The House met at 3 p.m.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, having entered the House and being seated upon the throne, was pleased to open the session with the following gracious speech.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. Mrs. McGibbon (Lieutenant Governor): Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker and members of the legislative assembly, we assemble for this, the third session of the 31st Parliament of Ontario, at a time of unprecedented challenge and promise. The circumstances that prevail in our province, in Canada and indeed on the international scene give rise to differing attitudes as to Ontario’s prospects and expectations, for it is clear that not all the factors that shape our destiny lie within our control. Nevertheless, my government approaches the future, both immediate and long term, with faith and confidence, trusting in our abundance of human and natural resources and in the resourcefulness and abilities of our people.
The challenge which our nation holds for all Canadians will not be fully met until firm choices are made about the kind of nation we are to have. Similarly, the economic wellbeing of our nation will be of paramount importance in determining the opportunity we all share as Canadians.
Le défi qui se pose à tous les Canadiens ne sera pas pleinement relevé tant que l’avenir de notre pays n’aura pas fait l’object de choix définitifs. De même, c’est de la prospérité économique de notre pays que dépendent essentiellement les chances qui s’offrent à nous en tant que Canadiens.
Honourable members will realize, however, that security and prosperity for Ontario citizens are not pre-ordained, nor is the prescription for an assured future to be found in any known or readily available formula. Rather, we have learned over the years that the ingredients for progress are numerous and complex, encompassing many intangible factors, including the sense of confidence we possess in ourselves. My government calls on this assembly to provide significant leadership in advancing and shaping that spirit of confidence that is needed in Ontario and among its people.
At the same time, there is every recognition that if the full potential of our talents and resources is to be realized, effective management must be the hallmark of all areas of government operation as well as of the private sector of our economy. The measures to be introduced by my government at this session and other programs relating to the ongoing process of government will be consistent with the requirements of good management.
Some may wish to argue as to whether the primary emphasis of this session should be directed to improving the economic climate of Ontario or to improving the social services available to our people. In truth, extensive attention must be given to both, for it is clear that only if the economic circumstances in our province remain strong will we be able to maintain and develop the programs that contribute to a fair and balanced society.
Ontario’s citizens are among the most prosperous in the industrial nations. However, this prosperity, of which we can be justly proud, faces a strong wave of international competition, not only in regard to the sale of goods and services, but also in the location of new and expanded production facilities.
It is the government’s view that industry in Ontario will need to be carefully but aggressively supported in future years, as Canada adjusts to the new trading rules that will be established on the conclusion of the international trade talks in Geneva. Ontario will, therefore, be actively engaged in negotiations with the federal government on the outcome of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and would expect that there will be a fair apportionment of federal financial and technical assistance to our province.
While there must be prudent limits to the use of public funds to attract industrial jobs, the social costs of not maintaining our industrial strength cannot be ignored. These social costs and the risk of losing long-term jobs have motivated the government of Ontario to take firm action to ensure the cost competitiveness of the province in attracting new jobs for our labour force.
Thus, as a matter of first priority, my government will take specific measures that will ensure that the Ontario economy continues to expand in a positive and productive fashion. Such measures will not only, bring the obvious benefits of increased employment opportunities and steady incomes, but will also add to the assured tax base of Ontario, thus contributing increased revenues from which important programs can be financed.
Primary among these efforts will be the establishment of an employment development fund to offer appropriate assistance to industry in our province and spur economic activity and employment. The allocation of funds, monitoring of shifting economic priorities, and co-ordination of job-creation programs will be the responsibility of a special board of ministers chaired by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). A single focus for submission, analysis and development of major proposals will be provided by the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), as vice-chairman of the board.
But if the Ontario economy is going to grow and bring with it expanded opportunities for our people, it will require more than government assistance. Private sector investors will look for other factors that contribute to effective operations and which ensure that they can remain fully competitive in the marketplace. It is essential, therefore, that we point to a favourable, receptive climate that offers such important features as skilled manpower, harmonious labour/industry relations, price and wage stability, assured energy supplies at competitive prices, fair taxation policies, and government determination to avoid unnecessary controls, regulation, and expenditures.
Progressive measures can be expected during this session in all these areas.
The present education structure does not meet fully today’s need for highly skilled persons in the manufacturing and service industries. In answer to this need, my government will implement a comprehensive business and industrial training program, involving our secondary schools, colleges, organized labour and the business community.
This will mean a realignment of secondary school technical programs with post-secondary programs, innovative trade study courses, and an expansion of apprenticed trades as well as of the new employer-sponsored on-the-job training initiatives. Emphasis will be placed on providing guidance information on job market and training opportunities in the industrial sector. At the same time, efforts will be made to develop a more positive attitude among young people and their parents toward careers in the skilled trades.
Under existing arrangements a number of manpower responsibilities -- job creation and retention, training, placement, counselling and the compilation and analysis of essential labour market data -- fall within the jurisdiction of several ministries. To ensure that these activities are planned and implemented in the most effective way, both internally and in relation to federal programs, the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) will be designated the Minister of Labour and Manpower, and will be given the appropriate mandate to guide and co-ordinate the government’s manpower activities.
Continued high priority will be given to special programs for women in the public and private sectors. In addition to the ongoing programs of the Women’s Bureau and the Women’s Crown Employees’ Office, the Ministry of Labour will establish an Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee, composed of senior labour and management representatives.
As an important step toward better labour/management relations, Ontario established, last fall, the first Quality of Working Life Centre in Canada. This unique co-operative experiment by labour management and government will embark on a program of pilot projects and educational activities aimed at increasing employee participation in decision-making in the workplace, improving labour relations and enhancing productive performance. The centre will continue to be guided and assisted in its activities by an advisory committee of leading members of the labour and business communities.
At the last session, the Minister of Labour tabled a report of an industrial inquiry commission which identified problems in the process and structure of grievance arbitration. This session, the government will introduce amendments to the Labour Relations Act designed to reduce the costs for arbitration, to provide third-party assistance in resolving grievances prior to arbitration and generally to enable the process to be carried out in the fairest and most expeditious manner.
Despite the over 133,000 new jobs created in Ontario in 1978 -- a record high since 1974 -- unemployment levels remain unacceptable as more people are entering the work force than ever before. This creates a particular burden on the capacity of our economy to expand and embrace the many citizens who seek to earn their place within it. We are encouraged, however, by the fact that almost all of these new jobs were created by the private sector, which can be taken as significant justification for a policy of limiting public sector growth to allow the private sector to expand.
Some 2,000 labour contracts will come due for negotiation in Ontario in 1979. It is important that all parties to these negotiations show reason and moderation, if inflationary pressures on the economy are to be resisted. However, the battle against inflation, if it is to be fair and successful, must be fought at all levels. Prices and incomes, including executive salaries and professional fees, must all be restrained, if we are to break the momentum of self-perpetuating inflation.
The government will seek to set an appropriate example by following the precepts of bargaining in good faith, while insisting on recognition of the dollar value of job security, pensions and other fringe benefits in wage and salary negotiations with its own public servants. Nevertheless, as has been recognized at recent federal-provincial conferences, any successful effort to contain the problem of inflation must be undertaken as a matter of national priority. My government will, therefore, do everything within its power to co-operate with the federal government in combatting unacceptable inflationary trends.
Consistent with this commitment, Ontario will continue the effective steps already taken to manage government spending so that public expenditures do not in themselves contribute to rising inflation. Further, while recognizing the limits imposed on any provincial jurisdiction in controlling the general monetary situation, we are prepared to take further action.
Since food prices are unquestionably a matter of great concern to the average citizen, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations will assist consumers in making informed choices by establishing a program to monitor and report on prices across the province. Significant market trends will be analysed as they develop and periodic reports will address specific problem areas.
Further, because of the particularly sharp price increases in many imported foods, caused primarily by the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, my government intends to launch a province-wide campaign immediately to advise and assist consumers on ways to reduce their food costs by using Ontario-grown fresh and processed agricultural products. As well, an extensive campaign will be undertaken in conjunction with the Shop Canadian program to persuade the people of Ontario as to the merits of import substitution through the purchase of a wide variety of Canadian-manufactured goods.
It is clear that a determined move toward self-sufficiency in respect of basic goods and services will not only contribute to effective price stability, but will also increase the prospects of assured supply. In this context, government support of projects, such as that intended to demonstrate the productivity of greenhouse complexes through the use of waste heat from nuclear generating stations, takes on new importance.
Keeping in view the energy needs of industry and the private citizen, the government, through the Ministry of Energy, will continue efforts to ensure that options for Ontario’s future supplies are as flexible as possible.
First, the government recognizes the primary importance of electricity as a source of energy for this province. Foreign political instability makes it mandatory that we continue policies and programs that safeguard and enhance Ontario Hydro’s production facilities as a future guarantee of domestic supplies. What appears to be an oversupply of electrical energy today may well become essential to our continuing prosperity within a comparatively short period of time.
Transient and essentially unpredictable changes in demand may alter considerations of timing, but it would be highly irresponsible to weaken the province’s commitment to the generation of electricity from nuclear power as a safe, secure and efficient means of protecting present and future generations of Ontarians. Energy security now and in the future will not be inexpensive; yet we will be able to finance this security at prices to the consuming public lower than in almost all other jurisdictions.
As part of the continuing search for alternative energy sources, my government hopes to conclude shortly a $58 million, five-year, bilateral cost-sharing agreement with the government of Canada to demonstrate in co-operation with the private sector new technology in energy conservation and renewable energy.
Through the Ontario Energy Corporation support will be given to energy-related business development, including projects using by-product power and energy from waste. Changes will be made in the financing and organization of the energy corporation to enable it to take a more active role in the achievement of energy and economic policy objectives in Ontario.
At the national level, the government will ensure that the interests of Ontario’s industrial, commercial and residential consumers will be vigorously represented in matters relating to the export, transmission and pricing of natural gas and security of supply of other energy resources.
The driving force of our economic system is private enterprise and initiative. It is entrepreneurs in businesses, big and small, who create new products, new businesses and new jobs through the application of brains and skills, and their willingness to take considerable financial risks. It is vital to our economic future that we maintain a climate of opportunity for innovative and imaginative individuals. My government believes potential rewards must justify the considerable risks. Accordingly, measures will be introduced to encourage the flow of risk capital into new and expanding small businesses.
Likewise, Ontario’s tourism industry, which experienced a 16 per cent growth in revenue last year, will be aggressively supported by the government in 1979. There will be a substantial increase in tourist promotional investment.
Phase two of the highly successful hospitality awareness program, “We Treat You Royally,” will be launched in May. An important new element of the program will train 25,000 employees of the hospitality industry and make for better service and better business among participating operators.
If private enterprise is to operate effectively, it must be freed from obstacles created by excessive government regulation. Steady progress has been made since the adoption, just under a year ago, of a government-wide policy to improve the regulatory process. There can be, of course, no dispute that a certain measure of government regulation is essential. However, it is equally important that such controls be consistent, effective and administered without undue interference or excessive cost.
A significant share of the problems faced by small business can be traced to government regulation. It is a situation that must be corrected if this vital segment of the community is to thrive. My government will ensure that in implementing recommendations from various sources special attention is paid to items that affect small business.
In other areas of operation, continued efforts will be made to improve existing legislation, regulations, and administrative structure in an exercise which will affect all levels of government. Various legislative amendments will be proposed to clarify statutory requirements, remove oblique or obsolete references, and simplify procedures. Consumer legislation will be amended to give self-regulatory responsibilities, where appropriate, to industries, associations, or municipalities.
For example, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will introduce a program of self-regulation for general insurance agents and brokers that will permit them to serve the public as effective advisers and consultants, while continuing to provide the necessary financial and trust account control.
Major emphasis will be placed on the consolidation of regulatory authority for specific programs into single areas of responsibility. This will be one of the features of important new legislative proposals for the Planning Act, the aim of which will be to accelerate and streamline the process of community planning approvals.
The government also recognizes the need to give attention to the manner in which it serves the public, as being consistent with the need for appropriate and adequate legislation. To this end, new programs will be developed to ensure easier access to government by citizens who need information or assistance.
My government would consider these two factors as key to a relationship of mutual trust between people and government. It is important that there be the fullest possible access to government by the people. Government must also try to limit its regulatory function to such uses as are absolutely necessary and for the benefit and protection of those served. The degree to which these elements co-exist is itself a measure of the strength of the democratic process.
Ontarians can take satisfaction and pride from the fact that their productive efforts have made it possible to develop and maintain a large variety of social programs. Full educational opportunity, care and concern for those afflicted by illness and need, necessary representation in legal affairs, as well as many other important protections have become fundamental to our way of life.
By the same token, the high standard and the effectiveness of law enforcement in our province are a testimony to an orderly way of life based on an historical respect for law by the vast majority of our people. If Ontario is to continue to enjoy this high level of protection, there is a real need for full public support of the police function. That function is the protection of our people against all criminal acts by those who are not content to live within the law. The objective, simply stated, is the protection of society. It is a goal which will be pursued through continued emphasis on efficient management and a professionalism, tempered by compassion, in the administration of justice.
In pursuing efforts to secure full social justice for all members of the community, my government proposes several initiatives, which government alone can take, to assist specific groups of citizens. It is, of course, incumbent on us, particularly in times of fiscal restraint, to ensure that wastefulness, misuse and duplication of services relating to these programs are eliminated. Every effort is being made to achieve this end.
For the past two years, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, together with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, has been providing special transit services for the physically disabled on a pilot project basis in five communities. Building on the success of this program, the government will take steps to make these projects permanent. Introduction of a gradual expansion to other communities will begin without delay. The program will continue to depend on volunteer involvement. At the same time, provision will be made for grants to municipalities through amendments to the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.
The government will move toward a modest expansion of several pilot projects which were launched recently to provide special accommodation and necessary attendant care for the young physically disabled. These projects have been remarkably successful in enabling these young people to maintain a life in the community -- in many cases going to work or school or working towards being self-supporting.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services will develop ways to ensure that social assistance programs provide positive incentives to enable sole-support mothers and disabled persons who wish to become self-supporting to take and maintain full-time employment. Improved part-time work incentives will be introduced to help disabled persons on social assistance.
My government has also been most concerned to ensure that young people are not disadvantaged in the search for work. For this reason, the government proposes to continue the Ontario youth employment program during the summer months.
The government will continue to pursue the reshaping of health care delivery services to ensure both excellence of service and effective management. Citizens may be assured, however, that Ontario’s health care programs and other programs which now ensure adequate protection for those who may not always be in the best position to help themselves will remain solidly in place. For example, after careful review, the government has decided that the drug benefit program for senior citizens and other persons in need of assistance should not be altered. The social value to Ontario is too great to allow any diminution in the quality or quantity of such significant social advances.
Home-care services for chronically ill patients who wish to live at home but who require some nursing and other medical assistance to do so will be extended. A significant number of beds will be added to the system for persons needing long-term nursing home or chronic hospital care where need is identified through the health plan process. It is the intention to establish placement co-ordination services to ensure that patients requiring such care are placed in the most appropriate setting.
Outpatient services and day-surgery programs will be expanded in a number of hospitals. The Ministry of Health will work with local boards of health to upgrade their programs by developing standards for such public health services as immunization and family planning.
The government’s many programs and policies to preserve and strengthen the vitality of rural and remote parts of Ontario reflect a concern that Ontarians, however far removed from larger or more accessible centres, must be enabled to share the opportunities afforded others of their fellow citizens.
With this aim in view, honourable members will be asked to consider a new local services boards act to address some of the needs of communities in northern Ontario that lack municipal organization. This will be in the form of enabling legislation so that those communities, if they wish, may give elected local bodies the power to raise revenues and provide basic services.
The Ministry of Northern Affairs will also seek ways to provide a greater range of television service for remote areas in order to overcome the sense of isolation that exists for many northern residents.
In the agricultural community, the government proposes to support the foodland guidelines policy adopted at the last session by establishing a modified grants program to maintain and enhance productivity on farms. The grants will be given mainly for water and erosion control projects, as well as to assist in construction of selected farm production facilities. Special attention will be given to the need to assure that farmers are protected by minimum farm machinery warranties and contract standards.
Agricrew, a popular pilot project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food last year, will be expanded to a province-wide program that will provide students an opportunity for new training and employment. The program offers support to farmers during peak harvest periods and for improvements to farmsteads. At the same time, Ontario will press the federal government for continuation of the Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Agreement or for a similar program as being of crucial importance to continued growth in northern and eastern Ontario.
A major new fisheries management initiative will be launched by the Ministry of Natural Resources to maintain fisheries resources throughout Ontario and indeed to rebuild some already lost in the southern part of the province. Efforts will be made to improve the stock in the Great Lakes by working more effectively with the International Joint Commission and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. The scope of the program calls for significant new policies as an investment in the future. The environmental as well as the economic benefits are paramount.
Over the past two years, the Ministry of Natural Resources has worked with the forest industry on bringing together the harvesting and regeneration phases. As a result of these consultations, the government will introduce amendments to the Crown Timber Act to provide for contractual arrangements with timber harvesting companies for the management of specific forest lands. The effect of these agreements will mean the transfer of much of the forest management work to the private sector, while the responsibility to maintain the productivity of forest land will remain with the government.
My government has taken into account the public comments on proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act concerning spills of toxic substances. Legislation will be reintroduced which will broaden the government’s authority to order control, cleanup and restoration, with liability provisions for compensation for damages resulting from spills.
Ontario has made major advances in the water quality of the Great Lakes in cooperation with the federal government and with United States agencies through the International Joint Commission. Now that a new international agreement is in effect, the Canada-Ontario agreement is being revised with emphasis on the control of toxic substances and on pollution of the Great Lakes from land use and airborne contaminants.
Commitments have been made for research and analysis for better understanding of low-level environmental contaminants which can build up in living tissue. This new knowledge is being incorporated in a thorough revision of water quality programs, guidelines and objectives to be released shortly by the Ministry of the Environment.
Throughout 1979, the observance of the International Year of the Child offers a special opportunity to reinforce the awareness that our children are the single most important assurance for the future. Government initiatives that will be taken include an intensive immunization awareness campaign directed at the public and, particularly, at parents of young children. Specialized services, such as poison control centres, will be established in the children’s hospitals.
Following on legislation two years ago giving all children equal status before the law, and recently enacted provisions for children’s services, my government will introduce a second phase of the Children’s Law Reform Act to recognize the best interests of the child in custody and access cases.
Foster care programs for mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed children will be expanded. Increased funding will be allocated to programs to counter child abuse.
These programs for children will be supported throughout the government and in the community by scores of other activities, many of which will be by way of celebration. In this vein, this year’s civic holiday on August 6 will be declared Children’s Day in all provincial parks.
My government is able to report steady progress in the provision of French-language services in Ontario, and will introduce enabling amendments under the Evidence Act to give appropriate status to Ontario statutes in French. This follows on last year’s implementation of a system to prepare such translations.
The multicultural reality of Ontario is characterized by a tradition of fairness and harmony among its citizens. It is, however, a tradition that requires dedicated effort to ensure that multiculturalism remains the positive force that it can be in our society. Through our schools, through other social institutions and through individual example, we must develop attitudes that further the equality and dignity of all people.
My government sees its role in maintaining a harmonious society as one of leadership as well as of responsiveness. To this end, the government intends to restructure the Advisory Council on Multiculturalism to make it a more dynamic force in the promotion of cultural retention and sharing. As well, every effort will be made to enlarge the scope of effective communication between government and the various ethnic communities so they may understand and gain full participation in the Canadian way of life.
My government reaffirms its deeply felt commitment to a strong and unified Canadian nation, and renews its pledge to contribute in a positive and constructive manner to intergovernmental discussions which have as their urgent purpose a renewed constitution for Canada that will be in the best interests of all Canadians.
It is our firm conviction that a renewed constitution is a high priority of this nation, in order to provide a framework in which all citizens and regions can enjoy growth and prosperity within the context of a harmonious and flourishing country.
The general principles governing Ontario’s approach in this respect are, we believe, supported by the people of Ontario. They are: preservation of the unity of Canada; preservation of a strong central government with adequate powers to pursue the national interest, and provincial governments that reflect the regional diversities that are the Canadian heritage; preservation of a union which ensures free movement and a free flow of goods, services, capital and people from coast to coast; preservation of an economic union underscored by a commitment of all provinces and regions to contribute to each other’s well-being, and, generally, to share each other’s endowments, on a privileged basis, as Canadians first; preservation of the monarch as head of state for Canada; finally, to bring the constitution home as soon as possible so that Canadians, as proud inheritors of these traditions, can deal as a mature and independent people with their own self-governance.
My government believes that these principles are fundamental to a strong and united nation. In future constitutional discussions we will continue to build on them, sensitive always to the expressed and perceived concerns of our native people and of our partners in the Canadian Confederation.
However, the government places a caution unequivocally before the citizens of this province and of Canada as a whole: namely, that Ontario will not negotiate sovereignty association with the government of Quebec. We wish to work with the province of Quebec within the Canadian framework and we will strive to do so with vigour.
Our two provinces share similar experience and traditions as founding partners in the Canadian nation. We are compatriots and friends. My government has inherent understanding and support for the great French-speaking partner of our Confederation in its efforts to preserve the French identity, language, culture and heritage. Within our own province, we have pursued and accomplished significant measures, and will continue to develop further measures to recognize our mutual duality in language, culture and tradition.
It is the firm conviction of my government that, having full regard to the real and understandable aspirations of the people of Quebec, the interests of all will best be served by retaining the national boundaries that now designate the Canadian nation.
To this end, it is my government’s intention to place a resolution before this House, in the hope that it will receive unanimous support and put on record the will of the legislators of this province.
Honourable members, the program presented for your consideration will seek to consolidate Ontario’s position within Confederation; to promote efficient and effective management of government programs; to sustain economic stability and opportunity for the people of Ontario, and to advance their social well-being.
May Divine Providence guide your deliberations.
In our sovereign’s name, I thank you.
God bless the Queen and Canada.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
Mr. Speaker: To prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of Her Honour’s speech, which I shall now read.
Reading dispensed with.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
QUIETING TITLES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 1, An Act to amend the Quieting Titles Act.
Motion agreed to.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration on Thursday next.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that commencing tomorrow, March 7, this House will not sit in the chamber on Wednesdays unless otherwise ordered.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that, notwithstanding any standing orders of the House, the following be the sequence in which private members’ ballot items be listed and called for debate and that a new ballot be held thereafter: Messrs. Grande, Rotenberg, Peterson, Renwick, Johnson, Stong, M. N. Davison, MacBeth, J. Reed, Foulds, Handleman, Gaunt, Bounsall, J. A. Taylor, Van Horne, Makarchuk, Mrs. Scrivener, Messrs. Hall, Lupusella, Kerr, T. P. Reid, Lawlor, Watson, Epp, Charlton, Ramsay, G. I. Miller, Young, Rollins, Ruston and Germa; and that the first day for consideration of private members’ public bills and orders be Thursday, March 29.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted, this motion does reflect quite honestly what you might call a positive, negotiated settlement --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Within the guidelines.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- to making the new standing orders reconcile with the desire shared by all members of the House to let each willing member have his turn putting forward an item for debate. It also reflects an acceptance of the traditional practice of having each of the three parties represented by every third item. So, in that connection, I do want to sincerely thank my colleagues, the other House leaders and the whips, for helping to resolve this matter within the framework of the new rules. In that connection, may I welcome to that group and wish the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) continued moderate good health in his new responsibilities here.
Motion agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Davis, the House adjourned at 3:53 p.m.