate, when taking into consideration community college students, has not increased even though the number of 18 to 24-year-olds has increased, so her explanation has no validity at all. What discussions are taking place right now in the Social Development policy field to co-ordinate the actions of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Community and Social Services to get more low-income and working class students in the post-secondary school system?
Mr. Grande: It is nil.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The co-ordination between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, I would say, is going on apace right at the moment. It is not really too difficult to accomplish that at this time.
Mr. Wildman: The ministry is now suffering from schizophrenia.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: We have had discussions at the staff and ministerial level with the other ministries in the Social Development policy field, and indeed there are specific problems related to this. One of the initiatives we are pursuing vigorously is the employer-sponsored apprenticeship training program which I think looks as if it is going to be very successful. This is one of the routes we will he pursuing with a great deal of vigour because it seems to be popular not only with those who require trained employees, but with young people who would like to acquire skills of that sort.
TORONTO CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
Hon. Mr. Henderson: On Friday last, the Leader of the Opposition asked a question of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) re the property east of Bay Street. Both the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) and I were sent copies of the city of Toronto planning report on October 3, 1978. The Minister of Housing acknowledged the mayor’s letter, indicating that I would be responding directly.
Given the government’s reaction to specific proposals of the planning report, I am presently studying not only the report itself, but also certain variations of the city’s plan relating to the needs of the provincial government in the future. When this work has been completed, I will be responding to the mayor of Toronto.
Mr. S. Smith: Do I take it then that it has been resolved within the cabinet and it is going to be the Ministry of Government Services that ultimately makes the decision for the go-ahead on the east of Bay project, and that it is that minister rather than the Minister of Housing who will be dealing with the city of Toronto on the matter?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The property is under the direction of the Minister of Government Services.
Mr. S. Smith: I know that.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I said the Minister of Housing had responded to the mayor of Toronto and suggested that he would be hearing from the Ministry of Government Services. The Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Government Services are working together. I will be responding to the mayor of Toronto.
Mrs. Campbell: What year?
BRADFORD FROZEN FOODS
Mr. Nixon: I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. With the announcement of the bankruptcy of Bradford Frozen Foods, can the minister describe to the House what action is being taken to safeguard the farmers who have shipped in produce to that organization so they will not suffer the losses that it evidently looks as if they are facing at the present time?
Hon. W. Newman: In answer to the member’s question, Bradford Frozen Foods did get into difficulty and the bank withdrew its support. As the member knows, the Ontario Development Corporation put money into that in 1975 or some time in that neighbourhood. They got into difficulty, and our major concern at the time was to try to get them back into production so that this year’s crop of broccoli and Brussels sprouts could be processed. The plant was reopened under a receiver-manager in early November and they are processing there now.
I do have the same concerns that the member has, but we will not know for some time how to properly assess the position of those producers who sent in produce in the interval. They will be paid for what is being processed now, at the contract price. But for those who sent in produce in the interval, from then until the receiver-manager took over, there is a problem, of which I am very much aware. We won’t really know until we get all the details from the receiver-manager. It may mean that this plant may he sold and left there, or it may mean that somebody else may buy it and move it to their operation so that we will still be able to provide the service in the area of the frozen products that are involved.
Of course, there is the financial protection legislation, and we would hope that they would have a look at it for future use; although we are watching very closely, and I will do all I can to make sure the producers receive the money for the produce that was sent in in the interval before the receiver-manager took over.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Is the minister giving the House his assurance that those producers will receive the money owing to them?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, in the case of receivership it is very difficult to guarantee exactly what will happen until certain assets are added up; the cost of them; what would be sold; what would be there; how much money is there; the other people that the Bradford Frozen Foods had an agreement with; how much money did they have; it all has to be put together. I have no way that I can guarantee anything at this point in time. I am keeping a very close watch on it, and will certainly do all within my power to make sure that the producers do receive their money.
Mr. Worton: A supplementary: Do I not understand that producers of perishable goods are covered under the federal bankruptcy law Mr. Whelan introduced some years ago?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware. I know that we have asked for a change in the Bank Act. We have been asking for it for many years. I am certainly not aware of any specific law at the federal level. The member may be right. I certainly would be glad to look into it.
Under the Bank Act we have always asked for preferential treatment for producers. To my knowledge, even when they opened up the Bank Act -- I guess it still is open -- we have made representation asking that to be changed to put the primary producer in as a prime credit, or number one credit, or however it is worded. I will look into that aspect.
BOISE CASCADE DISPUTE
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Can the minister report to the House the steps that his ministry has taken to alleviate the possibly explosive situation developing in Fort Frances between Boise Cascade and its employees?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would like to advise the member and the House that I have shared the concern that the member for Port Arthur expressed to me the other day, to the extent that I have sent telegrams to both parties asking them to attend a meeting at my office tomorrow morning, for which I will be available should the conciliation and mediation service feel that I have a role to play.
Mr. Foulds: Excellent. Can the minister indicate to the House if at that meeting he can express to the company at least -- and I know that there have been explosive situations on both sides -- that it would not be productive for them to proceed with a possible seeking of issuance of writs against the lumber and sawmill workers, and it is not productive to indicate publicly in a letter to the inside workers at the mill who are in a legal position to strike, but aren’t striking, that the last offer they received is the last offer they are going to receive?
Can he indicate to them that if the company decides to proceed with managing the kraft mill with management staff that his colleague, the Minister of the Environment, will be monitoring the effluent that is discharged into the river, as the last time that this happened the management staff were not trained in using the pollution control equipment that was in place in the plant?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member has quite properly noted, there are many issues involved on both sides, and I am sure that he wouldn’t want me to, nor would he want to, prejudice any relations with regard to negotiations that are going to take place tomorrow. I will keep his remarks in mind.
AMATEUR HOCKEY PLAYERS
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation. Since his ministry provides assistance to the provincial sports governing bodies in amateur games, and since there is a controversy surrounding the trading of teenage players in the minor hockey leagues, particularly in Toronto, and as one minor hockey league coach has said that these players are “bartered as so much meat,” is the minister planning to review the player card system and the conditions of releases which are mandatory under the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I intend to look into this.
Mr. Epp: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister would indicate whether he subscribes to this system as it’s now being operated in the city of Toronto and other parts of the province?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would prefer not to give a definitive answer to that at this point until I have looked into this question.
WINDSOR HOUSING PROJECTS
Mr. Bounsall: A question of the Minister of Housing, Mr. Speaker: Has the minister yet ensured that Ontario Housing Corporation has released the tenders for the sale of the old Norton-Palmer Hotel site in Windsor without trying to collect from the city of Windsor costs incurred solely by OHC in its decisions to hire architects, engineers, et cetera? In addition, will the minister also ensure that OHC immediately approves for rental subsidy the 50 units in the city of Windsor’s new senior citizens’ building on the corner of Bridge and Riverside Drive?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the Norton-Palmer site is being tendered for sale. As the member is well aware, I think those tenders only closed in the last day or two and will take some time to be reviewed to see exactly what the proposals are to the government in relationship to that particular sale. As for collecting from the city of Windsor in relationship to this project and the funds that have already been expended on behalf of the province of Ontario through OHC, I am not saying to the city of Windsor that we’re writing off that particular deal.
The fact is, if the member would read the statistical information that has been put together over a period of time, there was a commitment. While maybe it was not in writing from the city of Windsor, there certainly was a commitment by the city of Windsor for us to proceed further with design and development of that site for the purpose for which they wanted it. I’m meeting with the mayor of Windsor, I trust, in a period of the next two or three weeks to review this site with him and other public housing developments that he wishes in his community.
PROVINCIAL COURT APPOINTMENTS
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, may I ask a question of the Attorney General, whom I have been following from the back rows up to the front rows?
Mr. Nixon: He’s organizing another party in the Lieutenant Governor’s suite.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We have watched the member’s progress from the back row to the front row for years.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You’ll always be following him, Albert.
Mr. Roy: I intend to stay right here, then move over there.
Mr. Speaker: Now that you have him, would you mind putting your question?
Mr. Roy: Oh, yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to ask the Attorney General, who has always taken a great interest in the provincial court criminal division and the appointments to that court, if he might give me his views as to why out of 134 judges in the provincial court criminal division none is a female judge? Is he concluding that out of all the potential female candidates in the province there are none who are competent to serve on the provincial court criminal division?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There is none.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right. It’s the same with police commissions.
Mr. T. P. Reid: If they can’t play hockey they can’t serve in the courts.
Hon. Mr. Snow: We had one, but she quit.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ask her why she quit. She wishes she could get back.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t think there is any doubt about the fact that there are many women lawyers in this province who are competent to sit as provincial court criminal judges.
Mr. Nixon: However, very few of them are Tories.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The truth of the matter is that very few --
Mr. Nixon: Are Tories.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- only a tiny handful, have expressed the slightest interest --
Mr. Warner: In the Tory party.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- in serving in that capacity. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have spoken to a number of the women lawyers in this province --
Mr. Wildman: They don’t want to work with you.
Mr. Nixon: You can’t persuade any of them to take an appointment.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- in relation to various boards and courts of one kind and another with respect to whether they will serve, and I’m happy to report that most of the women lawyers who have been out for more than five years or so -- and one really would like to make appointments from people who have been called to the bar for, say, almost 10 years, which is the federal rule in relation to appointments to the judiciary.
Mr. Bradley: We were waiting to see how you could blame the feds.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, it’s 10 years. We don’t have a specific rule. I have to tell the honourable member most of the women lawyers of this province who have been out five years, and particularly those who have been out 10 years or more, are doing extremely well.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Most lawyers are doing extremely well.
Mr. S. Smith: You only appoint judges who are doing poorly; is that the idea?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Let’s face it: they’re doing extremely well from a financial standpoint. But I have to tell the honourable member that for people who accept judicial appointments, whether at the federal level or the judicial level, it does involve a degree of financial sacrifice.
Mr. Conway: That’s what Phil Givens said.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think it is fair to say, with the substantial increase --
An hon. member: Sacrifice is relative.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: You see, Mr. Speaker, the members opposite treat this as a very silly, facetious matter.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s precisely what your answer it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Like the member for St. George, I happen to consider the role of women in law to be a very important one.
Mr. Bradley: Don’t be so pompous.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have to say to the member for St. George that I regret that her colleagues would treat this matter in such a frivolous manner. I think it is a disgrace. I think we should be ashamed of them. I really do.
Mr. Nixon: Your answer is a joke.
Mr. Martel: Quit while you are ahead.
Mr. S. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: If the Attorney General believes that the people of this province and the members of this House are going to accept that the reason there are no women judges appointed by this government is because it wished to protect them from the financial sacrifice involved, that is a frivolous and facetious answer.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is not what he said.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As in most other matters, the Leader of the Opposition unfortunately possesses nothing much more than a superficial understanding of the pressing issues of the day, and I would have to say that this is one of the issues.
What I was about to say before I was interrupted was that when I was called to the bar some 20 years ago --
Mr. Nixon: Tell us about your own financial sacrifices.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will, I will. One of the unhappy facts of life at that time was that there were 250 lawyers called to the bar that year; seven of them were women. That was a disgrace. I would be the first one to admit it.
Mr. Nixon: You should not have been called.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It is only in relatively recent years that the women have made up a reasonable percentage of the law school classes, a development which is long overdue. Perhaps the legal profession has moved into the 20th century a little more slowly than others; I don’t know.
Mr. Martel: They are still trying to get there.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: But the truth of the matter is, we now have a substantial number of women in the law schools of this province.
Mr. Martel: This is an abuse of the question period. It really is.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: But for the most part this has happened only within the last 10 years, as the member for St. George knows.
I want to say that the youngest judicial appointment --
Mr. Warner: Not only is it a speech, it is a bad one.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The youngest judicial appointment in this province is a woman, and it happened to be made by this government while I was Attorney General.
Mr. Roy: They’ve got judges in the Supreme Court of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I want to predict that, with the enormous number of talented women who now are being called to the bar, within a very few years we will see a very large number of appointments; and we are all looking forward to that day.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
Mr. Martel: No wonder. With that speech, there should be an extra 10 minutes allowed.
Mr. Speaker: I can’t. The rules won’t permit me.
Mr. Roy: Then you should cut him off in midstream. That’s not much --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I rise under provisions of standing order 28 to say that the Premier’s answer to my question today was not satisfactory and I would seek an opportunity to discuss it after the finish of House business this evening.
Mr. Conway: Evelyn for judge.
Mr. Speaker: Before the orders of the day, I want to remind honourable members that the member for Carleton East has indicated her dissatisfaction with a question directed to the Deputy Premier and she wishes to pursue it further at 10:30.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Deputy Premier: I thought it was the Premier.
Ms. Gigantes: It was the answer that bothered me, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Martel: It was the Premier, wasn’t it?
Mr. Speaker: The Premier? So ordered.
An hon. member: As a matter of fact, she’s dissatisfied with the whole government.
Mr. Conway: I knew Mr. Welch was important, but I didn’t know he was that important.
METRO TENANTS FEDERATION
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, in the debate on Tuesday on Bill 163, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, (Mr. Drea) who is not here right now, said he did not attend the Metro Tenants Federation annual convention because the convention was cancelled. In fact the convention was held on the weekend of October 21 and 22, but the event which the minister was scheduled to attend on Sunday, October 22, did not take place because the minister categorically refused to attend, even though the tenants asked him repeatedly to come.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ONTARIO HYDRO AFFAIRS
Mr. MacDonald, from the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs presented the following report and moved its adoption.
Your committee requests permission of the House to continue its deliberations beyond the end of December 1978.
Mr. MacDonald: May I comment briefly, Mr. Speaker, before you put that motion, and indicate that I will be presenting another report, as soon as this has been adopted, which covers the work the select committee did in the month of October.
Perhaps for clarification to the House, I should remind them that a couple of weeks or so ago we presented an interim report from the select committee that dealt with the heavy water plant situation in Bruce county and that was debated two weeks ago this evening. We put it in one report so it will be tidily in one place. The committee then proceeded in October to make a start into the whole nuclear development situation in this province by an examination of nuclear waste management. We are only now into that proposition and we hope to be able to continue our work.
The House may recall that when this committee was set up by motion last December, its two major terms of reference were to monitor the recommendations of the 1976 committee to see what both Hydro and the government had done by way of response to them and to take a look at the whole nuclear option. Unfortunately or fortunately, those two major terms of reference were pre-empted in January and February by the examination of the uranium contracts and in the summer by an examination of the whole nuclear water situation in Bruce county and the related supply and demand.
We are only now getting around to considering what was the initial responsibility of this committee and we hope to do that and to do it thoroughly. But the original terms of reference had a deadline of December 31, so this motion is for an extension beyond December 31 to complete our work.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ONTARIO HYDRO AFFAIRS
Mr. MacDonald from the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs presented the committee’s interim report.
STANDING GENERAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. McCaffrey from the standing general government committee presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr22, An Act respecting the city of Windsor;
Bill Pr31, An Act respecting Regis College;
Bill Pr43, An Act respecting Sudbury Young Women’s Christian Association;
Bill Pr46, An Act respecting the Capuchins of Central Canada;
Bill Pr48, An Act to revive the Royal Hotel (Picton) Limited.
Your committee would recommend that the fees less the actual costs of printing be remitted on Bill Pr31, An Act respecting Regis College, Bill Pr43, An Act respecting Sudbury Young Women’s Christian Association, and Bill Pr46, An Act respecting the Capuchins of Central Canada.
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Mr. Breaugh from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee has carefully examined the following applications for a private act and finds the notices, as published, sufficient:
City of London.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF MISSISSAUGA ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved first reading of Bill Pr42, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.
Motion agreed to.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 176, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, as a brief explanation, the purpose of the bill is to provide the Ontario Labour Relations Board with authority to settle the terms and conditions of a first collective agreement between a trade union and an employer where the dispute settlement procedures in the act have not been effective. Each collective agreement settled by the board would be for a term of between one and two years.
Mr. Martel: That’s progress.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 177, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Mackenzie: This bill covers a number of changes to the Employment Standards Act, chief among them a change in vacations allowed by law under the Act: two weeks in each year upon the completion of 12 months; three weeks in each year upon the completion of 60 months; and four weeks in each year upon the completion of 120 months of employment. It also extends the advance notice which must be given in smaller plants in the event of a layoff.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Bounsall moved first reading of Bill 178, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.
Mr. Bounsall: The purpose of this bill is to establish in Ontario a system of equal pay for work of equal value, in order to ensure that the differentials and discrimination in pay on the basis of sex is ended.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON ORDER PAPER
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answer to question 135, the answer to question 136 and the interim answer to question 137 standing on the Notice Paper.
Hon. Mr. Welch: While I’m on my feet, I wonder if I could just clear up two or three housekeeping matters before we get into private members’ public business. On page 16 of the Order Paper there is some indication that the standing social development committee was to meet this afternoon. That is not now the case. That also leads me to the second announcement, that there will be some extra hours for the standing social development committee as it start’s consideration of the tenancy protection legislation; we’ll have a motion ready tomorrow.
Also, I would remind members that we have a full legislative program for this evening. I draw that to their attention because that’s not usual for Thursday evenings, but I hope that people realize that we are going back to legislation tonight at 8 o’clock.
Mr. Martel: There will be a division.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
ELECTORAL REGISTRATION SYSTEM
Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to seek support for a resolution which proposes the adoption of a new electoral registration system --
Mr. Speaker: Would the honourable member move the resolution and provide us with a seconder?
Mr. McCaffrey moved resolution 25:
That in the opinion of this House the government should consider the introduction of legislation to provide for the establishment in Ontario of a permanent voters’ list to be used in all provincial general elections and by-elections.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member has up to 20 minutes.
Mr. Haggerty: Bruce, do you need those lights on?
Mr. McCaffrey: No. Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to seek support for a resolution which proposes the adoption of a new electoral registration system, one that I feel --
Mr. Speaker: Order. If the camera technicians are not going to use their cameras perhaps we could have the lights brought down.
An hon. member: They’re not going to televise this debate?
Mr. McCaffrey: I certainly have always assumed that.
Mr. Martel: Bruce is standing in the spotlight. The spotlight is on Bruce.
Mr. McCaffrey: Ever. As I was saying, a system that I feel will be highly efficient in terms of both enumeration accuracy and costs and one that deserves very careful study as a serious alternative to our present system of listing voters.
My reasons for introducing such a resolution is simply that the present system, in my judgement, is not at all satisfactory. I share the frustration as a typical layman that others do, that in this computer age we can improve it immeasurably, we can simplify it, make it more accurate and that there is to be established here a significant tax saving.
I’d like to now thank Mr. David Stewart in our research department for his assistance in preparing some research for me on this and the very detailed work he did. I know he was assisted by a number of other people. At the outset, I would like to clarify some of the terms used in the resolution itself. Any system of voter registration may be classified as to the means by which the names of voters are gathered. Registration may be compulsory, voluntary or government initiated.
The method of voter listing that I am proposing is similar to others made to this House. Through the use of assessment roll it would utilize a combination of voluntary registration as well as local government initiated enumeration. Electoral lists can he classified further ns to the duration of time in which they are held to be accurate enough for use in elections.
The term “permanent voters’ list” is, in fact, a bit misleading. A permanent list implies that it does not take changes of voters into account and that it will, therefore, be constantly out of date. All electoral lists are continuous to some degree. They are either termed “open” -- that is, day-to-day updates are carried out -- or they are termed “closed,” meaning that once formulated the list does not alter and is used for all elections held in a specific period.
Both closed and open lists suffer disadvantages. Open lists are complex and require the expense of hiring extra election officials to handle ongoing revisions. Closed lists experience a rapid decrease in registration accuracy as the population migrates.
Three years ago a resolution which proposed instituting an enumeration system based on assessment rolls was dismissed. However, it embraced the only concept yet discovered that resolves the so-called irreconcilable conflict between electoral list economy and registration accuracy. The resolution then, like my own, was generated by two concerns.
First, it was felt by some members the initial voters’ lists gathered during the six-day enumeration period could not be fully complete. The time allotted was and is just too short to produce a high degree of accuracy, especially when names are gathered during those times of the year when many voters are away.
Second, and more important, it was pointed out that when an election at one level of government closely followed one at another level, there was so many repetitions of the enumeration process it was ludicrous to attempt to justify the large expenses involved.
I know in my own immediate community in my riding of Armourdale we went through, as all constituencies in the province did, an extensive enumeration in the spring of 1977. We recently had a federal by-election in my area and much of the old Eglinton federal boundary is included in the provincial riding of Armourdale. In all likelihood within a matter of a few months there will be a federal general election requiring another enumeration -- three within an unrealistically short period of time.
These problems are common to all of Canada, and the search for a registration system which will economize and maintain accuracy, has already been undertaken by a few of the provinces. Recently Quebec and Alberta, and PET before them, have adopted a method of gathering voters’ lists on a continual basis through the use of municipal assessment rolls.
My colleague, the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) will be speaking on some of the methods used in other jurisdictions this afternoon.
Mr. di Santo: Save us from him.
Mr. McCaffrey: This method of maintaining a continual electoral roll is not new, even to our own electoral office. In fact, if my knowledge is correct, municipal assessment lists are used already in provincial enumerations, as a means to cross-check the names appearing on the electoral roll.
A continual roll could be instituted as follows: Either the chief electoral officer or some central authority would set up polling subdivision boundaries consistent, or as consistent as possible, between municipal and provincial governments. Once these were established the annual assessment enumeration, modified slightly to include certain facts such as citizenship, would be sent to a central provincial computer bank. Ensuing annual enumerations would then serve as a tool to correct the list held there. Additions would be entered, and also deletions, after non-forwardable notices had been mailed out to those whom the enumerators could not locate through interviews or other information.
The need for a preliminary enumeration prior to each election would thus be eliminated and the initial electoral roll would be continuously available. The election enumeration periods themselves would be replaced in part by an increased, intensified and well-advertised revisionary period to update the rolls.
If time permits I’d like to expand on this idea of advertising a change if and when it is implemented. I think that is one method by which, through an act of this Legislature, one could even help to affect positively the voter turnout in municipal and provincial elections.
The system would not utilize a staff to maintain electoral list correction offices, since this would produce a considerable expense. Instead, the only implemented updates would be those which could be processed by the computer. The program could monitor birth/death registries, land transfer registries, changes of address through the post office and Bell Telephone and finally cards accepted from voluntary registrations mailed in throughout the year.
The annual enumeration itself would not generate a large expense. At present we enumerate every two years for municipal elections, and at least every four years for both provincial and federal elections. Not only does this average -- if you take the longest term of four years in the province and Ottawa -- one enumeration per year anyway, but assessment rolls are themselves compiled each September, thus bringing the average annual total to two enumerations. I contend that only one is necessary.
The advantages to the continuous roll system are several. I would like to outline them now. First, a continual roll, regardless of the degree to which it is updated, ensures that the names of concerned, stable citizens are not accidentally removed from the voters’ list due to a temporary absence. As I have said, it would also monitor changes of address and automatically register migrant voters who may not themselves do so. While not increasing significantly the voter turnout, it would certainly not suffer through the use of a continual roll.
Despite our population’s high mobility the annual assessment, even if it were 11 months old with the electoral revision, should be able to produce accuracy up to 95 per cent. Of the five per cent unregistered, some, having decided not to exercise the right to vote, will not in any case show up to the DRO to register. They would be registered, however, during the next assessment. The remainder of this five per cent will simply register when they show up to vote.
I realize I have accused the present registration system of committing errors of omission, and continual rolls bear the same fault, but I feel it’s important to make the distinction that the latter includes the names of all voters who have not moved. Present enumeration obviously does not do this, nor does it include the names of many who have changed their address.
In discussing the advantages of using a continual roll, I would like to point out that the workers of a candidate have always had a policing role in establishing voters’ lists. The work of the chief election officer has never in this province, been entirely independent, he has always relied on party workers to help check the accuracy of enumerated information. Given more time in which to check lists and to apply for revision, each party’s involvement in updating a continual roll would increase. Therefore, I think the registration process would be improved substantially.
There are further assurances to greater accuracy. Firstly, the lists now gathered on a short-term six-day basis would be updated each year over a six-week period. The result would be much more extensive and complete with the elimination of haste.
Secondly, I think the calibre of the canvassers themselves would improve a great deal. They would not be politically nominated nor would they be politically motivated. During the assessment period the call-back system could be extended and the enumeration card system improved so that a higher percentage of the eligible voters would appear on the list.
Finally, the use of continual electoral rolls would mean that those citizens who have not reached the age of majority would be recorded without appearing on the printed list. Once they attained voting age their names would automatically be transferred to the electoral roll.
However, the most significant advantage of continual rolls is I think the most obvious one, that is the tremendous cost-saving involved. To put the matter into perspective, the cost of undertaking the six-day initial enumeration for the last provincial election was $4,134,000. This includes the cost of training canvassers, but not that of printing the preliminary list, which in 1977 was $1,346,000.
If assessment were used instead of the initial canvass we would not be spending over $4 million prior to each election. In addition, the cost of obtaining the necessary copies of a continual roll stored in computers might only amount to $100,000. Even if it were twice that the saving would be well over $1 million; thus a total of $5 million could be saved at the outset.
I think it’s incumbent upon all of us, as members of the Legislature, to do what we can to avoid this kind of unnecessary expense for the taxpayers. Certain extra costs would of course occur with increasing the revisionary period proceeding elections, but this amount would not offset the savings I have mentioned; in fact they would be less than the computer printing charges.
There is yet another area of at least potential cost-saving.
As the period needed to enumerate is shortened there is really no reason why the election time couldn’t be reduced. Election advertising has been reduced to the 21-day period preceding poll day and our 37-day writ period is primarily necessitated by the cumbersome, almost medieval, task of registration. The saving of rental costs for office space and telephones alone would be quite substantial if the writ period were shortened to one month. While I’m not advocating this as the most desirable move, I don’t think that campaigning really gets under full steam until the preliminary voters lists have been printed.
I should mention here that if assessment rolls were used to maintain a continual voters’ list, that list would be available immediately upon the issue of an election writ. In PEI, for example, some voters have been known to receive, by mail, notice of their registration and designation of poll station the day after the calling of an election. Candidates and their campaigners have received copies of the electoral list with similar promptness.
The whole process is just that much more efficient. The point is that instead of spending a couple of weeks working as enumerators, campaigners could be canvassing for support and more important, could be spending some time in trying to communicate to the voters the background issues and the particular stance of their candidate. Surely that’s what this election time period is all about.
Beyond the advantages of cost-saving and accuracy, there are two others which I would like to mention. The first is that since continual rolls are produced so readily after the issue of an election writ, proxy procedures may be instituted almost immediately. Not only can they be extended, which is important in a population as mobile as ours, but they can be extended to a larger portion of the pre-registered electorate.
The second advantage is that continual rolls, if they are used in more than one level of government, will ultimately streamline the whole electoral process. I might just say as an aside here that I did not view this resolution as something to be done in isolation. I think it’s terribly important that we initiate the process here in this jurisdiction, but ultimately we are all going to benefit through significant savings if all levels of government in the country are so attuned to the technological age.
Alberta, for instance, is requiring that the gathering of municipal assessment lists be supervised by the province’s chief electoral officer. The central list will be formulated in such a way as to permit its use in both the provincial elections and those of the municipalities. Taken to its logical conclusion, the federal registration list would, in turn, be based on information obtained through provincial computers. The more levels of government use this system, as I say, then the greater the cost-saving to the taxpayers.
I realize that one of the objections raised in the past by critics of a centralized electoral roll is that such a list might violate an individual’s privacy. Those opposed to the system express the fear that certain provincial agencies or their local counterparts could find a list an easy checking tool for various types of investigation.
Civil liberties aside for a moment, the argument is that some people would avoid registering themselves so that authorities, such as the bailiff, would not be able to get their addresses. I submit, however, that this point has little substance. In the first place, an enumeration system based on assessment makes use of no information that is not now readily available. Secondly, assurances would be built into the system that would eliminate the possibility of central registries being distributed to government departments.
In Quebec and PET the biggest difficulty in terms of confidentiality has come from the business sector. Electoral officials must contend with large firms wishing copies of the list to facilitate their promotional mailing. In short, I think that a continuous electoral roll compatible with rights to privacy can be kept.
I am aware that only two other possible criticisms on the use of continual rolls can be raised. One is that these assessment rolls, while including owners of homes and buildings as well as tenants, do not record students and boarders. If I said that these people represent a very small percentage of the population -- or that they are the group with the poorest enumeration profile and the least likely to consistently vote, I would be missing the point. The simple alternative is to ensure that they are enumerated at the same time as those who are being recorded for assessment purposes. The expense and effort to do this is minimal.
The other criticism I’m aware of is simply that the lists are difficult to clean since voters who move out of an area are not immediately stricken from the list. This, however, is only a problem when a voter is not re-registered or enumerated prior to an election. The appearance of a voter’s name in a new district could not occur in a computerized system unless it were transferred from an old one, or unless the voter had changed citizenship or reached the age of majority.
In summary, the system of continual electoral listing has met with little substantial criticism in the three provinces where it is practised. It offers the advantages of maintaining enumeration accuracy while greatly reducing the costs incurred by repetition. Many of the electoral officers of other provinces endorse the concept. I feel that it would work well in this jurisdiction.
I would therefore, by way of concluding, propose that this House undertake a study of the feasibility of continual voters’ lists. Similar concepts have, I know, been studied before, but not the use of municipal assessment rolls per se. It’s high time we did so because the system is very efficient and very sound, and further because the present system is just not adequate enough.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I wish to inform the member that he has two minutes left. Does he wish to reserve that time?
Mr. McCaffrey: Thank you, I do.
Mr. B. Newman: I rise to speak on the resolution. I wish to commend the member for introducing this, but also to alert him to the fact that we have already looked into this problem and looked into it quite deeply. Back in 1968 the then Premier, the Honourable John Robarts, set up a select committee that studied the problem for some three years. Seven members of that committee are still members of this Legislature.
Their first conclusion, after studying the problem for one year was that it was not practical, it was not feasible and it was substantially more expensive. Mind you, at that time we did not have the assessment roles computerized to the extent we do today.
Mr. MacDonald: Who were the members on that committee?
Mr. B. Newman: The members on the committee were the member for Prescott and Russell (Mr. Belanger), the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson), the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Rollins), the member for Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith), the member for Yorkview (Mr. Young) and myself. To the best of my knowledge, the members have not changed their minds since they submitted their original report.
When the select committee was set up, we were very fortunate because at that time there happened to be a federal election going on in the United States. We took advantage of that federal election and some of us visited Erie county in the state of New York. Others went to Detroit, Lake Forest and Hamtramck in the state of Michigan. The report at that time suggested, after viewing everything and the procedures followed there, that the preparation of electoral rolls and voter registration as practiced in both those states would be both costly and less democratic than the system of enumeration now employed in the province of Ontario.
The previous speaker did make mention of the desirability of achieving a uniformity between the three levels of government that is the federal, provincial and municipal. We also looked into that situation and we found the qualifications for the voter differed in the three. For example, today a British subject can vote in the province of Ontario; but a British subject cannot vote federally, he must be a Canadian citizen.
There is also the problem of how to computerize that one piece of information. I know the following speaker may come along and say that’s a very simple procedure. The committee had the opportunity to study the electoral system overseas in Great Britain and offshore, not only in the United States but in Australia and New Zealand. The process by which electors cast and record their votes is absolutely fundamental to our system of democracy. There are striking differences between elections in a congressional system in the US and elections conducted under a parliamentary system.
Elections in the United States are on fixed dates, and as a result they can maintain voters’ lists quite readily. In spite of that, they are not as up to date as are the electoral lists prepared by our present system in the province of Ontario. We assume it is in the best interests of the electorate to see that everyone can be put on the voters list and can be put on within approximately two weeks before the election date. Under the US system, the election on the same day provides for the election of presidents, vice president at large, governors, lieutenant governors, state senators, national senators, as well as various state and municipal officers. As a result, there is a greater interest. They have one election day only so they can come along and have lists, whereas we could have elections at three different times during the course of a year.
In studying the preparation of an electoral register we visited Britain, and there, it starts right the first day of October. Electoral registration officers are required to mail to each occupier of a household a form that is to be filled out showing the names of the eligible electors within that household. That form then must be returned to the electoral registration officer. That is how they make up their permanent list.
In practice, the number of occupiers who return the form on time, or with sufficient accuracy, has been found to be unsatisfactory. The law imposes on electoral registration officers the duty of making a sufficient inquiry. Thus in almost all areas the electoral registration officer has to dispatch canvassers and paid enumerators to every household; which is just what we do prior to the election. So they are repeating the process; they have the permanent electoral list but then they do the enumerating exactly the same as we do.
They do that annually, so you can see the tremendous additional cost involved there. The electoral officer and his staff prepare the voters’ list during the period between November 28 and December 16 annually. It is only during this period an elector can have his name added to the list, or changed in case of a change of address. He cannot have it changed during any other time but during that 18-day period. If he doesn’t have it changed at that time he is disenfranchised for one whole year. Under our system, two weeks before the election he can still have his name added to a voters’ list.
In Great Britain they find their system of electoral registration is 96 per cent accurate when they first make the voters’ list. However, even though the numbers and the frequency with which people move from one area to the other is substantially smaller than ours, they find the list very quickly becomes inaccurate. People have a tendency not to update their address. In fact, they can’t update it in some instances because when they move they only have that period in November/December when they can have their names added to the voters’ list.
One of the advantages in Great Britain is that within 21 days after the voters’ list is brought up to date the election can be called, so there is only a 21-day waiting period; with us it is approximately 37 days.
Australia has a different system under compulsory voting. Because it is compulsory voting, everyone sees they are on a voters’ list; if they don’t vote there is a monetary penalty. That penalty is at the discretion of the chief electoral officer who can say “You didn’t vote the last time. Why didn’t you vote?” If the person can’t give a satisfactory answer, then he is taken off the voters’ list.
We also saw a municipal election in Australia when we were there. In the municipal election it is not compulsory to vote. As a result, in the municipal election, even though they use a voter registration system, there was only a 30 per cent turnout in the city of Sydney at the time we happened to be there.
I have a substantial amount of information concerning the procedures used in various jurisdictions. I originally was of the same opinion as the member who introduced this resolution, that we should have a permanent voters’ list. But our all-party committee concluded it was more economical to have it the way it is now. It is more up to date; it is far more accurate; you can be put on the voters’ list almost at the last minute; and it is easier to get yourself on the voters’ list under our system than any other system we had the opportunity of viewing.
Mr. di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution of the member for Armourdale because I think what he is proposing responds to two requisites: It would create a mechanism that would allow the citizens of the province to have the right to exercise their vote by way of being on a permanent voters list; and secondly, this system is, in my opinion, more respondent to the needs of the citizens of the province of Ontario. In fact, if we look at the present system, we see that there are many problems the member for Windsor-Walkerville didn’t talk about.
Even though this resolution addresses itself only to the provincial and federal elections, we know we have had cases, as in ward six in Toronto in the previous municipal election, where 30 per cent of the voters were left off the list. That is a real infringement of the rights of the citizens to exercise a basic right in our society, the right to vote.
There are remedies, of course. There is a possibility that a citizen’s name can be put on the voters’ list even if it is left off of the list when the enumerators go around. The problem is that by having enumeration at this time we put the burden on the citizens to cheek whether their names are on the voters’ list so they can exercise their franchise on election day.
Not only that, but there are also minor problems which perhaps relate to individual enumerators. In the last municipal election we had examples where exactly the same lists were used as were used two years earlier, with the names of people who had moved and were no longer residing at those addresses. Therefore, the suspicion in that case was that perhaps the enumerators had not exactly done the job they were required to do.
There is another aspect as it relates to municipal elections. As I said before, this is not the purpose of this resolution, but I think there should be only one list, despite the fact that the qualifications to vote are different, whether the citizens vote at the provincial level or at the municipal level and whether they are British subjects or Canadian citizens. We know that in municipal elections the names of people are on the voters’ lists in different municipalities if they own property. I don’t think that corresponds to one of the basic rights and duties of citizens, that every citizen in the province of Ontario -- and, as a matter of fact, in Canada -- should have the right to one vote. In this case, we have people who have the right to vote at different times and who therefore have more weight than other citizens.
The problem of enumeration goes back to the times in Canada when the population was extremely mobile but the towns were very small. It was very easy to identify the people who had the right to vote, and it was therefore very easy to compile a voters’ list.
I submit that this is a problem that exists in other countries. If we look at the European Economic Community, there are millions of people who are moving continuously from one country to another. In Italy alone, in the last 15 years, there were seven million people moving from the south to the north of the country. In those countries, there are permanent voters’ lists. I think that works very well, because it gives to the citizens the certainty that they can exercise their right to vote.
The problem that has been raised by the proponent of the resolution and by the member for Windsor-Walkerville is the economic cost of having a permanent voters’ list. I would submit that if we are in a situation like this when we have by-elections, municipal elections, a federal election, and possibly in a minority government situation a provincial election, the cost of enumeration is just immense. The amount of money and energy spent is just unbearable for the province, and for the municipalities as a matter of fact.
We have to create a mechanism, and the member for Armourdale proposed that this House devote some time to study what kind of mechanism is necessary, to keep the permanent lists updated. There are several ways of doing that, either by voluntary registration or by requiring that the citizens who move from one place to another be required to declare their new address so that they can be automatically put on the new voters’ list; and through assessment of course, because every year when the citizens receive their assessment notices they can automatically be included in the voters’ list. I don’t see how the cost would increase. Actually, I think we are going to save money.
There are many countries in Europe where they have permanent voters’ lists; and recently in Canada, in some provinces like Prince Edward Island and Alberta and, of course, Quebec, they have established a permanent voters’ list. We think the system works and works better than in Ontario.
The objection that in Ontario we have different elections while in the United States there is an election for every level of government from municipal to state and federal government, judges and everything, doesn’t change the nature of the problem that we have, because the lists can be kept at one level of government. Usually in Europe they are kept by the municipality, but they are used for any kind of election, whether provincial, federal or municipal, and they can be used at any time.
I would like to give my colleagues a chance to speak on this resolution, but I want to wind up by saying that I support the resolution; I hope this House will support it and then give us a chance to study the problem and come up with permanent voters’ lists. Thank you.
Mr. Williams: I think the government of Ontario has a creditable record as far as keeping pace with the electoral process.
Mr. Haggerty: He means he is going to support you, Bruce.
Mr. Williams: The government has over the years continued to amend existing legislation dealing with the election process and in so doing has basically kept pace with the changes that have occurred to better improve the democratic process.
Mr. Conway: Vote early and vote often.
Mr. Williams: Notwithstanding those successes, I think however that this government has recognized in fact, the Premier (Mr. Davis) has indicated in responding to questions in this House and on other occasions -- that indeed there is still room for further improvement in the system.
Not too long ago, following the most recent provincial election, when the Premier was questioned on this matter in the House he, indeed, did indicate that he was contemplating the possibility of further amendments to the Election Act. I suggest that one of those considerations undoubtedly will be the contemplation of the desirability at this point in time of implementing the use of voters lists and providing facilities for permanent -- I use that term in quotes -- “permanent” voter registration facilities.
I listened with interest to the comments by the member for Windsor-Walkerville. He reminded this House that 10 years ago a special committee, that received a great deal of publicity at the time as I recall, went about the world looking at the different systems to satisfy itself whether or not there was a better way of conducting the election process as far as enumeration of qualified voters was concerned. In commenting on the findings of that committee, however, the member has put his finger on the reason for taking a new and fresh look at the situation.
The member did point out that it was a decade ago when we last looked at this situation in depth. A lot has happened in 10 years. He acknowledged in his comments that two very significant things have occurred. Firstly we have now moved into the computer age in a very substantive way; and secondly of course, since that time the province of Ontario has assumed the responsibility for preparation of assessment rolls. Those two changes alone during that 10 year period, I would suggest, justify this government taking a new fresh look at the advisability and greater advantages of going to permanent voter lists.
The member did draw the basic differences between the congressional system that exists to the south of our border as contrasted to our parliamentary system. There is no question there are basic differences. The US system, of course, has the predetermined voting day so all electors know, and all political parties know, when the next election is coming.
Mr. Haggerty: We have that by osmosis.
Mr. Williams: Perhaps this should come to this country. It might improve upon the system. Because it doesn’t exist here, it is one of the hurdles that has to be overcome in establishing a permanent voters’ list, particularly if there is to be an ongoing updating of that list and the open type of program as suggested by the sponsor of the resolution. However, I don’t see these as being insurmountable problems and differences by which such a system could not be equally well applied in this province.
I would suggest, it has been demonstrated there is a viable mechanism, as elaborated upon by the member for Armourdale. I think he has clearly demonstrated in his observations that because of the high degree of computerization that now exists within the public and private sector, it’s far more attainable to have efficient, up-to-date lists that can be prepared in an economical fashion. The programming of existing computer lists that hold the assessment roll information could very easily be reprogrammed to accommodate the necessary information that would be relevant to an election process.
The other speakers have referred to other jurisdictions and given us some comparisons, some advantages and disadvantages based on those other jurisdictions and what their experiences have been. Reference has been made to the system that operates in the United Kingdom. Of course, we know they have a form of closed list whereby after a specific date, which I believe is in February of each year, the list is dosed for a 12-month period and no one who has not had their name placed on that list would be eligible to vote at an election during the next 12-month period immediately following that date. I believe that situation prevails also in France. There is no question that to that extent some people could be unfairly disenfranchised because they came in a day late or were not discovered as being eligible until a very short time after the close-off date.
There is the system that exists in Australia which is even more extreme, as elaborated upon to some extent by the member. Of course that is a compulsory system, and because of that it is perhaps one of the most sophisticated systems. It has to ensure that each and every citizen is contacted and given full opportunity to register with the understanding that there would be punitive measures applied in the form of fines if they did not do so. The results of the election that was held federally in Australia a decade ago indicated that the cost of conducting an election, using the voters’ lists as they have them, worked out to about 45 cents per voter. Translating that into current-day inflationary prices, perhaps it would now be $1 or $1.25, which I still think is an economical consideration.
The system I personally prefer, notwithstanding some of the deficiencies that have been recognized and talked about, is the US system, which is the volitional system of registration. In other words, it is up to the individual. If a person really feels strongly enough about exercising one of the most precious individual rights of a person living in a free society, then surely that person will not feel that put out to have to go to a central registry to register his name in order to vote at the next election.
We know and understand that some of the difficulties in the US system result from the fact that there are some variations among the various states. The program is intact in 49 of the 50 states. The system basically does work well. While it has been stated statistically that perhaps as many as 25 per cent of the American people who might otherwise be qualified do not register, and thereby disenfranchise themselves through their own personal default, what hasn’t been demonstrated statistically is the fact that those who have made that effort indeed represent a very high voter turnout.
I think that makes up for the other statistic that tends to work against the system. I think it has been demonstrated that the voter turnout in US elections is somewhat higher than that which we experience here. We have just gone through a municipal election which again had an appalling turnout at the polls percentage-wise. I believe in Metro Toronto it was something like 35 per cent. I suggest it is a disgrace; that so few people would take the time to exercise that right.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Williams: In concluding, I can only say that the resolution before us does deserve consideration. It is 10 years later, a lot has happened in the interim, and the subject warrants another look. For that reason, I support the resolution before us today.
Mr. Blundy: I am very happy to speak on this resolution before the House. I would like to congratulate the member for Armourdale for bringing it forth because I think it is important that from time to time we do talk about these things.
We have had many good viewpoints put before us by the previous speakers. They have been based on past experience and past reports and studios that have been made. I’m basing my remarks on this resolution more on the basis of experiences that have taken place over the past years.
I believe the whole purpose of enumeration, or the voters’ list, is to get as many people out to vote as possible; that is the main aim. I would like to show in my following remarks that perhaps the present system we have, while it can be improved, is doing more toward getting people to go and vote, and that’s the name of the game.
I want to give you a little anecdote about a candidate in the recent municipal election in my city of Sarnia. He came forth and volunteered to run for an aldermanic post. His name was put in nomination and of course the clerk sent the nomination list to the printers. After it had gone to the printers it was found that this man, for personal reasons, could not and did not want to run and be elected to council. This man took an ad in the paper, and he got up at public meetings and said, “Don’t vote for Pat Lauzon. I do not want to be a member of the council. My situation has changed.” The man came within 2,000 votes of being elected.
Mr. Mackenzie: That’s because the others opposing him were Conservatives.
Mr. Blundy: He got that many votes. Many of us in the municipal scene that night were wondering about what kind of tack to take trying to get elected. There was a man who publicly advertised and got on platforms and said that he could not serve, he did not want to be elected, and he nearly was.
I believe we are living in a society that is very mobile. Statistics will show that in years gone by a family lived in the same home for a full generation, and perhaps a generation or two. But that is not the case now, in our urban areas particularly. We are very mobile, and I don’t believe that a permanent voters’ list would be able to keep up to that.
I would like to mention the voluntary registrations that some members have referred to. This is just the sort of thing we want to avoid. Here in this House we are all interested politically and politically motivated. No matter what the level of election being held, we would make sure we were on the voters’ list by whatever means it was gathered. But it is all those people who are not politically motivated, and who are going to have to express their view of the candidates and what they are offering, that we have to look at. I say that there is no way a voluntary system could work.
Getting back to the permanent voters’ list, a couple of years ago there was an article in the clerks and treasurers magazine breaking down voters’ lists and the effectiveness of the voters’ list as it was done then. That article showed that the clerks reported that a municipal voters’ list in an urban area was at least 10 per cent out in one year. Over a two-year period, it was in the order of 20 per cent out on the present municipal list. This same thing applies in any one of the three levels of government.
When I started out I said the thing is that we’ve got to interest the voters in the election. The present enumeration system is just one more way that the ordinary voter is approached and it is brought to him once more that an election is coming up. It is another way of informing the voters of the pending election, and hopefully interesting them in going out to vote.
Another point I would like to make concerns the present system, where we have enumerators going out prior to an election and compiling a voters’ list. Traditionally, these people have been political people. They have been appointed by people from the various parties and therefore are interested. They go out and they work diligently to produce the best list of voters possible. They want to get them all on. Even though they might come to a home in which the people didn’t share the same political philosophies, they would still enumerate them, thank goodness.
The period of office in the provincial Legislature is not a fixed period. If we had a fixed period of office, although I’m not advocating that, it would be more feasible to have a permanent voters’ list. It would be more easily done and probably more successfully done. But the flexible time of office enjoyed by a Legislature is not conducive to a fixed voters’ list.
I will close by saying I believe the Committee that has studied this, as has been reported by the member for Windsor-Walkerville in some depth, has shown that at that time they did not think it was a better system than the one we have now.
I have been in politics for some time and I believe the current system of enumeration and getting a voters’ list compiled immediately before an election has the possibility of bringing the notice of the election to the people and creating an enthusiasm for the election, perhaps bringing a greater crowd to the polls on election day; and that is the name of the game. I feel we ought to vote against the resolution presented here today by the member for Armourdale.
Mr. MacDonald: The resolution states that the government should consider the introduction of legislation. I’ve no objection to the government considering anything, anytime, but I’m sure if they examine the evidence carefully, they’ll come to a negative conclusion. Therefore, I’m not in favour of this motion.
The member for Windsor-Walkerville reminded us that 10 years ago a select committee, representatives of all parties, studied this matter carefully and came to the unanimous conclusion that a permanent voters’ list was not good.
As a matter of fact, my interest in this topic goes back not just 10 years but 25 years. Back about 1950, when I was engaged in politics at the federal level, all the parties -- including the chief electoral office of Canada -- looked carefully into the proposition of a permanent electoral list. They came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a better system. While it has the appearance of being tidier and having everybody on the list, it simply doesn’t work out that way.
For example, it was pointed out that in some jurisdictions, if they had an updating of the list every six months or every year, if the election perchance was called near the end of that period, if it was called in the 10th or the 11th month, a very significant percentage of that list would be wrong. People had died, people had moved and so on; you can’t guarantee that you’re going to have an up-to-date list.
We have this incredible mobility of people. In my constituency I have one area, at the corner of Jane and Woolner, where there’s a nest of some six or eight high-rise apartments. Some 4,000 or 5,000 or more people live there, and I’m told that in some of those apartment buildings between elections, normally falling every four years, there is theoretically a total change in the population within that building. A few may be there from election to election, but indeed in some apartments they change every six months. So you’ve got this great mobility that is going on. A permanent electoral list, while having the illusion of availing itself of all of modern technology and computerization and everything, simply does not keep up with all of this mobility.
On November 13, in the Globe and Mail, there was an article by Karl Jaffray who had considerable experience in elections before he decided to retire to the quiet of normal life. He had an article on a permanent voters’ list and he was calling for a permanent voters’ list. He had his approach to it; and I think this is another kind of approach, somewhat different though generally the same as that of the sponsor of the resolution. To quote from his article:
“The provincial Legislature could pass an act requiring municipal clerks to keep voters’ lists up to date and providing for the use of such lists in both municipal and provincial elections. The federal parliament could provide for using the same lists in federal elections. Boundaries need present no problem, if all lists are kept on the basis of census tracts.”
A little later he points out: “The system I am proposing could and should have an annual enumeration as well. However, that enumeration would be a tool to correct the list and not the basis for making it. Persons whom the enumerator found could be added. Persons whom the enumerator did not find would still not be removed without being mailed a written notice, and enumerators would be clearly instructed that they could rely on information other than an interview.”
In other words, he’s anticipating a permanent list drawn up at the municipal level, but he anticipates that there would be an annual enumeration and if perchance the enumerators found that somebody was on the list and they couldn’t check it they would have to mail it to him. This is all very complicated.
I haven’t examined recently the costs that the member suggests would result in a very great saving, but from my observation there is not going to be any very great saving. In fact, the conclusion that the sponsor of the bill comes to, that this has proven satisfactory in other jurisdictions, leaves me somewhat mystified and puzzled, because obviously we talked to different people.
I talked to people who have been exposed to the permanent voters’ list, for example in British Columbia, and their conclusion is anything but a favourable one. I tend to come to the conclusion that the honourable member who has just taken his seat comes to; namely, that while I concede the enumeration system that we now use has defects in it, that it doesn’t prove to be as efficient as it should be, names are left off and so on, that if the effort that is now being proposed for a permanent voters’ list was more sharply focused in improving the efficiency of the existing system, of getting people who are better trained, of having permanent returning officers who knew how to handle the situation -- a few years ago in my constituency, for example, they didn’t get the returning officer in the riding appointed until the day after the writs were issued. Why? Because the Tory riding association was in a deadlock as to who to nominate to be appointed.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s typical.
Mr. MacDonald: They say it’s typical. I am told we now go to a permanent list and I’m sure they don’t get those nominees from the local Tory riding association, or maybe they do; but that kind of a situation where you throw somebody into the breach the day after the writ is issued, when 48 or 72 hours later he’s got to have the machinery set up, of course, is the height of absurdity.
Indeed, in some instances they’re dear old ladies. And some of those old ladies, or sometimes men, who always get in for the enumeration process because they happen to be on the patronage list of the government party -- which in Ontario, even if it runs third, has the right to make the appointment -- aren’t efficient. They can’t even walk up the stairs in some instances, and so the law is violated because it’s done by their partner.
All I’m saying, Mr. Speaker, is that if we had it more efficiently handled and if we focused our attention on improving that efficiency and getting trained people, and they go out and they get an enumeration list X number of days in advance of the election, and the courts of revision are open until two weeks before the election, I think that provides you with an opportunity to have the most up-to-date list.
I agree with the member who just sat down, who used to be mayor of Sarnia and knows something about elections, that this whole process generates enthusiasm and interest in the election. At least the people are going to find when they are being enumerated that an election has been called and are not going to learn, as one sometimes discovers, that there is an election only in the last week before the polling is to take place.
The present system has many defects. It is not efficient and is sometimes exasperating. Indeed, its major exasperation is that it takes a little time for each of the candidates to be able to get even the carbon copy of the list to know who the voters are. But at least it has the prospect of generating enthusiasm and getting everybody as much as possible on to the list so that they can vote in that election. Therefore, while I don’t object to this government considering anything, I think they would be wasting their time. I would not be in favour of the motion.
Mr. Mancini: I rise to speak to ballot item 37 introduced by the member for Armourdale. I support the member’s resolution. I usually can understand many of the arguments which are put forward by the farmer from Yonge Street but this afternoon I really haven’t been able to understand any of them whatsoever.
I think that our archaic method of setting up a voters’ list, through a system which sends two individuals door to door, hopefully trying to get everyone’s name and address, and everyone who lives in that particular residence on the voters’ list, has outlived its usefulness. I believe it is time now to get a permanent voters’ list. I believe it is time to give some of the responsibility of a person having his name on the voters list, if he or she happens to move, to that individual. I don’t think that is too much to ask of a person who wishes to partake in our electoral process.
I don’t think that having people go door to door a few weeks before an election encourages a bigger voter turnout. Surely we can see that by the results of the voter turnouts that we got in the last few elections, 60 or 65 per cent. I don’t agree at all that having this type of method that we use today informs people that we have an election. My goodness, the amount of brochures that political candidates send out informs people that we are having elections, along with the amount of press, and free radio and TV time that the political parties receive. I don’t buy that as any kind of an argument at all. The people are surely aware that an election is on after it is called.
I realize I have only one minute left. A good example of sell-voter registration is given to us south of the border. In the United States people must register themselves for every election. We are not going to ask the public of Ontario to register themselves for every election. We are going to tell them, “We are going to put your name on the list and you are going to be permanently put on that list. If you happen to move, please find out how to put your name on the new list.” In that way, the person who has moved will automatically know whose constituency he is in and what his electoral district is called.
I think the member for Armourdale should be supported. His resolution has come of age and I am glad to support him.
Mr. McCaffrey: I want to thank the members for Essex South, Oriole and Downsview who spoke in favour of the resolution. I am just a little bit distressed that two long-standing members of the Legislature, the members for York South and Windsor-Walkerville, both acknowledged that there is room for significant improvement in the present system and yet seemed to balk at any kind of a fundamental change.
The member for York South doesn’t believe that a new system, as I have outlined, would save any money. I can only repeat the numbers that I mentioned earlier -- something in the order of $5 million -- they do appear to me to be a very significant tax saving.
Mr. Mackenzie: Speculation.
Mr. McCaffrey: That’s right. There may be some speculation built into that; none the less, I think the saving is a significant one.
I was not aware of the fact -- and the member for Windsor-Walkerville mentioned it -- of the select committee that travelled around 10 years ago. It is mind-bending to think that a committee travelled to the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia in 1968 to look into this and ruled against it.
The member for Oriole and others have made the point that much has happened in the last decade; there have been very fundamental changes, not the least of which has been improvement in the computer and technological areas. I am confident the system I propose would save money, notwithstanding the finding of 10 years ago.
The status quo seems to all of us to be unsatisfactory. Short of a fundamental change like this, I can’t think of another way of improving it. I repeat that I am not looking in isolation at a continual voters’ list in the province of Ontario. I mentioned at the outset that I think ultimately it should be a national area of responsibility, and I think the onus is on us to make this system cheaper and more effective for the voters. I think such a fundamental change would do that.
Mr. Speaker: The time has expired for this ballot item.
TORONTO ISLAND HOMES
Mr. Conway moved resolution 27:
That in the opinion of this House the residential portions of Ward’s and Algonquin islands now occupied by the Toronto Island homes be transferred back to the city of Toronto in order that the island residents be saved from eviction, and that this be done by amending the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act to that effect.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset that I appreciate the opportunity of the private members’ hour this afternoon to debate a matter which I think is of topical and timely interest in this city at this time.
We are dealing here with a matter that gravely affects the lives and the futures of some 750 Ontarians, who at the very worst face the demolition of homes in which many of them have lived for a very long time; and who at the very least face the continuation of a wretched uncertainty, which I for one do not like to see any citizen in this province face as they have faced it for these past number of years.
I want to say as well that it is timely because we have had in this province this week, and indeed in this city, the conclusion of municipal election campaigns. In the city of Toronto there was a vigorous campaign in which the island matter was one in which there was a great deal of interest. The opinions of the new mayor, and indeed of his two opponents, were brought forward; and I think we know where the new mayor stands on this particular issue.
It is timely as well because, before coming into the House this afternoon, I read a story under the pen of Mr. David Miller in the Toronto Star which indicates, and I quote: “Premier William Davis ... will announce a ‘freeze’ on the demolition of the 250 homes on Ward’s and Algonquin islands,” in the very near future.
I want to say that the resolution I have chosen to move ahead with is one which speaks generally to the island community, and it offers one specific alternative to the very unhappy situation in which the island residents find themselves. I simply want to indicate that the resolution calls for the transfer of the residential portions of Ward’s and Algonquin islands -- and we are talking here about something less than 30 acres, a very small percentage of the overall island land mass -- back to the city of Toronto from Metropolitan Toronto.
You will be aware, Mr. Speaker, that this land was given or awarded to the Metropolitan government in 1956. I want to make reference to the fact that I certainly gave this matter a considerable degree of thought, because a number of alternatives are offered in this respect.
I want to draw to your attention this afternoon’s story in the Toronto Star. It indicates informed sources in the government indicate three alternatives are being considered in the effort to save the island residential community.
The first of these is that a study of the waterfront will be undertaken, in which case presumably, a stay of execution will be afforded. A second alternative spoken of is the creation of a new provincial park. Thirdly, according to Mr. David Miller’s article, there is the matter of ceding the residential part of the island back to the city of Toronto.
I want to say I feel very strongly that the best, and really the only alternative to protect this community, a community which I firmly believe deserves protection, is the third one in that list. It is the one which I have chosen to offer in my resolution.
As someone who obviously does not reside on a full-time basis in the city of Toronto, I want to make an observation about this community, one which I think all members of this assembly have from time to time recorded. That is Toronto is indeed one of the truly great cities of North America --
Mr. Samis: Other than Renfrew.
Mr. Conway: -- a continent in which major urban communities have undergone, I think very unhappily, serious decay. This is one city of which I, as an Ontarian, am very proud. It is a civilized urban community. I think it is all the more civilized because, certainly in the past number of years, it has through its municipal government particularly, appreciated, as many other jurisdictions have not, the value and the importance of neighbourhoods. I think the greatness of Toronto, the greatness of this community, is its understanding and its appreciation of neighbourhoods and neighbourhood communities.
I want to suggest, as I think the events of the recent past have clearly indicated, there is not anywhere in this city a community of greater togetherness, of greater effect and of greater understanding than the island community. The fight those people have waged in defence of their case, in defence of those homes and their residential situation, is one which I think is truly an example to any group that might find itself so threatened.
I want to say as well that there are many who say the islanders should be evicted since they have known, many of them, and perhaps all of them, that their existence in a residential setting on Ward’s and Algonquin islands was at best contingent upon the requirement for additional parkland. As far back as 1956 it was understood this would be a requirement in the future. All of us understand park planning has certainly changed a great deal in the recent past. The new idea, the new approach to recreation and park planning, is now to have local or more neighbourhood parks. The idea of one great park on the islands I don’t think is as prevalent as it was some years ago.
I must ask those who would have us believe that 30 acres is required in the here and now to deal with the additional and obvious burdens of recreational requirements where is the need? Despite what some might believe, I have gone to the islands in the summertime and I have not seen -- nor have the islanders, nor have many of the people in this city and elsewhere who go there to enjoy its unique recreational offerings by and large in the summer season -- we have not observed such densities and such pressures as to make us believe that the land must now be ceded in its entirety to the purpose of parkland. Let us assume for the moment there might indeed be a need for that. I don’t think that can be proven, but I want to invoke several studies which are apparently in the hands -- in fact I know them to be in the hands of city of Toronto planners -- which suggest this land is not required, the island is not under great pressure and what is available there now in terms of its park capacity is quite adequate.
But is there money and are there plans for the conversion of those acres presently assigned to residential purposes? My understanding is that there is no such plan and certainly no revenues for such a plan are available, nor are they likely to be available in the foreseeable future.
The islands contain 250 residential units that provide homes for some 750-odd citizens. Many of those residential units are of the family kind. It is clear from the city planners in the housing field in Toronto those are the very units of which there is a shortage at the present time. That is something we should clearly keep in mind at this time.
There are those, Mr. Speaker, who would have you believe and have others believe that this is a privileged class of squatters who enjoy rights you and I do not enjoy. That I think is one of the most unacceptable, one of the most untenable arguments I have heard.
I want to say very clearly I have no problem at all in the notion and in the philosophical commitment to keeping a balance forever on that island. I don’t think the public interest can and will be better served than by allowing a residential community to continue its existence, as it has in the past.
I want to say to those people who point their finger at the special privileges -- so-called; it may indeed be a special privilege during the four or five months of the summer season, but as late as yesterday morning I had the privilege of spending three hours on Ward’s and Algonquin islands. I didn’t feel, with the cold icy blasts of Lake Ontario piercing my very being, there was any special privilege to enduring what those islanders have to endure for the eight or nine months when the summer sun is not beating down upon them.
Mr. Kennedy: Don’t get carried away.
Mr. Wildman: Pembroke is an island of sanity in the Ottawa Valley.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It gets colder in Renfrew.
Mr. Conway: But I think all those points are ones which all honourable members in this chamber will quickly agree to.
I want to conclude my initial remarks, saving some time for a concluding statement, by making the point of a more general nature, and that is as a politician.
I see a group of people who are small in number, who are bothering no one, who are living a very quiet and peaceful existence, being threatened in a very real and immediate way by big government -- in this case big regional government. No case is being made against them. There is not an islander to whom I have talked, and I have talked to several, who would not be prepared to move in the face of an imperative, recreational or otherwise. But like reasonable people in, hopefully, a reasonably democratic society, those people expect their government to make the case.
These people are facing eviction and demolition of their homes in the absence of a clear and supportable case. I think the very least we can offer in this kind of democratic society, is a clear and reasonable case before we throw 750 people out of homes they have, in many cases, long occupied.
I want to reiterate, in my mind there is absolutely no case for their being removed at this time or, quite frankly, in the future. That is the reason and the purpose for the resolution offered by myself here this afternoon and one I strongly encourage all members to join in support of.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member has up to eight minutes for a windup if he chooses to use it.
Mr. Warner: I welcome the opportunity to speak on a matter which I have been familiar with all my life, having been born and raised in the city of Toronto.
Mr. Epp: Fifty years.
Mr. Wildman: You mean you are not from Pembroke?
Mr. Warner: I am not from Pembroke. I appreciate the concern which the member for Renfrew North has shown about a spot which is quite precious to people in Toronto.
The Speaker may know there has been a mix of housing and recreation on the islands for quite a few years. Going back to very early days when they had a horse jumping off a diving board at Hanlan’s Point, there was housing at that time at the other end of the 27 islands in Ward’s and Algonquin islands. The residents were always able to live there in peace and tranquillity, enjoying a very pleasant setting, able to cross the water by ferry boat to their places of work in the city of Toronto, not interfering with anyone’s happiness or enjoyment of the remainder of the islands.
The city of Toronto was always able to handle the situation, able to supply services. They were able to supply the police and fire protection. The lighthouse was operative at one time. The beaches were developed and patrolled. The island functioned as a community, had a church, a recreation centre, put on plays in the summertime, some of which my children were able to enjoy, and all in all provided a very pleasant, attractive setting and a very nice place for people to live and grow and enjoy life.
Then, onto the scene came the very large and powerful Metro Toronto government with a sudden desire for parkland. Yes, we need parkland. There are parts of Scarborough which are deficient in parkland, particularly in the south part of the township. In the older, settled and working class area of Scarborough we are short of parkland. At the same time, the Metro Toronto and Region Conservation Authority began reclaiming land along the shoreline all the way from the Pickering town line of the Rouge Valley through to the Credit River, creating some recreational spots such as Bluffer’s Park in Scarborough where boats can he launched and where there are beach facilities and people can have barbecue facilities and so on, so the Metro Toronto conservation authority has been active along the shoreline.
The parks commissioner, Tommy Thompson, and others have developed a park system in Toronto which is absolutely first rate. They have been going about that over the last few years, so the need for the parkland on the islands has diminished, actually. Now, of course, the people in the city of Toronto wish to reclaim what was once theirs, and that is control over those islands, so they can guarantee a mix of housing and recreation, a mix of parkland along with the residents. It is a perfectly reasonable suggestion and, Mr. Speaker, what bothers me greatly is that is has taken a private member’s bill which may be blocked by the government, who knows; which may never see the light of day; which may never result in the legislation, because the government, although it has been faced with this problem for some time, has not bothered to solve it.
The government very easily could have amended the Metro Toronto act. It was asked to do so on several occasions and for reasons which escape me they chose not to comply with the wishes of the people of the city of Toronto. They chose not to protect the homes of those people who are living on the Toronto Islands and so we are forced to try and bring the matter to the attention of the government.
I don’t know what it is that the newly appointed minister is going to do. It’s reported in today’s Toronto Star that he’s going to show some leadership on the issue. We are not sure exactly what it is or when he’s going to do it, because according to the paper he was to do that at two o’clock today but we haven’t seen any activity.
I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that the government is responsible enough to explain the comments that appeared in today’s Toronto Star; to explain clearly for the first time what its position is on the issue of Toronto Island homes. I hope to make a commitment to save those homes. If the government is going to block this bill or if it is going to ensure that this bill will never be dealt with and will never come into law, it should have the decency to do something about the problem and stop badgering those citizens on the Toronto Islands.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this debate. I am one who has had a long and personal involvement in the Toronto Island issue, having served as a member of one of the constituent boroughs of Metropolitan Toronto and also having had the privilege to serve as a member en the Metropolitan Toronto council. I have involved myself very personally and directly in this longstanding dispute.
I am opposed to the resolution we have before us today.
Mr. Warner: Shame.
Mr. Williams: I recognize that probably I will be the only member speaking today who will be in opposition, but I oppose it for a very important fundamental reason.
Mr. Foulds: What a negative person you are.
Mr. Warner: Why don’t you resign?
Mr. Foulds: You will be in opposition soon enough.
Mr. Williams: If there happened to be a resolution before us whereby Metro Toronto were asking that we pass legislation to remove the impasse and ensure that the dwellings be removed from the islands I would equally oppose that type of legislation. I would oppose both types of legislation or proposals simply because there is a more fundamental principle involved here than this particular issue.
The issue before us is simply illustrative of the fundamental principle that I very strongly believe in; namely, that provincial government should not interfere in local governmental affairs.
I believe that the leaders of the opposition parties have themselves expressed this on many occasions. I note that the former Leader of the Opposition made it a fundamental plank in his platform when we had suggested there should be complete development of the plans for the province but municipalities should be left the power to determine and implement specific land use plans within the overall plan.
I know that recently the present Leader of the Opposition has also indicated that there should never be government interference at the provincial level in local planning matters unless local governments request provincial aid.
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s what the city would like.
Mr. Williams: This has basically been the position, too, of the third party.
What I find adds insult to the injury of this unwarranted intrusion, as I see it, by provincial government into Metro Toronto local government affairs is the direction from which this intrusion comes. This action by the Ottawa Valley member is just as inappropriate, I would suggest, as mine would be as an MPP from Metro Toronto if I proposed that the government enact legislation withdrawing the tight of the town of Pembroke to develop an industrial site in their area because of the pleas of, say, a group of environmentalists in the area wishing to preserve the undeveloped land as open space.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s about as narrow a view as you can have.
Mr. Warner: That is a pretty narrow view.
Mr. Williams: I would say that the municipality of Metro Toronto has an obligation and a duty to provide regional parks; it is within its mandate and it must carry this out. The provision of this park on the Toronto Islands is for the common good of the two and a quarter million people of Metro Toronto --
Mr. Warner: Did Paul Godfrey write this for you?
Mr. Williams: -- and I suggest that that is an overriding consideration that should prevail over the protests of special interest groups. There is no Metro regional park totally within the confines of the city of Toronto and its heavily populated inner core.
Mr. M. Davidson: They should build one in Oriole and tear down the houses there.
Mr. Williams: Let us briefly examine what this dispute is all about. The Metropolitan parks commissioner in his report to the Metro parks and recreation committee in 1973 pinpointed the problem when he said, and I quote: “The Toronto Islands is perhaps a classic instance of the difficulties experienced once another use, even interim, is allowed. Past councils realized public park interest in the island, but permitted what was considered an interim residential use with a clear termination date.”
As has been pointed out, in 1956 Metro Toronto took over the Toronto Islands for the ultimate development of a total Metro park. This was done at the insistence of the city of Toronto whish willingly conveyed the lands to Metro, attaching however a clear restriction on the conveyances that the lands, if they were developed for anything less than a park, would revert to the city of Toronto. From 1956 until 1968 there was an ongoing development of the park program and a removal of many of the homes. Today there remain only 252 homes on the islands.
I think it’s important to stress that as of today, almost 50 per cent of the residents on Ward’s and Algonquin islands are illegal residents who never at any time signed a lease with Metro Toronto and have come to the islands since 1974 when Metro terminated all the leases. That is a fundamentally important consideration to bear in mind in giving proper perspective to this debate.
The fact of the matter too is that on the islands, the former lessees had been paying $200 ground rent a year and approximately the same amount of money in the form of real estate taxes to the city of Toronto. Since 1974, no payments have been made of those ground rents or realty taxes, so that the present residents of the island have been living without making their appropriate payments for the use of those facilities.
At the time of the 1973 debate before the parks and recreation committee of Metro Toronto, it was clearly pointed out and acknowledged by the city of Toronto in its report, that over two thirds of the residents of the Toronto Islands were middle- or upper-income people, although there were isolated instances of people living there on fixed and low incomes. The Metropolitan Toronto social services department has in fact offered to provide accommodation on the mainland for any of those residents who find themselves in a position of needing subsidized housing or are presently living in a welfare situation. It’s regrettable that the city of Toronto would not make a similar offer to those who claim that if they were removed from the islands, they would have to seek out subsidized housing.
We’re all aware of the fact that the present St. Lawrence project, under construction in the heart of downtown Toronto by the city of Toronto, is to provide low-income subsidized housing. Surely the city could well see its way clear to offering, on a first priority basis, accommodation in those facilities for those people who would qualify.
The main point is however, that the large majority of the people on the islands can well afford accommodation elsewhere within Metropolitan Toronto so as to permit the balance of the island park concept to come to an appropriate conclusion.
Mr. Warner: Have you been examining their bank books? What a silly statement.
Mr. Williams: One point that has not been stressed in any of the debate is the health and safety factor. The homes, as they are designated on the island, are by and large converted, winterized, summer cottages. The parks and recreation committee of that day made a personal tour of the islands when the flood conditions were such that it appeared the health department would have to condemn the houses for human occupation.
At the present time there is no sanitary sewer system, and even today some of the residents have to take their waste to the Metro septic tank system on the island because they do not have their personal facilities.
Mr. Warner: They’ve survived the best part of 100 years without your help.
Mr. Williams: In 1974 when the city of Toronto amended its planning bylaw to permit residents on the island, the Metro Toronto conservation authority opposed that because the level of the land was below the flood plains that were suitable for human habitation. It’s on this basis that Metro Toronto conservation authority does oppose that bylaw going before the Ontario Municipal Board.
There are other sides to the argument and it’s one that should have been considered fully.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Williams: I would say that under the circumstances I would have to oppose the resolution before us.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: It has been said many times that if one is in politics and leaves it and returns 10 years later, one will likely he debating the same issues one was debating when one left. This is one of those prize cases.
I can’t help but think of the times when these debates were on at Metro council. I think what we have to recognize, and I hope the government members will recognize the difficulty which the city has, vis-à-vis the boroughs, in the metropolitan council. I think it has been very amply demonstrated this afternoon.
Let me just put the case, as I suppose I put it originally back in the ‘60s at Metro council. The city took the position, and I as a spokesman took the position with Tommy Thompson, to whom reference has been made -- that they have taken the people off Hanlan’s Point and have done absolutely nothing with the land they vacated. They took people off Algonquin and did do something, but there were areas where weeds were growing out of the excavated basements still standing and nothing was done.
One of the difficulties is that one has to approach the matter in some sort of human terms. We asked the parks commissioner to bring forward plans as to what he wished to do with this land if it were turned over for park land. We asked him to please do that first and attach a dollar value to it, so that metropolitan council could look at it and decide whether this was the kind of function we wanted. We were prepared to look at that. At no time during all those debates and all those years were we ever given a plan for the use of this land or any dollar or ascribed value to those plans.
Mr. Williams: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I think the member is in error when she states that no plan was ever brought forward by the former parks commissioner. If she would simply draw her memory back to Report 21 of the parks and recreation committee in 1973, a fully detailed plan was put forward by the then-commissioner to the committee and council for its consideration.
Mr. Speaker: The member for St. George may continue.
Mrs. Campbell: I am speaking about the period during which we were discussing this matter. I want to say this to the members of this assembly. The people on the islands, many of them, are in need of housing. And it’s so generous of Metro to say: “We’re sure the city will provide the housing for them when we take them off.” Metro, of course, could not provide the housing for these people because Metro’s responsibility in housing has been with senior citizens, and there aren’t too many of them who are senior citizens now.
I may say that as a member of the council I went over and talked to the people on the islands. There was one man who had lived there all his life. He lived there in a beautiful English-style cottage, It was just facing the church on the islands. He was heartbroken that he was supposed to move. The house has been demolished now. Very little planned for it developed.
In fact, I was so concerned about him I decided I would try to help him. I said I would take his plants, his bushes and plant them in my garden so when he had to go at least he’d have something he’d had over the years around him. Fortunately for him, I suppose, the worry over this whole matter killed him, He died in the garden and never did live to see the demolition of his home.
There was never any suggestion by any city member that those people who had cottages on the islands should remain. One of the very interesting things is that Metro, at one point in time, did have a plan that indicated the extension of the yacht club into part of the area which has residents on it. I did believe this was not, to me, an appropriate way to deal with residents on the islands.
Now, one of the other things is Metro today is appealing to this government for added funds for policing. Let me tell the House, if they remove these island residents they are going to find Metro is going to have to increase its police force for that space. There’s no doubt about it.
Mr. Warner: Right on.
Mrs. Campbell: The fact those people are there is one of the great securities to people visiting the islands and they are performing a very useful service in that particular case.
Mr. Warner: The Speaker agrees. He is nodding approval or he is nodding in sleep.
Mrs. Campbell: It’s the same sort of thing. What the member for Oriole has said reminds me of the same position taken by the boroughs about the matter of the policing function that has to do with safety in the lake. People like the member for Oriole, and from all over the boroughs, felt Toronto should not have any contribution from Metro for that policing service. But I’ll tell you, Mr. Speaker, that policing service didn’t stop to ask people where they belong when they were saving them from the bay out by the islands. The Metro boroughs were always, in these issues, taking a very narrow and parochial view of this particular matter.
This settlement of people on that island is very important to many of my constituents, my downtown kids, who don’t get out too often to see that kind of a settlement and don’t understand anything but concrete and highrise. This is important as well to our children in downtown Toronto. I don’t think the people in Oriole have the same need for this facility or the opportunity to get over there and see people living in a village-type environment and to have the protection and security that those people give them when they go to the island.
I am solidly in support of this resolution. I would have wished we could have prevailed upon Metro to take a different position but, in the alternative, this is in my view the only solution that will work.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion of the member for Renfrew North. I had hoped that before this matter was debated we would have had a government bill introduced to end the uncertainty under which the island residents have lived for so many years. The past statements of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Crossman) in support of the residents had led me to expect this sort of thing might happen. The sympathy expressed by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) had also led me to anticipate some move on the part of the government. Neither of them was in his seat at the beginning of this debate. The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick arrived halfway through. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is not here at all. This seems to indicate that their expressions of sympathy are merely expressions.
It is grossly unfair to the 750 island residents to leave them in a state of siege. They don’t know when an eviction notice will come or at what hour the sheriff will arrive at their doorstep. They don’t know whether Metropolitan Toronto may delay implementation of the court decision in the light of the widespread concern being expressed in the city and in the media. They cannot make intelligent plans for their families while they remain in this state of uncertainty.
I would like to submit to the House several reasons why this government should give a lead in the resolution of this problem.
First, the main issue relating to the island homes is the question of whether the land on which they are located should be used for park land or housing. The real question is whether these two uses are an either-or situation or whether these two needs are incompatible in the case of the islands. I submit that they are not incompatible. The amount of land occupied by the island homes is less than five per cent of the total area of the islands. There would still be plenty of park land available for the residents of Metro and for visitors to our city.
Secondly, it can be argued that the 250 homes on Ward’s and Algonquin islands actually enhance the park system, as the member for St. George has mentioned. The streets on which they are located are open to the park visitors. The houses, with their varying architecture and gardens, add to the aesthetic appeal and to the sights that strollers can enjoy. The presence of the residents inhibits park vandalism and discourages the abuse of parks by criminal elements. The maintenance of some housing also spreads the cost of main-taming essential services to the island, such as fire protection, water supply and policing, which must be provided to the concessionaires on the island.
Thirdly, the continuation of housing for the approximately 750 people now living on the island relieves some of the strain on housing supply elsewhere in Metro. Our vacancy rate in Toronto is less than one per cent. The government is doing so little to encourage the building of affordable housing in Metro that it should be ashamed if it permits the demolition of even one house.
There is a myth around that most of the island residents are rich people enjoying a special privilege which others can’t afford or enjoy. This is not true. Most island residents are people of average income. They are taxpayers like the rest of us. They pay rent for their land, and they enjoy a particular kind of neighbourhood which they wish to preserve in the same way as other residents seek to preserve their neighbourhoods.
They do not deny access to that neighbourhood by visitors to the island. In fact, the people on the island who do enjoy a privilege that most of us cannot share are the members of the private yacht clubs such as the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Only those who can afford their high fees enjoy access to their part of the island park. Yet they occupy more space than the residents in the houses, and they pay less for it.
If we are to evict the island residents, we must also evict the yacht clubs, to be perfectly logical and fair. Is the government prepared to follow that logic?
Mr. Speaker, some members ask why the provincial government should interfere in this matter. The member for Oriole seemed to be questioning that. The answer is twofold. I think.
First the case for maintaining the island homes is now much stronger than it was when the decision was taken 10 years ago; both in the interests of housing supply and in the interests of a more desirable kind of park on the island.
Secondly, the decision to turn the island into a park was made without the issue being the subject of any platform in any municipal election. There have been eight public opinion polls conducted since that decision was made, none of which showed a majority in favour of that decision.
The reason why control of this piece of land at this time should be turned back to the city of Toronto is that if we are to continue the joint use of this property for housing and for park land, the residential area should be under the city, because the city provides the residential services. The residents vote in city wards. The land is adjacent to city land.
Another reason why the decision made 10 years ago should be questioned is the matter of constraints. There are many areas of park land in the Metropolitan area which are not being developed today because there are not sufficient funds to develop them. Therefore, we do not need more acres which we cannot develop because of shortage of funds.
Any member who blocks this bill or votes against it will be rejecting a sensible solution to a very human problem in this area. It is a measure which will benefit not only the island residents, but all the people of the area. It is not, therefore, legislation that is being proposed in favour of the privileged, or to discriminate in favour of one group against another. It is legislation which will show that government sometimes steps in to see that the will of the majority is implemented and that governments do have a human face.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It is indeed a pleasure to rise on an occasion such as this, when I hope a large majority of this assembly will rise to support a cause that I first brought before this House in my maiden speech in 1975, shortly after I was elected.
I must say that I hoped today would proceed mostly on a nonpartisan basis --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Laughren: Always does. Always.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and I think to a large extent it has, and certainly I would be the last person to introduce any partisanship into it.
Mr. Laughren: You are the partisan group, not us.
Mr. Nixon: That is the last thing we want to think about.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I simply did want to say that I regretted the remarks of the member for Beaches-Woodbine who suggested that because I had just arrived midway through the debate, during private members’ hour, and because my colleague, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, has been absent, indicates a lack of interest on our part. Indeed, he and I have spent innumerable hours over the last three weeks working long and hard to try and resolve this matter.
Mr. Warner: You have had years.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He and I have both been working on a matter which, for example, would be very important to the member for Nickel Belt, at a meeting preparing for the first ministers’ conference on the economy.
Mr. Laughren: When are you going to tell us what you said?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I left that meeting in order to attend here for this part of the debate.
Mr. Warner: You wouldn’t accomplish anything anyway.
Mr. McClellan: What a hero you are.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: My colleague has remained for the balance of that discussion. I think our positions are well-put and well-known.
Mr. Warner: Tell us about the Toronto Star.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say that, having put in that amount of time, it’s fair to say that the arguments on all sides of this issue have been well made, both today and over not only the last three years but indeed in the last 22 years. Many of them have been well put. My position has been consistent and straight throughout that period.
I might say I welcome the fact that the member for Renfrew North has been prevailed upon by his party to use his position on the private member’s ballot provision --
Mr. Samis: Non-partisan now, Larry.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- to put this matter before the assembly. I hope the unanimity that will develop here can be shown to the public. I welcome the member to my island community, which I understand from earlier remarks he visited yesterday.
Mr. Warner: You own the islands now, do you?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Renfrew North and I have something in common. He was also the Liberal Party’s designated hitter on the Doctors Hospital controversy the day he came into a famous meeting in my riding on that little matter. I think at that time the party of the member for Renfrew North had three members from Toronto in the House.
Mr. Warner: This is a non-partisan debate.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In any event, I welcome the intervention of the member for Renfrew North. I think what happens here today will be constructive to the dialogue, and I’m glad the opportunity was arranged for this matter to be discussed here.
Mr. Breithaupt: Let’s hope so.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Indeed, I hope his party’s sudden discovery of a new urban issue does them a little better than its last attempt, through the member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, just so that there will be no misleading intentionally or unintentionally by the honourable member, he and you must surely be aware that maintaining the residences on the islands was the policy of this party even in the antediluvian days when I had the honour to lead it.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The honourable member may continue.
Mr. O’Neil: What was that word?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: “Antediluvian.” And he is right.
Mr. Handleman: Those were the kinds of policies you had too.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I do quite seriously appreciate the support that has been expressed from most quarters so far during this debate for my constituents.
Mr. McClellan: Except for Oriole’s vicious attack on them.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Rather than take the House through all of the arguments, there are just three points I would like to make at this time.
Mr. Warner: Why don’t you invite the member for Oriole to the islands?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: First, I think it is simple and fairly direct and safe to state that there is no pressing need for park land on the islands in 1978.
Second, I think it’s also fair to state that the maintenance of housing of all sorts is indeed an urgent priority in Metropolitan Toronto, indeed in this province at this time.
Third, I might add that rather low-cost housing, affordable housing, is indeed a priority in Metropolitan Toronto.
Fourth, I think it’s safe to say that all the people of Toronto benefit by the presence of the Toronto Islands community. Obviously the vast majority of Torontonians have not visited the islands in question, but if they had I think they too would come to appreciate the importance of having a community over there -- the richness they lend to it, the safety they lend to it, and the life and spirit they lend to it.
Fifth, there is one specific point I would like to make. There has been some talk about dividing some people from others on the islands, on the pretext that some people on the islands are squatters, as it were. May I say that I reject that argument totally.
May I say, as I told the island residents when I visited them a few weeks ago, I will have no part in bargaining away some at the expense of others. I don’t think that’s sensible or fair.
I think people who moved in after 1973 moved in as sub-tenants, sub-lessees, or whatever one wants to call them, of people whose leases or rights to be in those premises were validly in dispute in the courts. It was valid. I don’t think anyone would honestly expect someone who left the islands because of a death or a change of jobs to have simply said, “Well, the matter is before the courts so I think I will not rent my house to anyone.” Obviously they were going to rent to someone, and I think someone coming in there knew what the risks were, knew it was in the courts, but to term those people squatters who came in for a free ride is totally inaccurate and unfair and a distortion of the facts to the public. I think those people have an equal right to reside in those houses, and those houses should have a right to remain on the Toronto Islands.
Members of this assembly will know that over a long period of time I have been able, when necessary, to play hardball, to fight vociferously, to fight hard and outspokenly. They will remember some previous incidents -- granted, they were before I had this seat in the assembly, but I have the ability to fight in that fashion and to fight hard for my constituents.
Mr. McClellan: Against your own friends who are always attacking them.
Mr. Nixon: Tell us about it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We’d hardly have time to cover all of them.
However, in this particular matter, while I have made my position clear, I assessed that the public debate could be handled properly and well in other forums and from time to time in this forum, and that was true.
It is also fair to state that through the entire period of time, as the islanders will report, I worked with them on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis to be updated as to the strategy, how they were doing in the lawsuits and when some provincial momentum might be appropriate.
Hence, I introduced a private member’s bill early on to flag the matter, to show my interest and in the hope of having a debate at that time, but that did not occur.
Mr. Warner: Nothing happened. You’re a real powerhouse over there.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: To come to the present time: The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and myself, and indeed the Premier, have been dealing with this matter for some three weeks since the islanders decided they were not going to appeal the latest decision.
Mr. Warner: The government has had it for years.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We have been working very hard and so far, I think, very effectively, albeit quietly, in an attempt to do what we can to save the Toronto Island homes.
Mr. Warner: So quietly that nobody knows you are doing anything.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Second, I must report, as of today’s date, those efforts are not complete. All the pieces are not in place. I don’t apologize for that.
Mr. Warner: A snail with arthritis moves faster.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If we are going to do what we can, if we are to do what is right for the islanders -- that is, to keep the homes -- we must not attempt to upset those efforts by the fact that November 16 happened to arrive with a resolution, which I support, on the Order Paper.
We are going to continue to try to put the pieces in place, and I am optimistic that in fact we can put all the pieces in place, in order to maintain all the Toronto Island homes.
Our goal is quite clear. I have said it directly. We are trying to find a way to save the Toronto Island homes.
Mr. Warner: You were told years ago to amend the Metro act. That is all you have to do.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member suggests amending the Metropolitan Toronto Act. I was the one who introduced that alternative into this assembly. Obviously, that is one alternative that the government can consider and is considering.
Mr. Warner: You could have done it years ago. What’s holding you back?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Other alternatives have been referred to earlier in this debate. When we find the most appropriate route, I am optimistic that all the Toronto Island homes will be maintained.
Mr. McClellan: That’s not what you said in the Star. Tell us what you said in the Star.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Our goal is clear, and I am determined once again to succeed in looking after my constituents. I am determined that all the Toronto Island homes will be maintained.
Mr. Warner: You enter a race with cement boots on.
Mr. McClellan: What are you talking about in the newspapers?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: All the pieces, I believe, will be in place not too long from now.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Are there any other members wishing to participate in this debate?
Mr. Conway: I have eight minutes. I don’t know where that leaves others. There may be time for others who wish to participate. I did reserve eight minutes.
Mr. Acting Speaker: You did; but no one else has indicated a wish to speak. You have eight minutes.
Mr. Conway: As is the custom, I want to thank the honourable members who have participated in this debate. I want in particular to thank my good friend from St. Andrew-St. Patrick for being here today on a matter which is obviously of interest to him and has been for many years, I am sure.
Before concluding my remarks, I feel obligated to respond to one or two things which were said. I guess it is a fair comment to begin by saying that there has been some suggestion, not the least of that having just been offered by my friend from St. Andrew-St. Patrick, that perhaps it is peculiar that a member of a constituency so many miles removed from the area in question should feel it incumbent upon himself to speak to such a matter in private members’ time.
There are two things to be said in that regard. I don’t want to bore you with them, Mr. Speaker, but the first is that I for one am a member who sees as his mandate somewhat more of an interest than just those matters of immediate or local interest. I have always felt that this Legislature has in its past been too much the captive of, and too greatly characterized by, line-fence, barnyard senators or urban ward heelers who don’t see very much beyond --
Mr. Nixon: Oh, brother.
Mr. Conway: -- their immediate constituency and it’s that that encourages me to take a broader provincial view of things. Secondly, I think I should remind those honourable members, who may not be aware of the fact, that my constituency contains I guess, one third to one half the territorial area known as Algonquin provincial park. As one local resident in that part of the world, I have seen many members who don’t live in the immediate area come and tell me and my local community friends how they think we should live our lives and how our community should be planned.
Mr. Nixon: How true.
Mr. Conway: So I just make that point. I must say the Algonquin Park leaseholders have a certain similarity to the island community and I don’t want to let that pass uncommented upon.
The member for Oriole, I think unfortunately, said a few things I do want to very briefly comment upon. The one I found most difficult was that which had to do with something about the fact that a large majority of the islanders were sufficiently well off to be able to move to the mainland, or wherever else.
Mr. Warner: He has been peeking into their bank accounts.
Mr. Conway: Well, I must say I really hope that we, as members of the Legislature, don’t deliberate upon public policy in this kind of planning area or make our first order of concern the bank books and financial capacities of the people involved. I think that was unhappy and I just want to recommend to the member for Oriole an article that appeared in the Sunday Star of November 12, 1978, in which it was reported: “The average islander has lived there year-round for 16 years, earns $17,600 a year (compared to $ 19,922 earned by the average Toronto household), has a wife and child and owns his own home.” I think that’s a sociological profile I would recommend to the honourable member in this connection.
I find interesting his comments that philosophically he cannot accept what the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick and I and others, the members for Beaches-Woodbine and Scarborough-Ellesmere, obviously can accept; and that is the intervention of the senior government, in this case the provincial government, in the way in which I have recommended it in my resolution. I understand the concern he has for local autonomy. I just want to say that I think there are times and circumstances where the senior government does have a mandate to move and to protect, as I think the member for St. George put so very well, the human interest of those citizens it seeks to serve.
I want to be very clear about this; I can appreciate the importance of the local autonomy argument, but I have sat in this chamber and have seen this government, albeit slowly and albeit painfully, accept at times and in places, that the public interest does require the intervention of the senior government.
I found it interesting that he drew attention to the health and safety requirements of the island community. Well, I don’t think any member in this House who is cognizant of the circumstances on the island would not be aware of the fact that yes, there are certainly some problems in that connection. But those problems I think, are largely the result of many people there, all those people being faced with not knowing whether to invest in improvements. If indeed they spend the money, the effort and the time, Metro might move to evict them. Clearly that kind of uncertainty is, in my view at least, largely responsible for the kind of health and safety problems he seeks to draw attention to. I want to suggest to him as well that if this legislative building were subjected to the health and safety requirements of the province and the city, we might all be on the street while it was brought up to a more suitable standard.
With the exception of the member for Oriole, I do not sense a great feeling against the resolution. Nor have I, and others have commented upon it, sensed a great feeling among people in this city, or indeed in this broader metropolitan community, or indeed across the province, a great urgent necessity for having 750 people uprooted from a community in which they have long resided. It’s a community where I think we all have a responsibility to see them remain.
I want to say again, unless and until senior regional governments can come forward in this instance with conclusive evidence as to why these people should be moved, then I think it is a sad day for the democracy in which we all live that these people should be moved out under those circumstances. To protect against that and to protect these people, some of whom have done us the privilege of being in the galleries today, I really do call upon all honourable members to join with me and the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick and others, not only in speaking in favour of this resolution, but hopefully voting accordingly.
Mr. Speaker: There are five minutes left and there are two members who indicated they would like to speak. Would the members for Bellwoods and Wilson Heights be prepared to share the remaining time?
Mr. McClellan: I’m delighted to rise in support of the resolution of the member for Renfrew North. I wanted to comment on two things. Firstly, I want to express my disappointment that the minister was not able to deliver what he had promised in yesterday’s Star. I think it is unfortunate that that attempt to secure a little bit of easy publicity was made without any substance behind it. He had led us to expect that he was coming into this House to make a statement consistent with the headline in the Star, “Ontario To Rescue Islanders’ Homes.” That has not been done.
Mr. Warner: Shoddy.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: On a point of privilege, I clearly did not make any promises in last night’s Star or anywhere else.
Mr. McClellan: The second point I want to make is that I hope the message is going out to members of the government party and their comrades at the Metropolitan level that those of us from Toronto city cherish our neighbourhood. What makes Toronto the great city it is is the small neighbourhoods. The Toronto Islands represent one of the most precious of those neighbourhoods to those of us who live in Toronto and love that city.
We will continue to fight and fight and fight until we win long-term stability for that particular neighbourhood, as we will fight for all of the other neighbourhoods in our city because that is what Toronto is all about.
Mr. Rotenberg: I rise to support the islanders as I have done for the past 18 years. I guess with the exception of the member for St. George I have been involved in this issue longer than any other member of this House.
I was the municipal representative of the islands for nine of my 12 years on council. I have taken the stand today that I took all those years, which is simply this: The islands are a viable community. Unless and until the Metropolitan government can show they have a better use for that land and the financial ability to implement that use, they should let the community stay where it is. They shouldn’t evict 700 people simply on a 20-year-old principle.
There are a couple of elements in this debate which disturb me. I have seen the same elements at the Metropolitan council during the last three or four years. I hope the supporters of the islands here and at Metropolitan council will not again make this into a confrontation issue, into a left versus right, a good guys versus bad guys issue. Those on Metropolitan council who may be inclined, because this will be back in Metro council shortly, to compromise will be driven away from a compromise solution if this becomes a confrontation issue as it has been.
I hope when the new city council takes this to Metro, it will look for ways and means of working with Metro council and not act in the way it has done in the past.
Mr. Warner: Amend the act.
Mr. Rotenberg: There are two principles before us. One is the saving of the island homes and the other is interfering in local autonomy. I have a great respect for local autonomy. We should only interfere in local autonomy and impose something on another government -- as a total last resort.
Mr. Nixon: You just interfere when you want to.
Mr. Rotenberg: I hope this motion will carry as a signal to the Metropolitan council how we feel about the islands. I hope this motion will carry so that when the matter gets back to Metro council, as it will, they can no longer use the excuse that they cannot give it back to the city because it is contrary to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. We have, I think, given indication that we are prepared to amend the act. What is going to happen very shortly, as I understand it --
Mr. Warner: That’s not what Larry said.
Mr. Rotenberg: -- the city council is going to request Metro council again to amend the act --
Mr. Bradley: All of a sudden we get action.
Mr. Rotenberg: -- and if city council does that again, as it has done in the past -- and we’ve already given our indication, on a motion, not on a bill, we have sympathy for that situation -- it would be my hope that the Metro council will no longer oppose it. Then we will not be interfering with the principle of local autonomy. It is the best way to do it.
There is a new Metropolitan council. Some of the anti-island hardliners have left. Maybe in a spirit of co-operation between this government, some of the members opposite, the city councillors and the Metro council, we can work out a situation that will save the islanders without having to impose the hard hand of this government. I would support it as a last resort hut not until we have gone for another solution.
The ministers are working on it. Councillors are working on it. I think it can happen. I would hope everyone will support this motion.
Mr. Speaker: There are two matters before the House.
ELECTORAL REGISTRATION SYSTEM
Mr. Speaker: Mr. McCaffrey has moved resolution 25.
Resolution concurred in.
TORONTO ISLAND HOMES
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Conway has moved resolution 27.
Resolution concurred in.
Mr. Warner: Let’s see you do something over there.
Mr. Rotenberg: If you’d stop interfering we’d do something.
Mr. Speaker: Order. We have some words of wisdom from the government House leader.
Mr. Nixon: This is going to be a change.
Mr. Martel: That is out of the question.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I move the committee rise and report. Oh, you’re in the chair, Mr. Speaker, that’s right.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Pursuant to provisional standing order 11 I wish to indicate the business for the remainder of this week as well as next week.
Tonight we will take into consideration legislation as it appears on the sheet at each member’s desk, starting with committee of the whole and completing Bills 114 and 118 in committee of the whole, which I understand won’t take too long; then second readings of Bills 172, 74, and 75.
On Friday, House in committee of supply to consider the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Monday, November 20: First the House in committee of supply to complete the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. There shouldn’t be too much time remaining with respect to those estimates and the remainder of the afternoon till 6 o’clock the House will take into consideration the report of the statutory instruments committee, being sessional paper 135. That will be from the completion of Intergovernmental Affairs estimates until six.
In the evening, Monday, November 20: The House in committee of supply to commence consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics.
On Tuesday, November 21 we will continue with legislation. If there is any legislation left over from this evening we will carry on with it, to be followed by Bills 146, 157, 158, 159, 166, 104, 135, 147, 155 and 156. We will hopefully go through all second readings and then start any committee stage of that legislation.
On Wednesday, November 22, the resources development committee and the justice committee will sit in the morning.
On Thursday, November 23, in the afternoon, private members’ public business: Bill 171, standing in the name of the member for Cornwall and Bill 169 standing in the name of the member for Oriole.
In the evening of Thursday, November 23, we will consider the estimates of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics and on Friday morning, November 24, we will continue the estimates of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics.
The House recessed at 5:56 p.m.