The House resumed at 8 p.m.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION ACT
Hon. Miss Stephenson moved second reading of Bill 19, An Act to amalgamate the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Education.
Mr. Sweeney: It is somewhat of an irony or coincidence -- however you want to look at it -- to realize that on April 22, 1964, almost 15 years ago to this date, the Honourable John Robarts also stood in this Legislature and introduced for the first time a bill to create a department of university affairs. Here we are, 15 years later, for all practical purposes dismantling that as a specific individual department. I am not sure whether that is progress or regression. I hope before the night is over we might have some sense as to whether in fact we are really progressing.
It is also interesting to note that although there was a department of university affairs set up in 1964, both the Ministry of Education and this new department, the former then called a department as well, were under the jurisdiction of one minister, the present Premier (Mr. Davis), up until and including 1971. It’s difficult to know for sure just why, at that point in time, there were two ministers appointed; perhaps it was the method that our present Premier used to suggest that nobody else could quite fill his shoes. It is, certainly, a tribute to the present minister that since 1971 she is the first one that anyone has suggested might be able to fill those shoes. I think only time will tell whether in fact this new minister will be able to continue to look after what are considered to be two very large areas of jurisdiction within this province.
The other point we should note, historically, is that when the community colleges were first set up, they came under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Education and were not part of a colleges and universities ministry as they have been until very recently. It was only some time later that they became part of the post-secondary institution.
I make these observations only to point out that the trail leading to this legislation tonight has been a rather long and tortuous one, and certainly has not been without a great deal of questioning. It is with that sense of questioning that I want to continue this evening. At first glance, Bill 19, An Act to amalgamate the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Education, appears to be a rather simple administrative procedure. Certainly it is well understood by members of this caucus that any government at any level, including this one, has the right to so arrange its affairs, the right to so structure its administrative procedures as to run the government as it sees fit. We don’t quarrel with that.
Consequently, since that is really about all that’s in this bill as it is printed, we’re going to support it. We are not going to oppose it because we believe that in the democratic process the government of the day has the right to structure its affairs as it sees fit.
We want to raise a number of questions, however, and we want, and I want at this point in time, to strongly suggest, strongly point out, that we believe this bill should go to committee. There are far too many unanswered questions; there are far too many aspects of this bill that will cause, create and result in questions that are not answered in this very slim bill that we have before us.
Therefore, on the one hand I am pointing out we intend to support the bill because it is appropriate for the government to so arrange its administration, but we are also pointing out that we believe there are a lot of unanswered questions, particularly as the minister herself chose not to take the opportunity to make an opening statement. We still don’t know for sure exactly what she, or her government, has in mind.
We believe there should be an opportunity for the public, particularly that part of the public concerned directly with education -- I’m talking about students and parents, and more specifically, the educational community in our school boards and our colleges and universities -- to have some input. While on the surface this appears to be a fairly simple piece of legislation, in fact it should, and could, make some very fundamental changes to the way in which education is structured and processed in this province.
I would say to the minister that if in fact there aren’t going to be some fundamental and significant changes in the way in which education is operated in this province, then this bill is a sham. If it means nothing at all, if nothing is going to change, to improve; if things aren’t going to be better a few years down the line as a result of it; then it is a sham, it is simply a pretence at doing something when in fact nothing will be done at all.
The minister is well aware that my caucus was charged about a year and a half ago with the responsibility of investigating this whole issue. It was charged with trying to come up with the advantages and the disadvantages as to whether we should have a merger or an amalgamation or whether we should not. The minister is aware of that. In most cases the minister has received most of the material that was made available to me.
I want to address myself to that point for a couple of reasons. The first is that when we started we found an absolute dearth of any information whatsoever from any source as to what were the advantages and disadvantages of a single versus a dual ministry. Here are a couple of the places we contacted. First of all, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities library has only copies of different speeches, nothing else. We went to the Ministry of Education’s library; they had nothing. We went to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education’s historical collection; it has nothing. We went to the archives library; it has only speeches of the then minister in 1964. In other words, all of the sources -- the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the Ministry of Education, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the historical archives -- had nothing on record to indicate the advantages or disadvantages of a single system versus a dual system.
The next thing we did was go out into other jurisdictions. We went to several provinces in Canada. When I say we, I should say it was through the good graces of a contract we arranged with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, headed up by Dr. Richard Townsend, that these kinds of investigations were to a large extent carried out. I want to say at this time we were indeed very appreciative of the assistance that Dr. Townsend and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education gave us. I think it has already been clearly pointed out we did that under a contractual arrangement; that question at one time was raised in this House.
Nevertheless, we did go to other jurisdictions to find out what their experiences were. We wanted to ask those which had a unitary system what their experiences were, and those which had a dual system what their experiences were. We particularly wanted to speak to those systems which had switched from one to the other to find out what their experiences were. We also went to American jurisdictions.
I think, not surprisingly, we discovered that whatever mode of operation was in existence at that time in any jurisdiction was the one that particular jurisdiction felt was best. If it was unitary, that was the best thing in the world; if it was dual, that was the best thing in the world. We shouldn’t have been surprised at that, and we really weren’t, once we considered a little bit longer. The only difficulty was it didn’t help us very much. It didn’t really help us to decide whether or not here in Ontario we would be better off if we had a single system rather than a dual system; so therefore we had to do some digging on our own.
First of all, we sent out a questionnaire to the various educational bodies across this province -- to all the school boards, chairmen, directors; to all the colleges and the universities; to the heads of the students’ associations; the faculty associations, the staff associations, the administration and the presidents’ offices most certainly. We asked five questions as an initial survey, and I would like to read those. The first question was this: “Are the reasons given in 1964 for creating two ministries still valid today?” The reasons given in 1964 by the Honourable John Robarts for setting up a distinct department of university affairs may have had some validity 15 years ago, we weren’t in a position to question it one way or the other. What we were trying to find out was whether it was still true today. Have conditions changed sufficiently that maybe it is no longer valid to have two ministries and one might be preferable?
The second question we asked was -- can we justify the administrative costs of two ministries, given the shortage of funds for educational purposes? Quite obviously we were trying to discover was there any evidence, any evidence whatsoever, that the number of dollars totally available for education in this province could be used more wisely with one ministry or with two; we didn’t know the answer to that. We still don’t know the answer, quite frankly, and we will bring that up a little later, but we think it was a legitimate question to raise, particularly given the shortage of funds available for all social services in this province in this day and age.
Our third question was: given that 80 per cent of post-secondary students come directly from the secondary schools, will the needs of students be better met within a single, unified ministry? And that is perhaps the key to the whole thing. More than anything else, what we need to look at, what we need to assure ourselves of, is that the needs of students, the students who pass from one part of this educational system to the other, are going to be better met under a single Ministry of Education rather than under two.
Our fourth question was -- and this is one we received a great deal of feedback on: is the educational process for adolescents and for adults so different as to require two ministries? There has been a lot of speculation -- and I am sure the minister is aware of it -- that we are even dealing with two different kinds of people. Whereas in the Ministry of Education we are dealing for the most part with children and adolescents who have to attend school on a compulsory basis and who pretty well have to take a fairly common core of curriculum all the way through, on the other hand we are dealing with adults who, first of all, don’t have to attend; whose needs are in many cases very different; who to a large extent have a much wider choice of what they are going to study and the purpose for which they are going to study it.
What we are trying to get at is that on the surface that appears to be true; there seems to be some rational logic for it. But is there really that kind of break in the educational system?
We have often asked ourselves if there need be that kind of break between elementary school and secondary school. The ministry of this government has on a number of occasions said that it is hesitant about the existence of that sharp line. It is still there; the members know it as well as I do. So we are asking ourselves -- one step further: is it necessarily true that there needs to be that kind of an administrative and legislative break between the secondary school and the post-secondary institution, particularly given the findings of something like the Interface report?
The minister is well aware of the in many cases damning indictments of the lack of coordination and the lack of liaison between the secondary schools and our post-secondary institutions. There are numerous examples of where students have fallen between the chairs. Where on the one hand the secondary school board has said, “We do what we think is best for our students,” and the colleges and universities on the other hand say, “We do what we think is best,” in both cases they are probably right for their own purposes. But what they seem to forget over and over again is it not the secondary school teacher or the university professor who has to bridge the gap, it is the student. It is the student who has to find his way between what are frequently two very different sets of philosophy, two very different curriculum bases, two very different evaluation techniques -- where they exist at all. I only want to quote one short paragraph from this because it is in my judgement the highlight of the whole report:
“On the other hand, the degree to which secondary schools vary in the marks they award for comparable performance is substantial enough to affect whether or not a student is accepted into a post-secondary institution.”
That was proved, time and time again -- that from one secondary school to another the variation between what the post-secondary institutions demanded for admission was, even when you had two students of comparable ability and comparable achievement, sufficient to allow one student to get in and not the other. That shouldn’t happen in Ontario where we say that we have equality of educational opportunity.
I don’t want to go on too much longer, but I do want to share with the minister some of the results of our survey. What are some of the things that came back to us? What were some of the reasons people supported the possibility of merger?
Some of them I have mentioned I will repeat, but basically there were lack of liaison and co-ordination, rationalizing funding, and that with growth slow-down separate ministries may not be needed. Most other jurisdictions -- this is something we had not realized in the beginning; Ontario is really somewhat unique in North America and as a matter of fact in Europe. There are relatively few dual educational jurisdictions; in most cases education is a unitary jurisdiction, the whole concept is continuous education.
This one came up time and time again: a need to restore public credibility. Maybe that alone to a certain extent justifies what we are doing. There are an awful lot of people out there -- students, parents and employers -- who really are asking deep, searching questions about the effectiveness of education in this province. Some of their perceptions may not be accurate, I am not prepared to argue that one way or the other, but the minister knows as well as I do it is the perception upon which they base their decisions. That is important; perhaps for no other reason, we need a significant change in this province to show people we are prepared to re-examine where education is going. Maybe, just maybe, this unitary system will help to restore some of that credibility. We are going to need other things as well and I will come to them in a few minutes, but maybe that is a good step.
What were some of the things they were concerned about? I think the minister already has the reports to know that there were some very deep concerns. There were pros and cons all the way down the system. The universities in particular were deeply concerned; we will get to that in a minute. They were talking about the qualitative difference between children and adults -- we have already mentioned that one. The universities fear the loss of their autonomy and being submerged in this larger system.
The one that came up time and time again -- perhaps it is an overriding fear -- is that this new ministry would be so big, so unwieldy, so responding, particularly to those people who had some sense that maybe they were just getting through from time to time.
I would suggest to the minister there are a number of serious questions that still are not answered. The first one is the one we just mentioned about the universities.
By the way, before I go on, I want to go into a little bit of history again, just to show that some things really never change. I mentioned earlier that in my judgement the bill was far too brief and told us far too little about the minister’s intentions. I am looking at an article by Bascom St. John of April 27, 1964. I want to read two short paragraphs. He was referring to the fact that more detail needs to be given.
“That is not so. This bill is extremely brief and the only function it is to have -- and that is permissive, not obligatory -- is to determine the amount of capital expenditure.
“By this prospective act the Ontario government does not commit itself to any policy with respect to university affairs. Nor does it outline what the field or limits of authority of the new department may be.”
That is the same position we find ourselves in today. The minister is also bringing forward to us a new piece of legislation, but we really do not know what her long-range plans are. We really do not know what she intends to do with it. That gives us some pause for concern. That is one of the reasons we say this should go to a committee; there should be the opportunity to explore the matter there, unless the minister is going to give us a very detailed response this evening, and I have reason to wonder at that.
Let me come back to the concern about universities. I think their concerns and their fears -- yes, I think we can use the word “fears” -- are quite legitimate. They really can see themselves being submerged in a much larger ministry. Just take numbers alone. In our elementary and secondary schools we have almost two million students. In our universities we have something like 140,000 or 150,000. That factor alone could cause them to be submerged. The whole possibility of threatening their autonomy is something that has been going on time and time again.
I noticed that the Honourable John Robarts made this observation on April 22, 1964, at page 2333 of Hansard: “Now, I would repeat here, Mr. Speaker, what I have said on many other occasions in this House, that in no way is it our intention as a government to interfere with the traditional areas of academic freedom that are possessed by our universities, or the freedoms in which they have grown up and developed over the years.”
At the same time we know there have been numerous occasions when the universities have sensed that their autonomy in one way or the other has been infringed upon by this government, particularly in the funding mechanism; that is, the very fact that they are now so subject to the government for their funding and the very fact that the government can say, “There will be more graduate programs” or “There won’t be more graduate programs,” or “You can do more building” or “You can’t do more building.” I don’t mean to suggest that the universities don’t have the power to go out and do all those things on their own if they can raise their own money. We both know that’s not the case.
A classic example was when the ministry decided it was going to demand that foreign visa students were going to have to pay double and in some cases triple the regular tuition fee: 14 out of the 15 universities who responded to that said they didn’t think it should be done. There was only one which thought it was a good idea. Yet one by one they fell by the wayside, they had to give in, because from a purely economic financial point of view they could not resist the will of the government that this was the way it was going to be done. When it meant they were going to lose sums of $300,000, $400,- 000, $500,000 in lost tuitions or in lost grants, whatever the case might be; they collapsed one by one.
I think the universities have reason to be suspicious and concerned I know this government and this minister’s predecessors have not come down in any direct or, in many cases, observable way and said, “You shall do this in this way.” There are lots of other ways of pulling the strings.
Very recently -- and the minister is quite aware of it -- there was a great concern at Fanshawe College about the degree to which her predecessor influenced -- and I use the word “influenced” -- the chairman and the vice-chairman of the board to dismiss the president of that college. The minister knows the story behind it as well as I do. It’s those kinds of things; they’re subtle, they’re indirect, a lot of people don’t talk about them, but nevertheless they’re here. The universities have a genuine reason to be concerned.
The question I have to leave with the minister is, what is she going to do about that? How is she going to respond to that concern? What is the process of the operation of this new merged, amalgamated ministry going to be? For example, is she going to set up a separate branch to look after university affairs to respond to some of their concerns so they won’t get lost in the shuffle? And if she does that, may she not be defeating the whole purpose of the amalgamated, merged ministry? I would like to know what the minister’s response to that is. I would like to know how she is hearing those concerns and what she intends to do about them.
I can tell the minister right now that if she really wants this thing to succeed, if she really has some sense that things are going to be better and that students are going to be better served, then she has to hear that concern, respond to that concern. She must show in very clear terms how she is going to deal with that situation. Simply saying, “It’ll work itself out; we’ll look after that some way,” is not going to work.
That raises a second question. I know and the minister knows that there is no clear-cut program; there are no clear-cut research projects; there are no clear-cut definitions as to whether or not one ministry is better than two.
I also know that the decision made by the government was taken over a relatively short period of time, and I would really be interested in knowing what criteria it used. What criteria did the Premier take into consideration, did the cabinet take into consideration, did the minister take into consideration, to decide that now was the time to have a single ministry? What did the government base that on? I really would like to know that.
I have a vague suspicion that the minister really hasn’t got the whole act put together, that she is, to a certain extent, going on a wing and a prayer hoping that this will work. She has a sense that this is the better way to go and therefore she’s going to start going that way and make up the ground rules as she goes along.
I would suggest to the minister that if that is the fact, she’s heading into really rough waters. Surely, at this point in the history of education in this province, the one thing we need above all else is a clear statement from the government, from her ministry, as to exactly where they see themselves going.
Mr. Nixon: Down the tube.
Mr. Sweeney: What are their goals, their aims, their purposes? This has come up time and time again in the estimates of the ministries. We have always received vague answers -- vague answers because I don’t think they really know. And I would suggest that most of the problems out there in the education field -- in our schools, in our colleges, in our universities, in the perception of parents and students and employers and in the perception of teachers -- are due to that fact. There has not been a clear statement from this government as to exactly what education means in this province, what are its purposes, its goals, its aims, especially in the long run.
When the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, came through the province in 1976 -- I know they were only here for a short period of time -- and looked at what was happening here, it was rather startling that the one observation they made so very clearly was the lack, in their judgement, of any kind of long-term plans or goals for education in this province.
They went on and made a fairly prophetic statement. They said it is the experience of government everywhere that that ministry that least knows what it’s about, where it’s going, suffers first in the economic crunch. And that’s happening with this ministry. They are suffering.
I wonder if the reason is that within the cabinet, when decisions are made about all ministries, about where this government is going and where the priorities are, in the past the Minister of Education and the Minister of Colleges and Universities have not been able to state clearly what they were all about -- what education was all about in this province; where the individual human being, the student, fitted into the picture; where the needs of society fitted into the picture; where the long-term social goals that we are at least trying to achieve fitted into the picture. I don’t think they’ve been able to say that.
Obviously, the minister is quite welcome to respond to that. I would only point out that here we have a golden opportunity to look once more -- maybe in many ways to look for the very first time -- at what we’re all about, and to say that we’re going to have a single Ministry of Education in this province for these reasons -- here’s what we want to accomplish.
Just as a simple example there is the whole question of accessibility. The minister knows and I know that by the time students reach the ages of 18, 19 and 20, when they’re thinking about whether or not they may go on to university or go on to a community college, for many of them it’s too late. The minister knows the social arguments as well as I do. She knows the social reasons as well as I do. Many of these students have to be discovered and motivated and encouraged and supported, in one way or another, much earlier than that.
If we’re really going to have a genuine hope, a genuine vision that all students in this province really will have equality of educational opportunity, that the best and the brightest minds we have, regardless of their economic background, regardless of their social background, are the ones who are going to get into our institutions of higher learning and really contribute, not only for their own sake, but for all of society’s sake, the minister knows as well as I do that we’ve got to start picking them up earlier. Here’s a golden opportunity for us to take a look at that kind of thing.
I would suggest that when we have one ministry and when we see a complete flow of students through that entire ministry, we’re going to be able to look at that much better than we do now. I’m suggesting to the minister that we don’t do it now.
Yes, I know we have student aid programs by the time they reach the post-secondary level. I know that we take a look at what the tuition does, but there are a lot of other factors that we really don’t take into consideration. We don’t start early enough. Surely, through this, we can start early enough.
I want to ask a couple of questions which I think have not yet been answered and which I believe have to be answered, and perhaps they can be at the committee stage.
What process will be established to motivate greater co-ordination? Just setting up a merged ministry isn’t going to be enough. The minister has enough experience, both in government and outside of government in various organizations, to know that as well as I do. Just saying that it is going to happen; just saying that it should happen, isn’t enough. What processes has the minister devised to see to it that the kind of co-ordination we want to happen, the kind of liaison we want to happen, is more likely to happen than at the present time?
We have the silly situation right now where we have the colleges and universities under one ministry and the lack of liaison between them is a scandal. We have the situation right now where the Minister of Colleges and Universities quite openly admitted about a year ago that in trying to get this trades training program off the ground he was having great difficulty with his colleague in the Ministry of Education, even convincing him of the worthwhileness of it. I know eventually he started to come around a little bit; maybe that’s why they changed ministers, I don’t know. But we need some evidence of the process that the minister is going to use.
What evidence do we have that there will be any economic changes whatsoever? Are we going to spend more money? Are we going to spend less money? Are we going to get less for more? What’s going to happen?
There has been some speculation, I understand, among the members of the government that because it merged the two ministries it is going to save money. I have serious reservations as to (a) whether it will save money; and (b), whether or not that would be a good reason to make this kind of a move. If the minister can demonstrate it we’d certainly like to hear about it.
Precisely how will the liaison between the secondary schools and the post-secondary institutions be set up and assured of greater success? How will funding arrangements within the two ministries be changed at all? That’s one of the concerns. The way in which elementary schools are funded in this province, compared in the way in which universities and colleges are funded, is quite different. What changes, if any, are going to be taking place? What is the minister contemplating in that whole area? What will the merger mean for the accessibility of bright, but economically poor, students? How are we going to address that point I discussed with the minister a few minutes ago? Is it going to be any different, or is it going to be business as usual? Is it going to make any difference? I don’t know.
What kind of liaison is going to take place, for example, between counselling at the secondary school level, the elementary school level -- where we have very little of it in most cases, as the minister is well aware -- and the post-secondary institutions? I think the minister is well aware of how concerned we are about the paucity of counselling at the present time. When we have ratios of 300 to 400 students for one counsellor, not very much is going to happen in terms of career decisions.
I was in the Ottawa area -- just outside of Ottawa; Carleton, I guess -- a couple of weeks ago, and I happened to meet a counsellor from the high school and I asked him, “What’s the ratio?” He said, “We have 650 students in our school and there is one and a half counsellors.” There is no career counselling that has any hope of taking place under those circumstances.
Where does that leaves us? It leaves us with a piece of legislation which on the surface holds some hope, some promise. It is a piece of legislation which gives us very little detail. It is a piece of legislation which raises far more questions than it answers. It is a piece of legislation which has caused a great deal of consternation and concern and even, at some levels, fear in the educational community of this province.
All these things have to be addressed. Otherwise, there is not going to be any positive change. In fact, we may end up worse than we were before. That should not be allowed to happen. The opportunity is here. We need to send this bill, in addition to other things, to committee to give the public, and particularly the educational public, an opportunity to present their concerns and to hear the minister’s answers.
I would urge the minister at this particularly opportune time in the education history of this province to take advantage of the opportunities being presented to her. I urge her not to let them go by.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be relatively brief. I want to start off by mentioning to the minister that I am very disappointed that in the process of this bill being introduced and debated and discussed in this province, she didn’t see fit to give certain documents to the opposition critics, namely, a document entitled The Ministry of Education, Ontario: A Plan of Organization, plus other information that the ministry has prepared, to demonstrate to members of this Legislature and to the people of the province who are involved in the two levels of education exactly how she plans to go about implementing the amalgamation of the two ministries.
It was very poor taste on the part of the minister and the ministry not to share those documents with us ahead of time. It might even have prevented the necessity for this hill going to an outside committee had she done so. In her typical arrogant way, she decided to ignore the opposition critics and not to give that information to the people who are very concerned with a piece of legislation which I consider to be very important.
I found it very difficult to come to a decision on whether to support this bill. I wonder, on the one hand, whether the ministry and the government are implementing this amalgamation as part of its overall plan to shrink the size of government and to cut back and restrain, or whether they are really implementing this to co-ordinate the two systems, the post-secondary system and the elementary system.
There was no opening statement by the minister: which was another mistake, I think. There has been no demonstration at all that there is going to be any better co-ordination between the two systems. I have to believe that the only reason the government is doing this is to shrink the size of the system, and it is another indication of a further lack of commitment to the education system in this province. That is a fear of many people at both the elementary and secondary level and the post-secondary level.
However, I believe there is a certain logic in amalgamation to the two ministries if it is done in the proper way and if the whole amalgamation is taken advantage of, not just here in Toronto, but all across the province as well. Therefore, the minister will have to indicate to us tonight and, when it goes to committee, to the delegations that are interested, just how this plan will benefit the students in our system; how will it make the system of education from kindergarten right through to the post-secondary level benefit the students in the classroom, and not just the administration of the system.
I agree that education should be a continuum, and I personally believe it should begin before kindergarten. That is why our party has said on several occasions that day care should be under the Ministry of Education, because it really is a form of education.
It should be a continuum from day care right through to college, university, or before then, or to an apprenticeship program or some other type of program.
While I believe there is a certain logic, I do have some very strong reservations about this legislation, and I look forward to a comprehensive explanation by the minister of exactly what she intends to do and how she sees this benefiting education all across this province.
I think we have to look at some of the problems that are presently in the education system to understand whether the minister and one ministry can cope with the problems. There are very significant problems facing education at all levels right now. The elementary and secondary system is faced with declining enrolment. The Jackson commission was set up by the minister and has made its report and made some very significant recommendations, some dealing with funding and many dealing with the ministry itself and more involvement at the elementary and secondary level with boards.
The minister and the ministry to this point have not responded to the Jackson commission and have not implemented some of the very important recommendations on funding. As a result, what has happened is that school boards are closing schools almost on a weekly basis. Staff are being laid off, both support staff and teachers. Just to give a few examples, I understand that Hastings has laid off 50 teachers. Ottawa expects 140 positions to be cut this year and Sault Ste. Marie may lose 26 teachers. All across this province, teachers are being laid off We’re not really taking advantage of an opportunity to decrease the class size because the government has not responded to that very important document, the Jackson commission recommendations.
At the post-secondary level, very significant problems are also surfacing and have been for the last couple of years. The participation rate back in 1967-68 was 10.9 per cent of our 18-to-24-year-olds. It had reached a maximum in 1976-77 of 14.7 per cent and has since declined to 13.9 per cent, where it is now. Even though the number of 18-to 24-year-olds is on the increase and will be, I believe, until 1982-83, the participation rate in our post-secondary system is on the decline.
It is a problem that has not been addressed by the ministry. I consider it to be a problem. I think we have to take some very drastic steps to get young people and older people involved in the post-secondary system who are not our traditional students, in other words students from low- and middle-income families. We’ve never attempted to do that. In fact, the ministry has never gone into developing a comprehensive study to find out why we have the type of students we have in universities. There’s a lot of data available, but there’s very little research to indicate why the system is the way it is.
I know that the ministry has said in the past that it’s a sociological problem, but other areas, like Saskatchewan have made an effort to get students from low-income families into the system. For example, I understand there is a law program in the University of Saskatchewan that went into the native communities, set up a special program, got those students in to the law program and developed lawyers from that. I think that’s an example of a type of program that we need to implement here in this province in many of the professions which have very few low-income students in them. I’d like to ask the minister again how will this amalgamation of the two ministries benefit the low-income students of this province who have traditionally never got to even the higher grades in the secondary level.
With the decline of participation at the university and college level, we are on one hand facing that problem and on the other hand a decline in the funding by the Ministry of Education of our universities and colleges. While the ministry has said in the past that there isn’t a decrease in funding, the fact of the matter is -- and I’ve quoted these figures before, but I think they are worth repeating again: This year Brock University, for example, only got an increase in operating grants of 4.9 per cent, whereas the inflation rate is running around nine per cent. Brock, as the minister knows, has very special problems because it’s a small university. Trent, another small university, only got 2.3 per cent increase in its operating grants this year. I went to visit that institution and, as I’m sure the minister knows, that institution has very serious financial problems and these will get worse.
As a result of the lack of funding, layoffs are occurring, class sizes are increasing, programs are being cut and courses are being cut. One of the very serious problems that the minister will have to address is that if staff continues to be laid off, if faculty continue to be laid off, then what is going to happen is that the Canadian staff, who have been hired over the last few years to go along with the guidelines the ministry set up a couple of years back in order to increase the Canadian faculty, are the first staff that are going to be laid off because of seniority. Also, any advances that women have made in our universities on faculty will also be turned around.
That’s a problem the minister has to deal with. I just wonder whether she is going to be able to deal with that, along with the problems at the elementary and secondary levels. It’s a very big system, a system that’s experiencing many problems.
The Ryerson problem, which has been raised in this Legislature during question period and which I raised again during my contribution to the throne debate, is a very serious problem. It is our only polytechnic institution in this province. The minister has to deal with that problem very quickly, because, as the president, Mr. Pitman, has said, that polytechnic has very serious problems. The equipment is aging. The faculty-student ratio is increasing. We are in grave danger of losing the quality of that institution, which all across this country, and I would suggest all across this continent, has a very high reputation. So one must ask, is it reasonable to expect one minister to be able to cope with all those problems.
The skilled trades issue has been raised in this Legislature over a number of years, and in particular in the last week. Last year the former Ministry of Colleges and Universities introduced a new program, the employer-sponsored training program. That program obviously has not taken off the way the government wanted it to because the present minister is now saying that a new program will be implemented and that more work will be done in order to upgrade skilled trades training in this province. That’s what she has been saying in the House in the last week.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No; in addition.
Mr. Cooke: I realize that it is in addition. I read over the statement of last year by the former minister. If last year’s program is going to work, as he suggested it would in his original statement, then this minister wouldn’t need to put new programs into place. We told him last year in committee that it wasn’t adequate and that it wouldn’t fill the need.
I also wonder whether the amalgamation of the two ministries will develop down at the local level. Will school boards start talking to universities and to colleges and vice versa? Even colleges and universities in the same city have not really on many occasions sat down and come up with a community program to meet the needs. Just recently, St. Clair College and the University of Windsor finally sat down, and I believe they have either signed an agreement or they are about to sign an agreement. That has taken many many years to develop. I wonder whether we need some kind of a local committee that consists of representatives of colleges, universities and local school boards to develop programs and to identify the needs of a local community. I wonder if this amalgamation can be or will be transferred down to the local community so that it will identify and implement the programs to meet the needs of those communities.
As I said, the skilled trades are something of particular concern to the members of this party. I wonder if the minister can cope with what again is a very serious problem, along with all the other problems that are facing our educational system right now. Will the minister be able to devote enough time to learn the problems in Windsor, in Thunder Bay and in Toronto, where there is a great need for skilled tradesmen, so that she can identify the problems and then put new programs into place?
Recently a report was developed, from a P. S. Ross study, on tuition. We expect that after a period of feedback the government will be announcing a new program of tuitions, probably this fall. That is a very significant document. The policies that come out of that document will be very important to all students across this province and will have ramifications for accessibility. I feel the minister is going to have to meet with groups all across this province; students, faculty and interested groups, labour unions, all of them people who are very interested in the accessibility of our post-secondary system. Is the minister going to have enough time to meet with all these groups and to get adequate input in order to develop a government policy and a political policy of how tuitions will be implemented in this province?
I want to read a small newspaper article that appeared in my paper, the Windsor Star, on June 25, 1978, which demonstrates some of the concerns the boards of education are having across this province. It is self-explanatory, so I will read it:
“Was the Minister of Education, Dr. Bette Stephenson, snubbing her nose at Windsor again? Wednesday night, Windsor board of education chairman Dr. Marcel Picard told trustees the board has been trying in vain for about a month to meet with the minister.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: On June 25, 1978, I was not Minister of Education.
Mr. Cooke: I am sorry, January 25, 1979. I can’t read my writing:
“Dr. Picard said the board was dealing with ministerial arrogance. Education director Robert Field estimated that the board had made six calls to the minister’s secretary to try to arrange a meeting, without success.”
That is the type of thing I am worried may happen. Groups that have been able to meet with the Minister of Education in the past, now will not be able to.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I had two meetings with them since.
Mr. Cooke: It took quite a long time for them to arrange that meeting and it was a problem that needed the minister’s immediate attention. It is funny, I was at a meeting where a number of trustees from school boards were asked about this. At the same time there were people from the university sector at that meeting. The university people were talking to me and saying:
“We used to be able to call the minister’s office and get immediate feedback. Now we can’t, because we feel she is spending too much time on the elementary and secondary levels.” At the same time, the trustees were saying: “We used to be able to call the Minister of Education and get immediate feedback, but we can’t do that any more because she is spending too much time on university and college problems.” I say that because the perception people have is it is going to be a big ministry, it is going to be difficult to manage and the minister is not going to be able to give the proper attention.
A good example of the problems that will develop or may develop, and have already developed, occurred last year in the Ontario Student Assistance Program. I originally raised the problem in this Legislature when we were called back to deal with the back-to-work legislation for the Toronto transit workers. I believe that was in September. The minister was aware there was something going on, but said it was going to be overcome and it was not a serious problem. I raised it again in October and November. Finally, in late November, I believe it was November 30, two and a half months after I originally raised it, the minister recognized it was a problem. Let me quote from one of the things she said in the House:
“The first inkling I had that the student awards officers were disturbed or disrupted in this area was a letter which I received from them, which I first saw yesterday afternoon.”
That was on November 30 she made that statement. That meant the first she knew of the problem was November 29, even though I had raised it in this Legislature two and a half months previously. There was a newsletter that apparently was going out from Mr. Butler, who was the president, I believe of the student awards officers at that time, to Mr. Clarkson. Mr Clarkson reports to a couple of other people and eventually the deputy minister reported to the minister. I just wonder why, on such a very serious and important program, in order to ensure some degree of accessibility to post-secondary education, the minister would not have been aware of that. Why would she not have had time, after a member of the Legislature raised it with her, along with the Ontario Federation of Students and others, to look into that problem and report back to the House and get action much sooner than she did? Unless it was an attempt to cover up, and the minister said at the time that it wasn’t, I can only assume she was not aware of the problem and did not have the time to deal with it.
We think the concept of amalgamating the two ministries is a logical one in theory; in practice I have some very deep concerns.
I understand interest groups in this province, the Ontario Federation of Students, for example, opposes the amalgamation; whereas OCUFA, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association, says there should be an experiment and we should try this. There is a very differing point of view. Not even all the school boards in this province agree on whether or not we should amalgamate the two ministries.
I believe the problems facing the two ministries are very significant. Before we make a final judgement on this legislation, we have to have, as a Legislature, the very deep understanding of all the problems facing not only the post-secondary system, the system I am most concerned with as critic, but also of the elementary and secondary school problems.
I think we have to have, as my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot said, an understanding of the philosophy of the government on education and the direction in which we are indeed heading. I want to be assured by the minister that this is not a move just to get along with constraints, and a backing off of its commitment to education. I want to be assured by the minister it is a move that will benefit the students in the classrooms and benefit our education system, which is a pretty good system now but needs a lot of improvement.
I think the only way we can deal with that is to have this legislation go to an outside committee. I would suggest the social development committee is the most appropriate one. I think that will give the opportunity to students to come and speak to us about their problems. It will also give the boards of education and the post-secondary institutions an opportunity to come before us and talk about their problems, so we can better understand whether they can be dealt with in one ministry.
We will support this bill on second reading in principle, and then we will insist this bill go to an outside committee for public input.
Mr. Nixon: I am very glad to take part in this debate, Mr. Speaker. I was the critic for the official opposition 15 years ago, or whenever the bill creating the new ministry was put before us. I did not read -- well actually, I read Hansard and I found the Hansard speeches were so interesting and well researched and entrancing, I could not get past the first page. The same may be true of what I have to say tonight.
However, I was very impressed by the remarks made by my colleague, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, and the critic for the NDP, the member for Windsor-Riverside. It has been quite an interesting discussion; I will look forward to hearing the rest of the debate and what the minister has to say, because she is one of our favourite debaters. We really agree in some respect with Mr. Manthorpe when he says she just cannot help but wheel out the howitzers whatever the occasion. So we are looking forward to that exchange of heavy artillery a little later. was interested to look at the Hansard for the day on which the bill received second reading, Tuesday, May 5, 1964. The honourable members might be interested to know that question period that day consisted of one question from the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), notice having been given. That was the extent of question period. The other interesting thing is the debate on the bill -- and this was when the Premier was his own House leader -- had by arrangement been undertaken on the estimates so there could be an exchange of questions and comments without the more formal atmosphere of dealing with the bill on second reading.
We were also asked to approve a bill establishing the university capital aid commission, so both were really discussed by way of the estimate debate. It turned out to be a useful and flexible way to deal with the bill. When the estimates were completed, the bill was moved for second reading by Mr. Robarts and approved without direct debate at that time.
I can remember feeling very strongly we should not establish a separate ministry at the time. The caucus view, and a proper one, and it was certainly consistently expressed by my colleague, even now these many years later, was that the government has the responsibility and the right to establish their administration in the terms they see fit. We can be critical, but essentially we feel the Premier, with whatever advice he takes, really has the right to establish the arrangement of his cabinet and the ordering of the responsibilities as he sees fit.
The argument at the time, and one I felt much concerned about, was that establishing a separate ministry would constitute and might very well develop an intrusion into the autonomy of the university system. I felt very much that if there was a minister dealing exclusively with university affairs -- and the colleges as they came a bit later -- that he/she would perhaps have too much time to interfere into the day-to-day administrative responsibilities of the individual institutions. I think there has been that, to some degree, but nothing that concerns me unduly, probably no more than there would have been if there had not been a separate ministry.
You recall that for a good deal of the time, 15 years or whatever it has been, the Minister of Education has also been the Minister of University Affairs, so that the two were more or less brought together at the top anyway. It’s only been in recent years, when the Premier (Mr. Davis) has been desperately looking around for ways to reward the people he persuaded to run for him under difficult circumstances, that he had to find these jobs and the separation took place. I’m not sure whether it was good or bad, but I really did feel there was at least one too many people in the cabinet.
Just as an aside, I can tell members that I am very enthusiastic in support of the bill. I’ve always felt the cabinet was too big. I was in a position at one time where I was immodest enough to think privately in terms of how I would like the cabinet arranged. The idea of sitting at the head of a cabinet table with 28 or 27 people around it -- even if you did have a carrot in one hand and a whip in the other -- I found daunting. I thought it would be far better to reduce the number of ministries perhaps to 15, and if you had to have ancillary people at another ministerial level that would be all right.
In my own mind I thought myself that correctional services should be thrown into education as well. I’m sorry the member for London South (Mr. Walker) isn’t in his seat, he just left it a minute ago but I believe he will be taking part in the debate. I felt then the context of looking at correctional services as an extension of our responsibility for education would be a healthy aspect.
I don’t feel the minister has to take a day-to-day interest in direction of the administration of the jails or the schools or the colleges. The fact that some ministers do that doesn’t in my view make them admirable in their responsibilities. I prefer to think of the ministers dealing at the policy level and co-ordinating, along with their colleagues, the overall approach, both budgetary and otherwise, that is directed by the Premier.
More than one speaker tonight has indicated some concern that perhaps there’s some attempt to save money by this amalgamation. This does not concern me. As a matter of fact I welcome it. I for one am going to be looking for at least a small reduction in overall staff -- you’ll only need one chauffeur surely, although with the timetable the honourable minister keeps maybe she keeps one in reserve. But there should be surely some savings in this connection. Important though, that may not be; certainly I don’t want to be looking for a way to save money at the expense of the quality of the program that’s been developed over these many years.
Thinking back to the debate in 1964 I still feel the alternative we proposed -- although as I say we did not oppose the bill for reasons already mentioned -- the alternative we proposed was to copy the example set by the government of the United Kingdom which had established a university grants commission based on the recommendations of, I think it was, Lord Bobbins at the time. As critic I was very interested in reading some of these recommendations, because all jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and here in Canada, were facing a tremendous rate of growth, a huge commitment, really an unexpectedly large commitment to the universities.
The idea was that the government of the day would take whatever advice they found necessary, including surely the views of the members of the Legislature, and allocate a sum of money, hopefully on a continuing basis so that the people receiving the money would know five years in advance, within certain guidelines, what would be available. Then a university grants commission would allocate the money to the various institutions depending upon the programs and the judgment of the commission. In this way the minister of the day would not have the direct responsibility of saying to university A this you may do and this you may not; and to university B and C the same sort of thing.
One area where perhaps some of our dollars were utilized in a less-than-perfect way was maybe in the -- not in interference in the day-to-day operation of the universities, but for example the feeling that Leslie Frost was more interested in Trent University than he was anywhere else. It is a marvellous university. My daughter graduated from it, and I’m very proud of her and what they’ve done up there; but I have the feeling it was the darling of the then Premier.
Following that, the same thing happened up in London. That ivy-covered university architecture that should have been built in 1932 and was in fact built in 1967-68. When you look at those limestone walls which are 12 feet thick that John Robarts was able to garner for London, you can see that perhaps more than other universities at the time the University of Western Ontario was the favourite of the Premier, if not the Minister of University Affairs.
My son is graduating from Western this year -- I trust and hope. I am very proud of the fact he went there. My wife graduated from Western. I have many fond memories of the institution.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Only father failed.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, he went to “Mixmaster” instead.
Mr. Nixon: Since you mention it, and since the minister, as usual, is confusing anybody who might be listening to her, I did go to McMaster University. I can recall, as a student there, when McMaster was totally funded from tuition and from the commitment of Baptists as well as other interested people, that the then-member for Brant rose in the House, when money was being allocated to universities, and said, “Why can’t some money go to McMaster?”
At that time I was his third kid who had gone to I McMaster and he was a little concerned that he had to pay such a large share of the tuition when people going to other institutions were getting the advantage of the largesse, the handouts, that were growing in sort of an indiscriminate way, from the government of the day.
The next day the chancellor of the university, who under those circumstances was also the chief administrative officer, called an assembly of all the staff and all the students to criticize the temerity and ignorance of the former member for Brant who had called for the provision of some money for McMaster University. He said, “We will never accept public dollars because we would not have the freedom to teach as we see fit” -- actually, to teach under the jurisdiction of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec.
I think it was about a year later they saw fit to take their first million. Since then the money has fire-hosed into McMaster, with the building most recently of one of the pet projects of the minister, the medical centre, which was a cool $100 million for the first development God knows how much has been channeled in there since. It’s a world-class institution, and probably one of the more serious financial blunders this government has made over these many years.
I say this in the absence of my colleague and leader who is on the staff of the university medical centre and who may want to express somewhat different views on the matter.
I felt at the time it was a strong and visible alternative to a separate university affairs department, as it was then called, and that for a university grants commission to be established would keep the government out of the university’s day-to-day business and remove from polities the decisions on the allocation of money. That in no way would prevent us, as members of the House, from expressing our views. I felt at the time it would keep the ministers and the Premiers and others who might want to take a special and personal interest in the evolution of certain specific parts of the university system on the straight and narrow, because I don’t think they should have interfered quite as much as they did.
That was not the case. The ministry was set up. I felt at the time the approach and the duplication of staff and the expansion of cabinet was not in the best interests of efficient government, at least as I envisaged it. I am frankly and personally very glad indeed that we are now putting the education responsibility back in one ministry.
One of the phrases used at the time, 15 years ago, was that education was being decapitated by removing the universities and putting them in a separate department. I felt that was quite significant.
The member for Windsor-Riverside said he believes education should be a continuum. I agree with that entirely. Even the idea of it going well below kindergarten is something I would hope the minister would give some consideration to. But we in this party have agreed with the concept of daycare facilities being provided, when it is possible, by the educational authorities, whatever they may be in the future, and at the local level. This would obviously involve the treasury of the province to a degree that we would hesitate to contemplate now. I see the Treasurer isn’t even contemplating it, so it’s a matter that would be of consideration probably after the government changes in the near future.
The matter of the reorganization of the education system has been with us for a long time. The member for York South doesn’t happen to be here tonight. In his remarks on the introduction of the bill, or its debate on second reading, he indicated that he wanted a royal commission looking into all aspects of education to go along with the establishment of the new ministry. For my part, and I spoke ahead of him -- that was during one of those periods when we were the official opposition -- I felt that we should have a full review of post-secondary education. We were making very far-reaching commitments to the concepts of colleges and huge allocations of money to the expansion of a post-secondary system that was being done with more ad hockery than I care now to really admit.
We were quite supportive of the government policies then, both in Mr. Robarts’ time, when he was Minister of Education -- and even when he was Premier he continued as Minister of Education -- and then the present Premier, who took on that responsibility following Mr. Robarts’ resignation from the ministry. There were, in my view, very interesting debates in the House at that time when we were still talking about quality of education and not spending all of our time talking about the dollars and cents aspect, important though that may be.
The contention put forward by my colleague, the education critic for the official opposition, is one that really must concern all of us. That is, once again we are at a point where education is changing and whether we know it, or whether we direct it or not, it is changing dramatically. Certainly the changes in the numbers of students are precipitating part of this, but there is an entirely new attitude towards schools and towards the responsibilities of school boards and I would hope that the minister would undertake to take the lead in this Legislature, or the committee that will be examining this bill, so that we will have an opportunity to review at least some of these aspects. It’s been suggested by very knowledgeable people that sending this bill to a committee, particularly if it is approved in principle by all parties -- I’m not sure that I understood the NDP correctly, but I gathered they’re supporting the bill --
Mr. M. Davidson: Yes, we’re not voting against it.
Mr. Nixon: Since the bill is being supported in principle it’s quite possible that the committee hearings could be expanded to some extent, although I’m sure the Conservative whip would turn tail if we suggested any more committee work. It would give us an opportunity, not only to hear from people outside the Legislature but even the members of the committee dealing with the bill, so we could have a debate, I hope a useful one, which would assist the minister in setting the goals that all of us want to achieve in the education system of the province.
Without talking about the budgetary aspects, Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that education is the prime responsibility of this Legislature. It is the most important thing we deal with and I am, for one, very glad indeed there will be one minister talking about education goals, policy and administration, and not two. I think it is going to be an advantage for education in this regard that if, by any chance, the post-secondary level is somehow lost or submerged in this huge new ministry, the fault will be as much that of the individual members of the Legislature as anyone else’s. I don’t like the idea of the minister of the new large ministry, or any other division of it, having too much to do with the day-today decisions in the actual education plant, if I can use that phrase, and I hope that she keeps out of that.
But I do think in the past number of years we have failed in our responsibility to give adequate direction in terms of goals to the education system in the province. We have fostered a very expensive and elaborate administrative system which somehow has insulated the actual classroom and the school situation from us and from the parents. We seem to have lost touch with it. I regret that very much.
I, for one, feel we have established the most expensive education system in the world. I am not prepared to say I feel it is the best. I would hope with a new minister, in my opinion well-motivated although in the opinion of teachers and others already in some difficulty, we members of this House can, perhaps not assist her but participate in the establishment of these goals and improving the system in a way that would be significant.
Mr. Isaacs: Unlike the honourable member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk I did go to Western. I spent four years at that institution and never graduated. I learned a lot of things at that distinguished institution, not least of which was how to deal with the likes of the honourable members opposite.
In my mind this is a very important bill. The future of our education system in Ontario hinges upon the amalgamation of the two ministries proposed in Bill 19. I am amazed, therefore, that the minister has what I can only describe as the audacity to avoid making introductory remarks on second reading and to explain to this House and the people of Ontario why the government wishes to merge the two ministries at this time. I can only assume it is based on the usual premise we hear from the other side that bigger is better; that is a premise I do not accept.
During a recent election campaign with which I am rather familiar, I was accused of being a centralist. But nothing I support, nothing my party supports, could be as centralist and at the same time as docking in responsibility as some of the things we see from the other side.
Ever since the two ministries have been operating under a single minister, things, as I have been informed by many people who have close contact with those two ministries, have been running in a much worse fashion than they were previously.
Things particularly in the Ministry of Colleges and Universities had reached a reasonably smooth operating system, but that now has disappeared. Even the letters advising the universities this year of the 1979-80 operating grants were somehow lost in the bureaucracy that is set up. If that is what we are going to get more of under this bill, then I think it important we take a very close look at it and make sure those sorts of problems do not arise.
I have a report that is headed Ministry of Education, Ontario: A Plan of Organization, April 1979. For reasons which completely escape me, that report is marked confidential. It seems to me incredible that an organizational structure, a plan such as this that lays out the goals of the ministry and the structure of the ministry, should be kept from the members on this side and kept from the public concerned about the way our education system operates.
On page one of the report there is a paragraph headed The Goal -- not goals, not objectives; not what are we trying to achieve; but The Goal, just one. That goal talks about ensuring that educational opportunities of recognized quality are made available -- not educational programs of the very highest quality, not educational programs of the kind the people of this province deserve, but educational programs of recognized, average, so-so sort of quality. We don’t need that kind of thing in this province.
The Goal goes on to talk about what I interpret as accessibility, and if that is what is intended then I praise it because it had appeared to me that over the past year or two the objective of accessibility had disappeared, particularly from the post-secondary education system of this province. I believe that accessibility is very important, but it must be accessibility to an excellent educational system, not accessibility to a system in which students don’t have the opportunity to learn because the money isn’t provided to the institutions to provide the resources for the students.
On page nine of the report, it sets up a division which it describes as policy liaison and legislation. It is very unclear from reading this document what that division is intended to do. It includes a great raft of liaison between organizations, lumping university groups and COU and OCUFA with student groups and the universities and university authorities beyond Ontario and so on, and ending up with the Council of Regents and the Ontario Council on University Affairs.
It seems to me there needs to be some structuring, some establishment of priorities, some definition of roles for those various groups. I’m particularly concerned about the direction being taken by the Ontario Council on University Affairs, because I’m not sure that it understands where it’s going; and I’m even less sure that the minister understands what its role is in post-secondary education in this province.
On page 11 of the report, it explains that there is to be no change in the university affairs division. Yet if one reads the rest of the report, one realizes that all of the present responsibilities of the university affairs division are described under some other new division. I therefore wonder what it is the university affairs division is going to continue to do and how it fits into the overall picture of post-secondary education planning in this province.
Then the clincher, as it were, comes right at the end of this report, in which it sets up a thing called the senior and continuing education programs branch, it’s a beautiful title, although it’s not at all clear to me exactly what that branch is supposed to do. Among the many tasks that are assigned to it are things like the development and operation and the mechanisms for the systematic review and evaluation of post-secondary programs. If it is expected that the ministry will be moving into that kind of thing in the future, then maybe we’re making some progress, but it will certainly be a big change in the role that the ministry has been taking in post-secondary education to this date.
That division is also to establish province-wide program objectives for post-secondary programs. If that can be interpreted as meaning that the ministry is to move into setting direction for the universities and colleges of this province, then that too is a major change in direction. If it’s not, then I wonder exactly what that branch is supposed to do, especially when the text goes on to talk about recommending curriculum for post-secondary programs, developing province-wide policy for continuing education and things of that kind.
There is undoubtedly merit in the Bill 19 before us at this time, but I don’t want it to be a carte blanche ticket to the minister to allow her to railroad whatever she wants into not only the primary and secondary education programs of this province and not only the post-secondary education programs in this province but into every single education program in Ontario. I believe this must go to committee so that we can study it, so that we can delve into these things and so that we can listen to submissions from all groups across the province that have interests in our education system.
Finally, I think it’s important that we find out exactly what is on the minister’s mind with regard to this bill.
Mr. Foulds: It’s a pleasure to participate in this debate and to be speaking on matters educational once again. A few years ago I had the honour and pleasure of speaking on education perhaps more times than I wished. Since undergoing a change in responsibilities I haven’t spoken on education to any extent, but certain things about this bill intrigue me.
One of these things I would like to speak about first is the flagrant abuse of the Legislature by this minister and this ministry in its refusal to comply with standing order 32(c). I read to you standing order 32(c), Mr. Speaker: “On the introduction of a government bill, a compendium of background information shall be delivered to the opposition critics. If it is an amending bill, an up to date consolidation of the acts or acts to be amended shall be delivered to the opposition critics unless the bill amends an act amended previously in the session.”
To the best of my knowledge -- and I have done as much research as I could this evening -- no such compendium was delivered to the critic or the leader of the Liberal Party.
No such compendium was delivered to our critic or to the leader of the New Democratic Party.
Mr. McClellan; She didn’t even make a leadoff speech.
Mr. Foulds: And the minister, as my colleague from Bellwood’s just points out, refused to make an opening statement about the purpose of the bill.
Mr. Grande: Refused.
Mr. McClellan: Typical. Typical.
Mr. Foulds: My colleague from Wentworth has pointed out that there is an internal government document entitled Ministry of Education, Ontario: A Plan of Organization, April 1979. The minister has not even had the courage to table that with the Legislature, even though it is my understanding it has been widely circulated both within the ministry and outside the ministry.
It is also my understanding that there have been a series of bulletins, called education integration bulletins, which have not been forwarded to the opposition critics or to the leaders of the opposition parties. I would think that itself would be a matter of courtesy when we are discussing, on second reading, the principle of the bill -- whether or not we should support the integration of the two ministries. I consider that, Mr. Speaker, a serious breach of the rules of this Legislature.
I have no strong feelings about whether the ministry should or should not be integrated, but surely if we are to discuss this bill intelligently in this House on second reading, the background information, the background studies, if any, that the government has done, should be made available to the legislators. How can we pass legislation that makes any sense or with any informed comment unless we have some openness on the part of the minister and the ministry? I cannot for the life of me understand the secretiveness with which the minister has proceeded with regard to this bill. I simply do not understand it, unless of course the minister doesn’t understand the rules of the Legislature, which, of course, is an understandable thing because she --
Mr. Makarchuk: Maybe she has a totalitarian predisposition.
Mr. Foulds: -- doesn’t consider the Legislature of any great importance. Maybe that’s one thing that has happened to the ministry itself; the ministry has grown so large and so authoritarian -- is that too strong a word, Mr. Speaker? I ask your guidance on that -- that it has forgotten that its ultimate responsibility is to this Legislature.
There are a couple of points my colleague from Wentworth pointed out with regard to the proposed structure in that document. There are two that I would like to point out that bother me considerably. They are under the heading The New Organization, pages two and three of the version of the document that we have. There are seven major points made, with some subsections:
“The organization is designed to achieve policy co-ordination” et cetera -- all the usual nice things we hear.
One of the things that disturbed me when I read through this Ministry of Education document was the language, the bureaucratese. There was no inspiration in it; there was some not bad grammar, but certainly nothing in it that would make one consider it a well-written document.
I point out, just for the edification of the Legislature itself, that one of the points that is made -- point (c) -- is that the organization is designed to “meld like units from both agencies” -- that is, presumably from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and from the Ministry of Education -- “and form new units in a way that causes a minimum of disruption to personnel and roles.”
“Like units”! I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what kind of a noun is that for someone in the Ministry of Education to be using? No wonder the education system is in such disrepute across the province when it comes to the use of the English language.
But to more substantive matters: The points that bother me, and the points about which the minister and the government and the ministry have not been frank, are only touched upon in this document. I would like to see brought before the committee of the House that considers this bill the documentation and the examples they are referring to.
One of the reasons that is given for the organization design is that it will be designed to “(f) rectify a number of organizational difficulties that emerged within the former Ministry of Education.” I would certainly like the Legislature and the public of Ontario to he informed of what those organizational difficulties are and were, and exactly what steps are being taken in the design to rectify those organizational difficulties. I would assume that the term “organizational difficulties” is a euphemism for what we might call, in a more vernacular term, an educational mixup --
Mr. Nixon: You can be more vernacular than that.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you for not letting me step beyond the bounds of parliamentary language.
The other point from this document that I want to deal with, point (g), is a point that has been alluded to by the Liberal education critic as well as the two previous speakers from our caucus and the House leader for the Liberal Party. It is the point about whether the major reason for the amalgamation is educational or financial in nature. The only reference I can see to that in this document -- and I admit I have not had time to read it thoroughly -- indicates to me that the major reason is simply to make it look as if they are going to save some money; not necessarily to save money, not necessarily to improve delivery of programs, but to make it look as if they are going to save some money.
Mr. Makarchuk: It’s known as spinning wheels.
Mr. Foulds: Exactly.
The organization is designed to “(g) create the possibility” -- “the possibility,” Mr. Speaker -- “of a positive response to the necessity for restraint in government expenditures; cost savings were the motivation behind the special program review recommendation that a merger be considered.” I want to know whether it was the government’s view that cost-saving is the motivation behind the present merger or amalgamation. Those are fundamental questions that have not been addressed in public by this most secretive of ministers. Those are questions that have not been addressed by this government. I suggest to you they are questions that must be addressed by this Legislature for the public, in committee of this Legislature, before there is the passage of this bill in any way, shape or form.
I might suggest it is not merely the educational establishment that should be consulted about the amalgamation of these two ministries. I suggest it may be about time that in a very real way we in this province involve the public, the parents of this province, in the design of its Ministry of Education and in its school system. Maybe, just maybe, this bill would be a good place to start.
I just want to conclude by paraphrasing a very fine poem by F. R. Scott, in honour -- not in honour really, in memory of William Lyon Mackenzie King, because we have gone, sort of, full circle with this ministry. We have had one ministry, we have had two ministries, we are now back to amalgamating them into one ministry.
Mr. Makarchuk: Is that a reincarnation? Mr. Foulds: In the poem entitled W.L.M.K., F. R. Scott says of Mackenzie King that his motto was “to postpone, postpone, abstain.”
“He seemed to be in the centre because we had no centre,” not unlike this minister.
“No vision to pierce the smokescreen of his politics.” I say, no vision in this ministry to pierce the smokescreen of its policies.
“Truly” this minister and this ministry “will be remembered wherever men honour ingenuity, ambiguity, inactivity and political longevity.”
“Let us raise up a temple to the cult of mediocrity.
“Do nothing by halves which can be done by quarters.”
Mr. Speaker: The member for Oakwood.
Mr. McClellan: Is nobody from the government going to speak to this bill at all?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: When you finally decide you are finished.
Mr. McClellan: That is nice of you, to deign to speak to the bill. We really appreciate that.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is not to deign at all; I am simply waiting patiently.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the little bit of time that I have because I am, as is everybody else in this Legislature, all ears to listen to the minister give us the reasons why this amalgamation is necessary; necessary, I hope, in terms of educational reasons, in terms of a comprehensive planning process for the whole educational process from kindergarten to the PhD.
Quite a few years back we decided that the school system needed to be amalgamated from K to grade 13. We went through those processes. As a matter of fact there are still some boards in the middle of that process at this particular time. Now the minister is asking, through this bill, that the amalgamation should be from K to the PhD.
I am not willing as other members in my party to say to the minister that this bill is acceptable and this bill should go to committee, because I am really very sceptical of this process. I want to find out the reasons behind it because I suspect the tendencies of this particular government are nothing else but centralist and dogmatic even though they want to talk about other parties in this Legislature as being centralists. I will not repeat the word that the Minister of Education used the other day for fear that I would have to take it back.
As a matter of fact, the amalgamation of these two particular ministries will indicate that, while the government uses the rule of divide and rule, as far as Ontario is concerned, in this particular case the government is using amalgamation in order to control. That’s exactly why I’m suspicious of this particular bill.
There’s another reason also. The phenomenal bureaucracy that exists right now within the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities will become that much more complicated. When a member of this Legislature gets up at his seat to ask the minister a question and make the minister accountable for a particular program, the minister will find ways to suggest; “I will look that up” or “I will speak to my staff and let you know.”
There is a rule, which I am sure the minister heard before, that small happens to be beautiful as far as this party is concerned while big and centralist is the direction of that party opposite. We know from way back the former Treasurer who said that big is what we’re supposed to be, encouraging our industry to become big, because there is a saving in funds of money when an organization is a giant and is big. I do not agree with that basic premise. I happen to think the smaller an organization is, the more that organization is going to be responsive to the people in need or the people who need those particular services of that organization.
In education, we’re talking about decentralization. I want to mention another particular reason. Then the minister will have her opportunity to get up and speak. and I want to hear what she has to say. This reason is much more disturbing. The Minister of Education at this particular time has a budget of close to $2 billion. The Minister of Colleges and Universities spends approximately $1 billion to $1.5 billion a year.
When these two ministries are joined together, then we will have a ministry that is supposedly going to be spending approximately $3.5 billion a year. We’ve heard the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) getting up in this Legislature and going around this province suggesting we spend so much money on health and somehow that is a reason for increasing OHIP premiums. I wonder if one of the purposes of this particular amalgamation is for the minister to be able to get up and to say, “Look, we’re spending $3.4 billion or $3.5 billion in education.”
By getting involved in that kind of thinking or using those particular figures, the minister will have people in Ontario believe that the budget for education is way out of kilter. Therefore, that will provide a further excuse and a further reason for this government and this ministry to get involved in its politics of restraints.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Nonsense.
Mr. Grande: Education used to be said by this government to be its number one priority. God knows, how many times I have heard in the past three to four years about education being the number one priority.
Mr. Lupusella: It’s also the best in the world, according to the government.
Mr. Grande: When I take a look at the budget figures, starting in 1959, I find out that the amount of funds that goes to the Ministry of Education for 1979-SO -- and indications are that for the year 1980-81 there is going to be a further cutback -- is approximately 14 per cent of total government expenditures.
With all this talk about education being the number one priority, Mr. Speaker, you won’t believe, I know, that the government spent 14 per cent of the total budget of this province on education back in 1959. That was at a time when the budget of the whole province wasn’t even $1 billion.
So how is education the number one priority in this province? The Minister of Education and the former Minister of Education in the three years I have been in this Legislature have not shown me that education is the number one priority.
A further reason for my being sceptical about this amalgamation -- and the minister is aware of it -- is that the Committee on the Costs of Education, which was set up by the ministry, and the late Robert Jackson’s report that came down about four or five months ago, spoke precisely to a particular point that said the Ministry of Education is incapable of any planning whatsoever in this province. The Ministry of Education attempts at all costs to shift the cost of education to the municipalities, and the shift has gone far beyond what those two reports said it should.
If the Ministry of Education, which spends approximately $2 billion a year in transfer payments to school boards, is incapable of doing the long-range planning, as both these major reports say -- second only to the Hall-Dennis report back in the late 1960s -- I’m just wondering when the amalgamation takes place what kind of planning will go on in that giant ministry.
I remain sceptical. I would like the Minister of Education to suggest to me reasons why I should support this bill, even though my colleagues have been able to persuade me that by this particular bill going to a standing committee of this Legislature certain points that the members of this Legislature have brought forward and some of the points I’ve brought forward here tonight will be aired so that we’ll find out exactly what’s on the mind of the government.
I want to conclude by saying to the minister, who happens to be here, that the fact that she did not have an opening statement at the introduction of this bill for second reading really tells the tale. I came here rather late as I was on an errand tonight. As a matter of fact, I was responding to some of my constituents who have been calling my office for exactly the reason this minister knows and knows well, namely, the cuts in the heritage language program.
I’m suggesting to the Minister of Education that she hasn’t seen the end of that. Before September 1, 1979, rolls along, she is going to be taking back those particular destructive changes that she has made, If she believes in the box office and the number of letters that will be coming to her office, if the number that have come up to now are not enough, just wait for another 15 to 20 days.
I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I will cut off here to allow the minister to tell us what this is all about, after all.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in this debate because I’m concerned about what the reorganization and the combination of these ministries may mean for educational opportunities in the northeast, especially in Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie.
We have a struggling but vital college in operation in the Sault. It serves Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie. I’m disturbed by some of the comments that have been made recently by officials of the college, and by others, and I know there have been discussions with the minister. Previously, when the college was threatened with closure, the Ministry of Northern Affairs, acting upon suggestions by myself and others, came to our assistance. But I would like to know what this change means for the future, whether the minister can tell us what the combination of the ministries will mean for Algoma, in terms of overall planning for education right to the end of the university level.
A statement was made earlier this year by the dean of Algoma College to the city council of Sault Ste. Marie in which he stated that unless the college was able to persuade the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to relax its restrictions on the college’s program, Algoma would continue to face enrolment and financing difficulties.
The college wishes to move, I understand, into more business and commerce programs as well as to some courses in the arts at the honours level. I am concerned about what this change will mean in terms of this particular project. I understand there have been discussions but I don’t know what is happening with them. For instance, there is a need to persuade this government to provide funds for more programs and courses that carry BIU weights greater than 1.0. We know when the college was established there was an agreement that that wouldn’t take place. I’ll admit that that’s true. However, what was proposed in the 1960s doesn’t necessarily mean that changes can’t be made in the 1980s.
The minister has been sympathetic to the problems and difficulties in Algoma, but I wonder if the civil servants in the former ministry, or what will be the former Ministry of Colleges and Universities, are as sympathetic as the minister to the problems of the college. I would hope if there is a change, an adjustment in structures, it may also produce a change in adjustment in the philosophies of the people involved in that ministry so that we can get some further assistance for Algoma.
In the wider sense, I hope that the ministry will consider for the whole of the northeast some kind of regional university system. Perhaps a university of the northeast which will adjust the whole approach to Laurentian and other colleges operating in the area; to give a better image, for post-secondary education to the students who are involved in the elementary and secondary levels so that they won’t all leave.
They will be able to stay in the north longer in completing their full education; there will be the various courses necessary for them to do that available near their home communities so that we can cut down on the cost to them and provide better educational opportunities for all the people of the north, and of Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie in particular.
I would like the minister, if she could, to comment on what this change would mean, if anything, for this particular problem.
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, I might say I will be echoing, for just a minute or two, some of the remarks made by other speakers with respect to the background papers that were not produced regarding this bill.
On page 10 of the standing orders under which we govern ourselves, section 32(c), on the introduction of a government bill, says:
“A compendium of background information shall be delivered to the opposition critics.”
Let me say, as education critic, when this bill was brought forward I certainly expected to have rather voluminous documentation crossing my desk indicating all the preparatory work that led to this government making the decision that these two ministries would be combined; all the justifications, all the cost savings that would be involved by so doing, all the philosophical reasons for that merger, and so on.
I checked both with our research staff and I rather hassled my legislative assistant a bit over the last couple of weeks, as nothing crossed my desk, as to why it hadn’t. Was she sure? “Look up everything that had a Ministry of Education letterhead,” I told her. Nothing came in.
I finally figured that the day before we got the bill we would receive a compendium that would at least be the ministry’s justification of the reasons it took the step of joining these two ministries.
Mr. Lupusella: No way.
Mr. Bounsall: Needless to say, nothing has come. I expected, of course, in the absence of any of that, the minister would have a rather detailed opening address as to why this was taking place. Here we have a bill that merges the ministries. We are wondering what the merger is all about and why, what are the positive reasons for the merger that the ministry can give; yet the ministry remains and has remained absolutely silent.
Tonight at 10 minutes to nine it came into my hands, this document marked “confidential” -- heaven knows the reasons it is marked “confidential” -- a plan which is the plan of organization.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You must have marked it “confidential” because it is not marked “confidential” on ours.
Mr. Martel: It is on mine.
Mr. Bounsall: If the minister didn’t mark it “confidential,” this is the minimum document that should have been tabled before the debate on second reading took place.
Mr. M. Davidson: You had better check somebody.
Mr. Bounsall: I understand that under these circumstances we could demand compliance with this section and stop the debate until all of those background papers are tabled -- I am sure this is not the only one -- but we don’t intend to do that.
I might say to you, Mr. Speaker, that after the vote on the bill has taken place tonight, maybe you would consider referring the question of why this matter, and I am sure other background materials, were not tabled, to the procedural affairs committee. I leave that in your hands to determine whether that would be the appropriate thing to do.
However, if this was just somehow an oversight on behalf of the minister’s staff, and this is the way in which this merged ministry is going to work, then heaven help us and save us from this merger. If this is the way this merger is going to operate, where clear legislative directives are not followed and not pointed out to the minister -- and those documents, every single document related to merger and the reasons why, any memo sent to anybody, were not tabled as background information before this debate took place -- if that is a staff fault, if that is the kind of fuzzy work that is going to come out as a result of this merger, then heaven help this merger.
Looking at the one minor document we have in our hands, it is kind of interesting. In the introduction it says this document is designed to provide a discussion mechanism for all staff working in the field towards a final documentation of goals and objectives. Here we have an admission in the introduction of this paper that there have been really no well-thought-out goals and objectives. Certainly if there are, there’s no documentation of them. This is to kick off a discussion for staff working in the field towards the final elucidation and documentation of what the goals are.
So here we have a bill to merge two major ministries, two ministries that expend a considerable amount of the moneys brought into this province, in which there is an admission that there is really no preplanning as to why this should take place. That makes me extremely nervous about how quickly this was put together, how little thought there must have been in the putting of it together, when close to three months after it has been put together the minister is just in the situation of having talks taking place in order to work together to get some goals and objectives in the merged ministries. Here it is in black and white.
When you go through some of the others, Mr. Speaker, it’s rather interesting. I certainly won’t read the whole document, but this certainly should have been put forward for discussion.
One of the objectives, it says here, is “the development of a meaningful range of educational policies, programs and activities consistent with the educational needs of people in Ontario.” Presumably that’s supposed to be one of the objectives of the merger.
Mr. McClellan: Very specific.
Mr. Bounsall: Did the decision to make the cutback in moneys to the heritage language program take place before the merger? That cutback sure doesn’t even continue that development which was just started -- and in the Jackson report it was clearly outlined in a recommendation that that development should be expanded. At the first opportunity this ministry makes a cutback that belies the development of a meaningful range of educational policies which is outlined, in this one background paper we have, as one of its objectives.
Without going into enumerating all of the detrimental steps that have taken place in the last few months, I want to mention a few. By 1980 there will be no more provincial funds available for full-day kindergartens in this program. This is continuing to develop “a meaningful range of educational policies,” is it? We heard and we are hearing that the Ottawa separate school board is likely to be forced, because of financial constraints, to abandon its successful full-day kindergarten program. If we’re looking at “the development of a meaningful range of educational policies and programs,” which this objective presumably speaks to, these programs should be encouraged, as the member for Oak-wood indicated in his private member’s bill which we discussed some two or three weeks ago -- on March 29, to be exact. We should have funding at the elementary rate for all those school boards who decide to have children in the full-day kindergarten program. That’s what we should be developing in this province. That clearly should be the objective and we’re going in the opposite direction.
We’re going in the opposite direction in so many areas. The province has regulations which limit class size in occupational and vocational programs. Last December we pointed out to the then minister that due to cutbacks 48 per cent of the classes in Metro Toronto exceeded that limit. What has been the response? This month the Minister of Education suspended section 35(i)(e)((f) of regulation 704/78 and will continue to permit classes in excess of 20 pupils in these programs.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Until?
Mr. Bounsall: That is “the development of a meaningful range of educational policies.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What’s the rest of it?
Mr. Bounsall: That will continue.
I can go on. When the Toronto board tried to negotiate more teachers for these programs, the Minister of Education publicly stepped in and hypocritically called for a taxpayers’ revolt when it was brought up.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I never used that word. The newspapers know it.
Mr. Bounsall: It just goes on and on. The next one --
Mr. Grande: Misquoted again?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes.
Mr. Foulds: I didn’t hear you deny it.
Mr. Bounsall: The minister wasn’t here for it, but in the debate on the private member’s bill of the member for Oakwood, I mentioned that the closer we get to 1984, the more Orwellian this government becomes, and particularly this ministry, in its operation; it says one thing and does precisely the opposite.
Listen to this: “Towards meeting our objective, we want to develop an adequate supply of well-prepared teachers and related personnel to carry out these programs and activities.” And what are we having? We are having the closing, by this September, of the Ontario Teacher Education Colleges, which virtually all the teachers in this province are nervous about having closed, because they can go down and have a good proper extension of their teacher training. In fact, many teachers wish they had gone through there in the first place. So we are going to have an adequate supply of well-prepared teachers and we are closing OTEC. The minister is doing exactly what Orwell predicted would take place in 1984. It is taking place right in this Legislature, and there’s no better example than right in this Ministry of Education.
Then it goes on to mention “the adequate financial resources to meet the above requirements.” In 1975 the province paid on average 61.4 per cent of the cost of education f or the local boards. Just four years later we are paying 51.5 per cent, which is almost a complete 10 per cent drop in funding. Yet it mentions developing adequate financial resources.
The minister is going in exactly the wrong direction. She is penalizing all the property taxpayers in the province by this policy. By this policy and the program cuts which the school boards are having to make in this province, the minister is engaged in nothing short of child-bashing with her educational policies.
One of the Jackson report’s recommendations was to move immediately to 60 per cent of funding. We now are down to 51.5 per cent and, the way this ministry is operated, we can look forward -- and it’s not a very pleasant look forward -- to going down to even less on average. We should be immediately reversing it to 60 per cent.
Another example of the government cutbacks: In 1971, the payments to school boards represented 18.2 per cent of the provincial budget; it has now fallen to 13 per cent.
As a total part of the budget, education is taking a smaller and smaller priority of this government’s funding, which indicates a government attitude to continue, year by year, to finance education less in this province. There’s no other way that can he read. The figures stand out exceedingly clear.
The former Minister of Education a couple of years ago, in talking about all the inequities -- and in many ways he certainly was very interested in education -- made a commitment, recognizing that the grants to elementary students and the grants to secondary students were, if not reversed, at least out of whack and did not reflect the true cost of education, particularly as class sizes should be smaller in the lower grades. All the research shows that from kindergarten to grade three there is a meaningful difference in education -- not just in reading but in comprehension and total pickup -- if class sizes are under 20. What’s needed is funding for that. He made a commitment to narrow that gap.
This year what do we have? The elementary grants are increased by only $110, the secondary by $142. We are again going in the reverse direction with respect to financing in this province.
There is indeed a tremendous amount that can be said about the cutbacks in education and the undermining of our whole educational system. Very briefly, what you have is a fairly good curriculum development program, but you have the boards without the finances to buy the educational materials produced to get those curricula into the hands of the teachers and the students in the classrooms in Ontario. There are good curricula, there are good educational books developed and the boards cannot afford to buy them. That is what is happening all across this province, and it is well documented by the book publishers in this province and well documented by any teachers to whom you speak.
Mr. Speaker: What principle of Bill 19 is the honourable member addressing?
Mr. Bounsall: This is our real concern, Mr. Speaker, about the merger that is taking place, that in fact there is going to be less attention paid in detail to all of these areas than what has taken place in the past. My colleague from Windsor-Riverside referred to his contacts with people in the university and college field and principals -- I believe it was, in the --
Mr. Speaker: How is it dealing with the principles of the bill?
Mr. Bounsall: That is right; we are. They, in all areas, feel when they contact this ministry they are not getting the response they used to get from the former minister in terms of openness and being able to meet with them. The college field has this feeling too. They are told she is too busy in the educational field, and the people in the secondary and elementary are told she is tied up with the college field. Nothing is happening in terms of reasonable contact throughout.
Mr. Speaker, I will end simply by saying the combination of this ministry worries us because we don’t yet see any meaningful interfacing taking place. If we saw a detailed thought-out plan handed out well in advance and available to us as to what this merger was going to accomplish, we could perhaps approach this with some confidence. We feel very nervous about what was clearly the situation of a merger and then one sits down and ties to think out reasons as to why that merger may have been a good thing.
I will simply quote one other thing from their background paper. I believe this may have been quoted by our member from Thunder Bay. It is point (g) under “The New Organization”: “Cost savings were the motivation behind the special program review recommendation that a merger be considered.”
It has nothing to do with educational needs. It is just pure cost savings. It is a damning statement in a document. from the Ministry of Education. What we need in this province is a thorough consideration of the needs of the children --
Mr. Laughren: And a new minister.
Mr. Bounsall: -- and adults in our college system, receiving education in this program and funding on a needs basis and a complete moving away from the formula funding. The formula funding situation is not adequate to meet the needs we now have in this province.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I rise first to state to the members of this House that I regret deeply there was not a compendium delivered to them at the time the bill was introduced. It was my understanding that with the introduction of the bill during my absence the documentation would be accompanying the bill. I regret it did not. That will be corrected.
Mr. Nixon: Roll out the howitzer.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the concern about the young people of this province, the educational system that attempts to serve the young people of this province, prompted the move to the merged ministries. The activities that were involved included exploration of the experiences of those in other jurisdictions in which there were, as the honourable member for Kitchener-Wilmot suggested, either one or other of the arrangements in terms of educational organizations.
We talked with those in other jurisdictions in Canada in which there were singular organizations and those in which there were double organizations and we found a certain degree of ambivalence, I must admit, in both situations. We talked to those in the United States who had some experience with the restructuring of educational authorities in that country, related to the possibility of separation of the post-secondary institutions from those considered within the elementary and the secondary roles.
In addition to that, a report was developed by a task force, the members of which examined the educational needs of the young people of the province and the possibility of putting the two ministries together.
As a result of the information that was gathered -- and there is a paucity of information, specifically on the subject of the benefits of either one ministry or two in the educational field -- it was decided the ministries should be merged. The real purpose of this merger is to attempt to bring together all of those with expertise in education, both within and outside of government, in the examination of all problems related to education -- to the development of programs in education, to the development of policies in education, and to the solution of problems in education.
This will of course begin within the Ministry of Education as a result of the merger. Those who have expertise -- and those members of the divisions of university affairs and college affairs have developed a great deal of expertise and have as a result of their experience much expertise as well -- will be given an opportunity to discuss the matters that are of primary concern to the elementary and secondary educational field. The same kind of situation will of course pertain as far as post-secondary policies are concerned.
But there was no intent at any time to downgrade the effective liaison, the effective contact and the effective relationship which has been developed between the former Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the universities of this province. There has been no attempt to change in any way the relationship between the division of college affairs and the community colleges of this province, because it is felt that those two areas have been based upon a degree of autonomy that is traditional within the universities and a modified degree of autonomy that has been established by legislation for the community colleges.
It is felt that those relationships have been effective, that our universities in this province have been permitted to grow in the most responsible kind of way, based upon their own decisions in terms of their perception of the postsecondary needs, the educational needs and indeed the societal needs of the province.
Therefore, in the structure outlined within the document which I had anticipated most of the members would have at hand, it specifically sets out a division of university affairs headed by an assistant deputy minister -- the same assistant deputy minister in that position but with an added responsibility This is because following the suggestion of the McCarthy commission and of the Jackson commission we did recommend that the Ontario teachers education colleges be closed, we did anticipate the responsibility for effective and good teacher education would be transferred totally to the faculties of education of the universities, and therefore the responsibility for teacher education will fall under the jurisdiction of the department of university affairs and the assistant deputy minister in that area.
This we feel is a logical move in that the universities will be responsible for providing the educational programs. The liaison with the ministry in terms of effective teacher education development should be through that division, which relates directly to the universities at all times, utilizing of course the expertise and the capabilities of certain members of the teacher education division of the former Ministry of Education who had had responsibilities in this area.
The apprenticeship program in the college affairs division and manpower training or industrial training branch still remains under the jurisdiction of the assistant deputy minister with responsibility for college affairs. There is no change in that area as well.
There are some significant changes in terms of administrative structure, because we firmly believe there are economies to be effected in the area of bringing together the personnel and administrative staff of the two ministries. It is our firm intent, if we do effect economies in this area, that those funds will he related directly and delivered directly to educational programs within Ontario for the benefit of the young people whom we serve.
It was suggested by one of the members opposite that it was time the public of Ontario had an opportunity to participate in discussions of activities related to the educational system in this province, When I was first moved to the post of Minister of Education, feeling precisely that way, I suggested -- perhaps rather naively -- that the public might write to me about their concerns about education; and they did.
Several hundred Ontario citizens wrote to me and expressed some concerns which, interestingly enough, related to specific portions of our educational system, particularly in the primary and secondary area, but also some concerns in the post-secondary area. Those concerns are not about the quality of the overall educational program, because it is my understanding from the responses I have received, and from information we have received from other sources, that the educational system in Ontario was still considered to be an excellent system. But it is not perfect, and there are areas of specific concern which members of the public have brought to my attention.
It is also of some real concern that those people who have some interest in the educational system should be aware that the Ministry of Education in Ontario does not believe the educational system in this province belongs to the Ministry of Education. Nor do we believe it belongs to the boards of education of the province, We do not believe the educational system belongs to the teachers of this province, we believe it belongs to the taxpayers and the parents of the province.
It is because of our concern about that that we have been encouraging wide-ranging correspondence and communication with taxpayers, and parents specifically, throughout Ontario; and that communication has been occurring.
As a result of some of this information, I am informed by many of those who are concerned about education that it would be in the best interests of the educational system, and specifically of the young people, to ensure that there is greater co-ordination of effort in education from the primary area to post-secondary area. That, of course, is the purpose of the merger of the two ministries.
It is felt very strongly that the young people of this province will be better served if the problems delineated by the Interface study can be removed by increased and continuous liaison between those responsible for the development of curriculum in the secondary area and those concerned about the delivery of program in the post-secondary area.
It was suggested by one of the members opposite that the senior and continuing education division within the educational programs and continuing education branch within that division of education programs would be responsible specifically for post-secondary educational programs.
That is not the responsibility of that individual. what we have done is to recognize that there is some difference between the curriculum that needs to be developed from kindergarten to grade 10 and the curriculum that requires development from grades 11 to 13, and the division has been made in that area.
The curriculum branch now will be two divisions, each related to an assistant deputy minister through an executive director, one with responsibility for curriculum development from kindergarten to grade 10 and one with responsibility from grades 11 to 13, because the 11 to 13 group are usually those who are not required by law to go to school but who have decided, for purposes of their continuing education, their lifestyle choice and their career choice, that an additional educational program is necessary.
Mr. Nixon: Sounds like medical jargon of some sort.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is not medical jargon. It isn’t even educational jargon, because I’m new enough at this job that I don’t know any educational jargon.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, we believe that the structure that has been developed does provide for more effective use of the reduced numbers of staff within the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and Ministry of Education -- and they have been reduced over the last several years quite significantly. The effective use of the expertise of that staff will be maximized by bringing together the functions which could be merged --
Mr. Warner: An acrobatic acrobat.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- and leaving separate those functions which require separation, because there is a specific relationship of the government to the primary, elementary, intermediate, secondary system -- whatever you want to call it -- and the post-secondary system, and those unique relationships must he maintained.
That is the design of the merger. We anticipate that it will be helpful in future modifications of the educational structure in order to be more responsive to the changing needs of the young people and the changing needs of our society.
I believe firmly that this merger is worthwhile, and I do apologize that the compendium was not available to the members.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Committee of the whole House? Standing committee?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I would prefer committee of the whole House, if that is possible.
Mr. Speaker: We must have at least 20 members standing.
More than 20 members have risen. The bill will be directed to --
Hon. Mr. Welch: It seems quite clear that the 20 members say it goes out of the House. But there has been some discussion and the social development committee is seized now with the Health report and with the Health estimates. The minister’s choice now would be for it to go to the standing committee on the administration of justice.
Ordered for standing administration of justice committee.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.