The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by her own hand.
Mr. Speaker: Pauline M. McGibbon, the Lieutenant Governor, transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1980, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, April 5, 1979.
CHARGES AGAINST LLBO EMPLOYEES
Mr. S. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: It has come to my attention that the Ontario Provincial Police news bureau has had on its desk for some considerable time now a list of persons charged, persons in the employ of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario. They have told the news media that they cannot give out those names, even though the charges have already occurred, until the minister has made a statement in the House at 2 p.m. today.
Since it would appear to me that this takes the form of news management, it seems to me there is incumbent upon either the minister who gave those orders or the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) or whoever it is in the OPP who believes they are acting under such orders, to make clear to the public of Ontario, and to the members here, that the mere fact that we meet at 2 p.m. is no reason for any form of news stage-managing to go on, and that it is a misuse of the fact that we meet here at 2 p.m.
The public surely has a right to know who is being charged in these instances and should not have to wait for the right psychological moment as determined by any minister of the crown.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, before I read the statement in reply to that, the Leader of the Opposition is cockeyed. I gave no such instructions to the OPP; I gave none.
Furthermore, the Leader of the Opposition as usual is manifestly misinformed.
I was apprised of sworn informations that were taken, apparently yesterday, by various crown attorneys across this province. The informations were sworn and warrants were issued, apparently sometime last night. I was apprised of those documents in my office at approximately 9:30 this morning by the Deputy Solicitor General. At that point, I said since they were provincial employees I would be issuing a statement in the Legislature at 2 p.m. That is all I said.
For the sake of the record -- and once again the Leader of the Opposition is manifestly misinformed -- four of the accused, it is my understanding, appeared in Ottawa court this morning for arraignment. That information is obviously public. The only request that was made to me by the provincial police was that in view of the fact that at that time, early this morning, two of the accused had not been taken into custody, they did not wish me to say anything prior to 2 o’clock so that the accused could be taken into custody, prior to any formal announcement being made in the Legislature. I hope that sets the record straight.
Mr. S. Smith: On the point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister undertake to inform himself that the Ontario Provincial Police news bureau at Downsview had on its desk all the names, had these names requested of them by the press and were told that they could not release them until a minister, namely the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, had made a statement at 2 p.m.? That may not have been the instructions of the minister --
Mr. Hennessy: Apologize.
Mr. S. Smith: Go back and check, and the member will find out I said, “Did he make the -- ”
Hon. Mr. Drea: Then apologize to me for your earlier remarks.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Apologize.
Mr. S. Smith: I didn’t say that. The minister wasn’t listening. Why doesn’t he read what I said? I said: “Did the minister or did the Solicitor General -- ”
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition made what he thought was a legitimate point of privilege.
Mr. Riddell: Why doesn’t the minister grow up? It gets a little sickening.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has given his word as to the series of events as he knows them. I think that the Leader of the Opposition should accept his word.
Mr. Wildman: Let the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk take over.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
CHARGES AGAINST LLBO EMPLOYEES
Hon. Mr. Drea: In January 1978 the chairman of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario requested the Ontario Provincial Police to launch an investigation into allegations of irregularities involving liquor licence board personnel.
As a result of that investigation, the following people have been charged: Robert George Lamb of Toronto, director of the inspections branch, has been charged with three counts of breach of trust under section 111 of the Criminal Code of Canada. John Edward Lawrence of Toronto, manager of regional inspectors, has been charged jointly with Mr. Lamb with one count of breach of trust under the Criminal Code.
Thomas Roy Dempsey of Ottawa, district liquor licence inspector, has been charged with 51 counts of uttering a forged document, 16 counts of accepting benefits and one count of breach of trust under the code. Harvey Blake Slade of Ottawa, district liquor licence inspector, has been charged with six counts of uttering a forged document under section 326 of the Criminal Code and 32 counts of accepting benefits. Ronald David Knudson of Ottawa, district liquor licence inspector, has been charged with 23 counts of uttering a forged document under section 326 of the Criminal Code and with four counts of accepting benefits under section 110 of the code.
Robert Edward Zimmerman of Ottawa, district liquor licence inspector, has been charged with eight counts of uttering a forged document and with 16 counts of accepting benefits under the Criminal Code.
As a result of these charges, the employees will be suspended without pay pending disposition by the court.
Mr. Sargent: All outstanding Tories.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Board policy is that even the slightest hint of impropriety or innuendo of wrong-doing be investigated.
Mr. Sargent: All Conservatives.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Since the matter is before the courts, there will be no further comment by the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario or by the ministry.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry. The Treasurer.
Mr. S. Smith: Why couldn’t they give out that news?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I have no idea. Why doesn’t the Leader of the Opposition talk to them?
Mr. Nixon: Somebody told them not to.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Treasurer has the floor.
Hon. Mr. McCague: The Leader of the Opposition should check his facts.
Mr. S. Smith: They were dead on.
Mr. Speaker: Does the Treasurer have a statement or doesn’t he?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I was commiserating with the Leader of the Opposition.
YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce today the renewal of the Ontario Youth Employment Program for 1979. This program, aimed at encouraging Ontario businesses and farms to provide summer job opportunities for young people from 15 to 24 years of age, has operated successfully now for two seasons. In 1979, OYEP will run from April 30 to October 21, and the amount of the grant is again to be $1.25 per hour.
The Ontario Youth Employment Program is designed to benefit both employers and the province’s youth by providing youth with valuable work experience, skills, contacts and references which will better equip them for full-time participation in the labour force; by encouraging additional productive activity by reducing the cost of summer labour to Ontario’s farm and business enterprises; and by assisting the farm and business sectors in recruiting youth for future employment.
In 1979, employers may apply for a grant for up to 150 weeks of employment at each business location, regardless of the number of positions created. This will provide greater flexibility for the employer and allow him to maximize the benefits of the program, since in previous years he has been restricted to six positions at each business location, even if the positions lasted only six or seven weeks.
For example, the practical effect of the new rule is that if employers can create new work for as little as six weeks, which is the minimum, they may apply for up to 25 employees for this period.
In 1979, I expect OYEP to provide about 40,000 jobs at a cost of $26 million. This compares with 34,000 jobs in 1978 at a cost of $20,000,000.
Mr. Eakins: Oh, yes?
Hon. F. S. Miller: “Oh, yep” is what my friend will be saying Tuesday night.
Mr. Eakins: I said, “Oh, yes?”
Hon. F. S. Miller: My colleague, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) will administer OYEP again in 1979.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have questions for the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman). Is he going to be back? Does the Premier know?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think so. I just left him at a luncheon.
Mr. S. Smith: If it is agreeable to the third party, I can withhold my questions until he comes back. Is that agreeable?
Mr. Cassidy: Yes.
Mr. S. Smith: I will wait, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development in the continuing absence in China of the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson).
Can the provincial secretary confirm statements by Ministry of Education officials that Ontario intends to provide an additional $40,000,000 to school boards to meet its new commitment to special education for all children who need it over the next three years? Can she explain how the government could have arrived at such a small amount when there are an estimated 30,000 children on waiting lists for special education in the province and many more whose needs have never yet been identified; and will she assure the House that none of the proposed $40,000,000 for special-education funding will be found by cutbacks in other Ontario grants to school boards?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that this government is committed to meeting the educational needs of those children with special learning difficulties. We have made a commitment, and the amount that has been established is, in effect, the amount of money that could be put into that program immediately. We do not have the teachers who are trained; we do not have all the facilities that are required.
Mrs. Campbell: Why don’t you import them?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: As quickly as they can be brought into place, the problems will be addressed and children requiring that kind of special education will be looked after.
Mr. Cassidy: You have been asleep at the switch.
Mr. Warner: Hollow words.
Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister say whether the amount of $40,000,000 is all the province is providing? Will the minister assure the House there will be no other cutbacks in other education grants to municipalities? Can the minister explain how the needs for special education which still exist in the province will be met, when this proposed grant is going to total $443 per year for each child on the waiting list, while the city of Toronto estimates it costs $4,824 for special education for each child?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The honourable member knows I don’t have all those figures at my fingertips. I have indicated to him that the government has made a commitment that every child in this province who needs special education will indeed receive it.
We have two new schools which will be opening up to provide such special education for these children. We have made money available to all boards of education for special education programs. That is the commitment the government has made.
Mr. Martel: Eighteen students.
Ms. Gigantes: Subtracting it from other grants.
Mr. Martel: That’s no commitment at all.
Mr. Sweeney: is the minister prepared to make a commitment in principle that for the newly mandated special education requirement a board will be able to get from the government the additional costs resulting or flowing from the new legislation mandate?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I am not prepared to make the commitment. The Minister of Education will be back in the House within a week and that question can be put to her at that time.
Mr. Cassidy: I thought you were the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: As I have indicated, the government has made a commitment. It is government policy that education for children with special needs will be provided by boards of education as quickly as it can be put into place.
Mr. Martel: What year? What millenium are you talking about? How many years down the road?
Mr. Grande: Since the minister mentioned one of the two schools that were to be started, I suppose the minister is referring to Trillium in Milton? Regarding this school, can the minister tell us what criteria are used to determine which children qualify, because no psychologist I know of is aware exactly how to refer children to that school yet?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: A special board will determine the eligibility of children to be admitted to that school.
Mr. Warner: Those were supposed to be ready for January.
LAKESHORE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Premier arising out of the moving, or the transfer, of 32 psycho-geriatric patients from Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital to the Queen Street mental institution yesterday.
Here is the Minister of Health; I will ask the Minister of Health.
Mr. Warner: Saved again.
Mr. Cassidy: My question arises from the decision to transfer 32 psycho-geriatric patients from Lakeshore to Queen Street yesterday. In view of the enormous anxiety that move caused among patients and staff, and the mounting concern expressed by the neighbouring community, by health-care workers and by all the people who are patients or potential users of the Lakeshore facility -- and in view of the fact that the whole rationale for closing Lakeshore will be examined fully by the standing committee on social development over the course of the next few weeks -- will the minister stop trying to make the closure of Lakeshore a fait accompli before the review by the standing committee has been concluded? Will he assure the House that there will be no further transfers of patients to other institutions from Lakeshore until that committee has reported?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I may say I think it was 29 patients and not 30. The patients were moved yesterday in what turned out to be an orderly fashion, in spite of the circumstances that were created at the Lakeshore hospital.
Mr. Warner: It’s nice to have orderly destruction.
Hon Mr. Timbrell: I’m advised there was a get-together last night in their new facilities --
Mr. Warner: You should have been in charge of the Titanic.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- in the 1956 building on Queen Street and this morning the patients are all well in spite of the additional pressures created around their move.
The honourable member will recall that when I made the announcement in January about the decision to close the Lakeshore hospital, I indicated the patients would be moved in groups, a few at a time, so that it would be an orderly move and would not be disruptive to the patients. It is our intention to carry on in that regard.
I welcome the opportunity, whenever the standing committee gets to the matter, and I don’t know when that’s going to be, to set the record straight. I have a few other initiatives under way to set the record straight. There’s a great deal of misinformation abroad about the numbers and various other things. I intend to set that record straight and to continue with the orderly movement of the patients.
In the final analysis, sir, my recommendation to the cabinet was based on, and will continue to be based on, the interests of the patients in that particular facility and the alternatives available for their care.
Mr. Warner: Even though the Premier’s meeting? He’s challenging it.
Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister explain what kind of planning is going on for these transfers, when the patients who were transferred from Lakeshore were not put into the same ward at the Queen Street mental institution and when they will no longer be looked after by the same staff who were looking after them at Lakeshore? They now have different staff in certain cases. Can the minister say what the effect is going to be on the health of the patients at the Lakeshore hospital if they are going to be arbitrarily transferred at short notice to different hospitals so the minister can empty Lakeshore before the people who’ve been questioning his decision have had their chance to put their views and their problems before the committee of the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I suggest some of the activities the member is describing are, in fact, more disruptive to the patients than the actual move.
I am told they are, in fact, in the same ward; I think it’s in the 1956 building. In most cases we are transferring staff with the various units. I will check to see if there are any variations in that, for whatever reason. Some staff, who had been with that unit at Lakeshore may very well have accepted positions elsewhere in the psychiatric hospital system. Some have already done that. They may also have accepted positions in other areas of the provincial government, or with the public hospitals or elsewhere. There are a number of people who have already taken positions elsewhere, but I’ll check on that particular thing. I am advised, though, that they are in fact in the same ward.
Mr. Lawlor: It must be awfully close.
Mrs. Campbell: Supplementary to the minister’s answer: In view of the fact that one of the reasons given for this closing was the concern about a patient who had burned to death and the so-called fire hazards of Lakeshore, would the minister table in this House the report of the fire marshal and of the fire department with reference to Lakeshore so we may have that material before us?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, that question is already on the Order Paper and was among the very large number tabled at the beginning of the session, answers to which are being prepared right now. As you will understand, Mr. Speaker, that is taking a --
Mrs. Campbell: We’d like to have them before everybody is out of Lakeshore.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- great deal of time and costing a great deal of money, but answers will be given.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr. Lawlor: I would like to ask where is the Minister of Health’s famous consultation and supply of information? Might we expect some information with respect to his next nefarious move? When is he going to reply to questions asked in this House on previous occasions with respect to the special observation unit he didn’t know very much about on that occasion; or with respect to the alcoholic services and his disposition thereof; and with respect to the dialysis disposition that seems to be as vacuous as the policy?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I thought we had answered all outstanding questions on that.
Mr. Lawlor: No.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If not I’ll check the record. As you know, there is and has been since the announcement, a committee established to effect an orderly transition, an orderly move of the patients and staff.
Mr. Grande: But no answers.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That group is made up of staff of Lakeshore and Queen Street, who by the way had done the assessments of the patients, I am told, before they were moved. This is contrary to another bit of misinformation that was bandied about. They will continue their work until the moves are all made.
Mr. S. Smith: I think the Minister of Industry and Tourism is here. I will start my question while he is taking his seat, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister explain why it is that in the presence of the Metro chairman --
Mr. Warner: And his buddy.
Mr. S. Smith: -- he told the federal Minister of National Defence that he would have no intention of proceeding with the matter of the convention centre for Metropolitan Toronto because he did not wish to give the federal government the benefit of this election plum at this time? Does the minister not recognize that his duty is to allow the people to decide for themselves what are election plums or goodies and his job is to, first of all get the centre and get the promise, and then to make darn sure the promise is carried out? Why did he decide to play politics instead?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I presume the Leader of the Opposition has spoken with Mr. Danson, who has confirmed the allegations he has repeated just now. I will give the member my clear recollection of the circumstances.
First, so far as the Metro chairman’s recollection of the conversations is concerned, what he hasn’t made clear is the fact that he was present for only one of the two conversations I had with Mr. Danson over a two-day period.
Mr. S. Smith: He almost fell off his seat.
Mr. Nixon: Joe Clark doesn’t need Bill Davis anyway.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Second, I originally placed the call to Mr. Danson to canvass --
Mr. Van Horne: He said, “Who needs him?”
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- the question with him in an attempt to keep this very major and important project from becoming a political issue.
Mr. Mackenzie: Self righteous.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Are you becoming Canadian Liberals all of a sudden?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I invited Mr. Danson --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Would I want to politicize him? I in fact made one mistake, and that is I said to Barney -- I said to Mr. Danson --
Mr. Peterson: Barnyard to you.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Probably to you too, David.
I said to Mr. Danson: “If you wish to proceed with this now I want to tell you how we feel about it. I am going to make that quite clear.” I said: “Mr. Danson, we feel that land is not a sufficient contribution to the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto. The federal government, if it is finally becoming serious about doing something for the people of Metropolitan Toronto, has to do more than put in land. In addition to land it ought to make a financial contribution so the land component plus the financial contribution equals the amount of money Metro and the taxpayers of Ontario put in.” I said Barney -- sorry, Mr. Danson, it shows members how well we get along ordinarily.
Mr. T. P. Reid: What did he call you?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I said: “Mr. Danson, quite honestly, the land isn’t going to be good enough by itself.” I said: “Now, if you want to give the land --
Mr. S. Smith: No reference to the campaign?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will tell the member what the reference to the campaign was, I am going to tell him exactly what the reference to the campaign was.
An hon. member: Give him Toronto Island, Larry.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He said you guys goofed on Harbourfront, why would you want to do it again?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will tell the member exactly what the reference to the campaign was, it was this: I said to him quite clearly: “If you give us only the land then our response will be that the land isn’t good enough.” That is the old federal Liberal game of saying: “We will give you one dollar, now you guys go spend five.”
I said: “Therefore, if you want to give us the land now without the money, then you have to make that decision in the context of your campaign. However, in order to keep this from being involved in the campaign, if you want to withhold any further discussion until after the election, I am happy to do that.”
That was what he called back the next day and said to me. He said, “I have spoken to my colleagues” --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They don’t want to hear the answer.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Danson said he had spoken to his colleagues and could not even get them to go along with the land at that time; so it would have to wait until after the election. And, considering how the election is going, I am confident it will work out a lot better then.
Mr. S. Smith: What a pity, Mr. Speaker, that there was a witness. What a pity.
Mr. Speaker: One would assume that the members on one side of the House don’t want to hear the question and those on the other side don’t want to hear the answer.
Mr. S. Smith: You are right on, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to hear both.
Mr. S. Smith: Yes, Mr. Speaker. What a pity there was a witness.
By way of supplementary: Would the minister not accept that it is not his job to keep the issue out of the federal campaign? The people can judge the worth or lack of worth of federal election promises. The minister’s job is to get the federal government commitment and then to hold them to it. In that regard, will the minister tell us why he is withholding for his own personal study the report of Gladstone Consultants in Washington; and why is he refusing to share that report with the other levels of government at this time? Granted, he may wish to study it, but what is the reason that the other levels with whom he is supposed to co-operate are not being permitted to see that report?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, may I say in response to the first part of the question -- why do we not get the federal commitment and work from there? -- the answer is, that is precisely what I asked Mr. Danson for; and I asked him again today. If they are sincere in their desire, let them just call up and say the land is available. That is the one thing that Mr. Danson has not done, to say, “Yes, the land is available.” I trust the Leader of the Opposition will get on the phone over the weekend and arrange for that to occur on Monday.
The answer to the second part of the question is quite simply that we have got the study and, quite honestly, rather than have a study distributed and start public jockeying for position, as has now developed because of Mr. Danson’s intervention --
Mr. Peterson: This is ridiculous, just ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Just wait a minute --
Mr. Nixon: The CBC has got it, anyway.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Rather than have one level say in public, “We are going to throw in so much; now go and squeeze the other side,” I thought the best way to do it would be to meet quietly and talk with the other two levels of government.
Mr. Danson asked that that conversation be suspended until after the election. In response to his request that we not pursue the discussion until a later time. I agreed at his request to take more time to look at it from our standpoint. In response to that, I have not had an opportunity to complete our analysis of it and to take it to my colleagues to see what extent we are going to be able to contribute. We are long on record as being in favour of trying to find a way to build a convention centre for this city.
Mr. Peterson: It is despicable, the way you have handled it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Barney’s way was terrific.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While the Minister of Industry and Tourism is talking to the federal government and, despite what he said to him and what he was told, since 60 per cent of the workers in the construction industry in Toronto are unemployed and Toronto had to refuse 90 conventions which would have brought $100,000,000 worth of business to the city of Toronto, can the minister tell us what is his commitment towards building the convention centre and what is the time table, since it looks as if he had been ready to go ahead since February if the federal election had not been called?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, may I say it is refreshing to hear the member support the use of government funds to attract new jobs here and to create some investment. I am sure his colleagues who are aldermen in the south end of my riding will fully support this project when it is brought up.
May I say that one of the reasons we have been studying the report is to determine the extent to which the taxpayers of Ontario should participate in that centre. I am a little more careful with the allocation of those funds. I have colleagues who have requested the Treasurer for funds and so on. We are trying to resolve our capability to fund that centre.
That is why I would have hoped the three levels of government could have met quietly and determined the extent to which we are all able to contribute. I can assure the member that this government, having paid entirely for that study, having long been on record as supporting convention centres in several municipalities -- not NHL rinks for Hamilton -- is very committed to that type of project. Members will see our contribution very shortly.
Mr. Wildman: Maybe you can get Ford to do it.
Mr. S. Smith: What is wrong with Hamilton being in the NHL?
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary: Since we have a tourism deficit of $660,000,000 in Ontario, and since tourism is receiving a very low profile and not the priority it deserves, does the minister not see it as his responsibility to bring together the various bodies to discuss this centre? Also, is it not true that the people in the industry have themselves offered to make a substantial contribution to this centre?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I have spent a great deal of time with the Metro convention people. I have spent a great deal of time with Paul Godfrey, who happened to be in my office when a certain call came in.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Did he get a copy of that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: A transcript of the call or the study?
I must repeat this: Mr. Danson says he is not sure who placed the original call; I am sure, I called him. It was the day before the federal Liberal cabinet came to Toronto to have its meeting. I must repeat: we paid for the study and co-ordinated the whole endeavour. But for Mr. Danson’s request to stand this thing down until after the election, then it would have been going forward.
Mr. S. Smith: The people paid for it, my friend. You didn’t pay for it, the people paid for it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I cannot co-ordinate it when a major player in the game has said he doesn’t want to talk until the election is over. I repeat my offer: We are happy to contribute and happy to co-ordinate if Mr. Danson will contribute the land as a minimum and some money on top of it. We are ready to talk tomorrow. If the member can get him off the campaign trail we will talk to him tomorrow.
Mr. S. Smith: A second question to the same minister on a different topic: Given his throne speech commitment to help small business, can he tell us whether he intends to speak to his colleagues in cabinet to try to prevent some of the small businesses of Ontario from property tax increases which are threatening to bankrupt them? In particular, does he not agree that he has a duty to urge upon his cabinet colleagues some further consideration to mitigate the impact of property tax reassessment as it affects small businesses? Shouldn’t there be a mitigating factor taking into account the size of the business?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Of course, I recall looking at some of the earlier studies. One of the concerns that was expressed the last time this issue got a lot of profile in this assembly and other places was the fact that there were many small businesses, particularly in the tourist areas, which would be dramatically and adversely affected by that reassessment. It was, in part, a very real concern with regard to the fact that many tourist operations and others would be put right out of business by some aspects of reassessment that has caused us all to have another look at the question.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, is the minister not aware that because his government has encouraged certain cities to go ahead on their own and introduce the new evaluations, that small businesses are being hurt? Is he aware, for instance, that in Hamilton there are businesses now facing increases ranging to 500 per cent and that a number of them will be facing bankruptcy? In particular, does he know that Centennial Volkswagen -- one particular dealership in Hamilton
-- is facing an 89 per cent increase, which will make its taxes $10,000 a year higher than the largest Volkswagen dealer in Canada, located in the Don Mills area in Toronto? Does he not see it is his duty to step in and prevent this kind of terrible hardship on the small business people in those places where new evaluation is being brought in on a local basis?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Of course we are terribly concerned about it. That’s why we are all having a look at those problems and inequities. The fact is that at the same time I am expressing concern over those types of situations, and I am, we have other situations where the net result of that same reassessment package is that some small home owner who has had a home for very many years and who has been underassessed --
Mr. S. Smith: This is commercial.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: One can’t separate the commercial from the residential; it is all part of the tax base of the same area. At the same time the municipality would lose some assessment from the situation indicated by the member --
Mr. Nixon: Taxes are $180 a car.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- the burden is, in many cases, being shifted to some small residential owner. It is because of the very great burden that we may be shifting from one individual to another individual, even if they are in different sectors, that we have this tremendous problem.
Of course, if one had it all to do over again and could start it all over again, it would be dramatically different. But now we have built-in inequities and equities in the system, and when one tries to sort them out people are going to get hurt on both sides. We have tremendous awareness of that. Indeed, I can tell the member of a lot of people in my own riding who, as residential owners, would go up 100 per cent in assessment. I can show him small businesses that are being dramatically hurt in my riding at the same time by their current assessment rate. It is because we are struggling with this that the debate has continued for quite some time.
Mr. Laughren: A supplementary question to the minister for global product mandating: Would he, when he is responding to the problems faced by the small business community dealing with property tax, also look into the problems expressed by the Federation of Independent Businessmen about the effect that these corporate takeovers and mergers are having on competition in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am not sure that was a supplementary question --
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, it was.
Mr. Warner: It’s relevant and important.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and I am not sure I believe that member was carrying John Bulloch’s briefcase today. In any case, I will be happy to look into all those concerns at the same time. I will report in a more reasoned way than Warren Allmand, however, I should caution the House.
Mr. Cassidy: Are you in favour of competition or against it?
Mr. S. Smith: A final supplementary: Does the minister not understand that it is possible to bring in a new market-value assessment category by category, that it isn’t necessarily required that the commercial be reassessed as is the residential? The commercial could be left alone for a while. Could he intervene with the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) and bring to his attention increases such as 500 per cent in a company, Bindery Services, 490 per cent in Colortron, 314 per cent in DeWildt Fiat, 92 per cent in a company called Hacienda, and so on? Does he not recognize a responsibility to protect the small businesses from this kind of huge property-tax increase? Will he intervene with the Minister of Revenue?
Mr. Peterson: Just as with licence plates, you can do it differently.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes. I hope as I continue to discuss this matter, as I have been doing, with all of my colleagues who are concerned with it, that the member will also reflect on whether Hamilton city council, who also asked for the very reassessment he is complaining about, might join me. I know the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) -- I know where he is today -- was one of those front and centre supporting the push to have the very reassessment this member is now expressing concern about.
Mr. S. Smith: There is a mitigating factor. You know that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Perhaps Hamilton, the member for Wentworth North, and this member will join me in worrying about the effects of the reassessment they asked for. We are talking about this on a regular basis. And Gordon Dean will help us after tonight.
Mr. Martel: He is going to become your executive assistant.
NUCLEAR PLANT SAFETY
Mr. Sargent: I have a question to the Premier. Is the Premier aware of secret reports within Ontario Hydro under the title of Internal Significant Event Reports dealing with malfunctions and accidents at Hydro’s nuclear stations? If so, does he know whether the Minister of Energy (Mr. Auld) sees these reports? If he does see these reports, would the Premier not agree that they offer little support for Hydro and government assurances that all is well with respect to safety in nuclear plants? If the Premier does not see these reports, or the minister does not see these reports, does he not agree it is high time that he did?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can’t speak for the Minister of Energy, but I think the honourable member will find, in the very lengthy discussions before Dr. Porter’s commission -- I can’t say whether this particular thing was referred to -- a great deal of time, I guess there was close to 400 hours of discussion and presentations, related to the whole question of the safety of the Candu system. I think I’m right in this too, that the members of the select committee met with Ontario Hydro in terms of an explanation of the system that has been developed in this country.
I think, as the minister pointed out, that there are always some problems, no one is minimizing that, but in terms of safety the Candu system is regarded as being safe. I noticed a story in the paper this morning, I think it was in the Globe and Mail, with respect to Pickering. I think the question really had been asked here before. My guess is that was also discussed before Dr. Porter’s commission, perhaps even before the select committee.
I would say to the honourable member we are as interested and concerned, we are most desirous of having safety as complete as possible. I think if one looks at the record of our system -- and I emphasize our system, I am not knowledgeable to speak about the situation near Harrisburg; but with respect to our own, it is regarded by most people who are knowledgeable in the business as being a safe system for the development of nuclear electricity.
I guess I could say I could ask Hydro, when these incidents occur from time to time, that they might send the minister and me a report. I must confess that if they sent me a technical report of that nature, I think the honourable member would be the first to say, “Then what are you going to do, Mr. Premier? You don’t understand it anyway?” His colleague is nodding his head up and down. However, I can assure the honourable member that the Atomic Energy Control Board and the people at Ontario Hydro, from my assessment at least -- not in technical terms because I can’t express it in technical terms, but in terms of concern for and consciousness of the need for safety -- have exceeded the requirements, in many situations, as laid down by AECB.
If the honourable member wishes to pursue a particular situation, I know that the chairman of the select committee mentioned, I believe on Tuesday, that this was an area that the committee would be getting into, at the same time not duplicating the studies and the hearings that Dr. Porter has already undertaken.
I would point out to the honourable member that I think when the select committee organizes the approach to this, when there is some opportunity to meet with those people who were there to see some aspects of what went on near Harrisburg, this whole question could be properly pursued. I am as anxious as anyone else to make sure that the people understand that this system is safe.
I can’t quote them because I wasn’t there, but I understand after discussions with and presentations by Ontario Hydro, one or two members of the committee who sit on the other side of the House gave the impression, and I say it was only an impression, as to their assessment, and that was that it was a safe system. That is by hearsay only but I think probably it reflects part of the conversation that took place.
Mr. Sargent: I thank the Premier, but that’s not good enough, sir.
In the meantime would the Premier advise the House whether he thinks a series of near misses, serious human error, equipment failure, and other potential horror stories in the past year, should be covered up? Would he not agree it is of paramount importance that total freedom of information on internal nuclear reports should be available to the government and opposition members, both federal and provincial?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t doubt the honourable member’s genuine interest in the subject, I am not being facetious about that, but I think it’s also important to point out that perhaps some of the language that is being used is excessive on his part. I don’t know of any secret reports about horror stories. I’ve not seen any of this. I do know there have been reports on the day-to-day operation of Pickering and Bruce, you name it --
Mr. Sargent: I said “potential horror stories.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know, but the member is a very flamboyant, colourful, effervescent individual. I think in this situation one should --
Mr. Sweeney: It was a serious question.
Mr. Sargent: You can’t laugh this one off.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right. If the honourable member is saying that he knows of potential horror problems at one of our plants I think he should tell us about them.
Mr. S. Smith: Be fair. He talked about a specific report.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think he should be using the language “a potential horror story.” I think it’s wrong in this situation, I really do. I’m not here to play politics on this issue. It’s serious. We should be concerned about it. In terms of the information Hydro or AECB may have, my assumption is -- and I wasn’t at any of the hearings -- that a lot of this was discussed before Dr. Arthur Porter’s commission. Has the honourable member read those aspects of that report? Maybe it would, shall we say, help him in his assessment and in his understanding of the system.
Mr. Sargent: Don’t talk down to me. Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m not talking down to the member. I’m suggesting that perhaps he might read those reports and make some judgements after that.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: Would the Premier be prepared to give an undertaking to this House that he would look at documents tabled with the Porter commission and with the select committee on Ontario Hydro that include minutes from a meeting of the reactor safety advisory committee, August 10 and 11, 1976, in which Atomic Energy of Canada Limited -- Mr. Brooks specifically -- says Bruce generating station A, in order to meet the requirements it was licensed under, should be operating at 65 per cent of power for safety’s sake? Will he give an undertaking that he will read those minutes?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to read almost anything. I can’t undertake that I could read the complete minutes and that would in turn solve the honourable member’s problems. I assume the select committee has been dealing with this and will be dealing with it. I’ll take a look at those minutes. I’m not sure what it’s going to establish.
Mr. Mackenzie: A question of the Premier, arising out of his meeting on Tuesday with the workers from the Westinghouse plant’s switch gear division in Hamilton: In view of the company’s threat to 700 jobs -- a very real threat in that plant -- what guarantees is the government prepared to provide to ensure these workers are not out of a job, and what steps will the government commit itself to in order to deal with the layoffs that are threatened?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’ll try to recall as much of the conversation as I can.
Mr. Peterson: Just summarize it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am going to summarize it. It was a lengthy presentation. It took an hour, so I think an adequate summary would be what?
Mr. S. Smith: Forty minutes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: About 40 minutes?
Mr. Peterson: Just two sentences.
Mr. Laughren: Quit stalling. Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for London Centre wants something clear and concise. I’ll endeavour to do that.
Mr. Laughren: Is that in order, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Sweeney: We’ll settle for concise.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why? They made a presentation, a very understandable presentation, because they were concerned about the 700 jobs. I made it quite clear to them that I would be meeting with management of Westinghouse Canada -- I think the date has been set, as a matter of fact. The ministry was monitoring the situation and had a particular study related to the electronics industry under way, and also the company’s study, which may or may not lead to certain changes, apparently is scheduled for completion around October.
I said to the representatives of the union who were there that I would be meeting with the company. We would keep them informed. I made this clear as well to Mr. Pilkey, the head of the Ontario Federation of Labour, who was with them.
It is also fair to state that as part of their presentation they indicated the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party would agree to legislation to deal with multinationals -- why just multinationals in terms of economic problems, I’m not sure. I said I knew the New Democratic Party was prepared to legislate about anything, but I really didn’t think the Liberal Party of Ontario had gone that far.
Mr. Mackenzie: A supplementary: Can the Premier tell me then what good is his intent to meet with the company some time in the next two weeks, and what good is the company’s argument that they’re going to conduct studies, when over the last week they have been systematically, throughout the plant, telling the switch-gear employees at what date their employment will terminate? In addition to that, what about the personnel management and site selection plans of the company, which obviously are intended to locate another plant away from any union involvement, if at all possible?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not familiar with the statement, other than some documentation that suggests there is some consideration of potential sites. I have not discussed this with the management of the company but I shall be doing so, that’s why we’re having a meeting. We will discuss that along with three or four other things we wish to raise with them.
I assured the ladies and gentlemen who were in to see me that we were interested in the viability of Westinghouse Canada. I assured them we were interested in it remaining within the city of Hamilton and that we would be, from our standpoint, making every effort to assist. They asked for a guarantee but I couldn’t give it to them and I can’t give it to the honourable member.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for Hamilton West.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, will the Premier make it clear to Westinghouse, since their so-called decentralization scheme has very clearly as its main purpose the escape from unionism, that in the province of Ontario in 1979 we just don’t accept that one sacrifices 700 jobs in a community because a company doesn’t like dealing with a labour union? Will he make it clear to the company that that day is over, unionism happens to be part of life and they’ll have to learn to live with it?
Mr. Breaugh: Does the Leader of the Opposition know what he just said?
Mr. Martel: I can’t get over that.
An hon. member: It’s by-election day.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I was waiting for the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) to applaud that observation.
Mr. Martel: So were we.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Is he speaking for the member on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, abso-positively -- there are a number of things we will make clear when the company comes to visit us.
Mr. S. Smith: What was the government’s position on the Fleck strike? Was the Premier against them on the Fleck strike?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Let me tell the member this. As much as we like Prescott we’re not going to suggest to them either they should all move out to Prescott et cetera. We’re not going to suggest they move out of the golden horseshoe to go down there to locate.
Mr. Rollins: I have a question of the honourable Treasurer concerning an article that appeared in the Bancroft Times this week with reference to Hastings county being part of the new program now being negotiated between the province and the federal government in DREE. I would like assurance from the minister that Hastings county has been taken in consideration for favourable consideration as it has been, in the past, as part of the westerly boundary of the eastern Ontario agreements between the two levels of governments, whether it be DREE, ARDA, or other items?
Hon. F. S. Miller: The DREE agreement for eastern Ontario has been under negotiation for some time. I assume from the article the honourable member sent me that the candidate for the Liberal Party down there has not really talked to his colleagues in Ottawa --
Mr. Nixon: Hastings? He is going to win.
Hon. F. S. Miller: -- because he said that Hastings isn’t included. Our information at this point is that Hastings is included, as it should be.
I might also add that we thought we had Peterborough in it. We thought we had Victoria in it. We had Haliburton in and we had Muskoka in, and those were unilaterally withdrawn.
Mr. Rollins: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Inasmuch as I do represent a portion of Peterborough county, along with Hastings county, I regret that the federal government has not seen fit to co-operate with this minister --
Mr. Grande: Are you making a speech?
Mr. Rollins: -- and include Peterborough county as part of this agreement.
Mr. Bradley: What a waste of the question period.
Mr. Martel: That’s a great question.
Mr. Speaker: That really wasn’t a question.
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is it not true that Haliburton is still under negotiation, and has not been completely eliminated? It’s my understanding it is still under consideration.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Until May 22, maybe?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The pipelines to Ottawa are open these days.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I hope the member is right.
Mr. Kerrio: He usually is.
Hon. F. S. Miller: It was in; it wasn’t even under negotiation. I, for one, believe that with the handicap the electors already have in their member, they at least deserve to be included in the DREE agreement.
Mr. Conway: Wait until Bill Scott hears that.
Mr. Eakins: Our Liberal member won’t like that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He’s not a member. He’s only a candidate.
Mr. Kerrio: We can’t let the Premier in.
Hon. F. S. Miller: The fact remains, my riding was in too.
Mr. S. Smith: Speaking of handicapped ridings.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I want to say that the member’s riding and my riding were included at the federal government’s suggestion. To my shock, a week ago, the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion informed me that because he could not include Peterborough, and because he could not include Victoria, he couldn’t include Haliburton and Muskoka.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They don’t think they can win those seats; that’s why.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: He didn’t mind including Montreal and Quebec.
EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) recently inquired about the degree to which workers and their unions had an opportunity to comment on the preparation of the regulations for promulgation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Both workers and unions have been afforded an opportunity to provide comments on the regulations being proposed. To outline the extent to which input has been encouraged and indeed invited, I would like to comment specifically on each of the regulations in preparation.
First, let me deal with the regulations proposed for the industrial sector, which are essentially similar to those currently under the Industrial Safety Act. Some revisions have been proposed to correct deficiencies in the old regulations that have been identified over the past several years. A copy of the proposed draft was made available to a limited number of organizations for comment on February 12 of this year. Included among these groups was the Ontario Federation of Labour.
Second, in the case of the regulations proposed for the construction sector, an initial draft proposal was made available to the Construction Safety Association of Ontario early in January, and that association undertook to circulate the draft to a number of affected groups. A revised draft was later prepared and made available on March 6, again to a number of organizations. The Provincial Labour-Management Safety Committee was on that list and represented on that committee are the bricklayers and masons, the operating engineers, the carpenters, the labourers and the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.
Third, the regulations for the mining sector have been under review by the Barrett committee for the past three years. Eight members of the committee represent the United Steelworkers of America.
Finally, concerning the regulations for the control of exposure to occupational health hazards, comment on the proposed draft regulations covering six chemical substances and noise was invited by notices in the Ontario Gazette in July and August of last year. In addition, copies of the proposed regulations were mailed to a number of organizations likely to be affected, including 45 union and worker associations. In the case of some of these regulations, we have specifically invited comment from representatives of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the United Steelworkers of America.
Mr. Cassidy: The question of the member for Hamilton East was not only about consultation about the regulations under Bill 70, but also about when we could expect the bill to be proclaimed.
Since it has now been 15 weeks since that bill was adopted by this Legislature, can the minister say when the workers of Ontario will get the protection of Bill 70 by having the bill proclaimed?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I did answer that question of the member, but let the member and I be very clear. There is no delay, no interest in procrastinating, only a sincere interest in getting that bill promulgated as soon as it can be done. Let us not play that game.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, in answer to a second question, on Tuesday the member for London Centre -- who is wearing a lovely tie today, by the way; that’s a terrific tie --
Mr. Peterson: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Your wife didn’t pick it though, did she?
Mr. Speaker: Time’s a-wasting.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The member brought to my attention the fact I had not answered a question he posed several weeks ago regarding family benefits and the Ontario Human Rights Code. I regret this omission, but was under the impression he had obtained the answer he wished from the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) in a subsequent question.
Although it could be said the current policy regarding family benefits appears to suggest discrimination on the basis of sex, the commission has indicated its view is the point in question does not fall within the provisions of the code. When the matter was brought to the attention of the commission, it replied it cannot take such cases, largely because there is considerable doubt about the enforcement of the code as it applies at present to agencies of the crown, as a legal action would entail the crown acting against the crown.
Thus, I can only repeat my original statement to the member that this particular situation does not at present fall within the scope of the human rights code.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister, in his capacity as minister responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Code, prepared to investigate this entire situation to bring the various agencies of the crown underneath that human rights code? Is he prepared to deal with that issue and is he prepared to give them instructions to come up with draft legislation in that particular area?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: There are two issues, one is personal. The member asked me whether I feel there is discrimination. I do, as does the Minister of Community and Social Services, as he said.
Mr. Peterson: You are not prepared to do anything about it. We want to give you a chance.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Second, the matter I have referred to is clearly one of those under consideration in our review of the Ontario Human Rights Code that is under way. As I mentioned before in the House at the time of his question, that act and proposed amendments will be discussed in the ordinary legislative way.
Mr. S. Smith: When?
Mr. Van Horne: I have a question to the Minister of Health. I suppose I could very well have asked this of the Treasurer, in the light of his opening statement today.
Is the minister prepared to deny the allegations of the London ambulance attendants’ association that many ambulances in Ontario are staffed in the summertime by students who have minimum medical, nursing or health training and who, therefore, could place the life of the injured or sick person using the service in extreme jeopardy?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The member has a sixth sense.
Mr. Conway: The question is, do you have five?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am just reading, at this very moment, some information on that prepared by my staff.
Mr. Laughren: Set up. Set up.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No, we would not do that.
The students are required to hold a valid standard first-aid certificate issued by the Red Cross or the St. John Ambulance Association, plus a valid class F driver’s licence which enables them to drive the ambulances. These qualifications, I am told in the information I have before me, are similar to the current legislative requirements for part-time and volunteer ambulance officers. The students who will be employed in the summer of 1979 will also be certified by the Canadian Heart Foundation in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation at the basic rescuer level.
Does the honourable member require any additional information? The information before me is extremely lengthy, and I haven’t had a chance to go through it, so perhaps I could take whatever supplementary question he has as notice and I will get the full information back to him.
Mr. Van Horne: By way of supplementary: No doubt the minister has information in front of him because we have been chasing this particular item for a couple of days. I would say, by way of background, that the situation has been presented to the ministry for the last couple of years and, specifically, the allegations I have received lead me to ask this question.
In the regulations, section 14 suggests that in addition to nursing training et cetera, a person with a health discipline approved by the ministry might be qualified. We have instances of geography and psychology students acting as summertime ambulance attendants.
Does the minister consider those equivalent qualifications -- geology, geography or psychology?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have already indicated the qualifications they must all have, regardless of the discipline in which they are training.
Mr. Van Horne: But that hasn’t happened.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I will be glad to respond to every single point addressed to the ministry in the most recent inquiry of which I have been made familiar. I have not been made aware of any earlier inquiry.
Mr. Conway: We have a used-car salesman as Treasurer.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I will be glad to share with the member information on all aspects of it. I hope to reassure him the standards are in fact quite appropriate for the summer students who are employed to assist as staff holidays rotate through the summer months.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health who last week made an announcement in this House that was purportedly to solve the problem of opted-out physicians. To avoid accusations of hyperbole I’d like to quote just one line from his initial statement: “that this announcement is based on a partnership between health care professionals, the medical community. the public and the government.” He also said that “this partnership, despite some difficulties, has worked well in Ontario.” Could I ask the minister how he rationalizes, or dared to make, that statement in light of this quote from the general secretary of the Ontario Medical Association to the AMA convention in the United States? The quote is: “Partnership with government does not exist.”
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would remind the honourable member -- perhaps he couldn’t see from where he sits in the chamber -- at the time I made that statement last week the gentleman to whom he refers was sitting in the gallery. He was there with the president of the medical association and most of the executive of the medical association --
Mr. McClellan: Sitting there laughing at you.
Mr. Warner: You could hear the chuckles from here.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- as well as the president and executive director of the hospital association. I’m not familiar with that particular quote, but I suggest that the deeds --
Mr. Warner: You should be.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- and their very presence here to back up that statement confirm the partnership to which I made reference.
Mr. Martel: Blame the opposition; we initiated the legislation.
Mr. Warner: You failed miserably.
Mr. McClellan: Why shouldn’t he be here? He knows a sucker when he sees one.
Mr. Cooke: It is nonsense.
Mr. Warner: Don’t talk on medicare.
Mr. Breaugh: I would take the man at his word, as that is exactly what he means. Would the minister then care to comment on Dr. Moran’s description of the way the government arrives at physicians’ fees? Again I will quote: “They are a sham, a charade; we are in a no-win situation.”
Mr. Martel: He didn’t say that, did he?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If I remember correctly, the appearance at the AMA -- and I haven’t seen that particular report -- was many months ago. In fact the opinion was expressed on several occasions by representatives of the medical association --
Mr. Warner: No, no, wrong again. Try something else.
Ms. Gigantes: He’s been saying it for months.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- that while we were under the anti-inflation board controls as laid down by the federal government, the negotiations were hamstrung by the ceiling imposed.
Mr. S. Smith: Were you against it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We all knew going into negotiations in that three-year period what the upper limit was of the average income increase for a physician; what there was left to negotiate was the distribution. With respect, any time that statement has been made in my presence -- and it has been made -- it has been with reference to that restriction that was placed on negotiations for over three years.
Mr. Warner: Wrong; wrong again.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved first reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, 1971.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, this is a reintroduction of a similar bill that was on the Order Paper and died last session. The purpose is to extend the eligibility for compensation under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, 1971, to any person who has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to a term of imprisonment and whose conviction is subsequently quashed. I might add there is a significant amendment to it in that with this change it would provide for cases such as the Peter Treu case which could now receive consideration.
WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved first reading of Bill 39, An Act to amend the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the introduction of the bill has been the result of an academic research project sponsored by students of Wilfrid Laurier University -- Cheryl Oleniuk, Lori Rheaume and Tom Robson. The purpose of the bill is to require the Workmen’s Compensation Board to establish at least one sheltered workshop for handicapped persons in Ontario. The board is also authorized to provide assistance to persons or associations who wish to establish sheltered workshops. The amendment is designed to place jobless injured workers in full-time employment.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, pursuant to standing order 13 I wish to indicate to the House the business for tonight, tomorrow and next week. This afternoon and evening, we will continue with the debate on the speech from the throne, and similarly tomorrow morning, Friday. On Monday, April 9, we will have the windup of the reply to the speech from the throne with a vote planned for about 5:45.
Tuesday afternoon, April 10, we will do legislation and take into consideration Bills 13, 14, 15 16 and 18 and in the evening we hear from the Treasurer. On Wednesday, April 11, the resources development, administration of justice and general government committees may meet in the morning. On Thursday, April 12, we take up private members’ public business, being ballot items three and four with adjournment planned on Thursday, April 12, at 6 p.m. for us to reconvene at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.
While I am on my feet, I wonder if we might have the unanimous consent of the House for the Treasurer to present the necessary supply bill to pick up the supplementary estimates that the committee of supply dealt with on Thursday evening and Friday morning of last week?
Mr. Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent for such action?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
The following bill was given first, second and third readings on motion by Hon. F.S. Miller:
Bill 40, An Act granting to Her Majesty certain additional sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1979.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Belanger: Mr. Speaker, before I get into the debate, I would like to express my appreciation for the excellent manner in which you conduct the business of this House. You have been fair in all your decisions and I am sure this has been appreciated by all three parties.
Mr. Speaker, I will be using up a considerable amount of time this afternoon. As a matter of fact, I will be using up some of the time I haven’t used during this past year.
Mr. Martel: It is going to be a filibuster.
Mr. Belanger: Mr. Speaker, I am not a member who likes to get up and boast about what this government has done.
Mr. Nixon: It is going to be a short speech.
Mr. Belanger: I am not a member who will speak up in the House for the sake of publicity.
Mr. Lawlor: You are on the wrong side of the fence.
Mr. Belanger: And I am not a member who speaks in this House -- or who shouts from my seat -- about what this government should be doing, or what I want for my counties of Prescott and Russell.
Mr. Nixon: Why are you here?
Mr. Stong: You must be going to retire.
Mr. Belanger: When I have a request in my riding I go directly to the source: the minister, or even the Premier (Mr. Davis), if need be.
An hon. member: Or the Premier’s advisers. That is where the power is.
Mr. Belanger: Mr. Speaker, that is the way I operate.
Mr. Nixon: You don’t know Lorne Henderson, do you?
Mr. Riddell: Is this your swan song, Albert?
Mr. Belanger: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me today to have the opportunity of participating in the debate on the speech from the throne.
Monsieur l’Orateur: C’est un plaisir pour moi aujourd’hui de participer aux débats sur le discours du trône.
Je regrette cependant que le Chef de l’Opposition officielle ne soit pas ici pour entendre mes commentaires puisqu’il a manifesté un si vif intérêt dans l’est de l’Ontario et de mon comté. En août dernier, par exemple, selon le journal de Prescott, il aurait dit qu’il encouragerait l’industrie à quitter le centre prospère de la province pour aller s’établir dans l’est de l’Ontario. Je crains que le leader de l’opposition ne soit jamais dans une position pour avoir cette influence.
Mr. Martel: Oh, no, the north, Albert.
Mr. Belanger: Malheureusement, il semble qu’il dise la même chose aux gens des autres régions de la province et j’ai nettement l’impression qu’il n’a pas encore informé les gens de la région de Hamilton, de Burlington et de Toronto qu’il songe à déménager l’industrie de ces localités vers d’autres régions de la province. Évidemment, si c’est vraiment son intention, ce dont je doute sincèrement, il est fort probable qu’il adressait sa déclaration pour plaire la population locale comme c’est le cas dans un grand nombre de ses déclarations.
Je regrette aussi que le député de Nippissing, Monsieur Bolan, soit absent. Lui aussi s’est rendu dans les beaux comtés de Prescott et de Russell en disant lors d’une réunion libérale et je cite: “Nous avons un problème dans Prescott et Russell; c’est Albert Bélanger.”
Mr. Martel: That’s nasty, Albert.
Mr. Belanger: En réalisant qu’il s’adressait à ses amis libéraux, je suppose qu’il voulait dire que les Libéraux ont un problème avec Albért Bélanger parce qu’il fait du si bon travail pour ses électeurs que le Libéraux n’éliront jamais un député dans Prescott et Russell.
Toutefois, je ne suis pas ici aujourd’hui pour m’attaquer aux déclarations que les Libéraux ont faites dans diverses régions de l’Ontario --
Mr. Martel: Now you are boasting.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: No, in French it is not boasting.
Mr. Belanger: -- surtout parce qu’ils chantent des refrains si différents dans chaque région de la province, qu’il est presque impossible de déterminer leur politique sur une question ou l’autre. En plus, je crois que les gens de l’Ontario commencent à réaliser que le Parti Libéral est contradictoire, opportuniste et pragmatique dans son évaluation des problèmes véritables des gens de cette province.
C’est pourquoi je suis heureux d’appuyer le discours du trône. Les préceptes qui en découlent reflètent la prévoyance, le souci et la compréhension dont ce gouvernement a toujours fait preuve pour relever les défis qui existent en Ontario. Bien que le discours du trône traite de nouveaux domaines et de principes généraux --
Mr. McKessock: Do you believe that, Jack?
Mr. Belanger: -- il prouve que ce gouvernement sait reconnaître les défis qui nous sont imposés dans les sphères économiques et sociales, et qu’il est prêt à les relever.
Je suis particulièrement heureux de voir, par exemple, que l’on se propose d’établir un fonds d’encouragement à l’emploi, qui va servir de base à une collaboration entre le gouvernement et le secteur des affaires afin d’assurer que l’Ontario continue de répondre à la demande croissante d’emplois.
Bien que 140,000 nouveaux emplois aient été créés on Ontario l’an dernier, tous les membres de cette Chambre reconnaissent le besoin d’initiatives audacieuses de la part du gouvernement pour s’assurer que notre économie demeure concurrentielle, en d’autres mots, s’assurer d’attirer de nouvelles industries et leur permettre de maintenir un niveau de développement qui puisse garder le pas avec le nombre grandissant de travailleurs que arrivent sur le marché du travail.
Pour ma part, je crois qu’à long terme, le fonds d’encouragement à l’emploi sera avantageux pour la province. D’une part, il va nous permettre d’encourager la croissance industrielle dans les secteurs de l’économie où il existe un potentiel de développement d’emplois. D’autre part, il va permettre d’attirer de nouvelles industries et de développer des produits qui ouvriront de nouveaux marchés et maintiendront notre position concurrentielle au sein des marchés traditionnels au Canada et à l’étranger.
D’aucuns prétendent que cette initiative représente une faveur de la part du gouvernement à la grosse entreprise. Nos amis libéraux évidemment appuient l’idée de fournir des encouragements à Ford une journée, puis changent d’idée et prétendent plus tard le contraire.
Mr. Wildman: Giveaway.
Mr. Martel: That’s having it both ways.
Mr. Belanger: Je crois qu’il incombe au gouvernement d’encourager le progrès et d’aider à rendre l’industrie et le commerce viables. Je crois également que nous devons envisager objectivement la réalité de l’industrie et du commerce sur le plan international. Nous devons réaliser que nous vivons dans un monde dominé par des sociétés internationales. Évidemment nous pourrions faire des illusions et ignorer ce fait. Nous pourrions dire que dorénavant nous n’encouragerons pas les industries internationales à s’établir en Ontario. Nous pourrions dire que nous n’offrirons pas d’encouragement aux sociétés internationales étrangères.
Mais il semble que si nous ignorons cette réalité, les victimes seraient surtout les travailleurs de cette province. À mon avis, une approche rationnelle serait d’établir un équilibre entre l’encouragement aux industries domestiques tout en reconnaissant en même temps objectivement que nous devons attirer notre part équitable de capitaux d’investissements des grandes corporations internationales.
À titre de député d’un comté qui possède un grand potentiel de croissance industrielle, mes électeurs et moi serons heureux d’accueillir de nouvelles industries, de nouvelles usines et les nouveaux emplois qui seront créés par suite de cette initiative, surtout parce que cette politique signifie un emploi et un investissement à long terme dans cette province.
Ce dernier point a été l’un des critères soulignés par le Ministère de l’Industrie et du Tourisme dans un récent discours adressé au Board of Trade de Toronto. Dans cette allocution le Ministre a énoncé clairement les défis qu’affronte la province en terme de développements économiques. Les idées et les mesures proposées par le Ministre et subséquemment reprises dans le discours du trône constituent une attitude responsable envers un problème très difficile qui constitue un véritable défi. Le fonds d’encouragement à l’emploi va aider l’Ontario à maintenir sa position forte dans un monde où la concurrence est de plus en plus complexe et brutale sur le plan commercial international.
Bien que le fonds d’encouragement à l’emploi représente une initiative importante du gouvernement pour assurer la croissance économique continué et la création de nouveaux emplois dans cette province, le discours du trône souligne également son engagement constant pour contrôler l’augmentation des dépenses gouvernementales et le processus de réglementation, deux points qui contribuent à la création d’un climat économique positif qui encourage l’investissement et le progrès dans cette province.
À ce sujet, j’ai été heureux de noter que le gouvernement va continuer de modifier et d’améliorer le système de réglementation concernant les petites entreprises. Les mesures visant à donner des responsabilités et une plus grande autonomie où c’est approprié, aux industries, associations et municipalités, vont aider à diminuer la participation du gouvernement dans nos affaires quotidiennes.
Toutefois, monsieur l’Orateur, la section du discours du trône qui aura peut-être le plus grand intérêt pour les gens de Prescott et Russell se rapporte aux initiatives à continuer, à étendre ou à apporter dans le domaine de l’agriculture.
En qualité de membre de ce gouvernement, je suis fier de notre collaboration avec nos communautés agricoles. Je souligne le mot collaboration car il caractérise exactement l’attitude de notre gouvernement au cours des trois dernières décennies.
Nous reconnaissons que l’agriculteur est un homme d’affaires indépendant. Nous comprenons également les difficultés et les problèmes de nos agriculteurs quand il s’agit de maintenir des opérations agricoles rentables. Ayant vécu toute ma vie dans une petite localité agricole, monsieur l’Orateur, je peux parler en toute connaissance de cause de l’importante contribution qu’apportent les agriculteurs a notre société.
Leur contribution s’étend au-delà du rôle très important qu’ils jouent au sein de l’économie provinciale, le rôle assurant que l’Ontario possède des réserves suffisantes de centaines de produits agricoles. Leur contribution en est également une de valeur et de bon sens qu’ils apportent dans notre vie. Au fur et à mesure que notre société devient plus complexe, il est bon de retourner dans une localité où les gens n’ont pas encore perdu leur perspective de la vie, où le combat le plus fondamental de l’homme, son combat avec la nature, continue d’être le point de mire de notre activité quotidienne.
N’allez toutefois pas en conclure ou en déduire que la communauté agricole n’a pas à affronter les mêmes problèmes que nous. L’agriculteur, comme nous tous, est la victime de l’inflation et fait face aux mêmes besoins que ses amis des centres urbains. Comme tout autre homme d’affaire, il doit faire face aux défis constants d’équilibrer ses comptes, d’offrir un niveau de vie satisfaisant à sa famille et de construire une communauté qui réponde vraiment à ses besoins et à ceux de son prochain. C’est en reconnaissant cette réalité, que le discours du trône a renouvelé l’engagement de ce gouvernement de continuer à travailler avec notre communauté agricole pour assurer que l’agriculture demeurera un élément important dans la vie de cette province.
Il est certain que l’agriculture prédomine dans les comtés unis de Prescott et Russell où plus de 260,000 acres sont consacrés à des fins agricoles. On compte en plus 60,000 acres de terre non mis en valeur au sein des régions agricoles. Quelque 7,500 personnes vivent sur des fermes avec des ventes agricoles de $50 ou plus tandis que 20,000 autres vivent dans des localités rurales.
Prescott et Russell comportent un bon équilibre de petites, moyennes et grandes opérations agricoles. Nous produisons une gamme étendue de récoltes bien que l’industrie laitière joue le rôle le plus significatif dans l’activité agricole des comtés unis.
Monsieur l’Orateur, le gouvernement de l’Ontario a mis en oeuvre de nombreux programmes pour aider les agriculteurs à maintenir des opérations agricoles rentables. L’assurance des récoltes, les programmes de stabilisation de revenue agricole et de revenue de l’élevage du bétail sont de bons exemples de programmes ayant pour but de permettre aux agriculteurs de continuer à maintenir des opérations rentables sur un marché souvent imprévisible et soumis à des facteurs climatiques qui peuvent affecter le niveau agricole d’une année à l’autre.
Dans les domaines où la province a travaillé directement en collaboration avec nos agriculteurs, nous avons connu un nombre remarquable de succès. Le meilleur exemple est peut-être le domaine du drainage qui, au cours des dernières années a pris beaucoup d’importance dans l’est de l’Ontario. Dans les domaines où la province a participé à des programmes de partage des dépenses avec le gouvernement fédéral, il y a certainement des améliorations possibles, surtout en ce qui concerne la récente décision du gouvernement fédéral de se retirer de plusieurs accords de partage de dépenses. Un domaine où ceci a créé beaucoup d’incertitude concerne les débouchés de drainage municipaux qui, conformément à l’accord relatif à l’aménagement rural et au développement agricole ont été partagés à parts égales aux niveaux fédéral, provincial et municipal.
Il vaut peut-être la peine, monsieur l’Orateur, de prendre quelques minutes pour énoncer le problème auquel nous ferons face dans l’est de l’Ontario si le programme de drainage municipal est éliminé par le gouvernement fédéral et c’est pourquoi j’ai été particulièrement heureux que le discours du trône contienne un engagement de la part du gouvernement de travailler en vue de la continuation du programme ARDA ou d’un programme de même calibre.
Je n’ai guère à expliquer aux députés des régions rurales l’importance d’un bon système de drainage pour étendre et améliorer les récoltes et les acres en production.
Mr. McKessock: Rene, you’re the only one who can heckle him.
Mr. Belanger: À la suite du programme de drainage dans cette province, près de 1,200,000 d’acres disposent maintenant d’un drainage intensif. Pour ceux d’entre vous qui ne sont au courant du programme, un agriculteur peut obtenir un prêt de sa municipalité pour couvrir le coût à concurrence de 75 per cent de l’installation d’un système de drainage. L’agriculteur paie un taux d’intérêt de six pour cent et le prêt peut être remboursé sur une période de dix ans. La province absorbe la différence entre l’intérêt payé par les agriculteurs et le taux d’intérêt courant. Dans l’exercice financier 1977-78, par exemple, des prêts de plus de $18,000,000 ont été accordés à quelque 2,600 projets de drainage. Cette année, $3,800,000 auront été verses pour couvrir l’intérêt dont la province a assumé la responsabilité.
En plus des prêts, la province accorde des subventions aux agriculteurs pour les aider à installer des débouchés de drainage adéquats en fonction du système de drainage sur leur propriété. Ces subventions sont versées aux agriculteurs par les municipalités en fonction du montant des coûts de drainage évalués selon les terres servant à des fins agricoles. Cette année, $4,500,000 ont été mis de côté pour ce programme.
Bref, le gouvernement provincial encourage activement les agriculteurs à installer des systèmes de drainage efficaces sur leur ferme pour accroître la production et le nombre d’acres utilisés pour la culture. Nous pouvons voir le résultat de ce programme dans le passage de la production de foin, d’avoine et de graines mixtes au maïs. Les terres consacrées au maïs dans l’est de l’Ontario se sont multipliées par 10 entre 1966 et 1976 et ce changement prend de plus en plus d’envergure. L’une des principales raisons de ce changement a été l’installation d’un bon système de drainage.
Toutefois, le programme de la province ne peut être vraiment efficace que si des débouchés de drainage adéquats sont installés par les municipalités pour que l’eau soit évacuée des fermes plus rapidement.
Afin d’aider les municipalités à développer des canaux de drainage adéquats, la province et le gouvernement fédéral ont convenu en vertu du programme ARDA de fournir les deux tiers du coût de l’installation des canaux de drainage municipaux. La municipalité aurait à payer le dernier tiers du coût d’installation. Ces dernières années, ce programme a été très avantageux pour l’agriculture, l’agriculteur et la communauté.
Toutefois, le 5 décembre 1978, le gouvernement fédéral annonçait son intention de cesser d’appuyer financièrement le programme ARDA et rétroactivement au 8 septembre. En réalité, cela signifiait que tout projet de drainage qui n’était pas déjà en construction à cette date ne serait pas admissible pour l’aide financière fédérale d’un tiers.
Entre le 8 septembre et le 5 décembre, des travaux de drainage au coût de $1,700,000 avaient été entrepris. Il y avait dans le voisinage de $5,200,000 de rapports d’ingénierie complétés et sur le point d’aller en appel d’offre. En plus, il y avait quelque 69 drains, ayant coûté an cours de l’année dernière entre $40,000 et $50,000 chacun qui totaliseront un autre montant de $3,000,000 portant ainsi le montant total de travail sur les canaux de drainage municipaux à environ $10,000,000 pour l’est de l’Ontario. Ces projets avaient été entrepris par les municipalités impliquées dans ce programme avec l’assurance qu’un tiers serait payé par le gouvernement fédéral en vertu du programme ARDA.
Malheureusement, par suite de la décision du gouvernement fédéral, un bon nombre de ces projets ont été interrompus et les municipalités qui se sont engagées dans des programmes coûteux de drainage pourront être obligées de payer les deux tiers du coût. Le gouvernement provincial s’est engagé à fournir un tiers du coût. Mais à mon avis, le gouvernement fédérale a traité cette situation d’une façon déplorable et a manifesté une indifférence totale à l’égard des municipalités et des agriculteurs concernés.
Mr. Wildman: Did you Liberals hear that?
Mr. Belanger: Mais il existe encore un autre aspect malheureux à cette situation. Bien que la province encourage les agriculteurs à mettre en valeur des systèmes adéquats de drainage pour leur ferme, dans la plupart des cas, ces efforts seront tout à fait inutiles à moins que les canaux municipaux soient disponsibles pour l’écoulement des eaux provenant des systèmes de drainage sur les fermes.
Dans mon propre comté de Prescott-Russell, nous avons eu beaucoup de succès en versant $2,200,000 pour les canaux de drainage municipaux en vertu de l’accord ARDA. Dans mon comté comme dans la plupart des comtés de l’est de l’Ontario, il reste toutefois un besoin d’accomplir encore beaucoup plus dans ce domaine. Mais à moins que les municipalités ne reçoivent une aide financière par l’entremise d’un programme d’assistance partagée, le programme de drainage des fermes et celui des municipalités pourrait être sérieusement affecté.
À mon avis, il est essentiel que l’assistance pour les canaux de drainage soit offerte pour aider les municipalités. Que la source des fonds demeure avec l’ARDA, ou qu’une autre entente soit établie, le coût ne devrait pas et ne peut pas être laissé à la province et aux municipalités seulement. Il faut que ce programme continue d’être un effort conjoint aux trois niveaux.
Je dois avouer, monsieur l’Orateur, que je ne comprends par les motifs du gouvernement fédéral de se retirer de ce programme qui a fourni une assistance formidable dans les communautés rurales de l’est de l’Ontario. En plus du programme de drainage, cet accord pour aider les agriculteurs a joué un rôle important en aidant les agriculteurs à améliorer leur terre de culture. Depuis 1962, par exemple, environ $4,000,000 ont été dépensés pour aider à l’agrandissement de 355 fermes dans la région de Prescott et Russell. J’ajouterais également que l’ARDA a aidé à financer le Parc Provincial Carillon et a fourni des fonds pour la recherche et les études de praticabilité pour le projet de la rivière South Nation.
Ce dernier projet, monsieur l’Orateur, est d’une importance considérable pour les agriculteurs dans ma région. Comme vous le savez peut-être, avec toutes les améliorations qui ont résulté de l’installation d’un système adéquat de drainage, la rapidité avec laquelle la quantité d’eau coulant dans la rivière South Nation s’est accrue. Bien que les inondations printanières et les inondations subites en été peuvent causer des dommages considérables aux récoltes, ce problème peut être contrôlé par des écluses à Plantagenet et une étude à ce sujet est en voie d’être entreprise pour examiner la possibilité de creuser le lit rocheux a Plantagenet. Une fois achevé, ce projet devrait aider à réduire le danger d’inondation pour les agriculteurs dans mon comté, et maintenir un niveau d’eau stable durant les sécheresses de l’été.
Monsieur l’Orateur, je suis également heureux que le discours du trône propose l’établissement d’un programme d’aide modifiée pour nos agriculteurs. Ce programme que je crois comprendre, sera appelé “l’Ontario Farm Productivity Incentive Program” et remplacera le programme de subventions qui a été établi en 1967. Au cours des douze dernières années, ce programme a permis aux agriculteurs de moderniser et d’agrandir leurs opérations. J’apprends que quelques $165,000,000 ont été versés à environ 90,000 agriculteurs dans le cadre de ce programme, et que des demandes d’aide ont été acceptées jusqu’à la fin de mars de cette année.
Le nouveau programme d’encouragement sera établi pour cinq ans et son budget sera fixé sur une base annuelle. Il aura pour but d’aider les agriculteurs dans des projets d’aménagement du sol et du contrôle de l’érosion y compris l’entreposage du fumier et l’aménagement d’eau pour le bétail. Il servira également à la construction d’aménagements de production spécifiques pour les agriculteurs qui n’ont jamais participé au programme de subventions. Il y aura des projets comme les granges pour le bétail, des laiteries, des silos, des serres et même des projets pour le sirop d’érable.
Un autre développement proposé dans le discours du trône concerne la machinerie agricole.
Mr. Wildman: You can never get parts.
Mr. Belanger: Par suite d’un effort de co-opération entre les fabricants, les distributeurs, et les concessionnaires qui ont rencontré les responsables du gouvernement, on travaillera à l’élaboration d’un code d’éthique qui assurera aux agriculteurs des contrats d’achat standard des garanties minimum et un service adéquat de réparation et de pièces de rechange.
Mr. Wildman: Are they going to bring in legislation?
Mr. Belanger: À mon avis, il était grand temps que l’on y voit. Il n’y a rien de plus frustrant pour un agriculteur que d’avoir de la machinerie en panne en pleine saison de semence ou de moisson parce qu’il n’est pas en mesure d’obtenir une pièce de rechange.
Mr. Wildman: It had better be in legislation.
Mr. Belanger: J’ai été également heureux de voir que l’on continuera le programme Agricrew. L’an dernier, ce programme qui emploie des étudiants pour travailler dans les fermes en équipe de cinq pour des périodes d’une semaine, a été entrepris à titre expérimental dans la région de Cornwall pendant 4 semaines. La majorité des participants ont de 16 à 18 ans et la plupart, avaient une certaine expérience agricole.
À la suite du succès de l’été dernier, quatre équipes seront basées à Plantagenet et serviront les comtés de Prescott, Russell, Glengarry et Stormont.
De mon point de vue, ce programme pourrait être bénéfique, à la fois aux étudiants qui y participent et aux agriculteurs. Chaque équipe travaille cinq jours et l’agriculteur n’a droit qu’à une seule équipe par été. Il en coûte à l’agriculteur $90 par jour sur lesquels il reçoit un remboursement de $15 de la part du gouvernement. Le programme permet à l’étudiant d’obtenir une excellente expérience en même temps qu’un revenu modeste et ce programme peut être d’une grande utilité pour l’agriculteur qui a un projet spécial à entreprendre. Le but cependant n’est pas d’interférer avec les occasions d’emploi pour la main-d’oeuvre saisonnière an cours des périodes de moisson. J’espère que les agriculteurs, dans ma région, profiteront de ce programme et que l’on utilisera des étudiants locaux.
While these programs are encouraging, there is one important issue that is causing some concern to dairy farmers in Prescott and Russell. I am, of course, referring to the problem of industrial milk quotas. This issue, however, attains added significance because it bears directly on Ontario’s position as a cheddar cheese and specialty cheese producer.
As most members know, the cheddar cheese industry in eastern Ontario has gone through a period of transformation during the past decade. In particular, many of the smaller cheese factories have been amalgamated into larger operations. Despite this, however, our cheddar cheese industry has not kept pace with the increased demand for cheddar cheese in recent years, particularly in foreign markets. In fact, we are producing about the same volume of cheddar cheese as we did five years ago. Last month Grant Smith, vice-president of the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, told a group in my riding that Canadian producers only met half their quota to the United States market last year. At the same time, there is a growing demand for Ontario cheddar cheese in Britain and there is no doubt that we could increase our sales in that market. There is also some concern that we will be unable to meet future demands for aged cheddar cheese, despite the assurances of Eugene Whelan that there is no shortage of cheddar cheese.
Mr. Riddell: A good minister.
Mr. Belanger: Yet, despite this rising demand for Ontario cheddar cheese, many factories are operating at a 50 per cent capacity.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Where was your minister when they were giving quotas to Quebec?
Mr. Belanger: According to cheese producers and dairy farmers I have talked to, the problem stems from the fact that industrial milk quotas for Ontario have not kept pace with the increased demand for cheddar cheese. I am told that a number of cheese manufacturers have imported surplus industrial milk from Quebec to produce Ontario cheddar cheese.
Mr. McKessock: Did we take Quebec’s quotas?
Mr. Belanger: If this is the case, our dairy farmers who depend on industrial milk sales are getting the short end of the stick.
Mr. McKessock: What should we do?
Mr. Belanger: The controversy over industrial milk quotas is not new. Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture and Food has brought this matter to the attention of the federal minister and has asked that the industrial milk quota be increased.
Mr. Wildman: Why bother? You already said he was indifferent.
Mr. Belanger: Though the price for industrial milk has been increased, the request for an increased quota for Ontario appears to have fallen on deaf ears, so far as the federal government is concerned.
I believe that a national milk supply management program is in the best interest of the dairy industry in Canada. At the same time, however, it seems to me that the system has become too rigid. It has failed to adapt to changing circumstances within the dairy industry. The current problem just doesn’t make sense. We have the production capability and we have the demand for Ontario cheddar cheese. There is also a growing market for many specialty cheeses produced here in Ontario. Part of the solution, of course, is to place a higher import limit on foreign cheese brought into Canada. The limit currently stands at 45,000,000 pounds per year.
It also seems to me that we must take a serious look at the quota system, as it applies currently to Ontario. I understand that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food recently has made some significant changes in relation to its role with the dairy industry. I also understand that the Ontario Milk Marketing Board and the Ontario Dairy Council have established a committee to review methods of allocating supplies of industrial milk. These are steps in the right direction.
Mr. Riddell: That report is completed, Albert.
Mr. Belanger: Good.
Mr. McKessock: Will Quebec give us some of its quota?
Mr. Belanger: You will have to ask Eugene Whelan.
There is an urgent need to reconcile the current market sharing quotas, which are based strictly on production, with the changing marketing criteria in Ontario.
Mr. Wildman: Considering what Trudeau said about Quebec farmers, he will probably give us some.
Mr. Belanger: In the past, the Canadian Dairy Commission has proven reluctant to bring about the necessary changes, though a subcommittee of the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee is reviewing the national program.
It is interesting to note that in an article in Le Droit last Wednesday, several Ontario members were criticized because we asked for increased Ontario milk quotas. According to the article, which appears to have relied heavily on Mr. Whelan’s interpretation of the problem facing the dairy and the cheddar industries, these members have misrepresented the situation.
Mr. Laughren: Shame.
Mr. Belanger: Mr. Whelan can say what he wants, but the Canadian Dairy Commission is ultimately responsible for allocating the milk quotas on a national basis.
Mr. McKessock: And historically too. Right.
Mr. Belanger: Each province must work within the limits it establishes. The milk supply management committee -- which is chaired by the chairman of the Canadian Dairy Commission, and which is composed of representatives from each province within the national plan -- can make recommendations to the Canadian Dairy Commission with respect to the quota system. But it is still the ultimate responsibility of the Canadian Dairy Commission to issue these quotas.
It is not a simple matter of asking for more quota, nor does the final decision rest with the supply management committee. Moreover, to suggest that Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture and Food is wrong in asking Mr. Whelan to assist us in increasing Ontario’s quota is to say that Mr. Whelan has nothing to do with the Canadian Dairy Commission, which is hardly the case.
We all recognize that the national milk plan was designed to meet the problems that existed a decade ago. But times have changed. People’s tastes have changed. We have had a consolidation in the processing and producing sectors. Population patterns have changed. New markets have been opened up. It’s time that the national plan adjusted to all these changes.
If this problem is not resolved, I can foresee continued problems. If producers cannot get more quota to produce more cheese to meet the demand of a growing international market, these markets may very well be lost to other suppliers. Many factories are now operating on a marginal capacity. We have been encouraging them to expand their over-the-counter sales, which are affected by the quota system. We have been urging Ottawa to place lower limits on the amount of imported cheese. Many farmers are changing over to beef operations and, frankly, I can’t blame them.
In the long term, however, we must improve the national milk plan and make it responsive to this province’s needs. Some may say that I am being selfish.
Mr. Laughren: No, not selfish.
Mr. Belanger: The fact of the matter is that I am. The dairy industry is important to my riding in eastern Ontario. Heaven knows that our farmers are among the best producers in the world and they deserve our support, as does our Canadian cheese industry. It’s very insulting when you read an article as appeared in the Star, April 4, where Mr. Trudeau says that farmers are professional complainers.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Right, they’re voters.
Mr. Laughren: Do you agree with that, Leo?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: He’ll regret the day he said that.
Mr. Belanger: I resent that kind of remark, even if it does come from the Prime Minister of Canada. I have lived and worked with farmers all of my life and when they complain about something it’s a legitimate complaint.
In that respect, I believe that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food is meeting its mandate. In recent years, the ministry has co-operated with marketing boards and producers to promote Ontario farm products at home and abroad. I hardly need to remind the members here of the success of the Foodland Ontario program which, through its promotional and marketing campaigns --
Mr. Laughren: It’s like your buy Canadian campaign.
Mr. Belanger: -- has assisted in raising consumer consciousness of the products produced here in Ontario. The speech from the throne promised a further commitment in this program, both within the ministry and from the industry. We have seen increases in sales of such products as turkeys, grapes, salad vegetables, soya beans and everything.
In the international market, the ministry has played a key role in increasing our sales abroad. The trade missions carried out by the ministry --
Mr. Laughren: Oh, you haven’t done much to save your cheese factories, Albert.
Mr. Belanger: -- have resulted in increased sales to Britain, Europe, Asia, and the United States, and I believe that this Minister of Agriculture and Food deserves a great deal of credit in this regard.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Right on, good suggestion.
Mr. Belanger: I could run though the list of places where he or his officials have been and the millions of dollars in sales that have resulted from their efforts, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that our farmers are the beneficiaries of their efforts.
I might also say that the ministry is working with our farmers in two other important areas; that is, in the area of research in agriculture and the education of a new generation of farmers and agribusiness people.
In regard to the latter point, it is my sincere hope that in the near future the ministry will establish an agricultural college for francophone farmers. In the past, Ontario has had an agreement with Quebec in which we accepted their English students and where they accepted our French students. While this arrangement sounds feasible, I have been told this is not working out at all well. I would hope the ministry would give serious consideration to establishing an agricultural college for francophone students. I think it would be ideal if a satisfactory site can be found. It can be found, and we have the building to locate this college, in the Prescott and Russell area, which has one of the largest francophone populations of Ontario.
In my view, such a program would meet a very real need for those of francophone background wishing to pursue a career in agriculture. The initiatives outlined in the speech from the throne reflect the concern and commitment that we of this government have to the farmers of Ontario.
Mr. Laughren: Now you have gone too far.
Mr. Belanger: It is a commitment that is based upon a partnership and upon a philosophical belief that government must work with the agricultural community to ensure that farming continues to provide a viable income --
Mr. Cassidy: Isn’t your motto who governs least, governs best?
Mr. Belanger: -- for farmers and that agriculture remains an important sector in the provincial economy. Moreover it is a partnership that will ensure that the people of Ontario will continue to have access to an abundant supply of farm products at reasonable prices.
Mr. Cassidy: Could you specify the farm products?
Mr. Belanger: At the same time, it is important that urban consumers recognize that the farmer is entitled to a fair return on his investment and that his costs, like everyone else’s, are constantly rising.
Despite recent rises in the price of beef, which has been the source of considerable complaint on the part of consumers, the beef industry is only now recovering from a poor market of previous years. In my riding, for instance, many farmers are using their recent returns to pay off debts which mounted during the period when beef prices were really low.
J’étais heureux aussi de constater que le discours du trône propose de continuer le progrès fait par le gouvernement de l’Ontario dans le domaine des services français pour les francophones de la province. Comme vous devez le savoir, le comté de Prescott et Russell compte une population d’environ 82 per cent francophones. C’est donc dire que tout ce qui concerne l’amélioration des services français est d’une importance fondamentale aux gens que j’ai l’honneur de représenter ici à cette assemblée.
Au cours des dernières années, la question d’augmenter les services français a causé beaucoup de débats en Ontario.
D’un côté, il y a des gens qui exigent que le français soit établi comme langue officielle en Ontario. D’autre part, il y en a d’autres qui s’opposent à augmenter les services français. Dans le milieu de ces deux groups, il existe une grande majorité de gens raisonnables qui désirent une solution juste et équitable à l’égard de cette question.
Comme représentant d’un comté à 82 pour cent francophone, et en tant que Canadien d’origine française moi-même je peux comprendre et réaliser l’inquiétude et la frustration que plusieurs francophones ont éprouvées au cours des récentes années. Je donne raison aussi à ceux qui prétendent qu’au cours de notre histoire comme province, la communauté francophone a été traitée injustement. Cette situation est un fait dans l’histoire de cette province.
Mr. Cassidy: Oui, et ça dure toujours.
Mr. Belanger: Mais en même temps je dois dire, que la situation est changée.
Au cours des dix dernières années, un progrès considérable a été fait pour établir un cadre solide qui permettrait aux francophones d’avoir accès aux services du gouvernement, dans le domaine de l’éducation, des soins de santé et des services sociaux dans leur propre langue.
Mr. Wildman: That is not true in the north.
Mr. Belanger: Pendant les dernières années, le gouvernement de l’Ontario a travaillé étroitement avec le conseil consultatif sur les services en français pour déterminer les priorités afin d’augmenter ces services. En fait de politique, le gouvernement de l’Ontario étend ses services en français dans les régions de la province où existe une population francophone assez considérable pour justifier l’établissement de ces services.
Dans le domaine de l’éducation, un progrès considérable a été réalisé et 72,000 élèves ont accès à l’enseignement en français. Le Ministre de l’Éducation a constamment augmenté le nombre de livres scolaires, d’aides d’enseignement et de textes en français pour nos écoles françaises.
Mr. Cassidy: You know, this was written by the same fellow who wrote his stuff in English.
Mr. Belanger: Dans le domaine de la justice, plus de services légaux et de tribunaux sont fournis en français. Le discours de trône a aussi promis une législation qui pourrait en vertu de la loi des preuves donner un statut approprié aux statuts de l’Ontario en français.
Le gouvernement a voulu ainsi améliorer le niveau des services dans les principaux ministères afin de mieux répondre aux besoins de la communauté francophone.
Mr. Cassidy: Pourquoi il a refusé les demandes pour un français scolaire homogène a Ottawa?
Mr. Belanger: Plusieurs ministères, y compris ceux de l’éducation, de la santé et des services sociaux ont nommé des co-ordonateurs pour les services français. Au sein du Ministère de l’Éducation, cette personne a le statut de sous-ministre.
Des mesures ont été prises pour s’assurer que les renseignements du gouvernement soient disponibles en français comme en anglais, et qu’un personnel bilingue soit disponible dans les ministères qui ont un contact direct avec le public, pour permettre aux francophones de s’adresser dans leur propre langue au gouvernement de l’Ontario. Le gouvernement provincial a aussi fourni de l’aide aux municipalités pour augmenter leurs services français.
Je pourrais continuer cette liste d’initiatives appréciables entreprises par le gouvernement Davis depuis 1971, mais n’attirerai plutôt l’attention des membres sur quelques réussites qui ont été réalisées dans les comtés de Prescott et Russell. Premièrement, permettez-moi de dire, monsieur l’Orateur, que depuis mon élection à l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario, en 1967, j’ai la responsabilité en tant que député de cette Assemblée, de m’assurer que tous mes électeurs ont accès aux services fournis par ce gouvernement dans le comtés unis de Prescott et Russell, et dans leur propre langue en français ou en anglais.
Cette attitude a toujours été ma façon d’agir envers le problème des services français dans mon comté. Si la population est française, ce n’est que logique que les représentants du gouvernement qui traitent avec cette localité soient bilingues. En même temps cependant, je ne peux voir aucun avantage à fournir des services en français pour le simple fait de fournir un service en français. La première considération doit être la qualité du service afin de s’assurer qu’elle répond efficacement aux besoins des gens qui reçoivent ce service. Évidemment, le personnel expert parfois n’est pas toujours disponible dans certains domaines spécialisés, pour offrir le service dans les deux langues. Mais je crois fermement que si des personnes bilingues sont requises, les efforts devraient être faits pour donner un personnel bilingue afin de répondre aux besoins de la population francophone.
Dans mon comté presque tons les gens sinon tous ceux qui sont en contact direct avec le public sont bilingues. Ce groupe comprend des représentants auprès des agriculteurs et les employés du Ministère des Services Sociaux. Ce dernier ministère maintient quatre bureaux locaux a Hawkesbury, Casselman, Alexandria et Rockland. Ces services fournissent aux citoyens de ces régions l’accès bilingue aux programmes du ministère, comportant des services de garderies d’enfants, des services sociaux de la province, la réadaptation professionnelle, des programmes pour les citoyens âgés et des programmes pour les arriérés mentaux.
En plus des programmes déjà établis, le Ministère des Services Sociaux annonçait l’an dernier qu’il fournira environ $272,000 pour les services de la santé mentale en français dans les Comtés de Prescott et Russell, y compris la nomination d’un orthophoniste pour aider ceux qui ont du mal ou la difficulté à parler.
La semaine dernière, j’ai eu le plaisir de voyager avec le Ministre des Services Sociaux (M. Norton), qui est venue à Ottawa. Il annonçait alors que $450,000 seraient fournis à dix agences offrant des services sociaux en français. Cette subvention puis-je ajouter, était en plus du montant de $500,000, qu’il avait annoncé précédemment pour appuyer les nouvelles initiatives pour augmenter les services sociaux en français dans tout l’Ontario. J’étais heureux de constater parmi plusieurs projets méritoires qui reçoivent des fonds, que la Société d’Aide à l’Enfance de Prescott-Russell comptait parmi les récipiendaires, et mettra en oeuvre un programme de prévention locale par l’entremise des centres communautaires pour adolescents et leurs familles dans cette région. Je peux ajouter que ces fonds sont destinés à améliorer la qualité des services disponibles aux francophones chez eux.
Je n’ai pas cependant l’illusion que tout est parfait en rapport aux services français. Bien que beaucoup de progrès ait été fait dans les services de la santé, j’ai écrit au Ministre de la Santé pour exprimer mon inquiétude sur le fait que l’Unité Sanitaire de l’Est de l’Ontario, qui comprend aussi Prescott-Russell, ne fournit pas un service entièrement bilingue. Une partie du problème à mon point de vue, est le fait que le service de cette unité sert une grande partie de Cornwall. Dans ma lettre, j’ai indiqué qu’il serait plus pratique d’établir une unité sanitaire à Prescott pour servir les francophones dans les comtés unis, de même que dans les comtés de Stormont et Glengarry. Il me semble qu’il n’est pas très logique d’avoir une infirmière d’Unité Sanitaire qui parle peu ou pas du tout le français et qui visite les écoles locales où les élèves sont surtout francophones.
Dans le domaine de l’éducation, il existe quelque 28 écoles françaises qui fournissent un enseignement français à 6,923 élèves au niveau élémentaire. Il existe aussi 3 écoles secondaires françaises au service de 1,924 élèves et 3 écoles mixtes enseignant 2,400 élèves. En plus d’avoir accès à une éducation spéciaux en française, les élèves auront aussi besoin de programmes d’éducation spéciaux en français. La province a fourni environ $900,000 pour aider 153 élèves au niveau élémentaire et 258 élèves au niveau secondaire qui ont besoin de programmes spéciaux d’instruction.
Ces programmes sont de bons exemples du genre d’initiatives entreprises par le gouvernement de l’Ontario pour aider les francophones dans leur milieu. Une importance a été accordé dans les domaines où les gens viennent en contact directement avec les agences du gouvernement. En plus de fournir des services en français, le gouvernement de l’Ontario s’est engagé à assurer aux francophones l’accès au plus haut calibre de l’éducation dans leur propre langue.
Pour répondre au mandat du gouvernement envers les francophones, des efforts considérables ont été faits depuis 1971. Cependant, je ne prétends pas que tout est parfait parce que ce n’est pas le cas. Je ne crois pas que comme gouvernement, nous pouvons nous permettre de nous asseoir sur nos lauriers, et demeurer satisfaits de ce que nous avons accompli au cours des récentes années. Nous devons continuer nos efforts pour nous assurer que les services sont augmentés dans les régions où existe une population francophone importante, et où un vrai besoin existe.
La population Canadienne Française a fait une contribution très importante à l’histoire et au développement de l’Ontario. Elle continuera à le faire et nous, comme gouvernement, pouvons encourager sa contribution en nous assurant que ce groupe a accès aux services dont il a besoin, et qu’il a les moyens pour bien instruire ses enfants. Nous avons fait un grand pas dans ce domaine et je sais que nous demeurons engagés à continuer d’agir ainsi, par l’entremise de politiques et de programmes qui subviendront aux besoins fondamentaux des francophones dans tout l’Ontario.
I believe that the speech from the throne represents a continuation of the responsible approach taken to provide the people of Ontario with good, effective government. I would also point out to the members of the Liberal Party that the next time they visit my riding, I will gladly take them around and show them some of the accomplishments that have evolved since I was first elected to the Legislature.
Since I first arrived here in 1967, I have always regarded my responsibility to my constituents as my foremost concern. As members of this House, we all share a common commitment to improving the quality of life and the wellbeing of our constituents. We all share, for instance, a common concern for the elderly within our communities. In Prescott and Russell, we have approximately 6,500 senior citizens. Since my first election to this House, I have endeavoured to improve the level of service available to them and, with the support of my colleagues in cabinet, I believe that we have improved the level of service within the united counties of Prescott and Russell very much.
Last year, we opened a new facility for the elderly in Hawkesbury, and this government provided more than $2,000,000 towards the construction costs. We have also assisted in establishing the Centre d’Accueil Roger Seguin in Clarence Creek, which provides some 110 beds for the elderly.
I would also point out that Prescott and Russell enjoys a bed rate per 1,000 senior citizens that is 13.3 per cent higher than the provincial average for nursing home beds. This is not a bad record for a nice little guy -- which is the manner in which I was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) when he was in my riding. This is not a bad record for a nice little guy who is supposed to be a problem.
Since 1967, a consistent effort has been made to assist small municipalities to improve their water and sewage systems. I could point to many examples of this throughout my riding. Casselman and St. Isidore de Prescott are only a few of the municipalities being assisted by this government to improve the quality of their water and sewage treatment facilities. For instance, there is a $7,000,000 sewage and water treatment project under construction in Rockland.
As another example, I had the pleasure of participating in the opening of the Casselman water treatment and distribution system last summer. This project consists of a 350,000-gallon elevated water storage tank and approximately 22,700 feet of water main. A grant was provided by the Ontario government to assist in the construction costs. This grant was in excess of $1,600,000. This government also provided 75 per cent, or $1,700,000, to assist the village of Casselman with its water pollution control facilities.
I could go on and mention many other projects. Most of the small communities in my riding now have water projects and sewage projects under construction or being looked at. In doing so, we are effectively meeting the needs of the people of Ontario.
Another program that has greatly assisted the residents of eastern Ontario, as well as most other parts of the province, has been the Ontario Home Renewal Program. Since 1974, more than 20,000 residents have been assisted by this program. In my own riding, many people have been able to improve their homes, upgrade their heating, insulation and plumbing. Last year, well over $250,000 was provided to municipalities in Prescott and Russell to be allocated to those who qualified under this program.
Since 1967, since I was elected to this House, we have made considerable progress in improving our roads throughout the united counties of Prescott and Russell. In the united counties, for instance, 83.3 per cent of our county roads have been paved or resurfaced since 1969. Only 52 miles of road remain as gravel roads.
Mr. Wildman: We’ve got highways in my riding like that.
Mr. Belanger: This is only one example of the improvements that have been made to the transportation system throughout the united counties.
The proposed extension of the Queensway east to Orleans will greatly assist the flow of traffic through this area for all those commuting in from Cumberland, from Rockland, from Plantagenet or Alfred.
Mr. Wildman: What about bridges?
Mr. Belanger: This year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications will provide municipalities in my riding with $6,100,000 in grants to assist in the funding of both capital construction and repair work on those roads which fall under municipal rather than county jurisdiction.
Since I was first elected, some 20 new industries have recognized the great potential that exists in Prescott and Russell and have established in communities throughout the riding. Several of these were assisted by the Eastern Ontario Development Corporation which, in the past year and a half, has provided about $1,300,000 in loans. I had the pleasure of supporting these applications for assistance and their success will mean many new jobs in our area.
I mention these points not because I am interested in praise or because I want the credit for having accomplished these things.
Mr. Wildman: Don’t worry, we like you.
Mr. Belanger: I believe that these things come about as a result of the process of good government and effective representation. This is the reason I am standing here in support today of the speech from the throne.
I recognize that there are many challenges facing the people of Ontario and I don’t underestimate the magnitude of these challenges. I do believe the speech from the throne does provide us with a realistic and workable approach to the many challenges that lie before us in the economic and social spheres.
I look forward to seeing these transformed into policies and programs that are truly reflective of the needs of the people of Ontario. In doing so, we will continue to provide the people of Ontario with the type of good, responsive government that this government has always provided.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to have participated in the debate on the speech from the throne.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Viva Belanger.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I too welcome the opportunity to participate in the throne speech debate, but before launching my brief remarks I would like to pay tribute to the Speaker for his continuing effort to conduct the business of this House in a very fair but most firm manner. I hope, sir, that you will convey my thoughts to the Speaker.
I would like to commend the former speaker, the member for Prescott and Russell, for the speech he made. I haven’t had much occasion to hear him in this Legislature, not that he hasn’t spoken before on many matters, but it may have been the case that I just wasn’t present to hear him. He did have some very thought-provoking remarks.
I only wish I had the time -- and I don’t because my whip is cracking down on us saying that we have to end our remarks in a period of about 20 minutes so the rest of the speakers can contribute to the debate -- to comment on the milk industry in Ontario.
Mr. Worton: I will make an exception. Take another five minutes.
Mr. Riddell: Suffice it to say at this time that the Tory government has been in power for something like 35 years and surely the Tory government has had some role to play in the establishment of the marketing boards, including the milk marketing board. Certainly, the Milk Act was enacted by this government so if anyone is to blame for some of the inadequacies in the milk marketing system in Ontario, I would think the present government has to share some of the blame.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: That’s right. You’re right. Ottawa.
Mr. Riddell: After listening to the member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry and also the member for Prescott and Russell, I am somewhat alarmed that they are placing much of the blame for the closing down of cheese factories and some other inadequacies in the milk marketing system on the marketing board.
I would like to spend an hour to talk about marketing boards and the tremendous impact they have had on the agricultural industry, the beneficial effects they’ve had and the benefits the farmers have derived from these marketing boards. I’m getting a little sick of listening to people condemning marketing boards for high food prices. I trust that indirectly this is maybe what the member for Prescott and Russell was getting at.
Mr. Gaunt: This government is always looking for excuses; always looking for a scapegoat.
Mr. Riddell: I’ll have more to say about marketing boards when I get into the Agriculture estimates. For the time being I want to comment briefly on the foreign ownership of land in Ontario, farm machinery legislation, mention a little bit about farm incomes and input prices, then I am going to end up with a very great concern that exists in my riding at the present time, and that’s the present proposal of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) to reduce hospital beds across Ontario.
Getting to my first topic, foreign ownership of land, I, like the former speaker, do not get up in question period for no other purpose than to get public exposure. I feed very little material back home, but when I have something to say in this Legislature I say it with all the sincerity that I can put into any questions or any comments that I make.
Back last session I directed a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I asked him if he was aware of the great concern that has been expressed over recent purchases of blocks of agricultural land throughout Ontario, and more particularly in such counties as Bruce, Huron, Kent and Lambton, by foreign interests. I asked the minister if he could tell us how widespread this practice was.
He gets up and he talks about how many of these people are now farming the land and how it’s been good for our own farmers because this land now is available to the young people to be able to rent and this way they can get started farming. That’s all right if these foreigners are coming over and competing with our farmers by buying and actually farming the land. But that is not what is happening. What appears to be a new flurry of Ontario land purchases by non-Canadians has sparked intense concern among some farmers and certainly county federations of agriculture.
This time the purchases seem to be concentrated, as I’ve already indicated, in southwestern Ontario. However, this has been a continuous concern for at least five years, with periods of more intense buying activity from time to time.
Few farmers feel comfortable in arguing that non-nationals should be prohibited absolutely from owning Canadian real estate or farm land. What causes worry is that large amounts of foreign investments, frequently concentrated in sizeable blocks of holdings, raise questions about future control of Canadian resources and communities.
I happened to be travelling with a colleague of mine this morning, coming up from a meeting we attended last night, and he tells me that he heard rumours to the effect that German money was coming into his part of the riding to purchase blocks of land consisting of 1,000 acres. There were two main sources of German money that were trying to procure this land.
This isn’t a case of where the German people are coming over here to farm the land, to compete with our own farmers; it’s a case of their money coming over. It’s understandable why it’s coming over; they feel that Canada is a safe place in which to invest. When I hear those anti-Trudeau, anti-federal Liberal people get up and spell doom and gloom for this country I have to wonder what they’re talking about, when we see Japanese money, German money, Belgian money and Italian money all coming over. Where? No place but in Canada. Why? Because they feel Canada is a safe place in which to invest. Where is all the doom and gloom? I hope this message gets out to the people prior to the election coming up on May 22, because I have to ask the question, “What country, my friend, would you sooner live in at the present time?”
Hon. Mr. Baetz: The buck is cheap, that’s why it comes. Our buck is so low. It’s because our dollar is so low, you know that Jack. They wouldn’t come here if our buck was 100 cents to the dollar.
Mr. Gaunt: Joe Clark the doomsayer.
Mr. McKessock: Switch to French now, Jack.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: A Canadian Liberal or an Ontario Liberal.
Mr. Gaunt: By the time the next election comes along it will be banned here.
Mr. Riddell: I mentioned this purchasing of sizeable blocks of land raises questions about future control of Canadian resources and communities. Let me tell you that if Rene Levesque’s direction for Quebec is a threat to national unity, I would say the second greatest threat is --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Trudeau.
Mr. Riddell: -- the foreign investment into our resources and into our industries and into our businesses. I think we’ve got to, somehow, bring a stop to some of this. It’s not only affecting our resources, the control of our resources --
Ms. Gigantes: What do you suggest?
Mr. Riddell: -- but is also having an effect, and will continue to have an effect, on our communities.
Mr. Ruston: Joe doesn’t like Bill.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Joe is looking for him right now.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member for Huron-Middlesex has the floor.
Mr. Lawlor: I do not follow you. A few minutes ago you were welcoming all these Japanese and German moneys. Now you’re saying you don’t.
Mr. Riddell: No, I don’t think I ever said we welcomed it. I indicated these people feel there is a future in Canada --
Hon. Mr. Baetz: You’ve got different speechwriters there, Jack. Get your speechwriters together.
Mr. Riddell: -- that’s why they’re investing their money, but I think we have to be very careful allowing this to continue because we’re going to lose our resources. There is no longer going to be Canadian resources.
Mr. Wildman: What you want to prove is there’s no future in Canada.
Mr. Riddell: We’re certainly going to be losing our communities. Enough nonresident foreign ownership in any one area can affect the whole social structure of a community. In other words, I can see the farm houses and the farm buildings just being left to deteriorate. I can see a decreased population for usage of schools and hospitals.
Mr. Watson: That might solve our problem.
Mr. Riddell: There will no longer be the buying support for the local businesses and there certainly will be a lack of support for a project such as some of these new community arenas that have been established ever since the Wintario grants came into being.
Mr. Haggerty: Or Minaki Lodge, for example; you could buy that.
Mr. Riddell: Naturally, such purchases by outsiders push up land prices for local farmers wishing to buy. Local residents simply cannot compete with foreign capital under the present economic circumstances. The devalued dollar and lowered interest rates offered in other countries put Ontario buyers at a distinct disadvantage. Foreign interests can make money on their investment now, but should this situation escalate, our agricultural industry could become foreign-controlled. We could end up by growing crops totally unsuited to our domestic needs but entirely suitable to foreign interests for their own export purposes, a well known problem which has existed and aggravated conditions in third world countries.
Mr. Watson: Oh, Jack, come on.
Mr. Riddell: In other words, Mr. Speaker, if our lands fall into the ownership of foreign investment, then there is nothing saying that they won’t, for export purposes, for purposes of making the most income, turn some of our land into, say growing coffee rather than corn.
Mr. Wildman: Coffee?
Mr. Riddell: Where is that going to meet the domestic need for a stable diet?
Mr. Watson: Jack, you can’t grow coffee where there’s frost.
Mr. Wildman: Do you feel the same way about mining, Jack?
Mr. Riddell: Also, much of the concern stems from the lack of knowledge about the extent of foreign ownership in an area, the source and nature of such large amounts of ready cash, the long-term intent of foreign purchasers regarding the use of the land and the lack of any effective control over such purchases. The Ontario government seems to have little exact knowledge about this phenomena as of the last five years. Its latest systematic survey of the problem was in 1973 by the select committee on economic and cultural nationalism.
It is interesting that the present Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) happened to be one of the members on that committee. I am going to read a portion of the report that was handed down by that committee.
“The committee has reached a similar determination in respect of private ownership of agricultural lands. Foreign ownership of land under agricultural use is dealt with more fully in the chapter on commercial and corporate real estate ownership. The committee notes again the very great difficulty of distinguishing between property which may be under recreational as distinct from agricultural use, particularly in view of the current practice of converting agricultural land to recreational uses.
“The committee accordingly favours the extension of its previous recommendations to include agricultural land. In any case, the committee has concluded that apart from these difficulties, future acquisitions of land by individuals, including agricultural land, and the opportunity to farm in Ontario should be restricted to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants resident in Canada.”
There is a little star after that and, when I look down at the bottom of the page, I see that it states: “Mr. Newman dissents from these recommendations.”
I am beginning to think I am talking in a wilderness when I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food if he will not endeavour to find out how extensive the foreign investment in our land is. I understand that he is not entirely interested. He thinks the more foreign money that comes in, the better. Maybe we would be better dealing with another minister rather than with the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
As it then appeared that only about one per cent of Ontario real estate was owned by non-nationals, the government did not see fit to monitor the trend. However, because of general knowledge about purchasing of Ontario real estate, including farms, in 1974 the government did amend the Land Transfer Tax Act to increase the tax on purchases of land by nonresidents of Canada to 20 per cent of the purchase price. In fact, this tax is easily dodged, as a local agent for the purchaser can register as an Ontario company. Registration can be accomplished without listing foreign based principals, and the purchase is registered as to a domestic company.
I would just like to say that some of the ministers of agriculture in other provinces have taken more interest in this matter than has our Minister of Agriculture and Food. Prince Edward Island and the thee Prairie provinces have each taken legislative measures to restrict ownership of farm land by non-Canadian residents. I could go on, Mr. Speaker, and tell you what Prince Edward Island has done, what Manitoba has done, what Alberta has done and what Saskatchewan has done but, in the interests of time, I will not delve into that. However, I will probably bring it up when we debate the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
I want to read a resolution that was passed at the last annual convention of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the organization that represents a great number of farmers in Ontario as well as a number of boards and other organizations.
“Whereas other provinces have found it necessary to regulate ownership of farm land by non-nationals, therefore be it resolved that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture requests the provincial government to immediately undertake a survey of current foreign ownership of rural lands in Ontario and monitor all new land transfers to private or corporate foreign ownership, and that this study be classed as public information; and, further, be it resolved that this study include an inventory of all farm land holdings of non-farm Canadian corporations; and, further, be it resolved that, if necessary, it regulate ownership by non-farm Canadian corporations and non-nationals.”
They have presented briefs to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, but they seem to draw the same blanks I do when asking if the minister will not look into it and see how much of this foreign investment has gone on and is going on at present.
As I understand it, the federation is starting to conduct its own study. I do not think that should be necessary. With all the help the Minister of Agriculture and Food has to do this kind of work, he sent me a letter back, after I wrote him and asked, “Would you give me a printout on Kent and Huron counties?”
Mr. Gaunt: A lot of this is going on in Kent.
Mr. Watson: Oh, yeah, a little bit.
Mr. Riddell: He said, “In 1976 my ministry looked into allegations of foreign ownership in Kent county. It turned out that 6,000 acres, or 10 per cent of the land, were owned by people living outside Canada. Some of these were, no doubt, Canadians living abroad. At the moment, in answer to renewed interest in this matter, we are updating these figures for Kent county and compiling data for Huron county as well.” Big deal I
Hon. Mr. Welch: How many acres, Jack?
Mr. Riddell: Two counties in Ontario and he is going to undertake a study to see how much foreign investment there is. I think my friend opposite will find that much more than 6,000 acres have fallen under foreign ownership.
Mr. Watson: I’ll bet it’s not near that.
Mr. Riddell: I had better leave that subject, although we could carry on.
Mr. Laughren: Talk about cheese factories.
Mr. Watson: There are 6,000 acres in Kent county.
Mr. Riddell: The member for Prescott and Russell alluded to the great things mentioned in the throne speech pertaining to the agricultural industry. Well, he must have received a different throne speech than I did because there are exactly two paragraphs here. One deals with the foodland guidelines policy of the ministry. The other is a little paragraph which says special attention will be given to the need to ensure that farmers are protected by minimum farm machinery warranties and contract standards.
I was hoping the minister would, some time after the throne speech, come into the House and indicate what he had in mind as far as farm machinery warranties and contract standards were concerned.
Mr. Wildman: He needs to bring in legislation.
Mr. Riddell: We didn’t hear anything. So I had to pick up a speech he made to some organization out in the country -- I think it had to do with farm safety. So, in reading the speech, I find the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has decided to give manufacturers the opportunity to introduce a voluntary program of standard purchase contracts, minimum warranties and parts service.
“The Ontario Farm Machinery Board will be reconstituted to provide broader representation for both farmers and industry. I shall be initiating discussions with the industry in the near future, with a view to ensuring industry’s participation in this program in order to protect the interests of all concerned.”
Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, Ontario farmers have reservations about the government’s recently announced program to help farmers with farm machinery problems. I am encouraged that the government has finally recognized that the problem exists, but the suggested program falls short of legislation provided farmers in other provinces.
As a first step, the government is proposing a restructuring of the Ontario Farm Machinery Board. This move is welcomed and it is hoped that it will improve the effectiveness of the board’s activities. Without legislated powers, however, the board will be like a toothless tiger in trying to get satisfactory service for farmers.
I am more cynical about the government’s proposal that manufacturers, distributors and dealers develop a voluntary code of practice. Farmers have little faith that a voluntary code would make the industry provide the parts, service and warranties every consumer should have the right to expect.
Business today isn’t done by word of mouth or on faith that some other institution will do the job. So how can farmers expect manufacturers to live up to any code of practice?
One of my colleagues got a call from a dealer not too long ago who said: “If you people are going to push for this farm machinery warranty and contract standards, or even farm machinery legislation, it means farm machinery is going to go way up in price.”
To my way of thinking that’s an admission that the manufacturer is not turning out a superior product. If he is going to have to live up to some kind of farm equipment warranty, all of a sudden he’ll begin to think maybe he should make a tractor or a combine capable of withstanding all the rigorous functions it must perform.
Mr. Watson: What is the difference in the tractors here and in the other provinces? They are the same tractors you were just blowing up a few minutes ago.
Mr. Riddell: You know, it’s rather ironic --
Mr. Laughren: It certainly is.
Mr. Riddell: -- that farmers have more protection when they buy a $400 refrigerator than when they buy a $40,000 tractor or a $60,000 combine.
Mr. Worton: How does that grab you?
Mr. Riddell: Yet the machinery is their livelihood. If it wasn’t for the machinery the farmer wouldn’t get his crops planted, he wouldn’t get his crops harvested, he wouldn’t make an income and he would end up going bankrupt.
Mr. Watson: And you and I wouldn’t have jobs.
Mr. Riddell: Yet he can’t get his government to realize that maybe it was time that we introduced some farm machinery legislation. Machinery problems are a major concern for Ontario farmers. A breakdown through faulty repairs or a lack of parts means disaster for an individual if these happen at a critical time.
The problem is primarily with the manufacturers and distributors, not the dealers. I really feel that the dealers are endeavouring to do a job, but I think the dealers probably have as much problems with the manufacturers and the distributors as do the farmers. If we do introduce farm machinery legislation it won’t be so much to get at the dealer as it will to make the manufacturer and the distributor of the equipment more responsible.
I cannot and I do not accept the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture and Food as a meaningful answer to the machinery problems of farmers. Surely the minister will follow the example of his counterparts in other provinces and bring in legislation so at least the farmer knows that he has some kind of protection, knows that if his machinery breaks down the company is going to have to stand behind it, knows that if he breaks down on a Saturday he’s going to be able to go in and get his part, rather than shut down for the entire weekend only to have it rain or something else happen and the crop lie in the field beyond the point where it’s even worth harvesting. I think that we’ve got to take a look at this farm machinery legislation a little more closely.
I want to touch briefly on farm incomes and input prices. As at the end of 1977, farm incomes in Ontario had declined for two years in a row. The 1978 net farm incomes were predicted to decline even further, but this did not happen. Instead, farm incomes improved somewhat. Given an 18 per cent increase in farm cash receipts and an 11.4 per cent increase in farm operating and depreciation and expenses, it is reasonable to expect an increase of realized farm net incomes in 1978 slightly under 30 per cent as compared with 1977. This sounds very good, but I think it important that we put the farm income picture in its proper perspective. I would have liked to have spent considerable time talking about the input costs that the farmers are going to be faced with, dealing with it item by item, but I won’t do it.
Mr. Watson: Who wanted it?
Mr. Riddell: I’ll try to condense my remarks in connection with the input costs. I do want to say that recent statistics have indicated that farmers may expect to pay 10 to 35 per cent more for fertilizer, seed, machinery and farm labour. There might also be a shortage in many products. All of this could quickly erode any advantages made in agriculture in recent years with our better production technique and higher output. The big problem could be in petroleum products. Price increases in diesel and gas are expected and there could be serious shortages. Allocation has already been declared in some areas of the United States.
Estimates indicate increases in fertilizer costs could range from 15 to 20 per cent. In fact, increases of 30 per cent over last year could be anticipated for potash because of the low supply and the transportation problems.
Mr. Watson: I thought the NDP had all kinds of potash.
Mr. Riddell: Small seeds such as alfalfa, clover and timothy are going to be expensive and in short supply because of the low yields of last year and because European dealers have bought up much of the supply. Chemical costs are expected to increase by 15 to 20 per cent. Coarse grain, such as oats and barley, are the only products where the price might drop slightly. General farm supplies will increase by 10 to 35 per cent, depending on whether they are from Canada, the United States, Europe or Asia. The main reason for the rise is the devalued Canadian dollar.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) in Ontario, and Ontario farmers, must be very conscious that we are in the spotlight as consumers grope for someone to blame for the so-called high food prices. We must give them a true picture of our problem. At the same time, farmers must be careful not to rest on their laurels as honest, hard-working, highly productive producers. They must strive for even greater output, expanded markets, increased and improved research and new managerial techniques. With this approach, farmers should be able to gain the support of consumers in their attempt to obtain the proper legislation to enable farmers to produce more efficiently and economically.
Farmers must look for initiative and resourcefulness from their own people, but they should also expect more initiative and commitment from the provincial Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Watson: You were doing too good until you came to that point.
Mr. Riddell: It is unbelievable that only one and one half per cent of the total provincial budget is devoted to the agricultural industry, Ontario’s largest primary industry, which makes a major contribution to job creation and has a significant multiplier effect throughout the economy. We call that a commitment from the Minister of Agriculture and Food; one and a half per cent of the total provincial budget?
Hon. Mr. McCague: What do you want?
Mr. Riddell: Drop in on the estimates and we will tell the minister what we want.
Hon. Mr. McCague: You were quoting the minister there at the early part, weren’t you?
Mr. Gaunt: Five per cent will be fine. Farmers represent five per cent of the population and should have five per cent of the provincial budget.
Mr. Riddell: Let me go on with my remarks by continuing where I left off during the emergency debate which was called by the leader of the third party on the Minister of Health’s (Mr. Timbrell) hospital bed reduction program and some of his other proposals.
I indicated when I spoke in the emergency debate that the hospital bed reductions were a very real concern to the people in the riding which I represent. Coupled with the determination of the Ministry of Health to impose uniform restrictions across the province and to make no exceptions, these are acute concerns, acute needs, to which the people of Huron are reacting in a normal and predictable way.
I indicated when I spoke on Monday that I was deluged with letters from the people in my riding, many of which were coming from senior citizens who were terrified of becoming sick and immobile, with no place to go and no one to take care of them. Some of these senior citizens suggested in their letters it appeared to them that society, due to the action of this government, was moving closer and closer to legislation that would permit euthanasia. Men and women growing old in Huron county after a life of struggle and care are actually living in fear that they will be reduced to a little more than bothersome burdens without dignity or respect.
These are pretty harsh words and I know this government has no intention of moving in that direction; but when you read that type of thing in numerous letters that are coming into my office, you can understand the fear that these senior citizens have. They can’t for the life of them understand why it is after all these years of making a contribution in building up these hospitals they find as they go to enjoy their retiring years, they are at the stage where they are going to encounter more ill health, and that being the case they won’t have a hospital bed to move into. I detect all kinds of sincerity in the letters they are writing and I really think it is a sad commentary, indeed, that we have to look for ways of cutting the provincial budget by actually cutting into the excellent health care program our people have come to enjoy over the years.
When I was making my comments I talked about the fact that you cannot formulate health care, Mr. Speaker; you can’t build a health-care system on a formula and expect to apply that formula on a uniform basis across the whole province. My colleague from Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt) has indicated why that can’t be done. We have distances, we have inclement weather, we have many things to contend with out in the rural parts of Ontario that they don’t have in the urban areas. Why in the world should rural Ontario have to pay for the mistakes that were made by this government in earlier years, in the golden 1960s, when there was all kinds of money?
When we have that kind of an economy it is not hard for a government to spend money, and that is exactly what they did. They put up hospitals across the province that are now white elephants -- and I could name some of these hospitals in the large urban centres -- but who paid for them? Those people out in the rural areas who have built up the small hospitals, and have come to rely on these hospitals.
Now we have to accept the bed reduction on the same basis as they do in the urban centres and some of these urban centres are smiling because they are overbedded, but we, in Huron county, cut the fat to the bone. Why? Because the former Minister of Health marched into the county and closed down the most modern psychiatric hospital that existed in Ontario, or in Canada, for that matter. He closed it down and he attempted to close down the Clinton Hospital. He struck fear into the people of Huron county -- the hospital boards, the concerned citizens -- so they all cut the fat right to the bone, operating just as efficiently as they can possibly operate.
Now what are they told? The Alexandra Marine and General Hospital has been told that it has to cut its active treatment beds from 78 down to 37. That is over a 50 per cent cut.
If one of our senior citizens becomes sick, the ambulance takes him into the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital only to be told, “No beds.” That patient is taken on to Clinton; same story, no beds. On to Seaforth, down to Exeter; same story, no beds. So they take him into London only to find that London has something like 476 active treatment beds that it is going to be losing. They take him into London and it’s the same story, “I am sorry, no bed for you.” The sick patient is in the ambulance. What do you do, Mr. Speaker? Do you call the priest to come and administer last rites, and tell the patient, “Well, that’s the best we can do. No bed for you”? Maybe it sounds like an exaggeration, but I tell you these people in rural Ontario are mighty concerned about what is happening.
The minister talks about applying his formula on a referral population basis. In Huron county it is our contention that he is not using the proper figures for his referral population, because we have a great influx of tourists in the summertime, and I hope to elaborate on that a little later.
In a question which I posed in the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, I expressed the concern that the ministry has not taken into account the fact that Goderich is a tourist town and, as such, has an increased population in summer months. I have seen figures which would substantiate a claim that the summer population in the area swells by 9,311 persons, including Goderich and surrounding townships and villages. Based on three persons per visiting car, 38,929 persons had called in to the Goderich tourist booth last summer. While we know that all these people do not require hospital care, the fact remains that the patient load at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital does increase during the summer months and some active treatment hospital beds are required.
In responding to my question, the minister indicated that Goderich’s tourist population was taken into consideration and facts are facts, says the minister. Goderich does not qualify for one extra active treatment bed because of the increased number of people in the area. That’s it. Just as plain as that. You don’t qualify for any more active treatment beds, despite the fact that you do have these tourists coming into the area.
There is a formula to determine how many hospital beds are required for tourist populations. It is quite simple, really. In 1977, a hospital must have had one out-of-the-area patient each day for 365 days to qualify for one additional bed. Goderich does not meet that criterion and thus, no additional bed.
Let me be quick to point out that there is a big difference between rural hospitals and urban hospitals. We have distances to contend with. We have inclement weather to contend with. We have referrals from a much broader base than do urban hospitals.
And we do have mines in the rural areas; I am talking about the salt mines in Goderich. There was a bit of a disaster there not too long ago. It was fortunate that more people were not hurt. But what happens if there is a mine disaster? What are they going to do with those people? There are no beds in the hospital for them.
The minister did not take this into consideration when he came up with this beautiful formula: 3.5 beds per thousand referral population. He did not go out into these areas and see that we do have some mines where there could well be a mine disaster.
Mr. Lawlor: Timbrell is going to bring the government down all by himself.
Mr. Riddell: Did the ministry take that into consideration? I cannot stress enough that you can’t formulate health care, particularly in a rural setting. The formula is rigid and no rigid formula can work province-wide when you are dealing with such a personal thing as health services, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Laughren: They are in trouble on this one.
Mr. Riddell: It seems to me that, when the government introduced universal health care it made a commitment to the people; that the people had a right to expect quality care.
Mr. Riddell: It would appear to me that that commitment has gone the way of a number of other government commitments. The one which comes to my mind is the Edmonton commitment, but that is another matter. We won’t get into that. But this government is great for making commitments and then backing away from them. If somebody can tell me why they have been able to stay in power as long as they have, I would certainly like an explanation.
Mr. Laughren: They buy it.
Mr. Watson: Good government, Jack.
Mr. Riddell: I tell you, your days are numbered.
Mr. Villeneuve: I heard that 20 years ago.
Mr. Riddell: It is very difficult for me to understand, in the light of the fact that Ontario is the province with the second lowest number of acute care beds in Canada and a rich province as well, why we must go to the bottom of the list for health care. I cannot understand it; the people of Ontario cannot understand it.
Mr. Laughren: Right on.
Mr. Lane: They understand it very well.
Mr. Riddell: They are going to be expressing their opinions to those people opposite whenever their boss decides to pull the plug.
Mr. Laughren: No. Whenever the Liberals support a no-confidence motion.
Mr. Riddell: The people in Goderich and surrounding areas are concerned enough about the plight of their hospital that they have committed financial support to keep the hospital beds open. However, in response to another question which I posed in the Legislature, the minister indicated he would not commit community hospitals to use alternative methods of financing for operating expenses.
In responding to my question, the minister indicated he was bent on providing uniform health care across the province. He felt wealthy areas would unfairly be able to offer a better standard of health care than less affluent areas. What is more, he indicated that he doubted if communities could continue to raise funds, year after year, to operate their hospitals.
Well, if we go back in history, that is how these hospitals were built. Many of the senior citizens who are presently living in fear of there not being hospital beds available when they require them were the very ones who built the hospitals in the first place. When they start to destroy local initiative, it is going to cost the government a heck of a lot more money, and that is for certain.
Mr. Laughren: It costs the people money, too.
Mr. Riddell: The senior citizens’ worry is not the only one. A big concern is for long-term patients. Some are elderly men and women for whom a nursing home is the best answer. Some are younger people with permanent disabilities. Some are sick people with illnesses that will keep them confined for months on end. These are the patients that occupy the thoughts of many doctors and hospital board members.
Where will those people go? There are no hospital beds. For those who can be transferred to nursing homes, there is simply no place available in Goderich at the present time. One of the doctors said he recently put one patient on a waiting list that had 65 names on it; so his patient happens to be the 66th waiting for a nursing home bed. Obviously the hospital would have to care for these people -- maybe in active treatment beds -- until the time comes that they can be moved to another health-care facility. Some might qualify for home care for chronic patients, but this service is not in place in Huron county either. The avenue provides no solution then for Alexandra Marine and General Hospital.
Another concern that is just as worrisome are the men and women in nursing homes in psychiatric wards who might have to be transferred to hospitals for active care. Where does the hospital put them? Since the closing of the Goderich Psychiatric Hospital and a residual psychiatric unit of 20 beds left in its place -- this unit currently is located at the Bluewater Centre for the Developmentally Handicapped -- this is a special situation. Patients from all over Huron county are referred there; if they need active hospital treatment, they are moved to Alexandra Marine and General Hospital. It is estimated that one or two beds at Alexandra Marine and General are often in use for just such patients.
This is something the Minister of Health did not take into consideration either; the fact that we have a little residual unit at the former Goderich Psychiatric Hospital and people are coming in from all over Huron and surrounding areas to that little residual unit. If they happen to take sick and require active treatment beds, where do they go?
Let me just remind you, Mr. Speaker, that 38 psychogeriatric beds were closed when the Goderich Psychiatric Hospital was closed two years ago. Certainly this has to affect the situation I have just alluded to. There seems to be little doubt that 15 chronic beds just are not enough for the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital. A more realistic number would be 25, and the board is working extremely hard to document the need for these beds in this area.
As a matter of fact, we have a very excellent delegation coming in from Goderich to meet with the Minister of Health tomorrow afternoon. The spokesman for that delegation will be none other than a renowned lawyer by the name of Jim Donnelly, whom I brought with me when the former Minister of Health tried to close down the Clinton Hospital. He was the spokesman. By the time he was done, the then minister had slumped down in his seat and had turned the colour of chalk. I know for a fact that, after we walked out of his office, he turned to his deputy minister, who I think was Backley at that time -- a guy who came out from England; and I have always maintained --
Hon. Mr. McCague: Is there anything the matter with that?
Mr. Riddell: No. Other than the fact that some of these guys ruined the system in England, and then they come over here and endeavour to do the same darned thing.
I do know that, after we left his office, the minister turned to his deputy and said, “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” In other words, after Donnelly was finished, the Minister of Health began to have some doubts.
Statistics show that Huron county has an unusually high percentage of elderly citizens -- 13 per cent -- compared with the provincial average of 8.6 per cent. In fact, the ministry does recognize the fact and has built a weighting factor into the formula to adjust Huron’s chronic beds to suit the needs. But there are just not enough nursing home beds in the area, and the government really is not compensating the community in that sense.
It is rather ironical that a recent application for more nursing home beds in Goderich was turned down by the ministry people in Toronto. Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker? They applied for more nursing home beds; they were turned down and told, “We’re going to reduce your active treatment beds in the hospital regardless of the fact that you don’t have nursing home beds or chronic-care beds or anything else.”
I just cannot understand the conscience of the Minister of Health.
Mr. Haggerty: We’re number one, eh Andy?
Mr. Riddell: There are other things that are concerning doctors and hospital board members about the 3.5 beds per thousand referral population: Things like the knowledge that 450 beds have been cut in London Hospital and will undoubtedly result in long waits for Huron county people who are applying for admittance in the city.
Things like having to make interim provision at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital for certain patients waiting to be admitted to other referral centres.
Things like having to turn down referrals back from those centres of patients who want to recuperate at home, closer to their families, but for whom there are no empty beds.
Things like realizing if the local hospital can’t accept those referrals it is only creating more of a backlog in the city hospital and longer waiting lists for Huron county patients.
Things like knowing patients are paying insurance premiums for semi-private accommodation in hospital and that there will be no such luxury at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital as a choice of bed and room.
Things like having to turn people away or putting them in holding areas or in the hallways or in improper, inappropriate mixing situations that run the risk of new dangers of infection for patients. Upsetting things, degrading things, frightening things.
In Goderich the doctors, the hospital board members, the citizenry have been very vocal about their fears and their frustrations. They have been working hard and furiously to get the answers they need to keep the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital functioning safely and adequately.
They have called on the people of the community to think about the situation and to make their feelings known to government officials and their local members. And that is the reason why I have received, as has the Premier, and as has the Minister of Health, many heart-rending letters.
It isn’t difficult to understand that senior citizens will be the most anxious about the implications of the ministry’s actions. Senior citizens are naturally fearful about illness and old age; they too often go hand-in-hand. And where will they go? Who will take care of them?
I’m alarmed that the people throughout the rest of the province have been surprisingly mute about the bed cutbacks, which we all know had very little to do with health care and a great deal to do with budget problems. It is a sad commentary on the state of Ontario finances.
Maybe some of the senior citizens who have been writing to the Premier and to the minister and to me are more perceptive than this province would like to think. Maybe, just maybe, euthanasia would ease the financial crisis for the Ministry of Health.
Mr. Watson: I’m surprised at you saying something like that.
Mr. Riddell: Who knows? Who knows when that very suggestion would be made by someone?
I’m going to quit now, but I could go on all afternoon about this health care situation and the ridiculous policies that have been brought forth by the Minister of Health. I only hope that he gives a fair hearing to both the Wingham people and the Goderich people tomorrow afternoon in his office. And I hope there can be a solution found to the very real problem which these people are facing and will face if the minister doesn't change his attitude.
Mr. Watson: He gives you 20 minutes, so the member for Nickel Belt has lots of time.
Mr. Laughren: I shall make a very serious attempt to complete before the supper hour.
The throne speech we heard a short time ago was a disappointing one for many of us. I know opposition members are seldom excited and supportive of a throne speech or the policies therein. But I thought this one was a chance for the government to indicate some new directions they were going to take and put a few specifics into the speech -- which, of course, they failed to do. They did nothing really except to offer a few reassurances.
For example, at a time when we’ve got real problems with our medicare system it would have been nice to have seen the Minister of Health insert in the speech from the throne a very serious commitment to maintaining our health care system. There was no such serious commitment in the throne speech.
The government is floundering, and it’s responding in a very ad hoc manner, and in such a way that it doesn’t seem to have any direction at all. It’s responding to problems as they arise -- whether it’s medicare, whether it’s unemployment or whether it’s compensation -- without providing any new direction, either social or economic. That’s a sad comment; perhaps a natural one for a government that’s been in power so long.
I’d like to make a few comments on what we anticipate in this party in the budget which is going to come down next Tuesday night, April 10. We cannot expect the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) to provide us with any details at this point, but I do think he should know what things we shall be looking for in that budget.
Mr. Haggerty: It should be more positive, that’s for sure.
Mr. Laughren: I won’t go into great detail either, but it is appropriate, I think, to serve notice to what we’re looking for.
We’re going to be looking very carefully at the job-creation proposals that will be contained in his budget document.
Very often there is a tendency to put the problems of unemployment at the federal level, but the federal government has not resolved the unemployment problem so there’s a very real obligation on the part of this government to get seriously into the whole matter of the creation of jobs. There’s lots that can be done in Ontario, and to have almost 300,000 people unemployed is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable from an economic view and from a social view as well. That’s something the government has not done a very good job on.
As a matter of fact, the Treasurer stood up today in the House and announced there was going to be some youth employment programs for the summer that will create employment for 40,000 youths. That’s fine, but the 300,000 that we’re talking about are not youths. They’re not even in those statistics. We're talking about serious proposals for full-time employment.
The employment trends in this province are ominous. When you look at the employment trends by sector of the economy, if you look at the unemployment trends by regions in the province, you can see why the Treasurer should be very concerned.
In this country, we have the highest unemployment rate of any industrialized country. I know that the Treasurer wouldn’t want me to make a statement like that without giving some of the details.
Canada has an unemployment rate of 8.3 per cent. Sweden has 2.1 per cent; Japan, 2.2; West Germany, 3.6; France, 5.1: US, 6.1; UK, 6.6; Italy, 7.5; and I reiterate Canada has 8.3 per cent. It’s not getting better. In Canada, in 1975, it was 6.9 per cent. In 1976, it was 7.1; in 1977, 8.1: in 1978, 8.4; and the latest that we had this year was 7.9, but that’s expected to rise as well.
From an Ontario viewpoint, it’s very serious. The Treasurer, I hope, will take a look at the unemployment figures by the different regions of the province.
In selected cities -- this is for February, 1979, the latest figures I could get -- Windsor had a 10.2 unemployment rate; St. Catharines had 14.5 per cent unemployment; Toronto had 5.7; Hamilton had 7.9; London had 6.9; Kitchener had 6.6; and Ottawa had 9.2 per cent. Those are unacceptable unemployment levels for the most industrialized province in this country; and indeed many of those cities are in the industrialized parts of this province. So that’s a serious trend that’s happening with the --
Mr. Lawlor: For one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it’s unbelievable.
Mr. Laughren: As my colleague from Lakeshore said, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Probably this jurisdiction is the wealthiest jurisdiction there is, and to have those kind of unemployment rates; and all the social and economic costs that are entailed by those, that go along with unemployment, that really is unacceptable.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s atrociously bad government.
Mr. Laughren: The Treasurer has not responded to those problems.
We’re worried about what’s happening in the manufacturing sector of the economy. We know that in 1978 there was a spurt in manufacturing, but we also know that spurt has not made up for the tremendous decline that occurred in the last 10 years prior to 1978. We know part of the 1978 spurt was caused by the devalued dollar rather than to any kind of action on the part of the Treasurer. The Treasurer, if he’s thinking of the devalued dollar as a solution to our manufacturing problems, had better think again. Such a high proportion of our parts are imported to go into the manufactured product that we have a very severe problem there with inflation, and of course, with the whole balance of payments.
The other area we’re concerned about is the industrial incentives program that the Treasurer and his colleague, the minister for global product mandating, have been talking about. They keep talking about providing incentives to the private sector in order to rebuild the Ontario economy. The government is just staggering around in responding to requests that come in. There is no direction in that incentives program. In the budget, we will be looking for some specific directions and some criteria and guidelines.
We do not accept industrial incentives that do not have contained in them guarantees for regional development, for jobs, for stimulation of particular sectors rather than spreading it over the whole economy, for environmental protection and, last but not least, the whole component of Canadian ownership. The problems of lack of Canadian ownership are substantial and are causing many of our problems.
Mr. Lawlor: You don’t expect him to address himself to any of those problems, do you?
Mr. Laughren: I expect he will or he will not have our support when it comes to vote for the budget next December.
Mr. Lawlor: I have no hope, I have no faith and I have very little charity.
Mr. Laughren: Let him tremble in his boots at the thought of that. It will be very difficult for the Liberal Party in this province to support a budget that doesn’t resolve some of those problems and some others I haven’t even mentioned.
The third matter I wanted to talk about was the whole question of our OHIP system, our system of medicare in the province. We have the highest premiums in the country and, even at that, doctors are opting out of the program and charging consumers more. So consumers are paying twice. They are paying through very high premiums and then they are paying extra to doctors who opt out of the system. That’s unacceptable to us. I believe there are only three provinces in all of Canada that even have medicare premiums. It’s not necessary. We want a reduction in the level of OHIP premiums. We want a shift to the more progressive taxes, such as corporate income taxes and personal income taxes.
Even the committee that looked into the problems of OHIP last year recommended that there be a tax credit for those people who should be receiving premium assistance but who are not. We know there is an enormous gap there of people who are eligible for premium assistance but are simply not getting it. The committee recommended that there be a form of tax credit to pick up those people. The government hasn’t done that and here it is letting doctors out. We will be pursuing that.
We’re worried about the whole regressive nature of the tax system in Ontario. I’ve heard members opposite say, “Other provinces are no better. Look at the province where your party is the government.” I have done some looking at that and I have a comparison of personal taxes and charges between Saskatchewan and Ontario. I’d like to let you have them, Mr. Speaker, as I’m sure you’d be interested. This includes provincial income tax, tax credits and rebates, health premiums, retail sales tax, gasoline tax, car insurance, telephone costs, home heating and electricity. This is for a taxpayer with $15,000 in total income with a spouse and two children. We have taken a fairly typical example.
In Saskatchewan, that family would pay $577 in provincial income tax and $599 in Ontario. Tax credits and rebates would be $418 in Saskatchewan and $115 in Ontario. There are no health premiums in Saskatchewan; the figure is $456 in Ontario. Retail sales tax comes to $197 in Saskatchewan and $240 in Ontario. Gasoline tax is $114 in Saskatchewan and $114 in Ontario. The subtotal of those items, over which the government has complete control, is $470 for Saskatchewan and $1,252 for Ontario.
These are the figures for other elements over which the government has some control. Car insurance in Saskatchewan comes to $224 and $441 in Ontario. By the way, that is driving a similar car with the same kind of liability coverage and so on. Telephone charges are $70 in Saskatchewan and $103 in Ontario. Home heating amounts to $318 in Saskatchewan and $584 in Ontario. Electricity is $180 in Saskatchewan and $202 in Ontario. That makes a subtotal of $792 in Saskatchewan and $1,330 in Ontario.
When you add up those two categories you get $1,262 in Saskatchewan, and $2,582 in Ontario. There is a better way to impose taxes on citizens in a provincial jurisdiction. Saskatchewan has found a better way; Ontario has not.
I was looking at some of the problems of housing, for example, and this ties in with what this government is doing. In Toronto, if we look at housing prices, the average house in Toronto is selling for $67,333 with a 10 per cent downpayment and the current 11.75 per cent mortgage rate. This means a carrying cost of $611.45 a month over a 30-year mortgage. Translated into hourly costs, a worker would be paying $3.53 an hour of his wage for his mortgage; it doesn’t include property tax. That is more than half the wage of an average worker. Interest is $2.56 of that $3.53, so the lifetime cost of that house which has a selling price of $67,333 becomes over the 30-year period of the mortgage, $226,843. That is a handsome sum for a $67,000 house.
Between 1972 and 1978, the average income of a manufacturing worker almost doubled. It sounds good, but if one allows for taxes, inflation and carrying costs which young workers have to face with their families, the worker can, in fact, not buy any more with the money he has left over. There are some statistics I would like to give you, Mr. Speaker.
Annual average gross income in 1962 was $7,363; and in 1978, $14,560. That is a 98 per cent increase in average gross income. Income tax -- this is a married person with two young children -- in 1972 was $1,014 and in 1978 $2,180, for a change of 137 per cent. Net income was $6,445 in 1972 and $12,380 in 1978, or a 92 per cent increase. The carrying cost of that 30-year mortgage was $3,128 in 1972 and $7,061 in 1978 for a 135 per cent increase.
The amount left over for other expenditures after those have been paid are $3,317 in 1972 and $5,319 in 1978, a 60 per cent increase or change in what is left over to buy other goods, except that the purchasing power of that amount in 1972 dollars, which was the base year, is $3,317 in 1972 and $3,160 in 1978, a five per cent decrease. Thus we have a case where workers earning substantially more gross income are in fact worse off than they were back in 1972.
I mentioned the problem of regressive taxation and one of the regressive taxes is property taxes. I dug up some figures on education costs paid for by the province versus the property taxpayer.
In 1975 -- this is the all-province average -- the provincial government paid 61.4 per cent and the property taxpayer paid 38.6.
In 1979, instead of paying 61.4 per cent the province is paying only 51.5 per cent, which is the preliminary figure. It is almost 10 per cent less of the total education bill than they were paying in 1975 -- 10 per cent less in only five years.
That is not acceptable to us. That is a regressive form of taxation. Surely, the province should be moving in the opposite direction so education costs are reduced as a component of property taxes. That is the direction in which we should be moving and those are the kinds of policy changes we will be looking for on Tuesday night.
In Metropolitan Toronto the figures are even more dramatic. In 1975 the provincial share of education was 35.1 per cent. By 1979 we estimate it will be 20 per cent. It has gone from 35 per cent down to 20 per cent in that five-year period, another way of shifting taxes onto a more regressive system. That is exactly what this government has done, and we find that unacceptable.
The other thing is, I suggested to the minister of global product mandating today that he might want to think about the whole problem of one company gobbling up another company; the squabble over Hudson’s Bay Company between Weston’s and the Thomson family comes to mind, of course. What I would suggest the Treasurer look at is a system whereby there is a tax on that. We could call it a takeover tax, if we like.
There are two reasons why I suggest such a tax. One, of course, is to get revenues for the province. We socialists are always worried about revenues and very cautious in our expenditures; so I want to stress the point that we are worried about increasing our revenues with such a tax.
The other and perhaps even more important reason is that there are enormous pools of money going to purchase the assets of another company; somebody is going to have to show me how that creates jobs or new wealth in this jurisdiction, or how that creates income for the people of Ontario so we can have social services that we require. That is not the way you build an economy, or rebuild a sagging one.
If that money is there as a pool of cash -- and in these they are talking about cash deals -- if that kind of money is available, it should be going to rebuild the manufacturing sector of our economy. That is what has to be done. Here, we have these large corporate entities, in some cases, catering to the egos of the people who run them as much as to the accountants who advise them to take over other large companies. It is an asset grab which we think does not contribute anything to Ontario. That has to be looked at; it simply does not make any economic sense at all.
Speaking of takeovers, mergers and so forth, it would be appropriate if the Treasurer and his colleague the minister for global product mandating were to take a look at the whole question of takeovers by foreign interests in Ontario. We have in this country something called the Foreign Investment Review Agency, a federal agency. That agency peruses all takeover bids and all new enterprises started up in Canada by foreign interests.
Mr. Wildman: And okays most of them.
Mr. Laughren: They do okay most of them. This government has a say in every one of those applications in Ontario, and the review agency tells us that in 95 per cent of the cases the province agrees with FIRA.
I asked the Minister of Industry and Tourism -- sorry; global product mandating -- if he would table the guidelines under which he made his decisions. The minister tells the review agency what the province’s views are on any proposed takeover. Yet he will not table in this Legislature the criteria or the guidelines on which he bases his decision. I do not think that is asking too much. But the minister simply has refused to answer the question.
I think it is time that you, Mr. Speaker, took the minister to task; he is there to answer questions like this. I think he would be particularly sensitive if a Speaker who had been a former Solicitor General were to make the point to him. I think that would encourage you to do that.
We think the minister should understand that we are no longer talking of small figures when we talk about takeovers. We are talking about some very large numbers.
When a company from outside the province takes over a company within the province, we know that one of the problems in the long run is that there will be interest and dividend payments flowing out of this country. That is something that is causing a problem with our balance of payments. We know that in 1978 -- and these figures come from the review agency -- out of 310 foreign takeovers applied for, 282 of them were approved; that is 91 per cent. Many of those were in the manufacturing sector, and many of them were in Ontario. For new businesses established in this country, out of 294 applied for, 92.8 per cent were approved. What we are saying to the minister, and requesting that he do, is respond to us. Tell us how it is he makes the decision to approve those takeovers. On what basis does he decide that a takeover is in the best interests of Ontario?
One other area that we need to take a look at is the whole question of a capital gains tax. At the present time, it is my understanding that the federal government taxes 50 per cent of all capital gains, and that leaves 50 per cent that could be picked up by the province. What we are saying, plainly and simply, is go right back to the Carter commission; that is income and should be taxed as income -- not half of it. People in this country and in this province do not have half their income taxed. Most people have all their income taxed, except those people who achieve capital gains, and they only have 50 per cent of that taxed. We are saying there is room for the province to move and take up that other 50 per cent so that we have a more equitable tax system.
Mr. Lawlor: Clark wants to cut it even further.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, that’s right.
Mr. Villeneuve: If you want to give jobs, that’s the only way you can do it.
Mr. Laughren: It is strange that one of the Conservative members says that is the way we keep jobs. They have been doing it for years, and the jobs have been disappearing. Perhaps they need a different policy.
Those are some of the problems on which we will be looking for answers from the Treasury on Tuesday night. But I am not optimistic. There are problems over there that go partly beyond just different policies. There is a struggle going on over on that side. I have analysed it very carefully, and I even did some eavesdropping the other day.
Everybody knows the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) is attempting to muscle in on the traditional jurisdiction of the Treasurer. We know this; we can see it in the policies.
I was doing some light reading the other day, and it came to mind that what I was reading was the same conversation I had overheard while walking out of the chamber. Walking out of the chamber was the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) and the Treasurer. I will put their names in as I read it.
The Treasurer said to his friend the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs: “Let me have men about me that are fat -- sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’nights. Yon Grossman has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”
The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs answered: “Fear him not, Frank. He’s not dangerous. He’s a noble Tory and well given.”
The Treasurer said: “Would he were fatter, but I fear him not. if my name were liable to fear I do not know the man I should avoid so soon as that spare Grossman. He reads much. He is a great observer and he looks quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays and thou dost, Tom. He hears no music. Seldom he smiles and smiles in such a sort as if he mocked himself and scorned his spirit that could be moved to smile at anything. Such men as he be never at heart’s ease whilst they behold a greater than themselves and, therefore, are they dangerous. I rather tell thee what is to be feared than what I fear, for always I am Treasurer.”
That is part of the problem with what is happening on the front bench over there, and that is one of the reasons we have a mish-mash of economic problems over there.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I thought the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) was the poet.
Mr. Laughren: He is; he’s my inspiration. I would have never quoted from Julius if my friend had not moved down here beside me.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Don’t replace him. He has been doing a good job. Don’t displace him as your poet laureate.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member for Lakeshore is an inspiration to all of us.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, he is.
Mr. Lawlor: I have never heard a more apt quotation.
Mr. Wildman: That has obviously inspired the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Treasurer; they’re very poetic.
Mr. Laughren: So much for the general economic policy. I am serious when I say that the problems between the Treasurer and the Minister for Global Product Mandating are causing fuzziness in the general direction that this government’s economic policy is supposed to be taking us. It is not clear, and I suspect that is one of the reasons; so it will be very interesting to see what happens during the budget address on Tuesday night.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is not that it is not clear; it’s just that it’s not clearly where you would lead us.
Mr. Laughren: It’s not clear.
I would like to speak for a couple of moments on a problem that is bothering a lot of us, and that is the question of how we got ourselves in a situation that is so unhappy for so many people in Ontario now, namely injured workers. It is a problem that, unless someone is injured they tend not even to know about it at all. But let a person get injured and there is a significant chance of them having problems in obtaining just compensation, speedily and humanely rendered.
It is a very serious problem in that sense, and it does not just exist in the Sudbury area. I recognize that I represent an industrial area with a lot of mines and a lot of accidents, but it is elsewhere too. Whether you have a back problem in Sudbury or in Cornwall, it is a serious problem. The Workmen’s Compensation Board simply does not know how to deal with it. There are administrative delays; there are decisions that are unfair to the workers; it is an adversary system; it simply is not working in the province.
Let me give one example -- and, so help me, there are dozens and dozens --
Mr. Watson: Claim number?
Mr. Laughren: No, I am not going to give an individual case -- just one example of how the board invariably comes down against the worker and wonders then why the worker regards it as an adversarial system.
In Sudbury now we have a major industrial strike, the Inco strikes. Workers who are injured and would normally receive what is called 50 per cent benefits would be eligible for a rehabilitation allowance until their condition was improved to the 100 per cent level. If the injured worker’s condition improves to the point where he can go back to work and do light duties, and if he goes to the board, the board says: “We are cutting you off to 50 per cent, and you are going to stay at 50 per cent. You are on strike and, therefore, you are not eligible for light duties. If there were no strike, you would be back at work performing light duties.”
The worker says: “Well now, just a minute. If I were healthy, I could get a job, perhaps up in Timmins, or perhaps I could get a job in Elliot Lake, or at Lake Agnew Mines, or some other place in this country.” He could try, as an experienced miner, to get a job someplace else but, because of his partial disability, he cannot get a job someplace else.
The compensation board says: “It’s your fault and the union’s fault that you are on strike. Don’t blame the compensation board for your problem.” But the compensation board misses the problem and it misses the point entirely: If the worker were not injured at all, if there were no disability, he could be out there getting a job someplace. The board says: “Well, we’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll put you on a rehabilitation program. But, of course, you have to quit your company and your job to come under the rehabilitation program.”
Is that not a fine, humane policy for the compensation board in Ontario? A worker with 10, 20 or 30 years’ experience is told, “If you want to be qualified for our rehabilitation program to get your benefits up to 100 per cent, then you are going to have to quit your company.” That is some kind of policy.
The Minister of Labour and Manpower (Mr. Elgie) has told us that is not the policy of the board. The Minister of Labour and Manpower is wrong; that is the policy of the board, and we have many examples of it in the Sudbury area. That is the kind of system we have. We have fought for years with the board and with the Minister of Labour, and nothing changes.
I was in Saskatchewan, and I said to the Minister of Labour: “We have real problems with compensation in Ontario. How are things here?” He said: “When we formed the government, we appointed a new board and changed some attitudes. We said that the attitude had to change at the board. Mind you, we haven’t solved all our problems; I am working on one right now.” One! He was working on one! We have hundreds. Our constituency offices work almost full time on compensation problems.
I would say that not only is the board badly administered, and not only are the attitudes wrong, but also the entire system is wrong and needs to be replaced. In other words, plainly and simply, the Workmen’s Compensation Board, as we know it in Ontario, must be abolished and replaced with a social insurance system. That is what must happen.
There is a tremendous gap in the provision of income to people who get hurt in Ontario. Someone out there is going to have to explain to me why it matters where someone gets hurt -- on the job, in the automobile or in the home. Why does it matter? Surely what matters is accident prevention, income maintenance, and rehabilitation. That is what counts, and we have a system that does not do that. Quite frankly, I do not think you will ever have a system that does it until you have three components of insurance: (1) Auto insurance; (2) workers’ compensation; (3) sickness and accident -- so that you cover people regardless of where they are injured and irrespective of fault. There is such a system in New Zealand. A commission in Saskatchewan has recommended they do it. The same was recommended in Manitoba when there was an NDP government there. In Saskatchewan they are now costing the whole proposal to see how feasible it is, what the costs would be and so forth. I certainly hope that they move in that direction, because we need a social insurance system in the province of Ontario.
I want to tell you that we have great difficulty coping with this compensation board, Mr. Speaker. You can replace the chairman, which the government is going to do. We saw that before when Hon. Mr. Starr replaced Mr. Legge. Nothing changed for two reasons: One, the attitude of the board did not change; two, the system did not change. A change of attitude in the senior people at the board would help, but in the long run the abolishment of the board and the establishment of a comprehensive system is the only way to resolve the problems in that area.
I mentioned earlier the Inco strike. It has been almost seven months since that strike began back on September 15, 1978. They have been seven long months, I want to tell you. Seven long months not just for the striking workers and their families but for the community as a whole. When you have 11,000 people off for that period of time in a community the size of Sudbury you really feel it. It is affecting the community in a very major way.
The union has looked after the membership extremely well. There are committees set up so that if people get into trouble they work through a committee at the union hail. They have done a magnificent job in administering the strike, there is no question about that at all.
The basic premise from which I begin, though, is that Inco has not made a decent offer to the workers in Sudbury. That is where it all breaks down. They had not even responded this week to the last demand of the union, nor have they given any consideration to the impact they are having on the community. They have not worried about the community which gave them all they have.
What has this government done? Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you something: This government has done some things in the past; they have done them for Inco. I will give you some examples. I am glad the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) is here; he was part of the system of being very kind to Inco. One, they have given Inco a processing allowance to allow them, contrary to Section 113 of the Mining Act, to process their ores offshore. Then two, as though to add insult to injury, they are allowing them to write off those offshore processing costs against their Ontario profits. That is adding insult to injury, and it is exporting jobs. Three, the government gave them last year 60,000 acres north of Sudbury on which they would have exclusive exploration and development rights, just like that. Four, they reduced the control order which was imposed upon Inco directing them to get their pollution emissions, their SO2 emissions, down from about 3,500 tons a day to 750 tons a day by the end of 1978. They virtually cancelled the control order in that the limit is not changed. They have not said, “You will progressively get down to that date.” They didn’t give the extension with specific tons per day, they virtually, to all intents and purposes, cancelled the control order.
Those are things that this government has done for the company. What we say is that it is time the government moved in and said to that company: “You are not going to continue to abuse the workers and the community in which you operate any longer.”
This is what the government should do; it should use the leverage it has, because of those favours bestowed on Inco, to tell the company to make a decent offer so the people can get back to work in Sudbury. But if the government thinks the workers are going to go back without a decent offer, it is sadly mistaken. The workers have suffered too much now to go back for nothing.
Then we have Inco’s behaviour. I was reading Business Week, as New Democrats so often do. I read in the section on Corporate Strategies some comments on the president of Ray-O-Vac, which is part of ESB in the United States, a subsidiary of Inco which Inco purchased for about $250,000,000 a few years ago.
Referring to Dawson, who came from Inco to take over the presidency of Ray-O-Vac Corporation, the writer said “Now it is clear that, under Dawson, ESB will rely in a major way on Inco’s enormous financial resources for the first time to help solve its problems. Aided by $50,000,000 annually from Inco, ESB will now double its capital spending to an estimated $40,000,000, with most of the money going to modernize run-down plants and to build a few new facilities as part of an effort to reduce the company’s above-average production costs.”
At the end of the article, he wrote: “Dawson is confident that the corporate parent’s commitment of roughly $50,000,000 a year is assured. ‘It’s large for us,’ he says, ‘but it’s small for Inco,’”
Isn’t that lovely? Inco is going to give $50,000,000 a year to Ray-O-Vac Corporation in the United States to prop up its plants down there, while in this country it makes a different offer to the workers in Port Colborne and a different offer to the workers in Thompson than to the workers in Sudbury. They gave a different pension offer to the workers in Port Colborne last year when the layoffs occurred than to the workers in Sudbury. And here they are taking $50,000,000 a year earned in Sudbury, sending it to the Ray-O-Vac Corporation in the United States and giving the back of the hand to the workers in Sudbury again -- not just to the workers either but the entire Sudbury community.
That is pushing their rights too far. I don’t know how I this government can sit back and look at that and not do anything. The case is clear; the evidence is overwhelming. I’ve never advocated the nationalization of the public ownership of a resource corporation for punitive reasons. I think that a government should bring the resources in this province into the public sector for social and economic reasons, not punitive reasons. But I am reaching the point of adding punitive to my list of social and economic reasons in the case of Inco for the way they have treated the Sudbury community. If ever there was an example of bankrupt policies, it’s this government’s policies on resources. They have none.
Mr. Lane: You’ve been saying that for eight years.
Mr. Laughren: That’s right. And I’m going to keep on saying it until the government learns that it is totally wrong on its policy on resources.
Mr. Lane: You’ll be a lot older than you are now.
Mr. Laughren: Let me tell the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, that the value of mineral production in Ontario in 1975 was $2,300,000,000 and the revenue to the province from that was $91,000,000, representing 3.9 per cent of production. In 1976, the value of mineral production, was $2,500,000,000 and the revenue was $66,000,000. As a percentage of production, that represented 2.6 per cent in revenue to the province. In 1977, the value of mineral production was $2,700,000,000 and revenue from the mining sector was $39,000,000, representing 1.4 per cent of the value of production. We have production between 1975 and 1977 going from $2,300,000,000 to $2,700,000,000 while revenue goes from $91,000,000 to $39,000,000, and as a percentage of production, from 3.9 per cent to 1.4 per cent.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would this be a suitable time for the member for Nickel Belt to break his speech?
Mr. Laughren: Yes, it would.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.