The House met at 10:06 a.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF MEMBER FOR LEEDS
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I’d intended to make this statement yesterday, but time didn’t permit. I would like to draw to the attention of the House that because he had returned for the first time during this session, the member for Leeds (Mr. Auld) on September 14 celebrated his 25th anniversary as a member of this House. He is now the dean of this House; that is, the person who has had the longest uninterrupted term of service in the Legislature of this province.
Before the present portfolio, he has had eight other portfolios so he is obviously one of the most experienced members of this House. I knew the House would like to take the opportunity to congratulate him on his 25th anniversary.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Premier on the matter of interest rates. Is he aware that the high interest rates policy currently being pursued at the federal level is having a disproportionately heavy effect with regard to the farm community in the province of Ontario? Is he aware that a good many farmers are facing very grave difficulties because their call loans, their demand loans, are shooting up in terms of interest costs at a time when they’ve already invested their money in assets and have no real opportunity to recover by way of price increases of an immediate sort the cost of these interest rates?
Has the Premier any particular policy to deal with this? Is he aware of the problem? Can he take action in the reasonably near future considering not only the destabilizing impact these interest rates have on the farm communities, but ultimately the effect it will have in raising the price of food for all Ontarians?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of it in that I still have, perhaps, substantially more farmers in my constituency than the Leader of the Opposition, although the numbers have diminished over the years. I am aware of the impact of higher interest rates upon the farm community as well as upon many other segments of the people of this province, not just farmers but consumers, small businessmen and large corporations.
As I indicated to the leader of the New Democratic Party yesterday, we as a government are concerned. There was some suggestion that perhaps there should be a discussion of this at the first ministers’ conference. Whether or not that will take place, I still question whether a particular province can do anything unilaterally with respect to an interest rate determined by the Bank of Canada.
I think all of us are concerned about the size or the extent of the prime interest rate, but I think to suggest that we as a provincial jurisdiction can resolve this would be really leading the people astray. I think that in itself is something that probably could not be accomplished.
I have a concern with respect to the farm community. I would only say to the Leader of the Opposition it’s a concern really that is felt by many other people within the economy, where the impact for them would be very comparable.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, may I ask the Premier whether he is aware of the recent statement and article by the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture indicating the somewhat emergent and urgent nature of the difficulties faced by the farm community? Is he instructing his Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) to make any specific recommendations at the federal-provincial meeting on how the matter can be handled on something other than a provincial level? I agree with the Premier that it probably requires a more concerted effort.
Will the Treasurer be making any recommendations, especially in view of his statement yesterday that he was planning to go to the meeting more to listen than to offer suggestions on the subject of interest rates? Would the Premier instruct the Treasurer to make some suggestions for cushioning the blow to the farm community before we start to see the very dreadful negative impact of foreclosures and all the other things that neither he nor I would wish to have happen in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would say with respect that when we talk about foreclosures we’re talking about mortgage interest rates. For the farmers that I know relatively well, to the extent that they have mortgages on land, the prime interest rate does not affect them. Those are mortgages that are in place, some of them at substantially less than the 14 per cent.
Mr. S. Smith: Loans could be called if they are on a demand basis.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right. I assumed when the Leader of the Opposition said foreclosure he was referring to the mortgages a number of farmers have on the entire property. The member on his left (Mr. Nixon) is an exception to this, I’m sure, but there are still some farmers with mortgages on the entire property.
Mr. Nixon: It came from hard work.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know it’s come about by hard and diligent work on the part of his family. Shall I say more about how hard he works? Is that enough? I thought we were really very expansive earlier this week with respect to his great accomplishments and so on.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It’s been downhill ever since.
Hon. Mr. Davis: For the member?
Mr. T. P. Reid: For you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wouldn’t say that about your colleague.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He’s interrupting me, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. MacDonald: You’re interrupting yourself.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Now you’re interrupting me. Mr. Speaker, I really have difficulty accommodating all of these supplementary questions.
Mr. Speaker: You’ve ignored me before. You can ignore them.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would never ignore you consciously. If unconsciously on occasion I ignore you, I apologize.
Mr. Kerrio: Meanwhile, back at the farm.
Hon. Mr. Davis: With respect to what the Treasurer was suggesting to the Leader of the Opposition in terms of interest rates; one can get a lot of very valid arguments on both sides. Some economists will argue that our interest rate should not be tied to that of the United States. Obviously the head of the Bank of Canada feels that at this moment there is no alternative. This has been the tradition of the heads of the Bank of Canada for the past number of years and primarily supported by the government, both present and past.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in terms of whether this country can dissociate itself from the lending rate in the United States. I confess to the Leader of the Opposition that I don’t have this degree of expertise. I am concerned about it, because while he singles out the farm community this morning, with validity, the concern I have goes beyond just the farm community.
We have small businessmen with demand loans. In terms of the price of food, there’s no question the potential is there for some impact. This also applies to some consumer goods. A small businessman, or even a larger businessman, if faced with a one per cent increase in prime rate, has to calculate this into his cost of production. This in turn reflects itself in what the consumer must pay.
It is a matter of concern for all Canadians why we are in this position and how we can effectively get ourselves out of it. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition -- while the Treasurer may suggest he is there to listen, to get the rationale -- he will also have some points of view to express. He will express the concern of this government with respect to the impact on the farm community, the manufacturing sector and the small businessman, as well as consumers.
Mr. MacDonald: I recognize it is extremely difficult and irksome for the Premier to cope with the fallout of the disastrous policies of his kissing cousins in Ottawa, but may I ask the Premier this question?
Since farmers have over $3 billion out in debt, most of it short-term debt to finance the crop cycle and operations in any given year, subject to one per cent in addition to prime, so that they get the full impact immediately, is it not necessary for the Premier to do something other than say he is going to have a talk with his kissing cousins in Ottawa to find out what their rationale is? We know what their rationale is.
Isn’t it the government’s obligation to present some alternative? If necessary, if it really thinks it is important, should it not lower interest loans to farmers for the financing of their annual rotations in crop business?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Who was that enthusiastic applauder?
Mr. Swart: It wasn’t for you, Bill. It was for Donald.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I see. The consumer expert. I just didn’t see who was applauding so vigorously.
With respect to the farm community, a good portion of the moneys the honourable member referred to would apply to loans that are not within this province. If there were to be a specific program to relieve that very important sector, this would have to be a national-type program.
Mr. MacDonald: We did it with junior farm loans.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We did it with junior farm loans but they were not short term. There were a number of them in my riding, far more than in the honourable member’s. The junior farmer loans were to assist a young person wishing to get into the farming business. They were not short term to reflect the increase or decrease in terms of the prime rate. They were really to assist young farmers to get into the business at a subsidized or lower rate of interest. There were certain prescribed prerequisites for the junior farmers to be eligible for that kind of loan.
The member is fully aware of the scope of the program and what it was intended to do. If there is to be a specific program for the farm community, which I think would then lead to requests -- I am only guessing at this -- for specific relief in other areas, it would have to be a national-type program.
I can assure the member for York South ours is not just a question of listening and accepting or rejecting the rationale of the government of Canada in their support of the Bank of Canada. We recognize it is incumbent upon this government to see if there are any other alternatives.
I don’t want to mislead anyone by suggesting there is an easy way out of this difficulty. One can fiddle with this thing and can say we are concerned, as we are, about the farm community. It is a very valid concern. But I have to emphasize to the member for York South, while he may not have the same sympathy for the manufacturing sector, for the people who are in the business of producing goods, whether they be large businessmen or small businessmen, they are, on this Friday morning, faced with that same sort of difficulty.
It may not have the same personal impact on them, although there are many small businessmen who are unincorporated who I would guess have probably personally guaranteed their loans from the bank. The impact for them is as significant as it is for the farm community. I am not in any way saying we aren’t concerned about the farm community.
Mr. Foulds: Translate your concerns into action.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know the member for Port Arthur would translate it into action. I know what kind of action he would suggest, but this would only complicate the matter further and lead to a further difficulty for the economy of this country. Those are the kinds of solutions he and his leader in the nation’s capital would suggest. The people cast their judgement on his wisdom not too many months ago and as a result of that judgement, he is where he should be -- in a minority position.
Mr. Riddell: How can the Premier say any assistance would have to be at the national level when he knows full well the farmers in Quebec are very highly subsidized by the government? He can rest assured the farmers in Alberta are going to be well looked after because of the money they have in that province.
Is the Premier aware that ever since the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) was appointed to his position he has been going around the province saying his aim is to make Ontario more self sufficient in food production? If we are not going to somehow compensate these farmers for the high interest rates, how are we ever going to expect them to produce enough food to meet the domestic consumption, let alone have them become more self sufficient in food production?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the member for Huron-Middlesex he must be in support of all those things the Minister of Agriculture and Food is saying.
Mr. Riddell: If he does them.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am sure he goes back into his own riding and says, “The Minister of Agriculture and Food is right on. I agree totally with everything he is saying.” In fact, if I read the columns of the colleague on his right, he takes this position on so many things the government is doing. I read those columns and I sometimes say to myself, that distinguished member really is writing the column as though he were a Tory member.
Mr. Kerrio: We all understand the problems.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I really don’t think the farmers are looking for subsidization. The farmers in my riding, and I don’t think they are any different from the farmers in the ridings of the members opposite, are not looking for subsidization. What they are looking for is a fair price for their commodity that gives them a fair return on their investment. This is what they are looking for.
I think part of the answer -- and I hope this is recorded -- has to lie with the banking community. While they are affected by the prime interest rate, no question about that, they should be exercising some substantial discretion with respect to the farm community and others in terms of how they deal with the demand loans and the interest rates being charged.
I think there is a degree of flexibility within the banking community and I would hope they would be exercising some discretion and judgement with respect to this problem.
Mr. Speaker: We’ve spent 13 minutes now on the first question.
Mr. T. P. Reid: No answers.
Mr. Speaker: The questions themselves have taken up about four minutes of that time, so the balance have been in the answer. Surely, there is a message there some place.
Mr. S. Smith: Is the Speaker instructing me to take nine minutes for the question and get a four-minute answer?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you take nine minutes for the question, you’ll get a 27-minute answer.
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s the problem, we know that.
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to ask a question of the Premier on the subject of acid rain and Inco. Is the Premier up to date on what his minister has been saying? Can he clarify the government policy on this matter for the House?
I draw to his attention in particular the fact John Fraser, the federal minister, has said, “It is our present intention to rely on the provinces to put in place the needed control requirements with regard to acid rain.”
An hon. member: The ball’s back in your court.
Mr. S. Smith: Given the fact the Minister of Environment on February 5, said there was basically no point to Ontario acting alone; and on October 16 said Ontario would act in concert with others; and on October 25 also said they would have to act in concert, but they would also act alone and in advance of other jurisdictions, there is an apparent change.
Given the fact in yesterday’s question period the minister said, “I don’t think so,” when asked if he would levy a control order against Inco before the end of this year, yet last night said Inco was his first target, what is going on with regard to this province and Inco? Why do we not get one clear policy from the government? Why won’t they levy a control order, which the Premier and I must surely know is the only way Inco will be stimulated to do anything in the way of cleaning up that situation?
Hon. Mr. Davis: There has been a control order. I am not here to defend Inco, but I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition, that Inco is a very important industry to this province, to the country and very important to those citizens in the Sudbury basin.
I think it is fair to state Inco has made substantial progress over the past number of years with respect to the reduction of emissions. There was a control order at 750 tons, whatever the figure was, which I think most people on reassessment recognized was unrealistic -- that the technology does not exist in terms of that being economically viable. As a result of that, the order was amended to entertain an objective that could be met. I think Inco has been successful in very substantially reducing its emissions.
I don’t think there is any inconsistency at all in what the minister has been saying. Inco has been identified as one of the prime sources of sulphur emission. There’s no question about that -- no one has ever debated it. The minister has been saying, and I think it is relevant, that there are other sources. There is also some importance I think in terms of what is affecting the people of this province and that is acid rain emanating from the jurisdiction to the south. The minister has been saying there has to be some sort of concerted effort that works both ways.
I think it would be unfortunate if one were to say that Inco is the only problem, because factually a good part of the acid rain that affects this province emanates from a jurisdiction over which we have no control. The minister is attempting, I think with validity, to see that our neighbours to the south develop the same concern and are prepared to take the same sort of advice in terms of what might be done. It’s interesting because there are other potential sources.
We think that through the co-operative efforts of Ontario Hydro the potential for sulphur emissions, for instance at Atikokan, can be controlled within a level that will not create this problem. The member for Rainy River knows full well the feeling in the United States in respect to the potential emission problems at Atikokan -- if he’s not aware of it I can send him some of my correspondence -- yet he still supports going ahead with that program and I understand that.
I think this thing has got to be put into perspective. We have to realize it’s a fairly recently-recognized problem and there is still some scientific debate as to what extent the sulphur emissions alone are the responsible chemical. There are some people who will argue that the nitrogen part is even more important.
It’s great for the Leader of the Opposition to say single out Inco; impose an order upon them which perhaps couldn’t be met, which would result in either a reduction in production, layoffs, or some would argue the question of the total viability of Inco in Sudbury. This government has to take that into account.
I am not prepared to have this government move in a direction that would create a serious economic problem for the citizens of Sudbury. We have to take into account their livelihood, their concerns, their expectations. One can’t do this in isolation from the other problems. It’s great for the Leader of the Opposition to sit here in this House and say, “Deal with Inco. Don’t worry about what our American neighbours do,” but I have to tell him I think that has to be part of the discussion. They have to clean up some of their problems because they have an impact upon the people of this province.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since it has now been shown in the latest study that at least half of the acid rain falling on our lakes here in Ontario, affecting the livelihood of all the people who depend on the tourist industry in the Muskoka and the Haliburton areas with 40,000 lakes being threatened -- and they are also people whose livelihoods the Premier should worry about -- when it has now been shown that more than half the sulphur comes from Ontario and from Quebec; when we know that we have at Inco the largest sulphur polluter in the North American continent and one of the largest in the whole world, how does the Premier expect the United States will act if we are not ready to clean up our own act here in Ontario?
How does the Premier expect we are going to get any change in the acid-rain situation if he will not deal with the biggest polluter in the history of North America sitting right here in our own province and threatening to pull out every time some measure is introduced by an Ontario government?
This is the whole history of Ontario. Why doesn’t the Premier stand up to them for a change and make sure that our lakes remain for future generations of Ontarians rather than as a dead legacy from a dying government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I recognize the Leader of the Opposition can deal with this in very simplistic terms. This government really -- well before the Leader of the Opposition -- has taken the initiative with respect to the problem of acid rain -- I say that with great respect; my memory is relatively good on this issue -- and the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) himself has taken a great deal of the initiative in terms of identifying the problem and trying to find some realistic solutions.
I would say to the Leader of the Opposition it really helps us a great deal if he says that our American neighbours shouldn’t be concerned about their act, that we should zero in on a single situation here --
Mr. Breithaupt: We didn’t say that.
Mr. J. Reed: No one said that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- without having some pressures exerted on our American neighbours, because as one looks down the road a little bit one sees the impetus that is being given by the United States, through the federal government, to the utilities to move from the use of oil, for the generation of electricity, to a substantial increase in the use of coal, which will increase the problem from their standpoint.
I would suggest to him that we should approach this in a balanced way and that we should keep the pressure on in terms of our relationship with our neighbours to see that they move in concert with us to deal with this problem. I would ask him, in quiet reflection, to recognize that this pressure is important and that our American neighbours must share in this problem and in its solution.
Mr. Germa: When the Minister of the Environment said he would be willing to close the plant down completely at certain intervals, does he intend to accomplish this closure without affecting the pay cheques of the 12,000 people involved? If he doesn’t accomplish this, is it fair for this small group of people to pay the penalty to solve a global problem?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am intrigued that the honourable member asked the question in that way. That is what I have been trying to say to the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Cunningham: He said it so much better.
DE HAVILLAND AIRCRAFT COMPANY
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Premier. In view of the fact that last Friday Sinclair Stevens told the union representing the workers at de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited that the federal government would be demanding no guarantees from potential buyers about possible future foreign ownership or about maintaining a high level of research and development at de Havilland, can the Premier say how he could have given the House his guarantee last week that de Havilland will not go down the drain in the future and will not be moved out of Ontario, when the federal government is demanding no such guarantees?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I said to the leader of the New Democratic Party a week ago, with respect to de Havilland, that this government would make sure it did not move geographically out of the province of Ontario. I don’t know by what means. It is not in issue. There are no prospective -- I shouldn’t say that; I don’t know of any offers that have been made and I can assure the leader of the New Democratic Party I am even more interested than he is in retaining de Havilland geographically in this province.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Since the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund is one of the rumoured buyers of de Havilland and since if it were to buy de Havilland I am sure the company would want to move some or all of its operations to Alberta -- as happened with the maintenance operations of Pacific Western Airlines which came east in that case from Vancouver -- can the Premier say how Ontario intends to implement the Premier’s guarantee that de Havilland would not be moved out of this province, when no guarantees are being asked of a purchaser by the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: As I say, I don’t deal in rumours like the leader of the New Democratic Party. I haven’t even heard these rumours. I don’t know whether there is any substance to them or not. I just reiterate what I have said to the leader of the New Democratic Party: this government is as committed to retaining de Havilland in this province as he is; in fact, probably more so.
Mr. di Santo: Since the chairman of the Treasury Board made it quite clear that he won’t bring the de Havilland problem in front of Parliament and, therefore, there will be no debate in Parliament, can the Premier assure this House he is going to make representations to the federal government so that de Havilland remains in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would be very surprised if the government of Canada didn’t already understand that we are most anxious to have de Havilland remain in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cassidy: If there are no guarantees forthcoming from the federal government to ensure that a purchaser keeps de Havilland in the province of Ontario, will the Ontario government change its stand and demand of the federal government that de Havilland remain as a publicly-owned company?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I want to, I guess for the third time this morning, five times in total in the past seven days, reiterate what I’ve said to the leader of the New Democratic Party. I don’t deal in speculation or rumour. This government is very anxious and committed, and whatever terminology he may wish to use, to retain de Havilland here in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Premier about the increase to a record level in Canada’s interest rates and the effect on small business, which accounts for about 60 per cent of the creation of new jobs in this province, over the course of the past decade. Would the Premier say what specific plans the government has to ensure that small businesses are not prevented from creating jobs next year because of the high interest rates? In particular, does the government intend to increase funding to small business through the Ontario Development Corporation next year, to help small business weather the credit squeeze created by the Joe Clark government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I’m delighted to see that the leader of the New Democratic Party is, (a) interested in business, (b) in small business and finally has recognized its importance in the terms of job creation.
It’s intriguing to find out that at long last -- I see the member for Sudbury is playing his violin, with his intellectual capacity be should be playing it this way. I say that very kindly. I think this is something this government has been talking about for a long time; that it is the small business community, it is the business community that does create the jobs. Unlike the leader’s people who want to see most of them in the public sector. I’m delighted to see, at long last, their concern about some of the problems of the small business community.
This government has traditionally made an effort to assist the small businessman in this province. We have done so with some success and will continue to do so because, believe it or not, we not only are more interested in job creation but also we’ve done more about it than the leader’s party could ever do.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, supplementary -- if I can cut through the Premier’s rhetoric. Is the Premier aware that before the recent increase in interest rates the Conference Board in Canada was forecasting that only 10,000 new jobs would be created in Ontario next year? Given the importance of small business in creating jobs, is the government prepared to take any specific action to make sure small business can create jobs next year, or will we simply get dose after dose of rhetoric and no action from this government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the New Democratic Party went back to the projections of the conference board of a year ago, my guess is he would have found them projecting an increase of 140,000 new jobs in the province of Ontario. Now that’s just a guess. He didn’t give me notice of the question, nor should he, so I wasn’t able to do any research. My guess is he will find that to be the case.
If you take into account their projections of a year ago, the actuality of this calendar year -- and I don’t think our figures will be too far out -- that within the private sector, within the business community both large and small, we have been successful in creating 140,000 new jobs in this province.
I think this is a clear indication of what is happening within the business community and their confidence in the economic policies of this government. As a result, we’ve had one of the highest levels of job creation of any comparable jurisdiction. We’ve done it because we’ve recognized that in order for them to not only survive but also to move ahead, it’s not just a question of subsidization, which he would do on one hand and then take it from them by way of increase in corporation taxes on the other hand.
The NDP are the most hypocritical group when it comes to economic analysis. They talk about subsidization today. I’ll make a prediction, Mr. Speaker, that the same member when the next budget comes down will say, “Mr. Treasurer, you should be upping the corporation tax by another five per cent or 10 per cent, so we can have more dough to spread in other areas.” I’ll make that prediction and I bet I’m not very far out.
Mr. Mackenzie: With the oil companies, we probably should. Sell-righteous hypocrisy.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary question, before the Premier outdoes himself in the quantity of hyperbole. Is the government prepared to take any specific action to protect small businesses against the effect of the record interest rates that have now been imposed by the Joe Clark government, or does the government simply intend to stand on one side and watch small businesses go to the wall?
Mr. Mackenzie: You haven’t answered the question at all.
Mr. Swart: You haven’t answered one yet.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Welland-Thorold says I haven’t answered one question yet. The member hasn’t asked one yet.
I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that party gets upset when we tell the truth about those on that side of the House; it disturbs them.
Mr. Swart: We wouldn’t know; you’ve never tried it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It disturbs them when we point out they try to have it both ways seven days of the week. They talk about subsidization protecting the business community today; tomorrow they will want us to tax them out of existence. There are just too many intelligent people in this province who understand that their party, when it comes to economic policy, is totally hypocritical.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is and they should know it.
We will not see the small business community put to the wall. Our record in this government, in terms of what small business has accomplished, is excellent. Look at the job creation, look at what our incentive programs have done -- which those members, incidentally, have rejected. We are interested in the creation of jobs. Those people aren’t.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: A supplementary to the Premier, who I am glad to see is here today. May I ask a question of the Premier, in the wake of this question and almost supplementary to the previous question about interest rates and the effect they are going to have on the provincial economy?
I understand the rhetoric the Premier is using this morning about our history in the last year. A lot of the people are less optimistic about our prospects in the next six to 12 months. Clearly, the interest rates are going to have a significant effect --
Mr. Speaker: Did you really want to ask a question?
Mr. Peterson: Yes. It’s going to be a great one.
They are clearly going to have a significant impact on the economy of Ontario in many sectors. Would the Premier instruct his Treasurer, one, to study the impact of those interest rates on the Ontario economy; two, to take that position to Ottawa -- and I would suggest the forum of the parliamentary committee meeting there -- to let the federal government and the governor of the Bank of Canada know what Ontario’s position is in this highly critical and most important matter we are going to have to face in the next six months to one year?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is always a delight to have a reasoned question from the member for London Centre whose knowledge of the business community is so great. He probably enjoys that area more than he does political life even; he gets such excellent philosophical guidance from people very close to him.
With respect to the first part of his question, I can assure the member that there is no need to instruct the Treasurer to study the government of this province. He has, in fact, been assessing the impact of high interest rates.
The second suggestion, as to whether it might make sense for the Treasurer to appear before the parliamentary committee that is assessing the decisions of the Bank of Canada, I think is intriguing. I will discuss that with him; I find that a very helpful sort of approach. But if the member thinks the Treasurer and his ministry has not already been assessing the impact of high interest rates, I just want to tell him they have.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to draw to the attention of all members of the House -- it may have a sort of moralizing influence -- that Professor Mario Gomez d’Ayala, former president of the regional government of Campania, Italy, accompanied by Dr. Salvatore Armato, regional minister of tourism for that province, and Dr. Alessandro Ingala, regional minister of industry and commerce, are in the Speaker’s gallery. They are in the city celebrating Neapolitan week. Would you please welcome them.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. In the absence of the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett), would the Premier advise this House in precise terms what commitment his government gave to Mr. Sewell and Mr. Godfrey respecting the assistance to co-operatives which were endangered, and may still be endangered, by Metro’s refusal to enter into the tripartite agreement?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell the honourable member in precise or even in general terms. There were discussions held with the mayor of the city of Toronto and the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto I believe late last week or on Wednesday of this week --
Mrs. Campbell: Monday.
Hon. Mr. Davis: On Monday of this week. There were a number of issues on the table. There was the question the member for St. George has raised. There was also the question of the Metro housing authority and just what progress might be made. My information is that these matters are still in the process of resolution and that significant progress was made at that meeting, but I am not sure I can tell the member for St. George it has been totally finalized.
I think they made very genuine progress. I will check on this and either the Minister of Housing or I will give a more definitive answer in the House on Monday.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Supplementary: Is it not true the Minister of Housing released a statement the following day, to the effect he would guarantee the provincial commitment to those co-ops and they would not suffer if negotiations fell through, in response to a question I asked last Friday? Is that not the case?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the member for St. George asked whether or not a resolution had been found to the problem.
Mrs. Campbell: A commitment made.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think the minister had made it quite clear with respect to this, that he hoped to have a solution acceptable to everybody and, if there were no such solutions forthcoming, this government would see that problem would not exist. I think that is in substance what he said -- that this was part of a broader discussion where there were a number of issues on the table and where my information is they were making substantial progress.
I’m quite optimistic they will find solutions to a good number of those matters, not just the question of the co-operatives. I will ask the minister if he can give a more definitive update on Monday of next week.
EDUCATION RELATIONS COMMISSION
Mr. Bounsall: A question of the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker. With the expected resignation and departure very soon of Mr. Owen Shime as chairman of the Education Relations Commission, can the minister assure this House this very key and sensitive position will be filled by a person with a strong background in labour negotiations or arbitration and mediation or labour law?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, in order to reassure those members of the House who have been hearing that fascinating rumour, whose source I really cannot define, that we were going to appoint as chairman of the Education Relations Commission, a social worker --
Mr. McClellan: What’s wrong with social workers?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- which seemed to me a somewhat inappropriate suggestion. I can say very clearly the search has been directed specifically towards individuals with capabilities, with experience, either academic or in practice, in labour-management relations, with some experience in the educational field and with a knowledge of law.
Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: In that search, has the minister canvassed, or will the minister canvass a wide range of opinions, particularly from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, the various teachers’ federations and the trustees’ council, for names of persons who would have their confidence in that position, such as Owen Shime, who was acclaimed for that post by them when he was chosen, particularly inasmuch as that person must exercise a high degree of judicial judgement in determining such questions as bad faith bargaining?
In addition, is the minister going to increase the remuneration of fact-finders? The low rate of pay has caused some very qualified persons to drop off that list and we’re in danger of being left largely with retired directors of education to perform those functions.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’m sure the honourable member understands that the role of the ERC relates very directly not only to the teachers’ federations, but as well to the Ontario School Trustees’ Council and individual trustees’ associations. Any canvassing that is done should be equally balanced between both groups.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s what the member for Windsor-Sandwich said.
Mr. Warner: That’s what he said.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the member say that.
Mr. MacDonald: Then the minister wasn’t listening.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I only heard the member mention the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. I was trying to listen but I couldn’t hear. All I could hear was the reference to OTF.
Mr. Warner: That explains a lot about you.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I listened very carefully to the suggestions which were made by all of those individuals with direct concern about the relationship between boards and school teachers. We have done some investigation of a number of suggestions which have been made. At this time I have not considered a modification of the fact-finders’ level of remuneration.
Mr. McCaffrey: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. There has been a lot of discussion here this morning about high interest rates. I was particularly intrigued by the comment -- I think I got it correctly -- that the Premier made in response to one of those questions, when he said he hoped the banking community would utilize some discretion when reviewing loans to the farm community. One hopes the banking community would utilize discretion when reviewing some of its loans to small businesses. What, if any, specific steps might the minister take to see that the banking community does exercise this discretion?
Mr. MacDonald: That’s a very good question.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think the point of the question is terribly relevant because in the next couple of months we have a lot of small business firms that are doing quite well at the present time. Notwithstanding what is happening in the United States, all of the predictions still look pretty good for many small businesses that are just getting under way in terms of exporting.
Mr. Warner: What is the minister going to do?
Mr. MacDonald: Doesn’t the minister think the Premier’s proposal was a bright one?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In fact, the statistics for the last quarter in the United States, I would remind the House, look pretty good and indicate that the recession won’t be as deep as it was predicted to be. What we are intending to do is make a direct appeal to the banking and financial institutions to ask them to be sure they do not adopt policies which are so restrictive that small business firms, which in the long-term are and continue to be worthy of support, are not put out of business by calling a demand note on any of those companies. Obviously, if a company was deemed by the financial institutions to have a good enough product and good enough management to be worthy of support, I would hope the financial institutions would not simply say they have to meet this new, higher payment or they are going to call the loan.
For example, there are many instances where some of the payments being made are a blend of payments with principal and interest on some loans. I would hope one of the things the bank might do instead of increasing the amount of money required to be paid each month is to allow the company to maintain the same payment but make it an interest-only payment for whatever period of time is necessary --
Mr. Peterson: Make it slower rather than faster.
Ms. Gigantes: They’re leading us into a crash.
Mr. Warner: In other words, the minister will do nothing.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- to make sure that specific firm is able to stay in business and is not put under simply because of a short term high interest rate situation. I think that’s reasonable for us to ask the banks to do, and I’ll be making that direct appeal to them.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary: That’s very interesting concerning the representations the minister is going to make. If his representations should fall on small ears --
An hon. member: Deaf ears.
Mr. Mancini: Deaf ears and small ears --
Mr. Nixon: Small minds.
An hon. member: And closed ears.
Mr. Mancini: Small minds, closed ears and all of these things -- does the minister have any other action that be plans to take? Can he also inform the House, sometime down the road, just how his representation is received?
Mr. MacDonald: Is the minister going to genuflect before he answers the question?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Hearing aids would be the first thing we would provide in those circumstances. Quite clearly, the second thing we would do is not to have a legislative role. That would be a federal role, if that’s what the member is suggesting.
Mr. Warner: Baloney! That’s nonsense.
Mr. S. Smith: Either you come to work or you can always beg.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I want to say that we are about to make those representations to the bank. Last night I was speaking in Thunder Bay to a division of the Institute of Canadian Bankers. I made that direct and open appeal to them. After the next week or so when we see what kind of response is developing, then we can reconsider the situation.
I would remind the member that banking institutions have in other circumstances -- I refer to the strike in Sudbury -- been fairly responsive to short-term situations and have adopted policies which are exactly reflective of what we’re asking them to do right now.
Mr. Swart: If this discretion after the government’s appeals is not applied and in view of the professed concern of the Premier for small business and for the consumers, will the minister consider recommending to the Premier -- because of the tremendous added profit that the financial institutions will make, and their profit is already high -- that there be a surtax, an excess profits tax applied to those corporations in Ontario and that money be recycled to small business?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member surely must have been out of the chamber when the Premier was pointing out the inconsistency of his party’s position.
An hon. member: He was here.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He was here? Talk about deaf or small ears. For those of the member’s colleagues who were here, I will save them the punishment of having me repeat what the Premier said earlier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s not a punishment.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: All right, I’ll do it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I’d love to do it but I know the Speaker will get angry with me. Frankly, answering that question, which essentially was answered earlier, would not add much to the discussion at this stage.
May I simply remind the member that some of the things he’s talking about and that his leader was talking about this morning are exactly the sorts of steps and suggestions that led to some of the long-term economic structural problems we have in our economy. Interest rates and whatever steps are being taken by the federal government as unattractive and as uncomfortable as I happen to find them, are, in part, created by our inability to handle our economy and to allow it to mature and grow outside of those outlandish and foolish suggestions.
May I say that the federal government, I guess, just two days ago, introduced a new Bank Act which would introduce into our economy many more banks which would provide a lot more competition into the banking system. Again, I heartily support this and I think it would be a welcome addition to the resources available to small businesses.
Mr. Warner: There will be a lot more foreign banks.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It’s a hell of a lot more sensible for our economy than having the members of the third party regularly stand up in a knee-jerk fashion and say, “Listen, why don’t you just grab all that money from them and throw it in wads at small business?” I thought the member’s last remarks were most interesting when he said, “Why don’t you just tax them and give it to small business?” I presume therefore that his opposition to the Employment Development Fund isn’t to the grant aspect of it --
Mr. di Santo: That has nothing to do with it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- granting money to businesses, but to the fact we grant it to business people he just doesn’t happen to like. I’m glad he got that on the record. I’m glad his party is now supporting recycling and granting money to small businesses.
RECRUITMENT OF FOREIGN WORKERS
Mr. Blundy: I have a question for the Premier. Given the fact that we have thousands of unemployed in Ontario and in the light of the Premier just having bragged about the creation of jobs in Ontario by the government, what are the views of the Premier on this advertisement which is cut out of the London, England, Daily Mirror, seeking applicants for jobs with Rowntree Mackintosh Canada Limited in Ontario, calling for apprenticeship-trained fitters and mechanics at $10.25 an hour plus benefits, plus travel allowance to Ontario and suggesting that enquiries be made at Ontario House in London, England?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It sounds so attractive I'm sure the member for Sarnia may himself be applying for that particular job. It might be very productive for him.
There are some employees who are being, shall we say, encouraged by some companies in this jurisdiction and in other provinces of Canada and, strange as it may seem, in many states of the union, who have a particular expertise. It is fair to state, if you trace the history of these companies and the numbers of employees in specialized trades who do come into Canada -- some into the province of Ontario -- you will find that there probably is a four or five times plus effect, in terms of other employment it creates.
We have discussed this at some length with the ministry involved, with the people at Ontario House and with some employers who have been doing this as a matter of practice. We have encouraged them to move into their own programs of skill-training. The government has increased its participation, but I think it fair to state that for a period of time there will continue to be a need in some specialized areas, to have people come in from outside this province. I regret that, but it is a fact of life.
I do emphasize to the member for Sarnia, the history of these will show that when they can find these particular people, and they are very few in number, this has a spillover effect a multiplier effect of sometimes four to five times -- some people may even say 10 times -- the number in terms of the job opportunities that company is then able to entertain.
Mr. S. Smith: What are you doing about the apprenticeship program?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the Leader of the Opposition is saying to me why don’t we do more about the apprenticeship program as he throws his hands in the air, I just tell him, we are in fact doing it. We have been doing it for a period of time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In answering his supplementary question, I say to the Leader of the Opposition he could do a little more in some of his public pronouncements if he encouraged young people to move into the apprenticeship field, instead of totally knocking the educational system. We all know what the problems are.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Now it’s our fault.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come on. Listen, I know what you said at McMaster not too long ago. I get these things.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is, of course, what is the government doing? What are its new plans to increase apprenticeship training in Ontario, trade training in the colleges and the high schools?
Not only was this job advertised in the English paper but also when Petrosar was being built in Sarnia we had to bring in skilled tradesmen from the United States while our own Ontario people were unemployed.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The honourable member knows full well there had been skilled people going into the United States just for the same reason.
My figures aren’t that far out. The minister has just confirmed that for the year ending 1978 1,026 skilled and technical immigrants were brought into this province and their arrival resulted in the creation of 7,800 new jobs. I said five or six times. This turns out to be seven times in terms of the multiplier effect. This also included some 1,100 jobs in terms of apprenticeship and industrial training.
If the member wants to get specific figures from the Minister of Education as to the number of young people in apprenticeship programs, she would be delighted to give them to him. He knows full well, for instance, at Lambton College, that great post-secondary institution geographically about three miles from his own home, the extent of their skill-training programs and their co-operation with the industry in your community. In fact, the member and I were at an opening the other day where that particular company has moved in the field of apprenticeship training and it is doing something about skill training. I would like to think the member would acknowledge in this House that several other industries in his community are doing just exactly what he is suggesting. He knows they are, and let the record show he nods his head in agreement.
Mr. M. Davidson: I have a question for the Premier in the absence of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) and the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell).
Has the Premier been made aware of a press report which appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on September 20, 1979, in which Dr. Jack Richmond, when speaking to the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers, was counselling them as to how companies could get around the Workmen’s Compensation Board and counselling them to falsify and make vague the reports that are sent to the compensation board? He ends up by saying, “Make the forms as hard for them to follow as possible.”
Can the Premier tell us what steps the Minister of Labour has taken to investigate the statements that appear in this report and, in particular, what action is the Minister of Labour taking to deal with a deliberate subversion of the Workmen’s Compensation Board and a direct violation of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, given that section 117 of the act imposes a penalty for not giving the information asked for?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not aware of that particular press report. If the honourable member would send it over to me, I will get a response for him from the Minister of Labour. I have not seen it.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable minister will have taken it as notice. Perhaps when the member sends the information over and it is responded to formally he will have an opportunity for a further supplementary.
Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, there is another ministry involved here though.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps if it is that detailed it should have been made an inquiry.
Mr. M. Davidson: If the Premier is going to check it with the Minister of Labour, and as Dr. Richmond has also suggested pressure be applied on family physicians to release sufficient information to the company, will he check with the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) to see whether or not this is a direct violation of the Health Disciplines Act? Will he have the Minister of Health bring Dr. Jack Richmond before the College of Physicians and Surgeons to answer for proposing these kinds of action?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the honourable member had asked that as the first part of his question along with the other part I would have given him the same answer. I was not aware of the press report; I am now. I will be delighted to get the information for him from the Minister of Labour, and now he has added the supplementary, from the Minister of Health.
SALE OF CROWN LAND
Mr. T. P. Reid: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. When can the people, particularly of northern Ontario, expect his ministry and himself to make a statement in regard to crown lots in northern Ontario? His ministry, in its flip-flop on policy, is charging what a lot of us think are excessive costs for these lots. When is he going to make a statement as to what he has decided?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think the honourable member is aware there is a moratorium on the sale of crown cottage lots at the moment. There was some concern expressed about the method of establishing the price. I am hopeful we will have it sorted out in another month or so. I can’t give a specific date, other than as soon as we can because I how there are a lot of people concerned.
Mr. T. P. Reid: By way of supplementary, could the minister at least outline for the House and the people who are anxious about this matter what are some of the options the ministry is looking at, in case some of us might have some other ideas which might be of help?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I would be delighted to have any helpful suggestions the honourable member may have. Perhaps when we do our estimates next week we might pursue that.
The basic problem seems to be, in the case of lots which have been leased for some time, the owners have made improvements. It is a question of some argument as to how much of the value has been added by the lessee and how much was there before him. There aren’t too many records. In a couple of places there are photographs which have been helpful. But to send an assessor from Government Services in there now, he sees what is there now; he doesn’t see what was there when the person acquired it originally. That is the problem.
Mr. Foulds: Could the minister not use the method that has been suggested to him by many cottagers, that they take as an equivalent value what is an unimproved lot in the area?
Second, does he not think, if he is going to wait another month before making a final determination, he should make some kind of interim statement? Then those cottagers, who have been given notice they have to come to an agreement before the end of this year, would not be put into a squeeze the last six weeks of the year.
Hon. Mr. Auld: It seems to me I made a statement. There was a press release a couple of months ago saying no action would be taken until such time as we had really reviewed the question very carefully. There are also some other problems of course. Some of these lots were originally leased on an auction or tender basis, and there are considerable variations in adjoining lots simply because they were done by auction individually. You might have one based on a cost of, say, $2,000, and the one next to it which is virtually identical, $4,000.
Mr. Speaker: Time for oral questions has expired.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I would like to file notice of dissatisfaction with the answer given to me by the Premier and I would like to have a late show on Tuesday night.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the interim answer to question 309 and the answer to question 312 standing on the Notice Paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (CONCLUDED)
On vote 603, local government affairs program; item 1, local government:
Mr. Grande: Mr. Chairman, when the time expired the other day, I was talking through you to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs about the situation that exists at this particular time in the borough of York, half of the borough of which I represent. I was suggesting to the minister that the mill rate difference between the borough of North York and the Metro average is 11 mills projected for this particular year.
As I was saying, the minister in May sent a letter to the mayor of the borough of York suggesting that a $280,000 grant would be made to the borough for this year, 1980. I would like to find out from the minister what kind of assessment the minister has made, and how the $280,000 figure was arrived at, because as far as I understand it, one mill in the borough of York raises approximately $311,000. The difference that exists between the borough of York and the Metro average of nine mills represents a figure of $2,700,000.
If that’s what equalization is all about, if that’s what the minister understands to be equalization, then I think the minister should be saying to the borough of York, “Quit. Give up,” because the borough of York, as I suggested last time, simply cannot keep on increasing the property taxes on the people of the borough. Any increase in the taxation is going to be on the home owners because of the fact the borough of York has about 30 per cent industrial and commercial assessment and 70 per cent residential assessment.
I want to point out to the minister, and find out from the minister, whether the commitment the previous Treasurer made to this Legislature, the commitment that the borough of York is going to be receiving some money in terms of making up that difference between the Metro average and the mill rate in the borough of York, is still continuing, and whether the borough of York is still going to get some concessions from this government in order to alleviate the burden. Because the former Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, has left, has that commitment left the government of the province of Ontario and gone with him back to Chatham-Kent?
I just want to find out where that situation stands at this particular time. That commitment was made as a result of the government saying to the people of Metropolitan Toronto they would not accept any changes in view of the royal commission of the former Premier of this province, Mr. Robarts.
The Robarts commission knew exactly what they were doing in terms of trying to alleviate the financial difficulty the borough of York finds itself in. They attempted to expand the boundaries of the borough so that difference of 30 per cent commercial/industrial and 70 per cent residential would be a little bit more balanced. Then the home owners in that borough would not have to suffer 70 per cent of the increases in the property tax.
Is this ministry intending to say to the borough of York, “Raise your white flag and give up”? Is the government saying to the borough of York, “We cannot and Metro cannot equalize the mill rate across Metropolitan Toronto”? The minister knows that is the reason for the existence of the Metropolitan Toronto government. The reason for the existence of the middle-tier government -- or the second tier or first tier, whatever name it is -- is to do exactly that -- to equalize the mill rate across each of the areas in Metropolitan Toronto. Obviously, for the borough of York, Metro Toronto fails. It does not equalize the rates and, therefore, the government has to make that commitment. If it does not, the borough of York, surely within the next little while, will go under.
If the minister wants the borough of York to become part either of North York or the city of Toronto, then perhaps he should say so. Perhaps he should say, “Amalgamate.” Perhaps they should have done that 12 years ago, when we had the Goldenberg report, another royal commission. It said, in effect, an amalgamation should take place. At that time the government decided not to amalgamate, lest rather -- what was the word they used? I think the town of Weston at that time --
Mr. Bradley: Obliterate.
Mr. Grande: -- to become part of the borough of York.
In other words, I am suggesting the government has the two options at this time: accept the recommendation of Dr. Goldenberg back about 12 years ago to amalgamate, or accept the Robarts commission recommendation to expand the borough boundaries.
Otherwise, if neither one nor the other occurs, that borough is going to continue to be in financial problems at all times. That borough will be continually looking to this government for grants over and above the equalization grants that have been frozen since 1970. Recently the minister made an announcement about the five per cent increase -- the defrosting of those particular conditions.
I want it as clear as possible from the minister today what this government intends to do with the borough of York. If this government is going to continue that commitment next year, not $280,000 should be going to the borough of York but I submit to the minister it should be $2.7 million to equalize that grant. That would be needed to equalize the mill rate across Metro Toronto.
I attempted last time to remind the minister of the conditions in that particular borough. In particular, I wanted to remind him of the income of the people in that borough. I was reading then from a report entitled The Borough of York Housing Policy, where it refers to the family incomes of the people in that borough who earned under $2,000.
In the borough of York, 4.2 per cent of the people earn less than $2,000, whereas the Metro average is 3.9 per cent. For people who earn between $2,000 and $3,000, the figure is 3.4 per cent in the borough of York, while three per cent is the Metro average. For those who earn $3,000 to $5,000, it’s 8.9 per cent in the borough of York while 7.7 per cent is the Metro average. For those earning $5,000 to $7,000, it is 13.9 per cent in the borough of York, while 11.1 per cent is the Metro average. I want to skip that middle figure because 28.4 per cent of the people of the borough of York earn between $7,000 and $10,000, whereas in comparison the Metro average is 22.4 per cent Then going to the people who earn over $20,000, the figure is 4.5 per cent in the borough of York compared to the Metro average of 9.2 per cent.
As the minister can see in terms of family incomes, the borough of York is certainly not one of the richest boroughs in Metropolitan Toronto, but the mill rates in that particular borough are the highest in Metropolitan Toronto. Clearly the government has to make a decision in terms of what is going to take place and what is going to happen in that borough. I would suggest to the minister that if that commitment of Darcy McKeough still continues and he is still going to carry it out, then he should begin by doing it for the year 1980.
Instead of writing a letter to the mayor, saying the borough will have $280,000 in grants, he should say it will have 2.7 million. Until he does that, the line which he throws out at every opportunity, that the reason for the Metropolitan Toronto government to exist is to equalize the mill rate across Metropolitan Toronto, is not existing, has not existed and the likelihood of it coming about is nil, zero and nonexistent.
I’m saying to the minister to act. Otherwise, in about five to six years we will have to struggle. We will try to maintain a separate entity of York because, after all, our history and pride in that borough of York go back perhaps much longer than in any of the other boroughs perhaps not as long as in the city of Toronto, but certainly of the other boroughs. But we just cannot continue to increase the taxes on the residential sector any longer. The people will not allow it. The ball, as far as I’m concerned, is on that side of the House and they must act over there.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would like to respond to the comments from my friend, the member for Oakwood. First, I think I should point out, not in any way criticize him but merely to draw it to the committee’s attention, in case we review at some time perhaps why estimates take so long, we will be going over something I dealt with completely and in its entirety when the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) made the same remarks and comments and raised the same questions about the borough of York.
I am now going to give somewhat the same answer. In effect, we’re going over for another 20 minutes what this committee has already done. I have no hesitation in doing it; but I hope my friends on the other side, who seem to want longer and longer time for estimate periods, would remember this, and that we could save some time if we didn’t keep repeating things over and over again.
Mr. Grande: If the minister has done that with the member for York South then I accept that and I shall read the record. I do not want the minister to feel that he or this committee is wasting any time. I just wanted, for my part, the people I represent in the borough of York to be knowledgeable about the position I take.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I recognize and respect the member’s comment; I think all members of this House wish to put on the record their concerns for the people in their own ridings. I will not go into the whole answer but will add something I didn’t have when I gave the answer.
Of course, we believe the borough of York should continue, and it should continue as a viable borough in the metropolitan system we have here. The problem is interesting. I think my former colleague, Darcy McKeough, highlighted it when he talked about the need for some new arrangement within Metro to compensate for the tax rates in areas like the borough of York.
I have just been looking over the 1979 residential mill rates for Metropolitan Toronto. First of all, the school board mill rates are equalized in Metropolitan Toronto, so that no matter what borough one lives in one pays roughly the same mill rate for school purposes.
In actual fact the borough of York pays a little less than all the other boroughs; its mill rate for educational purposes -- and I guess this is probably for public schools -- is 83.8, whereas in Scarborough it is 85.1, Etobicoke 84.1, East York 84.5, North York 85.1, Toronto 85.8, and the average is 84.76. The equalizing has something to do with applying the equalized mill rate to the assessment in each of the areas. Basically it is within a mill or so across Metro, but in actual fact the borough of York has the lowest mill rate of all the boroughs of Metro as far as the education mill rate is concerned.
With regard to Metro Toronto purposes -- that is, the services that Metro provides and then raises on that next section of the mill rate -- that is for Metro-wide purposes and isn’t -- and I underline “isn’t” -- done the same way as for education with an equalized mill rate; it is done a little differently, as I understand it. However, the borough of York is still one of the low ones at 41.1 mills for Metro Toronto general municipal purposes, whereas the city of Toronto pays about 48.9. and North York 43.8. The average is 43.6 So under Metro Toronto general purposes York is also a little lower than the general average.
It is in general municipal purposes, the local responsibility of the borough of York, where the problem arises; that is where its mill rate is 52.6 compared with the general average of 40.3 for general municipal purposes. It is that particular area where the real problem occurs, where the balance isn’t maintained.
That is the area where the new program of equalization factors we have announced comes in. These factors are used for the new resources equalization grant, and the new program we have put in will have some impact.
The grant of $280,000 that we gave last year was strictly an ad hoc grant, like the ones we gave to about 42 other municipalities in this province as a one-year ad hoc situation. This year, based upon the new factors and the way they will apply to the resources equalization grant, I can assure the member -- because I have had many talks with the mayor of that municipality who also puts this case forward very vigorously at every opportunity -- that York is going to benefit out of the new arrangement when the grants are announced.
We can’t deal in specific figures until we have the full details of the total unconditional grants and how they will be calculated, which will probably be in about three weeks. Then we’ll be able to calculate for York exactly what the grant is likely to be for next year.
Mr. Bradley: I have one brief question. I guess I will try to elicit a general philosophical comment from the minister in regard to his entire ministry. Now that we call it the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs I suppose certain responsibilities have increased considerably, although we took away Treasury. It used to be the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs.
I would like to get the minister’s view on whether he feels a specific Ministry of Municipal Affairs -- we’re going back several years to a situation where there was a Ministry of Municipal Affairs -- which would deal with almost everything that municipalities had problems with or dealings with, would be reasonable?
We get these resolutions -- and he gets them all the time in his ministry, no doubt -- from various municipal councils. Here’s one wanting the fuel tax removed from municipal transit systems. I would have to talk to the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) about that during his estimates.
Here’s one to the Ministry of Revenue. Here’s one concerning tax inequities, where taxation favours mobile restaurants over restaurants which pay property and business taxes. That’s something I’d like to sit down and discuss with some minister some time. Here’s a resolution respecting the use of provincially sponsored lottery funds for homes for the aged.
We recognize that many matters which affect municipalities pretty directly, and some of them more indirectly, involve dealing with various ministries as opposed to dealing with a Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
My question to the minister -- I am trying to elicit perhaps a philosophical response -- is whether he feels a single Ministry of Municipal Affairs to deal with all these matters related to municipalities would be advantageous, as opposed to municipalities, and I suppose to a certain extent the members, having to deal with a variety of ministries? That’s the first question.
The second one deals with the situation where I understand the ministry has a new program which would attempt to guide municipalities in their expenditures. Apparently there’s a new program out where they will take the number of dollars that a municipality spends on a specific service -- let’s say it’s garbage disposal, or it might be recreation -- and divide that by the population of that municipality and then compare that to what the average municipality in Ontario spends on that particular service, or they may be using a guide to what you should spend on that service.
I would make the point with the minister that this is very difficult to do for two reasons. One, the level of service that one municipality wants in a specific area may be entirely different from that of another area. Second, it’s difficult to be comparable. For instance, with snow removal, if you divide the population of Sudbury into the city’s budget for snow removal it is going to be considerably higher than that of the city of St. Catharines. It is felt by some that this would misinform the taxpayers of a community rather than be a reasonable guide in terms of the expenditures that a particular council is making.
I will ask the minister to comment by way of a general philosophical answer and then give us a specific answer to that question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In answer to the member’s last question, I think our municipal budget accounts department has been trying to develop standard costs for various services. I think we all recognize the problems you’ve indicated.
It’s very difficult when you try to develop what is an average or standard cost. Everybody figures he’s an exception. As the member probably knows, in the Ministry of Education average costs per pupil were developed and then used as part of the grant regulations, and people were above and below them. I think, for various municipal services -- and I really can’t deal in much greater detail about this and I would suggest if the member wants to know more about it, Alec Trafford, who is the head of that branch, can probably explain it to the member -- they have been looking at average costs and municipalities can perhaps then use them as a standard and perhaps we will find ways of being able to use them as a standard for various things in the future.
The first question the member asked I can deal with, as he said, in philosophical terms. We never did have a Ministry of Municipal Affairs in this province that dealt with all those things connected with municipalities. There were always very definite and specific functions. For example, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the former Ministry of Highways always looked after the roads maintenance budgets and the capital grants for bridges, roads and so forth, and had a big program that dealt with municipalities. The Ministry of Health always dealt with public health matters and therefore dealt with municipalities.
Mr. Bradley: When I referred to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs I recognized the other ministries existed.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes. They always existed and they always had within them programs that were operated or directly connected with municipalities and they dealt with the municipalities.
I suppose that the big operation that is not in our ministry now that was in the old Ministry of Municipal Affairs was the whole planning function. That is now in the Ministry of Housing. I think it’s quite possible to sit down, look at future projections, and see those functions coming together again at some time in the future; the planning functions concerning municipalities with all those functions that are now in the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and, perhaps, some others.
But I don’t think we could ever arrive at one ministry in this province that had everything within it that concerned municipalities because there are too many programs that are part of, and tied in with operations of other ministries that, I think, would operate to the detriment of the programs if they were moved out in pieces just because they happen to be a municipal program.
The old Ministry of Municipal Affairs was split up because when it came into the Treasury ministry there were so many things all put together that certain functions were taken away from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs -- assessment; the Planning Act, which went into the Ministry of Housing, and so forth. I suppose structure in government organization should always be an alive, ongoing process.
I would say that I certainly think, now that we do have a Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs which is today’s model of the old Ministry of Municipal Affairs without all the functions that ministry had, we should be continually looking at what could be done to make it more effective and, perhaps, the functions that it could take in dealing with municipalities that are done in some other areas.
I don’t think my friend from Welland has talked about it in this debate, but we’re still looking at the finance part. There is still a large part of the financial branches connected with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that is in the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, and we’re still looking at the proper arrangement for those branches and whether some of those functions shouldn’t come into the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, I have a very brief, final remark because I want to reserve a couple of minutes on the final vote for my colleague from Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner).
I first want to say that I appreciate the frankness of the minister during consideration of the municipal affairs part of these estimates. I don’t agree with all the answers, but I appreciate the frank approach that he has taken to them.
I have three very direct and very brief questions. On the first two I hope there will be some new information. The third is a repeat of one which I asked previously and which, I don’t think, I received an answer for.
First, could the minister tell us when we will learn of the mechanism of buffering of the general legislative grant that is necessary as a result of the new equalization factors? When will that be announced to this House?
Second, what is the method of review and what will be the timing of the announcement for equalization factors or changes to the property tax system, or whatever it will be, that is put in place for property taxes for 1981? When will we learn about that? What mechanism is being used to derive the new system, if it’s a new system that’s going to be announced?
The third relates to municipal licensing. A number of my municipal colleagues have suggested to me we should let sleeping dogs lie, but I don’t really believe in that philosophy. Sometimes a sleeping dog can wake suddenly and bite one. The minister’s predecessor announced that the taxation aspect of municipal licensing would be taken away from municipalities, that they would have the power only to recover direct costs and not to levy licence fees that were in a sense a form of taxation. I wonder whether the minister still intends to proceed with that policy. If so, exactly what will the timing be and what will the mechanism be for making those changes?
As a subsidiary question on licensing, a number of municipalities are continuing to request that they be given the power to licence pinball machines and the location of pinball machines. I wonder whether the minister can indicate whether he and his colleagues are prepared to proceed with that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Very quickly, Mr. Chairman, I’m afraid the member is going to have to ask my colleague, the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), when she’ll have the general legislative grant statement ready. I can’t tell him that at the moment. I know they’re working on it and hope to have it ready as soon as possible, but I can’t give a date.
I hope we would have some indication of the way municipal taxes and the use of equalization factors and those things connected with deciding what the 1981 grants and apportionments are going to be would be ready about the same time as the new equalization factors would be gazetted in July, 1980. I’m not guaranteeing that, but that certainly would be the target I would like to work towards. I hope in our internal reviews we will aim at that date.
We’re still looking at the licensing bill. The mechanism to effect new changes would be to bring in our licensing bill again. There were a number of complaints about it. There were a number of areas that provoked controversy. Over the winter I intend to review it completely again and perhaps we will introduce it. I’m not going to guarantee that, but perhaps we will. If we do introduce it, one of the principles, as far as I’m concerned, is that you will be able to recover all the costs connected with the function of licensing any service or area.
In other words, we’ve moved from the position of having a very minimal charge in preventing the municipalities from recovering costs in licensing. We’re still discussing whether we would go beyond that or not.
Was there another question?
Mr. Isaacs: Pinball machines.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I know my friend asked about this the other day. I thought we had adequate legislation to allow municipalities to licence pinball machines at this time. I’d be happy to discuss it in more detail privately outside the estimates with him. I thought we had enough permissive legislation to allow that.
Mr. Chairman: For the information of the members, the clock shows approximately eight minutes remaining for the estimates.
Mr. Warner: Is there not another vote item, on shoreline property?
Mr. Chairman: This is the final vote. It’s still 603.
Mr. Warner: Oh, it’s in the same one. Could the minister tell me whether or not the concerns I’ve raised before -- I raised them during the estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources -- with respect to the Scarborough Bluffs are related to his ministry at all? Or is it purely a matter which must be dealt with through the Metro conservation authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources? I raised the concern before, and I still do, that the shoreline is disappearing. The erosion problem is severe. There have been attempts to stop the erosion but they were running into difficulty because of the lack of provincial funding.
It may be that my concerns can be answered only by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld), and if that is the case, fine, I will have to wait patiently for those estimates, as I did last year.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I can tell my friend the answers to his questions concerning the Scarborough Bluffs, an area about which I know he, the member for Scarborough East (Mrs. Birch), the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea), the member for Scarborough North and the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) are all concerned. We all want the bluffs to be preserved.
On this side, we have certainly been working very hard to be sure those things will be done to prevent the erosion of the bluffs. The programs are basically in the conservation authorities part of the Ministry of Natural Resources estimates. The shoreline protection program here is one connected with high water levels in the Great Lakes and it is not the program being used for the bluffs erosion problem.
Vote 603 agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: This completes the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
ESTIMATES, MANAGEMENT BOARD OF CABINET (CONTINUED)
On vote 401, ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, you will recall that under other important matters we were discussing the annual report of the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation. Is there any additional information the minister has on that which he thinks might be useful?
Hon. Mr. McCague: When we adjourned there were a number of questions which I didn’t attempt to answer then. I thought maybe we would respond to those as we came to the vote and item. Since the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has again raised the point of the report, since the critics aren’t here, I will probably answer that question.
The management board has approved a policy which states all reports should be produced as economically as possible and that expensive layout, artwork and binding should be avoided. The policy further states that annual reports should be limited to a brief, concise narrative of the activities of the ministry or agency over the past year, omitting material already available in other publications.
It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the content or format of individual reports, but merely state the management board’s policy. I would suggest questions on specifics should be referred to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea).
However, with reference to the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation, I would note it does not receive any funds from the government. Thus it is a schedule four agency and it is not required to comply with the policy.
Mr. Nixon: I would like to ask the minister, since the corporation was specifically referred to by the provincial auditor in his report, which I quoted when we were dealing with this previously, how does the chairman of management board explain why it is not only continuing to exist, but obviously it is ballooning?
The annual report is an expensive report. It has professional photography. There are coloured pictures of all the secretaries, very nice-looking ladies: Ruth Rankin, secretary; Daisy Esler, receptionist, and Roger Savarin, dissolution co-ordinator. The whole staff is there. I think it is very nice, but I certainly don’t want to pay for it and I do not want to be part of a Legislature that takes no action when we could very well reduce those costs, in spite of the fact it is simply an agency spending its own money. Frankly, I want to know why they even continue to exist and what change in the legislation has given them this lease on life?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think the honourable member will recall this was established in this House under the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act in 1976. It is actively involved in insuring shares and deposits with credit unions in Ontario. I told the member we really don’t have control over that corporation. It is funded by the participating companies. I believe it is at the rate of about one per cent of deposits. They do have considerable money in their own right and I don’t see that this government has any right to limit their annual report.
Mr. Nixon: I have just one further comment. I have a feeling there is some misunderstanding about the organization since the auditor’s report states clearly: “It appears the necessity for maintaining the Ontario corporation, albeit on an inactive basis, has now passed.” Why do we still have them?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The member is referring to the Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation which was actually replaced by the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation. Basically, they do the same thing, if you want to put it that way. The name has been changed.
Mr. Warner: The minister still hasn’t answered the question. He has the auditor’s report, I assume. He tells us the name has been changed but the function has not been changed. The auditor says there is no function worth preserving. Is that a report from a corporation that doesn’t do anything? We have not yet had an explanation to the question which was asked by my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think the question has been answered, but I will go through it again. When the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act was passed in 1976, there was previous to that an Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation. Following the act, that was changed to the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation. That’s putting its “Ontario Share and Deposit” in place of “Ontario Deposit.” My understanding is the Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation is an agency which is still on the books, as the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has not yet determined whether it will need to be reactivated in the future. It would be appropriate to refer questions on this matter to that minister. The report which the honourable member who has left is referring to --
An hon. member: He is back.
Hon. Mr. McCague: -- is the report of the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Mr. Mancini: Is that the same corporation under a new name which, it was suggested in the auditor’s report, possibly should be disbanded? I believe the minister said there was an act and something new was set up. It has to be one or the other. Once we establish that, could the minister tell us if exactly the same people are working in the new corporation who were involved with the old one?
What we really want to know is if there has just been a change of names, maybe to resolve the problem of embarrassment which was pointed out by the provincial auditor, as these people have been tabbed for not being very active. Did they therefore decide to publish an unnecessarily expensive glossy report so that all of us would be very impressed?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, let me repeat that I think I have answered the question about the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation. It was set up under the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act in 1976 by this House. There is still an Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation to which the auditor refers. I don’t believe it is an active corporation at this point. The comment we have from Consumer and Commercial Relations is that it should be determined whether or not it is to be reactivated in the future. “Reactivated” is the operative word, I think.
Mr. Mancini: I don’t want to be unnecessarily hard to get along with --
Mr. Nixon: But having said that.
Mr. Mancini: -- but having said that -- thank you -- but, Mr. Minister, we want to understand what you are saying. Maybe because your involvement is much more in depth, you possibly understand this matter better than we do. But I have to say, with all respect, that your information is not coming through very clearly. I think this is an awfully good example of where a committee, something like the procedural affairs committee, could sit in this Legislature with members from all sides of the House and call in these different crown agencies for in-depth review.
We just cannot get enough of the proper information during the estimates debates the way they are now. When the procedural affairs committee sat over the summer and had six different crown agencies before them -- and I was there to hear four of the six -- we got a much better view of what was going on, what they were doing, how much money was being spent and so on. Maybe you could consider that for the future.
I wonder if you could get back to the point I made a little earlier when I asked if it was the same people who were mentioned in the auditor’s report who have now assumed a new name and have become activated with this other crown agency? Is it the same people who have just changed their names and have suddenly found things to do?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I may have, in my choice of words earlier, misled the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. The Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation was set up under the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act in 1976. Prior to that there was an Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation. My information is that it is an inactive corporation. It has not been taken off the list of ABCs because the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is considering whether or not it will be necessary at some future date to reactivate it.
I would suggest you might wish to discuss that with the minister, whose estimates I understand are on now. There is still some time left in his estimates.
Mr. Mancini: Am I not making myself clear when I ask if the Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Ontario Share and Deposit Corporation are basically the same people? Are they the same people?
Hon. Mr. McCague: No.
Mr. Mancini: Then it’s a totally different crown agency. Would you know what the differences in their mandate would be?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The answer to that probably is no, but I can only tell you that the Ontario Deposit Insurance Corporation is an inactive corporation, whereas the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation is a corporation set up under the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act. They are not --
Mr. Mancini: What year was that?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Nineteen seventy-six.
Mr. Germa: Can I pursue this from another direction? I think I understand what the complaint is, that there is no clear direction from this ministry. I am wondering about the manual of administration, how it applies and why is it not explicitly laid out what expenditures are reasonable and should be allowed under the manual of administration. I don’t know how many times in my attendance at the public accounts committee people escaped from answering questions and accepting responsibility by quoting the weaknesses in the manual of administration. It is this precisely that my colleague is talking about.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I did answer that, I think, before the honourable member came in, but I want to reiterate that certainly management board has a policy for agencies, boards and commissions, depending on what schedule they are in. The Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation is one which the Ontario government pays no funds towards and, as such, is a schedule four agency, where our rules don’t apply.
Mr. Germa: What the minister is saying is that he has no control whatsoever over the expenditures of a class four agency, board or commission, so it is out of the ball park as far as he is concerned.
Hon. Mr. McCague: This particular one is under the control of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. Germa: Even despite that minister’s direct responsibility, does not the manual of administration lay out how that thing should function?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think there are some guidelines, but it is entirely financed by the industry.
Mr. Germa: I wonder if the minister could give us some of those guidelines and let us determine whether or not this expenditure was within the terms of reference of those guidelines?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I will bring the guidelines as they would apply to schedule four when we meet on Monday, or at least I will pass them over to the honourable member so that he can make that determination himself.
Item 1 agreed to.
On item 2, personnel:
Hon. Mr. McCague: I did, in the absence of the two critics, deal with the question that the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk had asked, but I did want to deal with other questions that were asked last week that would apply to this vote.
My colleague from Sudbury noted that the ministry’s estimates increased from $87 million in 1977-78 to $108 million in 1978-79. A detailed explanation of the $21 million difference was contained in the briefing books which were distributed. A net increase of almost $20.7 million in the contingency provisions for anticipated salary awards was noted. This increase can be attributed to the late settlement of January 1978, which prevented provision of the effects of them being made in each ministry’s printed estimates. The contingency activity is explained on page 24 of the book which you have.
Several general increases amounting to approximately $635,000 resulted from known salary awards, increased benefit costs, a change in accounting practices to better reflect the cash flows involved, and various program adjustments. In effect, the increase was due to a variation in cash flow and not to an increase in the cost of my ministry’s operation.
There was a question asked also by the member for Sudbury regarding the affirmative action program. The women crown employees office is part of the Ministry of Labour and while it might be more appropriate to address the question to that minister, I will point out a few things. Some preliminary results are beginning to show up. I would like to highlight some of the results achieved by the program.
First, while the wage gap between men’s and women’s average salaries in the private sector has widened, the wage gap in the Ontario public service has remained relatively constant. In fact, the gap actually narrowed slightly at the end of 1978-79, from 70.5 per cent in 1978 to 71.4 per cent in 1979.
Second, there has been a small but steady growth in the women’s representation in the professional module since 1975, and in the administrative module since 1976. These improvements and others have led to an increase in their representation in the salary range from $13,000 to $19,000.
Third, despite a reduction in the overall number of program executive positions in the public service, women have increased their percentage among program executives from 4.3 per cent in 1975 to 6,1 per cent today. A total of 1,200 special hirings and promotions of women have been reported since 1975 where women have moved into non-traditional areas or to levels of employment not reached in the past.
The number of women participating in government-supported staff training and development rose from 14,000 in 1976 to 19,000 in 1978. This was a 50 per cent overall increase, although women make up only 40 per cent of the total employment.
In addition, a number of other concrete actions have been taken to ensure that long-term goals of the program will be met. The rug-ranking element of secretarial job standards has been eliminated. This removes from the evaluation process reference to the level of the secretary supervisor. The wage parity adjustments were made for classifications of barber and hairdresser; helper, food service, and maid, food service; and tailor and seamstress. Also, classification revisions were made to the laundry workers’ series which recognized the complexity of tasks performed by women in the lowest range of that series. This led to improvements in their salary levels.
Over 2,000 women in the Ontario public service have attended ministry-run career development workshops which allow them to take stock of skills and aspirations and formulate goals for the future.
Mr. Germa asked whether I am satisfied that the affirmative action program is accomplishing what it was set out to do. I’d like to say that I certainly believe it has begun to do so. When the program was established we understood the objective of raising and diversifying women’s occupational distribution would take some time to achieve. We intend to continue to build on achievements the program has begun to bring about.
All ministers are reminded of this every several months by the Premier. He stresses the long-term nature of the program and urges each ministry to continue to work for improved results. We have gained a good deal of experience over the last few years. We know what types of approaches work and which areas we’ll have to put more emphasis on in the future.
Maybe I’ll answer the question of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk on executive automobiles when he returns.
Mr. Mancini: Since we’re still on the personnel vote, I was wondering if the minister could elaborate on the government’s position concerning the red-circling of employees? I wonder if he feels that is an adequate way to treat employees who may become redundant?
Would not the minister feel that there should be retraining within his government so that we don’t have the problem that was well publicized approximately a year ago, where we had a middle-management civil servant making a substantial salary -- and I agree with the government’s policy that you can’t turf these people out on the street, because they do have quite a bit of experience and expertise in certain areas.
But, as was made public some time ago, it appears when we take these qualified middle-management employees at a substantial salary and place them in areas where they feel they are not doing anything other than sharpen pencils, we are not only losing possibly a very capable person, but the taxpayers’ dollars which are paying that person’s salary are going directly down the drain.
I wonder if the minister has any comments on that and any ideas of how we could deal with this very difficult problem. Possibly the minister mentioned it a week ago, but I cannot recall the total number of red-circled employees we have in the ministries and what their cost to the taxpayers is.
I have one other question on this. What is the average length of time for an employee to be red-circled before he or she is no longer classified as such and what happens to him then?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The honourable member has picked out one case of red-circling and pencil-sharpening. I wouldn’t want him to get the idea that was a common occurrence; it is very much the opposite.
The member has stated that red-circling, rather than laying off people or having them leave the service, is an admirable program, and I agree that is so. When a position becomes redundant, and this is where we get into the bulk of the problem, the employee is offered other employment within the Ontario public service. If the job it appears the person is qualified to do has a lower salary than the one the employee is at present receiving, the employee can, of course, continue to receive the present salary until the salary level in the new job goes above the level at which the red-circling took place.
There is every opportunity for any person in the civil service to get training in Civil Service Commission programs.
Mr. Mancini: I appreciate that I gave the minister six questions all at once, and I am sorry for that. I wonder if he could state the cost of red-circling and also the average length of time an employee is considered to be red-circled.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I am not sure we have that figure. I will attempt to get it, but I certainly don’t have it with me today. The length of time depends on a lot of things -- the differential at the start, placement factors and so on. I don’t have the answer. We will attempt to get it.
Mr. Germa: Could I pursue the affirmative action program a little further, Mr. Chairman? When the minister was responding to my question he did make reference to the “long-term goal” of the program. I don’t know precisely what that means. What is the government’s intention? What are the percentages and numbers, or salaries? How is the government going to measure, and how does it know when the goal has been reached?
If, as the minister has said, women make up 40 per cent of the civil service staff, is the government going to persist until such time as their remuneration is a percentage equal to their number, or is it just going to go by per capita figures? Maybe the minister could tell us what is the government’s goal, and when do we know we have arrived at that goal?
Hon. Mr. McCague: My personal goal, and I’m sure it is that of the Premier of this province, is to increase the percentage of women in total. The goal is a continued improvement. I don’t have any crystal ball that would tell me what the ultimate is. I think the answer to the member’s question really is continued improvement.
Mr. Warner: To what?
I wasn’t going to enter into this until I heard the minister’s answer. Continued improvement to what? What level is he looking at and what comparison figures for salaries is he looking at? What is the end goal of this government in its affirmative action program?
The answer the minister has given me would indicate that we’re just going to wander. We want something a little better, but we don’t know exactly what it is that we want. We don’t have any particular end result we’re looking for.
In answer to my colleague from Sudbury, the minister started to say that while the figures show approximately 40 per cent of the civil service is female, it sounded from his answer that he was looking for a 50 per cent ratio; but he didn’t say that. Nor did he say whether or not he’s looking for equal pay for work of equal value. Is that one of the goals for this government?
I would appreciate it very much if the minister could define, very clearly, what is the goal of the government in its affirmative action program. Secondly, will it institute for women equal pay for work of equal value throughout the entire civil service?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, I think it’s fair to say, we don’t have a defined goal that it should be 50-50. That’s very difficult to do, as the honourable member knows. I think it’s an admirable goal to have improvement in the system.
We are encouraging, at all times, women to seek higher positions. As the honourable member will know, we’re not adjusting salaries for the sake of doing that within the system. What we are trying to do is to get women to apply for and to accept higher positions which attract higher salaries.
For me to give you something definitive as a goal, 50-50 would be fine. We’re going to have to encourage more women to be engineers and we’re going to have to encourage more males to be typists. There are a lot of ways it could be done. But I think the member has to admit a percentage point improvement over a couple of years is worthy. I can tell the member it’s a program that is being pushed by the Premier and by ministries of the government.
Ms. Bryden: I would like to follow up on that. Can the Chairman tell us how many affirmative action officers are full-time, how many are part-time and how this compares with last year? Has there been any increase in this field?
Secondly, does he himself endorse the principle of equal pay for equal work? If he does, is he working on methods of implementing this principle?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I have the numbers here. Every ministry has a full-time or a part-time affirmative action person on staff. There are 16 full-time and six part-time people.
Ms. Bryden: How does that compare with last year?
Hon. Mr. McCague: That’s a little difficult to know. I don’t know the answer but I could get it for you.
Ms. Bryden: The minister didn’t answer the second half of my question as to whether he endorsed the principle of developing a system of equal pay for work of equal value; in other words, readjusting all the classifications so that you compare where the skill, effort and requirements are equal and there would be equal pay for the jobs in such eases. This will require considerable readjustment of job descriptions and so on, but I think it is a principle that we should be working towards.
Does the minister think that this is a principle that should be developed as part of our public service remuneration program?
Hon. Mr. McCague: There is no doubt about our desire to have females in positions in government and to encourage them to apply for those positions. There is no discrimination whatsoever as to what a person is paid, be they male or female. We are encouraging women to apply. I would even say that if it was a toss as to who should have the job I think the member’s side would win.
Ms. Bryden: I don’t think the minister understands my question completely. It isn’t a case of paying a woman economist the same as a male economist. It’s a case of looking at all the jobs and seeing where the effort, the qualifications, the input and the responsibilities are equal and reclassifying those jobs at equal rates of pay.
Hon. Mr. McCague: We’re doing that. It’s an on-going process.
Item 2 agreed to.
Mr. Warner: It carries with protest.
Items 3 and 4 agreed to.
Vote 401 agreed to.
On vote 402, policy development and analysis program; item 1, compensation:
Mr. Germa: There was a question which I had raised during my leadoff that the minister was going to answer on vote 401.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, again the member for Sudbury raises the question about the Quebec announcement regarding maternity leave and maternity benefits. The Quebec government did announce that as part of the collective bargaining process they had just agreed to maternity benefits of 20 weeks with full pay and benefits and up to two years’ leave without pay for child care at the employee’s option.
Our own objective, of course, is to ensure that salaries and benefits for public servants are generally in line with those provided in the private sector. I think we are in line with the private sector.
The Finance minister in Quebec did state that the measure they have taken was among the most progressive offered by an employer in Quebec.
Mr. Germa: I wonder what happens to two public servants when they’re both in the employ of the government -- and that happens quite often where you have a man and wife team working -- and there’s a sickness with children in the family. Is there any provision to accommodate an eventuality like that which causes and would require one of those parents to be absent from work maybe for an extended period of time? Has the minister ever pursued or thought about that problem?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think we do have provision for compassionate leave. Of course, it would be leave and not time off, as you would recognize. I think that is sufficient to take care of the situation.
The honourable member also asked some questions regarding pensions in the public sector. Specifically, the funding of pension plans. Future pension entitlements of the pension plan members in the Ontario public service are as secure as those of any other pension plan. The Ontario Pension Benefits Act, which regulates all private sector pension plans, applies to plans in the Ontario public sector. This act provides that actuarial evaluation must be filed with the pension commission every three years. The actuary establishes the liability by making an estimate of total costs of providing pensions to all current members of the plan, as well as the retired employees. These estimates must take into account retirement rates and termination rates where applicable, as well as mortality rates and the estimated rate of inflation and the salary levels of the plan members. This means projecting far into the future.
Once the estimated liability has been established, the actuary looks at the assets which include the existing funds and the present value of future employee and employee contributions, employer and employee contributions to all investment returns. The total value of assets is compared to the total value of the liabilities. Plans in the Ontario public sector amortize unfunded liabilities as stipulated under the act. Amortization payments are made under such plans as the teachers’ superannuation. It may seem high until it is remembered that they apply to 114,000 members and 19,000 pensioners.
According to the latest statistics on pensions, 95.5 per cent of all pension plans in the private sector have fewer than 500 members and while liabilities in respect of each plan will be much lower, they may be equal to or higher in respect of each member of the plan.
The Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions is carrying out a detailed study of all pension plans and it’s expected that they will report early in the new year. I think there is much more background, Mr. Chairman, in the material. I would like to supply it to the member.
Mr. Germa: In reference to the examination of pension plans; the Pension Commission of Ontario, I presume, is the administrative body which does the nitty-gritty of that operation. It’s come to my attention that there’s a lot of money spent on hiring outside actuaries by the Ontario pension commission. I wonder if the minister is aware of that and has he got any views on that? There are people on staff, I understand, who should be capable of doing that. Yet despite these full-time staffers it has come to my attention that outside actuaries are used on a very active basis.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I would not agree that we should necessarily use the internal auditors. I think the honourable member would be one of the first to suggest, if we’re to do that, why don’t you go out and vote for an outside opinion?
Mr. Acting Chairman: Does any other member wish to participate?
Item 1 agreed to.
Item 2 agreed to.
Hon. Mr. McCague: We sort of jumped ahead there. There were questions asked by members in their opening remarks which I would like to respond to if we could go back to item 2.
Mr. Acting Chairman: With the permission of the committee, shall we return to item 2?
On item 2, staffing:
Hon. Mr. McCague: The member for Sudbury asked about credentialism. It is the commission’s intent to eliminate all unnecessary references to credentialism in position advertisements, not as a means of saving dollars on academic qualifications but in order to allow qualified individuals more opportunity to compete for positions from which they have previously been excluded because of lack of formal academic qualifications. While we are working on this policy, the ministry is aware there are many cases in which the effect of the policy we are developing has begun to show results. Where it is not necessary, we won’t be asking for credentials.
Unclassified staff was another subject addressed by the member for Sudbury. The number of such staff can range from 10,000 to 20,000 in a year. The reasons for their appointments are set out in regulation 749 under the Public Service Act. I think the honourable member has heard the reasons for unclassified staff before, but I will read them into the record. They include seasonal workers; part-time workers; those working on non-recurring projects; students; temporary staff under the commission’s GO-Temp activities; some individuals hired in a professional capacity and some persons hired in a special capacity such as ministers’ executive assistants or persons hired overseas by the Ministry of Industry and Tourism who fall under local labour laws.
As was announced by my predecessor, with the introduction of the new manpower control system a large number of unclassified positions were converted to the civil service because they proved to be ongoing situations. In many cases where the incumbent had been performing the job for some time, the person was appointed to the service as well. This cleared up a lot of unpleasant situations. I would point out that the collective agreement with OPSEU includes clauses on benefits and working conditions for unclassified staff in the bargaining unit. A similar package under regulation 749 applies to unclassified staff not in the bargaining unit.
This still leaves the individual of whom the member spoke. We have not discovered any person who has spent 30 years moving back and forth between ministries on an unclassified contract. If the honourable member knows the person’s name, we would like to know about it.
Seasonal contracts are necessary in many places; for seasonal parks, for example. The commission sets nine months as the limit to ensure that any job which requires employment on approximately a full-year continuing basis is in the classified service. Unclassified staff is not transferred between ministries. This person must be applying back and forth as each seasonal contract ends. Still, I think I can see his point, if the end result is continuous employment in the public service.
I understand the Royal Commission on Pensions in Ontario is looking into such things as pensions for part-time staff and has examined our pension system and employment quite thoroughly. In addition, I can assure the member that our overall review of personnel policies will include researching this problem of interministerial employment.
Mr. Germa: When I look at the figures in the report of the Civil Service Commission, I think the bottom-line figure was something like 12,000 unclassified staff. I don’t have the page right now. That seems pretty high to me. In fact, I have had personal complaints from people with as much as 16 years’ service with MTC who still have not acquired status as classified crown employees. These rumblings are throughout the whole system. When there are 12,000 people in that never-never land where they never have accomplished and are never going to accomplish any permanency or tenure, I think the government is taking advantage of them.
As far as I can understand, there are people who are deliberately laid off, even though the job continues, such as a radio operator in MTC who has been operating that radio for nine months a year for 16 years. He still hasn’t acquired any status. I just think that’s a dirty trick to keep a person from any sense of security.
I am sure if the minister will dig into it, he will find various others out of those 12,000 listed who are maybe not in such a severe position but who have been teased for several years with what he prefers to call seasonal jobs and which are not seasonal at all. To the employee they are seasonal, but as far as their use is concerned it’s a permanent position.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, this is a matter that comes up every year and I can understand the points the honourable member makes. It is true there are some people who are on the unclassified staff and on the nine-month year who are unhappy about that, but by the same token, there are a lot of those people who are happy with the present arrangements.
It is a condition of employment, as the honourable member knows. I don’t agree with him that it’s a mechanism to automatically lay people off. I think it is a condition of employment for a certain task. I have some in my riding who have been 20 years with the parks and are happy with it; others are unhappy.
Mr. Germa: I did make the accusation that there were transfers from one ministry to the other, The minister has refuted that. He says it just doesn’t happen,
I understand the Public Service Act regulation 749, section 5(1) provides for just this eventuality. If that is not the case, why is this regulation which would allow it in place? As long as the regulation allows this to happen, I cannot see that every one of those 12,000 employees could be monitored. I could not be assured, to my satisfaction, that somebody, someplace in this vast bureaucracy, is not doing that, maybe without the minister being aware of it.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I’m sorry if I misled the member. I don’t think I said it wasn’t happening. I said if it was happening, we would like to know. The fact would be, if a person gained year-round employment by working nine months for one ministry and three for the other, it is our belief that would not be through a transfer from one ministry to the other, but the person would have their nine months with one ministry and then would apply for a job that took them for the other three months in another ministry. If there are people like this, as I say, I’d like the honourable member’s assistance in letting me know afterwards who they are in order we might check it more carefully.
Mr. Germa: Let us presume this did take place; I think it does take place. This person works for nine months for this ministry and three months for the other ministry. He has, in fact, accomplished one year of employment with the government of Ontario. Why is it not looked upon as that? The minister knows if this person does happen to do what he suggested, nine months here and three months there, he still has not got permanency or classified staff status, even though, by the minister’s own admission, he has worked for the government of Ontario for a full 12-month period. It is that regulation I quoted, I believe, which precludes him from gaining classified status.
I think if a person is working for the government of Ontario they are working for the government of Ontario and that should be their seniority, not transferring from one ministry to another. In the private sector, certainly, that is true; people go from one department to another all their lives and this seniority keeps building. He might, in a period of 20 years, have been on the shipping floor or behind the counter or in the personnel office, regardless of which department. They are just as separated in the private sector and yet that doesn’t happen except in this case.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, as I said -- or if, I didn’t say it, I will say it -- I can assure you that our overall review of the personnel policies will include researching this problem of interministry employment and I think I said that earlier. We will do that, but again I must reiterate, if the member could give us the names, it would be very helpful.
Mr. Germa: I don’t think that’s the answer to the problem. I could go out and scour the province of Ontario. It’s not my job. I have neither the facilities nor the time. I think it is the minister’s responsibility to go out and scour those ministries to see that they are complying with the policies and principles as enunciated by the chairman of management board because the chairman of management board is charged with the responsibility of setting overall policy. The minister seems to be a person of humanitarian instinct and I think if that is his projection out to all of the ministries, maybe he should go out and monitor to ensure that what he says is a level of action of the ministries, is lived up to. Certainly if I went out and found 10 for him, that still wouldn’t solve the problem.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, I would not ask the member to go out and do a lot of research that is more properly done by us. I would simply ask him that if, as he mentioned in his reply to my opening statement, there is a case of it there, it would certainly help us and save us an awful lot of time if he were to at least point out that one instance to us.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, aside from the problem that was raised by my colleague from Sudbury about the transfer of employees working in one ministry for a while to another one, is it not the case that there are ministries within the government who hire people for less than a year, knowing full well that there will not be seniority carryover? They can lay them off and rehire them later for another series of months; again, less than a year. I know of at least one ministry, I believe the Ministry of Natural Resources, which does that. Is it not the case that that is still the policy and that there is no way for those employees to get the full benefits of being a member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Chairman, yes, that is true. There are many people who are in the employ of MNR who know full well at the beginning of the season that they are being hired for nine months. It’s seasonal. There are no misunderstandings. I appreciate the point the member is getting at but there’s no doubt about it, that’s what happens. Now, that is not a matter of us not putting them on classified staff. It’s just a fact that they are needed for nine months and not for longer.
Mr. Warner: Okay. Perhaps then in this review that he is talking about the minister will undertake to reverse that Neanderthal policy. In other parts of Ontario there are perfectly good examples of employers who find it entirely possible to credit part-time employees with part-time portions of the benefits. They take a share of the dental plan, a share of the sick leave, a share of the pension, a share of the seniority. There are other employers who are able to do this, why on earth can’t it be done here? I don’t understand that.
I would have hoped that when the minister answered my first question with, “Yes, this practice goes on,” the second sentence I would have heard would be, “I am going to make sure the practice stops and we are going to institute a better policy.” Surely someone who is employed full-time for nine months should have that applied to his seniority and surely he should be entitled then to three quarters of the benefits, the benefit of pension, the benefit of sick leave and so on. I just don’t understand why that is not possible.
We live in an age of computers. I can tell you, just for one example, the board of education is able to compute that for its many employees, both teaching and non-teaching. Even if you work 20 per cent of the year, you get 20 per cent of the benefits. As an employee, you pay in your share based on that same formula and you get something back. What is so difficult about that?
Regardless of the policies that have gone on over the past, can you tell us today that as of now you are going to attempt to bring in a more modern, up-to-date policy? Will you do that?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think the honourable member knows, and I said so in my remarks earlier, the matter of pensions is being looked at. We have specifically asked the pension commission to look at this very item.
The honourable member also knows the regular seasonal employees -- and there are a lot of those, especially in the parks -- are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and that is the place where these matters should be settled.
Item 2 agreed to.
Item 3 agreed to.
On item 4, management policy:
Hon. Mr. McCague: The member for Essex South requested an update on zero-base budgeting.
The Ministry of Revenue and the Ministry of the Solicitor General have instituted zero-base budgeting. In addition, a number of ministries -- Environment, MTC, and Consumer and Commercial Relations -- are examining the process.
Zero-base budgeting does provide a rational basis for establishing funding priorities and in Ontario complements the management by results system now in place throughout the government.
On the other hand, zero-base budgeting is only one of several management techniques that have proven useful in specific situations. The universal application of zero-base budgeting would require all ministries to commit resources without offering in all cases a satisfactory return in terms of improved efficiency. From this viewpoint, the optional use of zero-base budgeting is considered preferable to a comprehensive mandatory implementation.
The issue of financial administrative controls on commissions was raised by the member for Sudbury. I would like to point out the government introduced guidelines for the administration of royal commissions in the manual of administration on July 20, 1978. These guidelines establish a balance between a requirement for efficient expenditure of public funds and the independence of royal commissions. I might add since this policy has been in place for over a year, the staff of the Attorney General and management board are reviewing the guidelines to determine if any revisions are warranted.
The recommendations of the standing procedural affairs committee: In response to the request from Mr. Mancini for an update of the implementation of the 11 general recommendations, I should mention I provided the chairman of the committee with a progress report a week ago. I think rather than go into that, I will give the honourable member a copy of that response.
Mr. Nixon: Are you leaving that royal commission cost business now?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I could sit down and let you say something.
Mr. Nixon: It seems to be -- I wouldn’t say inadequate -- unsatisfying that the chairman of management board treats that quite as coolly as he did. I said it last week and I say again that I have a lot of confidence in the chairman of management board -- this particular one. I don’t consider him a flamboyant politician but one in whom his own colleagues would place a good deal of confidence. I do myself. I would like to see him scare the wits out of his colleagues and maybe other people -- not around here -- in being a very tough, sharp-pencilled person when it comes to some of these costs.
It shocked me yesterday when I saw that the Metropolitan Toronto police commission was hiring a good friend of us all and a former colleague, John Clement, at $750 a day to tell them whether or not they needed short or tall policemen. That’s their business. If Godfrey has so much money in his budget that that can be authorized, of course that’s his business.
Basically, I believe very strongly that that kind of review should be done at the provincial level because there are other urban areas deeply concerned with it. It is just nuts for Mr. Clement to be paid $750 a day. For one thing they say he has to hire his own secretary. That’s just crazy; he has one already.
What he will do is retain a lawyer already in his firm to look at what’s going on and to write up the stuff and so on. I have a high regard for John Clement’s judgement, but I think that sort of work should be done by the provincial government. We ought to be taking the responsibility for it. Somehow this government has set the tone for these reviews. Nobody lifts an eyebrow when the charge is $750 a day. I see he’s already indicating a great interest in what they do in Spain and Thailand or somewhere like that.
I hope that means he’s going to write a letter to whoever is there to tell them.
Mr. Warner: You have to be kidding. He’s booking the airline tickets.
Mr. Nixon: I have a funny suspicion that that’s not going to be sufficient. I’m really a little concerned about it. I don’t want to downgrade the importance of the review and the problems with police. Believe me, I think that’s the sort of responsibility that should be taken here because it’s of concern in Hamilton and Brantford, and in Orangeville, perhaps to somewhat lesser degree.
Mr. Mancini: And in Amherstburg.
Mr. Nixon: We have established a pattern for royal commissions and governmental reviews that is extremely extravagant. I suppose we should be calling to some extent on the good citizenship of our senior lawyers and others who have been having a fine living for many years -- in my view, overcharging basically. I think it is a shame for us to feel we have to pay them at those levels to do these important reviews, and I really regret it.
I would say to this minister that he could afford to express some of those views to his colleagues. Maybe he could use some of his undoubted business management to advise various select committees and other projects around here that seem to be out of hand, in my view, as far as their expenses are concerned.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think the honourable member has chosen to zero in on what is a very difficult problem, and I alluded to it when I made my very short comments. We do have a manual of administration and we do have guidelines for them. The very difficult thing about royal commissions is not to be seen as interfering with the job they have to do. In the opinion of this government, money should not be the guideline which says to what extent they can look into the problem they’ve been asked to.
Mr. Nixon: That works both ways. John Clement might have done it for $100 a day.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I think it does. The honourable member could probably conduct one of these and would be happy to get $100 a day.
Mr. Warner: You are better off to be a defeated Tory than a successful New Democrat.
Hon. Mr. McCague: A defeated Liberal stands a chance of getting a job around here too.
Mr. Warner: The Tories get all the goodies.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Maybe the honourable member might consider that. We might even up it to $200 a day.
Mr. Nixon: I’m after a job if the electorate will give it to me, not you.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I don’t have any say on that, but we would give you one if it were the other way around. I appreciate the honourable member’s kind comments. If he thinks I’m popular with my colleagues, the ministers over here, I’m not.
Mr. Nixon: I hope you’re not popular. You shouldn’t be.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I’m not. You just ask them individually and they’ll tell you. It is very hard to perform the function we are quite capable of performing and still be popular with these gentlemen. However, it is a very fine line and very difficult.
I want to say to the member, he has picked on a good situation. It is difficult to limit the scope of a royal commission with money; but we do have guidelines to say how the commissioners should handle their money.
Mr. Germa: I’ve been concerned about these royal commissions and the expenditures involved. While I recognize the independence which is sought when the ministry makes the appointment, I am not sure the minister is aware of the expenditures.
Let me tell you who were some of the big spenders in the last provincial auditor’s report: Electric power planning commission, $3,192,546; violence in the communications industry -- you know what that one was all about -- $2,223,326, The commission on the northern environment, $1,476,356.
Mr. Nixon: Ridiculous.
Mr. Germa: In my investigation in the public accounts committee with the commissioner who was heading up the commission on violence in the communications industry, you wouldn’t believe what came to light.
After she had issued her report, the commissioner was submitting expense accounts. Even the manual of administration doesn’t tell us when the commissioner is finished commissioning. She said, “Well, no one told me I was finished. When they call me up for a TV program and want me to talk about my investigation into the communications industry, I think I’m still a commissioner and I think I’m entitled to submit a per diem rate.” I think it was $110 a day. She submitted the bills and the bills were paid.
If the commissioners themselves don’t know when they’ve walked off the edge of the cliff, certainly the manual of administration should tell them in one fashion or another. I would suggest just a simple thing, such as, “When you have completed writing your report, you are no longer a commissioner and consequently no longer eligible for the per diem rates or expenses.” I don’t see why that is so difficult.
Mr. Mancini: It’s when the champagne runs dry.
Mr. Germa: That was one of the areas, As far as I’m concerned, that commissioner might still be submitting accounts to the government --
Mr. Mancini: Champagne parties all over.
Mr. Germa: -- because this was months and months after the report had been issued and bills were still coming in and being paid.
Another area of concern was the publication of the report. I’m sure even today there are 10,000 copies of the report on violence in the communications industry still sitting over there on Bay Street. Thousands and thousands of copies were made up and that wasn’t really a best seller, that report.
There was evidence of high living, high expense accounts, trips all over Europe.
Mr. Warner: Promoting violence.
Mr. Germa: Maybe the government is at fault here. The communications industry is not in the jurisdiction of the provincial government and there were questions raised at the time that this commission should never have been appointed. But it seemed to be a good political boondoggle at the time -- there was high interest in violence in TV, et cetera. The whole system was under scrutiny. I think someone in this government said, “Let’s jump on that bandwagon and go for a ride.” Well, you went for a ride all right -- over $2 million for that boondoggle. And nothing has come out of the report as far as I know, because this government has no jurisdiction in the field.
You have to get a handle on the spending of royal commissioners without inhibiting their independence. We found, for instance, there were people who were not on the commission investigating the northern environment, the Hartt commission. When that aircraft crashed up north and killed a few people, there was at least one person on that aircraft who was not a member of the commission.
I don’t know how that person got on the aircraft. Apparently she had been travelling with these commissioners in their inquiry, with negligible status. She had been a person presenting briefs to the commissioner and was apparently in the habit of travelling around with the commission. The manual of administration makes no provision for controlling these kinds of expenditures and these kinds of antics.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that next Thursday night, in considering the two orders of business as announced yesterday, the time between 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. be divided equally between the two orders and that the question on the first of these orders with respect to the Lakeshore Hospital report be put at 10:15 p.m.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before moving adjournment I would like to indicate to the House there will be one change in the business for next week from that which I announced yesterday. On Tuesday afternoon, as the first government order of the day we are going to call the interim supply motion standing in the name of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). After that has been debated we will move to the legislative schedule as was announced.
The House adjourned at 1:03 p.m.