The House met at 2:05 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
WHITE PAPER ON PLANNING
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I would like to bring the House up to date with regard to the white paper on the Planning Act and the draft legislation thereto. I am pleased to announce that we anticipate having the white paper in the hands of members around the end of this month. In preparation for release to members and to municipal officials, I am announcing today that we will be holding regional meetings in eight locations across Ontario to outline the white paper and the draft legislation.
In order to undertake a meaningful dialogue with municipalities, the regional meetings in southern Ontario will be aimed at the heads of councils and certain designated officials. In the three northern meetings, additional groups will be involved. Right after regional meetings we will start a series of smaller seminars or meetings at which the details of the white paper and its implications will be outlined to municipal and planning board staff, committees of adjustment, land division committees and many others.
The eight regional meetings will be held in Ottawa on June 8; Sault Ste. Marie on June 12; Dryden on June 14; Thunder Bay on June 15; Toronto on June 19; Kingston on June 21; London on June 26 and Barrie on June 28. Details on the meeting sites will be sent to all members’ offices in the very near future. In selecting these committees for the first level of regional meetings, we attempted to secure locations that would be the most convenient to all concerned.
The white paper, which will contain the government’s position on a new planning act, is important. It will affect every property owner in the province, from the farmer who wants to sever a portion of his farm for a son or daughter to the urban dweller who seeks security in the way his neighbourhood will be protected and to the large developers developing in major cities. That is why we have taken so much care in finalizing the white paper and why we intend to undertake a very extensive distribution and education process in regard to developing the new Planning Act.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: The Ontario government is actively deregulating and simplifying the structures and functions of government with the objective of improving the delivery of service to the public and to make it easier for the individual to do business with this government and the civil service.
In accordance with this customer service program, I would like to introduce the Pesticides Amendment Act for first reading. The purpose of this bill is to eliminate the Pesticides Appeal Board and to incorporate its responsibilities with those of the Environmental Appeal Board. It is my intention to retain the specialized abilities and expertise of the members of the Pesticides Appeal Board by appointing them as members of the Environmental Appeal Board.
Under this amendment the Environmental Appeal Board will hear appeals from decisions of the director under the Pesticides Act which normally relate to matters of licences or permits concerning pesticides. The procedures for these appeals will remain unchanged at least for a period of time. At some future date, these procedures may be amended to parallel other appeals to the Environmental Appeal Board.
In conclusion, I would like to recognize the substantial contributions in time and effort which the members of these two boards have made in the interests of environmental protection in Ontario.
RADIATION FROM X-RAYS
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of clarification, last week in response to questions, the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) stated that the study by Dr. Kenneth Taylor about the risks of X-rays had been funded by the ministry. He said that study was prepared on a grant from the Ministry of Health to look at the situation. The next day the Premier (Mr. Davis) said: “ ... it was the Ministry of Health that initiated a great deal of this discussion and initiated the report.”
We have been in touch with the Toronto General Hospital Foundation, which funded Dr. Taylor’s report published in the Canadian Association of Radiology journal in March of this year, and they have told us explicitly there was no provincial government funding at all for that particular report. I stand to correct the record, because the government is incorrectly claiming they had a part in bringing this matter to public attention.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order Mr. Speaker: What is the point of clarification and would you examine that and advise us? I know from time to time a private member wants to make a speech on a matter such as this and if we can do it on a point of clarification perhaps it ought to be uniformly available.
Mr. Speaker: I don’t think there’s any provision in our standing orders for anything other than a point of privilege or a point of order. However, there are precedents for a member getting up and simply correcting the record. I leave it open to all the honourable members as to what kind of point they would like to call it, but there is no such thing as a point of clarification per se.
ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM
Mr. S. Smith: I was going to ask a question of the Minister of Health. Is he going to be here later? I’ll ask a question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation.
Could the minister tell us some facts with regard to the Royal Ontario Museum? Can the minister tell us whether when he or his predecessor -- I’m not sure which it was -- approved the money for the expansion of the museum and the courtyard area, he knew it was the intention of the museum people to close the Royal Ontario Museum for a period of a year or more? Did he know when the money was approved for the museum expansion that was planned as part of the expansion process?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, as I guess most members of this Legislature know, if they read the press at all, there have been many very conflicting reports and allegations made by a number of people from the Royal Ontario Museum, including the question as to whether or not and for how long, if at all, the museum should be opened or closed. Because of this rather confusing range of reports coming from the Royal Ontario Museum, I’ve had a number of meetings and discussions with the chairman and with the director of the museum.
I have now asked the director and the chairman of the board, who is responsible for the day by day management of the Royal Ontario Museum, to provide us with a very detailed report on the expansion plans of the museum, including whether it will close or not and for how long it will close, and when, and so on. Until such time as I have received that kind of report from the chairman of the board, who is responsible for the management of the museum as I have said, I’m not prepared to draw any conclusions or make any further report to this House. I think it would be premature. It would be conjecturing.
Frankly, I’m aware of the situation, I’m aware of the conflict of reports, but until such time as we’ve got the information we really need and what’s happening can be demonstrated exactly, I don’t wish to report further.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the question was: Did the minister know it was intended to close the museum? I take it from his rambling answer, and since he’s waiting for reports, he did not know it was the intention to close the museum for a period of a year or more during the renovation.
May I ask by way of supplementary then, whether the minister approves of the idea the museum should be closed? Does he not recognize the importance of that institution from the point of view of tourism and from the point of view of certain educational programs? Does it make sense to the minister that renovations should go ahead in a manner that would in fact, close the entire museum for a year or more?
Given the view of the curators that the museum may not even reopen, depending on the circumstances, will in fact, the minister order the audit which has been requested by those somewhat anonymous people?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: As the Leader of the Opposition has indicated, the letter from the curators was an anonymous letter, and obviously I cannot respond to an anonymous letter.
Mr. S. Smith: You would only be replying in kind if you did.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would only reiterate that until such time as we have received a report from the management that is responsible, which is the appointed board of directors of the museum, I am not prepared to say here what course of events will take place.
To reply explicitly to the honourable member’s earlier question, we did not know; we had not been advised that the museum would be closing down for a year or a year and a half until we read these conflicting reports in the press. Frankly, until such time as we have had the report from the management, we will not be able to answer.
Mr. Grande: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Does the minister not realize that it is his ministry’s responsibility to ensure that, on a yearly basis that information is gathered and comes to the ministry from the museum, or from any other cultural institution that is publicly supported?
Does he not also realize that it is a month after the first revelations in the social development committee, which showed that the administration clearly gave misleading financial information to the committee, and it is about time the air was cleared and he began to take action to save the museum?
Furthermore, does the minister have any knowledge of the impending meeting at the museum on Thursday, May 17, at which the staff of the museum is going to call for a no-confidence vote in the administration of the museum? Is it not clear to the minister that he should act now?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, there is an implicit error in that question, in that it assumes we have not acted until now. Indeed, we have acted, and we have acted on many different occasions. But I go back to the point that, until such time as the board of directors of that museum is prepared to report to us, it would be premature and precipitate for us here to draw any conclusions or to make any judgement on it. It will come in due course.
I would hope that the honourable members opposite would exercise a little patience. After all, the fiscal year of the Royal Ontario Museum, unlike the fiscal year of this government, begins July 1. I have a feeling that if the honourable members opposite would exercise a little patience and be a little less political about this, perhaps all of us could help the Royal Ontario Museum. We are all committed to maintaining this as one of our great institutions.
Mr. O’Neil: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Since the province has decided to give approximately $12.75 million as an outright expansion grant and will be providing another $10 million in Wintario funds, as well as likely being required to give further funds, does the minister not feel that he should have had a firmer grasp upon what was going on over there, especially with all the appointments that his government has made to that board? The minister should not be waiting for an answer. He should be prepared to give us, today, the reasons why they are in the predicament that they find themselves in.
Mr. S. Smith: He’s going to give them more than $20 million, and he didn’t even know they were going to close.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I realize there may be some members opposite who would immediately disregard the duly appointed and elected board of directors, which is responsible for the operation of that museum.
Mr. Sweeney: Who appointed them?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I certainly will not make any judgement as to the competence of that board until the directors have been given the time and the opportunity to provide us with the data and the facts we need. Anything before that is premature.
Mr. Sweeney: You don’t know any more about the museum than you did about Hydro.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: As soon as the copies arrive, I will have a statement to make -- and I will ask the House at that time to revert to statements -- on the question of X-ray procedures.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In addition, if I may, I would like to -- I don’t have copies of this because the information has just come to me this morning -- inform the House we have two suspected cases of polio which have not, at this point, been lab confirmed. I emphasize that, they have not been lab confirmed. They have been admitted to Victoria Hospital in London. I am informed by staff they are clinical cases and confirmation is unlikely for several days.
Mr. Speaker, the two persons in question are related, they are unmarried and they are members of the Amish community in Middlesex county. They have not been immunized and they have not, I am told, been in contact with members of the Amish community in Pennsylvania, where last week we had word two cases had been confirmed.
The associate medical officer of health for Middlesex is following up on this and checking all of the contacts of these individuals who, as I say, are related and have not previously been immunized.
I have asked for an immediate update on vaccine supplies which my staff assure me are, in fact, quite adequate. Once I have those figures I will report those to the Legislature and, as well, I will keep the Legislature and the public informed on this matter.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, my second question was on the subject of X-ray problems and radiation, and I will await the statement by the minister.
ORAL QUESTIONS (CONTINUED)
LAKESHORE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Minister of Health, not about X-rays, but arising out of the situation at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
In view of the very serious concerns that have been expressed by the medical staff of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre regarding the lack of planning and overcrowding as a result of the minister’s decision to close Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital; and in the light of the testimony over the course of the past few weeks that Lakeshore is not a firetrap; that its outpatient programs are threatened by the closing and the mental health services in Lakeshore’s catchment area will not be able to cope with the closing; will the minister now admit publicly that he made a mistake in ordering the closing of Lakeshore? Will the minister now undertake to rescind the order to close Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and to maintain its services until there is a conclusive study done on how Lakeshore should be rebuilt?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: With respect, I think the honourable member would be wise to wait until the head of the medical advisory committee has appeared at the standing committee this afternoon. My staff met with the medical advisory committee this morning and discussed their concerns, as outlined in that letter.
As I understand the report of that meeting, I think the members of the medical advisory committee were not in fact saying, “Don’t close Lakeshore,” but expressing concerns, valid concerns, about the patients who are, after all, their first and our first priority. I will be at the social development committee this afternoon and I suggest we wait until the head of the MAC has had a chance to clarify their concerns, and their approach. Then I will discuss it with the social development committee.
I think, with respect, the member is being rather selective in the testimony to which he is referring, because if he looks at the progress of the testimony over the last three weeks, it has in fact been, and I suppose the evaluation would have to be it is equivocal. There have been strong arguments advanced on both sides.
Mr. Lawlor: You don’t read the same testimony.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Oh, no. Listen, I have followed --
Mr. Cassidy: You could have put your experts up.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Well, that may, as much as anything, be a function of how many people were invited. The arguments have been advanced strongly on both sides of the question and this is a matter of --
Mr. Cassidy: You could have offered the studies made.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- serious importance, and we certainly attach serious importance to it. I will be appearing at the social development committee this afternoon, following the discussion with --
Mr. Warner: Admit you made a mistake.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- the head of the MAC. I may say, too, I have asked the administrator and the medical director of Queen Street to stand by at the committee this afternoon to answer any questions because, of course, the members will recall their testimony of a few weeks ago.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the minister’s attention the fact the administrator of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre testified that neither at Whitby, where he had previously been administrator, nor at Queen Street, was he ever consulted about the difficulties that would be created with the closing of the Lakeshore Hospital.
I would also bring to the minister’s attention, as well, the fact the McKinsey report sat on his desk for a year --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: -- and was then rejected.
Mr. Speaker: Are you asking if the minister is aware?
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, what I want to ask the minister to reply to is this: When the medical staff of Queen Street Medical Health Centre states it is impossible to state that the closure of Lakeshore is wise --
Mr. Speaker: What is the question?
Mr. Cassidy: -- how can the minister make that reply, when the medical staff raises very serious long-term questions, both about over-crowding and about the quality of care at Queen Street, if this closure goes through?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Again, I think this is the sort of thing which should be done at the committee because even if one looks at the press report of that letter in this morning’s paper, by the time one gets from the first page to the second, one is getting a different slant on the meaning of the letter.
Mr. Lawlor: The minister showed a little flexibility on the first page and became obtuse on the second.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: This is one case where it pays to read the whole thing. The committee will benefit greatly from having before it this afternoon the chairman of the MAC. The administrator of Queen Street, as I said, will be standing by and prepared to answer questions. These two gentlemen are ultimately responsible for that facility, in the final analysis. When the two latter gentlemen appeared, it was made clear that of course there would be some problems in the transition stages, but that will be explored this afternoon.
Mr. Cassidy: You have imposed a shotgun marriage and mental health patients will suffer.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It has had a very broad consideration at the committee. They have heard the entire range of opinions from one pole to the other and everything in between. I will be pleased to take part in that discussion this afternoon with the committee, after they have had a chance to talk to the author of that particular letter and to clarify for themselves exactly what the position of the MAC is.
Mr. Lawlor: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I suppose the only supplementary is, is the minister aware? I could stop there but I won’t. That was a pretty trenchant and damning statement. If I may just refer to the newspaper article, the letter says: “The Health ministry failed to make proper plans --”
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: On a point of order: All of this is going to be considered at the social development committee this afternoon. It is going to be considered by the members over the next day or two as they consider motions and the preparation of a report.
Mr. Dukszta: Why can’t we talk about it now?
Mr. Warner: The minister does not want to answer the question. He is avoiding the issue.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am quite prepared to discuss it this afternoon with the honourable member who is a member or a substitute member of the social development committee.
Is that not really the forum in which to consider this and the preparation of a report?
Mr. Lawlor: The minister, being a politician like the rest of us, knows that the press is not at the meetings in great abundance. This is our opportunity to --
Mr. S. Smith: To play to the gallery?
Mr. Breithaupt: Maybe they will show up today.
Mr. Speaker: Place a question.
Mr. Lawlor: I was referring to the total lack of planning. The rub is with respect to unilateral closing. The letter says that is part of the problem. The minister has made no provision for ensuring that patients get proper treatment at a new location. He loads the hospital beds. All he does is knock down.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Lawlor: He does not know anything about treatment.
Mr. Speaker: Does the minister agree?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No.
Mr. Lawlor: Is the minister aware of that and of meeting the future needs of the population in the Lakeshore area?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Your syntax is not what it used to be.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am aware now of the member’s interpretation of that newspaper article. Again, I suggest that in the interests of meaningful discussion about a very serious matter we carry on this discussion at the social development committee this afternoon. After the committee has had the opportunity to question the author and to talk some more with the administrator and the medical director, who are ultimately responsible for the Queen Street facility, then we can discuss how we are going to go about maintaining existing outpatient programs and how we propose to expand to more outpatient programs. All of these things will be considered this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Culture and Recreation has the answer to a question asked previously.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, in response to a question raised in this House on May 7 by the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), dealing with hockey violence and the initiatives taken by my ministry and the Ontario Hockey Council to ascertain the attitudes and opinions on this subject by the parents of Ontario amateur hockey players,
I would like to say I am pleased this question was raised. I have been planning to make an interim report to the House and welcome this opportunity.
The honourable member raised a number of issues to which I would like to respond. First, he stated that Dr. John Elliott, assistant professor of sociology at Laurentian University, had questioned the need to send questionnaires dealing with hockey violence to some 100,000 parents of hockey players. He felt that such an extensive survey might well prove to be a wasteful effort and that a more random limited survey would prove to be as effective.
Of course, we are aware that a fairly accurate picture of parental concerns could be obtained through such a random sampling of something like 2,500 families. However, I point out the grave concerns which have been expressed in this House regarding hockey violence, and establishing direct contact with some 100,000 concerned parents is reflective of our collective concern for our young people. It is far more than a mere exercise in survey research.
Dr. Elliott, in his letter to the honourable member, is quite right when he notes that normally such questionnaires enjoy only a 15 or 20 per cent response and indeed in some surveys as little as a five to seven per cent response. I am pleased to report that this has not been our experience with this survey. Thus far, the response has proven that our decision to put our questions to all parents concerned has met with the wholehearted support and co-operation of most of those parents. In all, 78,754 questionnaires were sent. To date, we have had an outstanding response of more than 50 per cent, with close to 40,000 replies received, and they are still coming in.
Moreover, another most significant measure of the degree of interest and the validity of this approach to the inquiry is that 98 per cent of those responding have utilized the space set aside in the questionnaire for their personal comments.
The honourable member opposite also questioned why only three of the 23 questions contained in our questionnaire related directly to hockey violence. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, this does not in any way reflect a low priority of concern regarding this subject. On the contrary, the researchers felt, and quite correctly so, that the parents’ views on violence can also be assessed by posing indirect questions regarding their attitudes to the game itself -- is it for fun or competition? -- plus their views on officiating and on the attitudes of parents concerned.
As noted by the member for Cambridge, some parents have received more than one questionnaire. This is most understandable; the questionnaires were sent to the home addresses of each individual player involved. This was the most simple and inexpensive method of ensuring that all parents were contacted. In instances where there were several players in one family, then indeed more than one questionnaire would have been received. However, in the close to 40,000 responses received to date this does not seem to have posed a problem. The parents obviously recognized the need to return only one questionnaire.
The research part of this exercise is under the capable direction of Dr. Barry McPherson, acting dean of the University of Waterloo. The returns still have to be keypunched, verified, tabulated and analysed under his direction. Upon the completion of this phase of our exercise in late June, the Ontario Hockey Council will be sponsoring a series of open forums throughout Ontario to discuss the issues raised by parents through the questionnaires and to invite further participation and debate on ensuing recommendations.
The Ontario Hockey Council hopes that at least some of the recommendations forthcoming from these public forums could be implemented as early as the next playing season.
Obviously it is too early to even conjecture on what will be the emerging concerns and issues raised by the parents. However, the tremendous response by parents so far indicates to an encouraging degree their interest. I feel we will be assembling for the first time ever the collective views of the parents and not just those of a random sample group. This information will, I am sure, prove to be of enormous value to the Ontario Hockey Council and the other hockey governing bodies as they look not only to violence in the game, but also at the many other closely related issues, and recommend such changes as may be indicated.
Mr. M. Davidson: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the minister could explain a couple of discrepancies between his original statement and his answer to the questions. His original statement, I believe, talked in terms of 100,000 questionnaires. Today’s statement refers to 100,000 parents of hockey players. They are two totally different things. I thought I heard correctly --
Mr. Speaker: What’s the question?
Mr. M. Davidson: The question is, does the minister realize that there are discrepancies in the original statement that he has made and in his answers today? In his answer to the question he raised the point that some 70,000 questionnaires had been distributed. Can he possibly explain to me how it is cheaper to send four or five questionnaires to one home, and how he can tabulate and get a correct answer from a questionnaire that has four or five answers coming out of one household?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, if there is one reply from one family, if that family has two, three or four children playing hockey --
Mr. T. P. Reid: The minister has kicked that around all winter. It’s about time he has had an answer.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- we ascertain the views of that one set of parents. They will have the same attitudes about one of their children playing hockey as about four of them.
I think it was the member for Cambridge who seemed to be confused by the fact that they had received four questionnaires and didn’t know what to do with them. As indicated in the report here, that apparently has not been the problem with the 40,000 or 48,000 others who have sent replies. They knew what to do with it.
Mr. M. Davidson: They didn’t know where they came from.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Let’s get on with some important business.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s surely not a matter of urgent importance?
DISASTER RELIEF ASSISTANCE
Mr. Bolan: I have a question of the Premier. Is the government considering flood relief to the tourist operators and townships in the non-designated flood areas of Lake Nipissing, particularly in the Nipissing area, as well as in the Parry Sound area, the South Bay area, which is in the area of the honourable member behind him, which has been hard hit by these flood waters? I’m thinking particularly of funds for repairs to roads leading to the places of business, as well as interest-free loans to tourist operators who have suffered great losses in these areas.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of visiting with the deputy mayor of the city of North Bay some few days ago when I was visiting Field and other points. I was looking for the member to greet me at the airport, as a matter of fact, to take me into North Bay. I did visit, from approximately 200 feet, the shoreline, but of course at that point the water levels of Nipissing had not reached the levels which they are presently at.
The government is quite prepared to consider this, and upon application from the municipalities we will do an evaluation. I would suspect that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) already has some information, so if the member would like to relay further information please do so. Of course, the member for the great district of Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck), who is his next-door neighbour, always keeps a constant eye on those issues that relate to his constituents, and the member opposite just happens to be the beneficiary of the Minister of Revenue’s concern about the total community in that area and I’m sure that he will, as well, convey to us any concerns.
Mr. Bolan: Supplementary: Does this statement apply to the unorganized townships in these areas as well? The Premier has indicated that he is waiting to hear from the townships, or it will be considered if an application is made by the townships. Does it apply to an unorganized township as well?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the honourable member had been keeping close touch on what was happening in the area just to the northeast of him, he would recall that the government made a decision that would affect the municipality of Field and other areas around Field that happen to be parts of unorganized townships.
Mr. Bolan: Northwest, not northeast.
Hon. Mr. Davis: So I think the member already knows the answer to the question. We have never been reluctant. The question of organization or not organized has not been a relevant issue. The relevant issue is whether there is a genuine need.
Mr. Dukszta: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment relating to the control order which Anchor Cap and Closure Corporation of Canada saw fit to ignore. Since the ministry was aware, at least as early as December 1976 according to its own hazardous substances handbook, of the health hazards of exposure to xylene emissions, why has the ministry blithely continued to debate technical problems with the owners of Anchor Cap and Closure when Anchor was in clear violation of a control order issued by the ministry, a control order which Anchor simply ignored?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I answered almost an identical question in the House either Tuesday or Thursday of last week.
Mr. Wildman: No, you didn’t.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’m prepared to repeat that as best I can, or perhaps the member might refresh his memory by checking that response and ask the question on another occasion.
Mr. McClellan: Just answer the question.
Mr. Warner: You can’t wiggle out of it.
Mr. Dukszta: It is not an identical question. The member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt) asked a question shout the control order and why the ministry had not dealt with it; I’m asking very specifically about the health hazards of xylene emissions, which is a different question. I have a supplementary which may explain to the minister in much more detail than he was aware the health hazards of xylene.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps if you put the supplementary now he could deal with both of them at once.
Mr. Dukszta: Is the minister aware that allowable levels of xylene exposure in some other jurisdictions are much lower than those allowed in Ontario? In view of the fact that residents near the plant in question have reported adverse health effects; and that the last time the Ministry of the Environment bothered to sample the air around the plant, two years ago, it was emitting xylene in concentration in excess of the allowable standard in Ontario; doesn’t the minister think his ministry should enforce its own regulations rather than simply play the good fellow and allow a clear potential danger to public health to continue to exist?
Hon Mr. Parrott: As I understand the problem with that particular company and with xylene, it centres around the fact that it is an odour and is not associated with a particulate matter; therefore it’s extremely difficult not only to record and read but to control.
I’m not aware of the standards in other jurisdictions off the top of my head. I’d be glad to get them, and if we think ours are too high we’ll certainly redress that problem. I can’t accept, however, that we have not strenuously gone to work on this particular problem for those residents. I again state that by the end of this year I believe it will be eliminated, or extremely controlled.
Mr. Dukszta: A further supplementary: Is the minister aware that xylene emission is related to the manufacture of benzene, which occurs at Anchor Cap and Closure, and that one has to study both of these questions together? He seems not to be aware of the potential health hazards and of the study. Why is he not taking into account the study made two years ago on the hazardous effects of xylene emissions in that very area?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I don’t have with me today the exact levels that were recorded. From memory I think our staff said they did not consider it a health hazard. I will double-check that tomorrow and respond.
Mr. Leluk: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Premier. The news media recently carried a story that the Soviet Union intends to amend its citizenship act on July 1, automatically making Soviet citizens of those persons whose parents were born in countries which come under the USSR. Does the Premier intend to make representations to the Prime Minister of Canada or to officials in the ministry of the Secretary of State for External Affairs --
Mr. Bradley: The United Nations.
Mr. Leluk: -- on behalf of those Canadian citizens now living in Ontario who have no say in this matter and who do not wish to become citizens of the Soviet Union?
Mr. Peterson: Will you move the embassy to Leningrad?
Mr. Conway: Joe Clark thinks Russia is part of the free world.
Mr. Cunningham: Move the embassy to Kiev.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the member for Renfrew North speaks with some facetiousness about the next Prime Minister of this country.
Mr. Conway: A great deal of facetiousness.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We won’t be here a week tomorrow, so I guess it will be a week Wednesday before I get a --
Mr. Speaker: Order. You see where the interjections get us? They serve no useful purpose whatsoever. I think it is unfair the member should make that kind of interjection when he knows it is going to be picked up and it is going to be responded to. Let’s call it a draw and try to recall the original question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am delighted any time you say I have achieved a draw with the members opposite. I will take your judgement, knowing it is totally objective.
Mr. MacDonald: The question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But it was the member’s fault; I didn’t do it. What was the question?
I would be quite prepared to discuss this with the next Prime Minister of Canada after a week tomorrow. I feel confident Mr. Clark has the same concerns on this issue as those expressed by the member -- I am getting that in subtly -- he has the same concerns as those expressed by the member for York West.
Actually, there is a member of my staff who falls into the category of being described as a Soviet citizen because of some legislation in the Soviet Union. He is quite adamant that he has no intention or desire to become a Soviet citizen; he happens to like it as he is, as a Canadian.
Mr. Ruston: Would it not be better if we had a resolution from this Legislature with the unanimous agreement of all people here? That might help and could even be sent to the United Nations.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am a great supporter of the United Nations and certainly, they have performed many important and constructive functions over the years.
Mr. Peterson: Maybe you would like to speak on the subject. You are truly ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, he asked me a question. I was getting around to answering it. The member for London Centre quite obviously has no great respect for the United Nations. I was just saying what a great organization it is.
Certainly we could give the question of a resolution here some thought, but I really think we should await until the new government of Canada is in a position to deal with these international issues, which will hopefully be some time after next Tuesday night.
Mr. Makarchuk: When you are going to talk about citizenship. What I am saying is the next time the Premier is going to talk to the supposedly future Prime Minister of Canada about this matter, would he kindly take a map with him to show him where the areas are located?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is delightful the member for Brantford, in his own inimitable fashion, has acknowledged that in fact, Mr. Clark will be the next Prime Minister. I appreciate that endorsation. If he will provide the map I will do with it what one should do with a map provided by the member for Brantford.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Health has asked for unanimous consent to revert to statements. Do we have that consent?
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
RADIATION FROM X-RAYS
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am not sure that last suggestion by the Premier is healthy.
The question of diagnostic radiation safety has become a matter of public concern during this past week. In order that the members and the public at large understand the situation, I would like to provide this background.
Originally the radiation department of the Ministry of Health was responsible for X-ray safety and other radiation hazards. In 1976, responsibility for radiation other than X-rays was transferred to the Ministry of Labour, since any hazard associated with these areas were considered to be an occupational health matter. The X-ray inspection service remained with the Ministry of Health, which now concentrated on matters of patient safety. This then led to the formation of the committees for X-ray program development.
In August 1977, the assistant deputy minister for institutional health services at the time, Mr. Chatfield, wrote to medical professional groups, federal and provincial government agencies across Canada and equipment manufacturers. He sent them a discussion paper prepared by the steering committee for X-ray program development in which the proposed program had two parts, a licensing portion and a safety standards portion. He asked for their comments containing details of their proposed safety standards by October 1977.
In the fall of 1977 discussions were held between ministry officials and the Ontario Medical Association. We invited their professional input for development of safety standards. It was agreed that health physicists Drs. Johns and Taylor of the University of Toronto would respond to the proposed safety standards on behalf of the OMA by January 15, 1978.
In the interim, Drs. Johns and Taylor had already applied for a ministry grant for research into a new method of testing diagnostic X-ray machines. The application was submitted for peer review in December of 1977 and the grant was approved in February of 1978. It was $43,090 for 1978-79 and $43,000 for 1979-80. The inspection branch continued its followup with the OMA and developed a consulting relationship with Dr. Taylor in his project.
Also in 1978, our inspectors worked with the Ontario College of Dental Surgeons to establish a new X-ray safety program for dentists. This program began to be implemented in August 1978 and is introduced to each dentist’s office as it is inspected. This is primarily an educational program.
The OMA responded to the request for comments on the report of the steering committee for X-ray program development by submitting an alternative proposal in December 1978 for a study on radiation protection and diagnostic radiation in the province of Ontario. The OMA asked for a research grant of $100,000 per year; the ministry approved $100,000 per year for three years. A letter was sent in March 1979 to Dr. E. J. Moran asking the OMA to sponsor and to supervise the project, and to establish contact with the OHA and hospitals involved. Additional funds for this project were provided by the PSI foundation. It is the ministry’s understanding that staff hiring for this project will commence on June 1, 1979. As requested in the project’s submission, the ministry is committed to provide staff time internally to assist and to co-operate on this project with Drs. Taylor and Johns. We are committed to sustain this program on an ongoing basis until it reaches its full development.
In February 1979 the Ontario Society of Radiological Technologists submitted a letter to the ministry, in fact to me, in which certain recommendations were made regarding training and licensing of technicians. The committee also pledged the full resources of the society to the ministry to establish the safety standards required. I responded in April 1979 advising the society of the development of a joint ministry-OMA program on radiation protection in which I confirmed the need for the active involvement of that society.
It should be clarified at this time that my letter concerns the paper entitled Variations in X-ray Exposure to Patients, which was published in the journal of the Canadian Association of Radiologists of March, 1979.
From details provided in this paper, some of the opposition has concluded that most X-ray machines are hazardous.
Mr. S. Smith: We never said that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No; that’s why I qualified it as, some of the opposition.
The paper states; “Many factors contribute to differences in patient dose and some factors are more significant than others. Of greatest importance is the fluoroscopic exposure rate. In only one case was a high rate due to a machine’s fault.”
The next factor of importance listed in the paper is the fluoroscopic time. The paper stresses that: “It is the responsibility of all operators of X-ray equipment to use the shortest possible fluoroscopic time.” The fluoroscopic procedure is a diagnostic procedure used by radiologists. The time taken for this procedure is directly at the discretion of such medical practitioners. The paper concludes by calling for: “A continuing concern on the part of radiologists and technologists for the dosage which patients receive.”
On May 10 the honourable member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) raised the issue that the radiation received by patients receiving X-rays exceeds 50 rems, which he says is the lifetime radiation standard established by the International Council for Radiation Protection. It should be pointed out there is considerable confusion on the difference between lifetime occupational exposure levels and X-rays used for diagnostic procedures.
Lifetime exposure standards do not refer to patient exposure during medical procedures. As already mentioned, this is at the discretion of the practitioner, as only he can determine what is necessary for his diagnosis. It can be easily recognized that this varies widely from patient to patient, depending upon a wide variety of patient conditions. There are not, however, any international standards for dose levels used for diagnostic purposes. It is acknowledged that radiation in and of itself can be hazardous to health. However, when a clinician prescribes an X-ray, it is expected that the patient will derive medical advantage in that an undiagnosed condition may be identified and treated.
The ministry has already responded to concerns about dosage levels for clinical purposes by funding the OMA study and earlier studies for that matter. We have always made funds available to address issues of safety and we will continue this emphasis. We have also committed ourselves to reviewing these concerns with the professional organizations. and we are prepared to commit additional funds and manpower. The present study and others the ministry is involved with, together with proposals from the potential bodies, will in our estimation provide the residents of Ontario with an assurance that their safety will always be our primary concern.
As I have already stated, the decisions regarding the necessity for radiological procedures are appropriately placed with the medical practitioners. A great deal of discussion has taken place, and it has been inappropriately suggested by some people that patients should refuse their physicians’ directions for X-rays. As the Minister of Health, I would repeat the warning I made in the House last week that no one should refuse an X-ray prescribed by their physician.
Mr. Speaker: We will add five minutes to the question period.
ORAL QUESTIONS (CONTINUED)
RADIATION FROM X-RAYS
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health: The minister seems to downplay the question of the actual X-ray machinery in quoting from the paper by Dr. Taylor, in which he correctly says that in the fluoroscopic danger, which seems to be the greatest one, a machine problem or a machine fault was the cause in only one case. However, Dr. Taylor goes on to speak of many other problems which are machine-related. Dr. Taylor said on As It Happens, on the CBC, that in his view machines should be inspected every three to six months.
Therefore, I ask the minister why it is that while this exchange was going on for the past few years between these various learned societies, his ministry’s inspectors were not inspecting machines sufficiently frequently? Were they in fact inspecting machines in the offices of chiropractors as well as those in the offices of dentists and doctors? Can we see the documents, the inspection reports, and can we find out basically what questions they were asking? Dr. Taylor says they were asking the wrong questions.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, my estimates will be considered at some point in the next few weeks, and I will be very happy to get into some of these related questions at that time. But let me say that one other matter which the staff in the inspection branch have been working on, and which relates to this, is the possibility of developing some kind of self-checking mechanism or checklist. This has been worked on over the last six months. We would anticipate, inasmuch as my staff and the inspection branch will be working directly with the two physicists involved in this study, that perhaps with their assistance that could be further advanced.
One of the suggestions -- and I think it’s very much in line with that which I have just described that my staff have been working on -- one of the suggestions that came from the technologists’ society was that there be a self-inspection or self-checking project. It would seem to make good sense to me that we work in that direction as well as, of course, regular inspections by the ministry’s inspectors. They make the point that these things could he filed regularly with us, and we are working along those lines.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: With great respect, while the ministry was exchanging views between these various societies for three years, a lot of people -- two years; it’s three years that his ministry’s inspection branch has been there -- a lot of people were receiving a lot of radiation they should not have been receiving. They continue today to be receiving a lot of radiation they should not be receiving while a three-year study now is under way.
I ask the minister, will he not now instruct all the owners of X-ray equipment in how they can inspect their machines immediately and for the information of those doctors or others who use those machines, post the information that is pertinent? Will he also make certain that any of the machines that, in order to give a decent picture, require too high a dose of radiation, or have some other defect in them, will be replaced?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think I have just described exactly that process. There is no such set of standards anywhere in the world, to my knowledge or from what I have been advised. It is just that which the staff are working on, to try to come up with something that we can send to every owner or operator that can be a self-checking mechanism, which would assist also in our cooperation with this particular study under way by these two physicists.
I want to go back to the March 1979 paper. As I read that they keep coming back to the fact that it is a question of judgement. It is a question of the three factors that dictate the amount of radiation being used: the kilovoltage, the milliamperage and the exposure time. What they are saying in that paper time and time again -- and I won’t take the time of the House to repeat the statement I read last Thursday or the paper -- is that it is an educative process, in addition to anything else.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that doctors will not often know what degree of radiation that patients have been exposed to through X-rays, and since it is a world-wide standard of medicine that the minimum amount of radiation needed be used in X-ray diagnostic procedures, will the government consider introducing regulations to require that the X-ray radiation dose received by patients be entered into their medical histories, as is done already at such outstanding institutions as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If that suggestion has any potential medical benefit to the patient that will come out of the work which is under way by Dr. Johns and Dr. Taylor.
While I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, may I respond to the point of privilege which I understand the member raised before I arrived today and say that in the statement I made last week I was going on the advice of my director of research. It was his impression, and based on that impression he advised me, that some of the money in the $86,000 grant which we gave for the study entitled New Method of Testing Diagnostic X-ray Machines had in fact been applied to the paper which was released in the March issue of the Journal of the Canadian Association of Radiologists. That is apparently not the case; I apologize for unintentionally misleading the House. There are other papers to come which will make the notation that Ministry of Health funds were applied to them.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: Since Dr. Taylor has suggested that inspections should be made on a three-to-six-month basis for most of this equipment and since present requirements are for five-year inspections, with my understanding that there are items of equipment that have not been looked at in over 20 years, would the ministry now look into ensuring that these three-to-six-month periodic inspections will take place so that it will have a good statistical base upon which to base further studies, knowing the equipment has in fact been reviewed?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all, if the honourable member knows of any piece of equipment which is being used for diagnostic purposes in a clinical setting that has not been seen for 20 years I would appreciate knowing about it.
Mr. S. Smith: It was in the Globe.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Was it in the Globe?
Mr. Breithaupt: Do you not read the paper?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I scan. As we work together with Dr. Johns and Dr. Taylor, if it becomes clear that additional personnel are needed, we have already indicated we are prepared to add personnel.
Let me give an example to illustrate the basic point. Apparently during this earlier study, the team associated with the research went into a hospital and complained about the high levels of radiation being used in certain fluoroscopic surveys. The operator or the technician said: “But the ministry people were just here last week.” They came to us and quite rightly started to raise hell. It turned out that our people had been in and had advised that it would be advisable to use lower levels -- in other words to adjust the exposure, the milliamperage, the kilovoltage and so forth -- but in the judgement of the physician in that particular case he felt it should be higher.
What we are involved in here is a means of showing every operator, and this comes back to the very basic point, that a lot of the assumptions that have existed for years about the levels that are required for good pictures for diagnosis are wrong. Obviously, one does not want to send people back all the time because one got a bad picture the first time. Some of those assumptions are wrong. It is a matter of educating all of these people in the ways which Taylor and Johns are uncovering. They make the point in their paper that they have already uncovered some ways and they anticipate they will find many more to assist all these people in making these decisions.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, it is now 15 years since the Ontario Society of Radiological Technicians began pressing the ministry to have only licensed technicians operating X-ray machines in public hospitals in Ontario. Two years ago, the executive director of the Breast Cancer Advisory Committee testified before Congress in the US that it is outrageous that the beautician who shampoos, cuts and sets our hair must pass difficult qualifying examinations and be licensed, when X-ray technicians are not required to do so.
I would like to ask the minister, in view of the seriousness of the radiation that leads to such things as using these lead aprons when people have X-rays in the dentist’s chair, and which leads to the situation where my doctor told me today that despite a cracked rib, I should not have an X-ray for fear of the radiation, does the minister not at least agree that X-ray technicians operating these machines should be qualified, trained and licensed in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first of all, we do not, through our legislation, govern the activities of technicians in the United States. That kind of testimony, while the concern about the level of ability in any jurisdiction is appropriate, is germane to whatever is current in the United States of America in total, or in any one of the 50 states. Secondly, I am advised that 97 per cent of the operators in the public hospitals of Ontario are members of the society. That is advice I have had from my staff.
In addition, I would like to answer one other point which has recently been raised although not today; I think I should raise it myself. That is the question of the staff who work for the ministry. A year and a half ago, in meetings with the society, we agreed with them that from that point forward no one would be hired to work for the ministry as a technician who was not, in fact, registered with the society. We have asked them to submit to us proposals on bow we might assist those of our staff who are not registered to upgrade themselves.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Taylor’s report indicated clearly exposure rates were set high, either because of a lack of understanding by the users or because of manufacturers competing with each other for the best fluoroscopic image. In other words, Dr. Taylor was suggesting it is the technicians using the machinery and not just radiologists proscribing certain lengths of exposure. What steps is the ministry taking at once in order to instruct the people operating this machinery to ensure they use the machines for the minimum time required to get any kind of an image, so radiation hazards can be reduced to the minimum?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, with respect, the honourable member is just reinforcing my point. it is a matter of judgement. Every one of these machines is under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. As the research to date indicates, it comes down in most cases to this combination of the milliamperage, the kilovoltage and the exposure time. The fact the member’s physician indicated no X-ray for a cracked rib -- and I am sorry to hear he has it -- illustrates perhaps quite different attitudes about cracked ribs. There was a time when he would have been taped for that. I doubt he is taped now. Am I correct? Nobody tapes any more for a cracked rib. The physician is reflecting current knowledge as to whether it is useful or not.
Mr. Breithaupt: With regard to the raising of that point on qualification which I made last week, will the minister ensure the suggestions made by the Ontario Society of Radiological Technicians will be considered, particularly with respect to those locations such as dentists’ offices and chiropractic offices, where the use of X-rays is accepted and where the staff might not be fully required to be qualified technologists but where they are required to have some training and certainly clear standards by which to perform?
Will the minister ensure that this body, the OSRT, will have the opportunity of being involved in the setting of those standards so that we can encourage the safe use of this useful machinery by all of the parties involved?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in my letter of reply in February to the most recent letter that I have seen, I indicated that I felt the society had to be involved in the work that we have begun over the last 18 months with the medical association, and indicated that I was asking a member of my staff to contact them in that regard -- which, if that has not already occurred, will soon occur -- in order that they will in fact be involved.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH CENTRES
Mr. Peterson: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is the minister aware that because of the ministry’s cutbacks the Madame Vanier Children’s Services in London is having to sell one of its facilities and is cutting back five beds minimum, and there is already a waiting list for young people to get into that residential treatment? If he is aware of that, what is he going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am aware that the centre has announced that certain decisions have been made, as described by the honourable member. I would point out that to the best of my knowledge those decisions were made without prior consultation with the staff of my ministry.
I indicated at the time of the announcement of the restrictions in growth in the budgets of certain large children’s mental health services that the staff of the ministry would be working with such services to assist them in developing a long phase-in period in order to achieve the budget objectives that had been established for them.
I don’t believe that those meetings have as yet taken place with all of the services affected. I believe that the decision that has been announced by the Madame Vanier institute has in fact been precipitous and too hasty.
Mr. Peterson: Can I take it then that the minister and his staff are prepared to reconsider the funding they have given to that institution this year so that they perhaps do not have to sell that particular facility? Are they prepared to reconsider and meet with them?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Certainly my staff are prepared to meet with them. I don’t believe at this point in time that a meeting with me is necessary. I'm not suggesting, though, that the budget allocations are going to be changed. I think it is possible they may have misunderstood the period of phase-in.
I also would point out to the member and to them that in fact it was also made clear that those services which were affected were eligible, along with all other children’s service agencies in the province, to prepare and present to us proposals with respect to preventive programs that they could introduce and make application for funding under the $16 million for new initiatives in that area. I do believe that the decision has been too hasty, as I believe it was in Windsor as well.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Now that the eight-month lockout by Inco in Sudbury is over and the strike has begun, is the minister prepared to tell the officials at Inco that the workers in the community have paid a high enough price and that Inco has successfully reduced its stockpiles, which was of course its goal, and that it must now make a decent offer to the workers in Sudbury?
Hon. Ms. Elgie: With the greatest respect to the member, I have never heard the description of the work stoppage as he has outlined it before. However, it’s an interesting interpretation. I must say I am certain that the member shared with the Steelworkers the view that was expressed very clearly in The Miner’s Voice, in which the president of the union and the director of district six of the union expressed firm support for the settlement procedure.
I share the member’s disappointment that there was not a settlement. But to discuss now any bantering with either of the parties, I think, does little for the process. My mediators at the present time are discussing the matter with each of the parties to see what their wishes are on this issue.
WINDSOR CHILDREN’S CENTEE
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to present the following petition to the Legislature today. It reads as follows:
“We the undersigned protest the closing of the 12-bed residence for emotionally disturbed children at the regional children’s centre at Windsor Western Hospital. This centre is the only one of its kind in this area and many children are on the waiting list. Why shut the doors on children? They are the adults of tomorrow, and this is the Year of the Child.”
This petition was circulated, when it was thought the 12-bed unit was going to be closed, by Linda Bryce of 1541 Albert Road in my riding. She collected 1,000 signatures. I think it demonstrates the very strong feelings of the people in Windsor about this centre and the strong support for it. While the situation has been resolved on the short-term basis, the long-term problem still exists.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
PESTICIDES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Parrott moved first reading of Bill 86, An Act to amend the Pesticides Act, 1973.
Motion agreed to.
COUNTY OF NORTHUMBERLAND ACT
Mr. Rowe moved first reading of Bill Pr7, An Act respecting the County of Northumberland.
Motion agreed to.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 169 and 170 standing on the Notice Paper. (See appendix, page 1921.)
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF NORTHERN AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On vote 701:
Mr. Chairman: I believe the honourable member for Nipissing was in full flight.
Mr. Bolan: I don’t know whether I was in full flight or not, but in any event we were asking some very serious questions of the minister. He has had over two weeks now to respond to them and we’re awaiting with great anticipation the responses he will give.
I don’t have much to add to what I said. I just want to go on a little while about the Ontario Northland Railway. There are some very nasty things going on with that railway --
Mr. Bolan: Well, if the minister is considering selling it, if he considers that a big thing, yes, I suppose.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I’m considering it.
Mr. Bolan: As the minister knows, there have been very serious comments --
Mr. Ruston: He’s not listening now.
Mr. Bolan: -- made with respect to the Ontario Northland Railway. When it was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, we didn’t have those problems. The minister ran a good railway. I suggest you might want to start by giving it back to that minister. At least he seems to have known what he was doing.
Ever since the railway has been under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, there has been one controversy after another, mostly stirred up, of course, by some of the commissioners, one of whom was recently appointed for another one-year term.
Mr. Nixon: Again?
Mr. Bolan: They put Mr. Piche back in for another year. At least they had the good sense to make it only one year and not two this time. I hope that will be the end of Mr. Piche after June 1980. He has been appointed for another year, is that right?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, it is. A great member.
Mr. Nixon: Do they still have their meetings at Moonbeam?
Mr. Bolan: Dealing with the Ontario Northland Railway, as I indicated in the House some two weeks ago, I had some information -- which was not denied -- that Bell Canada was trying to grab the telecommunications system. I’d like to have some confirmation in our deliberations today, or whenever we get around to it, because if anything this symbolizes the advance the ONR has made over the past years. It certainly is a step into the future and it certainly is something I feel is not worthy of selling off.
I also understand that Via Rail is interested in the rail passenger service. Does the government intend to get rid of that particular branch?
The minister has sold the lodge in Moosonee. He has also tried to get rid of the boat on Lake Nipissing without success, because of the political pressure that was brought to bear by the North Bay Chamber of Commerce, as well as by other agencies. He backed off on that. I want to know about the plans for the boat on Lake Nipissing and any other boats that belong to the ONR.
I’d like to find out the plans with respect to the bus line which is operated by the ONR. I understand it is up for the highest bidder as well.
Mr. Wildman: They’re cutting the service.
Mr. Bolan: In other words, the people of northeastern Ontario are very much concerned with what is being done with the ONR.
Mr. Wildman: I don’t think he knows.
Mr. Bolan: I can assure the minister there is considerable unrest, not only in my area, but in all the areas which are affected by the Ontario Northland Railway.
Mr. Nixon: I bet they’re keeping a private car.
Mr. Bolan: It would appear to me that the ONR we’ll end up with will be a highly subsidized executive air transportation system called norOntair, and that’s going to be about the size of it. I would hope the minister will be able to tell this House and the people of northern Ontario that the answers to many of the questions I have raised with respect to the disposition of the assets of the ONE are going to be known.
I have no further comments to make as far as an opening statement is concerned. However, we will get to other matters during the course of the next 10 hours.
Mr. Chairman: The member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Nixon: The member for Nickel Belt is trying to sound like a whole crowd.
Mr. Wildman: First I’d like to apologize for not having been present for the minister’s leadoff.
Mr. Nixon: Does he provide you with a plane so that you can go back and forth?
Mr. Wildman: As the minister may be aware, when these on-again, off-again estimates were started I was up to my waist in water with a number of other people in the village of Iron Bridge and we were kind of busy trying to bail the minister out in that area.
I’d like to talk about a number of things in this debate on the estimates. I have had some difficulty putting them into a real semblance of order, since the ministry tends to be going off in all directions at once. However, there are a number of things I want to bring to the attention of the House and I hope the minister can respond to them.
During the week when the estimates began, I also attended a number of meetings -- one in Searchmont and one in Batchawana -- with regard to the proposed local services boards legislation, and I will be talking in detail about that later on.
I noticed in the minister’s leadoff that he stated this is the third time we have debated the estimates of this ministry and how proud he is of its progress. I participated in all three of those debates and, frankly, this is the first time I have led off for our party in these estimates as the critic. As a northerner who perhaps has the least experience of northerners in our caucus, I am proud that my leader has asked me to represent our party in this debate. It is an important portfolio assignment, since our party places a great deal of importance on the need for planned rational development in the north.
Before I go on any further, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the newly appointed deputy minister, Mr. Herridge, of this ministry. We all know of his work in the Ministry of Natural Resources, and those of us in the north who have had dealings with that ministry and with Mr. Herridge know the kind of work he does. I am sure we are all looking forward to the contribution he can make to these estimates and to the development of this ministry, and I congratulate him on his appointment.
The minister mentioned in his leadoff statement the value of having government functions in the north co-ordinated by a single ministry. There is no question that we accept and support that view. However, the real questions arise when it comes to the crunch; that is, what does the ministry do in facing particular problems and dealing with particular issues of northern development and in responding to the needs of northerners?
The minister, I will admit, does state in his leadoff statement that he has not solved all the problems and deficiencies in northern Ontario yet. We certainly agree with him on that point. But what I am talking about in terms of the crunch is, what does this ministry do in terms of co-ordination? I will use the last two or three weeks as an example, where we have faced serious flood problems throughout the northeast and new, as the minister probably is aware, it seems to be spreading to the northwest, with a serious flood in White River over the weekend, with water in the White River flowing into the town and flooding many homes. A number of homes and apartments have been evacuated, a number of businesses have closed, the Hudson’s Bay Company store has merchandise floating all over the place, the liquor store has closed -- which is a major catastrophe -- and a number of other businesses have been affected. I just wonder what this ministry has been doing in facing this problem and in co-ordinating the government’s response to it.
When I asked the question of the minister about one of these floods, the flood in the Searchmont and Goulais River area, he referred me to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld), who has been designated over the years as the lead minister in dealing with flood emergencies. So that really has not changed even with the development of this new ministry for the north.
Yet during the debate on the establishment of the ministry in July 1977, the minister stated that one of the main co-ordinating functions of this new Ministry of Northern Affairs would be “developing and implementing contingency plans in natural disasters.” I tell the minister that this ministry just has been completely absent in relation to the floods in the past two or three weeks.
I would refer to that debate, as reported at page 470 of Hansard for July 6, 1977, where the minister says that one new section of the bill establishing his ministry “is designed to provide the government with a reasonable amount of flexibility in responding to emergencies in the north, such as natural disasters and fires which threaten the lives and property of residents. The wisdom of giving the new ministry this capability to respond swiftly and effectively in such emergencies was demonstrated rather dramatically at the time of the disastrous fire which destroyed 152 homes in the town of Cobalt and left 450 persons homeless.”
There is no question that the ministry was involved, and very actively involved, in responding to the problems people faced in Cobalt at the time of that very serious fire. Not only the government, but also many other municipalities, individuals and organizations across the north contributed to the rehabilitation of Cobalt to help people get going and so on after the fire, and to get them on their feet again. What will happen with the flood situation? This ministry has not been involved. When I ask the minister, he refers me to the Minister of Natural Resources. Let’s look at what happened with the Ministry of Natural Resources in terms of the flooding in my area.
There certainly is no question that Natural Resources is responsible for monitoring rivers and lakes throughout the province, but my experience in the situations in Iron Bridge, Searchmont and Goulais River indicated there really was a need for co-ordination, real coordination, in facing these kinds of emergencies for small communities in the north.
The Ministry of Natural Resources officials worked very hard, I’ll admit, and I’ve had many consultations with them over the few weeks we’ve been facing this very serious problem in my area. They’ve worked overtime. They’ve worked long hours in monitoring water levels and so on, but when the situation first developed, Natural Resources appeared not to have any special plans for dealing with the emergencies.
They didn’t seem to have plans to deal with such simple things as sandbagging or evacuation. The plans seemed to be absent. As a matter of fact, the Searchmont volunteer fire brigade, and I want to pay special tribute to them, did most of the work in terms of evacuation, pumping basements and so on in that emergency in that community, with the assistance of the Sault Search and Rescue rather than ministry officials. Certainly the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ontario Provincial Police were all involved, but it was the local community people themselves who really got on the ball and got things going.
In terms of Iron Bridge, one of the residents, a business man, requested some sandbags because water had already flooded a number of cabins he owned and was threatening his home. I first phoned MTC to request sandbags. They referred me to the Ministry of Natural Resources, so I phoned the Ministry of Natural Resources. In the meantime, the reeve of the village of Iron Bridge also contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and requested sandbags. Two hours after my initial phone call, the bags were delivered to the individual who had requested them.
In the two hours that had elapsed, the water had risen substantially. The individual’s place was surrounded by water and he got a number of empty sandbags delivered to him. I don’t know how many of you realize what it was like in Iron Bridge, but it was rather difficult to get sand in the middle of a flood situation to fill up these bags two hours after they had been first requested. The individual, when I was talking to him afterward, indicated to me he hadn’t used the sandbags because he didn’t think they were particularly useful if he had to fill them with water, and that’s all he had. He had lots of that.
In an area just east of Iron Bridge, in the unorganized township of Cobden, a community known as the Eastman subdivision was flooded. Thompson township and the rest of Cobden township avoided most of the flooding because highway 17 in most places acted as a sort of a dike against the overflowing waters of the Mississagi River.
Just across in the Eastman subdivision, there was a culvert underneath the highway which is designed to empty a ditch into the river. Of course, it backed up and the ditch overflowed and the subdivision was flooded. When I visited the Eastman subdivision during the flood on a Saturday evening, I was met by a young man who works for the Ministry of Natural Resources. He was sitting there in a truck and he was monitoring the water levels. He had a stake and he was measuring how high the water was rising, at what rate it was rising and so on. It wasn’t until two days later the ministry decided it might be a good idea to sandbag that culvert and prevent more water from coming in.
I really wonder what kind of contingency plan the Ministry of Natural Resources had. If it is the lead ministry, I really wonder. With respect to this ministry, I just didn’t see any evidence of Northern Affairs being involved in any kind of co-ordination or having developed any kind of contingency plan to deal with these situations.
Mr. Laughren: The minister of red tape.
Mr. Wildman: The Ministry of Natural Resources officials reacted and worked very hard, but they didn’t seem to know the procedure for requesting provincial aid for the property owners who had sustained damage, or whom to ask for. This was especially true in the unorganized communities. A number of those communities organized committees on their own to try to get things going, to organize donations and collect moneys and so on, but until much later no one advised them that they should be contacting the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. Only alter I had a number of phone calls did they get involved.
I appreciate the commitment made by the government last week for assistance to those communities, as well as to Field and northeastern Ontario. Four to one is a much more adequate response, and I congratulate the government for making that response. My only problem is that the people in the field, that is, in Natural Resources, didn’t seem to know -- and I am not blaming them since we don’t have these kinds of situations every day, thank God -- who had the right to make the decision and who was supposed to be doing it. It was only after they did a lot of phone calling and research and after I and the local people did that we got the situation in hand.
Mr. Trewin and his assistant, Mr. Dupas, from the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs got involved. I must congratulate those two individuals who have shown a genuine interest in trying to assist the communities in the area. But where was this ministry? I just don’t know what role it had and what role the minister had in the decision that was made, first, to assist Field and then to extend that assistance to other northeastern Ontario communities.
I wonder what role the minister will have in determining whether or not assistance should he extended to other communities in the North Bay area or, for that matter, to communities in the northwest that are now experiencing flooding, such as White River, as I mentioned.
Mr. Laughren: He organizes the red tape.
Mr. Wildman: During the 1977 debate that I referred to, the minister stated that the establishment of this ministry indicated a renewed commitment to overcome the obstacles faced by northerners in dealing with government. I just haven’t seen evidence of that in this situation. The minister indicated the establishment of the ministry would mean more easy access for northerners to government and to assistance from various ministries. Frankly, by watching this ministry as I have and being quite involved in my own area with some programs, as the minister knows, I wonder sometimes whether or not the ministry has the capability to fulfil the aims that were proposed in that debate in 1977.
I will give one example of this. A few months ago, the ministry made a great to-do about the publication of a directory that was going to list all of the communities in northern Ontario. It’s a three-volume directory. I am sure the minister is familiar with it. One volume is on organized communities, another volume is about unorganized communities and I think the third one deals with Indian communities in the north. This directory was very nicely bound with a soft-cover binding. It came in a package of cellophane with an accompanying letter asking for comments.
I would like to refer to some comments that were made about this directory and what they may indicate about the ministry’s capability. In the Sault Star of Thursday, January 25, there was a front page headline:
“You Can Get Lost Reading Northern Affairs Guide.” It starts off by asking, “What weighs four and a half pounds, is 1951 pages long, comes in three volumes and is a crock full of information, much of it wrong?”
Mr. Foulds: That was from an official ministry press release.
Mr. Wildman: And then it goes on and says, “It is the Directory 1978, a guide to communities in the north brought to you by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Affairs.”
It tells you, for instance, that White River is 320 kilometres west of Sault Ste. Marie, which would put it in Michigan, somewhere near Wisconsin. It then says that to get from Garden River to the neighbouring city of Sault Ste. Marie, you take highway 11, which would lengthen the 10-minute drive by three or four days.
It puts Aweres township, a small, unorganized area north of Sault Ste. Marie, in volume one with the part for incorporated townships. It should be in volume three because it is not incorporated. Perhaps that is why it says information is not available on Aweres, under the heading of “Local Administration.”
The folks at Great Lakes Power Corporation will be happy to know -- at least according to the directory -- Ontario Hydro, and not they, supply electricity to the Sault. Most surrounding communities are supplied by Great Lakes Power, but Hilton township gets its electricity from a company called Great Lakes Power and Paper. It goes on and lists a number of radio stations that no longer exist and so on.
Then it says, “For you 2,000 or so people in the Goulais Bay-Goulais River area, you will be happy to know that you don’t exist at all,” according to the directory anyway. Most of the two or three dozen townships surrounding Aweres are not listed. But the directory dedicates whole pages to places like Casummit Lake, stating only the location and the fact that no one lives there.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You don’t know where Casummit Lake is.
Mr. Wildman: Well, no one lives there.
It is interesting to hear the explanation given by Peter Jackman, who is the ministry director of information services. When asked by the Sault Star about this lovely directory he said it cost $18,000 to produce and it was put together by information supplied by ministry officers.
Then he says the ministry ordered 1,500 copies of the three-volume set and distributed them to MPPs, Northern Affairs officers, municipal clerks, other ministries and news editors. It is on sale in the government bookstore in Toronto for $10 a set.
When told of some of the obvious errors, Mr. Jackman said he was surprised they were so numerous. But then, get this, he says, “But that is the purpose of the exercise. The aim is to produce by next fall one concise volume with all of the right information.”
I would like to refer to an editorial that followed this article in the Sault Star. This is from Friday, January 26, and was entitled,
“A Waste of $18,000?” It says: “On occasion there has been some question as to the value of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. One of the latest projects in this ministry, Directory 1978, can only inspire more questions. The cost of the project was $18,000” --
Mr. Laughren: The same amount as the monsters salary.
Mr. Wildman: -- “yet the directory contains numerous inaccuracies and errors that can only have northerners wondering just where this Ontario ministry gathered its information.
“Peter Jackman, ministry director of information services, said the purpose of circulating 1,500 copies of the directory, with all its errors, was to use the feedback to compile a concise, corrected directory next fall. Mr. Jackman must be kidding. The fact is that for a small cost the communities concerned could have been sent a single sheet containing the material on their communities and be asked to return the sheet with corrections. That wouldn’t cost anywhere near $18,000 and would not have left 1,500 three-volume sets sitting around all over the place, with all sorts of silly and erroneous information.
“If this is the best the Ministry of Northern Affairs can do for the north, it appears that some of the criticism about its limited value to northern Ontario is fully justified.”
That is from a newspaper which has not made a crusade against the ministry and has not indicated that it generally looks askance at the activities of the ministry. When one considers the kind of explanation given for this obvious error in judgement by whoever was in charge, whether it was Mr. Jackman or someone else, one wonders how this ministry justifies that kind of expenditure.
Frankly, this is the reason for some of the scepticism that many northerners have about the ministry. I will refer to an example of this kind of thing. In February, I received a letter from a lady in Blind River in which she asked if I could give her some information about the activities of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I will read a portion of the letter:
“Having tried to keep an eye on that spanking new NA baby that was going to do great things for the north and her people since its conception, its first labour pains and its birth in 1977, and its subsequent stunted growth, if not actual deformity (that is, judging from information available on the local level via media, et cetera), I am being forced to conclude that where we northerners at least are concerned it might have been better had that particular government baby aborted.”
Mr. T. P. Reid: Pretty strong words.
Mr. Wildman: This is from a 75-year-old lady, I might add.
“Needless to say, you will note from the above paragraph my feeling of frustration over the inability to learn what NA has accomplished, if anything, beneficial for the North Shore. Or could one consider the ability to pass the buck from one ministry to another at an increasingly dizzy rate of speed an accomplishment?
“Do we have 29 Northern Affairs officers spread over the wide territory, or do we not? I am beginning to wonder if they aren’t another form of placebo -- soother, if you like -- to make the public feel good. Certainly they,” the officers, “haven’t one iota of authority. Therefore, one can only assume their office was created as an intermediary seeker of governmental information as and when requested by John and Mary Public.
“Actually, despite their nice salaries, I feel sorry for the men and women employed in the capacity of Northern Affairs officers, as they carry no weight other than a data gatherer which they then parrot; that is, utter in accordance with their job regulations. Poor souls.” I will admit that is a rather extreme letter from a lady who has experienced some frustration in dealing with government and trying to get responses from government. But I must also admit that she makes a point. What authority do the Ministry of Northern Affairs officers have? Most of them work very hard in dealing with people’s problems with government, whether it be provincial ministries or federal departments and so on. But in terms of actually getting across to their superiors the overall, wider needs of the community, rather than the particular needs of individuals who have problems, I wonder what their authority is.
One of the reasons we have differences about this ministry is that our two parties have very different concepts of what the ministry should be doing. We do not want to have a ministry that puts out a lot of press releases about what other ministries are doing, and really doesn’t do a lot of substantial encouragement of rational, planned, northern development.
I looked at the information that was given to us beforehand and frankly I was impressed with the accomplishments listed in relation to Atikokan. But, what does that all mean in terms of the overall future economic stability of that community and how is that related to the economic development of that area and of northwestern Ontario in general? It seems to me that the problems we have experienced with a boom-bust cycle must be solved if we are to have any kind of stability in the north. I wonder what is being done in Elliot Lake. Unlike some other communities, Elliot Lake is booming; there’s no concern at this point about the kinds of problems that Elliot Lake faced a few years ago. It is expanding at a tremendous rate.
Mr. Williams: Thanks to the uranium contract.
Mr. Laughren: The biggest giveaway in Canadian history.
Mr. Wildman: That’s certainly true, but I wonder what this government and this ministry are doing to try to assist the community in its very rapid expansion and all of the problems that result from that.
As the minister, I hope, is aware, the interim report of the environmental assessment hoard came out and it listed a number of problems. I will just quote a few of them here that are reported in the press. It refers to Elliot Lake’s housing crisis and it states that this is sure to create soaring taxes and may cause unexpected social disruptions. It says the hospital in the town will soon be too small to service the town. There won’t be enough permanent classrooms. Even the town’s garbage dump is too small.
Elliot Lake will face almost $2 million in interest charges on rising municipal debts until 1986, because of the extra services they will have to build to meet the population boom. There’s housing in the town but most of it is being developed for the mining companies’ employees and it’s almost impossible for people in other sectors of the economy, the service sector especially, to get housing in the area. The interim report warns that Elliot Lake’s proposed water supply system from the lake previously contaminated with radiation -- what is the minister doing about that? -- could be poisoned again unless special protection and an emergency supply system are developed.
It also says that early estimates of population growth by mining companies were exaggerated to exert pressure on the town and the provincial government to speed up development proposals. Some problems may be controllable but subsidies from the provincial government and major mining companies will be needed.
The final environmental assessment report is expected in June and it will deal, of course, with the radiation problem from the radioactive mine wastes that have been dumped into the lakes and millions of tons of new waste that are expected from those contracts that have been referred to.
We have a serious problem, serious even if we don’t refer to the problems of industrial health and safety mining safety and the problems of industrial disease that have occurred in Elliot Lake. Let’s just look at the community itself. I would really like to hear what this government is doing to deal with the problem of an emergency water supply system and the tremendous needs of expanded hard services for that town.
One of the difficulties we have had to face for years is that Tories never seem to understand that a booming economy of a resource based town, such as Elliot Lake, is as economically unstable as a busting town. Surely the history of Elliot Lake should have shown that to this government. I’d like to know what the role of this ministry is in the planning for communities like Elliot Lake and how that planning for that particular community is related to the area around it. Obviously, the expansion of Elliot Lake has a tremendous effect on the North Shore and the communities on the North Shore.
Blind River, for instance, has been trying to get the Granary Lake Road built for years. I have raised this in every Ministry of Transportation and Communications estimate and every Northern Affairs estimate since 1975, so much so that the Minister of Transportation and Communications came into Blind River two days prior to the June 8 election in 1977 and said he was going to review the whole problem of the need for a shorter route between Blind River and Elliot Lake that would ease the housing problems in Elliot Lake and make a shorter commuting route to the mining community for those who live in Blind River. But after June 8, 1977, we never heard anything more about that from the minister except when I raised it with him.
I’ve raised it with this minister. I’ve written letters to him. The community has written letters to him. The chambers of commerce of both Elliot Lake and Blind River have written to the minister.
Mr. Ruston: It’s like the Brampton charter. Mr. Wildman: And we get lots of very nice replies saying, “We’ll take that into account. We’ll consider your views: but that seems to be as far as it goes.
For that matter, what is being done by this ministry to help Blind River in its planning in relation to what is happening in Elliot Lake, in relation to the proposed developments on the North Shore?
I recently attended a Porter commission hearing in Blind River where the mayor of Blind River appeared before the commission and said he didn’t think their community was getting enough assistance, especially from Ontario Hydro, in planning for the kind of expansion that is already starting to take place in Blind River as a result of what is happening in Elliot Lake. And they certainly aren’t getting any help from the mining companies in Elliot Lake. They won’t even look at the North Shore communities. I’d like to know what’s happening there.
I realize that the mayor, Mayor Gallagher, met with the minister back in late January.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We didn’t see the local member there either.
Mr. Wildman: That’s right. The minister knows the background of that. I was quite willing to go and the minister was quite willing to have me, I’m sure he was -- I hope.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That speaks well for the local member.
Mr. Wildman: But I was talking to the mayor a couple of weeks ago and I asked him if he had received a response from the ministry on the need to upgrade the town sewer system to make it possible to have the expansion that is anticipated in Blind River.
There was an article published in the local weekly newspaper on the North Shore after that meeting, with a nice picture, in which the headline was, “Bernier Pledges Support to Town.” It talked about the town’s plans for sewer upgrading and how important it was for the expansion. This, by the way, was supported by the Ministry of Housing which has put out an interim report on the development of Blind River and the need for the improvement of the sewer system there to make it possible. In this article, to quote, “Mr. Bernier told the delegation that he would ask his staff to review the proposal with all the government agencies concerned to explore financial assistance.”
The minister knows that in the past the Ministry of the Environment has denied assistance to Blind River for upgrading its sewer systems to allow for expansion.
Two weeks ago I spoke to the mayor and he said that as yet he hadn’t received any kind of firm response from the minister. I understand that the mayor spoke to the minister at the FONOM conference -- the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities conference -- and the minister indicated he hoped to have a response for him in a week or two. I’d like the minister to tell us here what his ministry is going to do, specifically for Blind River in relation to this particular problem and, in general, for Blind River and the other North Shore communities that are expanding and feeling the pressures as a spinoff of the development in Elliot Lake.
It’s of utmost importance that the minister make clear that his ministry is able, if it has the power -- and here’s a great chance to show that it does -- to co-ordinate what the various ministries are doing for the development of the North Shore and make that kind of commitment for co-ordinated development, which he has indicated is the major purpose of his ministry.
One of the problems we as northern members face -- certainly on this side of the House anyway, as we see it -- is, as my colleague from Nickel Belt has said, that this government never seems to direct development in the north. All it seems to do is direct development grants to the north. I’d like to know what the ministry is doing to involve the North Shore communities themselves and their municipal officials in a coordinated planning exercise for that whole area.
For that matter, I’d like to know the status of the proposed North Shore economic development committee. I attended a meeting in January in Blind River with a member of the ministry, along with members of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and municipal officials from the North Shore, to discuss the development of such an economic development committee and what kind of grant or assistance might be available from the provincial government. I would like to know what is happening with that. Also, it would be interesting if the minister could indicate what progress the Manitoulin committee, which has received funding, is making in its efforts for the development of Manitoulin Island.
In talking about the problems of a community like Elliot Lake and the spinoff for other communities, I think it would be even more important this afternoon if the minister could explain to us what really is the role of this ministry in the so-called cabinet committee on the economic future of mining communities, which was announced by the Premier (Mr. Davis) in November 1977.
Mr. Bolan: It’s a joke.
Mr. T. P. Reid: He had to say something then.
Mr. Bolan: That’s a smokescreen.
Mr. Wildman: The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) raised this question.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The member for Rainy River raised it two weeks before that.
Mr. Bolan: Where were you?
Mr. Wildman: I was up sloshing around in water.
He raised that with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), I believe. The Treasurer was the Minister of Natural Resources at the time this committee was supposedly set up. The Minister of Natural Resources was supposed to be the chairman of the committee and I believe the then Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs was supposed to be the secretary of the committee. I would hope Art Herridge knows more about this committee and its activities than the Treasurer indicated he knew. He didn’t even know who the chairman was. He went rushing over to talk to the present Minister of Natural Resources to ask him if he knew anything about this committee.
Mr. T. P. Reid: And he didn’t.
Mr. Wildman: He didn’t. He was unaware of it.
Mr. Bolan: He’s the minister of falls.
Mr. Wildman: That was one of the worst examples of stumbling around looking for answers I have ever seen in this House. Obviously, if this committee has met -- and the Treasurer indicated that it had met and had dealt with a number of particular communities -- it is now moribund. It has done nothing. If it has done anything in terms of a general policy for development in mining communities and for assistance to those communities, I’d like to know about it. I hope the minister, whose deputy is supposed to be the secretary of the committee, can indicate.
As a matter of fact, as far as I can see, this minister is the only minister of all the ministers who were appointed to that committee who still has the same portfolio. That’s an example of how fast we shift portfolios around in this government because we have such a difficult time finding the personnel to carry on the job.
Mr. Bolan: Wait until he’s Minister of Energy. How would you like Energy?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No thanks.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s a shift in responsibility too.
Mr. Wildman: We need overall planning to bring stable economic development to the various regions of the north. It must be integrated into an overall economic plan designed to utilize the wealth generated in the north by our resources to diversify the economy and provide jobs. If we can do this and provide stable economic growth with the jobs that will produce, then we will be able to provide the kinds of services I have been talking about that we need.
If we use Ontario’s wealth and look at how it is used now, the direction in which it is used and what is done with our wealth it is right now directed by multinationals. We all know the main purpose multinationals have is to maximize profits. Quite often, as we have seen -- certainly in the example of Sudbury, and the member for Nickel Belt can testify to this much better than I -- the maximization of profits in many cases works against the diversification of the economy in northern Ontario and against the development of the jobs that we need. I would like to know what this government and what this ministry are doing to deal with that situation. I don’t really see it doing very much.
If we are going to have the kind of employment we need and stop the out-migration of population we have in northern Ontario then we have got to develop secondary manufacturing. Without that kind of stimulus we are not going to be able to turn our large communities, even places like Sudbury, into much more than mining camps.
A year or two ago I was at a meeting in Timmins. We think of Timmins as a community of about 50,000 people, a long-established community. We met with a number of miners there to discuss problems. There was an elderly man close to retirement and he kept referring to Timmins as a camp. He would say: “We do this in this camp and the mayor of this camp does that,” and so on. When you really think about it, he was right. Communities like that are camps. Once the resource has run out, everybody is going to have to pull up stakes and leave, unless we develop something in the interim that is going to maintain the community as an economically viable unit.
Mr. Bolan: That’s the colonial syndrome.
Mr. Wildman: Yes. Right now it is more profitable to extract and export our raw materials for the private corporation than it is to fabricate them into products in the north. It has been that way ever since we started development in northern Ontario and it is still that way. The only large exception we have in Ontario is the steel industry and that is the exception.
Investment in Ontario is put into mining and the concentrating of ores and into the harvesting and pulping of timber. The private exploitation of our natural resources means that our human resources are not fully developed and not fully employed and as a result we have unemployment and out-migration.
We import our extractive machinery. The member for Sudbury East has been trying for years to persuade this government that it makes sense to develop a mining machinery industry in northern Ontario. We are one of the largest mining countries in the world, and yet we import most of our mining machinery. I would like to know what this ministry has done in looking at that problem and in frying to encourage that kind of development in northern Ontario.
If we don’t have it, we are going to continue to have one industry towns in the north where survival depends on the vagaries of international competition. That has been shown in Sudbury so many times that you can understand the frustration of those workers that led to the rejection of that contract proposal.
The other problem we have, and I referred to this when I was dealing with Elliot Lake, is that often the developments in northern Ontario, these kinds of mining developments especially, but also pulp and paper developments, produce massive pollution. For some reason this government has decided that when extraction produces profit that profit will go to the private companies, but when extraction produces pollution the cost of cleaning up that pollution goes to the public sector.
I wonder what this ministry is doing to try to deal with situations such as we have throughout the north in terms of dealing with our pollution problems. Our economy is cyclical, it has remained cyclical, and apparently nothing is going to be done about it. This ministry doesn’t seem to be doing very much about it.
In dealing with the problems we have in the economy in northern Ontario I’d like to refer to a paper prepared by the director of long-range planning in the regional municipality of Sudbury and presented to our caucus when we held a mini-caucus in Sudbury in February. It refers to the cyclical economy of the Sudbury area but I think it really relates to all of northern Ontario. He, at one point, tries to determine whether or not you should describe the cyclical economy as a yo-yo or a roller-coaster. He comes to the conclusion, a roller-coaster is perhaps more accurate, since a yo-yo is expected to come back up, but a roller-coaster does not necessarily climb the next hill if the ride has ended and the price for a new trip has to be paid. That’s really where we’re at in northern Ontario.
If we look at the record of this government in the past number of years in trying to deal with this problem, it doesn’t give us much encouragement. We’ve got little diversification in the economy. We’re still mining- and forestry-based and subject to the economic swings in those sectors.
The jobs creation carried on by the government has been spotty and we continue to lag behind the rest of the province in terms of occupational choices. Of course, as I mentioned, this leads to the outflow of our young people who are seeking jobs.
I’d go on with this, but I probably know the minister’s response. He’s going to call me doom and gloom, which seems to be a line which is used whenever someone talks about the realities in northern Ontario. Before I go on with it, I can only say to the minister, if he wants to bring up doom and gloom, I’m going to refer to a letter I received from him about Missanabie. It is the first time I ever heard a realistic assessment of the future of a community that is threatened, from this minister. I didn’t stoop to calling him gloom and doom. I would like to hear at some point what’s going to be done about Missanabie.
The northern Ontario economy is declining relative to that of the province and the country as a whole. If the present trends continue, it will become an absolute decline. Between 1961 and 1971, Canada’s population grew by 18.3 per cent. Ontario’s population grew by 23.5 per cent. Northern Ontario’s population grew by 7.5 per cent, about one third those of the province and the country as a whole. Between 1971 and 1976, Canada’s population grew by 6.6 per cent, Ontario’s population by 7.3 per cent, and northern Ontario’s population by one per cent, about one seventh of the province and the country as a whole.
In 1966, 27,000 workers were employed to produce 42 million tons of ore in northern Ontario mines. In 1973, only seven years later, 24,000 workers were employed in producing 60 million tons of ore for those same mines. This, of course, relates to the capital intensive nature of mining but it also indicates the number of job opportunities is dwindling in the north.
Between 1967 and 1978, in forestry, the sawmill worker’s output per mill doubled. Output per logger rose by over 50 per cent. This is a very interesting point dealing with the female participation rate: In 1971, the percentage of females 15 years of age and over who were in the labour force stood at 44.3 per cent in Ontario. For northeastern Ontario, it was only 35.6 per cent, which is a direct reflection of the lack of job opportunities for females in the north.
Between 1961 and 1971, immigrants contributed 24 per cent of the growth of Ontario’s population. Only in northern Ontario, of live Ontario planning regions, was the net contribution of immigrants negative. Nineteen thousand more foreign-born persons left the region over this 10-year period than entered it.
If that is gloom and doom, then I am afraid I am gloomy, because those are not statistics I made up; they deal with the job opportunities and the realities in northern Ontario. The minister says in his opening statement that he is struggling with the problems of the north. Well there are some problems he should be struggling with, and I wonder what is being done.
With the exploitation by private industry of our natural resources, we have not succeeded in creating long-term development and, frankly, there is little evidence we ever will. It is too easy for a large resource corporation to do as it pleases and to invest elsewhere. We continue to be dependent on them, and they continue to export. My impression of the minister is that he is in favour of that kind of export. Concessions have been made in the past to companies that wish to continue exporting, and I just do not think this minister is committed to any alternative route.
This party is determined, if we become the government, to build an increasingly self-reliant economy so that we do not face this kind of situation. I would like to see the minister get up some time and say that he is in favour of us controlling and developing our own natural resources in the way that they have done in Saskatchewan. Otherwise, we are going to continue to face the problems that I have listed.
We have to recover from our resource taxation adequate capital to expand the economic infrastructure and to stimulate diversification; only that can give long-term economic stability to our communities. That is why, during the debate on the bill creating the ministry, we suggested the establishment of a Tomorrow Fund for northern Ontario. If we can use the income that should be derived from our resource sector for the development of an expanding manufacturing sector in the north, then we will have a bright future to look forward to. But once the resource is depleted, there is nothing, as things stand now, to prevent single-industry towns from collapsing; absolutely nothing.
If one looks at the record of the ministers of this government, they seem to accept that. Certainly the former Treasurer accepted it. As we all know, during the 1977 election campaign, he went to Sudbury and said that, as far as he was concerned, we could not expect secondary manufacturing in northern Ontario for 20 years; at one point he even said within his lifetime. I do not know whether he felt his lifetime was equivalent to 20 years but, at any rate, his lifetime in this government was not particularly long after he said it. If that is the attitude of the government, then we have nothing to hope for.
I really hope that the minister in his reply will get up and say that he is repentant, that he has changed his views and that he is going to use all of his power to try to develop the resources for northerners and for the whole province.
I do not like to be gloomy. I do not like to speak of gloom and doom, as he says. I am very optimistic that we can persuade the minister to change his position. I would like to see the minister get up and say that he really means it when he talks about the need for expansion and exploration development of new mines in the north. I would like him to say that he is willing to set up a crown corporation to carry out that exploration.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Don’t hold your breath.
Mr. Laughren: John White promised it in 1975.
Mr. Wildman: Yes; and when the bill was introduced in July 1977, the minister said he was going to embark on a three-year program of mineral exploration and development that would produce stability and source of supply for the mining industry. I would like to know what is happening with that three-year program. We are getting close to the end of the three years, and I hope the minister will give us some report on what is happening with it. I hope he is not referring to the Northern Affairs geological survey program which deals, as far as I know, simply with aggregates. If that is what he is talking about, that is hardly the kind of exploration and development for new mines that we hope for. It is completely inadequate.
We need more primary development. We would like to know what you are doing with the Ministry of Natural Resources to try to encourage this. We need to force the companies, if we have to, to use their profits to diversify the economy of the north, and I just haven’t heard the minister talking about these kinds of things.
For that matter, I fail to see how this really can be the main ministry charged with developing the economy of the north when it doesn’t even control the Northern Ontario Development Corporation. For some strange reason NODC still is under the aegis of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism. Not that I think that NODC’s record is particularly effective; certainly on the North Shore it hasn’t been in terms of industrial development. It has had some success in the tourist sector.
Mr. Bolan: They have a good bankruptcy record.
Mr. Wildman: Yes, they have quite a bankruptcy record. The problem with NODC, of course, is it takes a passive stance in the development loan game and, frankly, I think that is a guarantee for failure. The amounts of money that it puts into development are trivial when compared to the task that is required.
The northeastern Ontario regional strategy proposed that NODC should be broadened and strengthened. What has happened with that? Nothing. It also proposed, as a matter of fact, a regional office for NODC in Sault Ste. Marie, and we haven’t seen anything of that. But that is not that unusual, because a lot of these reports that we have had over the years, away back to the 1950s, and studies that have been done by this government on the north, really very seldom lead to anything. They all sit somewhere, I suppose in the Ministry of Government Services, gathering dust.
I would really like to know what the minister is doing in terms of specific programs. If we look at the record of the minister when it comes to the wild rice development in northwestern Ontario one has to wonder. I would like to know what is happening with the serious complaints that have been raised by Treaty No. 3 in relation to the proposed changes in policy of the government on wild rice development, and what commitment this ministry has to the coordinated development in that area so that the native people and the other people of the region will benefit equally.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Say that again.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to know what the ministry is doing to co-ordinate that kind of development in that industry in the area so that both the native people and the other people in the area will benefit.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You are in favour of that?
Mr. Wildman: I am in favour of that, but I am in favour of it only if it is agreed to by all concerned, and the traditional rights of the natives have to be respected and there cannot be any -- I hesitate to say it, but I will -- favouritism involved in any kind of development in that area. Not only must there not be any favouritism, there must be seen to be no favouritism in the area. I really mean that; I think that is very important.
I would like to turn away from directly discussing the economy of the north and deal with some of the service problems we have in northern Ontario. Obviously they are related, because we have to have planned economic development in order to be able to provide northerners with the services that southerners take for granted. With me and with this party, one of our highest priorities is health care, and I would like to talk a little bit about the underserviced areas program of the Ministry of Health.
Again, I am a little mystified as to this ministry’s role, other than putting out press releases, in the underserviced areas program and I would like to have some information about that. We have between 40 and 50 vacancies for doctors in northern Ontario, some of them in communities where we have actually built clinics to try to attract doctors. We still have those vacancies. We have vacancies for 15 dentists in northern Ontario.
My own area of Hornepayne is short one doctor; White River has a doctor but is still short of care; Wawa is experiencing serious shortages; and Dubreuilville, of course, does not have any doctor, and it took us a long time to even get a nurse practitioner there. I admit that Dubreuilville has extra problems in that it needs a bilingual person in order to deal adequately with the community and it is not easy to attract one. I would like to know what this ministry is doing in general about that problem -- the problem of providing francophone medical practitioners in northeastern Ontario where they are needed. There is a tremendous shortage.
As a matter of interest I would like to know what the cycle is for the dental van. How often does it get back to a community once it has served it, or does it just arrive and then one does not see it for years? I would like to see what the minister’s role is in that, or is that all covered by the Ministry of Health?
That is also true of the optical services carried out under that program. As the minister probably is aware, the Ministry of Health at one point suggested it would not extend further funding to that program. Through a number of pressures from various groups throughout the province it was extended, but I would like to know what your ministry’s role was in that, because I really do not know.
I realize the minister has announced he is reinstituting the bursary program to try and attract more young doctors and dentists to northern Ontario. I would like to know why he thinks it is going to be more effective now than when it was in effect before.
Generally, all these questions relate to the central one: What is the role of the Ministry of Northern Affairs in planning for health care in northern Ontario?
When I raised the question of the commitment for northern Ontario hospitals in the House with the minister, he referred me to the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). Again, an example of the minister referring me to the lead ministry. Obviously the Ministry of Health is involved, but what role if any does the Minister of Northern Affairs have in advising and requesting the Ministry of Health to respond to the needs we perceive in northern Ontario?
Mr. Laughren: Passes the buck.
Mr. Foulds: Beat him about the head.
Mr. Wildman: When we did finally go to the Minister of Health and later to the Premier (Mr. Davis) for some assurance that we would have assistance for northern Ontario hospitals we got absolutely nowhere. The northern Ontario hospitals are threatened by the Minister of Health’s arbitrary edict to ration to 4.5 beds per 1,000 of population in northern Ontario. I would like to know where on earth that 4.5 or the previous ratio came from. They seem completely arbitrary.
Mr. Foulds: They are.
Mr. Wildman: There is no justification, no explanation of why that is adequate or isn’t adequate or anything. What input did this ministry have in coming up with 4.5?
When we raised that with the Premier we asked him if he could commit the government to extend the 10-bed cushion that has been given to hospitals with fewer than 100 beds, and also to ensure that a minimum of funding for the bare minimum of 4.5 beds per thousand for all communities in the north would be provided. Frankly, the Premier treated the whole matter frivolously. He did not give us a serious response. For some reason he got up and started referring to Algoma. I had not asked him about Algoma; I asked him about northern Ontario. As a matter of fact, except for Hornepayne, most of the hospitals in Algoma with the 10-bed cushion are not hurt too much by this edict by the Minister of Health, but there are certainly a lot of other hospitals in other parts of the north that are.
One cannot expect small hospitals in isolated communities to cut hospital beds without seriously undermining the health-care system for those areas, because these hospitals provide a wide range of services for large areas. We have to have flexibility. This minister just does not seem to have been too effective in getting that kind of flexibility from the Minister of Health.
I have some examples. In Hornepayne, for instance, seven beds may be cut from the present total of 13 beds in the Hornepayne Community Hospital, unless the temporary 10-bed cushion is extended beyond the end of this year. It is the same story in other hospitals: Bingham Memorial in Matheson could lose 55 per cent of its beds; Smooth Rock Falls, 42 per cent of its beds; Lady Minto in Cochrane, 38 per cent; Anson General in Iroquois Falls, 38 per cent; Notre Dame in Hearst, 36 per cent; St. Joseph’s in Blind River, 25 per cent; St. Joseph’s in Little Current, 38 per cent; Chapleau General, 35 per cent; Lady Dunn in Wawa, 24 per cent; Mattawa General, 39 per cent; Englehart, 35 per cent, Haileybury, 38 per cent and Kapuskasing 23 per cent.
In the northwest, Manitouwadge could lose 54 per cent of its hospital beds; Geraldton, 38 per cent; Nipigon, 33 per cent; Red Lake, 32 per cent; LaVerendrye in Fort Frances, 18 per cent.
Mr. Laughren: I thought the Minister of Northern Affairs was going to improve services in the north.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to know what input the minister had in these kinds of decisions.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You guys forced a $9 million reduction over the next year.
Mr. Wildman: Are you trying to tell us that if you had got $9 million you would have given it to the Ministry of Health to carry out the services we need for these beds in northern Ontario? Is that what you’re saying? Come off it!
Mr. Laughren: What a weak minister!
Mr. Wildman: I would like to know how, if the minister takes this seriously, he expects these small hospitals to continue to operate when they face such massive bed and consequent staff cuts. A small hospital just can’t cut out a ward like some urban facility might be able to do, because often we only have one ward in the first place. The thing that really is most galling is that the Minister of Health made a commitment, when he made his announcement this year, that hospitals with less than 50 beds would have a minimum increase in budget of 5.3 per cent; and yet the northern Ontario hospitals will receive an average of 3.6 per cent this year, which comes nowhere near keeping up with inflation.
The Minister of Health is reneging on his commitment to give the hospitals with less than 50 beds a minimum increase of 5.3 per cent this year. In fact, Bingham Memorial, Anson General, Geraldton District and Manitouwadge hospitals, which all have less than 50 beds, are not getting any budget increase in 1979 and 1980, not one cent; so much for the commitment of the Minister of Health.
I don’t hear this minister getting up anywhere in this House or in the north and saying: “We can’t put up with this. We don’t want it”; or saying he’s going to go to the Ministry of Health and ensure that at least he lives up to his commitment for the 4.5 beds. If I seem somewhat frustrated with the ministry in that regard I am.
How does the ministry expect to be able to attract doctors to the north through its underserviced area program unless it is willing to fund the medical facilities they operate in? In relation to the list I gave you, I’d like to know what happens to those hospitals when the 10-bed cushion expires at the end of this year. How do you expect Hornepayne to operate with seven less beds when they have only 13 now? I’d like to know that.
In terms of other healthcare services, let us turn to psychiatric services in the north. I read an article recently from the Medical Post of February 27 which was really alarming. It dealt with the suicide rate among young people in Ontario. The headline was “Suicide Rate Among Young up 32 Per Cent in Ontario.” That’s alarming enough, but then when one goes on through the article it points out that the suicide rate in northern Ontario is three to four times as high as the provincial average of nine suicides to 100,000 population.
I would like to know what we’re doing to try to provide the kind of psychiatric and social services needed to deal with the social problems that contribute to this kind of statistic. Cutbacks certainly aren’t going to provide new services where we don’t have any now. In the area where I live, east of Sault Ste. Marie, there are absolutely no family counselling services; there are no children’s counselling services. The only thing you can do is go to Sault Ste. Marie and get on the waiting list, and maybe get accepted in the Sault; maybe.
Mr. Laughren: How does the minister hold up his head in northern Ontario?
Mr. Wildman: I mentioned the problem of francophones and the need for francophone service. Imagine the problems of a francophone if he has a psychological or psychiatric problem, wants to get that treated and can’t speak the same language as the practitioner; how on earth is that dealt with? If you’re a francophone from Dubreuilville in my riding and you go to Sault Ste. Marie for treatment you’re pretty well out of luck. You’re probably a lot more likely to get treatment if you can speak Italian than you are if you can speak French.
Mr. Laughren: The minister doesn’t look too concerned.
Mr. Wildman: There is a need for many other services in the north. We need group homes for the mentally and physically handicapped. We’ve got a group home which just started in Sault Ste. Marie to provide a few spaces for Algoma district, but there are none for the physically handicapped.
I wrote to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) about this problem and the need for a home for the physically handicapped in Algoma district. He wrote back and said he understood the need and pointed out they were going to develop one in Thunder Bay. The problem we have and the thing I wish you were doing as a minister is explaining to people and ministries in southern Ontario that it is as far from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay as it is from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s where they’re putting all their northern offices.
Mr. Wildman: I’d like to know why providing service in Thunder Bay is going to help us in Algoma any more than putting service in Toronto. Some of those families can’t look after their own children. You are forcing young people, especially when they get to be young adults, to separate. You’re forcing those individuals to be moved away from friends and relatives. I just hope you’re trying to impress upon your colleague that the distances in northern Ontario just don’t relate to the formulas the Minister of Health and the Minister of Community and Social Services deal in; they just don’t apply.
The same goes for care of the elderly. We have inadequate services for them. If you’re from White River and Wawa in my riding and if you’re an elderly couple and need institutional care, the closest home is in Sault Ste. Marie, which is 140 miles away. That means you’re going to divide that couple.
When you go to the Ministry of Community and Social Services and ask them for assistance and point out the need for an institution in the north end of Algoma, they say, “We’ve got enough beds for 1,000 population in Algoma already.” According to their formula, they do; there is no question, they do; but they’re all in the southern part of Algoma.
I think one of the biggest mistakes we made in this province was dividing the road map in half and putting northern Ontario on the back.
Mr. Bolan: They still don’t know where it is.
Mr. Wildman: The problem is they are drawn to two different scales. When the people in the south look at the northern part of the map they don’t realize what the distances really are.
I think in ministries like the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services we have a rather slow-moving bureaucracy which I would hope the Ministry of Northern Affairs is doing something to speed up. However, I’m not too encouraged when I read an article in a magazine called NorAct. I don’t know how many of you have seen NorAct; it’s a new magazine published in Hearst and Kapuskasing. It deals with northern Ontario problems in development, and certainly its editorial stance is not New Democrat. There’s an article here that deals with homes for the aged.
It starts off: “‘Every letter we’ve had from the Ministry (of Community and Social Services) is a stall, claims the administrator for the Cochrane District Homes for the Aged for funding a third such home, proposed for Hearst.
“And previous announcements by the ministry about provincial aid to help deinstitutionalize residential care for the aged are more and more looking like ‘false promises,’ the official, Ken Wollan, also the board’s secretary-treasurer, said.
“The Hearst home, part of a package proposal initiated last fall by the homes board of management, would be unique: a regional 12-bed satellite home attached to the Sisters of Providence-owned Notre Dame Hospital. Its location would be the modern two-storey vacated Sisters’ residence at the hospital’s south side.”
What we are talking about here basically is that the facility is already there; it won’t cost the ministry any capital funds to provide this facility, it’s being donated; yet they don’t seem to be getting anywhere.
“A yearly operating budget of $80,250 is sought from the ministry to operate the proposed Hearst home. Of this, $12,825 would come from the 12 participating municipalities, all of whom have agreed to provide funds based on an equalized assessment formula.
“Remaining funds are to come from the residents and the province, the latter’s share being $30,000.” The Cochrane District Health Council has approved it and has endorsed both the Hearst and Smooth Rock Falls project.
What we’re talking about is an operating cost of $30,000 for a new facility. It’s just not getting anywhere.
They say: “In addition, the board has asked the minister” -- that being Rene Brunelle, and Keith Norton -- “to approach Northern Affairs for a contingency capital fund in case of ‘minor capital expenditures of an unforeseen nature,’ Mr. Wollan said. So far there has been no reply from Leo Bernier’s ministry.”
If this is an example of how responsive this ministry is going to be in frying to get through the red tape that is produced by other ministries in southern Ontario, it’s not very encouraging.
This article finishes off by saying: “Keeping senior citizens in their home community, providing community projects, and deinstitutionalizing services have since 1975 been goals emphasized by Community and Social Services, he said, referring to former minister James Taylor’s announcement at the McIntyre Community Centre in Schumacher that year to fund such non-institutional residential care. Mr. Wollan says: ‘So far, nothing has materialized. Maybe they are all false promises.’
“In the meantime, Mr. Wollan and the homes board await a reply from Mr. Norton’s ministry. ‘If the province will not approve the regional satellite home for the aged in Hearst or the elderly persons centre in Smooth Rock Falls -- then we feel that they (the ministry) are not really concerned for the needs of the elderly in northern Ontario.’”
It’s the same case in Wawa, as far as I’m concerned. The Ministry of Health, to be fair to it, has expressed some interest in providing institutionalized care for those who need it in Wawa, but we’re getting absolutely nowhere with the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I don’t think it’s because the minister is some kind of ogre or he just isn’t interested; frankly, it’s because of the Treasurer and the fact that the ministry just isn’t being given the funds. There is nothing, as far as I can see, that the Minister of Northern Affairs is doing to t ry to get those funds.
When we talk about the problems of services in organized communities in the north, we have serious difficulties, but when we look at the unorganized communities and the lack of response from government, then we really are discouraged.
In unorganized communities we lack proper water and sewage facilities, garbage and waste disposal, fire protection, street lighting, recreation and so on. In some areas it is particularly a problem. My colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) can talk about the problems of Gogama and the water problems there.
We have the Isolated Communities Assistance Fund. When it was first announced the then Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, said it was going to deal with fire protection problems and also water problems. But when you look at the amount of money that has been given to this fund over the years it is absolutely ridiculous to say it would deal with water problems. There just isn’t enough money there.
That program, the Isolated Communities Assistance Fund, was really disorganized when it started out. I think it was an admirable attempt to deal with fire protection problems in the unorganized communities, but it was announced prior to the planning. The announcement was made, funds were distributed and then they started thinking about how they could put the program together and what guidelines they should have for it. Because of the confusion which resulted, some communities were hurt.
Many communities have really benefited under the Isolated Communities Assistance Fund, and I congratulate the ministry for the work they have done on that. A number of communities have received fire equipment and training and so on, but a number that had gone ahead on their own before seem to have been penalized because of that. In other words, the communities that didn’t have any fire protection and hadn’t really taken the initiative to try to provide it on their own, in some cases did receive fire protection equipment. Others that had proceeded on their own through private donations, volunteer help and so on, when they applied either didn’t get what they applied for or got just a portion of it because they already had some equipment, even if that equipment was inadequate.
I know the deputy minister and officials of the ministry know the community I am thinking about. I am talking specifically about Searchmont in my riding. That community went ahead and worked very hard on its own to obtain a pumper truck and so on. It applied for and got some assistance from the ministry when the program was first developed. But that pumper is inadequate; it can’t make the hills in the wintertime, it doesn’t carry enough water. When they get going and actually get a fire under control they run out of water and have to leave to get more water; when they come back the house has burned down.
This government and this ministry won’t give them the equipment they asked for. The excuse they used at one point was that there was a study for a municipal organization being carried on by the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in the area. The fact is they got equipment even though that study was going on at the time; to argue they can’t get more equipment now I think is somewhat ridiculous.
I know the minister has been carrying on meetings throughout northern Ontario, and I have attended a number of them, to deal with the establishment of the local services board the Unorganized Communities Association of Northern Ontario has proposed. I think I have already told the minister, but I want to put on the record that we will support the principle of the proposal, especially because it is permissive. it is not something that is being imposed, as was proposed in Bill 102.
But I think the flood situation and the government’s response to the problems of flooding in northern Ontario have proved that a one-for-one matching is completely inadequate. The government itself has realized that in terms of the flood situation and gone to four to one for northern Ontario. One to one is something we just cannot accept and will not accept. It is important for us to put that on the record prior to the government introducing the legislation. We support the principle, we think it gives the community the option if they want it, it gives them the ability if they wish to take the initiative to do it, to provide services they deem necessary for the community, but one for one is just not acceptable.
The whole bill as it is proposed seems to be patterned after the local roads boards legislation, right up until we get to the funding portion. The local roads boards get two for one; but suddenly, when he got to that portion of the local roads board legislation the minister reverted and said, “We’d better look at what the municipalities get.” He averaged it out and came to the conclusion that municipalities on average get about one for one, or 50 per cent; somewhere in that range. Therefore, he said, that is what we will give to the unorganized communities that organize local services boards. It would have been a lot more sensible, since he is patterning the legislation after the local roads boards legislation and it’s designed to deal with the problems of unorganized communities that have small populations, low tax bases and difficulty in raising money, to have gone all the way with the local roads boards legislation at least.
Mr. Laughren: The minister will probably cut back the local roads boards grant to make them even; that’s his style.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Who spends the money on local roads boards?
Mr. Wildman: MTC does a lot of that work.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s right; they do it all.
Mr. Wildman: MTC does a lot of the work for the small municipalities on their roads too; that is immaterial. And the municipalities do not get two for one.
I have some questions that have resulted from the meetings I have attended on the local services boards proposal. First off, from what the officials have said at these meetings, it seems unclear whether the ministry will help to fund the difference between what are standard grants from a lead ministry on a particular project and the total cost of the project.
For instance, under the new program of the Ministry of the Environment for assistance in rehabilitating wells, I believe they will fund up to 75 per cent of the cost of improving private water supply in rural communities; the other 25 per cent has to be raised locally.
My question is this: If there is a local services board that applies for funding under that program, will it be eligible for 12.5 per cent funding from the Ministry of Northern Affairs over and above the 75 per cent when the proposed one-for-one funding is taken into account? In other words, will the one-for-one that the minister is proposing apply over and above the standard grant from the lead ministry? I would hope that is the case.
I have some very serious problems about the suggestions made for how the local services boards should raise funds. It seems to me that user fees are not particularly fair for some services; it would make more sense to relate them to assessment. It would seem faker if the whole thing were based on the local roads boards proposal, since local roads boards use that system. But I do not particularly like the other proposals either. For instance, in terms of bake sales and bingos, I really wonder how much money can be raised by bake sales and bingos. It seems to me that the minister here is trying to have his cake and eat it too. Really, it must be two for one, and we have to make more funding available.
There are a couple of other things that I found a little alarming in some of the meetings. It was suggested at one point, for instance, that there might be a local services board but a particular service might not be needed for the whole area; so services could be provided in specific areas and, if they were using user fees, for instance, the people using that service then would pay for it and the others would not. That seems rather complex; I know it relates to some of the things that municipalities do in terms of service areas and so on, but it does seem complex.
The other thing that worried me is there was a suggestion that at the annual meeting of these proposed boards they could change and adjust their boundaries if they wished. It seems to me that in order to have some kind of stability in terms of raising funds and providing services, you are going to have to set the boundaries for a certain period of time, five years or something like that, so you would have some stability and the ability to plan ahead.
I won’t make any further comments on the local services board proposal except to reiterate we support the principle, especially since it’s permissive, but we are unhappy about the proposed funding.
Mr. Chairman, at the beginning of this I said I felt the Ministry of Northern Affairs is an important portfolio, but in order for it to be important and to carry out an important role it must develop an active planning, co-ordinating and development function. It must really have real influence on the government and on government policy and be able to demonstrate that it does. our party has a great deal of confidence in northern Ontario. We have unparalleled natural resources, and we have the human resources; if we were to have the will we could have economic development that would surpass most of the countries of this world.
Mr. Laughren: Hear, hear; we are all set.
Mr. Wildman: But we face great problems. We have high unemployment. We export capital, we have dwindling population, and we lack basic hard services. When you put that with the cutbacks in already inadequate health and social services, the picture becomes far more bleak than it should be in northern Ontario.
I don’t think we need any more studies of the north. What we need is real development. There’s a need for change, a real change in policies of this government. Before our resources run out, the present pattern must be changed to build a diversified economy. We have got to use the profits generated by our resources to develop processing and manufacturing that will assist us paying for our services. If the Ministry of Northern Affairs can do that in changing government policy it will have our support.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Does the honourable minister have any comments in reply to the members for Nipissing (Mr. Bolan) and Algoma?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I think I have a few comments to make. I appreciate the input of both members, the member for Nipissing and the member for Algoma. We would hope, as northerners, the attendance in the House today is not any indication of what other members think of our problems in northern Ontario.
I think they are very real problems. I think it’s fair to say we are solving some of them, but we are not going to solve all the problems overnight as some people seem to think we can. I can tell you the challenges are there and we are meeting those challenges head on.
I want to go back. The member for Nipissing raised a number of points in his opening comments concerning the funds underspent in any one particular year and how they are carried over into the next. If he’s not aware, the process is we get the approval of the Ontario Legislature for one fiscal year, from April 1 to March 31. Unspent funds lapse automatically at the end of that period so there’s no carryover past March 31 of the funds you approve today.
However, there is commitment for expenditures that extend on. Highway contracts are typical examples of contracts that have been called in this fiscal year and are carried over into the succeeding year. Airport construction is another typical example of contracts called in one fiscal year and carried over into the next.
In connection with the actual budget, vis-à-vis the budget and the actual expenditures from last year, those figures are being pulled together right now. Before we have finished our estimates I hope to have a detailed, unaudited report for both members so they can compare what we passed last year.
Members will recall that last year we approved something like $139 million. There were some changes, of course, with the $9 million reduction in our budget because of the OHIP request and the OHIP problems we ran across at that time. Also there was the operation of norOntair. For example, because of improvements in the service their request was reduced by $374,000, which made some specific changes in overall actual expenditures. I hope to have those by Friday, if we can pull them together by that time. I will get them to you just as soon as I can.
The member made comments on payments to other ministries, inquiring how we block out our funding. I would point out to the honourable member that about $95 million of the $141 million we are debating and discussing during these estimates is actually transferred to other ministries which actually do the work.
Highways are a good example; or community or regional priority budgets through the Ministry of the Environment or the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. That is the amount transferred, but in transferring those funds we just don’t transfer them at their request. The priorities are established within the Ministry of Northern Affairs. As members well know, we work very closely with all ministries in carrying out our responsibility for co-ordination; and it is through this process that we are able to pressure or force or twist or level, I suppose -- you use any word you want -- to ensure the northern input is recognized, because the dollars follow those priorities we establish within the Ministry of Northern Affairs. It is a way of keeping administrative costs to a minimum, and of course avoiding duplication of any worthwhile programs that we may want to implement and to push forward in that fiscal year.
The member for Nipissing raised a question with respect to the general manager of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. I just want to read a short statement into the record. I know that when I do the member will understand my reason for it.
In his remarks, the member for Nipissing raised a number of questions which related to the dismissal of the former general manager of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. As lawyers for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the former general manager of the commission are presently discussing this matter, any remarks that I could make could be --
Mr. Wildman: Prejudicial.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I just can’t pronounce that word -- prejudicial; I can’t get my tongue around it.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You mean he is going to get a golden handshake too, like Passmore did?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Any remarks I make might be prejudicial to the interest of either party involved in these discussions. So I think it would be very inappropriate for me at this time, of course, to make any statements along these lines and somewhere down the road --
Mr. T. P. Reid: Do you make the statement when you pay them off?
Mr. Bolan: And how much?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I wouldn’t mind doing that certainly; and advising members just what we agreed to, because there are certain problems that arise when any severance of this kind takes place. If it is before the courts; I think members realize that I could prejudice anything that may occur at that particular time, so I hope you will bear with me when I make those comments.
I wanted just to follow up on the discussions that the members did touch on. They were very numerous, indeed. Some were helpful, for which I express my appreciation.
There was a comment from the honourable member with regard to the Bell Telephone takeover of the communications section of the ONTC. I am certainly not aware of any move in this direction.
We hear rumours surfacing in northeastern Ontario once in a while that Bell Telephone is interested. I think we all agree that the communications arm of the ONTC is very profitable. It is well run and one must compliment the commission on the way they handle that particular function. I am not aware of any overtures by Bell Telephone. In fact I suspect the commission would violently oppose any takeover by that particular company. It may well be, I suppose, that since ONTC is so successful in this area, it should be taking over the Bell Telephone section in northeastern Ontario, I don’t know.
Mr. Wildman: Hear, hear.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am sure you like that comment.
Mr. Foulds: You expropriated the Parry Sound-Muskoka --
Mr. Wildman: The socialist from Parry Sound persuaded the government.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. I have to say that was outside the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s area of jurisdiction. It would have been too difficult for the ONTC to really operate that.
Mr. Wildman: Is Parry Sound in northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, we look at Parry Sound as being a part of the area we serve with many of our programs.
You mentioned Via Rail. I have to say we have had some very preliminary discussions with Via Rail, in a very general way. I think they made it very clear to us their first responsibility is to make sure the major routes of the CNR and the CPR are properly in place from a passenger point of view. The transcontinental and the other routes they have, such as Montreal to Windsor, are their first priority. They would deal with the provincially-run passenger routes somewhere down the road, and there are a number of those across Canada.
There was no commitment on either side as to what would happen. It was just a very general discussion. I think I will just leave it at that point; if something comes of those discussions it will be somewhere down the road. Certainly from my own point of view I do not see any major changes.
I have to say, however, my own assumption and my own calculations are that Via is embarked in the right direction. I am hearing some very complimentary remarks in northern Ontario about the services being offered by Via Rail. I think the attitude of getting Canadians back on the rails is a good one. Even the attitude of the running crews has improved tremendously. Hopefully, this will encourage more Canadians to get back to the rails and to move across Canada using that particular mode of transportation.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to see the ministry on the rails.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Once in a while we are.
Moosonee Lodge: I think one should look at the factual data from Moosonee Lodge. I guess I can put it very simply. Bishop Legurrier from Moosonee said to me just a couple of weeks ago in a discussion about the Moosonee-Moose Factory area that Moosonee Lodge is really a husband-and-wife operation. It is not that large; although it is certainly one that could be improved and built upon. He agreed the private sector route we have taken is the right one. The ONTC is certainly in the transportation business, but the private sector should be directly involved in a small lodge at Moosonee. There was no disruption of the service, nor any desire on behalf of the ONTC to diminish services in selling Moosonee Lodge.
The Chief Commanda ferry is another operation we are looking at very carefully and very cautiously, particularly when one thinks that last year alone the loss was about $80,000. It does an excellent job in promoting tourism in the North Bay area; there is no question about that and we realize that. The chairman, in his remarks to the North Bay Chamber of Commerce, made it very clear that in no way would we disband our involvement with the Chief Commanda if we could not get the private sector to take it over and operate it with equal or improved service to what we are offering now; but I have to tell the members when I look at other such tourist boats across the province of Ontario that are operating outside the public sector. I see they are all making money. I have to question and I did question the ONTC, as to why, just because it is in the public sector, it is losing money. The little operation at Parry Sound has gone out to buy another boat. They have two boats on now and they are making money.
In my own area of Kenora we have the Argyle Second operated by the private sector. It does a tremendous job and it operates at a profit. I can assure the member for Nipissing we are not going to abandon the Chief Commanda in any way, shape or form. We would just like to get out from under the deficit. Again, I suppose because of our political philosophy, we think the private sector has a role to play. We want to make sure that however and whenever this occurs, it is done in a way that maintains the excellent service and the attraction we have in the North Bay area. It is not a high priority with the ONTC, or even myself or the Ministry of Northern Affairs, but it is something that we have to keep looking at all the time because, if those valuable resources can be channelled in some other way to the benefit of northeastern Ontario, then I think they should, rather than going for a complete loss; it is something that perhaps the private sector can operate at a profit.
I do not know whether the member is fully aware, but norOntair has moved ahead rapidly. It has already become the transportation success story of the last decade. There is no question about that when one looks at the steady increase in passenger volume in the past few years. Last year we carried more than 100,000 passengers, and this year we hope to exceed that. In fact, as I said on Friday in Atikokan, to the Northern Ontario Municipal Association, last month we exceeded all expectations and came out of the red. We are in the black now for the first time; there was no subsidy last month for norOntair. I think that speaks well for that organization, which has expanded rapidly across northern Ontario.
In fact, on May 30 I, along with the Speaker of this House, will be in northwestern Ontario to inaugurate flights from Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa to Terrace Bay and Geraldton. We will add those two communities; they are already on now, but we are going up to the inaugural ceremony on May 30. Later this year, we will be tying Hornepayne into that run, which will bring to 20 the total number of communities where norOntair is providing service to the people of northern Ontario.
As a third-level carrier, it is meeting with a tremendous amount of acceptance; in fact, so much so that already we are looking at at least one area, and maybe two, where we could put on an aircraft larger than the Twin Otter. I do not want to identify any routes for fear of raising hopes and expectations, but we are looking at the entire area. I will simply say that the one route that has the best possibility of succeeding at this time is in the northeastern part of the province, and not in the northwest.
Regarding local services boards, the member for Nipissing did make some comments and raised some questions which I will try to answer in my brief remarks. I believe he stated that there was one adverse reaction to the taxation feature. I would have to say to him that, as he knows, we have been holding meetings right across northern Ontario -- we have had something like 33 public meetings to date -- and communities, I have to say with a great deal of pride, are generally enthusiastic about our proposal. They welcome the provision that would leave the method of fund raising up to them so that they can shape for themselves the type of program and the type of community they want; it is not left to the provincial government to decide how they will do it.
I think the member for Algoma pointed out that the permissive aspect of it is something that is very acceptable to people living in unorganized areas. They have a great fear of government, and I guess they sometimes look at government as a threat, rather than as a help, to them.
There are three different fund-raising options. One is the status quo or voluntary option. The second is the user-pay option, where people actually will get services from the local services board, and they will pay. The third is the taxation or assessment option, which would be tied to the provincial land tax and which would be collected by the Ministry of Revenue and passed to the Ministry of Northern Affairs; we would add our subsidy to it and return it to the community.
I just want to make one point in this connection. It is going to take a period of time to get the system working. The computer system in the Ministry of Revenue has to be brought into line, because there will be an addition to their assessment I am confident that with the enthusiastic support of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Ministry of Revenue in this new proposal, which is a little different from what normal governments are used to -- it is not a rigid type of proposal but something that is a little foreign to some ministries and to some people in government. We would assist on a 50-50 basis as has been discussed on a number of occasions.
The comment that we should be tied to the local roads boards is an interesting one. I would point out that local roads boards do get two-for-one assistance, but those funds are spent totally by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. In other words, they collect their $1 and the ministry puts $2 with it and actually spends it. There’s not much autonomy in the local roads board. There is with the statute of labour board. The statute of labour board gets one for one. They collect it and, if they don’t want to hire MTC graders or snow ploughs, they don’t have to. They can get out and contract on their own. It gives a little more autonomy and we follow the statute of labour board for that reason.
Mr. Wildman: Do you agree with MTC’s position that it would like to get rid of the statute of labour boards that are left?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I don’t know. I don’t think that’s the feeling. You will recall some time ago I suggested we piggyback on the local roads board and the statute of labour board, and MTC officials strongly felt that after all these years they had got both of these organizations and programs operating very effectively and efficiently in unorganized areas and didn’t want to upset them. They said: “Go your own route. It’s working well. It’s taken us years to get this far and we’d like to let it run the way it is because it’s now operating on all six cylinders.” I compliment them for that.
Mr. Foulds: Six?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Six, yes; we don’t have eight cylinders any more. They’re too costly and energy-consuming; we’ve all gone on to six cylinders.
Mr. B. Newman: Dinosaurs.
Mr. Foulds: Are all Ontario government ministers’ limousines six cylinders?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Not to my knowledge.
Mr. Wildman: They’re all diesels.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: About the provincial land tax, there were some interesting comments about its use. I believe the member for Nipissing suggested that maybe those funds should form a portion of the local services board. In other words, they shouldn’t have to contribute further, but that we should be using their funds.
Many people in northern Ontario don’t accept the fact they are getting anything in return for the provincial land tax. I don’t think it’s ever been pointed out to them just what the province does on their behalf. I’ve been doing it more and more. After they’re told I think they accept it. It’s not a large tax.
Mr. Wildman: What does it do on their behalf?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: At least there is something coming back.
Mr. Wildman: What?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: As an example the provincial police service.
Mr. Bolan: The same thing applies to the provincial police on Highway 400. Is there a provincial land tax on Highway 400? Come on now.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: But this is community. If you’re in an organized community, if you’re in North Bay, part of your tax goes to your town police.
Mr. Bolan: That’s right, and I see it.
Mr. Wildman: But if you’re in a rural municipality you don’t pay towards the OPP.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: As Joe Clark would say, “Now let me finish.”
Mr. Foulds: I wouldn’t use him as your model.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: A week from tomorrow we will.
Mr Foulds: No matter what the results are a week from tomorrow, I wouldn’t take him as your model. In northern Ontario he ain’t a big winner.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Another item that is fully borne by the province on behalf of people in unorganized areas is the cost of welfare.
If you’re in an unorganized municipality 20 per cent of those welfare costs are borne by the municipality, but that is totally borne by the province in an unorganized community. Payments for the homes for the aged are borne by the province; the costs of children’s aid societies are borne by an organized municipality, but there is no direct cost to the people of unorganized areas.
Another area that was pointed out to me just the other day was hospitals. Hospital construction in northern Ontario is funded five sixths to one sixth. In southern Ontario, it’s two thirds to one third. Those people in the unorganized areas do get help.
Mr. Wildman: There aren’t too many hospitals in unorganized areas.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I know, but the province does pay their share by that extra funding. If you look at all those things, you will see there are benefits coming back. Maybe they are not as direct as you and I would like to see them, but nevertheless they are there.
I would like to make one correction. The member for Nipissing mentioned that about $15 million was raised by provincial land taxes. It’s $1.5 million.
Mr. Bolan: I lost a zero.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, you lost a zero. The decimal point was just moved over.
Mr. Foulds: That’s Liberal economics.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: When you think that the provincial land tax is $1.5 million while our ICAF fund is a half a million dollars, the balance is reasonable.
Those are a few of the points I would just like to put on the record for the benefit of the members.
To the member for Algoma I say that I certainly share his concern and I appreciate his concern for northern Ontario. I think he expresses a point of view that in some instances many northerners have, a concern about where we’re going. It’s fair to say we are making progress as we go into our third year of operation; and I say that with a great deal of pride.
I am pleased he accepts the role of the Ministry of Northern Affairs as a co-ordinating one. It’s not easy. It’s a new role for a ministry to be a co-ordinating agency to move around other ministries and to lean on them in a number of different ways. That role is slowly evolving.
Mr. Wildman: Lean a little harder.
Mr. Foulds: You’ve got the weight, lean a little harder.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Of course the lever is in the budget, there’s no question about that; but it’s coming.
I have to look at our role in the Cobalt fire disaster. That’s an area where we moved in very quickly. While it was a fire and as such was the responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources under the lead ministry concept and under the emergency measures planning we have, we moved in because the Ministry of Housing was involved, and the Ministry of the Environment was involved with regard to the sewer and water problems. It was obvious this was a place we could move in and co-ordinate, which we did very effectively.
Mr. Wildman: That’s true of a flood too, though.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I’ll get to that point. Kashechewan was another area where there were a number of ministries involved in operations directly relating to a flood, but here there were housing problems and transportation problems so it was a natural for us to assist in co-ordinating the effort.
With regard to the flooding at Field; we were there, as you well know, we were there in full force. In fact the reeve’s first contact was the Northern Affairs officer. The latter carried the ball and made immediate contact with other ministries, carrying out in a small way at the start a co-ordinating responsibility to get the thing rolling.
Mr. Wildman: You weren’t there at Iron Bridge or Searchmont.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: In fact the military was called in from North Bay with the co-operation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and our ministry. Once that is done, of course, Natural Resources, which has the expertise, the equipment, the staff and the knowledge to deal with these kinds of problems moved in very quickly. In fact the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) was there. I’m particularly pleased the Premier (Mr. Davis) saw the hardship that was caused, and he too, made a point of visiting the scene. It’s that kind of concern we in the Ministry of Northern Affairs can express to our colleagues and bring to the attention of people such as the Premier.
I agree with you that the four-to-one kind of assistance is realistic in these times. Sure I know how difficult it is to raise funds, even on a one-to-one basis. Field, as well as the other communities, will have difficulty raising its share. I would suggest they embark on a very ambitious campaign, such as Cobalt did and Sudbury did a few years ago, and get other municipalities to help. They will contribute. I know if a very strong letter went out to the people in northwestern Ontario there would be a response. There was a good response for a small disaster up there. People are very human and very receptive to that type of a request.
The member for Algoma dealt with the Northern Affairs officers. In one sense there was some question about their role and their decision-making responsibilities. They are there to assist northerners in a very real way. I was particularly pleased that the member for Algoma recognized the thousands of people they have helped and the thousands of problems they have solved over the course of a year. There is no question about it, they are adept in dealing with not only provincial matters but federal mailers as well.
As we move into new programs, such as the local services board, there will be a much greater role for the Northern Affairs officers to play, because they will be going into those unorganized communities, giving them leadership and guidance and help to bring their areas together, to make that contact with our ministry that we require and so they will be very, very valuable. They have been valuable already in setting up these meetings we have had right across the north.
I see down the road a greater role for the Northern Affairs officers than we ever had before -- not just what they have been doing in the past, although they have been doing it very, very well -- to assist them with all kinds of information in resolving all kinds of problems in which they are so experienced. So I have to say to you there will be a much greater role for those people to play in the months and years ahead as we go to these very ambitious programs for northern Ontario.
You questioned what we are doing for such places as Atikokan, and I am glad --
Mr. Wildman: I didn’t question it; I just wanted to make sure you were aware of it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There is a situation where we had a resource industry in a single-resource community; we were very much aware the resources were fast coming to an end, the resources were being depleted, and there would be a finite time to the life of that community.
There were all kinds of rumours floating around that those 6,000 people would be reduced to 2,000; it would be just a tourist community; and nothing would happen, we would walk away and leave it. That has not been the ease. I was in Atikokan on Friday and I was elated to see the attitude of that community. My ministry is playing a very major role in assisting them.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Good people.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they are. The member for Rainy River agrees with me. The attitude there is nothing less than fantastic, really. They know they have a problem, they have known it for a number of years and they are dealing with it and they are dealing with it themselves.
Mr. Foulds: You’ve known it for a number of years and you’ve done nothing.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is not true. The development of a Hydro station at Atikokan didn’t happen by accident. Those things just don’t happen. They are part of a long-term concern.
Mr. Foulds: In 1971 they wanted to put it in Thunder Bay.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We could be down here 1,200 miles away from Atikokan, but it is the local attitude that really counts. I take my hat off to the reeve of Atikokan and, indeed, to his council and all the people in Atikokan for taking a very positive attitude to their problems.
We are in there and we are in there in a big way. There is no question about it. My ministry is working very, very closely with their new industrial development officer, assisting him not only with financial resources but with the expertise to walk through the various levels of government and to get answers to some of their questions. I think that is an excellent example of what we can do as a ministry in a coordinating role.
Elliot Lake is a different situation. As the honourable member knows there is a boom-town attitude there -- a very positive one, one where they can fall into the various Ontario government programs, the housing program, the Ministry of the Environment --
Mr. Wildman: Your own Northern Affairs officer can’t find a place to live in Elliot Lake.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, but there is a normal growth, maybe an accelerated growth, of a community so that they can apply and get attention and assistance under these various normal government programs, which they are doing, and are doing very, very effectively.
Now the spilloff is what happens at Blind River? That is a concern.
Mr. Wildman: Are you going to tell me today?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes -- well, I can tell you we are working very, very closely with the mayor of Blind River and his council and I am hoping to have something positive in the not too distant future in that regard. We have been in there in a big way. That treatment plant that is in Blind River; Northern Affairs saw the need for that. It is completed now, I believe. But there are problems, of course, with storm sewers; the infiltration into their system is a very real one.
Mr. Haggerty: They’re looking for a fire truck, Leo.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We think Blind River has a role to play, but how big a role as it relates to the Elliot Lake development? So those are things that we are working on.
On the matter of the Granary Lake road I don’t want to lead the member for Algoma down the garden path, but at this point in time I have to say to you the cost benefits are not there. I put it very squarely to the people of Blind River, “If you had $12 million to spend in your area, where would you spend it?” The immediate response was, “Sewers and water. The road is somewhere down the way; we accept that.” Those are the kinds of decisions that have to be made; they are difficult ones.
Mr. Wildman: You’ve been talking about it for 20 years though.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I know. Sure we’d like to make decisions immediately; and if the funds were available we would, there’s no question about that.
The member for Algoma brought up the question about the overall northeastern Ontario strategy, where we’re going in industrial development. I’m sure you’re aware we’re working very closely with the Municipal Advisory Committee. They are a very active group and we’ve recognized them formally. We’ll be giving them, I think, in excess of $50,000 this year. We have an office established in Sault Ste. Marie, we have office space for them. I believe the furniture is there now, and in co-operation with my ministry they are now looking for an executive director to work right in Sault Ste. Marie and to be their key person for northeastern Ontario in pulling together the needs, on an industrial and regional basis. That’s a very positive step through which we will get input from the various communities. It’s not something we’re doing. The executive director will not be a civil servant; he will be a representative of MAC. The Municipal Advisory Committee, as you know, is made up of municipal politicians, and they will have control of that executive director. Of course in our role as the interface with government, we’ll be working very closely with them.
I’m glad the honourable member for Algoma brought forward his concerns about health matters in northern Ontario. They are areas we have identified early in our existence as members will recognize.
We brought back the bursary program. It was in place several years ago, but was cancelled for reasons of which I’m not aware. At that time it was $3,000 for the last two years of schooling for a dentist or a doctor. We’ve increased that to $5,000. They receive $5,000 for the last two years of their studies on the express understanding they I enter into a contract with us to spend two years somewhere in northern Ontario.
We’ve had ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Health with regard to the needs for improved health services in northern Ontario. Dr. Copeman informed me the other day if he had 25 doctors he could fill all the needs of northern Ontario at this point in time. He doesn’t have them, but he’s looking right across this country and he’s working very hard. In fact just the other day I think, he pulled two out of Saskatchewan, believe it or not. One of them is going into my own area of Deer Falls, for which I am very grateful.
I want to tell the honourable members that just a short time ago, I signed approximately 60 of those agreements with doctors and dentists. I think there were something like 47 doctors signed into the bursary program and the balance were dentists. We now have some 60 students in the dental schools and in the medical schools who will be going to northern Ontario when they graduate. I realize that’s a couple of years down the road, but nevertheless it’s a positive step forward.
We’re going to keep that bursary program in place for a considerable period of time to make sure we do have a sufficient number of doctors and dentists. It may well be we’ll expand it into other fields to make sure we get the other special services we require in northern Ontario.
Another area we’ve moved into in a very aggressive way has been in operation of our dental vans, as the honourable members know. I think one of the questions was who really has jurisdiction over the van itself. The Ministry of Health does that. Once we provide the hardware and have identified the problem, we turn the van over to them. They supply the dentists and closely monitor the communities they service. We have an arrangement with the Ontario Dental Association that we will not go within, I think it’s 15 or 25 miles of a practising dentist. So they’re on board too and are working very closely with us. In fact I met with the officers of the Ontario Dental Association just last week to share with them some of my own personal concerns with regard to practice in northern Ontario and how we can improve. They are anxious to do their part too. In fact, on this point, we have completed a recent study of the Rainy River area as it relates to dental requirements in the Kenora-Rainy River area.
Mr. T. P. Reid: When are we going to get some action?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That report is going to be released. I don’t think it gives us anything that we are not aware of, but at least it documents further the problems that we have in our particular area that will be brought to the attention of the Ontario Dental Association and the Ministry of Health to respond to. Another area that we moved in again this year is the funding for the hearing van that is moving across northern Ontario, and if any of the members are interested I could give them a schedule for the next two years.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I would like one.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Okay, I will get you a schedule.
Mr. Foulds: What van is that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Hearing, hard of hearing, yes. It will move around northern Ontario.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Better hit Rainy River.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It’s a very elaborate and very efficient van, one that we felt strongly enough about to put up the necessary funds to make sure that it stays in northern Ontario for the next two years.
The member for Algoma asked what we are doing with the medical facilities, and here again we regarded that as a top priority. It is all right to have doctors and dentists but they have to have some place to practise, and if they are going to move up there for one or two years it’s obvious they are not going to make a major investment in the facilities and then move on. That is one of our problems, the movement of these professional people.
We have moved in that direction in assisting such communities as Ignace, Nakina, Geraldton, and we have requests now before us from Red Lake and from Rainy River. The formula is not a fixed one. As an example, I think in Geraldton it was an 80-20 deal. In Ignace, I think it was a two-for-one deal. We respond to the community’s needs, If they can raise a certain amount of funds themselves and make sure of course that those using the building will pay the going rent. We are not assisting in any way to give a free ride to the professional people, but they want some place decent to practise, so that’s an area that we are moving in.
Mr. Foulds: Like good hospitals.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Like good hospitals. The question of housing for some of these professional people in some of our northern communities is before us. I have to say that my priority would be to get the medical facilities in place first. I think the community can look after the housing itself. Hopefully they could round up sufficient homes to look after those people, at least in the interim until we get the medical facilities firmly in place right across northern Ontario. I think we will have more requests for that type of assistance.
Health services generally is an area that we have been actively involved in. Our relationships with the Ministry of Health are excellent, since the former Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs is now the Deputy Minister of Health. He carries with him the concerns that he had when he was with my ministry --
Mr. Wildman: Did he carry the cutbacks too?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, he has responded to that very quickly in that there will be an overall review of all those hospitals that have 100 beds or less. All the hospital boards and the administrators are coming together to look at their specific problems and, of course, many of them are in northern Ontario. It’s not a general problem in northern Ontario. Take North Bay -- and I am sorry the member is not here -- but there is no problem in North Bay. There are specific areas that have specific problems and certainly those will be dealt with.
Mr. Foulds: Thunder Bay?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I think that’s being dealt with very effectively.
Mr. Wildman: What about the 10-bed cushion?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am sure the Minister of Health will have something to say about that. I have to assure members that those northern problems don’t go by unnoticed. While we may not stand up in this Legislature and expound to any great lengths as to the specific and unique problems of northern Ontario, I can assure members that the staff of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, from the minister to the deputy, the assistant deputy right down through the executive directors are constantly working with their counterparts in bringing these problems to their attention and frying to resolve them and to change the direction in some instances.
Mr. Foulds: They don’t look very active right now. They look like they’re falling asleep.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They’re a great hunch. They are all selected from this entire government, hand-picked as the best in the business, just to look after northern Ontario.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Too bad they didn’t have a chance. I could make a couple of comments, but I like you too much.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The honourable member spent some time on the Isolated Communities Assistance Fund. I am pleased he accepted in a general way our thrust with regard to the local services board. I think the ICAF was a good start, at least to get fire protection requirements answered as a result of the co-operation of our ministry with the Solicitor General’s office and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office. The training program going on throughout the north is something of which we are very proud and I want to publicly commend the fire marshal’s office for the excellent job they are doing. They have been very sensitive. Sometimes we have been overzealous in getting something in place. They have a limited staff, a situation which we respect and regard; nevertheless they have responded, and I think today --
Mr. Haggerty: They need new fire trucks.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- the fire marshal’s office has a much greater visibility in northern Ontario than it ever had in its history, and the respect that these fellows have is second to none.
We can thank them for their excellent co-operation in view of the fire protection. In fact, they designed those fire trucks especially for northern Ontario needs. The equipment is sifting on the front of the truck instead of being buried underneath. It is easily serviced; the package units are units that anybody who is mechanically inclined can look after.
Mr. Wildman: It is called the Bernier bundle.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Bernier bundles, yes. That is that kind of an approach you have to take to meet needs in northern Ontario.
Mr. Haggerty: Front-end pump?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Mr. Laughren: Are you wearing a Pierre Cardin belt?
Mr. Laughren: It doesn’t seem right, somehow.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There is something wrong with it though, I have to take it back.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It keeps shrinking.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It keeps shrinking, yes.
Mr. Haggerty: How many fire trucks were bought last year?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Seven or eight. One of the problems that we had, getting back to our underexpenditure last year, was that we ordered a number of fire trucks but they were unable to deliver them before the first of the year.
Mr. Haggerty: Would the member for Algoma ride in one of them?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Apparently they got everything else but the chassis. They couldn’t get the chassis, but they are coming on stream now and we will be delivering more of those fire trucks.
Mr. Bolan: What about the gold hat? Tell me, do you wear that, too?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The gold hat? I am pretty proud of that gold hat. I don’t think I have had a letter from a member in northern Ontario complaining about a disastrous fire this year that affected the people in northern Ontario, and I hope it continues that way.
Mr. Wildman: You got a couple from me that were close to that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We haven’t had a recurrence of a hurricane situation.
Mr. Haggerty: It is a good program, Leo.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is a combination of awareness by the public, through the cooperation of the fire marshal’s office, the smoke detector program -- which is very effective -- and the fire package; I think it is that kind of combination.
Mr. Foulds: Did you forget Gogama?
Mr. Laughren: The radiation program.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The honourable member questioned the budget, the financial assistance for capital construction programs. He referred to the 75-25 aspect of some of these programs. I think it is fair to say at this stage we would have to look at the 25 per cat those people are allowed to carry. If it is a nominal sum then I think they should carry it, but there may be instances -- and I refer to Gogama as perhaps being one of them -- where the 25 per cent might be prohibitive.
Mr. Laughren: You keep referring to it; where is the money?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I am.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am concerned about Gogama; I really am. I am determined to do something about it. I was very impressed with that community and its very real desire to do something for itself.
I don’t want to lock myself into a 75-25 at this point in time; I want to leave the door open and hopefully we can look at the individual needs. While we may be criticized somewhere down the road for maybe being a little ad hock-ish overly flexible, I think when you are dealing with northern Ontario problems you have to be.
Mr. Wildman: Tell the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I don’t want to be boxed into programs on which we can’t be responsive.
Mr. Laughren: You have been around here longer than the Minister of Health, put him in his place.
Hon. Mr. Bender: I hope to be introducing that legislation some time within the next couple of weeks. I am not sure if we will be able to deal with it in this part of the session -- I would like to if at all possible and time permits -- but we will only find that out when I introduce it and see what reaction it gets.
Mr. Laughren: You promised it this session.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I did. It will be introduced and if you fellows want to sit here and join with me --
Mr. Laughren: Call for second reading.
Mr. Wildman: We already told the minister we would support it in principle.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Fine. I appreciate that support. As I said, it is permissive legislation, one can either opt in or opt out. It is self-help and one can shape their own communities to their own liking and their own desires.
With regard to major changes in boundaries, I would like to point out that the legislation is such that those boundaries would have to be approved not only by the Ministry of Northern Affairs but by Intergovernmental Affairs. We are working very closely with them and we have their cooperation and their assurance there will not be any great delays in designing a boundary. One step we are going to move into is the assistance of northern affairs officers. They will help us in identifying the area in which that group can service. We think that will be a major step forward in pushing it through on as fast a basis as possible.
Mr. Laughren: Is the minister not worried about red tape?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, that sums up and answers most of the questions I believe, at least as they were related to me. I want to thank both members for their contributions. It was very helpful, and I hope that as we go through various votes I can answer other questions that may come forward and be of benefit on an information basis to them and to outline the very constructive things we are doing in that part of the province. It is certainly in need of this very special attention.
Mr. Laughren: What about the reduction in the minister’s salary?
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, may I ask a couple of questions in relation to the minister’s reply?
Mr. Acting Chairman: Yes.
Mr. Wildman: I thank the minister for his response. There are a couple of specific things I referred to that he had missed. I wonder if he could give us some indication of the progress that the Manitoulin Economic Development Committee is making, what funding the ministry has provided and where the ministry is at in terms of the North Shore Economic Development Committee as proposed by the municipalities along the North Shore? Could he also explain what, if any, relationship the Ministry of Northern Affairs has with NODC?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I do not have the specific success stories of the Manitoulin Economic Development Committee but I will get that for the member. I understand from my earlier discussions of some time ago it has been very successful in a number of areas. I will certainly get the factual information and deliver it to the member.
With regard to NODC, our relationship is one of not only a coordinating role but one of support, in that when there is a specific requirement or there is a specific need as to a specific problem and we are involved then the relationship and the information flows through. We are not directly involved with regard to the actual applications that come in to NODC, but we are there and we provide them with information as we see it from a northern Ontario point of view. This comes to us on a fairly regular basis.
On vote 701, ministry administration program; item 1, main office.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Chairman, I always like to ask a question about money that so seldom gets asked about the estimates: Perhaps the minister could indicate where the million dollars for his main office is going; salaries and wages particularly, how many employees does that cover?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We don’t have a main office, as the honourable member is aware, but we have offices in Toronto, Kenora and Sault Ste. Marie. These provide support services to myself in carrying out my duties and for an executive assistant and two secretaries. In those offices are the deputy minister, the assistant deputy ministers, the executive director of planning and administration and the co-ordinator of administration services.
Mr. T. P. Reid: These offices don’t include the ones in Kenora and Sault Ste. Marie?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they do. In 1979-80 salaries and wages have moved from $518,000 to $684,000; employee benefits from $80,000 to $103,000; transportation and communications, the movement of staff, from $90,000 to $165,000; services generally from $69,000 to $103,000; supplies and equipment from $45,000 to $41,000; and transfer payments from $50,000 to $53,000.
One of the things you will notice in this increase is that last year many of the vacant positions we had were not in place right across the entire system, for example, in Kenora and in Sault Ste. Marie. Many of them have been filled now with subsequent salary increases.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Does the increase represent simply the increase for salaries and so on?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Mr. Foulds: There are two questions I want to ask the minister. One is that I would like him to explain the relationship his ministry has with Intergovernmental Affairs. If I’m not mistaken, Intergovernmental Affairs is still the ministry that is establishing some criteria that you have to operate under, particularly with regard to the isolated communities assistance fund. Frankly, I find that repugnant.
Hon Mr. Bernier: I would like to point out that we have been very actively involved in the co-operation aspect of IGA in setting up the local services boards. I have to point out to you that the local services beard is not a municipal structure. It’s a service structure, so it doesn’t fall under the Municipal Act per se. Their advice has been very helpful in putting together this piece of legislation. They have expressed a concern about our movement into this field for fear that, as we improve the services in unorganized areas, there would not be the desire and the same interest in becoming organized.
Also they have singled out a number of areas where they are doing municipal studies as to annexation or amalgamation. They have asked us to consider that very carefully when we’re moving into local services boards. Aweres township in Sault north is a typical example. It’s large enough, in their opinion, to be organized under our municipal structure. That is why as we move down the road to --
Mr. Wildman: The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs isn’t as eager to have it as your Mr. Jackman says he is.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- set up local services boards, we will be working very closely with Intergovernmental Affairs, not only in the areas that we select on application from local areas but in defining the boundaries. We will make sure that we have their cooperation and their assistance as these boards and these communities come under the Local Services Boards Act.
Mr. Foulds: If I could just pursue that, I have a particular case I want to discuss with the minister but it’s lengthy. I’ll do that when we have a little bit more time than we have at present. Surely the Minister of Northern Affairs has a responsibility to protect the northernness of certain communities and not allow Intergovernmental Affairs sometimes to push small communities into an organizational structure that they cannot sustain. I’m afraid that even when those communities are located near a large centre the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs’ attitude is to push them into an amalgamation with a large centre that the community itself doesn’t want, or to push them into the kind of municipal structure that, in some cases -- not all I say; not all, but in some cases -- may be too heavy for them to bear. I think it is your job to be very vigilant and very tough about protecting the interests of small northern communities in that respect.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate those comments and I have to say to the member I share his views. This has come forward in our discussions to date, as we’re pulling the act together. The one thing I have to make very clear to the people in that ministry is that many of the small communities in the unorganized areas are not going to grow. There are people in some levels of government who think that as soon as you get a structure there there is going to be a massive development. You and I know that this is not going to occur. I live in one. My God, I’ve been there since --
Mr. Foulds: Since Moses was a baby.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Pretty near. But that community hasn’t grown. Sure, the services have improved; the quality of life has improved; people have rebuilt theft homes, it’s home to them. But there has been no massive development, no great influx. Sure, you’ve had places like Ear Falls and Ignace that are on the border of a major industrial development, hut that will always occur. But, in the norm, the Savant Lakes will grow slowly, the Nakinas, but Armstrong is a typical example.
People will improve their houses. The quality of life will improve. They will want better services than they are getting now.
This point was sometimes difficult to get across to people who are totally working with organized municipalities in southern Ontario. But I think it’s fair to say that we have been successful. We have been successful in getting their co-operation and understanding their very unique problems. I guess they’re tired of hearing me say that in northern Ontario we have special, unique problems. In fact, my colleagues will say, “There goes Bernier again. It’s always special, always unique.” But, nevertheless it is.
Mr. Wildman: Unique certainly.
Mr. Laughren: So is Bernier.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is unique. It is different. I think we’re getting our message across slowly but surely.
Mr. Foulds: I just wanted to ask, Mr. Chairman, if I might just before we wind up -- I apologize to my colleague from Algoma -- what worries me a bit about the discussion we have had today so far is that it does not seem to me that you, as Minister of Northern Affairs, consider that your ministry should be the lead ministry in every single activity that takes place in northern Ontario. I think it should be.
I think that if you had a ministry that was really worth its salt --
Mr. Laughren: That’s right.
Mr. Foulds: -- this ministry should be the one that is telling the Ministry of Health what should be happening with the small hospitals that my colleague from Algoma referred to. This ministry should be telling the Ministry of Natural Resources what it should be doing in developing the single-industry towns in northern Ontario, because it is your ministry that has the overall view and the capability and should have the will to really develop the north as we all know the north should be developed.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Minister, is your reply brief?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
I don’t share those views, let me put it very clearly.
Mr. Foulds: You don’t?
Mr. Laughren: You don’t?
Mr. Wildman: You don’t?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, I don’t share the view that we should be the Northern Affairs kingpins. I don’t think we should be that. We have a co-ordinating role. We have a role to bring to the attention of other ministries that have programs and policies in place. Our job is to change some of those policies to reflect the northern attitudes.
Saskatchewan has what you’re saying -- and they’ve come into problems. There are problems you wouldn’t believe, because I was there to look at their problems.
Mr. Foulds: And you don’t think that Health has problems in the north?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Manitoba didn’t go that way, and Alberta is certainly not going that way. I think if the Saskatchewan government had its druthers they would revert to the coordinating role that we’re adopting today. We think that, with the policies and programs in place in other ministries, it’s our responsibility to deal directly with them, at the high level and even at the lower level, to get our input in there and get those attitudes and policies changed to reflect truly our northern needs.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Bernier the committee of supply reported progress.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.