The House met at 2:03 p.m.
STATEMENTS DY THE MINISTRY
CHILD ABUSE REGISTRY
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement concerning the records which are kept in my ministry’s head office of names of those persons who allegedly have abused a child and of the children themselves.
Among the revisions to the Child Welfare Act passed by the Legislature last year was one that required the director of child welfare to maintain a register of alleged child abusers. The act also defines abuse and requires that every person who has information of abuse, or suspected abuse, shall report the information to a children’s aid society. In their turn, the societies are required to investigate all such reports and, upon verification, are to send specified, summarized information about the incident to the director.
From this information, the director compiles the register which contains little more than the name of the child in question and, where possible, the name of the alleged abuser. As each entry is made into the register, the alleged abuser is notified by registered letter and told of the right to apply for expungement, a provision included in the legislation.
This list of names is then available to any children’s aid society to check, as new abuse or suspected abuse is reported, to determine whether a previous incident concerning the individual has been recorded anywhere in the province.
Without this central registry the children’s aid society would have to make separate checks with each of the other 49 children’s aid societies in Ontario, to ascertain whether a previous incident was known affecting the individual and which may have indicated a pattern of abuse. The services of this central registry are invaluable in assisting the society staff to determine an appropriate decision in these very difficult and emotion-laden interventions.
I believe this to be an exemplary piece of legislation. It has created a process which can materially assist our society’s long-term battle against child abuse while simultaneously providing legal recourse to persons who may feel they have been improperly registered.
So much for the legislated register. If I might, I would like to move to the administrative process that was its forerunner. The honourable members will well understand child abuse knows no geographic boundaries. Child welfare authorities and governments across Canada and in the United States are all deeply concerned over this problem. Because of this concern, I am informed that nine of our provinces and 47 of the states maintain some form of central child abuse registry.
Historically, the registries have been created by the regulating agencies as a means of simplifying communication among many separate societies and as a means of monitoring the incidence of child abuse. Very few registries have had provision for informing the persons named in the registry. My ministry has accumulated a central file index of about 9,000 cases of alleged abuse dating back to 1968. These records are, of course, also part of the files of the 50 children’s aid societies throughout the province.
Recognizing the concept that individuals should know what information concerning the individual is being used by the children’s aid society in reaching a decision about child abuse, and keeping in mind the importance of the records of the past 12 years, a period which has regrettably seen a number of tragic cases, I have had to give careful consideration to just where the balance should be struck between these two legitimate yet differing interests, the civil rights of the individual and the need to know about any previous reports by child protection authorities.
I have decided, therefore, that if and when the children’s aid society makes use of our files on a previous allegation or investigation in pursuing a new report of abuse, any person so identified shall forthwith be told of this fact by the investigating children’s aid society. If, resulting from this information or new report of abuse, an expungement is sought, the required review hearing can be obtained at that time.
If and when access is made to our files by a coroner or the official guardian, the only other two persons who would have access in the course of fulfilling their respective duties, any person so identified shall forthwith be informed of this fact by the staff of my ministry, and again, an expungement can be sought and a review hearing obtained.
This decision, I believe, fulfils the spirit of informing the persons concerned, at a time when they need to know. It avoids the risk of after-the-fact intrusion into completely unknown and possibly changed family circumstances which would occur if letters are now sent to all those 9,000 persons on the list.
It also avoids a considerable cost which would be incurred by such a course of action, but I emphasize my first concern is that of protecting children and, at the same time, safeguarding confidentiality and civil rights.
In addition, I have established a time limit on inactive information in the former administrative file. Any name that has not been investigated during a period of 16 years from the first entry will automatically be expunged and the central file destroyed.
As a final word on the subject, I would like to make it clear that both the new child abuse register and the administrative records that preceded it are nothing more than a minor extract from the case records built and maintained by the local children’s aid societies, as they pursue their mandate for protecting the children of this province.
Mr. McClellan: They will soon be bankrupt and you won’t have to worry about it.
Mr. Speaker: I know honourable members will want to welcome to our gallery today participants in the Fifth Canadian Regional Seminar of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Parliamentarians are here from Canada, Belize, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
In addition we have a delegation of six from the newly constituted parliament of Ghana. This latter group flatters us by coming to observe not only the seminar events but the proceedings of this House as it establishes parliamentary democracy.
Will you welcome all our guests.
In addition to our distinguished visitors to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association seminar, I know the House will also want to welcome Honourable Herr Dietrich Stobbe, President of the Bundesrat of the Federal Republic of Germany and Governing Mayor of Berlin, who is seated in our gallery.
Would you please welcome him and his associates.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, while you did recognize the members of the parliamentary group in the gallery, I would like to point out to the House that there is one very distinguished visitor there. They’re all distinguished, but the former Premier of Prince Edward Island happens to be among that group. I thought the House would like to welcome him. He is in the back row, shy and modestly chatting with his next-door neighbour.
Mr. Chairman: I wonder if I could interrupt the debate of the committee. I’d like to draw to your attention the presence of visitors from the city of Wroclaw in Poland, sitting in our east gallery. They are accompanied by Mr. Janicki, the Consul General of Poland, on the occasion of their visit to their sister city of North York.
I’d ask you to please welcome our visitors today.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, may I on behalf of the leader of my party, the member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith), and the Liberal Party extend greetings and best wishes to the delegation from Wroclaw, Poland, that is in the gallery. I would now like to say a few words in Polish.
Mr. Chairman, it is a real honour for me, as the first person of Polish extraction to have been elected to the Legislature of Ontario -- some 20 years ago -- to welcome our honoured guests from Poland, from Wroclaw, to our Legislature on behalf of the Liberal Party and my leader, the member for Hamilton West, and to make these few remarks. I would like to have been able to say much more in Polish but I am unable to do so.
This parliament has 125 members, five of them of Polish descent, or four per cent. The 1971 population statistics for Canada indicate 316,000 persons of Polish background, or just under one per cent.
I am sure you will enjoy your visit and sincerely hope you will come back and visit us again.
(End of translation.)
Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the New Democratic Party and our leader, the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), I have the honour to welcome the Polish delegation from Wroclaw, Poland, which has arrived on the occasion of the twinning agreement between Wroclaw and the city of North York.
Wroclaw is a very old Polish city. Seventy per cent was destroyed during the Second World War, but because of the Polish determination it has not only been rebuilt but also was the home of the first international peace movement.
Mam honor pow tac polska delegacje Miasta: Wroclaw z okazji zawartego porozumienia o przyjazni miast blizniaczych z North York.
Wroclaw jest bardzo starym polskim miastem, byl zniszczony przez ostatnia wojne w 70%, ale dzieki postawie ducha polskiego w ludziach tego miasta wiele odbudowano i Wroclaw jest dzisiaj wielkim osrodkiem nanki i kultnry. W tym wlasnie miejscu narodzil sie ruch obroncow pokoju w 1948 roku.
So I speak for all members of this Legislature in extending a warm welcome to the delegates, wishing them a pleasant and rewarding visit and a safe journey home.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the government I would like to welcome our visitors very sincerely and warmly. I think it is very fitting that they are here this year. Because of the actions of the Legislature many years ago and the initiative of North York they are able to visit the city of North York, one of our newer cities, although that may be hard for a city like Wroclaw to understand, having such a long and distinguished history.
North York, although it has been there for a long time, has not been a city for even a year. It has been a borough and it has been a township, but it now becomes a city. I am sure its relationship with a very historic city like Wroclaw is a good thing for both the areas. We are very pleased to have these delegates here.
I can’t speak in their native Polish, as some of my confreres have done. If one of my secretaries were here she could do it, I think, even more beautifully than either of my two fellow members. She is not a member of this Legislature, but personally she would be happy to extend greetings to you in Polish. I do want you to know, however, that you are very welcome here.
Poland has very special significance for all of us, whether we be Protestant, as I am, or Catholic, because it is the homeland of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. His visit to Poland and his contribution is very significant in the world today. As the first Polish pope, as he is affectionately known here, I think he brings great credit to Poland also. We wanted you to know that, that Poland has gained a new status. Although it always had a very high status in our esteem, it has gained an even newer status as the homeland of the Holy Father and the place from which he comes.
We are very happy to have the representatives of Wroclaw here and to know that you are twinned with the city of North York. We hope your stay in North York and in Ontario will be a very happy and beneficial one.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I take this opportunity to table for the information and comment of honourable members a document with the somewhat formidable title: The LRTAP Problem in North America: A Preliminary Overview. The same document is being released today by the governments of Canada and the United States.
LRTAP stands for Long-Range Transportation of Air Pollutants, the modern industrial phenomenon which has caused acidified precipitation or acid rain and has been a major preoccupation of my ministry for several years.
I commend this report to your attention. It was prepared by the Canada/United States Research Consultation Group established last year to co-ordinate research efforts in both countries. While it is of necessity a preliminary report, I look upon it as a valuable addition to the extensive literature being developed on acidified precipitation. It is, however, a highly complex document which must be considered fully before any conclusions can be drawn.
The report represents further evidence that the governments of Canada, the United States and Ontario are working in closest harmony to solve a common problem. Members will note that in several sections reference is made to the contributions of the staff of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
I repeat that this is a preliminary report which is intended as an introduction to the problem. Further, more definitive reports are in the process of preparation.
I expect we shall have the opportunity to discuss the subject in more detail in the standing committee on resources development.
I say to the members, your reading of this preliminary report will convince you, I believe, that a vast amount of work remains to be done at the federal level and by ourselves to fully attack the phenomenon in all its complexities, and to dissect it scientifically to allow us to reach a meaningful international agreement under which corrective actions can be taken.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I have a second statement which I shall read at this time.
I also wish to draw to the attention of the honourable members that this week, October 14 to October 20, is being observed nationally as Canadian Environmental Week. It is an occasion to encourage citizens to become better informed about environmental problems that we face in the 1980s.
The protection and enhancement of our natural environment cannot be left to a few specialists or to governments alone. It concerns us all, and we must all participate.
It seems fitting that this special week, established by an act of Parliament in 1971, should be so close to Thanksgiving. It is a time to express gratitude for our abundant natural resources and to remind us of our responsibility to preserve and protect these resources for future generations.
I also wish to acknowledge the important role played by the conservationists and citizens’ groups in environmental protection and for providing the focal point for citizen participation.
The main objective of Environment Week is to encourage Canadians to become better informed about environmental matters and to participate more fully in the search for solutions. To this end, I am announcing a new environmental project organized by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and with the full support of my ministry.
On Saturday, June 7, 1980, the federation will participate and undertake a one-day blitz to be called “Pitch-in Day.” Volunteer groups from the federation, from service clubs, from schools and other organizations will stage local cleanups to clear litter from streams, shores, back roads, picnic areas, camp sites and even off-the-beaten-path recreation areas which lack regular collection services.
My ministry will promote the project with an advertising campaign next spring which will expand on the theme “Keep Ontario Beautiful” and expansion into a new direction in the l95Os.
We have been working with the federation for some time to organize this event and I think it is most appropriate to announce Pitch-in Day at the start of Canada Environment Week and to congratulate at the same time the federation members for their efforts in keeping the public aware that all of us must make a contribution.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Premier, Mr. Speaker. Since the policy of the government of Ontario I am told is to urge the federal government to retain essential functions of Petro-Canada, can the Premier tell us which are the non-essential functions which could be and should be sold off at this time in his view?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I guess it’s hard to determine what is essential. I communicated with the Prime Minister some time ago -- I guess in July. Since that time the task force, or whatever way one wishes to describe the activities of the people who have apparently prepared the report, which I gather has been partially released by one of the political leaders of this country but which has not been made available --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I haven’t seen it yet. The honourable member may have it, but I haven’t got it. What I suggested in my letter to the Prime Minister was that we felt from Ontario’s perspective there was merit in having Petrocan continue in some form or other.
I am not in a position to pronounce in detail on every aspect of Petrocan’s activities. One could argue for instance that being in the retail business is not an essential part of a national oil company. In our view it has a role to play in terms of frontier exploration, international negotiation and those matters that have some national connotation.
In fact, I was interested in sensing from some very informal discussions with the private sector that the industry itself felt there was a role for a national oil company. I think, without getting into any detailed discussion today until we see the report --
Mr. S. Smith: What are the non-essential functions? You made the statement.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member will just be patient, what I did say in the letter was that I didn’t think Petrocan should be doing something -- I forget the exact phrasing --
Mr. S. Smith: For instance?
Hon. Mr. Davis: My, the member is petulant today. Why doesn’t he just wait? Let me finish. Be patient.
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition will have an opportunity to ask a supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I didn’t think Petrocan should be doing something the private sector could probably do better. One could argue whether a national oil company should be in the business, say, of being in the retail aspect of supply --
Mr. S. Smith: Retail, perhaps.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I always have trouble with the Leader of the Opposition who has this great amount of wisdom and knows everything about everything. I confess to him I don’t. I am dealing with a principle and with a concept. I communicated to the Prime Minister that I felt there was a role -- still do -- for a national oil company or energy company that deals with some of those broader things that gives us in this province concern as consumers.
Mr. Warner: Let’s put the Bob and Bill show on the road.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think we should await the report from the task force to see what their recommendations are and what their analyses are. Then I would be prepared to make some judgements, but I haven’t defined exactly for the Prime Minister what should and what should not be kept. I dealt with it in terms of principle.
I also made it clear that I didn’t think Petrocan should be in a position to have some economic advantage over competitors within the private sector. That doesn’t make any sense to me either. But we do feel, on this side of the House, there is a role for a national oil or energy company. You can call it Petrocan or you can call it something else, but that is our point of view, and it has not changed.
Mr. Kerrio: Hydro.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am looking forward to seeing the report.
Mr. Kerrio: Lougheed Incorporated.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You can talk about Lougheed. I don’t think he is opposed to it, as a matter of fact.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since it is the government’s own policy statement which we will be debating tomorrow, I understand that says that Ontario urges the federal government to retain essential functions of Petrocan, and since the Premier has apparently not decided in his own mind what he means by that statement, one can only speculate as to whether he understands what he means by any part of the policy that exists.
May I ask him, since the debate is now in progress as to exactly what functions are to be sold off and since he says retailing perhaps, in his view, is not essential, does it seem logical to him, when all the major oil companies are integrated in this complex world of ours, that the Canadian one should be disintegrated and that the Canadian one should retain, as is suggested by some in the federal party, the debt portion and give the money-making portion to the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t agree with the latter. I think the first statement made by the Leader of the Opposition is not totally accurate. There are a number of companies involved in terms of exploration and development of supply which, in turn, sell to those that are responsible for retail.
When I say retail, I really can’t envisage Petrocan opening another four gas stations on highway 10 or, as we call it, Main Street in the town of Brampton because we feel we have a sufficient number of gas stations. That is how I use the concept of retailing. I just don’t see their getting into that sort of part of the business and I would be surprised if many members on the other side of the House would either.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Will the Premier, on behalf of the people of Ontario, make it clear to the federal government that it is essential for Petro-Canada to retain its profitable activities in refining and marketing so that it is able to continue to finance the essential national functions of exploration and development?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Before everybody gets carried away over there, we made it clear to the government of Canada that Petrocan should retain those areas where it is making money to help finance those areas which for a period of time will be of an exploratory nature.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: On behalf of the people of this province, will the government of Ontario unequivocally oppose any transfer of the operations of Petrocan into the private sector, but keep Petrocan as the largest Canadian-owned oil company which can operate in the interests of all Canadians?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Once again, I don’t paint with quite as broad a brush as the leader of the New Democratic Party. It just is symbolic of their approach to everything in life. My view is that every crown corporation should be subject to some form of review. He says that when it comes to provincial crown corporations; to be consistent, he should say this with respect to any federal organization.
If there are some things that could be better done in the public interest by some other people and which are costing the taxpayers money or don’t provide any benefit, then I don’t think any crown corporation should be in a position where it can say just because it happens to be whatever it is some changes shouldn’t take place.
I can’t give the leader of the New Democratic Party a commitment that I will say to the Prime Minister of Canada that everything Petrocan is doing is right, and that it should be enshrined in perpetuity, no. I will continue to press the Prime Minister of this country to have Petrocan, by whatever name, a national oil company involved in those areas that we think are fundamental and necessary in the broad public interest.
I have already done this -- it has been communicated by the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) -- and we will continue to do so.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Speaker, following directly from the statement he has just given the House -- the preliminary overview concerning the long-range transport of air pollutants. On page 14 there’s a summary of the present stage of investigation.
I draw the minister’s attention to the statement that the influx of sulphur compounds from south or north is in existence but the northward movement is comparable to the magnitude of the internal emissions in Canada. It goes on to say that the “greater portion of total sulphur deposition in each country is probably the result of domestic emission.” To put that in plain English, what it says is that over half the sulphur falling on Ontario lakes and acidifying them is of Canadian origin, not 80 per cent of American origin, as the minister has been telling the resources committee. If this statement is in any way correct, will the minister take action immediately to deal with those polluters in Ontario and not hide behind the need for an international agreement before anything is done?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I think what I said in my statement bears repeating, this is a preliminary document, and will require a good deal of careful reading, not only of this document but of the other studies. The last thing I have tried to do is to get into a war of pointing fingers at other jurisdictions. I think what members are seeing here is perhaps a scientific disagreement. Second, it is comparing apples and oranges, if you will.
We must be very careful as we attack this problem and not draw erroneous conclusions. I’m not for a second suggesting the member just did. I’m simply saying it would be very difficult for all of us not to draw erroneous conclusions. This falls in a very scientific area where we relate on one hand deposition and on the other hand the total amount of emission.
I think I have always talked in terms of the total emission to our atmosphere. But what we must do is not only talk about it in terms of emission and deposition as the report is talking about, but try to put a weighted value on the different emissions. If you attack it from those points of view, I think there is only one conclusion you can come to: that this is a very difficult problem to fully comprehend and that more studies are required, not only by ourselves but by the federal government and the US. We should not try, in this one report, to draw false conclusions about what is going on in this rather international problem.
Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary question: I think the minister has made it very clear in front of the resources development committee and every member of the press that 80 per cent of the acid rain problem, in his view, is of American origin. He’s been saying that all over the province. Since this makes it plain that over half the problem is of our own domestic origin, will the minister now tell us what more he needs in the way of evidence that will allow him to accept these conclusions and what he is going to do to get that evidence? Or will he start to take action here in Ontario before the acid rain problem gets completely out of hand, since at least half the problem is ours and not the United States of America’s?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Last June, when we were Just here, I reported on the paper we put to the resources field ministries for Canada in Kelowna, I think in that we brought to the attention of the federal government the importance of the problem. Indeed they’ve moved a long way in that period of time.
I’m not trying to make claim today for their actions or to discredit what they’re done. I’m simply saying that it would be a bit unfair to suggest we haven’t been active in this field for a considerable period of time. The report indeed does give a good deal of credit to the officials of my ministry for the information in that report.
Given that, I really hope there will be time to discuss that at great length during the resources committee bearings which start tomorrow night. But I would like to correct the record in that I have not been fingering the United States and saying they are the cause of the problem. I think I have consistently said it is an international problem and that I recognize we contribute our share. Where our share goes and where it does harm is a very difficult question to answer. We know we have to have a full understanding of the weather patterns of North America to understand that in full detail.
I think you will find it will take a great deal of time and effort to understand fully our contribution to our own problem and to the problems in some states of the United States and in other provinces. In my view, none of us gains by suggesting it is somebody else’s problem. We have all been part of the problem, we must all be part of the solution; and the first point that must be made in that solution is an international agreement.
Some hon. members: The mikes aren’t working.
Mr. Speaker: I have been told by the people who are operating the console that three rows of microphones are out of service. They assure me they are still able to keep a record of what is being said. Please be patient and speak up a bit so that you can hear among yourselves.
I am told a record is being preserved for posterity, but you will have to speak up.
GAS AND OIL SUPPLIES
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Can the minister explain why his ministry is refusing to make available to the Legislature and to the public the information on inventories and projected demand for petroleum products -- heating oil and gasoline -- which the ministry regularly receives from the National Energy Board?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I thought I responded to this on Friday in the House. The member for Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes) shakes her head; she was not in her seat on Friday, so --
An hon. member: The minister said he was satisfied.
An hon. member: Where was she? Protesting on Parliament Hill.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The member for Carleton East wasn’t even here Friday.
I indicated to members that whatever information we had, which for some reason was not labelled by its source “not for public information,” was available. I understand there are some reports that we receive, and as the member for Carleton East has been told many times when she has been over and has been accorded all the courtesies the Ministry of Energy should, in fact, accord to a member of this Legislature, that there are reports that come from the National Energy Board that carry with them certain endorsements with respect to whether or not they are for public information.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s what we’re talking about.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s the whole point of the question.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The point is that I did later in the day make some information available with respect to inventories, which I have been reading published in the papers since Friday.
Mr. Cassidy: We don’t know what you’ve been reading.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Well, ask me.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Rather than asking the minister to confirm published reports I will ask him this. Why won’t the National Energy Board make that information available to the public of Ontario? How can this Legislature have an informed debate on the energy situation in Ontario here in this Legislature tomorrow when we lack the most basic information about the supplies of petroleum, which provides 63 per cent of our energy needs in this province?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Let me approach that in two different ways. I made it quite. clear in this House in response to very legitimate questions from the honourable member with respect to the supply situation that the National Energy Board projects that by the end of this year the inventory of both gasoline and home-heating oil will be marginally in excess of the inventory as of December 31, 1978. On the basis of the information I have, in consultation with the oil companies, the situation in usual circumstances will be manageable.
Why the National Energy Board may endorse certain reports as not for public information is a question the member might legitimately direct to them. The member has the means by which that question might be placed in another form.
Mr. Warner: But you’re not interested.
Mr. Cassidy: The multinationals get it, but not the people of this province.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I am in a position to know that we are supplied with certain information from this source. We have our own ways of monitoring the situation from other sources and, therefore, come to some conclusions.
On the basis of this information we have, we have talked in terms of the inventory of home-heating oil and gasoline as at September 1, 1979 -- public information I would be glad to send over to you.
Mr. J. Reed: Is the minister convinced the information. he is getting regarding supply and regarding the inventory is complete, factual and totally truthful inasmuch as there appears to be a -- I’m sorry, my use of words this afternoon is off a little bit; it’s been a long weekend.
An hon. member: Not long enough.
An hon. member: Speak for yourself.
Mr. J. Reed: I would like to know if the minister is convinced the information he is using to indicate the petroleum supply picture for this next winter is as accurate as it can possibly be, understanding we have already had some indication of possible shortfalls and understanding the industry itself has indicated to us that one disruption of supply this winter could cause a shortfall.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, may I repeat what I said last week? In this type of an exchange, we have to do it in a responsible way.
I think the honourable member would be the first to admit that the situation is, as I’ve indicated, tight for this coming season, but I’m assured -- and I’ve named my sources -- by the National Energy Board and by the oil companies that is manageable for this current season. There’s a great danger in this type of exchange that we will be the cause of some unusual circumstances if the people themselves call into doubt this particular situation.
Mr. Warner: You’ve caused all sorts of problems. Why not cause another one?
Hon. Mr. Welch: As the minister, I surely can’t be criticized if I’m relying to a large extent on the information I receive from the National Energy Board and from consultation with the oil companies. I draw the honourable member’s attention to news comments over the weekend which quoted the oil companies as agreeing with our present assessment of the situation.
Mr. Swart: That’s what bothers me.
Hon. Mr. Welch: As far as I know now, there’s every indication in projecting present figures --
Mr. Cassidy: You used to say we had a 400-year supply.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- the situation will be in hand as far as this year is concerned,
Mr. Cassidy: Imperial Oil knows best.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I underline “subject to usual circumstances.”
I can’t help but agree with the honourable member that if something unusual were to happen with respect to international circumstance or some major disaster -- surely I can’t be held accountable for those situations. I have to rely to a large extent on the information I’m getting from the particular sources which I’ve been quite prepared to name, as the backup for this information and the conclusion to which I have come.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Energy if he thinks it’s reasonable that the public of Ontario not be allowed to examine the figures which are available to him in making his judgement before us. Also, I will ask him about published information, since he’s quoting it. Does he agree with published information printed in the Globe and Mail on Saturday that our heating oil supplies in Ontario are 6.45 per cent below those of last year?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I’ve been misunderstood. This is already public information. The inventory for home heating oil as of September 1, 1979, has in fact been revealed, and indeed it was at that time lower than it was at the same time the year before.
There’s a reason for that, as the honourable member knows. Ontario, with its surplus, responded to a short supply situation in its sister province -- a very responsible thing to do at that time. Therefore, it’s taking a little time now to build that inventory back. I can assure the member, on the basis of the National Energy Board projections and information we have from the oil companies, we will have that situation rectified and will be marginally in excess of last year’s situation by the end of this year.
I don’t know what more I can do, except to repeat and to continue to repeat something which the people of this province are entitled to know --
Ms. Gigantes: Let’s see the figures.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- that for the current heating season there is nothing to be concerned about under the usual circumstances we in fact, are using as the assumptions for coming to this conclusion.
An hon. member: Provided the weather holds.
An hon. member: Over-reacting as usual.
Hon. Mr. Welch: You’re trying desperately to create a problem.
Mr. Cassidy: Is the minister prepared to insist to the National Energy Board that the people of Ontario are entitled to have the facts about the heating oil situation and is the minister further prepared to make those facts public if the National Energy Board insists on continuing to leave them in the hands of the multinational oil companies?
Mr. S. Smith: Why the secrecy?
Hon. Mr. Welch: There’s no secrecy, I would respond to the interjection of the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Cassidy: Of course there is.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I have shared with members the inventory as of September 1 and the projections as of December 1, both with respect to gasoline and home heating oil. In fact, I’ll write them out in my own handwriting for the member if that will make them any more legitimate.
Mr. Nixon: Signed by his own hand.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Energy earlier today indicated that information about oil stocks in the province effective September 1 is freely available. I’ve inquired where that came from and it I turns out it was made available only after insistent and repeated questions by a reporter from the Sunday Sun. The information was given by the minister’s assistant, Mr. Wieland.
The minister should confirm that as of September 1 the stocks were down by 18 per cent when it came to heating oil. That surely is not anything to be assured by or to be satisfied with.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It would be unfortunate if the honourable member left the impression it was only after persistent questioning. I responded to a question from the honourable member indicating I would go back and check what aspects of these particular reports were available. I was asked that question and made the information available to some reporter. I have that information here and would be glad to share it with members. There’s no secrecy about this. It’s unfortunate to create that impression.
AUTO INDUSTRY LAYOFFS
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. In view of the fact that the unemployment rate at Windsor is currently running at about 12 per cent, which is one of the highest rates of any city in the country, and that several thousand workers at both Ford and Chrysler are on indefinite layoffs because of technological changes in the auto industry, is the government prepared to make the case through Ottawa for transitional assistance benefits for those workers who face long layoffs because of technological changes in the auto industry?
Mr. Havrot: What kind of car does the member drive? Is it domestic or foreign?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member for Ottawa Centre well knows, the manpower commission was established and its office commenced functioning on August 1. The primary matter that it has been considering has been the question of skilled training and matching the skilled needs in the community. The issue the member has raised is another issue it will be addressing itself to. I’ll be prepared to bring a message into the House when I have received that.
Mr. Peterson: The minister is concerned about it too.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If the member isn’t careful, I might go to London and show him some concern. Certainly, the government has already shown its concern for unemployment in many areas of the province. As the member knows, the policy with regard to the Employment Development Fund is to direct funds to areas of high unemployment, and it will continue to use those levers and those methods to alleviate unemployment as it deems possible.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Can the minister explain why the government is prepared to entertain roughly millions of dollars in transitional assistance benefits for auto corporations that have agreed to technological change but is dragging its feet for months, if not for years, over the question of providing transitional assistance benefits to the workers who are affected by technological change in the auto industry?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As I’ve already told the member, those are issues that the manpower commission and the commissioner will be addressing themselves to. I’ll be pleased to report to the Legislature when those priorities are reached.
Mr. Warner: The government is not going to do anything.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: I would like to emphasize to the Minister of Labour how important this is to the community. There are many former employees in both Chrysler and Ford and, I would assume, other industries in town who will be seeking welfare within the next two or three months. I would urge the minister with all speed to communicate with his federal counterpart and see that transitional benefits are provided to those numbers of people who are laid off as a result possibly of the auto trade pact.
Mr. Speaker: Will the minister?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Yes, Mr, Speaker.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary: Since many of the workers who are unemployed right now have been unemployed for quite some period of time and will be resorting to welfare, does the minister agree that property tax which funds part of the welfare assistance should be used as assistance to workers who are unemployed? Because his government is not willing to put pressure on the federal government for adequate transitional assistance, why should property tax pay for that kind of assistance?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I’ve already indicated to the member for Windsor-Walkerville that I would be pleased to forward that message.
GRANTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, my question concerns the implementation of the equalization factors and on Friday the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs made a statement with respect to this. I would like the minister to indicate to the House when he is going to make the announcement with respect to the grant package for municipalities and if he has any idea as to how much this grant package will cost?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The announcement of the grant package for municipalities will probably be made in about four weeks; I would think some time into November or perhaps at the meeting of the provincial-municipal liaison committee in November, but certainly in plenty of time for the municipalities to have the information for their use.
Mr. Epp: A supplementary: I wonder if the minister would indicate where this money is going to come from. Will it come from the ordinary moneys that have already been allocated to the municipalities via the grant package, or will this be in addition to the money usually allocated to the municipality?
Will the minister ensure the promises made in the statement to cushion the blow of the new equalization factors will not reduce the overall grant package?
Is this another way in which the municipalities are going to get shafted by having taken some of the moneys ordinarily going to them and reallocating it in a different way?
An hon. member: Same old shaft.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I can’t recall in 38 years that this government has ever shafted a municipality.
An hon. member: Boy, have you got a short memory. What a joke; a very short memory.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have listened to members talk a lot about cutbacks but I can’t recall any year when we have ever cut back the amount of money that is available to the municipalities or the school boards of this province.
An hon. member: What about in education?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We have never cut back the amount of money for education. If you read a good English dictionary, cutback means give less than you gave the year before and I don’t ever recall that happening.
An hon. member: What about inflation?
An hon. member: How about percentage. wise?
Hon. Mr. Wells: In answer to the member’s question, the answer is that there will be more money provided to do the things that we said we would in our statement to cushion the effects of the new equalization factors in so far as the resource equalization grants and the general legislative grant are concerned.
Mr. Epp: Is this a continuation of the policy of the government to make statements as to the amount of money they are going to give municipalities through other areas without having any idea how much it is going to cost them?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, Mr. Speaker, I believe I indicated in general terms during the estimates of my ministry, which we were discussing on Friday, that it could be somewhere between $10 million and $50 million. Having checked that very carefully afterwards, I think when I was chatting with the press I indicated it would probably be somewhere between $18 million and $22 million to put into effect a program that I talked about in the statement I made Friday morning -- that that money would he available above and beyond the normal grants that would be transferred to the municipalities.
Mr. Isaacs: Does the minister intend that the phase-in of the new equalization factor he announced on Friday will be for one year only, or will he subsequently be announcing that the phase-in will be continued to 1981, and for as long as necessary?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I indicated on Friday, and I reindicate to the members now, what we are announcing is a one-year program and it is a continuing discussion and a continuing study of tax reform. All those things connected with government grants to municipalities will continue.
Mr. Breithaupt: It’s only been 36 years, so don’t worry.
What we are announcing is a one-year program for next year’s use of the equalization factors.
ALGOMA CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY
Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services with respect in the situation at the Algoma Children’s Aid Society, arising from his statement on Thursday that the children in that area are not at risk as a result of the strike.
Is the minister aware that the Algoma Children’s Aid Society has court orders to supervise more than 30 homes in which gross neglect or physical or sexual abuse has been found? Is he aware that in September 20, in the Globe and Mail, the executive director of the society said they were not able to enforce their supervision orders, and that again today the executive director has advised us they are still not able to implement the supervision orders?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Although I have great respect for the Globe and Mail, I have other sources of information upon which I rely.
Mr. McClellan: The executive director said it;
Mr. Warner: What’s wrong with the executive director? Sure, attack the executive director.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would like to advise the honourable member that I do rely upon the presence of senior staff of my ministry who are in that community, who are maintaining contact with the society and are monitoring the situation on a daily basis.
I have been regularly advised of the circumstances there. There was one time, early in the course of the dispute, when it was brought to our attention that there was the possibility of children being at risk. I communicated immediately with the board and I understand the board responded by involving some additional management staff to assist in the supervisory role they are maintaining during the course of the strike. It was subsequently reported to me that the supervision, although not optimum -- I am not suggesting it’s perfect; obviously it can’t be when staff are on strike during this period of time and when this kind of dispute continues -- but I am at this point satisfied that the children are not at risk as a result of the continuing dispute.
Mr. McClellan: By way of supplementary, does the minister not realize that failure to abide by a supervision order constitutes contempt of court? Is he aware that in the opinion of the executive director of this agency they are not able to do what the court has required them to do under the supervision orders and they are, in his words, in the position of being found in contempt of court? Doesn’t that put the lie to what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, it doesn’t. I would suggest to the honourable member that if that is the case it is something I will explore further with my staff and have them contact the executive director. I had not seen that particular concern expressed. I will examine the status of those court orders and how effectively they are being abided by.
Mr. McClellan: It was stated in the Globe and Mail three weeks ago.
Mr. Warner: Boy, what are you waiting for?
Mr. Peterson: I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Would he be prepared to introduce changes to the Municipal Act in view of the problem the city of London and other cities have had with respect to licensing pinball establishments so they could regulate hours of operation, distance from schools and things of that nature? This suggestion has the support of several other municipalities. Would the minister co-operate with those municipalities to do something and introduce legislation forthwith?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would be glad to look into that. I am not sure what exact legislative amendments would be required, but I will be glad to look into it.
Mr. Peterson: The Premier was written to and he said he was going to petition the minister. So if the minister wouldn’t mind communicating with the Premier, he is quite well versed in this problem and I am sure it has his full support.
I will tell those good people to forthwith look for a response from the minister, and I thank him.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will be happy to do that. Of course, the Premier shares with me all his correspondence --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Certainly.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- that concerns municipal matters. I just tell the honourable member we would like to look at this. I guess there are municipalities that have found some ways to do it within their existing legislation, and pinball parlours haven’t presented a problem to them.
Sometimes we are a little too quick to think that some provincial amendment can solve every municipal problem. As I indicated the other day, sometimes there are remedies already there in the act, so therefore we would like to take a look.
Mr. Swart: A question, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Housing. It concerns the OMB hearings on the Niagara regional urban boundaries which, as he knows, will recommence in November.
Is the minister aware that the developers and the municipalities have appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board to have included within the urban development boundaries most of the 3,000 acres which his government ordered to be left for agriculture? The region of Niagara is on record as supporting at least 700 acres of this.
In view of the fact that the attorney representing the ministry was extremely vague as to the ministry’s position when he made a statement at a procedural meeting last June, will the minister now clearly state his position? Is it or is it not still his government’s policy, as stated by the late Housing minister, Mr. John Rhodes, that the urban boundaries of the Niagara fruitland shall be cut to 3,000 acres less than those set by the Niagara regional council in 1974? Is that still government policy?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, may I ask the minister if he is aware that his lawyer, who said he was speaking for the Housing minister, told the OMB that it didn’t necessarily have to follow what Mr. Rhodes had said, and concluded with these remarks and I quote: “Perhaps the board should now just hear all the evidence and come to its own conclusions,.
Doesn’t this show the minister once again copping out and if not, is he going to instruct his solicitor to defend vigorously the cutbacks which his government announced with such fanfare back in February 1977?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, while I have indicated clearly that’s still the government’s position, I think we have to look at the fact that there has been a request for an Ontario Municipal Board hearing re the boundary lines as drawn by the government.
I was told by a number of people in the opposition that they felt it was reducing the right to have some freedom of expression of opinion at the OMB, that the government took the attitude that there should be no discussion, and it was making a charade of the OMB.
We were asked, Mr. Speaker, to have the OMB hearing. We have not taken a violent position one way or the other, because we think it’s right to have some expressions of opinion from the various communities.
Our position at this moment is not altered.
Mr. Swart: I have another short supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I ask the minister if he feels in his view that it’s right that he is going to leave his defence solely to a citizens’ group to be financed by them at a hearing which is going to cost $1 million.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, it is not our intention to leave our defence in the hands of the organization of which the honourable member speaks. Very clearly, we are asking for the expression of opinion, from the municipal aspect, the private aspect and from the other organizations that seem to have some views on the subject at hand. That’s the purpose of the OMB, to have a hearing and eventually to make a recommendation to cabinet.
Mr. Warner: In other words, you won’t defend the fruitland.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Whether that recommendation follows the position the government has previously taken or not is something we will find out at the conclusion.
Mr. Swart: Your cutback means nothing then.
Mr. Warner: What a sham. You have abandoned the defence of the fruitland. That’s what you have done.
SHOP CANADIAN PROGRAM
Mr. Cunningham: I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism, relating to an article that I noticed in last week’s Toronto Star.
I read with interest that the federal Minister of External Affairs blew $4,000 in a shopping spree in London, England. I wonder if the minister would take it upon himself the next time he’s visiting with his kissing cousins in Ottawa to impress upon the honourable minister the merits of his Shop Canadian program and encourage her possibly to go on a shopping spree in his own constituency on Spadina, or possibly in the Sparks Street mall in Ottawa, where she works, or even in the town of Kingston where unemployment is very high at the moment.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to do that. In fact I expect to have much more success with my kissing cousins in Ottawa than I used to have with the member’s old kissing cousins in Ottawa.
My friends in Ottawa are currently being hampered by the quite frankly second-rate and mediocre Shop Canadian campaign left over from the earlier administration. I am happy to report that all indications are that the new government will hype it up, and continue to aid and assist our very successful Shop Canadian program --
An Hon. member: Are we going to hear your voice from the radio still?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and I will send this button over to the member and hope he will put it on.
Mr. Lupusella: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Considering that the last increase from the Workmen’s Compensation Board in the workmen’s compensation benefit levels took place on July 1, 1978, will the minister give us his assurance that legislation will be introduced in this session to compensate fully for the increased cost of living due to inflation?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am awaiting a report from the joint consultative committee of the Workmen’s Compensation Board and a recommendation of the corporate board on that very issue, and I expect to have it shortly.
Mr. Lupusella: Supplementary: Will the minister also give us his assurance that he will bring the widows’ allowance to a level of decency and adequacy, as well?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: That is a matter that is also before the joint consultative committee, as well as an interministerial committee, and when I have a recommendation on it, I will place it before cabinet.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary: Why does not the Minister of Labour revert to the old policy where the injured workers could count on an increase on an annual basis? And why is it that now after 18 months we have to have an outcry from the opposition in the Legislature and from the injured workers and their families for an increase? Why doesn’t the minister go back to the way it was and give them an annual increase?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: With the greatest of respect, I would differ with the member. There never was such a policy of a regular annual increase. There have been periodic ad hoc increases and, as the member well knows, the Wyeth group was consulted to prepare an extensive report on the issue of the whole financing and other matters relating to the Workmen’s Compensation Board. That was one of the issues placed before it, and that is the report that is presently being analysed.
In the meantime, as I have indicated clearly today, I am awaiting a recommendation about that one specific issue, and when I have it I will make the recommendation to cabinet.
CANADIAN BRIDGE LAYOFFS
Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Is the minister aware that 124 of the 214 employees of the Canadian Bridge division of Hawker Siddeley Canada Limited in Windsor were recently laid off, as a result of their inability to compete in the marketplace because of preferential treatment given to suppliers and manufacturers in the province of Quebec? And will the minister consider balancing that off after some fashion so that those 124 workers would not be laid off?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The situation with Canadian Bridge is simply that if Hydro switched all its purchasing of towers over to this company, it wouldn’t, in fact, be enough to keep the company in business. I am informed that that particular company lost $3 million in seven years producing these steel power-transmission towers.
Quebec Hydro, in fact, has a purchasing policy which differs from ours. Quebec gives a five per cent premium for Canadian products, plus another five per cent premium for Quebec-made products. As the member well knows, we in this province are encouraging purchase strictly on a national basis, not a provincial basis and, therefore, we have a 10 per cent national purchasing policy. That is the one followed by Ontario Hydro.
We discussed with Hydro -- I took the matter up with Hydro -- in order to ascertain what the situation would be if, for example, we went much farther than that -- 5O to 60 per cent preference, whatever -- and made it Ontario-based. The answer is quite simple. For this particular firm to remain in business it needs to increase its annual business five times, in order to remain viable. That would amount to 50 per cent more than all of Ontario Hydro’s needs over the next few years.
So, in simple terms, no matter what Ontario Hydro’s purchasing policies were -- and in this case I want to say I think they were quite adequate and sufficient -- even if they were totally tilted towards this company and they bought only from this company, it still wouldn’t he sufficient to make this company viable and profitable.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: May I ask of the minister if his officials are looking into the unused capacity at Hawker Siddeley in Windsor and have it put to some other use so that at least some of the employees who are now permanently laid off would have an opportunity for employment once again with the same company?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Of course, as is always the case in these instances, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism gets involved from the standpoint of seeing if there is something else that can go into that particular facility and if different work can be found for that particular plant. The Ministry of Labour is working on the pure labour side to see if those workers can get other and different employment. Both ministries are working on that situation now.
Mr. Cooke: A question of the Minister of Colleges and Universities: Now that the minister has had the OCUA report, System on the Brink, before her for a period of two weeks, I would like to know what her reaction is, and in particular, her reaction to the statement by OCUA that by 1983-84 the university system in this province will have been understated by $230 million if this government does not change its policy towards funding of our post-secondary institutions?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have now had an opportunity to read the statement of OCUA, which I would remind the member is directed not only toward the government but also toward the institutions themselves and to the faculties of those institutions. I would agree that the basis of the prediction of OCUA is that, indeed, there will be absolutely no change in the pattern over the past several years, and I am aware of the concerns which have been expressed to me by the university community as well.
I would not comment because I am not at all sure that I could comment in mathematical terms appropriate to that statement within the OCULA white paper.
Mr. Cooke: As a supplementary, maybe the minister could indicate to the Legislature if she now understands that the universities in this province are in desperate financial situations right now, and is she willing to change her policies before one of them or a couple of them collapse and the quality of the post-secondary education system declines dramatically? OCUA already says it is declining. What is the minister prepared to do about it before the system collapses?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the member has not read carefully the statement of OCUA, because OCUA is not stating that the system is about to collapse. It states that if the present trend continues for a period of time, it will be on the brink of collapse. Being on the brink of collapse and the potential that indeed it could happen after a period of time, I think, are entirely two different things.
DISASTER RELIEF ASSISTANCE
Mr. Nixon: I have a question of the Premier. Can the Premier report on what the position of the government of Canada is having to do with federal assistance for disaster relief in the Oxford-Brant-Norfolk tornado situation? The funds that have been gathered in by the committee are extensive but they have not as yet triggered the federal government to make any kind of contribution of significance.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can’t right at the moment but I’ll get that information to the member for tomorrow afternoon. If I get it earlier I’ll phone it to him.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: I believe the Premier is aware of the procedure used by the government of Canada and there is some reason to believe that there might not be a contribution available under these circumstances. The Premier may well recall the criticism directed at the government of Canada by his colleagues when the formula did not come to the assistance of other disaster areas, northern Ontario particularly, and we would hope that they would change that policy in this regard.
Hon. Mr. Davis: As I said to the member, I will get a report for him.
FRENCH LANGUAGE EDUCATION
Ms. Gigantes: A question of the Minister of Education: Can the Minister of Education tell the Legislature whether she is prepared to let the parents and the board members of the Carleton school board know whether it is possible to go ahead with the building of the French-language high school in the Carleton board, Cyrville School?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to let the parents know in due course.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, can I ask her how long the families and members of that board will have to wait to get an answer on this school, since they’ve been waiting for years now?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Years? Mr. Speaker, I would think that it would be within the next several weeks that that statement would be made on behalf of the parents.
JAILING OF MOTORIST
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, can the Attorney General having contacted his ministry some time ago, now tell me why a constituent of mine was denied his right to serve three days in jail rather than pay an $18 fine for a speeding offence? Since the judge gave him this alternative and then refused him this right, why was his driver’s licence suspended for non-payment of a fine? Why was he denied this right?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am not aware of the circumstances related to this particular case. If the member would provide me with the particulars, I will endeavour to provide him with an answer.
Mr. Eakins: I have already written to the minister and received a reply saying he would look into it.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Your usual answer.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I guess that means we are looking into it then.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s not a safe assumption for your office.
Mr. Conway: David Allen and Allan Dickie can do you better.
An hon. member: Actually, I hope it didn’t take three months like mine did.
Mr. Eakins: I contacted a Mr. McLoughlin of the minister’s office a couple of months ago. Will the minister assure me that my constituent will get back his driver’s licence, which has been under suspension for months? In fact, this case took place over a year ago. He has been denied his rights.
Hon. Mr. McMnrtry: I will endeavour to expedite a reply.
Mr. Conway: He must be just a plain, ordinary citizen.
An hon. member: He certainly is not a Tory.
Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The Hamilton Spectator reported at the end of September that the Haldimand Children’s Aid Society would be bankrupt by the end of October. The source of this information was the executive director. Can the minister tell us what action he has taken to resolve the financial difficulties of that particular children’s aid society?
Mr. Cooke: Don’t you listen to that director either?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t read the Hamilton Spectator.
Mr. McClellan: I just pointed that out so that the minister would know what the source was. It wasn’t an esoteric source.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am just trying to recall whether the situation in that society was essentially one of a cash-flow problem or not. I can get back to the member with certain particulars on it.
I am assuming that that society was in the same situation as some of its neighbouring ones where, by virtue of certain decisions that had been taken by the society earlier in the year, it was faced with a cash-flow problem as it got towards the end of this year. We have met with several of those societies and have made adjustments in the cash flow which has eased the situation for them, so there is no danger of their becoming bankrupt, or whatever the term was that was used, in this fiscal year. It will allow them ample opportunity to make the necessary decisions to adjust the cash flow.
Mr. McClellan: By way of supplementary, I gather this society, as well as some 29 or 30 others, is going into budget review to try to persuade the ministry to give it adequate financing. Can the minister tell us how he expects to handle 30 budget reviews, how long that will take and how much it will cost?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can’t give the member precise figures on cost. I will get him an estimate on that. It is true there are a large number of societies this year that have requested reviews.
Mr. Swart: I wonder why.
Mr. McClellan: How many?
Mr. Cooke: Why are there so many?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The reviews are under way. We are trying to expedite them as much as possible. Part of the problem is that there are certain periods established by the legislation in which the societies can respond up to 30 days. I would point out that in almost every case the societies have responded towards the end of the 30-day period.
Mr. McClellan: That’s because they couldn’t figure out the gobbledegook you were sending them.
Hon. Mr. Norton: So there is an opportunity for them to take certain action which might expedite it as well.
Mr. McClellan: You still haven’t given them criteria for foster-home funding.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Some societies are experiencing greater difficulty than others. But I would point out that there are some -- and I don’t say this to create a controversy -- where it appears that as a result of a meeting earlier this year a decision was taken not to pay much attention to the budgetary guidelines of the ministry in developing budget submissions, As a result of that, we received budget submissions from societies ranging up to 46 per cent increases, and --
Mr. McClellan: From 30 societies?
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- from many societies, budget requests for in excess of 30 per cent increases. The talk that is taking place now in terms of duress --
Mr. McClellan: Thirty? Thirty did that?
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- and in terms of cutbacks --
Mr. McClellan: How many did that?
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- is not really about cutbacks, They’re talking about the difference between budget requests that paid no attention to budgetary guidelines and to the reality of the budget allocations that are available.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That is, in some cases, quite a significant gap.
I would also assure the members that in our monitoring of the expenditure patterns, societies in many cases are not spending at this point anything like what they were projecting in their budgets.
PRIVATE MEMBER5 BALLOT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that Mr. Kerr be substituted for Mr. Pope in the order of precedence for private members’ public business and that all members of the Progressive Conservative caucus listed below be advanced by one place in their turn.
Motion agreed to.
RULES OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Martel: Point of order: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday my colleague, the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), raised the matter with respect to the debate which is going to occur tomorrow. At that time he wanted to know if the procedure being advanced for bringing that debate about was in fact being handled properly. He wanted to know if there would be a vote.
You I will recall you ruled precedent allowed this to occur.
On Friday morning, the Minister of Energy tabled two government working papers. This again raises the question of whether this is being done properly.
I looked at the rules of the House, and rule 30 of the standing orders indicates we can have committee reports, whether they be from select or standing committees. Rule 33(d) makes reference to reports which are required by statute to be tabled annually. There are also commission reports that are presented, but nowhere can we find any precedent for the manner in which the papers were tabled by the Minister of Energy.
While we appreciate the assistance given by the Clerk to both the member for Riverdale and to my inquiries, nowhere in there can I find anything that fits what occurred last Friday. In fact, the only thing that comes remotely close goes back a number of years -- I thank the Clerk for supplying us with this material -- when the then Premier, Leslie Frost, attempted to move in this fashion. It can be found on March 2, 1954, that only with unanimous consent was such a procedure followed.
With that in mind, I would ask that the Speaker go back over what has transpired and straighten out this procedure before the debate occurs tomorrow. There is no government motion to cover it; there is no procedural motion to cover it; and there is no possibility of voting on it, Forgetting the vote for the moment, I don’t think the procedure for bringing it forward follows any of the rules or any of the precedents, I would ask the Speaker if he would review the matter and report tomorrow.
Mr. Nixon: If I may make a comment on the material that has been raised by the NDP House leader, I’m not sure what his objection is. Is he objecting that the report is not an official report but simply something that is internal to the ministry -- that it’s some sort of a blue paper on energy policy and not something that has been ordered by the House or would ordinarily be provided to the House as an official report? Or is the problem he wants the Speaker to review whether we can have a debate on a matter which does not culminate in a vote?
It seems to me, on the latter matter, we certainly do have precedents. I seem to recall a lengthy discussion on the Workmen’s Compensation Board wherein it was possible for various members to bring to the attention of the board chairman and perhaps the then Minister of Labour, in a general debate, matters pertaining to the board on simply an order item that was the report of the Workmen’s Compensation Board. Admittedly that would be an official document before the House, but there was no vote to accept the report or to do anything but discuss it. It seemed to be a very orderly procedure to go forward under those circumstances.
If the matter the Speaker is asked to review is whether we can deal with a report that, according to the House leader of the NDP, is something less than an official document, it seems to be that by tabling it -- and it would be I suppose by mutual agreement that we have a debate -- I can’t see anything wrong with that either. It was my feeling that we did have agreement before such a debate, but I may be in error in that connection.
Mr. Renwick: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you might permit me to make a few comments about the concern I have which is divorced entirely from the question of tomorrow evening’s debate.
My concern with respect to tomorrow evening’s debate was whether or not there would be a motion before the assembly and therefore whether we would, if we saw fit, be in a position to move an amendment to that motion during the course of the debate -- and then the subsequent question as to whether or not there should be a resolution of the question before the House by way of a vote. That was the substance of the background and the reasons for the questions which I raised last Thursday.
I’ve had the benefit of the advice and assistance of the Clerk of the assembly, and I don’t pretend for a moment that what I have to say is exhaustive, but I think it requires -- divorced as I say from tomorrow night’s debate -- a question about the procedure of the House. I think it is, if anything, very unclear and, if I may use the term, “sloppy,” as it presently exists.
As my colleague has pointed out, there is no question that under rule 30 we make specific provision for reports from select committees and standing committees. But rule 30 is related entirely to the procedures of this House in dealing with reports of select committees and of standing committees. It doesn’t deal with a document of any other kind.
Then, as my colleague has further pointed out, rule 33 which deals with other reports and other documents of one kind or another, deals with their presentation before the House and the tabling of them, but is completely silent about any procedure by which such documents are taken into consideration by the House, if I read rule 33 correctly. It really deals with rule 33 (d), although I have given consideration to the whole of rule 33 as well as to rule 30.
I was provided with examples, because of course the House leader and you, Mr. Speaker, did refer to the precedents of the assembly and, as I say, I was somewhat naive about them.
I have been provided with four precedents. The first one -- not in chronological order, particularly -- was on April 28, 1978 when there appeared on the Order Paper under notices a government motion moved by the then Minister of Labour, now the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) “that the report of the Ontario Human flights Commission, Life Together,” sessional paper number so and so, be considered. That was on the Order Paper as a government motion.
The second precedent which was drawn to my attention was a government motion placed on the Order Paper by the then Treasurer of the province, Mr. McKeough, which dealt with a debate which I think some of us do recall. The then Treasurer placed it under government notice of motion that this House give consideration to certain documents, and so on. So that when it was debated it was in fact a substantive motion before the assembly for the consideration of those documents,
The third item which was drawn to our attention appears by a motion of the then Premier, Mr. Frost, back in, I think, 1960: “On motion by Mr. Frost, seconded by Mr. Allan, ordered that the report of the committee on the organization of government in Ontario tabled on Wednesday last as sessional paper number 54, be taken into consideration on Monday next.”
Strangely enough, that is sort of a hybrid; that is an order and a motion combined.
The third item was an item in 1957 which was the report of a select committee which stated that the chairman, presumably, the then member for High Park, Mr. Cowling, presented the report of the select committee appointed on such and such, and having presented it, it was ordered “that the report of the committee be taken into consideration tomorrow.” Presumably that was the origin of what is now rule 30 in the House.
The interesting point really is that if my advice is correct the origin of this confusion arose by reason of the very statement to which my colleague has drawn attention; and perhaps I could, because of its importance, raise it with you. In the Votes and Proceedings of this House on March 2, 1954, the following quotation appears:
“Mr. Allan, Haldimand-Norfolk, presented the report of the select committee appointed to inquire into and review the Cemeteries Act, the regulations made thereunder and related matters, sessional paper 56.
“A discussion of the report having arisen, after some time it was on motion by Mr. Frost, seconded by Mr. Daley, ordered that as some members may desire to speak to the report after they have had an opportunity to read it, the discussion be adjourned to a later date and that an order be placed on the Order Paper for its further consideration.”
Then at a later date, on the Order Paper for February 11, March 2: “Resuming the adjourned consideration of the report of the select committee of the Cemeteries Act, Mr. Frost.”
In doing that, on March 2, 1954, we find this:
“Mr. Frost: Mr. Speaker, would you revert to presenting reports by committees?
“Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports by committees.
“Mr. Allan: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present the report of the select committee appointed to inquire into and review the Cemeteries Act, the regulations made thereunder and related matters.”
And he refers to the fact that he comes new to the House in relation to that, that it’s the first time he has ever been chairman of the select committee and so on and so forth. He speaks to the report which he has tabled.
For reasons which I don’t know, a number of members stand up and participate in that and comment about it. The last speaker concluded his remarks with: “The great British statesman the Honourable William Ewart Gladstone said this: ‘Show me your churchyards and I will tell you the character of your people’.”
Then the Honourable Mr. Frost rose to say: “Mr. Speaker, I want to take a somewhat unusual course at this time. I do not think the hon. member for Brant” -- the then Mr. Nixon, the father of the present member -- “nor the Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Oliver) have ever heard of the adjournment of a debate in connection with tabling a report. But we are living in a new day and a new age and I think perhaps we should consider that innovation.
“There are some hon. members here who have expressed to me a desire to have an opportunity of reading the report and then giving it further consideration later on. The hon. members who have spoken, of course, have spoken unanimously in favour of the recommendation. There may be some who have questions to raise and I think that perhaps it might be a good thing to adjourn the debate at this point.
“Therefore I move, Mr. Speaker, seconded by Mr. Daley, that as some of the hon. members may desire to speak on this report after they have had the opportunity of considering it, that the discussion be adjourned to a later date and that an order be placed on the Order Paper for further consideration.
“I may say, sir, I do not suppose, since the days of Walpole, has there ever been a motion like that.
“Mr. Speaker: I think, however, it will have to be by unanimous consent.”
In due course the debate, or the consideration of that report, took place and Mr. Speaker, on March 15, concluded: “There being no further speakers on this report, I declare the discussion of the report of the select committee on cemeteries now concluded.”
I think these examples which have been given are so diverse and that the procedure seems to me to be so sloppy and inconsistent that I would urge your further consideration of it, having regard to the remarks which appear in the 19th edition of Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice about the questions involved in this.
Let me go back to the fundamental that I tried to raise last Thursday. In Chapter 18, page 364, it is stated: “Every matter is determined in both Houses upon questions put from the chair upon a motion made by a member and resolved in the affirmative or negative, as the case may be. The proceedings between the rising of a member to move a motion and the ascertainment by the chair of the decision of the House constitute a debate, and this process affords an opportunity for, and usually involves, discussion, although a decision may be reached without discussion.
“The essential stages in obtaining a decision of the House are (1) the moving of a motion; (2) the proposing of a question by the chair; and (3) the putting of the question and the collection of the voices by the chair.
“These three stages are connected together by the question, which must, according to long-established practice, repeat the terms of the motion and which must be so framed as to be capable of expressing a decision of the House.
“Moreover, no speech is permissible except to a question or to move, or (if the motion is to be seconded) to second a motion which becomes a question, and every speech is confined by the rule of relevancy to the terms of the question.
“The interval between the proposing and the putting of the question, which is normally used for discussion, gives an opportunity for further proceedings, such as the moving of an amendment; and this may give rise to a subsidiary debate, with its own question and decision, within the principal debate. At the end of the process, when the question or main question is put, a decision is registered either by the chair announcing that in his opinion the ‘ayes’ (or the ‘noes’) have it, or (if that is challenged) by the division of the House into separate lobbies for the purpose of ascertaining which side is in the majority.”
That seems to be quite a straightforward statement of the principle. May’s Parliamentary Practice goes on to state at page 277:
“The motion, ‘That this House do now adjourn, moved when there is no question before the House, is a form of substantive motion, but is more conveniently treated apart.
“The substantive motion for the adjournment may be used for discussing many subjects other than the termination of the sitting.
“Once such a motion has been agreed to, a sitting is necessarily terminated; but it frequently happens that an adjournment motion is moved without any intention of pressing it to a conclusion, and it is consequently withdrawn when its purpose has been served, the House then turning its attention to other business. The substantive motion for the adjournment is in fact a technical form devised for the purpose of enabling the House to discuss matters without recording a decision in terms. With one exception” -- which is not relevant here -- “such a motion can only be moved by a minister. It is a general rule applicable to all substantive motions for the adjournment that the subject to be discussed” -- and so on -- “must not involve legislation” -- and so on.
So there is that procedure in the House at Westminster. It further states, in May, at page 283:
“Adjournment Motions ... If no decision by the House is required, or if for some reason it is not desired to formulate a motion in express terms, a matter for which time is granted may be discussed on a motion for the adjournment of the House, which is moved either before or between the orders of the day, and which accordingly can only be moved by a minister ... such motions for the adjournment may be moved by the government at the instance of the opposition. For example, such motions are now often the form used for the purpose of holding a general foreign affairs debate.”
Mr. Speaker, my point really, as my colleague said, is to get some clarity about the procedure, because I find it most unusual, even in relation to the precedents to which I have made some reference, that we should find on the Order Paper, as the method for this sort of open-ended discussion tomorrow night, not anything related to a government motion, for which certain of the precedents provide support that that’s the procedure to be followed, particularly in this instance the motion moved by the then Treasurer, Mr. McKeough, with respect to the discussion about the trends and options papers which had been tabled; nothing to do with sessional papers or anything; but that that discussion was a government motion before us. I find, of course, this is not, today, under government motions but under the orders of the day.
I really am not worried about all of the ancient talk about it, but I would want to make the point that since our standing rules, having been reviewed, have provided for the kind of specific instances which practice had led us to adopt, such as the reports of standing committees and of select committees, and I have elaborated that procedure specifically; and without using the Latin phrase that you and I would be familiar with but which might confuse some of my colleagues, that if you mention one you exclude the others, I would submit that there’s no other method by which we just take under consideration a matter except always, of course, by unanimous consent. If the House lender for the official opposition’s position is that there was an agreement, and therefore there was going to be unanimous consent, and yes we were going to have this debate, that’s one thing. But my major question, really, is that I believe it is incorrect to have it appear on the Order Paper in this way, that it should appear as a government motion; and then that leaves open the question whether a government motion to consider certain documents, which is what this debate tomorrow in my judgement should be, is open to an amendment being made to that motion? I would submit it requires clarification because it is a substantive motion, and if an amendment to it is allowed, will it be phrased in such a way that there is a question before the House?
Again, I emphasize I simply want the clarity of it. There is obviously something to be said for the very simple procedure used in the British House that if we want to have a general debate with no conclusion, with no question being put, on a topic such as the one which I referred to, general debate on foreign affairs and if we are going to have a general debate on energy, then perhaps the proper motion is for the minister, at the appropriate time, to move the adjournment of the House, for us to debate this matter as an adjournment matter, and then, as is the custom over there, at the end of the debate, for the minister to stand and withdraw his motion with the consent of the House.
So there is a clear procedure to permit the kind of general discussion we want. I am just simply saying that I don’t think we need to get into stick-handling operations and do a distortion to the Order Paper. On Thursday I did refer to 1943, as being the original date of that distortion, but I gather it took about 11 years for the Tory government to be in power before they had the temerity to ride roughshod over the procedures of the House. But even then, under the protection of Mr. Speaker at that time, that unusual procedure, which had not been heard of even in the time of Walpole, could only have been adopted by unanimous consent of the House.
Again, I just want procedure. The position of this party is, so that we can make our decision, if it is going to be a general debate on a government motion on which there is going to be no vote, then we may very well, because of the arrangements made amongst the House leaders, agree to it that way.
If, however, it is going to be a substantive motion, then it seems to me that the debate might very well proceed and not even necessarily have a vote, again by general agreement, if there is provision for amendment. Because, of course, I notice that there is a motion standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition with respect to the energy policy of the Liberal Party and there is a motion in my leader’s name with respect to Petrocan.
It might very well be, in a debate of the kind we are going to have tomorrow afternoon and evening, if there were a method by which the government would put its motion with respect to its policies, the Liberal Party could move its amendment, if they saw fit; we could move the amendment standing in my leader’s name or a more expanded one, if it made sense to do so, and by general agreement there would be no vote, so that we don’t get into the question that all we are using is a device to have a general debate.
My submission is that the question is of importance for that debate tomorrow, but transcends tomorrow, and should be clarified for the benefit of the House in future matters, so that we are very clear that this particular device can be clarified so that we all understand what the nature of it is, and we don’t have to resort to some sort of technical stick handling to get these matters before the assembly.
Mr. Speaker: Will you have that stranger removed, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, in order to help you in your consideration of this matter, I would like to offer a few comments on what has been said in regard to the procedures that we are following.
First, I think we should very clearly make the point that I do not believe, and I do not think the record substantiates, that since 1943 the various governments of the day have been riding roughshod over the rules of this House.
I think that all members would agree that we have made significant progress, with the co-operation of all members, in revising the rules of this House to make them relevant to the times in which we live.
Mr. Warner: Pressure of minority government.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think the rules of this House are being tailored to serve the purposes of a Legislature existing in the year 1979. I think that in so tailoring those rules -- we have, for instance, in a matter of an emergency debate, while we use certain technicalities to structure that debate, when the essence of it is arrived at we have a discussion on a matter of urgency and we do not come to a vote at the end of that debate in this House.
Mr. Martel: It’s covered in the rules.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s covered in the rules. Perhaps we should cover this in the rules, but I just submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that what we are suggesting is in no way an unusual procedure, or a procedure that does not serve this House well.
In that particular case, covered in the rules, yes, there is a procedure for this House to debate, for all members to express in their own way their views on an important emergent matter of the day, without a vote being necessary; in fact a vote not being held at the end of that particular discussion.
Now, often times it serves this House well to be able to put on record the views of the various members at a particular time on a matter of national importance without necessarily having a vote at the end of that discussion. I think we have very reasonably and properly found the vehicle to do that over the years.
I submit to you, Mr, Speaker, that what we have been doing is not irregular, that it in no way violates the rules of this House, but merely tailors to the times the opportunity for the members of this House to express publicly, at that particular time, their views on an important subject. My friend has illustrated his remarks with some precedents. I’m surprised that he has taken some precedents and hasn’t taken others, because we do have precedents of course, for what we’re doing. I think perhaps if we have time we could find more, but we do have precedent for doing exactly what we’re suggesting be done tomorrow from the year 1976. At that particular time we were debating a matter that is very similar to what we are suggesting be debated in this House tomorrow. There was a government document called Ontario’s Proposal for an Alternative Method of Pricing Domestic Crude Oil. That document was dated March 1976. It was tabled in this House sometime before April 30, 1976.
As the House adjourned on Friday, April 30, 1976, the House leader of the day, my colleague the member for Brock (Mr. Welch), indicated in these words: “Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, may I indicate our program for next week? On Monday afternoon, we have the special discussion in the House taking into consideration the whole question of oil and gas pricing in preparation for the meetings later that week in Ottawa.”
On Monday, May 3, 1976, when the orders of the day, part of our proceedings were arrived at, an order was called that was on the Order Paper. The order was for consideration of Ontario’s proposal for an alternative method of pricing domestic crude oil.
The one thing I can say for my friend from Riverdale; I read the Hansard over, and he made the same point he’s making today about not being able to vote on a motion. So he’s certainly consistent in his approach. At six of the clock the order on the Order Paper which allowed the vehicle for the debate was discharged.
I think that served us very well. It allowed everyone to present their views, and for their views to be known by the government before they went to a federal-provincial conference on that particular and very important subject. I think it’s been indicated, certainly to most of us in this House, that the whole matter of oil pricing is one of uppermost concern. The government is engaged and has been engaged in discussions on it. I think it’s the wish of many members to have their views put forward in this House as quickly as possible; and I emphasize to you, Mr. Speaker, “as quickly as possible.” That is a point that certainly was made at our House leaders’ meeting: what would be the quickest and easiest vehicle for this to occur? Based on the precedent of the 1976 experience -- and I am sure other precedents which, if one were to search, we could find -- this presents a good opportunity for the members of this House to consider a matter of importance.
So I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that I hope as you consider this matter you will agree there is merit in discussing certain matters -- particularly those raised in government papers which have been tabled and become sessional papers in this Legislature -- quickly and without, necessarily, the benefit of all that is entailed in having a motion and various amendments to motions in those particular areas.
I hope you will consider this, Mr. Speaker. I feel the procedure we have serves us well. If it does, perhaps the logical thing is to somehow build it into the rules. I admit there is no formal procedure for it in the rules, but there is certainly precedent for it. If we are erring by doing something only by precedent without having it in the rules, then perhaps we should sit down and enshrine it in some way in the rules.
Mr. Speaker: I want to thank honourable members for their contribution towards this informal debate. I suppose it was a point of order rather than a debate. I will consider it and get back to the House as soon as I have reached a decision.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On vote 603, local government affairs program; item 1, local government:
Mr. Chairman: When the committee adjourned the other day, the member for Waterloo North had the floor. Does he wish to continue?
Mr. Epp: Yes, I do, Mr. Chairman. I suppose this would be a good time to continue with the subject of equalization payments, and to refer to a statement the minister made the other day and a question I asked earlier in the House.
It seems to me that the new factors as they have been put forth are somewhat contradictory to the property tax reform package that Mr. Blair recommended just a few years ago. The minister obviously will recall the money that was spent on that committee. There were some more studies subsequent to his report that the then Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. McKeough, commissioned; and there was a committee that was made up of both technical staff and elected representatives. I think the committee was made up of around 40 to 50 people from the technical group and about 25, 20 or 30 educational and municipal representatives studying the political implications of property tax reform.
The thrust of the recommendations, in essence, was that the weight of assessment should fall more heavily on commercial and industrial property and less on residential. Also, there was a recommendation that the province take over much of the taxation for the farming community in the province, with the exception of one or two acres which would constitute the homestead of the various farms.
It seems to me that the direction of that proposal and recommendation was the right direction, taking some of the pressure off the home owners.
The new factors that have come forth, as announced last July 14, and the statement the minister made on Friday, it seems to me are going in direct contradiction to what the Blair report recommended and putting greater emphasis on rural properties rather than on urban properties and on residential property as opposed to commercial-industrial. I wish very much that the minister would try to explain this new thrust being taken because, if the new program is adopted, the government is getting farther away from property tax reform. It also means that if property tax reform is brought in by a Liberal government after next year, we are going to have a much greater problem than we would otherwise. It’s quite obvious it’s a stopgap measure and something the present government is having difficulty confronting.
I notice vote 603 includes the matter of unconditional grants. I’ve raised this before, and I raise it again in the hope the government will look at the opportunity of unconditionalizing more grants.
I’ve said before, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is probably the most vociferous in opposing unconditional grants simply because it likes to have strings tied to the various grants. I wish the minister could tell this House to what extent he’s having some success with his cabinet colleagues in trying to convince them there should be more unconditional grants.
It would mean there would be more autonomy for the various municipalities in determining where the moneys they receive from the provincial government go. They have requested, through the Association of Municipal Organizations and through the municipal liaison committee that the province seriously study this.
The minister will recall that his deputy minister, only a year or so ago, came out with a voluminous report; in fact I think we received two volumes on the matter. He would only be too happy, I’m sure, to sit down with the minister and suggest how he could deal with this matter.
I wish the political decision would be made to unconditionalize more of the grants so the municipalities would have more say as to how those moneys are spent. There would be many more opportunities for municipalities to make these decisions if such a change of heart were to take place in the government,
At present, municipalities often have projects they decide to undertake simply because 75 per cent of the funding comes from the provincial government. Having spent 10 years in the municipal sector I’ve often heard it said: “The province is going to pick up 75 per cent of the cost of this project, so we may as well go ahead and spend it because for the 25 per cent we have to pay it’s certainly worth it.” On the other hand, there are projects that go unnoticed or unattended simply because the municipalities don’t have the moneys. With unconditionalized grants they could address their priorities as they see them. I think it would be a better decision from the standpoint of the public, which all of us would like to see.
Another item in this is the municipal liaison committee. This committee is continuing to meet and I know they’re supposed to meet this Friday. I’m a little concerned about the municipal liaison committee in the sense that often the committee does not get attention from the various cabinet ministers.
I know the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is a very active participant and he is very sincere in trying to maintain good relations with the MLC, but some of his colleagues often have difficulty getting to the conference table because they’re afraid there might be some embarrassing questions asked of them. They don’t have the same time restraints we have in the House for asking ministers’ questions, with the exception of the estimates.
I hope the minister would have success with his cabinet colleagues in trying to get them to the MLC meetings and in making that a more productive session.
These sessions take place once a month, as most members know, with the exception of the summer months. Often it’s an exercise in frustration for the various municipal representatives. It would be helpful if the minister were successful in convincing his colleagues to pay more attention to the MLC, appear more frequently and try to answer the questions that are often put to the ministers for clarification so that municipalities have a better opportunity of planning ahead and determining their policies.
Hon. Mr. Wells: First, let me comment on the comments that my friend made about the statement that I made in the House concerning the use of the new equalization factors.
I think I emphasized several times on Friday that this is a way that these factors can be used for one year so that they will not cause any disruption, or at least a minimal disruption, in those areas where they must be used for grant purposes and for apportionment purposes. They do not represent a new tax policy and they are not meant to change substantially our present tax policy. In other words, they’re not going to throw significantly more of a burden on commercial and less on residential and farm. Likewise, they are not going to do the opposite. In other words, they’re going to hold the mix about the same.
I think I heard my friend say that in a year or two or three or 10 or some time when a Liberal government is sitting over here -- something which I doubt will happen --
Mr. MacDonald: Don’t be provocative.
Mr. J. Reed: We’ll give it a year.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- when they bring in property tax reform, it will make it a little bit harder for them to do. It’s very good to hear that from my friend, because I’ll he able to tell all the people in Metropolitan Toronto how their property taxes will rise if the Liberal government is ever elected.
Mr. Martel: They may change their position by tomorrow.
Mr. Haggerty: They’ve risen with a Tory government. They couldn’t get any higher.
Hon, Mr. Wells: They might change their position, yes. As a matter of fact, all those teachers from whom they want to take away the right to strike will also have to pay higher property taxes. It will be very interesting. I’m sure they will be pleased to know that.
This system we’re going to use for the equalization factors is nut meant to have any dramatic effect or change in policy. Its to stabilize things in those areas where --
Mr. Haggerty: It’s just a cooling-off period.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- without some remedy inequities could have been caused. I think that’s what we talked about. As I indicated in the question period, for municipal purposes there will be something in the nature of $20 million added to the unconditional grants -- I underline that -- above what would normally be there to remedy and to put into effect the principles which we outlined in that statement. Those principles are that for grant purposes in 1980 no one will receive less because of the use of the new factors than under the old factors, The shift in apportionment will be significantly cushioned and certain money will be put in to hold the levies to a five per cent shift because of apportionment.
I think that’s eminently fair. I hope when all the municipalities of this province have had a chance to figure out exactly with the detailed figures what this means, that this will, as I emphasize again, for the one year handle this situation and help us to be able to work towards a more equitable and rational system.
In the matter of unconditional grants, philosophically it’s nice to believe that unconditional grants rather than conditional grants for most municipal transfers would be a good thing. I guess that was the recommendation and the conclusion the committee that studied this matter arrived at. It was headed by my deputy minister, as the member has already indicated.
It’s very interesting when one reads over the list of municipal transfers of money transferred from the province to the municipality to think about what they are to do and whether one really can deconditionalize that grant.
My friend mentioned the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. We pay money for road construction, road maintenance, transit capital, transit operating, all of it amounting to a very significant sum of money, not quite but almost equal to the total of the unconditional grants this ministry, the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, transfers.
A lot of that money is the reason advances are happening, for instance, in public transit. I would submit to you, if we were to deconditionalize and give that money without any strings attached in a manner that says to the municipalities, “Here is a block of money. You then decide what your priorities are,” we would find within two or three years they and others would be here on our doorstep saying, “Why don’t you give money for public transit? Where are the grants for the construction and the operating costs of public transit?” “Well, they are there within the bulk sum transferred to the municipalities.” “No, we don’t believe you.”
I can tell you the amount that would be transferred would probably never be great enough to satisfy everyone. Even though we took all the money that is now being given and deconditionalized, it still wouldn’t be enough to please everyone. Someone would come along and say, “No, that money for transit is not there. You should have a grant for transit.”
Of course, when we are thinking more and more about the development of public transit and the expansion of public transit, the trend is going to be more the other way rather than towards deconditionalizing. It will be towards more and more incentives to encourage municipalities and transit commissions and others to think of public transit and to encourage people to use public transit.
When you sit as a government, as we have to do, and think about ways to motivate municipalities and people in this direction, you find the conditional grant becomes one of the tools that is very useful. While philosophically it is easy to argue that deconditionalization and complete autonomy in use of money is the practical way, when you are trying to lead people in certain directions, conditional grants become very much the order of the day.
My friend has mentioned transportation. He didn’t talk about some of the other areas. What about libraries? It has been suggested that library grants be completely deconditionalized and that the money be given completely to the municipalities. I know he has had letters, the same as I have, and he has had the briefs, the same as I have, from the library commissions and library boards across this province saying that if we do that we are going to destroy the public library system. I think that is an over-exaggeration, but certainly they feel the amount of money available for libraries is going to dry up.
Perhaps you would say the kinds of analogies I have drawn and the kinds of hypotheses I have put forward are just my suggestion of what might happen. I want to tell you, based on my experience and education, where we have deconditionalized the grants, those very things happened.
There was good cause, good reason, and I think the deconditionnlized grant is working well in education where we have a total general legislative grant to school boards, but there are still a lot of people who do not believe this government gives money, in fact, a sizeable amount of money for special education in this province. It is there. It is part of the deconditionalized education grant.
If you go back and trace it, there is a certain amount per pupil that was built in from times when there were conditional grants. Textbook publishers will come to us and say, “Why don’t you give some help to the textbook industry? You don’t pay grants, Ever since you stopped paying grants for textbooks, our sales figures and hence the viability of that industry in this province has been going down.”
The fact is, we still do pay grants for textbooks. It is there within the bulk grant and the amount of money is there. Sure, from year to year and depending on the conditions that total is restrained or advanced in certain ways, but it becomes more and more difficult to convince people we are, in fact, paying something towards what is their particular concern.
If that is coupled with the desire to move in a certain direction, as we must do in some of the municipal areas, it becomes more and more difficult to deconditionalize grants.
So that this doesn’t sound like a completely negative approach to this subject, what I have been toying with, and I share this with the honourable members, is I think what we need to do is not look at this in a bulk, total manner for the whole province. What we need to do is look at a municipality, preferably a large municipality, perhaps a region, and get some people who are willing to try out an unconditional grant program on themselves or have us work with them to use this method.
In other words, as I understand they did in Manitoba, and I don’t have all the details, I think they took the city of Winnipeg and they said: “Rather than change all the grant regulations for the city of Winnipeg we will design a block grant. We will give you a certain amount of money, just us the federal government gives us a certain amount of money, transferred in bulk, and you work out all your programs. You manage and pay for them with what you get from your own sources, licensing, property tax, et cetera with our block grant.” I don’t know how it’s working yet; I haven’t really heard.
Perhaps that’s the kind of thing we could try in this province rather than starting to move every municipality into an unconditional grant stance, something which, I quite frankly tell you, it would not be possible to do at this particular time. That might be a way that we could move forward in this area and then test and see whether it is possible and whether it is workable.
In regard to the Municipal Liaison Committee, I think that the Municipal Liaison Committee is a very valuable body. I think we have some very viable municipal associations in this province. They all speak for various groups, some of them stronger and larger than others, but one of them speaks for every one. They all have an important message and an important view on legislation and an important view of the issues of the day. What we really want is to bring their opinions together.
The Municipal Liaison Committee was constructed and started so that this could happen, so that rather than dealing with us individually they could come together, formulate joint presentations on the various orders and subjects of the day and present them to us in the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee, the provincial part coming where we provincial people sit down with them.
I know the criticism that my friend has indicated on the part of some of the members of the MLC who feel some of the provincial ministers haven’t been available when they are wanted. I really would find it very difficult to agree with that premise over the last three or four months. I think my colleagues in the cabinet have collaborated very well in making available the information and being as available as they can.
I think one of the problems which I would share with you is the timing of the meetings, but we just haven’t been able to come up with any other timings. Fridays are best for the municipal people because of the dates on which they hold various meetings of their own, various council meetings, regional meetings and so forth. Friday mornings are probably one of the more difficult mornings for us here, because this House meets on Friday mornings. So we always have the Provincial- Municipal Liaison Committee generally meeting when the House is meeting, which makes it difficult especially as ministers have estimates, they have to be here for question period, they have to perhaps have legislation,
Over the years there have been various things that have made it difficult, but I have told the MLC that what we have to do is sit down and make the process work even better. I believe they want to do that and I just want them to know that we want to do that. So I think we can overcome some of the problems and I think that things have been working better.
At the risk of getting into difficulty with the members of this House, I just want to tell the members of this House that we do use the Municipal Liaison Committee as a sounding board and as a discussion vehicle for legislation in municipal affairs.
Drafts of various legislation are circulated to the MLC for its members to comment on so that we will have the input of municipal viewpoint. So when the legislation comes before this House, they may not agree with it, we may come to a disagreement, but they will have had their opportunity to tell us what they think about it or to submit to us what they think should be done, and we’ve tried to incorporate that in the multitude of municipal bills that we always bring in here each year.
Mr. MacDonald: I have two issues I would like to raise with the minister.
Earlier this afternoon the minister made the comment that in the last 38 years he wasn’t aware of any occasion in which a municipality had been shafted by the provincial government. That statement provoked the kind of outburst of incredulity that it deserved.
I want to raise with him one instance in which a municipality, in my view, is getting set up for a shafting and to raise it very forthrightly with the minister. I am referring to my own municipality, the borough of York. The minister is aware of the fact that one of the objectives in the whole Robarts commission review of the Metropolitan Toronto government was to examine the problems of a municipality such as the borough of York which had too small an assessment base in order to cope with problems and, therefore, its tax rate was continuing to go up.
I suppose there were two solutions in general terms that might be resorted to to cope with that kind of a situation. One would be to wipe out the municipality altogether and to amalgamate it with neighbouring municipalities. The second one would be to broaden its assessment base so that it would be in a position to cope with its problems in its own way. While there was a lot of fear, concern and scuttlebutt as to what Mr. Roberts was going to come down with, I was quite confident in advance, knowing his view with regard to moving towards bigger and bigger entities, that he was likely going to opt for the option of expanding the boundaries and broadening the assessment base of the borough of York, which he did.
He suggested that the boundaries should be taken up to Highway 401 and east to Bathurst Street and, generally speaking, the southern boundary would be along St. Clair. That would make a neat compact municipality with an adequate assessment base and with an appropriate residential and industrial mix which would have brought the taxes down something approaching the average in Metropolitan Toronto.
That was fine, except that Mr. McKeough on behalf of the government announced that that proposal of Mr. Robarts was rejected. Admittedly in vague terms, he said that there would be compensating grants to relieve the excessive tax burden, rather than extending the boundaries and broadening the assessment base as Robarts had proposed.
For months the borough of York lived with the situation, and there was no indication as to exactly what the government was going to do. Each time I raised it with the various ministers, the answer was that they were taking a look at it in terms of all the reassessment of grants to municipalities. Finally, this minister, back last May 23, came down with an interim answer, a temporary answer.
In a letter to the mayor on May 23, he announced that there would be a special grant of $280,000 for this year to cope with the borough’s financial position and that they would look at it again following the provincial government’s review of “the basis for assessment-related grants.”
That was fine, except, Mr. Chairman, that I draw to your attention that the S280,000 is something less than what one mill would raise in the inadequate assessment base of the borough of York. One mill raises $311,000. So what the minister has proposed is something less than one mill of assistance for this year to cope with this situation as compensation for the promise that Mr. McKeough had made when he washed out the Robarts recommendation.
Interestingly enough, the taxes in the borough of York, which are about the highest, if not the highest, in the whole of Metropolitan Toronto, are some nine mills above the average in Metropolitan Toronto. They are maybe some 16 or 17 mills more than the lowest but eight or nine mills above the average. In short, the special grant that the minister gave to the borough of York of $280,000 was approximately one tenth of what is needed in order to bring the tax rate in the borough of York down to the average for the whole of Metropolitan Toronto. It’s a Band-Aid. It’s admittedly a short-term answer; it’s not a solution. This is the reason I raise this. The government has engaged in a review of what is described as the basis for assessment-related grants.
Undoubtedly, that review is going to be a review which would take into account situations all across Ontario, and I am rather fearful that what is going to happen is out of that review there will come some new formula. It will be applied to all municipalities, as well as to the borough of York, but it won’t meet the special problem of the borough of York which is there, which Robarts looked into, and for which Robarts came up with a solution which this government rejected.
I suggest to you the government has an obligation to come up with a special answer to the acknowledged special problems in the borough of York. If you are thinking in monetary terms, I repeat, it is going to be something like eight, nine or 10 times that special grant you gave as a sop this year, the $280,000.
The reason I raise this, Mr. Chairman, is this: Last spring, I sent out a Queen’s Park report to my constituents, and in the usual questionnaire I put in to seek their views and their guidance on a range of issues I think are lively and important at any given time, one of the questions I asked was roughly this: “If the tax rate in the borough of York cannot be brought down closer to the average in Metropolitan Toronto, would you approve of the proposition that the borough of York should be amalgamated or absorbed by one of its neighbouring municipalities?”
I confess to being taken aback by the reaction, which as we all know is not a scientific assessment, it is just those who choose to send back the questionnaire. By a two-to-one vote the answer was yes. In other words, the people of the borough of York have suffered an excessive tax burden for so long, and the prospect of it being relieved by the Robarts commission and the Robarts recommendation is now down the drain. They feel the government is playing games with Band-Aid solutions, the ultimate solution is going to be buried in the review of assessment-related grants, and they are going to lose out in the shuffle.
I think it is clear the people in the borough of York, if that is what the fates have in store, are now increasingly open-minded, at this point by a two-to-one vote, to the possibility the municipality should be wiped out.
You may not be aware of the fact there is really a bitter historical irony in this. The borough of York, earlier the township of York, earlier still was the initial municipality in this area. Literally everything in this area is an offspring, so to speak, of the borough of York. At one stage or another, down through the last century or century and a half, it has been carved off, and Toronto was set up as a city from that original municipality of York. Scarborough has been set up, North York, Etobicoke, and so on. What is left in the borough of York is the residue of that original municipality, and this government is now setting up a situation in which they are going to eliminate the original municipality out of which this whole area was originally created, or ultimately created.
I repeat, I think it is a bitter historical irony, and I think the minister should be very clear what he is doing if it is the minister’s intention to do what Robarts might have suggested, but rejected, as the answer to the borough of York’s problem, namely, to amalgamate it and absorb its excessive tax burden on neighbouring municipalities. He rejected that. If you are now going to set up a situation in which you don’t meet the problem by compensating grants that aren’t part of a general grant across the whole province, but compensate for that inadequate assessment base, which by Darcy McKeough’s decision in rejecting the Robarts recommendation you have denied the people of the borough of York, you are setting the stage for the ultimate demise of the borough of York. If that is your intention, okay, but it is about time you levelled with the public. If you don’t really want to achieve that objective, then it’s your obligation to come up with an alternative that is a substantive alternative because of your rejection of the Robarts recommendation. That’s the first point I wanted to raise with the minister. I hope he will deal with it forthrightly because if he doesn’t, it’s going to give me a magnificent issue to fight throughout the next provincial campaign. I’ll be glad to do it with a lot of the local Tories,
Mr. Nixon: You’re on the ropes.
Mr. MacDonald: Just come in and we’ll see whose ropes they are.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. MacDonald: Now let me move on to the second one. The second issue, Mr. Chairman, is an equally parochial issue but I have no reluctance in raising it because I think it has wider application and I want to raise with the minister his focus on certain sections of the Planning Act. Let me try to spell out the problem as briefly as possible.
As the minister is aware, in every urban municipality there are large high-rise apartments which tend to fall into the ownership of individuals who aren’t interested in maintaining a reputable building; they’re interested primarily in milking it for whatever profit they can get out of it and then passing it on. The result is that there is an incredible deterioration in the building.
In my riding, at the area of Jane and Woolner, there is a nest of seven or eight apartment buildings, four or five of which are in the category that I’ve just described to you. They need not be because right beside them is an Ontario Housing Corporation building at 190 Woolner Avenue which is a pretty exemplary kind of building. Everybody in the area acknowledges that. But what’s happened there is that there’s been such a massive deterioration it’s really a festering sore, a social time bomb, because new people coming into this country -- one gets the impression almost from the boat and the train -- are up in there in great numbers.
There has been an almost total inability to come to grips with the deterioration because of the fact that there are three or four branches of the municipal government which are in the picture. For example, the bylaw enforcement branch, the medical officer of health from the health branch, and the fire department may come into the picture. What has happened is that no one of them, because of the gaps between the limitations of each one’s responsibilities, seems to be able to do the job and the situation has gone from bad to worse. The net result is that with a little bit of assistance from Tenant Hotline and certain community workers, the tenants organized.
I remember a meeting last spring in which I was asked to chair a meeting between some management consultants who were fronting for an unknown owner, because they keep changing every six or eight months so you don’t know exactly who the owner is, and the tenants’ association to see if we couldn’t come to grips with this problem. Even the management was interested in coming to grips with it because there was a rent strike. The tenants’ association had some 30-odd -- if I recall correctly -- tenants who were withholding their rent, they were putting it in trust in a bank until they had some answer to the deteriorating situation, the details of which I won’t go into here, in which there had been enforcement orders, suggestions, and what not from various branches of the municipality, but no action.
Then a very interesting thing happened. The minister may not be aware of it. The management of the company, following the meeting that I just alluded to a moment ago, instead of improving the building and then reclaiming the back rent along with an increase in rent that they were frying to get, in effect sent out an order to the tenants and said, “Either you pay up your rent or you’re going to be thrown out.”
My advice to them was once they had cleaned it up they would have some justification for this kind of conduct but they didn’t take my advice. The net result was they took some of these people to court and the tenants’ association with the assistance of Tenant Hotline put in a counteraction.
Mr. Chairman, this is what happened. They came before a judge who recognized the situation. They recognized they had landlords who were playing games and who were milking the situation; who were not living up to the enforcement orders; who were willing to tolerate a deterioration of the building and, indeed, then get out and unload it on another landlord; and who had fronts so you had difficulty finding out exactly who the owner was.
The judge issued an order stating that by such-and-such a date this building would be brought up to a standard acceptable to the department of health of the local municipality and until that happened the rent would stay in trust. In other words, what could not be achieved in any other way, in a landmark decision a judge who had some milk of human kindness flowing through his veins took this whole situation, which was so confused and so complex, and cut through it and solved it. Since then, the situation has been gradually improving.
Against that background, I want to raise with the minister what people in the municipality in the local administration have drawn to my attention. It is asking an awful lot to let a situation deteriorate to the point where you have to organize the tenants, get a tenants’ association, get the thing into court and have charges and countercharges. If that is the way the minister wants it to operate, I suppose that is the way it is going to operate, but I suggest there is another answer to it.
It has been drawn to my attention, for example, by the bylaw enforcement people in the borough of York, that under section 366) of the Planning Act, where an inspector discovers that the owners of a property are not conforming to the standards laid down by the bylaw, they shall serve either personally or by registered mail a notice to the owner.
In the context of the problem I just spelled out to you, you can’t find the owner -- you literally can’t find him; he is buried in a deliberately constructed corporate name so you can’t find him. If you send a letter by registered mail it comes back. After you have gone through that lengthy procedure, then the act says you can placard the building and let them know about it. Presumably, the superintendent or whoever is there acting on behalf of the landlord hears about it, and they have 30 days to comply.
At the end of 30 days, if the inspector comes to the conclusion they haven’t complied, he is then back into the whole rat-race again. He either has to serve personally on the landlord a notice he hasn’t replied to it, or he has to send it by registered mail, not only to the owner who can’t he found, that to anybody who might be involved -- theoretically, anyone who holds a mortgage on these buildings and there is mortgage built upon mortgage upon mortgage.
In short, without going into any more detail, Mr. Chairman, what I am suggesting to the minister is while we got a landmark decision in coping with this problem and hopefully, a solution to this problem from the courts -- and the courts shouldn’t be the place where you have to get that decision -- the answer to it lies in some examination of a very complex, prolonged and complicated kind of procedure which is an open invitation to an owner, a landlord, a superintendent acting on behalf of the owner or landlord, either to ignore the enforcement orders or to fulfil them only partially; in short, not to solve the problem.
I would appreciate the minister’s reaction. Perhaps he can’t give it today, and I wouldn’t blame him, I don’t feel competent myself, not having worked in the Planning Act for some years. In the Ontario Municipal Board days, when we had a select committee, I was more familiar with some of the Planning Act, but I’m afraid I’ve got drained off into other specialities in the intervening years, so I don’t feel competent in this matter.
I think the minister, or some of his officials, should look at the matter and come up with a streamlined procedure which will make it possible for the various branches of the local municipalities to have the teeth to come to grips with a problem like that, so you don’t have to have this massive human buildup and confrontation, which is ultimately taken to the courts for resolution.
I would appreciate the minister’s reaction to both of those issues.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In answer to the last question about enforcing standards in apartment buildings, I think I feel some sympathy for the views put forward by the member. I’m sure all members, particularly those from densely-populated areas in Metropolitan Toronto, have faced the same problems with their constituents and tenant groups, I’m thinking of those who are living in an apartment building and see the quality of the building deteriorating around them and feel powerless to get something done. I think it’s very significant that the judge did come down as he did and get some redress in that particular area.
I’ll be glad to look into this. As the member knows, the Planning Act is not a responsibility of my ministry. Therefore, what I’d like to do is sit down with the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett), who has the purview for the Planning Act, and see how we perhaps can streamline some procedures to assist people in this area.
Mr. Macdonald: What’s the time frame you’re putting it in? Six weeks, six months or six years?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let’s say six to eight weeks. We’ll take a look and see. I have as many problems that way as he does in my riding. We find that sometimes we don’t wait for the courts; we try to use the “prestige” of a member of the Legislature to pressure a few of the owners of apartment buildings to do a few things from time to time.
Mr. MacDonald: You should try to meet the owners in my area and see if that would work.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere knows we usually know the owners out in Scarborough.
Mr. Warner: There are a few missing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: But I think it’s a good point and we’ll look into it.
In regard to the problems concerning the borough of York, we’ve discussed this matter before. As the member knows there are three tax levies that fall on the property owners in the borough of York. There’s the education levy, which is a uniform levy across Metropolitan Toronto. Nearly 50 per cent of the levy in Metro has been equalized, through the equalized mill rate for education across Metro.
So we’re really talking about those levies for municipal purposes, of which there are two: the Metro general levy which is levied in the borough of York for the services and costs of the Metro government, and the borough of York general levy for those services they provide. I can’t remember the percentages. It probably amounts to a 50:50 split. It may be that Metro is actually responsible for more than 50 per cent of the services. It’s the assessment base that the Metro levy is levied on in the borough of York relative to the other boroughs that really matters, as well as the general levy the borough of York has to levy on its assessment base and whatever the mix is.
The member is quite right. John Robarts and his commission said in order to correct the situation, the borough of York should be expanded greatly. While that was for the financial matter, I’m not sure it wasn’t for some other reasons also. He suggested that both York and East York become larger municipalities -- this being a way their financial problems could be solved, as could some of their other problems. They would become more equals among equals in the whole Metro setup rather than being two smaller boroughs in a setup that had four large cities and boroughs.
For a variety of reasons -- and I won’t go into those reasons -- the government decided against it -- and it wasn’t just the former minister, it was a decision I shared in and applauded most heartily, as I think the whole government did. We felt the idea of shifting boundaries in Metropolitan Toronto would solve one problem but would only create many more and was a very disruptive way to get a solution to the problems in York and East York. We rejected the boundaries and we still reject those boundary changes that were suggested. We do not think that’s a viable way of curing the problems in Metropolitan Toronto.
The second proposition my friend put was that, therefore, we’re in favour of the demise of York. We’re not in favour of the demise of York either. I believe the borough of York and the borough of East York should remain in the metropolitan partnership.
Mr. MacDonald: With respect, East York may be small and want to remain small. However, it has the second lowest tax rate in Metropolitan Toronto. So while it’s small, which means that it has a comparable position to York, it has very favourable tax revenue,
Hon. Mr. Wells: I was looking at the tax rates here.
Mr. MacDonald: The ones I got about two months ago had East York at about 163, while the lowest was 161. The borough of York was 177 to 178 and the average was about 168.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I see these mill rates are for 1978. Those are not the 1979 ones. When you and I were having our discussion about matters in York and the special grant to York last year, we were basing them on 1978 tax rates at that time probably too. I see that Toronto and York were almost equal at that time. There wasn’t much difference between them.
Mr. MacDonald: For other reasons.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The borough of York has not always been as out of line as perhaps it may be this year. Anyway, all that being said, perhaps we can get the 1979 mill rates so that I can take a look at them too. I just don’t happen to have them in my head.
I won’t talk about East York, although I was going to tell my friend that I get the same arguments put forward for East York about the dire straits that East York is in. Maybe they think their mill rate should be even lower but they also feel they have a problem. Let’s put that aside.
We do not favour the demise of the borough of York. The borough of York has had good members in this Legislature. My friend has been a member here for a long time. The borough of York also has a very fine mayor who puts forward the case very eloquently. I have assured her many times that we’re not in favour of the demise of the borough of York. We want to find some vehicle or method to solve the problem.
Mr. MacDonald: You just want to let them suffer a long, long time.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, we don’t want them to suffer. We want to be sure that they enjoy the full benefits and the full riches that are here in Metropolitan Toronto. The people who live in the borough of York are good Metro citizens just like the people who live in Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York, Toronto and so forth, as the members of this Legislature know. I believe the Metro federation is one of the shining examples of two- tier government that has really worked and really done something for this area and that you can’t separate it.
The people who start wandering around this country, holding Toronto up as an example, and then come home here and want somehow to shaft Metro really don’t recognize what has made this whole area the great area it is. It’s Metro. We have a viable downtown Toronto because we have a viable Metro. We’ve all been able to work together. Therefore, we’ve got to make sure that York also enjoys all the benefits and all the advantages of being part of the federation.
Without being able to go into any specifics, because that will come as we work in the next six to eight weeks with the specifics for the grants for next year -- and that’s just one area -- we want to try to do what we can to remedy the situation for York.
Also, when we look at whatever changes we do make in so far as the Robarts report is concerned, there may be some changes in the way things are handled in Metro that can benefit that area. That’s the most I can assure my friend. I just want to assure him that I know the plight of the borough of York and we believe that something should be done.
I see my friend from East York is now going to come across and is probably going to make a speech for the borough of East York. I want to assure him, and also my colleague, the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie), that we have listened to, perhaps not similar but eloquent, pleas from East York that they also be looked upon as a viable part of the Metro federation and we intend to continue to keep that before us.
Mr. Haggerty: I would like to address myself to this particular vote, 603, item 1, local government, and perhaps I should relate it to the notice in the Ontario Gazette, July 14, 1979, as it relates to the amendment to the Assessment Act under section 71, the provincial equalized assessment and equalization factors.
I notice in the list of numbers of municipalities that will receive their notice of changes in the provincial equalization factors that it varies from 0.87 to a factor of 100. I don’t know the methodology used by the ministry but I am going to hit perhaps closer to home, and that is the regional municipality of Niagara, I am sure the minister has received a number of petitions, particularly from the township of Wainfleet and other areas there, such as Niagara-on-the-Lake, objecting to the new factors the minister will be using in the Niagara region.
If you look at the factors there, for Niagara-on-the-Lake 6.56 is the equalization factor, Welland is 14.01 and the city of Thorold is 13.16. You can see the variance there is a factor of almost 100 per cent change in the equalization factor among these three municipalities. Wainfleet is one of those which will be severely hit by this proposal to change the equalization factors. I believe their estimated tax increase would be 40 per cent or more, an actual cost to each individual property owner of $254 additional cost for his 1980 taxes.
I am puzzled as to the methodology used by the ministry in arriving at these factors. When I look at the word “equalized” I can only assume you mean equalized assessment and equal grants, Based upon the principles used here, you shatter the principles of regional government and any upper-tier government.
What you have done here is to shove the responsibility for higher apportionment cost to the rural municipalities. In the former county of Welland we used to treat our municipalities more equally than you are at the present time under these suggested changes.
If you look at the past history of Welland county, before regional government came into the picture every time a rural municipality would attain a new industry you always had the cities ready to annex it. Through regional government you put a stop to that, but what you have done here is to prohibit a rural municipality to expand in the industrial field. I can see now why Niagara-on-the-Lake wants to sell more farmland to bring industry into that area to share in the cost of local taxes. Under this equalization factor here, they are not going to share that industrial tax base.
When you look at it, what you have done is brought in market value assessment in the province of Ontario though using the equalization factors. Your factors are based on the 1978 sales. You picked the peak year, the highest yield for sales in the province of Ontario at perhaps the highest cost in the history of homes in the province of Ontario.
When I look at that particular area, as I said before, you have brought market value assessment in through the back door. It was such a contentious thing with the government for the last 10 years, and finally you have found a method to bring it in.
The 1976 Reform of Property Taxation in Ontario, an Ontario budget paper reprinted by Darcy McKeough, Treasurer, says: “Timetable for reform: Market value assessment will not be used for property taxation until 1978.”
Well, it’s 1980 now. This is a one-year postponement.
“Preliminary analysis of new assessment data indicates that substantial changes to the current tax system will be necessary to prevent undesirable shifts in tax burdens.” By bringing in the equalization factors, new ones, you’ve put that shift of additional cost on to rural municipalities. He goes on to say that he is going to appoint another commission to look into it.
In the last paragraph he says, “Assessment notices for 1978 taxation will be sent to property taxpayers in the early summer of 1979. This early mailing and notices will enable appeals on a new assessment to be heard during 1977, so that the last revised assessment wrote in 1978 taxation will be available in December 1977. The implementation timetable will help to minimize any transitional disruptions to local government financing.”
I thought that was a pretty good comment there, that McKeough indicated that there were still difficulties in bringing in and implementing market value assessment. But for some unknown reason we see it being implemented now, and without the proper appeals for property owners in any region or any municipality in the province of Ontario. The minister has not set the appeal procedure up, he has denied them that right to appeal.
In fact, I think if the minister talks to a number of clerks in the municipalities, who are more knowledgeable than I am in this particular area, they have indicated to me they have never seen market value sales of a particular municipality. It has never been shown to them, yet.
How can we judge the minister’s statement of last Friday, October 12, when he says it’s an ad hoc measure that he has brought in? It’s good for one year. He is going to guarantee them that they are not going to be hit too hard, but that additional factor will certainly hear results in 1981, even though he says it will not increase any more than five per cent. But if he takes in the 1979 and 1980 factor, it’s going to have a serious impact on the municipalities.
I say to the minister that when he looks at the cost that is going to be put on to a municipality, say the town of Niagara, or the township of Wainfleet, and he talks about enforcement costs, they get very little services from the region. Sure they may get a suburban road built. But why shouldn’t it be that way? One can’t expect a small rural municipality to pay for building and constructing a heavy road to carry heavy traffic into a city, or an industrial area, and saddle the small municipalities with it.
I suggest when the minister looks at the small communities within the Niagara region -- I presume he will be there this Friday afternoon; at 4:30 I believe he is meeting there -- that if he looks at the structure of these rural municipalities he will see that they pay the highest hydro rates in the region, they pay the highest telephone rates in the region, and they are paying the highest taxes relating to enforcement costs.
They have very few police facilities. In fact, I can recall the time that Wainfleet had its own police force before they went into regional government. They used to have the police facilities located in the village of Wainfleet, and it provided exceptionally good service. The police commission at that time, and through the chairman, decided it was going to close the facilities in Wainfleet. The reason he gave for closing it was -- they made a study on it -- they had about 13 calls in one month, and I could be wrong on the figure, for required police assistance and maybe three or four for traffic and things like that. They said the facilities there didn’t warrant the police services in that community. So they closed it up and shipped all the policemen to the city of Welland.
Now they have to work from Welland to Wainfleet. Officers who don’t know the area have to cover one of the largest municipalities in the region. I think the chairman at that time missed the important factor. The important factor was, although the police force was small, it was doing its job, because the crime rate was down. They were out communicating with the public. They had good dialogue with the public.
This can be found all the way through these small communities throughout the region which are paying a higher cost today. I wasn’t enthusiastic about regional government and I am still not. I see the tax shift from healthy communities such as Welland and Thorold that have healthy industrial tax bases and are paying less taxes this year, while the smaller rural municipalities have to pick up a bigger share of the regional cost. It’s unjustified. There is no justice there whatsoever and I hope when you are down there on Friday you are going in with a better package deal than you have there, because I can see perhaps in two years from now we will be back paying that heavy cost to the region.
My colleague from St. Catharines discussed the problem of the regional municipality of Niagara; the costs to local governments. And I know people are not happy with it. He talked about building a new edifice there, a new ivory tower for regional council. He talked about the Mack nursing school, I believe it is and perhaps that building could be better used for senior citizen’s units or housing.
I remember writing a letter to the chairman about six years ago suggesting he should buy Pelham school. You are familiar with that. I believe in my letter I suggested it to you, if I am not mistaken. They could have bought that with about seven or eight acres of land for $60,000. They had a beautiful auditorium there. They could have had two auditoriums, one for council meetings and one for exercise for staff or something like that. It would have been an excellent complex for regional government, pretty well in the hub of the peninsula, but $60,000 was too much for them. Now they want to spend about $3 million or $4 million. We talk about government restraint, but you don’t see very much of it in regional government.
I think the chairman is getting the message now, but if they are spending that much for an edifice down there, it is just wasting the taxpayers’ money. If you had a vote today in the region I think they would go back to the former counties; everyone would be happy. Because people today are not happy with the policing they are getting. They are not getting the services they had before and the cost is tremendous. I don’t have to tell you about that. Now you have your kissing cousins in Ottawa, it would be a good time to go and ask them to share in the cost of policing these municipalities, because the regional police now do not even police local bylaws. What they are doing is carrying out the federal legislation and provincial legislation.
That’s an area you should be tapping. You should be going to your colleagues in Ottawa to see if you can’t get them to share in this particular area of police costs. I suggest to you what you have done is brought market value assessment in without any further dialogue with the municipalities and without the taxpayer having the right to appeal.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Would the minister like to make a statement? If not, we will call upon the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Nixon: Do you want to reply? Mr. Chairman, I am on another topic. The minister may feel he would like to reply.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I understand the concerns my friend is raising and I hope many of the immediate concerns in regional Niagara, as in many of the other regions, and the apportionment in the counties which was causing concern with many people will be alleviated for next year by the statement I made on Friday. I believe they will be and I would ask him to get the regional people and the municipal people in his area to work them through or wait until our field staff come and explain to them how these proposals will apply in the region of Niagara. I think they will alleviate some of the problems.
I would like to talk a little more about regional Niagara, but I don’t think I will do it right at the minute. We have looked at some of the things over there. I know there’s a feeling regional government hasn’t served the area well. I think that perception, while it is there is perhaps based on some of the feelings that all of us have because costs have gone up -- but costs might have gone up anyway -- that we are not getting the services -- but perhaps those services wouldn’t have been there in any event.
I think regional government really has the potential in Niagara, given some changes of attitude and some encouragement on the part of the government -- encouragement that I hope will come from the economic study that is now going on there -- to help that area regain some of the industrial momentum it had, without interfering with the fruitlands.
I think the potential is there for good things in the Niagara Peninsula, and I think regional government can help cause all that to happen if the right things happen in the next little while. What we want to do is try to make all those things happen.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I wanted to bring to your attention, sir, and that of the minister, some of the continuing problems with our provincial program for disaster relief.
I see under this vote about half a million dollars is before the House for approval, and I understand, as well, this amount will be much larger than that because of the substantial payout that will be required following the government’s commitment of paying $3 to the disaster area in Oxford, Brant and Norfolk --
Mr. G. I. Miller: And Haldimand.
Mr. Nixon: -- and in Haldimand, for assistance in repairing the damage caused by the tornado that went through there in August.
I wanted just to say a word or two about it because, as the member for the area and representing the people in the area, we feel that the provincial government responded very well indeed. Not only did a number of the ministers come up and view the damage, but we felt there was an expression of real concern and the results were reasonably good.
Not only is the public treasury going to respond by paying $3 for every $1 raised, but also there was a tremendous involvement of the police, the conservation authorities, some of the inmates at our correctional institutions and, of course, from many other government services.
The storm itself, of course, was an extremely destructive catastrophe, and many people, when they looked at the damage, said, “This is the sort of thing we would normally read about in Louisiana or some place like that, and normally we don’t expect it to happen here.” There have been people recounting the disasters in the past, and since it is just 25 years since Hurricane Hazel, we know that these things can happen here, and I wanted simply to put some objections that I felt in the past and still feel about the provincial government’s response with regard to disaster relief.
My real objection is that it seems to be almost completely ad hoc, that while there is a program based on $1 from provincial funds for every $1 raised locally, in most cases this seemed to be completely inadequate and it is, therefore, seen somehow as the generosity of the government and the ministries concerned when the amount payable is greater than that.
The other thing is the inconsistencies associated with the payout. It doesn’t seem long ago that we were discussing in this House the flood disaster in the Nipissing area, and in that instance the government decided to assist the local people to the extent of $4 for every $1 raised. There were also interest-free loans made available.
I don’t want to appear ungrateful, because I think most people feel that the government, the provincial government at least, has tried to assist in every way it can. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be a matter of being grateful to government. We can be grateful to private donors. The Ontario Milk Marketing Board has contributed $25,000. Other people, individuals and organizations, have done a great deal, not only in giving their time but in the money made available.
But it is very difficult for us to understand how the government arrives at a certain formula that is applicable in one part of the province and not applicable in another.
Once again, the dimensions of this disaster were such that I’m sure you’ll be glad to know, Mr. Chairman, that close to $2.5 million have been raised from direct contributions from individuals and private organizations, that the government is already committed provincially to a payment of $3 for every $1 raised, so we’re getting up there in excess of $7 million already. We’re hoping that the fund will continue to expand so that the multiplying factor applied to the provincial formula, which is an ad hoc formula for this disaster, will see that the moneys available will continue to expand.
It’s estimated that there was $60 million in damage, not counting the damage to public property such as hydro lines and municipal facilities. The $60 million to $70 million damage was to private property, to a great extent farm property, although number of communities were very badly damaged.
The storm began up in the town of Woodstock and I felt that the member for Oxford (Mr. Parrott) was perhaps, in part, responsible for the strong response that came immediately from the cabinet. I, myself, phoned the morning of the storm. It happened to be cabinet day and I was able to get the then Chairman of Cabinet (Mr. Henderson), who I’m sure brought it to the attention of the cabinet ministers very early on.
The storm went through Oxford Centre, through the beautiful small rural communities of New Durham, Kelvin, Vanessa, Waterford, Hickson, and Bright; and there may be others that I should list but those are the ones with post office addresses. Anyone who has driven through the area was absolutely horrified at the extent of the damage.
We thank God there were only two lives lost, because it could have been a terrible disaster in terms of human life lost if the storm had hit when most people were in their beds rather than very much alert, indeed, and prepared to take the kind of action that in many instances saved their lives.
I want also to point out the inadequacies, in my view, of the federal disaster relief program. The minister might want to say something about this, but the formula is triggered only when the amount raised to assist in disaster relief amounts to an equivalent of $1 per person in the province concerned. In our province, with a population of close to nine million this means that there has to be an extremely large disaster with very large private relief available before the federal assistance triggers at all.
I remember very well the criticism that was directed at the former federal government by members of the ministry here that they felt the program was inadequate for the times, and we agreed then and we say so now. Frankly, I was a bit horrified to hear the representatives of the government of Canada more or less stonewall the questions and the strong suggestions made to them, even by their own supporters, that more immediate relief should be forthcoming and that they should not be in a position to stand pat and not provide any assistance until all of the figures were in and then they would see if their formula was triggered.
I believe we ought to move in the direction of having a clearly understood procedure for the designation of a disaster area. Then the help available from the government should not be on an ad hoc formula depending upon factors which are difficult to understand, allowing the government to contribute $1 for every $1 raised under certain circumstances, $4 in the case of Nipissing, and $3 in the case I am describing.
In my view there should be a rotating fund -- a revolving fund, if you want to call it that -- with the basic payment coming originally from perhaps Wintario resources. I understand there are already many arguments in cabinet over how those moneys should be spent, but here is a place, it seems to me, where a fund could be established and the interest or even the capital used for certain programs where they would be repaid.
In other words, there is a fund there to which municipalities designated disaster areas could call for aid to repair the kinds of damage which would be checked carefully by the officials of the ministry, particularly with the assistance of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, and the payments made on that basis.
I think residents of Ontario are used to seeing what happens in the United States; where a flood or a windstorm or some kind of disaster, usually brings about an almost immediate response from the governor of the state -- and in certain circumstances a response from the President himself -- of the designation of a disaster area, which means immediately that specific help by way of personnel and dollars is expected and forthcoming. It is not necessary to present special resolutions and special arguments, and then to be “grateful” for the assistance that comes through.
I don’t want to be misunderstood. Certainly the people, who suffered the disaster, are in that sense grateful for the help that is available. But I certainly feel, now that at least some of the heat of the situation has been removed, that when we look at the experience there, and elsewhere over the past years, it is certainly time this House took steps to establish a more clearly understood program which is not based on ad hoc decisions.
I also want to bring to the minister’s attention once again -- I have already mentioned it -- that it is difficult to understand why in some communities there will be a $4 or perhaps even $5 payment per $1 raised, and particularly why interest-free loans would be available to some people in the province who have suffered disastrous destruction of their property, while in other areas they would pay, say, six per cent or something like that.
I don’t want to give the impression there is any great ferment in my area, that the people feel they haven’t been properly dealt with, but I do feel the ad hoc approach is inadequate and that we should not be looking at this thing as something that is a special favour handed out by the government in its wisdom and its humanity for some people, but not for others.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would be happy to respond to some of my friend’s suggestions and comments on this. I think we appreciated hearing from him very quickly and early about what the needs were, as I did from my colleague, the Minister of the Environment, and others after the disaster in Brant, Oxford, Haldimand and Norfolk, and the wreckage that was there following the tornado.
Perhaps I can preface my remarks by asking the member to recall the various disasters that occurred this year. It is interesting that this seems to have been a year of disasters, and that’s why we are directing our attention --
Mr. Laughren: Especially federal.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, I don’t accept that at all; that’s one very optimistic sign that this year has brought on the whole horizon.
Mr. Laughren: Joe Clark is going to lead us out of the wilderness.
Hon. Mr. Wells: He’s certainly the only one that can do it.
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s not a disaster; it’s a calamity.
Mr. Laughren: Then we are in trouble.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Last year the amount spent in this whole vote was around $114,000. This year, while we show $500,000 in the estimates we are voting on today, I imagine that when we get to supplementary estimates, we’ll have something running in the neighbourhood of $12 million to $15 million in the vote for disaster assistance this year. It may not be quite that high.
Mr. Nixon: That doesn’t include the special crop insurance.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That has nothing to do with the special crop insurance, or any of the costs in the other ministries. I think we have to make it very clear that the program in this ministry is concerned only with that money we pay under the matching program to the various local groups who raise funds. In other words, the moneys for the disasters, necessitated for instance for policing and extra policing, will be in the Ontario Provincial Police budget, or any special money they might have given. There will be money that will have been paid from other ministries to repair the telephone system in that area, where we gave the special grant for Norfolk. That will be in another ministry. The crop insurance, of course, is also in another ministry. The money we are talking about here is the amount that is paid in the matching program -- either the one-for-one, three-for-one or four-for-one.
All I’m saying is I think it’s too early for me to say whether we should or should not have a more regularized program. The essence of a disaster relief program is being able to fit it to the disasters that occur and to be able to help as quickly as possible. When you look down the list of programs that qualified this year -- Renfrew, Paris, Dover, Field, Goulais River, Iron Bridge, Walden, Onaping, West Carleton, Nepean, Nipissing, North Himsworth, White River, and Oxford-Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk -- you see quite a spread in the degree of disaster.
Earlier in the year we were looking at certain flooding as a disaster. Certainly to those people involved it was a disaster. But in terms of the disaster that occurred in Oxford-Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk when the tornado struck, it probably wasn’t on the rating scale in the same high degree.
Mr. Nixon: You gave four-to-one for the Nipissing flood.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right. The essence of the program is to try and match the contributions to the disaster that’s occurred, the type of disaster and the ability of the community to raise the money necessary. A total of $2.5 million has been raised for the fund in the tornado area. It was a national international story. It gained appeal and contributions from all across Canada. It was the kind of disaster where they were able to raise money that could then be matched by the government.
What I would like to see, based on the three-to-one ratio, with the $2.5 million we’ve got there -- I’m told there will be adequate, if not excessive, money available to help in that disaster. Some of the areas, particularly the ones in northern Ontario where we paid four-to-one, certainly weren’t if the calibre where it was easy for them to raise the money, and the chances of them raising a sizeable amount of money were pretty slim. In order to have enough money in the fund to do the kinds of things that needed to be done to help the people, four-to-one was necessary.
That is the kind of rationale. There’s been no magical formula. We would just look at the situation, assess it and see how best we could help. Without having any set rule, we were able to have a degree of flexibility. I think perhaps that was a good way to operate.
The other situation that has to be considered is there was much more insurance available -- people had more insurance on damaged property in the tornado area -- than there were in many of the flood areas. Flood insurance is almost impossible to have and most people didn’t have it, whereas many people in the tornado area had some degree of insurance.
As the member knows, people were already repairing their homes the day after, and certainly a few days later. When I was down there I was amazed and pleasantly surprised at the degree of repair that had already begun because insurance companies had come in and looked at things and said, “Go ahead, don’t worry; you’ll be covered for so much.” The people, based on that, had immediately begun the cleanup process or had brought in mobile homes and so forth.
Mr. Epp: They brought their film crews and photographers with them too.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Who?
Mr. Epp: The insurance companies.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You’re right, I think somebody is using that as a commercial these days.
When I quickly toured the area on a trip back from London to Toronto about three or four weeks ago I was very surprised to see how much progress had been made, even in that interval, in starting to rebuild and the reclaiming and the cleanup that had occurred.
That’s what we’re looking at. We’re studying the whole program. I emphasize we don’t want to take the flexibility out of the program. We want to be sure there is a degree of flexibility so we are able to help communities and the local committees based upon where they are, their kind of disaster and the probability of raising local money.
I don’t know what my friend thinks, whether he believes the government should be the complete provider of this money, but I have to tell him I do not. I think this is a partnership deal and that we should be providing some portion of the money and that the rest of it should be raised locally in this particular area, be it from the municipalities themselves or from local contributions.
Mr. Nixon: There is one thing you didn’t mention. What about the six per cent loans? Why are the loans interest-free in some areas and not in others?
Hon. Mr. Wells: This again was a product of our degree of flexibility. I think the interest-free business loans were in Field, were they not? When we looked at the kind of loans available for farms and for industry in the whole Oxford area of the tornado, the cabinet decision was that we have low-interest loans. I guess the whole loan situation was going to be a greater one in that particular area. It was brought to our attention at the time that most of the people in the area felt they shouldn’t have available no-interest loans but they just wanted to be able to have the money available at a low interest rate, and that would be agreeable. Based upon that kind of information, we moved ahead and instituted the program.
Mr. Nixon: I wonder if the minister would say something about the federal program and how it’s expected to apply?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me just say the interest-free loans, I’m told, were a Ministry of Industry and Tourism program in Field. That’s right, yes.
Mr. Nixon: They are up there, but the six per cent loans are too.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, that’s what I was going to say. They’re also a MIT program, They’re a different program though. The program in Field was a very limited program and it was through an existing MIT program. The six percent loans in the member’s area were arranged so the loans would be available through the bank, and as I understand it, it was a whole new program that was organized for not only industry but also for agriculture.
In so far as the federal government is concerned, I don’t know what’s going to happen. We wrote the federal government. We understand their program. If as a province we start spending on disaster relief an amount in excess of a dollar per capita in the province or, roughly, as you said, somewhere about 9 million, their program kicks in. How much do they pay?
Mr. Nixon: Dollar for dollar.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Dollar for dollar? Then they should start paying us money.
The problem that arises is we’re still having discussions over what is eligible. For example, in Field, it’s not the total amount we paid out. If certain things might have been insured, they’re not eligible for any federal involvement.
Their program is a little loose, I think, at the present time in so far as how they’re helping us, but I hope we can get it straightened out. There certainly was some misunderstanding early in the game in that we hadn’t even asked the federal government for any money. I want to assure my friend we wrote the federal government towards the end of August indicating we would be spending over the amount on disaster relief and we certainly qualified for federal assistance. They lost our letter for a period of time, but I think they found it again, and since that time meetings have been held. We’re trying to work out the criteria and the involvement. We’re certainly pushing for some federal involvement because they say they have a program and I believe this. We think we should get some contribution because, as I say, when the books are finally closed we’ll have spent somewhere between $12 million to $15 million on this particular item this year in Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: I want to say about the overall program that I would hope when the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs meets with his opposite number federally and with his colleagues from across Canada, he might have this matter put on an agenda at one of those meetings so that there can be an expression of views from the other provinces.
It seems to me there has to be a better correlation with the government of Canada to what we are doing here. The way it is described, particularly when one looks at the level of damage in the area I represent -- and the minister indicated we might even end up with too much money -- I have a feeling he is shaping up to saying it is not going to be three for one; it is going to be 1.75 for one.
With the situation we have here, if we finally trigger the federal government into giving us dollar for dollar, then we would be somewhere near to paying off the damage at a dollar for every dollar of damage, or maybe there might even be a surplus that could be applied elsewhere.
It seems to me the federal program was designed to keep the federal government out of these programs whenever possible. Even their response to this disaster, where the minister indicates it appears they lost the letter, is just unbelievable. I am here to criticize the program in the province as being ad hoc. Nobody understands what it is going to be until the disaster happens and then maybe it is going to be four for one or three for one.
There is no doubt the responsibility goes back to the previous administration, but the federal one is a disaster in itself. It is almost immoral that the federal program is established as it is. It is designed to keep them out of responsibility for programs and requirements such as this, when it should be designed to dovetail with provincial programs to assist the communities and not to provide some sort of excuse for them to walk by on the other side.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I accept that proposition put by my friend. As I say, certainly we are operating under a program which isn’t a new program that has just come in; it is one which has been there in the days of the previous government. It may have been in there for 50 years; I don’t know. Through the dollar-per-capita limit, my staff indicates it means we probably have gained nothing under the program in the last 15 years, even though in varying times we have paid out many hundreds of thousands of dollars in disaster relief.
Mr. Nixon: Tell them we are thoroughly dissatisfied.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would be happy to put it on the agenda for discussion with my fellow ministers and the federal government to see if we can’t get a better disaster relief program of assistance from the federal government. We would certainly be in favour of that.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have two areas of concern I would like to raise with the minister, both affecting Metropolitan Toronto. One is the matter of the Toronto Island homes and the other is the police commission. I would like to deal with them separately and handle questions on each.
Our party remains committed to maintaining the island community. I would like to emphasize the word “community,” not just the particular houses of individuals. We had great hopes that you and your ministry might be able to effect a useful compromise and come up with some solutions appropriate for the island residents and the community on the island.
I do have concern that what is seen to be a compromise is, in fact, just a very easy way of bringing about the destruction of the community while maintaining individual homes for a brief period of time. As you know from the meeting yesterday and the reports in the papers, the island residents are not happy with this concept of destruction by attrition, and we are concerned about it.
The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) has a number of quotes I would like to raise with you in terms of his understanding of the need for the community to be preserved and not just the individual houses. There are a number of his quotes from the November 16, 1978, Hansard. He said: “All the people of Toronto benefit by the presence of the Toronto Island community ... Those houses” -- in this case he is referring to houses of recent ownership, not just long-time ownership -- “should have the right to remain on the Toronto Island. This is the type of place we should be trying to keep.”
These are all taken from Mr. Grossman’s statements. I must say in your statements to this time you have not spoken of the community as much; you have spoken more in terms of the individual residents. Therefore, I can’t throw any of those back at you.
I also would like to say that one of the major arguments used in terms of the need to get rid of the houses is the need for park space. I think there is a real misunderstanding of how that space is used by the population if it is seen as an either/or situation -- either we have houses and the residential community or we have park.
As someone who uses the Toronto Island a great deal, I go to Wards Island and consider that to be part of the park. I am welcomed by residents on their streets as being part of the park, unlike the yacht club in the same area, which I must say takes up more land and more space and is not accessible to all members of Metro. Only people with money can become members and use that area.
I would like to ask the minister several questions. I want to know if what we hear in the press is true. Will he be announcing officially on Thursday a plan and tabling it with us, or have there been some changes in that?
I also would like to ask the minister what happened to his consideration of the other option that he said he might explore, which was the idea of the island returning under the jurisdiction of the city. I wonder if he could detail for us a little bit the process he went through, the various alternatives of compromise within that format that he looked at. I realize there were problems raised by Metro in terms of the assumption of the debt of their development in the island. I wonder how he looked at that.
Was there ever any consideration by your ministry in terms of trying to come up with a long-term solution to preserve the community? You might look into picking up part of that.
I wonder if you could tell us in terms of the deterioration of the houses, which I think will be promoted by this particular ad hoc approach of maintaining individual houses, if you looked into options of maintaining those homes. At the moment, as you know, residents are complaining that they are not able to take lumber across to do minor repairs and houses are already following into a bit of disrepair.
Homes are being closed, people are moving and homes are being torn down. That leaves very little incentive for people to maintain their homes and put anything of value into them.
The uncertainty that has been plaguing this issue that the minister spoke of in his release on December 14 I don’t think is overcome by his solution at this point. People will continue to be uncertain as to how long they will be able to last. If 15 homes go or 20 homes go, will there be a lot of pressure then to reverse this decision and to speed up the process of getting through the others? At what point will the community not be allowed to remain? How can people maintain their homes in any kind of living standard?
There is the problem of sewage treatment, et cetera, and I would appreciate learning if the minister has had any conversations with the city in terms of their willingness to take that over.
The idea that the city needs more park space is one as a Metro politician I would not argue with. I would again reiterate the fact that I already consider that space to be park space.
But I think there is an interesting comparison to be made at this point with the land on this side of the water at Harbourfront, which I understand your federal counterparts may not be interested in maintaining -- or in maintaining as high an involvement as in the last couple of years. Thank goodness somebody uses that park space. I am very impressed by the changes that have taken place in the last two and a half years and would hope that the minister might comment in terms of Harbourfront, an area which I think should have a little more emphasis in redevelopment as compared with the island, because in point of fact the island is already usable.
It’s still a hotchpotch of planning at Harbourfront as the minister knows and I am wondering if he will be pressing his federal counterparts to maintain the development of that land at an accelerated rate, and if there is any prospect of the provincial government bringing in money to that area, if the federal people decide not to push Harbourfront to the same degree as it is being advanced now.
I would like to reserve my questions on the police commission until afterwards so that I don’t confuse the two issues.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not sure, Mr. Chairman, whether I got all those questions down. I don’t have them before me but I will try to deal with as many as I can recall. Those I haven’t recalled I am sure the honourable member will ask again afterwards.
Will I have an announcement on Thursday about the island? If the drafting of the legislation we are working on is ready and finished, yes, we likely will have the announcement which I guess at this point is merely standing up in this House and bringing in the bill that would implement what we have been talking about.
The need for an announcement becomes rather superfluous because the ideas we have had for the island have already been widely disseminated over the past few days.
Let me first deal with what’s happened before I talk about the idea of the island returning to the city. There’s no question there has been a degree of uncertainty -- there has been uncertainty concerning the island residences for quite a long time.
Metro council made a decision in 1956 that while the Toronto Island belongs to Toronto, for a variety of reasons -- some of them I think connected with flooding problems -- Metro should have responsibility for it and ultimately it would become a part of Metropolitan Toronto. That decision wasn’t universally agreed to 100 per cent unanimously. But legislation was enacted here in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act to allow that to happen and Metro took over the island and began its program of creating a Metro park,
I think they have done a good job. I enjoy the park over there as I am sure all the residents of Metro do. I am a person who has gone to the island for years. I was born and brought up in this area. I remember when there was a small-town Ontario main street on the islands. You could even buy a draft beer in those days on the verandah and you could go to a show over there and so forth. It was decided that wasn’t the character that was to be maintained and it was to become a park. We now have a park over there and you can buy a draft beer in a German beer garden watching the ferries come in, and you can take your kids on rides and you can look at a lot of people enjoying the wide open spaces.
Believe it or not, I used to go fishing over there. I remember fishing --
Mr. T. P. Reid: I thought you went for the draft beer.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I didn’t say that I drank the draft beer now, Pat. I just said that you could buy one over there. I can’t remember whether I was of legal age then.
Mr. Philip: The draft beer would do you a lot less harm than eating the fish.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You couldn’t have been of legal age or you wouldn’t have been fishing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sure I was of legal age. Anyway, the character of the island was changed and Metro began their program to create the park. That has been completed except for the Wards and Algonquin islands part and that of course is where the controversy of four or five years has been. The controversy has been carried all the way to the courts, culminating in decisions last fall that said Metro had the right to evict those people. The battles were over. The residents said they weren’t going to appeal to any further court and Metro had been given the power to evict those people.
That was where the situation stood about last November. Then we came along in December and brought in our statement, which has been criticized by some. I think it was right. We suggested that we try to act as a mediator in this dispute. If Metro would agree not to enforce those orders, we would try to see if there wasn’t some way to bring people together to preserve the residences that were presently on the island. That really was the essence of what we were getting at -- to preserve the residences that were on the island.
In fairness to Metro, they did agree to our compromise. I don’t think they ever had any meeting of the Metro council to agree to it but certainly no one objected. Metro has not, to this day, enforced those orders on the island. This was based on the fact that this Legislature, as a government, said something should be done and we would try to come up with a compromise.
So nothing has happened. Orders which legally were obtained through long fights in the court were not enforced. In fact those orders stand to expire some time very shortly because they haven’t been enforced.
In the interval, we have tried to find what could be a compromise solution, something that would make the 100-per-cent-park proponents happy and something that would make the people on the island, if not 100 per cent happy, at least guarantee they weren’t going to be disturbed as long as they wanted to live on the island. If you accept that as the hypothesis for a compromise, I think what we have done is not bad.
Mr. Warner: No one is happy.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That is the essence of a good compromise: no one is happy. No one is happy, but no one can be grossly unhappy because if you accept what we have done, the residents, the people at the island, who all say, “Look, I want to stay in my home over here; I like living here,” can stay there. They can stay there as long as they want --
Mr. Warner: Delayed destruction.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and the city of Toronto will become the landlord, the guy who holds the lease, rather than Metro, which would make the people on the islands happy. So that is the first point.
The people who believe -- and Metro council still believes -- that the island should become a park, those people know that ultimately, it may be 50 or 75 years from now, but ultimately Metro will have a Metro park on the islands.
I saw that somebody in city council said, “That is analogous to blockbusting. That is what they do when they want to have blockbusting.” Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t, but it is certainly analogous to what we have done at Wasaga Beach and what we have got in Algonquin Park and other areas.
I have toured Wasaga Beach, and I have seen where rows of cottages have been levelled because it eventually will become a park, and other people are still living there. There are people I know who have been there for 35 years and they are still there, and they may be there for another 20 years; but all it means is they have got a little more free green space all around them.
I feel my job in effecting a compromise, and the job of this government, is not to change what should be a basic policy decided at the local level, the basic policy being that the island was to become a park eventually. If Metro council would meet tomorrow and decide to change that policy, we would change the legislation and bring in a bill just as quickly as they request. In other words, Metro council really are the ones who have the jurisdiction for the island.
The idea of changing or switching the island back to the city of Toronto in their totality, which was suggested, was not an acceptable proposition to most people that I talked to. In talking to them, they felt that perhaps in the switching of the islands from the jurisdiction of Metro to the city of Toronto, somehow the emphasis was changing from the park back to the residential, and we wouldn’t be able to build in the guarantees that the park would remain. I wouldn’t want the people in Metropolitan Toronto, who really fervently believe in the island park, to think we were doing anything that would suggest that park was eventually going to be built over again by homes, because I don’t think the majority of people in Metro want a total residential community on the island.
I don’t dispute that there is a sizeable minority of people in Metro, I think, who really don’t see anything wrong with a residential community on the island, and certainly that position has been put to me.
Hence, we are at the position we are at. We have come up with a solution. The suggestion is that the city take over servicing. I have talked to some of the people there. They say they would be willing to look at servicing. I think the city would look at sewers, if they are needed over there. I think that the services could be provided by Toronto and that the present residents of the island would find a very agreeable living environment could be created over there.
The only thing that wouldn’t be there which they want is the guarantee of a permanent residential community forever, however long ever is, for them. That we don’t have in our compromise because that, in itself, suggests the idea of the whole works becoming a park has been rejected, and at this point in time that hasn’t been rejected.
If Metro council would agree that a residential community on part of the island is acceptable, then I think we would have no problem; but it has been indicated to me that Metro council probably wouldn’t agree to a permanent residential community being there. If they would agree to that, we could transfer, by legislation, Wards and Algonquin islands over to the city of Toronto. Let them look after it, pay for the services, and so forth; and Metro run the rest of the park. This is probably a solution that, as I say, a number of people would see as a viable one.
That’s the background to the situation. I don’t know whether I have answered all your questions. If you’d like to propose any others, I’d be happy to answer them.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Chairman, there was one mailer that the minister did leave out. You left me disappointed, but fully reported, except for the matter of Harbourfront and your position on that. Perhaps you could tag your answer on to the end of the next point, which is to do with the police commission for Metro.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I can give you the answer quickly on Harbourfront. We don’t intend to spend any provincial money on Harbourfront. What the federal government intends to do I don’t know, but I intend to have some discussions with it and find out.
Personally, I think Harbourfront is a great benefit to this city and I hope we are able to keep it there and see it expanded, but we really don’t have any provincial money available for it.
Mr. H. F. Johnston: Thank you.
The matter of the Metro police commission, unlike the matter of the islands, is not a matter of controversy between two local levels of government, Metro and the city. In point of fact, Metro council and the city of Toronto council have joined other groups in requesting the changeover of that commission’s composition in terms of reflecting the authority of Metro council to be in charge of its policing, rather than the provincial bias which is shown now in a number of appointees to that commission.
I have a series of questions I would like to ask you. Have you had discussions with Metro government officials or with the city of Toronto recently, or with the Attorney General, about the prospects of bringing in any number of things; one of which would be your white paper’s recommendation of three Metro representatives and two provincial or the Robarts commission’s recommendation, which, as you know, was to turn the power of policing over to Metro government and allow it to make the decisions?
In so doing, because I presume you have had those discussions, have you considered such things as adding representation for minorities in one form or another or the concept of having elected officials from the Metro level represented on the commission? I would be interested to know if you have had those discussions and if we can expect in this session an introduction of a bill which might change the composition of the commission to reflect the desires of all local levels of government in terms of having Metro have control of it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’ve had informal discussions from time to time about police commissions generally and about the Metro Toronto police commission with my colleague, the Attorney General and Solicitor General.
Let me say I understand the points of view put forward from time to time by municipalities, for instance, the Robarts report, which suggested turning policing over to Metropolitan Toronto. I must say most of their concerns are in the financing area of the police commissions. I think municipalities generally have felt they wanted a tighter control on the budgets and operation of police commissions and that was the overriding reason they felt they should have greater control.
I have to say that basically I don’t think the change in appointment, that is, three Metro and two provincial appointees instead of have Metro and three provincial, would have any significant difference in the operation of the police commission. By and large, the police commissions do an excellent job in this province. Appointment of the people by the province or by a local government or a Metro government wouldn’t significantly change the operation or character of the police commission.
I do not have any plans under way to suggest amendments to the Metropolitan Toronto Act to change the composition of the Metropolitan Toronto police commission, except perhaps in the area of term of office. If my memory serves me right, I don’t believe there’s any term of office set down and the appointments could be open. Several of the recent appointments have not been open but have had terms set in the order in council. Perhaps we could somehow spell out the terms in the legislation.
The Metro police commission does have on it two elected representatives of the area.
It has on it two judges appointed by the province and one citizen at large appointed by the province.
In answer to your question as to whether I have any plans to bring in amendments at this session of the Legislature, the answer is no.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Besides the financial accountability, where I do believe they have a point, in that only 17 per cent of the money comes from the province and the rest from the municipality, there is the matter of discrimination in terms of something which was published and a reprimand which was sent by Metro council to the commission which fell on deaf ears in terms of Metro council’s point of view. They feel that in terms of policy they would also like to have some sort of say in the commission’s actions. I think that kind of accountability is very important.
Is it appropriate now to move the adjournment or am I early?
Mr. Chairman: It’s up to the House leader to make that motion.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s almost six o’clock and I might be a little bit longer than one minute.
I wanted to follow up on the comments of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. It would be kind of late for me to start.
Mr. Chairman: Do you feel it will take more than a minute and a half?
Mr. Haggerty: Yes.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.
The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.